How I Naturally Cope with Depression & Anxiety. Part 2.
In Part One of My Story, I go into detail on how I started on the road to finding healing from depression and anxiety, how I got there, what was working, and what wasn’t working. I was at the end of my rope. The Prozac was making me worse, and the Wellbutrin was doing nothing. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Adjustment Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and PMDD, and I was desperately trying to heal, to find help, and to be free.
My husband and I sat for a week in prayer asking the Lord to show us the way. I knew that in His Word it says He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) What did this mean for my situation? What was the Lord trying to show me?
Like He always does, in His time, He answered my prayers!
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Please also understand that this is MY STORY, and I am sharing it for informational purposes only. I am sharing what is working for ME. I am not bashing medication. I am not telling you to get off of medication. If it is working for you . . . GREAT! Do whatever works for you. I am sharing, what worked for ME. If it encourages you to seek different forms of help, speak to your doctor and discuss your options.
Now that all of that is out of the way . . . Let’s get into it!
In 2018, my word for the year was HEALING. It was as if the Lord said, “Erika, I am going to open your eyes to everything that needs to be HEALED.” And with His mercy and grace, He did just that. I realized that the years of thinking depression and anxiety were normal were a lie. I was made in the image of God. I was not made to live in this darkness.
In 2019, the word He gave me was RENEW. It was now time to renew my mind and to start thinking His thoughts. He gave me Romans 12:2 as my verse for the year. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
And so the journey began . . .
GETTING OFF THE MEDICATION
After much prayer and research, I decided (along with the support of my husband and family) to get off of the Prozac and Wellbutrin. They weren’t working, why stay on them? I consulted my doctor, and he began a program to wean me off of the medication.
I experienced many symptoms coming off of these medications. I searched and searched for answers on how to wean off of the drug and what the side effects were, and it seemed impossible to find. So if you are in the same boat I was, let me share some things I experienced.
No ability to concentrate.
Severe Mood Swings
Exhaustion - which had me sleeping late and taking naps every day.
Feeling numb; like a zombie.
It took a few days to detox from the Wellbutrin; to get it out of my system. The Prozac took a lot longer. I am off of Prozac for almost seven months at the time of writing this article. I no longer have any side effects and feel overall less “zombie-like” then when I was on them.
The withdrawals to the drug were very difficult to get through. I will not lie. I had to go inside and find that inner strength; the strength of my Heavenly Father. And like He said to Paul, He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 It wasn’t easy, but I knew if I wanted to be healed and whole, I had to power through.
I want to share with you some things that helped me get off of antidepressants and combat the withdrawal symptoms. These fourteen tools help me today to continue to live off of antidepressants, healing naturally, with the strength of Jesus to guide and uphold me.
If you are considering coming off of your medication, please consult your doctor first. Once again, this is what worked for ME. If medication is working for you, then these fourteen tips may enhance your treatment.
14 WAYS TO TREAT DEPRESSION NATURALLY.
Before doing anything, my husband and I prayed that the Lord would show us the way. He answered, and I am so glad we looked to Him first!
2. IDENTIFYING ANY UNDERLYING CONDITIONS.
How’s your thyroid doing? I bet that doesn’t come up in everyday conversation! If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, double check any underlying causes. Hypothyroidism, Crohn’s disease, Vitamin Deficiencies (especially iron, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B-12), or Hashimoto’s disease all contribute to hormonal issues relating to mood. Ask your doctor for a complete blood panel, and just make sure there are no underlying causes for the anxiety and/or depression.
I had a tremendous support system especially with my doctor, my husband and my sister. They were both instrumental in helping me through this process. Having a support system is vital in helping those around me understand what I was experiencing.
4. HAVING A GOOD MEDICAL STAFF.
I love my doctor. I am not angry with him for putting me on the medication. It's Western Medicine. It's how he was taught. But the more I prayed and researched, the more I found at that there were other ways to go. My doctor supported me, encouraged me, and gave me the tools needed to move forward in healing. Having a good doctor is essential. I am blessed.
