Anxiety and Depression: America’s “New Norm”?
Dr. Nancy Lin
PhD, Holistic Nutritionist
An eye-opening new study reveals that struggles with depression and anxiety has become the perceived “new normal” for many in the U.S.
Waking up feeling down, a looming feeling of hopelessness, a constant sense of fear and worry, and the feeling of always being “on edge”. If you have some of these feelings and felt alone in feelings, then know that you may have never been “more normal”.
Shocking new research reveals a massive increase in the number of Americans struggling with depression, anxiety, sadness, and chronic stress. More people than ever before in recorded history are reporting dealing with these, often debilitating, conditions on a daily basis; and perhaps more alarming is the fact that only about half of those struggling with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic stress ever seek help or treatment for these conditions.
Fortunately, just when we need it most, new research has revealed encouraging and promising new, all-natural, effective options for relieving the symptoms most closely associated with anxiety and depression.
Anxious America: Is This Our New Reality?
Anxious, depressed, sad, nervous – feeling anything but happy, content, and satisfied; does that sound familiar? So, why are so many of us feeling this way? Are our brains evolving to a state of constant depression and anxiety in response to environmental or social factors so prevalent in modern America?
As it turns out, the research into why these changes in our mental health are occurring revealed a surprising and alarming combination of physical, mental, emotional, and social factors all which play a key role in shaping our current state of mental health.
As we explore these reasons, it’s natural to wonder if this trend can be reversed; and if so, what we can do to reverse the trend and return to a more constant and healthy state of wellbeing.
The good news is that yes, depression, anxiety, and chronic levels of stress can be treated managed, reduced, and pretty much eliminated. For many, addressing the debilitating symptoms associated with these conditions can be done without mind-altering prescription medications. These natural treatment options also include one often overlooked, but essential, step that the majority of those suffering from depression and anxiety consistently fail to take.
Prior to discussing why we are seeing such and increase in these unwanted and debilitating mental health issues and before we explore effective all-natural treatment options, let’s make sure we understand exactly what depression and anxiety are and make sure also to identify the key signs and symptoms of each.
Depression: Beyond Sadness
Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act and causes mild to severe feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms are often varied and include the obvious symptoms of prolonged feelings sadness or “feeling down”; however, the for many the symptoms of depression extend beyond “the norm” and often includes a complete lack of interest in actives you once enjoyed, loss of energy, weight loss, mental fatigue and trouble concentrating, and in the most extreme cases, thought of death and death by suicide.
Anxiety: The Most Prolific Mental Illness in the United States
Anxiety, on the other hand, is your mind and body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of anxiety is essential and helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an Anxiety Disorder, it feels far from normal, and can be completely debilitating.
Like depression, symptoms of anxiety also vary in intensity and often go far beyond just feeling uneasy, apprehensive, nervous or afraid. In extreme cases, anxiety causes a constant sense of impending danger, panic, or doom; an increased heart and breathing rate; sweating; fatigue; insomnia, concentration and memory issues; stomach issues, and compulsive urges to avoid things causing bouts of anxiety.
A Record Number of Americans Are Suffering From Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting over 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the adult population every year. While anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., depression isn’t far behind; 17.3 million adults in the United States—equaling 7.1 percent of all adults in the country—have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.
Interestingly, it appears that anxiety and depression go hand in hand; in fact, more often than not, and nearly 50 % of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Mental Health Issues: A Growing Epidemic in the US
Over 40% of Americans are more anxious than they were at this time last year, according to a new American Psychiatric Association poll. While we can all guess at the reasons behind this staggering increase, the actual reasons for this drastic increase might surprise you.
According to the research, health and finance - and specifically the ability to pay bills - were the greatest drivers of this increase. In fact, nearly 70% of people surveyed indicated that “keeping myself or my family safe”, “my health”, and “paying my bills or expenses” caused them to experience increased levels of anxiety; politics and interpersonal relationships were also contributing factors to this rise in anxiety in roughly 50% of people.
The Undisclosed Fallout Of Mental Health: Record Increases in Prescription Antidepressants
Not only has the incidence of depression and anxiety increased at rates never before observed, but so also has the rate of antidepressant use in the US; in fact, antidepressants are now the third most commonly prescribed and taken medication by Americans.
To put this in perspective, the use of antidepressants for the treatment of anxiety and depression has increased by over 400% in the last 20 years; and we’ve scene a 65% increase in the number of people using antidepressants over the same time period, with an estimated one out of every ten Americans taking an antidepressant on a daily basis.
Common and Unwanted Side Effects of Antidepressants Continue to Cause Health Issues
Antidepressants change the chemical makeup in the brain; like nearly all prescription medications, this change in chemical makeup caused by prescription antidepressants often comes with several significant and unwanted side effects, including:
- Nausea, digestive, and stomach issues
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and decreased orgasm
- Low energy
- Blurred vision
- Mood swings
- Increased anxiety
Some of these side effects, like nausea, typically go away after a week or two. Others, like lack of sex drive and weight gain may last longer, and for many, persist as long as the antidepressant is being prescribed and taken to treat your anxiety or depression; this is often the case for nearly 50% of anti-depressant users reporting weight gain and/or sex-related side effects.
More Effective Natural Alternatives For Anxiety and Depression
Fortunately, there are several natural, effective treatment options that have been shown to support in lifting the cloud of depression and calming the symptoms of anxiety, including exercise, specific deep-breathing exercises, drinking green tea, and perhaps the most overlooked, but also a critical way to support treating anxiety and depression triggers - ensuring that you are not deficient in specific vitamins and minerals.
Practice These Specific Exercises on a Daily Basis
Exercise is an effective option, has no unwanted side effects, is great for your physical health, and even better for your mental health – especially for combatting the debilitating effects of chronic stress, depression and anxiety, both immediately and in the long term.
While any type of exercise is better than no exercise, just exercise for the sake of exercise alone isn’t going to help. I want you to specifically pay attention to how long you are actually exercising, right down to the minute.
There is a little known exercise secret that is extremely effective in relieving the symptoms of depression and anxiety; the secret is that you must exercise for a minimum of 21 minutes a day for maximum benefits.
Study after study demonstrates that at-least 21 minutes is how long you need to exercise in order to consistently and effectively reduce anxiety or lessen the symptoms of depression. For a perfect mood-lifting workout, I recommend my patients minimally exercise between 25 and 30 minutes each day.
Equally important as the time you spend exercising, is the type of exercise you choose. While any exercise is effective, research has demonstrated that these two specific types of exercises are more effective at relieving anxiety and depression symptoms than others: hiking or walking in the woods and regular participation in yoga.
Into The Wild: The Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
We know that spending time outdoors, and especially in and around plants, trees, and water has a calming effect on the mind and the body. In fact, people who spend time walking, running, or hiking in wooded areas or parks consistently demonstrate lower levels of stress hormones, report less incidence of depression, and feel less anxious than those spending the same amount of time outdoors in a city.
Yoga For the Masses: Sustained Relief From Symptoms of Anxiety & Depression
Yoga has come along way over the last few years. It no longer carries stigma or reserved only for elite athletes and dancers. Yoga is now recommended for everyone, from kids to seniors; it really has become an exercise that is available to everyone
Reductions in depression and anxiety are observed in those who participate in yoga on a regular basis. In fact, the majority of those practicing yoga report experiencing significant reductions in symptoms of both anxiety and depression after starting yoga. And you don’t need to be come a hard care yogi to experience these benefits of yoga; performing short, simple yoga stretches is often enough to start to feel your anxiety subside and your mood lift.
Experts believe that yoga’s focus on stretching, core strength, and on the breath are especially beneficial for your mental wellbeing.
Take A Deep Breath!
And exhale... speaking of breathing, the regular practice of deep breathing has also been shown to be extremely effective in reducing anxiety and chronic stress.
When you are feeling stressed or anxious, it’s natural for your breathing to become shallow and rapid, often coming right from you chest; this is known as thoracic or chest breathing. Most people who are stressed or who have anxiety breath this way without even realizing it.
However, it’s important to point out that breathing this way reduces oxygen and increases carbon dioxide levels in your body; this often results in increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, feeling light-headed, increased stress, and muscle tension.
What I want you to do is to focus on abdominal or “belly” breathing where you are taking steady, deep, slow breaths; you’ll know you got it right when your belly, not your chest, is rising and falling with each breath.
While there are tons of different deep breathing exercises to help you belly breathe, the next time you notice stress or anxiety creeping up on you, try this simple relaxation technique:
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, keep your jaw relaxed and your lips slightly pursed.
- You might find it helpful to breath in through your nose for a 4 count, hold it for a 4 count, and breath out through the mouth for an 8 count.
- Repeat this cycle of breathing several times.
You can perform this specific breathing exercise as often as you need to and pretty much anywhere you are.
Beware Of These Specific Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
One of the most common, but also most overlooked, contributors to anxiety and depression are specific nutritional deficiencies - specifically vitamin and mineral deficiencies, that significantly contribute to the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. This includes being deficient in the big three B-vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. If you are deficient in these vitamins and minerals you are more likely going to struggle with symptoms of depression and anxiety
In addition, where you get your vitamins and minerals from also matters. You want to get as much of your vitamins and minerals from natural whole food, not synthetic sources. Here are some great dietary sources of B-vitamins, magnesium, and zinc:
B-vitamins can be found in animal proteins, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, sunflower seeds, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and bananas.
Magnesium is available in spinach, lentils and beans, nuts, seeds, and avocados
Natural sources of zinc include red meat, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, spinach, bananas, avocados, plums, and blackberries
If you are not eating these natural foods on a daily basis, and few us are then you absolutely need to supplement your diet with quality supplements sourced from these specific whole foods, otherwise you will become deficient in these essential minerals.
Blueprint for the Perfect Brain Health Multi
When adding a multivitamin and mineral to your diet it’s important to understand that the old-fashioned multi-tablet is cutting it anymore. And probably never did.
A historic 10-year multivitamin study with over 100,000 participants changed everything. It provided the exact blueprint for that perfect multivitamin formula - while also revealing the hidden dangers of daily multivitamin tablets.
For decades, marketers of multi vitamin and mineral supplements (multi’s) have been pushing more is better, often promoting many nutrients in their formulas above the 100% RDA level, that’s the “recommended dietary allowance” set by the FDA.
But is more healthier?
Multiple studies have concluded that the answer is NO! Including conclusions reached by one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever done on dietary supplements - an independent, multi-cultural study with over 100,000 participants, aptly named “The Multi Study”.
The Multi Study, funded by the US Department of Agriculture, provided all the information you need to know about multi’s. The purpose of the study was simple. Health officials wanted to know once and for all if the multi tablets, we’re really doing what they were supposed to do, provide the right amount of missing vitamins and minerals that we don’t get enough of from the food we eat called the “the nutrient shortfall amount”. The study determined 2 important things about how we get our vitamins and minerals.
The Multi Study laid out exactly which vitamins and minerals our diets are deficient in, and which ones we are not.
The Multi Study provided information on what’s called “the nutrient shortfall” of each vitamin and mineral that we don’t get enough of from food.
Shocking Discovery Revealed in The Multi Study
It was found that American multi-users were simultaneously getting too little of many important key nutrients, while at the same time getting too much, even dangerously high and toxic harmful levels, of other key nutrients from their multi tablet.
The Multi Study Exposed Popular Multi Tablets Formulated All Wrong
The health impacts of this improper nutrient dosing (the wrong amount of a vitamin or mineral), exposed in The Multi Study, can mean serious negative health consequences over time. For example, getting too much iron, which The Multi Study found to be common with conventional multi tablets, can cause your brain to malfunction and age much faster than normal.
Conventional Multi Tablets Miss the Mark
The medical researchers’ dual findings from The Multi Study clearly showed that Americans were getting an overdose of certain nutrients, and an underdose of other nutrients, from their multi tablets. In general, the findings concluded that, when diet is factored in, Americans are getting too much of some vitamins and not enough of other vitamins and minerals. These conclusions were presented to the National Institute of Health (NIH), and published in peer reviewed medical journal articles.
A Smarter Way: Formulating the Perfect Multi
Using the real nutrient shortfall Smarter Nutrition formulated 2019’s supplement of the year, Smarter Multi, with just the right amount of each nutrient for optimum health – not too little and not too much. It’s truly the “first and only” perfect multivitamin and exactly what we need daily to help with our cognitive and other health goals.
Smarter Multi: We Eat Plants… We Don’t Eat Dirt!
As with vitamins, getting a daily intake of essential minerals is extremely important for your health. That’s why nutritional experts encourage us to get our minerals from fresh greens, fruits, and vegetables along with a daily supplement. Since your body can’t manufacture minerals, unlike it can with many other nutrients, you cannot truly be healthy without a daily intake of the key essential minerals!
But here’s the problem. Most minerals in multi tablets are synthetic and inorganic, derived from crushing mineral-rich rocks. Now mankind only started taking multi mineral supplements about 60 years ago. But for hundreds of thousands of years humans derived their minerals from food, not rocks. This means they were from organic-food, not inorganic-dirt. So, it’s highly unlikely our genes have yet fully adapted to the “unnatural” inorganic form of minerals in everyday multi tablets.
Using Rocks Versus Fruits & Vegetables Just Isn’t Right
If inorganic “dirt-like” minerals in multi tablets are not natural to the body, then why do the supplement manufacturers still use them? It all comes down to money. It’s extremely cheap and easy just to pulverize rocks, extract the minerals, and press them into a hard tablet. But is this good for you? Here’s some examples of synthetic and inorganic sources of the 5 top minerals used by typical multi manufacturers.
- Calcium. The typical type of calcium in traditional multi tablets is calcium carbonate. Chalk you find in a classroom is mostly calcium carbonate – but have you ever thought about eating it? Calcium carbonate is so very poorly absorbed in the body, to meet your daily requirement for calcium you’d have to take a handful of big, hard calcium carbonate tablets each day. One of the most commonly used sources of calcium carbonate for supplements is discarded oyster shells. This is not a food source!
- Magnesium. Magnesium oxide is the most typical form found in popular multi’s, and its absorption rate is also dismal. It is derived from pulverizing limestone and periclase, a mineral found in marble.
- Potassium. The most common form in multi’s is potassium chloride. It’s found in a rock called sylvite.
- Zinc. The most common form found in multi tablets is zinc oxide, which is also used as a lip and face cream to prevent the skin from sunburn. Most zinc oxide is produced synthetically and inorganically in overseas factories.
- Boron. Although very few multis on the market contain it, though they should, the few that do most commonly use synthetic boric acid as their source. Boric Acid is used as an insecticide, flame retardant, cockroach killer, and as a precursor to many dangerous chemical compounds. Do you really want this in your daily multi?
A Smarter Way – Organic Food Derived Minerals the Mind and Body Crave
Now for the good news, with Smarter’s Multi you’re not stuck with inorganic minerals. You now have a great, natural alternative to poorly digested inorganic minerals found in multi tablets - organic minerals from REAL FOOD!
“Going Organic” now also applies to your intake of daily essential minerals. Your body is much more receptive and responsive to organic minerals from food – real fruits and vegetables. Here are the natural and organic food sources of minerals found in the Smarter Multi. Now compare with the inorganic list above in typical multi tablets. Which would you rather have in your body?
Smarter Multis Natural & Organic Mineral Sources
- Calcium from almonds, Amaranth grain and the superfood red-green algae.
- Magnesium from sesame and sunflower seeds, spearmint leaf, dill and okra.
- Potassium from spinach and banana.
- Zinc from wheat germ, pumpkin seed, watermelon, banana and cocoa.
- Boron from prunes, broccoli, peach and pear.
Smarter Multi – Important Part of a Healthy Daily Routine
Smarter Multi ensures you get the exact right amount of each vitamin and mineral daily. Smarter Multi delivers all your daily essential nutrients in the most bioavailable form possible - not a rock-hard compressed tablet, but vitamins that come in a veggie softgel with a digestive-friendly ginger oil base, and minerals that come in an easy to digest and absorb fine, loose-pack powder.
For your overall mental and physical wellness, Smarter Multi is an important part of a healthy daily routine.
CLICK HERE for more information on mental health and on Smarter Multi, including how to get started!
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