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A Case Study on Anxious Depression

by June Butlin(more info)

listed in depression, originally published in issue 33 - October 1998

Helen is a single parent of three children who works extremely hard to provide for her family. She was employed part time as a teacher, and although the money was limited, she managed very well. She felt happy most of the time, loved her work, and prided herself on her health and energy.

She exercised early in the mornings before the children rose, ate a good quality diet and, she says, watched half an hour of 'rubbish' on the television most days to relax and unwind. Life was good for Helen until she moved 260 miles northwards to establish herself in a full-time job that would provide an improved lifestyle for her children.

However, this move did not work out as planned. The new job was very demanding and the workload extended far into each evening. The children found it difficult to settle into the new surroundings and to make friends.

Mathew, her eldest, could not cope with the disruptive move and his new school seemed incapable of meeting his special needs. Helen then found herself in a two-and-a-half-year battle with the Education Authority to place him in a special school.

Helen had very little time to relax, exercise or socialise. She missed her previous routine, home environment and friends. Eventually, when events seemed to be settling down, she started to feel unwell.

She felt distracted, less focused and was unable to process information. Her stomach was permanently in spasm and she found it difficult to walk, eat, and breathe. Her body also felt cold all the time and her vision was permanently blurred. The doctor diagnosed an extreme anxiety state and depression. He advised her to take an anti-depressant, amitriptyline and a muscle relaxant, diazepam, and signed her off work. Helen did not want to take drugs, but chose to take the diazepam for a few days only. The diazepam really helped her to relax, and she said that she could understand how people become addicted to them. However, she wanted to take a more natural route to her healing, and it was at this point that she came to see me.

Helen had always been a healthy person, and as the anxious depression was stemming from her reactions to her circumstances, it seemed safe to reassure her that she would make a full recovery. It was very important for her to accept the diagnosis, to stop fighting against it, and to allow herself the time that she needed to recover.

With the help of counselling, Helen began to relax and was able to see that she needed to re-evaluate her life, and make some changes, for the sake of her own health and happiness.

Physiologically, her case study revealed problems with digestion, elimination, hypothyroidism adrenal exhaustion and poor liver and immune function. Her levels of essential nutrients were totally depleted, regardless of the fact that she had always eaten a good quality diet. This was because the high stress levels were affecting her digestive functioning and causing acid and toxic build up.

A cleansing diet was out of the question in the initial stages of her healing, as her body was so weak. To strengthen the body I suggested that she took an easily digestible, organic, nutritional drink, combined with organic fruits, twice daily, to supply all the essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace nutrients. The drink contained spirulina, chlorella, barley grass, alfalfa, wheat grass, dulse, beetroot, spinach, rose hips, orange and lemon peels. Other foods taken were fruit, vegetables, quinoa, millet and a little cottage cheese.

After three weeks Helen's appetite increased, and the nutritional drink was reduced to once daily, and small quantities of protein in the form of beans, peas, lentils, white and oily fish were added. Specific foods against depression were also included: brown rice, cucumbers apples, cabbage, wheatgerm, apple cider vinegar, green peppers, apricots, cherries, papayas, tomatoes and broccoli. Caffeine, alcohol and sugar were avoided as they increase the lactate/pyruvate ratio, which can result in elevated levels of anxiety.

Helen suffered four very hard weeks of fluctuating mood swings and feelings. She then started to exercise, and managed a short run on alternate days, which helped to lift her mood. The research on exercise shows that it raises the levels of endorphins, which makes us feel happier.

Positron Emission Scans have also revealed that during exercise the right part of the brain is activated resulting in clarity of thought and a raised state of mental awareness.

To reduce the tension and blurred vision caused by adrenaline rushing through the body Helen followed a programme of relaxation and visualisation. She also added deep breathing exercises to increase her oxygen levels.

At this stage a mild cleansing program for the digestive tract and liver was administered. The following supplements were also included: a multi-B complex, emphasising B6 and B3, to increase the seratonin levels in the body, histidine, the precursor to histamine, in sublingual form, to increase the alpha waves in the brain, which gives a calming effect, vitamin C to enhance the immune system and phosphatidyl serine, an essential fatty acid, to raise neurotransmitter levels.

After eight weeks Helen felt less anxious and depressed, but still had periods of tiredness along with violent headaches. Having ruled out eye problems and tension I used kinesiology to find that she had very high histamine levels. To counteract this the multi-B complex was replaced with a lower dosage, and calcium and methionine were added. After three days the headaches disappeared.

Helen returned to work after twelve weeks feeling relaxed and healthy, and able to see herself and her life in a more positive light.

She realised that she had learned a lot from her illness and would like to share the above quote with others suffering from anxious depression.

Books and Publications

Elkins, R (1995) Depression and Natural Medicine Woodlands Publishing Inc ISBN 1-885670-01-X
Murray, M (1993) The Healing Power of Foods Prima Publishing ISBN 1-55958-317-7
Pfeiffer, CC and P Holford (1993) Mental Illness: The Nutrition Connection ION Publication
Pitchford, P (1993) Healing with Wholefoods North Atlantic Books ISBN 0-93819064-4 Steve Devoy, Technical Director, Premier Training & Development Limited, www.premiertd.co.uk - email: webmaster@premiertd.co.uk
Werbach, MR, M.D. (1991) Nutritional Influences on Mental Illness. 3rd Line Press Inc ISBN 0961-8550-10

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About June Butlin

June M Butlin PhD is a trained teacher, nutritionist, kinesiologist, aromatherapist, fitness trainer and sports therapist. She is a writer, health researcher and lecturer and is committed to helping people achieve their optimum level of health and runs a private practice in Wiltshire. June can be contacted on 01225 869 284;  junebutlin@btinternet.com

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