A Naturopathic Approach to Mental Health
Anxiety Disorders (including panic and generalized anxiety disorders)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Depression, alongside high blood pressure, is the top ranked reason people see their physician in Canada. Mental illness affects all segments of Canadian society and no one is immune. (CAMIMH, 2016) There is a growing demand for treatment for mental illness, and only ⅓ of individuals with a mental illness will seek and receive care, due to an inadequate amount of social support. Naturopathic doctors take a comprehensive and individualized approach to treatment making us perfectly suited for supporting patients with mental health conditions.
Naturopathic doctors have additional training in counselling skills in order to help offer a safe space for healing. Although, treatment does often involve an individualized referral to a counsellor or psychologist for additional support.
As a Naturopathic Doctor, I can prescribe most pharmaceuticals, and understand that pharmaceuticals can be a necessary part of treatment. Naturopathic medicine can offer support for these drug side-effects and supporting them to work their best if it is necessary to be on them for a long period of time.
There is an increasing amount of evidence documenting the gut-brain connection, and that a healthy gastrointestinal tract supports the brain and therefore mental health. A gut healing approach will be utilized if necessary, which would include support for healing the inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. There are even certain probiotic strains that have been correlated with improving symptoms in depression. The goal is to have healthy bowel movements 1-3 times per day, with no gas, bloating or indigestion (reflux).
Acupuncture has been shown to benefit many mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Chinese medicine doctors have related stimulation of certain points on the body to subsequent changes in physiological and mental functions. As well, the treatments are often reported by patients to be very relaxing.
Supportive nervine botanicals are often very effective, and can be tailored to your needs in a tincture. Some herbs that I commonly utilize include passionflower, valerian and kava; all of which are calming to the nervous system.
There are many specific nutrients that may be depleted and this can lead to, or exacerbate depression or anxiety. These may include B vitamins, Magnesium, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Optimizing your absorption and intake of these in your diet is critical, and may include a nutrient supplement. Some alternatives to medications, and medication support that I often utilize, include 5-HTP, Tyrosine, Glycine, GABA or SAMe; all of which are precursors to the neurotransmitters in our brain.
For treatment resistant depression at Acacia, we also have Transcranial Direct Stimulation (TDCS). The Acacia Health website provides more information about this service.
For more information on how Naturopathic medicine can help, call to book a
complimentary 15-minute meet and greet session with Dr. Stephanie!
The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health