Wellness Solutions Blog

thoughts from our expert team

Category Archives: Anxiety and Depression

Stress: The Good, The Bad, and The Healthy


In these uncertain times with COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, it’s obvious each one of you has your own definition of how stress has impacted your life, or how it makes you feel.

Nobody is immune, even during so-called “normal times.”  If we define stress as anything that alters our homeostasis ( internal balance), then good stress, in its many forms, is vital for a healthy life.  Bad stress can sometimes eventually turn into good and vice versa.  Good stress, which psychologists call “ eustress,” is the type we feel when we experience the emotion of excitement or receive good news, for example.


Good stress, then, is the type that triggers our pulse to quicken and your hormones to surge, but there is no threat or sense of fear.  This type can be appreciated if you reflect, for example, on your very first date in high school.  The excitement you felt about the date or the person produced this healthy form.

Another type is acute stress.  It comes from quick surprises that need a response rapidly.  Acute stress triggers the body’s response as well, but the triggers are not always happy or exciting.  It can be good or bad stress, depending on the specific incident.  Acute stress by itself does not take a heavy toll on you either mentally or physically, if, you find ways to relax or calm yourself down in a reasonable amount of time.  To remain happy and healthy, we need to return the body back to its pre-stress state or back to internal balance.  Chronic stress is another form of bad stress.  This is generally considered a more severe form.  Because our bodies are meant to be in a steady state of balance physically, mentally, and emotionally, you can face adverse health effects, if chronic stress persists unchecked for months without end.

Interestingly enough, everyone’s perception of stress and their ability to cope with various stressors throughout life is uniquely different from one person to the next. This is similar to what we see with people’s perception of pain, for example.  Each individual’s pain threshold is different.  Studies even suggest that different ethnic groups and cultures experience stress and pain levels at different rates, frequencies, and limits.  The body’s response reacts strongly to “perceived threats. “  If you don’t perceive or interpret something as a threat, there is generally no sympathetic nervous system response in terms of a “fight or flight” response.

There are some tools or resources you may consider to help you make the paradigm shift mentally in your mind regarding perceptions or perceived stress which include such things as:

  1. focus on the resources you do possess
  2. see the potential upside or what is to be learned from the experience
  3. remind yourself of all your strengths
  4. maintain a mindset of mental toughness
  5. keep a positive mental attitude (feed the brain good thoughts)


In addition to the current stress levels being generated or created from the coronavirus, other factors play heavily into triggering the stress response in millions of Americans.  The key elements and top causes of stress include job pressures, money, health, health insurance, relationships, both personal and professional, poor nutrition, media overload, and sleep deprivation.  Typically, the most common physical symptoms associated with persistent stress include fatigue, headaches, upset stomach, IBS, muscle tension, changes in appetite, teeth grinding, changes in sex drive or libido, and occasionally feeling dizzy or light-headed.  Furthermore, people report the following psychological symptoms as well, which include irritability or anger, feeling more nervous or anxious, fatigue or lack of energy, and feeling sad, mildly depressed, or being tearful more frequently.


We all know that exercise, healthy eating, and proper nutritional supplementation can have a profound effect on our overall general health.  However, chronic high-level stress will, over time, overload the adrenal gland stress hormone response of cortisol and epinephrine. These physiological or functional  “ fight or flight “ responses will then create a cascade of emotional and physical toxicities within the body that must be dealt with.  Also, chronic stress increases both the risk and duration of all viruses, viral syndromes, and bacterial infections, for example. When we are poised to adapt to these responses, the natural self-repair mechanism of the body can go about the business of doing what it does best- which is to heal the body.  After all, balance is the crucial element when we are dealing with the nervous system.


Gone are the days where we don’t look at the mind-body connection. Functional medicine doctors and holistic practitioners are aligned with this concept, and put great faith in this connection for healing and putting the body back into homeostasis.  The more research that rolls out, the more we see it as the absolute connection needed to bridge the gap not only for the treatment of but also in the prevention of the many diseases, including chronic stress.  Having the knowledge and the emotional and physical tools to manage stress effectively takes some time and effort, but the payoff in optimizing your health is enormous.


