Prescription Anti-Depressants, Tranquillizers and Sleeping Tablets are regularly prescribed by doctors to treat anything from bereavement to postnatal depression. While there are many responsible and caring doctors out there, there are also many who over prescribe. This may sometimes be due to lack of time, lack of adequate training in emotional problems and mood disorders or sometimes just pure indifference towards the patient's problems! Sad, but unfortunately true!
In my opinion, the above drugs should only be used as a very last resort to treat depression, anxiety, or insomnia which is severe and chronic, i.e. when the person's day to day functioning is badly affected and where the problem is not responsive to any other forms of treatment. Many times, however, prescription drugs are the first line of treatment and this often becomes an obstacle in the patient's road to health and empowerment. In the extreme, it can lead to addiction and more problems than the patient started out with.
As for prescription sleeping tablets, the majority are addictive if used for longer than two weeks. After a while, more and stronger medication is needed, as the body gets "used" to the drug and "forgets" how to go to sleep by itself. This sets up a cycle of insomnia and dependence which is very difficult to break - and which would have been entirely avoidable if the health practitioner had spent some time listening to the patient and helping him or her to overcome problems, rather than resorting to prescription drugs.
The good news is that there are usually many healthier alternatives which really work well. They are not always the "quick fix', but most are a more permanent and certainly healthier alternative, leaving YOU in control!
Here are a few:
I know, I know - you've heard this before and it IS hard to start! But if every client followed this advice, I would go out of business! Regular exercise helps you to feel healthier, increases the production of natural "feel good" chemicals in the body, boosts self-esteem and significantly reduces the symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. It also helps those struggling to lose weight or fight addictions. The keyword is "regular"! At least half an hour of brisk exercise three times a week. Daily is better if you are trying to beat depression. Walk, swim, jog, dance, do aerobics, whatever - so long as it results in a bit of sweat and an increased heart rate. Believe it or not - if you persevere, you will begin to enjoy it!
When you are depressed, you usually isolate yourself and avoid company. Mixing with people is not always what you feel like doing, but loneliness is one of the major causes of depression. Get out there and join the world! You may hate it at first, but do it anyway! It will ultimately help to uplift your spirits and you will not feel so alone. If you don't have a social circle, join one! Volunteer organizations, mothers' groups, churches, sports clubs, hobbies and crafts are all good ideas. Be creative! Try out different alternatives until you find something that you like. Don't give up!
See the Discussion Forum Notice Boards for free support groups and topics of Inspiration. Join an online support group or start one of your own.
Talk About It
This is the most effective way of relieving depression and anxiety. Share your problems and "externalize" them, rather than bottling them up. You will be amazed at how relieved you feel and how you are able to begin to get things into perspective.
Speak to friends, family or to a professional person like a licensed counselor. Writing about your feelings is also therapeutic, so keep a journal, write a book or consult a professional.
Do Nice Things For Yourself
Nurture and spoil yourself. You deserve it too! So have a bubble bath, buy that special something you've been wanting, play your favorite music and SING, have an aromatherapy massage or relax and soak in your bathtub after adding a few drops of soothing lavender oil to the water. - and do it because YOU ARE SPECIAL!
Learn how to say 'No' to others when it is appropriate and 'Yes' to yourself when you need it. If you tell yourself "I don't have enough time to do that for myself', ask whether you would make the time if it was someone else's need. You will probably find that, while you have the time to see to the needs of others, you have 'no time' for yourself! Turn this around and see to your needs too. They are just as important! Don't be a martyr and deny yourself and then resent other people for not caring about you!
No, not the starvation kind! Enjoy your food and eat healthily. Some foods help to fight depression and anxiety. A carbohydrate rich diet helps the body produce serotonin - the 'feelgood' chemical. Special serotonin foods are oats, whole wheat, bananas and other carbohydrate rich foods. Make sure you are having a full supplement of Vitamin B, magnesium, zinc and iron - a deficiency in any of these can lead to depression and anxiety-type symptoms and insomnia.
There are many natural alternatives to prescription antidepressants, anxiolytics, and sleeping tablets. Research suggests that Hypericum perforatum (also known as St. Johnís Wort) is as effective, but has far fewer side effects, than many of the commonly used prescription antidepressants. Passiflora, Melissa, and Lavender are other natural remedies to soothe the symptoms of anxiety and stress as well as depression and, in sufficient dosage, may also help to induce sleep.
Learn to Relax or Meditate
Relaxation techniques and meditation are easy to learn and are so effective in relieving stress, anxiety, and depression that I wonder why they are not routinely prescribed or even taught as a life skill at school!
Understand Your Symptoms
Why are you feeling depressed? What is bothering you? What needs to change to help you to feel better? Is it something in your present, or are there unresolved issues in your past or in your childhood that you still need to deal with and which are affecting your life and your relationships?
Are your anxiety symptoms realistic or do they subconsciously mask other issues in your life which need dealing with like low self esteem, relationship problems or problems from your childhood?
Symptoms of depression and anxiety are very troublesome, but they are also an 'early warning' signal from your body that something is not right and needs to change. Listen to your body and work on your problems to prevent further ill health.
Here's a private game to play, guaranteed to warm your heart! See how many people you can get to return a smile! Without looking loony, make eye contact, smile and greet each person you meet or pass (as long as it's not in a dark alley!). Count how many return your smile. Not only does it feel good to have people smile at you, the facial muscles involved in smiling send messages to the brain, causing an increase in production of natural feelgood brain chemicals! Try it - you'll be surprised!
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Tess Thompson is a Homeopathic Practitioner, Reflexologist, Certified Aromatherapist, and Herbalist who contributes regularly to Native Remedies, where you can find Guaranteed, Natural Health Remedies for dealing with depression.
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