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 Treating Anxiety and Depression 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Holistic Healthcare for Children by . View all columns in series
These two symptoms, that tend to go hand in hand, may occur as mild and bothersome moodiness or devastating dysfunction that brings life to a standstill. Wherever you or a loved one fit on this spectrum there is help for these problems with holistic medicine.

My treatment plan for anxiety and/or depression involves a multifaceted approach that is actually very simple. Many lifestyle changes that can help mood often seem out of reach to people who feel paralyzed by their seemingly overwhelming stress and resulting symptoms. Intervention with nutritional supplements is often the first place to start. Just the addition of a B complex with 100 mg of the B vitamins and 2-5 mg of sublingual B12 (in the form of methylcobalamin) can provide some relief of symptoms and improved energy.

Then instituting lifestyle changes in the form of increased exercise and dietary changes, especially reducing the intake of processed carbohydrates (bakery products, high sugar foods) and increasing fresh fruit and vegetables and protein sources every few hours in the day can set the stage for a stronger foundation and better mood.

In my experience the most effective treatment for anxiety and depression involves a targeted nutritional supplement program guided by tests of neurotransmitter and hormone levels. There are many neurotransmitters that effect brain function and these can be measured with a simple urine test. Hormones can be measured with a saliva or blood test. Both research studies and clinical experience have proven the accuracy of this method. Neurotransmitters can be broadly classified into two types: calming chemicals that create a state of relaxation and help people sleep (serotonin being one of these), and stimulating neurotransmitters that keep people alert and active (adrenalin or epinephrine being one of these). These two types of neurotransmitters function in a balance to maintain focus, alertness, calmness, and peace of mind. If any of these neurotransmitters are deficient or excessive a resulting imbalance can result in symptoms of anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, attention problems, or irritability. Hormones produced in the adrenal gland (cortisol) or the sex hormones can also contribute to these symptoms if they are outside of normal range. Once the balance of these brain chemicals is understood, then specific amino acids or herbs can be prescribed to alter their levels and create more harmonious internal patterns and function . This can then provide relief of symptoms, often in a short period of time and for the long term. For more information about neurotransmitters and this method of treatment you can look at the site

The medical systems of Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and homeopathy may also play a valuable role in the holistic treatment of mood disorders. Often a problem with mood reflects an underlying imbalance in health that is accompanied by physical symptoms as well. It is common for stress to also result in digestive problems, headaches, and immune system disorders of various kinds that need to be addressed as well in a holistic treatment plan to achieve optimum health. And in many people the presence of persistent physical symptoms is in itself a contributor to discouragement and frustration and stress.

Of course, developing an understanding of stress reactions, relationship problems, and personal development through counseling or therapy can provide important self-help tools for creating a healthier attitude, but most patients that I see have already done many of these with limited success because of an underlying chemical imbalance. Others have tried psychiatric medications including antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs with mixed results.

A holistic plan can be initiated at any stage of the process of illness. I see many patients who are taking prescription medications and looking for a better, more natural method. Holistic methods can be started in tandem with existing medications as long as the practitioner is experienced in managing these symptoms. Sometimes parents are concerned about their child’s attention and focus or behavior problems and reluctant to start down the road of prescribed drugs. Whatever the situation, holistic treatment can provide a balanced approach that looks at the whole person and lead to a higher state of overall health.

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 About The Author
Dr. Randal Neustaedter has practiced holistic medicine for more than thirty years in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in child health care. He is a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine,......moreRandall Neustaedter OMD
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