Treat Depression and Anxiety the Healthy Way!

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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 overprescribe.

In my opinion, prescription medication should only be used as a very last resort, to treat depression, anxiety or insomnia which is severe and chronic, that is when the person's day-to-day functioning is badly affected and where the problem is not responsive to any other forms of treatment.

As for prescription sleeping tablets, many 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.

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:

EXERCISE! - 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 "feelgood" chemicals in the body, boosts self-esteem and significantly reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It also helps those struggling to loose 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!

SOCIAL SUPPORT! - people who are depressed often isolate themselves 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 it will help to uplift your spirits. If you don't have a social circle, join one! Volunteer organisations, churches, sports clubs, hobbies are all good ideas. Be creative!

TALK about it! - This is the most effective way of relieving depression. 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. Writing about your feelings is also therapeutic, so keep a journal, write a book or visit a counselor for help.

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 favourite music and SING, have an aromatherapy massage - and do it because YOU ARE SPECIAL!

DIET! No, not the starvation kind! Enjoy your food and eat healthily. Some foods help to fight depression. A carbohydrate rich diet helps the body produce serotonin - the feelgood chemical. Special serotonin foods are oats, wholewheat, bananas and other carbohydrate-rich foods. Make sure you are having full complement of Vitamin B, magnesium and iron - a deficiency in any of these can lead to depression-type symptoms.

HERBAL ALTERNATIVES. There are herbal alternatives to prescription antidepressants and sleeping tablets. Research suggests that St John's Wort is at least as effective, but has far fewer side effects, than many of the commonly used prescription antidepressants. Kava-Kava is a well-known muscle relaxant and relieves anxiety, while passiflora, valerian and camomile are only a few of the herbal remedies known to relieve insomnia. Consult a health practitioner before changing or stopping prescription medication!

LEARN TO RELAX/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. Practised regularly, relaxation therapy can reduce panic attacks and the symptoms of anxiety, improve self-esteem and enhance a sense of well-being.

In summary, treating depression, anxiety and insomnia is possible without resorting to prescription drugs! With a little effort, you CAN put yourself back in the driver's seat! Why not give it a try!

About the Author:

Michele Carelse, Feelgood Counseling, Online and Email Counseling, Support Groups and Resource Center. Lifestyle Counselor and Psychologist on the Web!

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