Those suffering with a mental health issue have no doubt considered these options. Sometimes we need a bit more information to consider the best route to go down.
Today I’m going to address some of the pros and cons for both sides. Please bear in mind that these options are there to give you a balanced view.
I am not a doctor and you should always consult them first. After all, they know best!
For some reason that phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” This might come in handy a bit later… Anyway back on track.
But at the same time, sometimes having a normal person like me around can help.
By the way – this post is for those who may already be on medication or going down the natural route. This is just here for you if you are considering other options.
WARNING: Contains a little bit of scientific speak. It is just there to allow me to explain the medical side of things a little better!
DOUBLE WARNING: I am honest about my medication and how I manage my anxiety. If you aren’t ready for this then please do come back at a later date! 🙂
Anyway. Let’s talk about it a bit more.
I’m going to start of by discussing the medication route. Personally – this is the route I went. However it isn’t for everyone and ultimately is something you have to decide.
In addition to this, my doctor when down the natural route with my first to see if it helped. Unfortunately it didn’t but more on that later.
The point of your doctor is to work out what you want and how you want to do it. Remember that you don’t have to always go for their option. Doing a bit of your own research can help you make the right choice.
So let’s go into a bit more detail about whether medication is the right choice for you.
Going for medication
First and foremost you need to know that there are numerous different types of medication out there. Sometimes it can take months and even years to find the one that suits you.
As you know we are all very different. What works for me might not work for you. you are as unique as a thumb print.
Medication to ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression are there for additional support.
You may or may not know that when suffering from these illnesses, it is very much physical. It is NOT all in your head. Don’t let anyone tell you such. Your body responds to the additional adrenaline in your blood. It’s like you are preparing to fight or run.
The more well known saying is ‘fight or flight mode’. This was more relevant in primitive times when we would go out looking for prey. Unfortunately we don’t need this in modern life.
High levels of stress cause this as the most inconvenient times (as you may well know!)
Medication is there to help these symptoms.
For example, anxiety makes your heart beat faster. It makes you short of breath. It makes you shaky and on edge. Unfortunately for us sufferers – we cannot control this. Medication helps to ease this for you.
So what types of medication are out there?
Antidepressants are usually prescribed to help with a mental health disorder. There are different types of antidepressants available. The most popular type is called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
They basically work by allowing more serotonin to flow around your blood stream (very simplistic way of explaining it). As mentioned in other posts, some of generally have less serotonin in our blood stream and it’s just down to chemical imbalances. SSRIs help with this.
Here are five of the most widely used at the moment:
- Citalopram (that’s the one I’m on)
Each of these different medications have their own different ways of helping. It can never hurt doing a bit of research on the internet and read about each of them.
I’m not going to go into detail here though as I may end up bore you!
But always speak to your doctor to get at idea of which one would be best to start on. If you’re finding the one you’re currently isn’t working, speak to your doctor about switching. They can give you the advice that you need.
It can play a key role in treatment
Most doctors will prescribe you medication if you want it. This is due to the known benefits that come with antidepressants. There have been numerous studies documenting the benefits that medication has with mental health issues.
It’s not a quick fix
Getting the right treatment via medication can take months to years to resolve. Even then, you might be using a combination of treatment to ease your symptoms.
It is definitely NOT a quick fix. As I’ve mentioned above, it certainly can help with dealing with the physical side effects of anxiety and other mental illnesses. Getting the right one though can take some time.
Be willing to put the time and effort into treating your illness. Don’t think that having to take a pill will solve all of your problems because it won’t. 🙂
Remember this when you don’t see results straight away.
From my own personal experience, I didn’t feel that light bulb moment. I didn’t wake up one day feeling no anxiety.
It took about three to 4 months before I felt fewer symptoms of my anxiety. They gradually became less and less. I also had my dosage increased which I think helped.
It doesn’t do anything to the underlying cause of your mental health issue
There are moments in life when we feel more anxious and stressed. Medication can help with the side effects of this if you have been diagnosed, but won’t take away the issue.
Medication can relieve some of the symptoms of anxiety, but it doesn’t cure the underlying problem and it’s usually not a long-term solution (helpguide.org).
Don’t feel ashamed for taking antidepressants.
You aren’t obliged to tell anyone you on are medication. You don’t even need to tell your employer. They shouldn’t ask and you certainly don’t need to respond to those questions.
There is nothing wrong with having medication for your mental illness. It is not your fault that you were born with naturally less serotonin in your blood stream. It is purely natural.
Having medication to help with this is like having an inhaler for asthma. It’s exactly the same and you shouldn’t feel bad for having to use it.
Curing anxiety and mental health issues the natural way
Medication is not the only route when treating anxiety or any other mental health issues. Doctors recommend a combination of both medication and natural remedies together.
