“It’s pernicious . . . it’s diabolical . . . it creeps into every moment of our lives. It influences our relationships, impacts our body, works its way into our conversations, sparks non-nourishing behaviors, and forces us to do things we’d never want to do. It’s infectious; it’s relentless . . . it’s stress!” — daviji
By Steven Peters — Everyone has stress in their lives to some degree. From the moment we’re born to the time we leave this plane of existence, we’re all trying to cope with things that life throws at us. And thankfully, there are mechanisms within our brain that react to stress that can help us through stressful situations.
However, when a person is faced with stress that goes beyond the scope of ‘normal daily stress’, and stress happens abruptly like a physical injury or may be emotionally taxing over a course of months or years, it can take a profound toll on our brain and emotional state of mind, which can then adversely affect our mood and behavior.
When that happens, it literally changes the brain chemistry and depletes essential neurotransmitters, which send signals across a chemical synapse, and acts as a junction between two nerve cells, transmitting the necessary chemicals required for the brain to function normally.
There are excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters within our brain, and each plays a key role in how we feel emotionally and how our body functions. When we are stressed, our brain sends out chemicals that help us relax like GABA, and glycine for example.
The Excitatory Neurotransmitters
- Glutamate is used by the great majority of fast excitatory synapses in the brain and spinal cord. Excessive glutamate release can overstimulate the brain and lead to excitotoxicity causing a host of issues.
- Norepinephrine is found throughout the central nervous system. Chronic stress, if continued for a long time, can damage many parts of the body. A significant part of the damage is due to the effects of sustained norepinephrine release. The consequences can include sleeplessness, loss of libido, gastrointestinal problems, impaired disease resistance, slower rates of injury healing, depression, and increased vulnerability to addiction.
- Epinephrine takes part in controlling the adrenal glands. It plays a role in sleep, with one’s ability to become and stay alert, and plays a key role in the fight-or-flight response, also called hyperarousal or the acute stress response. It’s a reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.
The Inhibitory Neurotransmitters
- GABA is used in virtually every part of the brain. Many sedative/antianxiety drugs, act by enhancing the effects of GABA. It plays the principal role in reducing neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. [Source]
- Glycine is found throughout the central nervous system, especially in the spinal cord, brainstem, and retina. A 2014 review on sleep aids noted that glycine can improve sleep quality, citing a study in which 3 grams of glycine before bedtime improved sleep quality in humans.[Source]
- Dopamine has a number of important functions in the brain; this includes regulation of motor behavior, pleasures related to motivation and also emotional arousal. It plays a critical role in the reward system.
- Serotonin is produced by and found in the intestine (approximately 90%), and the remainder in central nervous system neurons. It functions to regulate appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature, mood, behavior, muscle contraction, and function of the cardiovascular system and endocrine system. It is speculated to have a role in depression, as some depressed patients are seen to have lower concentrations of serotonin in their cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissue.[Source]
- Histamine works with the central nervous system (CNS). Although histamine is small compared to other biological molecules, it plays an important role in the body. It is known to be involved in 23 different physiological functions.
There is a vast amount of hormones, chemicals, sensory receptors, and biological communication constantly being transmitted between cells in our body and the synapses in our brain. When even just one of those are overburdened to help send a chemical signal to lessen the effects of stress, the stores of chemicals may be depleted, just like anything in our body which uses stored resources (bodily fluids, minerals, vitamins, etc.), due to constant physical or emotional stress, and when that happens, adverse internal (emotional) and external (bodily) symptoms begin to appear.
There’s quite a bit of research on depression and anxiety, which are commonly linked to one another by the same neuropathways in our brain that correlate to our emotional state of mind, and the symptoms that can occur can be quite debilitating if not treated, even life-threatening at times including suicide.
[box type=”shadow” ]25 million Americans suffer from depression each year. Over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent. Depression affects nearly 5-8 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please immediately call 1-800-273-8255 or visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.[/box]
‘Recognizing’ is key to the beginning of healing
When we begin to understand how certain stressful events in our life can affect our mental health, symptoms of depression and anxiety can manifest as racing thoughts, unable to concentrate, unable to do a daily task, the feeling that you can not catch your breath, numbness or tingling in your arms or legs, headaches, loss of appetite, inability to get a good night’s sleep, constant worry, feelings of dread, crying over situations that you wouldn’t normally cry about, and to the extreme, suicidal ideations.
