Naturopathic Help for Depression

4/23/2014 by Marlene Kurban with guest, Dr. Jonathan Goodman

Clinical depression has become one of the United States’ most costly illnesses, although more than 80% of people who are diagnosed with depression can be effectively treated.  Symptoms vary in severity and duration and may include persistent sadness and anxiety, restlessness and irritability, sleeping too much or too little, difficulty concentrating, weight gain or weight loss, fatigue, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness, and/or suicidal ideation.  A thorough comprehensive physical examination may be recommended to rule out other illnesses. 

It is estimated that 50 – 75% of Americans suffering from major depression do not receive treatment.  Some individuals avoid seeking help because they are concerned about possible stigma, lack health care insurance, or are not interested in taking antidepressants.  Yet there are many effective treatments that can help reduce symptoms of depression, including psychotherapy and lifestyle changes in nutrition, stress reduction, sleep, exercise and social supports.  We asked Dr. Jonathan Goodman, a naturopathic physician who practices in Connecticut, for his perspective on how naturopathic medicine can help people with depression.   (Please note that the information provided is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and if you believe you are suffering from symptoms of depression or other mental health issues, you should not use the information in place of a visit or consultation with your physician or other healthcare provider.)

 Q.  Dr. Goodman, what would you suggest for people who are interested in finding a naturopathic physician to help them with symptoms of depression?  What credentials/qualifications should they look for?

 A.  I would definitely suggest a visit to a naturopathic physician, or ND, for someone suffering from depression.  When seeking out an ND, make sure this person has graduated from an accredited four year postgraduate school of naturopathic medicine.  In states such as Connecticut which license NDs, only those with such degrees can receive licenses and practice.  

 NDs are trained in treating the whole person.  As such, a typical ND visit will involve a thorough history which will incorporate the physical, mental and spiritual spheres.  Depression can have a purely chemical component or can arise from a temporary life situation or recent event.  Habits such as addiction or other self-destructive behaviors can feed depression.  A sedentary lifestyle or vitamin/mineral deficiencies can contribute to depression.  Medication side-effects can trigger or exacerbate depression.

Q. What are some of the advances in naturopathic medicine to treat depression? 

A.  Herbs such as St John's Wort, supplements such as 5-HTP and amino acid treatments can all help depression.  Vitamin D has been shown to help.  Acupuncture can play a role, as can meditation, exercise and coaching a positive mental attitude.   Treating sleep disorders such as apnea can make a big difference.  

Q.  Can naturopathic physicians work in conjunction with other medical providers?

 A.  Absolutely.  Not all cases of depression will respond to naturopathic treatment.  People with severe depression with suicidal ideation should be referred to a psychiatrist for supervision.  NDs are trained to know when to refer a patient who is not responding or whose presenting symptoms and history warrant more specialized care.

 Dr. Jonathan Goodman lives in Connecticut and is a naturopathic physician, lecturer, teacher, industry leader and author.  He pursued his medical training at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle, receiving his Doctorate in 1999. He completed his residency at Griffin Hospital’s Integrative Medicine Center, where conventional and holistic doctors collaborate in patient care.  He is a member of the Connecticut Naturopathic State Association.

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by vivien on 4/24/2014 at 8:22:04 AM
nice piece , good to have a alternative view that is credible!

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