Here are my favorite health tips to help you, your family, and friends navigate through the maze of eustress and distress in your daily lives to keep you happy and healthy.

  1. MINDFULNESS – meditation reduces anxiety and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Merely taking a few deep abdominal breaths activates the vagus nerve, which triggers a signal within your nervous system to slow your heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and lower cortisol.  The next time you feel yourself in a stressful situation, take a few deep breaths and feel your entire body relax and decompress.  Simple, and it works!
  2. FOOD IS YOUR FRIEND – Let food be your medicine.  Nearly 40 percent of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy processed foods as a result of stress.  Eat the colors of the rainbow.  This simply means more fruits and vegetables.  The Mediterranean diet is still considered to be the healthiest of all diets.
  3. LAUGH MORE – Harvard Medical Center clearly feels laughter and humor to be one of the best forms of good medicine.  Laughter triggers chemical responses in the brain that lead to feelings of pleasure and a sense of well- being.
  4. CORRECT NUTRIENT IMBALANCES – Optimal nutrition is the cornerstone of optimal health.  Checking for nutrient deficiencies is one of the most important ways to help someone enter into a healing environment. Chronic stress, some medications, poor diet,  and digestive issues all contribute to a lack of crucial vitamins and minerals in the body, which can lead to chronic health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, for example.
  5. POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS –  Having close social networks with family, friends, significant others, and co-workers, can support the body is dealing with stress.  The emotional aspect increases healthy molecules like serotonin ( the feel-good hormone ), for example.


Stress, whether good or bad, is obviously a part of life for all of us.  And while you can’t always control your circumstances, you can control how you respond to them.  When it becomes overwhelming, or it is chronic in nature, it can take a toll on your well – being.  That’s why it is essential to have effective stress reduction strategies that can calm your mind and body reasonably quickly.  What works for one person might not work for another.  There isn’t a perfect recipe or magic bullet as a one-size-fits-all option.

Could it be your Thyroid?


According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, nearly 30 million Americans have thyroid disease. Unfortunately, many go undiagnosed or undetected for years.  This number includes three times more women than men and includes something called subclinical hypothyroidism.

Subclinical hypothyroidism presents clinically with many of the same symptoms as classic hypothyroidism, but, is just below the threshold in terms of diagnostic lab values regarding TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), and T4 or thyroxine.

If you suspect a thyroid problem, the first thing your doctor will probably do is order a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test.  This is covered by insurance and typically might be the only component of the thyroid test panel to be checked by the doctor. Typically, the higher your score, the more likely you are to be hypothyroid.  The American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists believes levels between 0.3 and 3 are indicative of an underachieving thyroid.  However, many functional or natural medicine practitioners believe any score higher than 2.0 on the TSH score, plus classical symptoms is indicative of hypothyroidism.

Conventional doctors will follow the standard of care and recommend Synthroid or Levothyroxine, which may temporarily improve symptoms, but not address the underlying cause.

According to Dr. Mark Hyman M.D. functional medicine expert and Chief of the Functional Medicine Division at the Cleveland Clinic, it is important to consider changes in diet, lifestyle, and to prescribe a natural prescription form of thyroid like Armour Thyroid or Natur-Throid as a starting point, with combinations of both T4 thyroxine and T3 or triiodothyronine, which is the active form of thyroid.

Classic Low Thyroid Symptoms to Consider

If you experience some of the following, you may want to rule out classic hypothyroidism, subclinical hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as the underlying cause of why you are not feeling like yourself or feeling your best.

Do you experience any of the following symptoms?

  • thick or brittle fingernails
  • dry skin
  • cold hands and feet regardless of warm temperature
  • fatigue
  • lack of stamina
  • brain fog
  • course or thinning hair
  • thin eyebrows
  • excessive sweating
  • menstrual irregularities
  • swollen hands or feet
  • palpitations
  • high cholesterol
  • changes in weight with difficulty losing weight
  • mild depression
  • anxiety
  • muscle aches or joint pain

Many times this exhaustive list of symptoms or a cluster of these signs is indicative of a disturbed thyroid which deserves further clinical investigation.  Doctors may overlook thyroid disease because sometimes the symptoms are non- specific, and the lab results fall within the normal reference range.

Typical Patient Story of Missed Thyroid Diagnosis

Angelina Smith is a busy mother of two young boys who suddenly found herself exhausted in the middle of the morning.  Her doctor told her to “get more sleep” and to try to relax.  When she reported that her hair was falling out and she was feeling more sad or depressed, her doctor attributed her symptoms to everyday ups and downs of life.  Angelina also noted, that her regular clothes were fitting tighter, and she was gaining some weight despite some regular moderate exercise, and no change in diet.  The doctor shunned this off as just her age of 35 years, and that her “metabolism was changing”.  Angelina knew something was just not right with her body and decided to change physicians for another opinion. After deciding to step outside the traditional medicine box and make an appointment with a functional medicine doctor educated on hormonal imbalance, Angelina’s issue was uncovered as hypothyroidism with an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone which was contributing with her present symptoms. Once these hormone issues were addressed and treated with compounded formulations specific for her body, Angelina began to regain her health and feel once again like her old self.

What are the Different Types of Thyroid Disease? 

Thyroid disease can be classified according to overactivity or under activity of the gland.  The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located anatomically at the base of your throat and produces hormones that control every function in your body.

Thyroid disease consists of hyperthyroidism, goiters, nodules, hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and sub-clinical hypothyroidism.  Thyroid hormone, when it is in balance, helps improve moods, skin, hair, sex drive, heart function, cholesterol, infertility, muscle aches, joint pain, body temperature, and metabolism to name a few.  In addition, hypothyroidism has been associated with fibromyalgia and osteoporosis according to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum M.D., medical director of the National Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers.

Trusting the Thyroid Thermostat

According to Brian F. Mandell M.D., Ph.D. contributing author in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 2019 February:86 (2):77-78 who suggests that the natural history of all patients with subclinical hypothyroidism is not alike, and it thus should not be surprising that there does not seem to be a one-size-fits-all approach to management of the disorder.  Furthermore, the management of subclinical hypothyroidism or other forms of thyroid disorder should be based on both good clinical examination and laboratory testing that includes complete thyroid profiles with TSH, T3, free T3, T4, free T4, TPO, and reverse T3.

Simple, At-Home Thyroid Testing

Many functional medicine or holistic medical doctors recommend doing your own thyroid screening test in the comforts of your home.  This can be accomplished by placing a thermometer under the arm ( axillary area) upon awakening.  Hold still for 5 minutes, then record your time and temperature.  Do this for three consecutive days to see a pattern of your basal body temperature.  If your reading is below 97.2 consistently, and you suffer from the cluster of symptoms mentioned above, it is likely your thyroid is underactive and needs some medical attention.

Proactive Approach to Managing Your Thyroid

Early detection of thyroid disease is very important, just like any other major condition.  The sooner you have a definitive diagnosis, the faster you can begin to get your life back and expect to feel as if you are in control again.  Encourage your physician to order a complete thyroid profile, take your own basal body temperature test at home, and start appropriate therapy to regain homeostasis once again. In addition, there are some very good nutritional supplements that support the thyroid gland and can help rebalance your metabolism and give you more energy.  One, in particular, called THYROID SUPPORT WITH ZINC improves low thyroid and metabolic function by combining key vitamins, minerals, and herbal ingredients specifically targeted at this gland.  This supplement can be taken as an adjunct to prescription natural thyroid medicine, or as a stand-alone product for milder symptoms.

If you have questions, you may reach us at Cypress Pharmacy by calling (239)-481-7322 or stop by to discuss with one of our healthcare professionals.

Probiotics: A Natural Solution to Anxiety and Depression?


Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression, which often overlap, are looking to more natural alternatives to alleviate symptoms and to boost their moods.  This is especially true when their prescription medications from their primary care physician or psychiatrist are falling short of their expectations for symptom relief.

About 16.1 million adult Americans suffer from major depression and approximately 40 million struggle with features of anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder.

Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression are unfortunately resistant to conventional treatments commonly prescribed for their cluster of symptoms.  Some studies reveal as much as 50% of patients may not see improvement or may have significant side effects.  Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for a three year period showed antidepressant drug use has increased by 65% since 1999.  Individual responses to treatment vary greatly from one person to the next for a variety of reasons.  For example, those taking antidepressant medications find that 50% of the time their initial treatment does not work, and another 66% experience at least one side effect- including nausea, weight gain, fatigue, lack of energy, sexual dysfunction and in some cases even suicidal thoughts or ideation.

Enter probiotics to the scene! Scientists have found a new way to relieve mood disorders with two strains of beneficial bacteria to significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.  One study showed a 50% improvement in depression scores with high-quality pharmaceutical-grade probiotics which contain proper amounts of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  The same was discovered for anxiety, showing nearly 55% improvement in anxiety scores- all without side effects.

Probiotics provide a safe, powerful way to help alleviate some of the symptoms regarding anxiety and depression when taken daily.  They have also been shown to boost overall mood and outlook.

Probiotics, microorganisms, and mood are interconnected via the intestinal neural system and the interaction between the gut-brain axis.  Probiotics support psychological well-being and gut microorganisms and can secrete many kinds of neurotransmitters.  These are chemical messengers that send signals from one neuron or nerve cell to another.  This includes GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and serotonin, which both can relieve anxiety and depression in some people.  Most people do not realize we have more serotonin receptors in the gut than in the brain which further speaks to the importance of maintaining a healthy “internal garden” or digestive tract function.  Probiotics can improve and redistribute species in microbes which can lessen symptoms related to anxiety and depression.

Further studies have demonstrated that the two key strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium work synergistically through the gut-brain axis to support healthy cortisol levels, which we know reduces stress, and many times may lessen mild to moderate anxiety and depression.  A particular clinical trial assessed the impact of using probiotics containing the afore mentioned probiotic strains at therapeutic levels for stress-induced digestive symptoms.  About 60% of patients with some type of depression or anxiety have intestinal disturbances of some form including leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, bloating, or GERD.  This double blind controlled randomized study enrolled participants aged 18-60 who self-reported at least two symptoms of stress.  They were given either a placebo or the probiotic supplement at the same dosage as other studies.  After three weeks, probiotic-treated subjects, compared to the placebo group, had 7.6 times the reduction in stress-induced abdominal pain, 2.1 times the reduction in anxiety induced nausea and vomiting, and 3 times the reduction in bloating, gas, constipation, and GERD symptoms including a noted improvement in moods.

If you are a person who experiences symptoms of anxiety or depression, or have been diagnosed with one or both disorders, consider this all-natural solution of pharmaceutical grade probiotics.  Adding probiotics to your daily regimen is highly recommended for general wellness as 70% of all inflammation in the body is generated in the gut.

While further studies are needed, the early clinical findings using these two specific strains of probiotic in mood disorders is very exciting.  Again, knowing that probiotics have the therapeutic potential to modulate neurotransmitters that are directly connected to anxiety and depression gives providers and patients alike more “tools in their bag” to combat these common maladies.  A review of the key neurotransmitters includes: Serotonin which is thought of as the body’s natural “feel good” chemical and found in highest concentrations in the gut, Dopamine which contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction, and Norepinephrine that increases alertness, arousal, and attention.

So, if you are a person who has been diagnosed with one or both anxiety and depression, consider this all-natural solution of pharmaceutical grade probiotics as a simple way to feel better both emotionally and physically.

If you have questions do not hesitate to call and speak with one of our health care professionals at Cypress Pharmacy at (239)-481-7322 or go to http://www.cypresspharmacy.com.

%d bloggers like this: