Monday, March 12, 2012

This Past Winter

The temperature outside is a wonderful 60 degrees. Birds are singing outside my window. We've even had a couple of thunderstorms. Spring is here. There might be a little bit more snow here or there before things settle in, but it is SO nice.

Winters are usually a hard challenge for me. Cold descends and depression hits. This winter wasn't as bad. I'm not sure what made it easier. I'm sure the milder weather didn't hurt, because cold spells were interspersed between periods of weather in the 40's, which felt like 70, comparatively. The air was invigorating.

One other thing that I did as well, I supplemented with amino acid precursors. After studying how drugs work in the brain, I also ended up reading a book called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, MA. The author stated that what antidepressants do (and other mood altering drugs), is that either they force the neurons to make a neurotransmitter that they may not really have the building blocks for and therefore strain the system, or prevent the reabsorption or "reuptake" of certain neurotransmitters. Having these present helps the brain to function, and helps to reglate mood.

Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids. According to Ross, the difference between treating inattention, depression, non-incident related anger, anxiety, and other problems is that the brain doesn't have enough of the amino acids to build off of. Antidepressants, caffeine, antianxiety drugs sometimes stop working because they continue to deplete the resources that are never quite built up.

So I decided to try her recommendations to see if they made a difference. The nice thing is, amino acid precursors are relatively easy to find, and not expensive. They often have "L-" in front of their names, because that indicates that they are a precursor. If you take an amino acid, it will not cross the blood-brain barrier, but the body can take the precursor- the building blocks of an amino acid, and use them to make them. The other nice thing is, according to Ross, is that they build up the body's supply. When you are resupplied, you don't need to take them anymore.

One of the ones I tried was L-Tyrosine. It is supposed to make you more alert, but generally not jittery. She has steps for determining the proper dose, so if you ever look into this more, please read her book.

This was recommended for lethargy, which is a big part of SAD. There was a side effect that I hadn't planned on. It made me jittery when I drank caffeine. I wasn't jittery normally, and caffeine normally doesn't make me jittery. I can drink it right before I sleep. It actually relaxes me. I didn't like that. Within a few days of starting the L-Tyrosine, I had NO DESIRE for caffeine. It wasn't that I was making a huge effort to get off of it. I just didn't want it. I did go through the headache and flu-like symptoms when I stopped, but got past that, and it was gone.

I stopped taking L-Tyrosine a couple of months ago; by the New Year. I just kind of stopped, which is what she said might happen if you had enough. I don't really crave caffeine at all now. I have an iced tea now and again, but it doesn't taste as good because the craving isn't making it taste as good.

My moods have been much more stable this Winter. I tend toward anger when I'm depressed. But mood-wise, it has been a very calm Winter as well. No rages, no sullenness. A few bouts of depression for a day here or there, but nothing that was really hard. I don't know for sure, but I think the caffeine was probably responsible for the mood swings as well. I know that it is responsible for a good portion of my touch sensitivity, because it comes back when I have one.

It's been nice to enjoy my kids and my husband this past Winter. I'm still REALLY glad that Spring is here.


Sage said...

Very interesting. I'll have to get that book. We did fairly well this winter and like you, think it was because of the mild temps and abundant sunshine. Today, we got into the 80's. I've got fans going in all the windows now. :-)

Did you notice if the supplement affected your blood pressure? That would be my concern, if it caused an increase that would be something to take note of.

We have a suspicion (sp) that St. John's Wort w/ my husbands undiagnosed HPB helped to set off his stroke this summer. We had just begun supplementing him with it a month prior to the stroke. Of course, we don't know for sure, but stopped him taking it afterwards. He always had low bp, but for some reason it's gone up since he's over 55.

Angela said...

We supplemented our daughter with L-tyrosine and a high protein diet for a year when she was diagnosed with ADHD and possible dyslexia. Though the AA supplementation fell under the "can't hurt, might help" category for our physician I felt like it was worthwhile to try. We supplemented over the summer and started a new school in the fall...they got her reading back on track but never experienced any of the impulsive behaviors we had seen. Altogether we did a year of "treatment " with diet and tyrosine, and now two years removed from the beginning of suspecting a problem one would never guess that she had struggled. Thanks for sharing your is always nice to hear what others find helpful.
*one disclaimer...I in no way want to discount pharmaceutical treatments that can be lifesaving for those with depression; I've walked that road myself. However, seeing and treating the role of nutrition is imperative.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


I can't speak to blood pressure. It didn't affect mine that I know of. The book has recommendations regarding that.

What I did have about a month after this, was waking in the middle of the night with anxiety, increased heart rate, and compulsive need to check the stove to make sure it was turned off and not leaking gas. However, I have had this before a few weeks after giving up caffeine.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


Excellent point regarding nutrition. The healing potential of food is very overlooked. Thanks for sharing how that helped your daughter! I have ADHD, and I know my concentration is somewhat better, too.

Mark said...

Thanks for these recommendations. Your research and insights are appreciated.

Rev. James Leistico said...

very happy for you! (and your family too!)

Emily Cook said...

yikes.. you think caffeine contributes to the swings and the touch sensitivity?

have you cut it out completely?
I struggle with those symptoms, not daily but at certain times in the month. I did not blame caffeine because it does not happen all the time. what do you think?

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...


There is definitely a connection between caffeine and PMS. I'd give it a try, but I'd do it before PMS hits, because it is REALLY hard to do it then.