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Finding a Holistic Way Through Depression

Oct 29, 2016 10:55PM ● By Joan Marie Lartin, Ph.D.

Serious depression, experienced by an estimated 6 percent of the U.S. population, can be both a disease and a condition of living. We know that the likelihood of experiencing serious depression varies by gender, age, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, but to date, there has not been any specific gene or combination of genes that has been identified as a cause of depression. Thus our view of depression and what to do about it is tied to the traditional model of the body as a machine that is broken to be repaired with drugs.

An alternate view is more holistic, placing the person in the context of family background and overall context. The fundamental premise is anyone that is depressed is almost certainly dealing with issues or situations that are depressing. If these factors are not evident, the therapist’s job to identify things from the past (childhood neglect), present (an abusive boss) or future (a mom with cancer), that are depressing in and of themselves.

When neurotransmitters are imbalanced, it can be even more difficult to find our way out of a depressing situation because we may experience low energy, poor sleep, irritability, poor nutrition, low energy and mood, anxious, obsessive negative thinking and subsequent paralyzing immobility.

Sustained stress depletes the body’s stores of crucial neurotransmitters such as serotonin. This adds any number of challenges to a person already dealing with a difficult situation. One of the reasons antidepressants have such a dismal efficacy rate is that when serotonin levels are very low, there is too little to recycle via uptake re-inhibitors. Specific amino acids are available to address these imbalances via a simple test. Often clients report meaningful if small changes with 24 hours of beginning specific amino acid supplementation.

When the person’s physiology is more balanced, the work of finding a way out of the depression can proceed apace. The singer and activist Joan Baez once commented, “Action is the antidote to despair.” Knowing what action to take, being willing and having the energy to do so, are difficult when someone is depressed, isolated, anxious and depleted. Working with a therapist can help a person get their life back to some degree.

A new mother may find a way to resolve the emotional neglect she experiences and perhaps constructively engage her husband in sharing parenting and household responsibilities instead of passively accepting a stressful situation which by virtue of her neglected childhood, she had accepted.

A husband that is overworked and berated by his boss may start to feel less irritable, sleep better and find a way to risk either changing positions or work with his boss to improve stressful scheduling problems.

Clinical depression is serious business, but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

Joan-Marie Lartin, Ph.D., RN, has offices in Carlyle and Gettysburg. For more information, call 717-961-0088 or visit

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