Now that we’ve recognized some of the emotional or psychological state and the physical state of the symptoms that are present when depression and anxiety have manifested within us, we can begin to approach it in a way that can help relieve the painful emotional and physical symptoms that all too often can occur.
The reality is, there are only a few things in our lives that we are in control of. Those are our thoughts, our breathing, and our behavior. We don’t have control of much else; we can’t control our body’s involuntary functions; we cannot control how other people think, we cannot control the weather; we cannot control time, we sometimes cannot even control how we think and react to a situation, especially if depressed or anxiety-related issues have developed.
Thoughts create things — whether on the outside of us or within us. The tallest skyscraper in the world and the pyramids in Egypt initially came from a single thought. Thoughts are incredibly powerful and can become things that can shape not only ourselves but communities, cultures and the entirety of the world now, lasting only momentary (a thought), or last onward into the distant future.
Each and every thought that a person thinks creates an emotional response within them. When we see a funny movie, we laugh. When someone in our lives leaves for various reasons, we can become sad, or happy for that matter. Either way, you create that emotion.
What we think affects how we feel. ‘Feelings’ are what drives our lives. So when you think, know that you are in the process of creating something profound either internally or externally whether negative or positive.
It’s essential that we take productive and necessary steps to bring our brain back into homeostasis, which is the ability of the body or our cells to seek and maintain a condition of equilibrium or stability within its internal environment when dealing with external changes.
When a person is in a depressive, anxious or panic state, it’s extremely difficult to think about anything positive because they’re in a state of emotional crisis, and it can be very difficult to break the cycle of irrational thoughts or behaviors unless there is treatment.
Because what we think becomes things, if one is in the constant state of negative or irrational thinking, and cannot control those thoughts, like they normally would be able to if the chemical signals in the brain were functioning properly, that is the red flag that is raised and should be paid attention to with immediate intervention by seeing a medical specialist that understands mental health-related issues. A psychiatrist can write prescriptions, while a psychologist essentially uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.
If any of these symptoms affect your relationships and your ability to function at home or work, consult with a healthcare practitioner qualified to assess and treat depression and anxiety.
- Constant or transient feelings of sadness, anxiety, and emptiness
- Feeling restless; may experience irritability
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling worthless, regretful or guilty for no reason
- Suicidal thoughts may occur
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once enjoyed
- Loss of libido
- Feelings of isolation
- Disturbed sleep patterns; may sleep too little or too much
- Low energy
- Heart palpitations
- Significant weight loss or gain due to a change in eating habits; either loss of appetite or eating too much
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions
- Crying at the least bit of something emotional occurring
- An overactive startle response
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and legs
These symptoms are classic clinical signs of major depressive disorder (MDD) and general anxiety disorder (GAD).
Understanding how antidepressant drugs work
Pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs may be necessary in times of crisis, and they do help in certain instances where a person is in such a state of anxiety, depression, or psychosis, that they are unable to cope or ‘get it under control’. Pharmaceutical medication absolutely should be considered in situations where one feels they’ve lost the ability to function as they once did.
A selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or (SSRI) is a class of drugs that are typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. They’re a type of drug which acts as a reuptake inhibitor of the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)) by blocking the action of the serotonin transporter (SERT). This, in turn, leads to increased concentrations of serotonin and, therefore, an increase in serotonergic neurotransmission.
Antidepressants have helped millions of people get out of the funk that they’re in, though unfortunately, many of those patients may very well be addicted to the medications that once helped them initially.
If a person needs to take medication because they’re at their wit’s end, it most certainly is appropriate to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety with pharmaceutical drugs, at least until they are stable, which can be from weeks to months — it all depends on how a person responds to the medication they’re taking.
Generally, it takes a person to feel the effects of antidepressants within 6-8 weeks. Antianxiety medications act within minutes after ingesting them.
SSRI drugs should not be abruptly discontinued after extended therapy, and whenever possible, should be slowly tapered down in dosage over several weeks to minimize discontinuation-related symptoms which may include nausea, headache, dizziness, chills, body aches, burning or prickling sensation, insomnia, and electric shock-like sensations.
Antianxiety medication like benzodiazepines work rather quickly and people can find almost instant relief. Though they may be necessary, antianxiety medication is only a band-aid and should be considered as a temporary means to reduce anxiety as they are also very addictive. They don’t treat the underlying causes of anxiety, and this is why is important to understand there are other options available like psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and an approach with natural supplements that can help remedy depression and anxiety long-term.
Finding the treatment that’s right for you
‘Retraining the brain’ is analogous to a person who gets into an accident, injured their body and lost their ability to use their arms and legs, and must to go to rehabilitation to retrain their body how to function again. They’re actually retraining their brain to give the signals to their body which create an impulse that affects bodily movement.
If you’re experiencing depression and/or anxiety, and you value your life; if you value being happy; if you value all the positive and good things that you had in your life before you started to experience depression or anxiety, you can retrain your brain and begin to set yourself on the road to recovery, and below we’re going to dig into how you can do just that.
There’s no shortage of supply of doctors who may write a prescription they feel will help you relieve your symptoms of depression or anxiety. But in the end, those will only put a Band-Aid on the problem.
Below are simple yet very powerful tools that may help you overcome depression and anxiety naturally.
There’s a reason certain breathing practices have been around for thousands of years, and that’s because there’s actually something to it. Studies have shown that breathing techniques, particularly yogic breathing, have a profound effect on our body and mind and can actually heal the brain from injury.
Researchers have documented the benefits of a regular practice of simple, deep breathing which include:
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Lower/stabilized blood pressure
- Increased energy levels
- Muscle relaxation
- Decreased feelings of stress and overwhelm
Here is one simple yet very powerful breathing technique which when done correctly, can produce oxytocin within your brain, basically making you feel like you’ve taken a drug — but it is you that is releasing it within your body by simply breathing a certain way. Oxytocin is a natural hormone within the body that makes us release stress and feel good.
Remember, you have control of three very powerful mechanisms within you, and one of them is your breathing.
A simple but powerful breathing technique is to sit in a quiet comfortable place, your feet on the floor, arms uncrossed laying palms up on your thighs, eyes closed and focus only on your breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of 5 and breathe into your belly, and then into your chest. Then breathe slowly to the count of 5, breathing out of your mouth while slightly puckering your lips making a whooshing sound.
Do that three to four times, and at the end of your last exhale, begin to notice how you feel. When you do, you’ll discover that you feel calmer. That is because you’ve released oxytocin within your brain and body.
This simple yet powerful breathing technique is retraining your brain to be calm — do this often enough and you’ll discover just how easy and effective it is. You are highly encouraged to do this daily as many time as needed.
You can begin to rebuild the supply of serotonin by doing things that increased serotonin, not only in your brain but your gut as well, like spending time outdoors in the Sun. By being in the sun, it creates and synthesizes melatonin and serotonin in our body to help regulate our mood and sleep cycle.
Get at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight every day, but only before 11 am and after 3 pm. This is because the ultraviolet light A (UVA) is less during those times.
The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer. Both play a key role in premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts), and skin cancers.
Getting the right amount of sun has been shown to be healthy for us but in small amounts, so you want to restrict yourself from being in the sun at the times where the UVB rays are the strongest.
It’s also important to get enough vitamin B6 as it plays a vital role in the brain and is a very important vitamin that you can get from food. The foods to concentrate on eating that will increase serotonin are foods that contain precursors to tryptophan which then are converted into serotonin are chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, seeds, bran, oats, beans, eggs, spinach, seafood, watercress, mushrooms, broccoli, turnip greens, and lean meats.
Exercise is also very important in rebuilding serotonin and other brain-boosting chemicals. Research has shown that exercise boosts serotonin. Even gentle exercise like walking and rebounding can boost your immunity and mood.
If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain. Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.
Research has shown that lower stores of serotonin, not only within the brain but particularly in the gut, have a profound effect on your emotional state of mind. The ‘brain-gut’ connection plays a vital role.
You can also incorporate probiotics into your diet, which positively affect the microbiology of the gut and our health. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.
A new study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity suggest that taking a probiotic supplement may in fact help improve mood.
You can find probiotics in foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and in supplements as well.
The enteric (pertaining to the intestines) nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain with profound results. When our brains are healthy as well as the brain in our gut, we see immune responses improve, which correlates to better health, as well as improved emotional wellbeing.
Did you know that your natural state of mind is joy? Everything that you experience from an outside source affects you internally. What you see, what you hear, what you taste, what you smell, and touch all affects our senses, which in turn affects how we feel. We are ‘feeling’ beings. Everything we do and everything we think about plays a crucial role in how we feel. If we don’t like something, we tend to stay away from it because it doesn’t feel good to us. The opposite is true too.
For example, you can listen to your favorite music, watch your favorite movies, read your favorite books, eat your favorite food, hang around your favorite people — anything that can give you an experience of feeling good and happy. This simple practice is what will begin to reshape your thought patterns and put you in a better state of mind, which in turn will help to increase the ‘feel-good’ chemicals within your body and brain to help lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
You could also have someone give you a massage, or you could sit in a jacuzzi; you can go swimming either in a pool or at the beach; workout at the gym — anything that you enjoy doing, do. This will increase the likelihood of your brain receiving new information that is not stressful, but rather, is enjoyable.
These may seem like simple behaviors that don’t correlate to anything useful or productive, but in fact, these behaviors are helping to repair the brain and build essential neurotransmitters and other sensory stimuli to put the brain in a less state of stress.
The more often you surround yourself with things and immerse yourself into doing things that make you feel good, you will over time, start to feel just that.
Meditation is a practice that has been around for centuries. It’s necessary to quiet the mind, and when you quiet the mind you can begin to release the thoughts that may be tormenting you. With meditation, we have the control to quiet the mind. To stop the worrisome thoughts. We can relax. We can calm ourselves.
A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicates that the practice of “Open Monitoring Meditation” (such as Vipassana), reduces the grey-matter density in areas of the brain related to anxiety and stress. Meditators were more able to “attend moment-to-moment to the stream of stimuli to which they are exposed and less likely to ‘get stuck’ on any one stimulus. ”
The brain needs rest from stress, and especially after a serious event which can alter our neurotransmitters, thus sending signals to the brain which disrupt those chemical signals and put us in a state of emotional crisis.
Meditation is a great way to achieve the kind of peace we all need to bring about lower levels of stress. Meditation has been found to be as effective to treat anxiety and depression as antidepressant drugs.
Benefits of Meditation
- Reduces stress
- Improves concentration
- Improves focus, attention, and ability to work under stress
- Increases happiness and overall sense of wellbeing
- Helps regulate mood and anxiety disorders
- Slows aging
- Reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke
- Helps to tolerate pain easier
- Improves learning, memory, and self-awareness
- Opens up channels of creativity
- Benefits cardiovascular and immune health
Practicing daily meditation has been shown to reduces levels of depression by 75%, and reduce levels of anxiety by 30%. It also has remarkable benefits to increase the overall sense of wellbeing by 65%.
When we are mentally active, resting or sleeping, the brain always has some level of electrical activity. During meditation, our theta brain waves are most abundant in the frontal cortex and middle parts of the brain. These types of waves originate from a relaxed state of consciousness and are essential for a rested state of mind.
There are approximately 23 types of meditation. If you’d like to learn about which meditation practice is best suited for you, click here.
Meditation is like multivitamins for your brain. It’s good to take it every day.
Only when we are on the road to recovery can we begin to heal what has caused us so much emotional or physical pain. In some instances, we may not even recognize that certain things in our lives have affected us until outward symptoms present themselves.
You can approach relieving depression, anxiety, panic or other mood disorders by taking the pharmacological approach and seeing a medical doctor with whom can give you medication that will help you if you’re in a state of crisis. For many, this is a fix that can help get them through those rough times when they are feeling their absolute lowest.
It’s important to understand that with prescription drugs, come psychological dependence and a host of other symptoms that can set in, which actually can sometimes be worse than the symptoms that were present before taking the medication.
Natural remedies to help overcome depression and anxiety
- 5-HTP is a precursor to tryptophan that increases serotonin. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions. Several studies have found that doses of 150-3000 mg daily for 2-4 weeks can improve symptoms of depression. Some early research shows that 5-HTP may be as beneficial as conventional antidepressant therapy for some people. [Source]
- St. John’s wort is most commonly used as a natural remedy for depression and symptoms, such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. It’s also used to treat heart palpitations, moodiness, the symptoms of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and symptoms of menopause.
- Valerian root extract has been used to ease anxiety, and nervous restlessness since the second century A.D. It became popular in Europe in the 17th century. Some research suggests that valerian may help people with insomnia. The Food and Drug Administration listed valerian as “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS). For anxiety, 120 to 200 mg, 3 to 4 times per day. Extreme caution should be used if combining valerian with any medications that have sedative effects. [Source]
- Cannabis is a medicinal herb and has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for depression, PTSD, and anxiety. The oral administration of the non-psychotropic, the substance that doesn’t get you “high”, cannabidiol or (CBD) which its extracts are made into an oil form is safe and well-tolerated in humans, according to clinical trial data published online by the Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Design. The dry herb can be smoked, but we recommend vaporizing cannabis to lessen the inhalation from carbon particles that are released when ignited by a flame. [Source]
- L-Theanine is a relaxing and non-dietary amino acid found pretty much exclusively in teas from Camellia sinensis (green tea) and is known to promote relaxation without sedation, as well as reducing stress at standard dosages. L-Theanine tends to be taken in the dosage of 100-250mg. Theanine may also have effects on the cardiovascular system and play a preventative role in cancer. Theanine is sold in the United States as a dietary supplement and has been granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status by the Food and Drug Administration. [Source]
- Melatonin is the natural hormone your body secretes that helps to maintain your wake-sleep cycle (also called “biological clock”) and can help you sleep. It is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan and then released into the blood and cerebrospinal fluid, crossing the blood-brain barrier. It sends messages to the melatonin receptor agonist in the brain and other areas of the body to help control the sleep and wake cycles. [Source]
- B-Complex vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate may be linked to depression. [Source]
- Omega-3 fatty acid has shown in studies that up 2 grams of EPA (omega-3 fatty acid) taken daily is sufficient for decreasing symptoms of several mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety with no side effects. [Source]
- Kava has been consumed in many cultures because it is known to relieve anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia for centuries. Kava has a calming effect, producing brain wave changes similar to changes that occur with antianxiety drugs such as Valium, for example. Kava also can prevent convulsions and relax muscles. Although kava is not addictive, its effect may decrease with use. In several studies, kava is as effective as benzodiazepines in eliminating anxiety symptoms. [Source]
Overcoming depression and anxiety naturally
Although the natural treatment approach may outweigh the risks with conventional drugs, these natural substances can have side effects, especially when they’re combined with pharmaceutical drugs like antidepressants or benzodiazepines, which in combination, can sometimes bring about adverse side effects.
However, the safety records of natural remedies far surpass any drugs created by the pharmaceutical industry, especially in light of the FDA admitting that 106,000 people each year who take prescription drugs die from their use which they deemed “safe” prior to approving the drug. This ‘medical cartel’ has been engaged in massive criminal fraud, presenting their drugs as safe and effective across the board—when, in fact, these drugs have been killing and maiming huge numbers of people at a staggering rate.
The benefits of natural remedies, which have been used for thousands of years, have a fairly good safety record. Mind you, there are natural products that potentially may cause harm because of different factors including underlying diseases, age, drug/herbal interactions, etc., but the risk-benefit ratio clearly points to more benefit than risk when consuming a natural substance, especially when clinical data shows their relatively safe profile.
If you’re suffering from the debilitating symptoms of depression or anxiety, these tools can help put you on a path of healing. Healing our emotional state of mind can be more difficult than physical healing, though may not come overnight if you or someone you know is dealing with these kinds of issues, know that with the right treatment it is ‘fixable’ over time.
Consider the time that it took, perhaps months or years, which brought about depression and anxiety — it requires a dedicated approach over time to help heal the internal wounds.
However, if you’re in constant emotional agony and you find it hard to cope, seeking medical attention is essential to bring about fairly immediate relief; going to the emergency room at a hospital, or seeing your primary doctor may be the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself.
It’s also important to empathize with those that are close to the person who is going through these kinds of issues — they’re taking on the emotional rollercoaster with that person and can be very difficult for them too. Being gentle and kind to others prior to and while going through treatment can help advance the recovery/healing process.
