Opinion

SPOTLIGHT: Depression among most common chief health complaints

By Dr. Andrea Hornyak, Spotlight on Naturopathic Medicine

Many of my patients have battled depression at some point in their lives. It is one of the most common chief complaints that I have treated in my practice over the past 10 years, with ages ranging between 12-60 years old.

Depression can manifest in various different symptoms such as sadness, lack of motivation, feeling isolated, not wanting to be around other people, poor concentration, fatigue, no longer finding happiness in activities that used to bring you joy, irritability, restlessness, increase or decrease in appetite or weight, feeling worthless or guilty, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Among the most common contributing factors that may lead to depression that I have seen include financial debt, family stress, death of a loved one, divorce, workplace dynamics, and other health conditions such as cancer and obesity. If you have suffered past traumatic events or have mental disorders in your family history, it is also more likely you may also develop depression.

Specific blood testing is essential to rule out other disorders that may be contributing to feelings of depression, such as hormone fluctuations, hypothyroidism, high blood sugar, and various vitamin deficiencies.

I have successfully treated many of my patients that suffer from daily mild to moderate depression with various modalities of naturopathic medicine without any side effects. These treatments include high dose vitamins/minerals, herbs, clinical nutritional, homeopathic medicine and acupuncture, without any side effects. Paired with my psychology degree, I have also developed a cognitive therapy over the past decade that empowers patients with coping strategies as well as different ways of thinking about a stressful situation. Having a positive outlook is very advantageous in a circumstance that would otherwise leave someone feeling hopeless or sad. People often come to me for help to wean off of anti-depressants, as they do not like the common side effects of weight gain, low libido, fatigue, insomnia, constipation and anxiety.

It is common for people have unhealthy habits due to being depressed, such as not exercising, smoking, over-eating or excessive alcohol intake. Once they feel happier and begin to have a healthy outlook on their lives, the need for these habits dissipate and their health improves dramatically, as do their relationships.

Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a licensed doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. For more information, phone the Norwich Medical Centre or visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca