This is the newest post in the “This Is My Depression” series. I am not a doctor, just sharing my own experiences with anxiety and depression.
Last week, I talked about my experiences on antidepressants and how I decided to try other treatments for my anxiety and depression. I am super grateful to those antidepressants, though, because they gave me the energy to try these different things until I found something else that worked for me.
I did lots of internet research (the best kind!) and I stumbled across this book called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Ross believes that different types of depression and anxiety are mostly caused by different amino acid deficiencies and a lack of omega 3 fats. She recommends eating a high protein diet with lots of vegetables and omega 3s, and then supplementing with whatever amino acids you’re missing. You diagnose yourself by taking a quiz, and apparently I was deficient in just about everything.
So I started taking a lot of amino acids. The one that helped me the most was L-tyrosine. I would take it in the morning about half an hour before I ate anything. It took away a lot of the twitchy anxiousness;I felt noticeably calmer within minutes after I took it.
The L-tyrosine had another awesome effect. Ever since college I had been completely addicted to caffeine. If I didn’t have something caffeinated in the morning I would get a huge headache. I could wean myself off of caffeine by going through two or three days of headaches, but when I was off of it I just didn’t like how I felt. I was sluggish ALL of the time; so I would quickly get re-addicted just to feel better (and I would get addicted fast--within a couple of days)
Once my L-tyrosine levels were doing better, I found that I could lose my addiction to caffeine and feel fine. No more sluggishness. I didn’t need it anymore to function, and it took me much longer to get re-addicted. I can now have caffeine several days in a row and if I miss a day it’s not the end of the world.
Another cool thing about amino acids is that you just need to get your levels back to normal, and then your body can take it from there. According to The Mood Cure, once your body has normal levels, when you take the supplement you will actually feel your old deficiency symptoms. This sounds like utter voodoo, I know, but that’s what happened to me. Eventually, taking L-tyrosine made me anxious, so I stopped, and I’ve been much less anxious ever since. I also am able to be completely off of caffeine and feel fine.
I also took amino acids called DLPA, 5-HTP, and GABA. I started to take them all around the same time so it’s difficult to say what was responsible for what. The L-tyrosine had the most noticeable effects to me, but it could have been working in concert with these other ones. I also started taking fish old capsules, a B vitamin, and a multivitamin.
The Mood Cure was also very helpful because it helped me see the bigger picture of depression. Now, depression can come upon you out of nowhere, but in this case there were some pretty clear factors. My last year of seminary involved several extremely stressful situations. Another factor is that when I was in seminary I was not rich, and I was eating pretty cheaply and not very well, meaning a lot of pasta and carbs and not a lot of protein and not enough fresh vegetables.
After reading The Mood Cure, I realized that a big part of my recovery was going to be allowing my body to heal from all the stress it had been under, and I also needed to start feeding it better. We started eating a lot more protein and vegetables and full fat milk and yogurt. This was hard for me because we were still in seminary and still not rich, but I needed to make a decision to prioritize my health. It was totally worth it. Even if you aren’t depressed, it’s amazing how much eating better makes you feel better.
The Mood Cure wound up helping me beat my caffeine addiction and helped to take away a lot of my jittery anxiety and lifted my depression somewhat. Several months later though, I was still struggling. My anxiety and depression had morphed into gigantic mood swings. I would wake up in the morning and burst into tears, go into work and be ok for the rest of the morning, and then in the afternoon sink into a terrible despair.
Next week I’ll talk about the alternative treatment that got me out of that horrible situation.