So, the Supplements do Work!

It may just be me, but sometimes I wonder if what I take for my anxiety and depression works?  Currently, I’m taking natural supplements, but it was also the same when I was on Sertraline.

This last week showed me that what I am taking does work!

I normally take a daily dose of 200mg of 5-HTP, a Vitamin B Complex with Magnesium Ascorbate, and 15mg of Zinc Complex.  I started taking these because I was getting some nasty side effects from the Sertraline and the Diazapan I was taking; the Sertraline gave me night terrors and the Diazapan just knocked me out.

Towards the end of last week, I ran out of all the supplements I take, and stupidly I thought I would be ok without them for a couple of days, just until I could get to the local health shop (I had to wait for them to order some in because they were out of stock).

What happened over those couple of days was spectacular to say the least; basically, I hit rock bottom like a lead weight dropped from a tall building!

The weekend had it’s ups and downs, and I could tell I was struggling to keep my emotions in check; I managed a couple of walks, and we had friends over on Sunday afternoon, which was lovely (great company, tea and cake will sort anything out.), but in between, I wasn’t doing well.

Monday was not pretty; I usually go for a run, and while I was conscious that I have a mileage challenge to complete, and marathons to train for, I really wasn’t motivated to go.  The sun was out, and so I thought it might do me some good, so after an hour of wrangling with my mind, I got out there; I didn’t set myself any targets of how far I was going to run, but I managed just under 30km, which was a great achievement under the circumstances.

Normally the runs sort me out, but not on Monday, as soon as I got back, I could feel my mood drop again.  I‘m currently helping Kim edit a course that she is creating, about helping people with their relationship with money, so I thought this might help get my brain active.  I sat in front of the computer and I couldn’t take in the words on the screen, it was like I’d forgotten how to read.

After about 1 minute of trying, I gave up and had to go downstairs, collapsed on the sofa, and watched TV.

Around 6pm, I decided I would try and take Leo out for a wee; sods law there was a cat I our back garden, and all hell broke loose.  Leo hates cats, and so he went completely loopy when he saw it, trying to calm him down was a nightmare; throw my emotions into the mix and it was like putting a match to petrol; poor Kim had a hysterical dog and a stressed husband to deal with.

Finally, Leo calmed down, but it was enough for me, I went to bed, skipping dinner, calling time on the day, and hoping the next one would be better.

Thankfully, it was, the first job of the day was to head to town and get my supplements.  As soon as I got home, I downed them, and literally, within an hour I felt a huge difference.  By the end of the day, I felt so relieved that I was even able to belt out some of my favourite rock tunes whilst cooking dinner!

So, what are these seemingly magic supplements, and why do I prefer them to the medication I was on?

The main benefits are that they don’t have any nasty side-effects (provided you follow the recommended dosage), and they do the same job as the medication.  Unfortunately, they’re not a cure, but then again, neither is medication.  All they do is help you to manage your anxiety and depression, allowing you to function better.

5-HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan)

Amino Acids are important to the brain because they are the building blocks that create neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in the brain. 

“Deficiency in amino acids isn’t t all uncommon and can give rise to depression, apathy and lack of motivation, an inability to relax, poor memory and concentration.  Supplementing amino acids has been proven to correct all these problems.  For example, a form of the amino acid TRYPTOPHAN has proven more effective in double-blind trials than the best antidepressant drugs.” – Patrick Holford, Optimum Nutrition for the Mind.

We know how important Serotonin is in improving your mood, and guess what, it’s made from tryptophan.

Patrick Holford’s book references several scientific trails, but a key one was carried out by Dr Pollinger & Colleagues from Basel University (Switzerland) in 1991, where they gave depressed patients either a state-of-the-art SSRI antidepressant, or 5-HTP.  The 5-HTP outperformed the drug on every measure, resulting in greater improvements in their depression, anxiety and insomnia, and no side effects.

Vitamin B Complex

There is a process in the brain called Methylation, and this is responsible for making, breaking down and balancing neurotransmitters, building nerve cells and protecting your brain from damage; it makes sure that you’re in tune, feeling good, happy, alert and connected. 

I first came across this when I was struggling with alcohol, and I learnt that being a good methylator helps to reduce cravings, and B vitamins (especially B2, B6 and B12) are a big part of this process, as are Zinc and Magnesium.

When I first took a Vitamin B complex, I was amazed how quickly it reduced my craving for alcohol, it was literally life-changing for me.

Magnesium

Perhaps the second most commonly deficient mineral in the body; it’s one of nature’s tranquilisers and helps relax nerve and muscle cells.  A lack of magnesium can make you more nervous, irritable, and aggressive.

Zinc

The most commonly deficient mineral in the body, and the most critical nutrient for mental health.  Zinc deficiency is associated with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, anorexia, delinquency, hyperactivity, autism and much more.  Zinc deficiency can be caused in several ways, including frequent alcohol consumption, blood sugar problems, and stress.

So, that’s my cocktail for managing my mental health, and I’m going to make sure I don’t run out of them again. 

As I said, they’re not a cure, they are just part of a good mental wellbeing lifestyle.  A big part of the problem when we look at the deficiencies of vitamins and minerals is our diet, we simple aren’t eating the right foods, we rely too much on processed foods and chemicals that our body just doesn’t like and that most of the time have no nutritional value at all, or are packed with harmful additives.

If you are interested in learning more about supplements and mental health, I would recommend doing your homework, and speaking to a professional for advice (your GP may be able to help, but most doctors I have spoken to don’t seem to be that interested in them); again, it’s something I had to find out for myself.

Most towns have independent health food stores with professional nutritionists who can advise you.  When you go, be brave, ask them what their qualifications and experience are; this is your life and wellbeing we’re talking about here.

If you are on anti-depressants or other anxiety medication, you will need to finish those first before changing to supplements because they will interact with each other in a negative way, so you will need to speak to your GP about this.

Also do some research into the quality of the supplements you purchase; yes, they are more expensive than medication, but trust me, it’s worth it.  It’s not the time to go budget shopping either, because the quality won’t be there, so you will end up wasting your money.  I learnt that some companies use bulking agents in capsules and tablets, so you’re not really getting what you need.

There is a well-known high street chain in the UK that has very cheap sales, this is a time to ask yourself if this is really going to be the best quality?

I was recommended Viridian, they seem to be priced in the mid-range, and they have worked for me. 

I’m not getting paid by anyone to say this stuff (I wish I was), it’s just that your mental wellbeing is really important and worth investing properly in; after all you wouldn’t put cheap oil in an expensive sports car, would you?

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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