5. CHANGE OF DIET.
The day I began weaning off of antidepressants is the day everything changed. I have RADICALLY altered the way I eat, and this has been instrumental in helping me to level out my hormones and find healing naturally. Changing my diet has been the MOST IMPORTANT and noticeable change so far. Everything on this list is great, but unless there is a change in diet, most won’t work to their full effectiveness. I am convinced of that!
6. ESSENTIAL OILS.
I love essential oils and have used them in my diffuser to help during certain periods of depression and anxiety. I find that Clary Sage helps with PMDD, and if I could live in Frankincense, I would. It is an excellent oil for depression and anxiety.
7. BEING OUTSIDE.
I work at home and homeschool, so being indoors for most of the day comes with the territory. But the healing benefits of being in nature have been a key to healing from depression and anxiety. Taking a walk, hiking, being by the ocean, or a weekend trip to the mountains has helped me instrumentally. It brings Psalm 23 to mind. When He leads me beside those still waters, He restores my soul.
There is nothing wrong with talking to someone. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It doesn’t mean you don’t trust God. It just gives you someone to talk to and shed light on areas that have remained hidden. See a Christian therapist, counselor, or even your Pastor if you need some support through dark times.
This book by Dr. Kelly Brogan was a lifesaver. One afternoon while at Barnes and Nobles, my husband and I were searching for books about healing mental illness naturally. We picked up this book and WOW! I tell everyone about the work that Kelly Brogan does to help women. It is a bit “new-agey” in parts, but I was able to look through it and see the beauty of the design of our bodies, and how miraculously God created us. A MIND OF YOUR OWN is tremendous, and I cannot recommend it more.
Exercise has been beneficial during this process. One of my favorite things to do is to get outside and ride my bike. I throw my headphones on, and away we go. I had to RENEW my mind when it comes to exercise. No longer do I exercise because I want to lose weight, or look like the women in magazines. I do it for my mental health, for my physical health, and to take care of the temple God has given me. Once I renewed my mind when it comes to exercise, it was a lot easier to submit to each day.
My Friends, I cannot tell you the importance of sleep. I never realized how much sleep affected my body. If I don’t get at least six hours a night, I notice a considerable change in my moods. I have less patience, am hard on myself and others, and cannot think straight to battle the negative thoughts and emotions. Recognizing my sleep patterns, what my body needs, and how to go about getting the right amount of sleep each night is essential to healing naturally.
Before taking any supplements, even natural supplements, talk to your doctor.
Each day I take Magnesium. People with magnesium deficiency have a list of symptoms, and I have many of them. From muscle cramps and twitches to depression and anxiety, to fatigue. I started Magnesium daily along with a probiotic. I also take a sublingual women’s supplement. So many times we take these vitamins and supplements in pill form, and our bodies don't process them correctly. I take my vitamins in liquid or sublingual form if possible. I also double and triple my B-12, vitamin D, and Iron.
Every day, I take 5-HTP. 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It is also produced commercially from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia. (source)
13. FIND YOUR PURPOSE.
We have experienced so much death and loss as a family my purpose has become cloudy. In an attempt to rediscover my purpose, I try to take time for myself to sit, pray, and discover what I am excited about; what is bringing me hope. A Symphony of Praise is one of those places of purpose. If here, I can help someone else fine-tune their Symphony of Praise using my testimony, story, and experience, then part of my life has a purpose. If you have something to live for, something to be excited about, something to hope for you will start to see the strongholds that depression and anxiety have on your mind crumble and fall.
14. FINDING HOPE.
On the days where I feel hopeless, I remember His name . . . Jesus. David says in Psalm 71:5-6,
“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you.”
I remember that even when I don’t know the plans and anxiety has me gripped with the fear of tomorrow, He knows the plans He has for me. Those plans He has for us, My Friend, are to give us a HOPE and a FUTURE. (Jer. 29:11) If you can’t find anything to put your hope in, the greatest thing you can possibly do is see your HOPE in Jesus, and trust that His plan for your life is established in the Heavens.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
There is nothing WRONG with you.
You are not a mistake.
You are not a failure.
You are not a lost cause.
You are finding help.
You are finding hope.
You are finding Jesus, and resting on His strength, because on the hardest days, His strength is what will get you through.