IN the treatment of anxiety and depression many people rely on prescription medication to manage their conditions. These medications are often necessary, especially when the condition is severe, debilitating or life-threatening. But in cases where the condition has been managed or is mild, clinical psychologist Dr Pearnel Bell said that patients can try non-prescription approaches which have proven effective in the treatment and management of these illnesses.
“Depression and anxiety are serious mental illnesses that can significantly impact a person's mood, thoughts and behaviours, so much so that it may affect the way the person thinks about him or herself. It may affect eating and sleeping patterns and one's general outlook on life and it may profoundly impact everyday activities such as going to school, work and even socialising,” Dr Bell told All Woman .
She said that conventionally a combination of therapy and prescription medications have been used to help people with depression and while these have worked, sometimes prescription medications have side effects which may affect the quality of life of some patients.
“If medication is not required or can be limited, that is always the best option and so what we realised through studies and observation is that depression can also be managed naturally — some lifestyle changes, for example, as well as herbs, have been found to be quite helpful. These are recommended even in patients on long-term prescriptions so they can enjoy a better quality of life,” Dr Bell explained.
How do you fight back without the use of prescription drugs? Dr Bell said that it's easier said than done, but these lifestyle changes may be your answer.
Acknowledge that depression in real
Know that depression is real, but that you have control of how you live your life. This is the first step to better managing the condition.
Work on creating balance
A lot of time anxiety and depression are triggered when people feel out of control — they are not getting what they want when they want it; things are not working out as they would like; and they feel like they cannot get a grip on their lives. If this is the case then you need to do a few things, including organising your life and setting goals.
Accept challenges as they come
Remember, you would be non-human if you did not have any challenges. Recognising that challenges are a natural part of everyday life is the first step to stepping over the hurdle.
Learn to appreciate the lessons
As you face the challenges, ask yourself what lessons you are being taught. Challenges are life lessons for personal growth and can bring about profound changes.
Bob Marley said that when the music hits you feel no pain and Dr Bell said that this statement rings true for many people who struggle with anxiety and depression. She says that listening to music, especially positive, relaxing songs and rhythms, has been found to help improve the mood in people with depression. Others have used singing as their escape, she says, and when they do they find themselves in a much happier place.
Laugh, and laugh some more
Laughter is medicine, so find time to laugh even if there is nothing to laugh about. Whatever it is that you like that makes you laugh, you can often find a wide selection on the Internet. Go in search of them and enjoy.
Eating healthily is not only good for your physique, it can also improve your mind. Eating balanced, healthy meals throughout the day will boost your energy levels and stave off mood swings. You also want to avoid some foods and substances because of their ability to cause inflammation in your body, which has been found to lead to depression. The usual suspects are sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol.
Regular exercise is good for the mind and body. It is one of the most non-prescriptive recommendations made to people who suffer from anxiety and depression. Experts reason that this will boost the release of hormones such as serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. Like many prescriptive antidepressants, these chemicals will, in turn, encourage the growth of new, healthy brain cells.