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A Functional Medicine Approach to Depression and Anxiety

You flash a quick smile at the moms at the pickup line at school and hope they won’t notice how fake the smile feels even to you. A cloud of negativity follows you the whole car ride home and you struggle to catch your breath, struggle to silence the incessant worries that haunt you so that you can listen to your daughter tell you about her day, you try to remain composed giving it your all so that you don’t let yourself spiral out of control.

Have you ever felt this way?

Maybe it’s something you occasionally experience or maybe it’s something you’ve been feeling on the daily. Depression and anxiety can make even the most grounded and centered person feel like a crafty imposter has sneakily hijacked their life.

If you struggle with anxiety and depression you aren’t alone.

Truly, truly, you aren’t alone.

Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States have at least one major depressive episode per year with the prevalence of those occurring predominantly in women.

Many many women come into Nourish Health and Wellness feeling embarrassed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and sometimes hopeless about the chronic depression and anxiety symptoms that have been trying to hijack their lives.

At Nourish Health and Wellness we are all about empowering and educating women to live their best most healthy and vibrant lives and we are committed to being here every step of the way to support you through the process.

How Is the Functional Medicine Approach Going to Help You Feel Better?

Firstly, it’s so important to note that if you have chosen to take medication to manage your symptoms- you have done nothing wrong!

That being said, both anxiety and depression are symptoms with a root cause. So even though pharmaceuticals may help you to manage your symptoms we are all about being biochemical detectives to uncover the root cause of your symptoms and put our attention and focus on treating the cause so that your symptoms naturally start disappearing.

Sometimes during this process, it’s necessary for the quality of life of our patients to be on medication temporarily but typically our goal is to get you to a point where you feel amazing without relying on pharmaceuticals (which often have adverse side effects).

silhouette of woman and baby in strollerWe are experts in using a multifactorial approach to get the full picture of your health including:

  • Taking the time to listen to you and conduct a detailed health assessment
  • Ordering comprehensive and advanced functional testing that you won’t get during a conventional medicine visit. This provides us with detailed information as to what is going on in your body
  • Providing ongoing coaching, education, resources, and support so that you are never alone in your journey to better health

Our goal is to uncover why these symptoms are appearing and treat the cause so that you can start feeling more:

  • Calm
  • Energetic
  • Clear- headed
  • Centered
  • In control
  • Capable

Current research is showing us that both depression and anxiety are likely symptoms of chronic inflammation. Other common causes are poor gut health, hormonal imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies.

6 Ways to Start Feeling Better Right Now

  • Accept Where You Are At Right Now: I know. I know. This may not be what you want to hear but what you resist persists. Take a few deep breaths, accept that these things that you are feeling are real and know that your depression and anxiety are not YOU, but merely very real symptoms of an underlying issue that we can help you uncover and treat.
  • Go For a 10-Minute Walk Outside: Exercising when you are feeling anxious or depressed can feel overwhelming. At Nourish Health and Wellness we are all about practicality and meeting you where you’re at. A 10-minute walk outside is a way to honor the way that you feel right now while pushing yourself just a little bit to get you in the direction of feeling better. In some cases, exercise can be as effective as antidepressants! It’s such a great way to keep that mood elevated, that waistline down, and that heart beating strong.
  • Create a Playlist of Your Favorite Songs: (You can do this on YouTube for free if you have a google account) Research shows that music is an effective tool to help you lift your mood and improve symptoms of depression.
  • Talk to a Trusted Friend: You don’t have to go through this alone. Find someone who you can trust and allow yourself to be vulnerable and open up about how you’ve been feeling. Remember, struggling with mental health issues doesn’t take away your superhero card and chances are the friend you confide in has at some point struggled with some of the things you are navigating through right now.
  • Record One Good Thing Every Day: Find yourself a notebook or journal that inspires you and makes you feel happy to look at. Every day for thirty days write down ONE thing that is good in your life, that made you laugh, that you appreciate, or that is motivating to you. It’s so easy to fall into a trap of thinking that every day is bad or hard, and even though there may be a lot of challenging moments throughout the day you are likely to feel so much better when you start noticing and feeling the good things that happened throughout the day as well.  
  • Commit to Meditating 5-Minutes a Day: Meditation can seem like an esoteric practice reserved for the spiritually enlightened but in reality, it is for EVERYONE. If meditating seems intimidating to you, commit to practicing it just 5-minutes a day and watch your life transform. Here’s a great list of different meditations and how they work! Research shows that meditation is an effective way to help reduce and manage anxiety symptoms, so give it a try and see if it’s for you!

Key Takeaways

  • You aren’t alone. Millions of Americans are suffering from anxiety and depression.
  • Your symptoms are REAL but they are not YOU and there is hope to start feeling amazing.
  • Functional Medicine is an effective way to find the root cause as to why you are not feeling optimal and getting you to a point where you feel great. We take time to listen to you, do a thorough health analysis, offer sophisticated and noninvasive testing, and view you as the beautiful woman that you are who is made up of body, mind, and spirit.
  • Depression and anxiety are commonly symptoms of chronic inflammation, poor gut health, hormonal imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies.
  • There are things you can start doing today to begin your journey to feeling amazing and living your best life such as fully accepting where you are at right now, getting outside for a walk, listening to music, talking to a trusted friend, journaling one good thing, and meditating.

Here’s to being one step closer to your absolute best mental and physical health! 

Ashley Mannell, RD, NP, IFMCP is a psychiatric nurse practitioner and registered dietitian certified in functional medicine through the Institute for Functional Medicine. She is the owner of Nourish Health & Wellness—an integrative and functional medicine health clinic in Richmond, VA that specializes in treating women’s mental health, digestive disorders, and weight management issues.  


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