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What You Need Besides Your Medication

by Dr. Candice Cook

So many times we hear from our patients, “Yeah, the medications help, but I still…”

Yup! You got it. For most, taking a pill is not the complete answer. Medications take care of only part of the problem. What may be the rest of the answer? Let’s take a look.

The most ignored aspect of emotional health is nutrition. You see food has stuff in it to start chemical reactions in your body—for energy. This means energy for your whole body, including your brain. And the kind of foods you eat affects how your brain is going to work. Now, I think we all know that foods produced today do not have the nutritional value they had in our great grandparents’ day. If you could see the “soil” our food grows in – grayish powder filled with pesticides and fungicides! As if this isn’t bad enough, we process the living daylights out of it, too. All we’re really eating are empty calories. No wonder we struggle with weight problems. We’re hungry for REAL food!

So first, take your vitamins. Not a junky One-a-Day or Centrum. Your body can’t use but about 10-15% of those useless little buggers. I recommend Nature’s Plus, Solgar, or Shaklee. These companies earn A+ for quality and absorption rates. Better yet, you can take a colloidal vitamin (like Miracle 2000, the Total Toddy, Source of Life and get 90% absorption).

Next, take Omega 3 Fish Oil. Your brain is made of 60% fat (so, if I call you a fathead, say thank you) and the brain cell needs the kind of fat that allows oxygen and glucose (two things brains love) to enter easily and continually. Avoid (this means under NO circumstances are you or your children to eat) everything containing hydrogenated fats! (Sometimes they are called “trans fats”). These fats are poison to your body. In fact, since their introduction into your diets in the 1970’s the rise in mood disorders as well as ADD and ADHD has skyrocketed. Hydrogenated fats (they take corn oil, heat it to 360 degrees, and using nickel as a catalyst, force an extra hydrogen atom into the corn oil. Presto, Chango, you have a solid, black, greasy, smelly mass that gets bleached and deodorized. It’s now a synthetic, like a plastic, and you eat it). Unfortunately, it’s the fat used in cookies, fries, breads and donuts – virtually all snack foods. Almost anything that’s packaged has hydrogenated fats in it. I know that it can be a real pain in the neck getting hydrogenated fat out of your diet, especially for kids. But, making the effort is better than a plastic brain that can’t get the food it needs to work. Plus, just think of what’s happening to your arteries eating this stuff. The hydrogenated “icing on the cake” is that the body will use the plastic fat as fast, if not faster than the good fats. What are good fats? Fish oil, flax oil and olive oil are all good fats. Now, don’t get impatient, because it will take several months for your body to switch out, replacing the bad with the good, but it will be worth it. Your brain, your whole body, will thank you! By the way, if you want to avoid a phenomenon know as The Dreaded Fish Burps, you might want to use a good, pharmaceutical grade fish oil – those made by Nordic Naturals, Coromega, or Fisal (this one has an “enteric” coating. That means it won’t dissolve until it hits the intestines, all of which means increased absorption). Ask your doctor about dosages.


Over and over, studies demonstrate that people really need to exercise. Not only for heart health, but for mind health as well. Twenty to thirty minutes of fast walking, three to five times a week (get the heart pumping nice, fresh oxygen to your brain) is enough. The Harvard Mental Health Letter claims it’s every bit as important as your brain medications. Try to find exercise you enjoy. You’ll have a better chance of sticking with it.

I’ve saved the most important for last. Get into, or stick with your own personal psychotherapy. Your life won’t change if you continue to do goofy, unproductive things, like get into lousy, hurtful relationships, think angry, resentful thoughts, or shoot off your mouth at the wrong times. A therapist will help you find out where, when and how you keep shooting yourself in the foot. Then maybe you can learn to choose new thoughts and behaviors.

Plainly, there’s a lot to getting well. Definitely, take your medications, but don’t forget other aspects of your healing that go even beyond this article. Things like adequate rest (most Americans are sleep deprived, you really do need at least seven and a half hours of sleep, and kids even more), stress reduction techniques (your therapist can help you here), and JUST STOPPING TO SMELL THE ROSES!!