There are a number of different changes in lifestyle we can all make to help our brain out. These are all tried and tested by me so I want to give you as much information as possible. Let’s have a look at them now.
You’ve probably heard this before if you’ve been considering treating your mental health issue the natural way. I even wrote a post on the benefits of exercise.
So how can exercise help you deal with anxiety or anything else?
Exercise releases endorphins into the blood stream which is the body’s natural happy hormone. Doing just 30 minutes a day extra helps it flow around your body and will improve your mood. It is also great for stress relief and a quick walk can bring down those stress levels.
As well as this it also gives you a bit of time on your own. Sometimes we need a little bit of space from our family and/or friends to process our thoughts.
Don’t be alarmed by what I’m about to say but a 2 mile run takes me about 45 minutes. That’s how unfit I am. Plus I spend most of the time walking!
But those 45 minutes away from the house, the stuff in it and being out into the open really picks up my mood. You can choose to think about anything, or nothing. Most of the time whilst running I just think about how unfit I am! But it keeps me going.
When you’re feeling low/stressed/anxious, just a quick walk will do you all the good. I know how hard it is sometimes getting your body out the house but even 5 minutes is better than no minutes!
Including and cutting out certain foods
Diet plays such a massive part in our mental health. But we don’t always know about it. There are a few little changes you can make which will really help improve your mood and without breaking the bank.
Avoiding alcohol and fatty/sugary foods
Now I’m never going to tell you or anything to quit alcohol. Especially as I love the taste of cocktails, wine, and various other alcoholic drinks. But it is a depressant and unfortunately doesn’t help your mental health.
It can actually make things worse when drinking to excess, and even more so if you take medication.
Keeping your intake low or reducing how much you drink will help with this.
As well as alcohol, fatty and sugary foods aren’t great for the brain. Sugary foods lead to peaks and troughs of energy, and can be addictive. With energy levels fluctuating like this it can really affect your mood.
Again, anything in moderation! I will also be the last person to tell you to stop eating cake – we all need cake after all! Plus, you might be interested to read below why chocolate is good for the mood…
Including blueberries, seaweed, nuts (almonds) in your diet
I know that not all of us are into healthy foods. I don’t like blueberries! But they are great for the body and brain. This also includes nuts such as almonds.
So who likes chocolate here! ME. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that chocolate actually has some positive benefits to the body! If you aren’t convinced, The Calm clinic quite rightly stated that chocolate boosts the mood. It also has magnesium which has been found to have a noticeable impact on anxiety. Read the full article here.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
What is CBT? That would probably be the first thing to consider:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems (NHS website)
So it’s a bit like seeing a therapist. However there are differences between CBT and talking therapy. CBT focuses on your issues at hand and it helps you work out what it is that is bothering you.
You can probably relate to the cycle of worry those with a mental health issue can go through. They start small, but get bigger and bigger until you are worrying about things completely out of your control. This is what CBT works on.
It teaches you different ways of processing situations to be better equipped with your thoughts as they happen.
From my own point of view I have an appointment for this in a few months. If you are thinking this might be something that would help you, speak to your doctor. They will be able to recommend a local CBT therapist in your area.
In the UK you are able to self refer yourself if it might help you.
Talk therapy is usually where you see a counselor to talk about issues you may be experiencing at the moment. A lot of us who have anxiety find it difficult to talk about any issues we have. We don’t want to burden others with our issues.
Having a neutral person on hand to discuss your problems with can actually be quite liberating. They won’t judge you and won’t react in the way you might think. Although it didn’t really work for me, it might work for you.
Mindfulness has been around for hundreds of years, even though it seems to be gaining momentum recently. It’s something that you can do any time of the day and wherever you are.
The point of mindfulness is to bring you back to the present. This is great for when you find yourself particularly anxious or worried about the future. All you need to do is focus on something that is in front of you. Anything.
Think about the sounds and smells around you. Also think how they make you feel. It helps you focus on the present when you need it most. If you want to read a bit more you can read a wrote a post on it here.
I’ve written a number of posts around the benefits of positivity. It can really help you when you’re feeling anxious or on edge. We are prone to negative thoughts a lot of the time and sometimes we need reminding.
After all, we are surrounded by reminders of what we should look like and how we should behave.
This is where bringing those positive thoughts can help. The thing is we can grow up thinking negatively and can be quite a task changing it. If you want to read a bit more, I wrote this post for you here.
But you can make little changes. Rather than thinking about how someone may think about you, remember that their opinion doesn’t matter. It’s about self love and self esteem. You don’t need anyone else’s confirmation that you are amazing.
This post has been really enjoyable writing. I’ve covered some of aspects of medication and the natural routes. Unfortunately I couldn’t go into a huge amount of detail otherwise this would be pages long!
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What are the ways you treat your mental health issue? What have you found does and doesn’t work for you?