The Art of Relating

Christine Kniffen, MSW, LCSW

Anxiety and Depression

It seems that the incidence of anxiety and depression has risen dramatically over the last 10 years. What is the reason? Is it that we just talk about it more? Is it genetic? Is it the endocrine disrupting quality of the pesticides used on our food supply? Is it the level of stress that so many people live under these days with all of the over-scheduling? Is it the imbalance of your gut microbes, due to alarming rates of sugar consumption, given it is estimated that up to 90% of your serotonin is produced in your digestive tract? Well, I don’t know. But, as a wise therapist told me many years ago, “It’s not one thing or the other, but rather little bits of many things”.

What I do know, however, is that it is my job to try and help clients who ever-increasingly present with these conditions when coming in to see me. People run the gambit regarding their thoughts on treatment. Some people are willing to take pharmaceutical medications and some are not. Some people suffer, refusing to take these medications. And, others sometimes take more traditional treatment remedies and combine them with alternative treatments. I generally don’t take a position one way or the other. However, I like to give my clients all options so that they can make informed decisions as to their path for relief. I can say however, that doing nothing is not going to make the symptoms disappear. The edgy-snappy manifestation of anxiety/depression often is brought up in couples counseling, when one person feels they are being impacted negatively by the other’s mood and they have been unwilling thus far to try to remedy this condition.

The option I frequently discuss with clients relates to the idea of balancing your neurotransmitters. The medical community has fairly high consensus on which neuro transmitters are responsible for which types of symptoms. Anxiety, chronic worrying, etc. is associated with low serotonin. Additionally, the more traditional manifestations of classic “brain fog” and an inability to get up and going is often associated with Dopamine. However, there are many important neurotransmitters that come into play.
Unfortunately, without measuring them the treatment is just a shot in the dark. This is why people continue to be switched on their medications, over and over, and many cannot seem to get the relief they deserve. Additionally, it is known that traditional SSRI’s don’t work for as many as 1/3 of the people that take them. These medications in effect gather up the serotonin for utilization. However, some people don’t produce enough serotonin to even gather up in the first place.

There are independent labs that can measure these neurotransmitters through a urine sample. And, there are amino acid supplements to shore up many deficiencies. For example, 5-HTP works as a building block and precursor to serotonin. However as usual, the fight between the traditional medical community and one that is more alternative lives on. Some in the traditional medical community will say that you can’t truly measure neurotransmitter levels with a urine test. However, naturopaths and others believe you can. Again, I work to provide options to clients, who do not want side-effect producing medications, with an alternative to consider. I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to be. It is everyone’s job to become informed and be active in their treatment.

I work with many clients to get their neurotransmitter levels measured and begin the supplementation process. However, I must state clearly that you should not go about supplementing yourself willy-nilly, as even natural supplements can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

If you are interested in more information, stop by my booth at the Healthy Planet EXPO. I look forward to seeing you.

For more information visit my website www.christinekniffen.com.

Christine Kniffen, LCSW is a Therapist and Relationship Coach in private practice. For a free consultation (free for private pay & no co-pay for those using their insurance) call 314-374-8396.