Finding stability and feeling ‘normal’ again
After you’ve found the right medications that are right for you, and you then are stable enough and would like to get off of prescription medications after several months, you may consider trying the natural approach to sustaining your emotional stability. Though, you may still require antianxiety medication if needed to get you through the rough spots.
If you are considering tapering off of benzodiazepine medication like Xanax or Ativan, etc., your doctor may be unaware of The Ashton Manual, which in the UK is regarded as the pinnacle of information that has been compiled over the course of thirty years on how to taper off of benzodiazepine drugs safely, and put in an easy to understand tapering schedule and guidelines that can help reduces withdrawal symptoms.
If you’re trying to taper off of any medication, it’s always best to consult your doctor. However, medical doctors only know so much. They aren’t always versed in the traditional approaches to treating diseases and disorders, or how to taper patients off medication properly, especially those that have a high susceptibility to addiction like some antidepressants and antianxiety medication.
Assessing the risk-benefit ratio
Modern medicine has provided an immense amount of proven life-saving interventions like surgery, as well as drugs such as antibiotics and pain medication that can, in fact, save lives in many situations.
However, man-made synthetic prescription drugs, while they can save lives, don’t come without their inherent risks. There are now antibiotic-resistant strains of MRSA and other life-threatening infections that are no longer effective because of the overprescribed usage of antibiotic medications.
For the more common pain conditions like back pain, chronic headache, and fibromyalgia, opioids may offer some relief, though in some cases, the drug doesn’t help, but rather, cause severe constipation as well as dangerous sedation.
A person who takes an opioid can become cognitively impaired and confused. Taken as prescribed, opioids can be used to manage pain safely and effectively. However, when abused, even a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death.
Antidepressants too don’t come without risks. There are 15 times more suicides among people taking prescription antidepressants than reported by the Food and Drug Administration, which issued a black-box warning on antidepressants more than a decade ago. The agency did so after conducting hundreds of studies involving nearly 100,000 patients that showed the rate of suicidal thinking or suicidal behavior doubled among those taking antidepressants to 4% of patients, up from 2% of patients given a placebo.
The risks of adverse events related to antidepressants come in all varieties. Some you could live with them, like dry mouth or an occasional headache. Others are quite severe and even life-threatening at times, although those are extremely rare.
Ultimately, we don’t know very well how these medications interact with the brain in the long-term. That means standard rules of medication still apply: You want to take the drug as long as necessary, but no longer. In the case of taking antidepressants to treat depression, that includes being careful not to stop too early either, which could cause a relapse – though relapses can occur in patients who take antidepressants daily, as prescribed.
Good things come in good time
It’s important to realize if you’re in the midst of a depressive/anxiety state and are taking prescription medications, it will take time for your brain to readjust. If you aren’t ready to jump back into your old routine again, it may be best to consider easing off those regular routines and focus on healing yourself until you’re emotionally stable enough to resume those activities.
It’s best not to put yourself in any kind of stressful situations, or surround yourself with people that are not serving you in the best possible way, or giving you what you need in this time of crisis. Friends, family, and emotional support are imperative to help you through the hard times. It won’t last, and you will get better (“this too shall pass”) — you just need some time until you feel better again, and the less stress, the better.
Also, not sticking to either a natural or pharmaceutical approach if you are depressed or anxious, and talk therapy with a psychologist just won’t cut it because it does take time to ‘retrain your brain’, to get you back to ‘normal’ again, can make it even that much harder and longer to recover. Whatever approach you take, just stick with what works best for you.
Prescription antidepressants and antianxiety drugs have their own positive and negative effects when taken, although they can provide people relief they may need to get them through profoundly stressful circumstances that led up to a point where they need urgent medical attention.
It’s also crucial to be aware of the alternative approaches to prescription medication, which have shown through clinical studies to be proven effective in certain people who are trying to overcome depression and anxiety naturally and find the relief they need to get their life back.
If you would like to try a natural supplement to help with your depression, anxiety, or sleep, we’ve put together a list below of herbal and natural supplements that can help depression, anxiety, and sleep issues.
If you are considering taking any herbal or natural supplement, especially if you’re taking prescription medication, you should discuss it with a pharmacist, therapist or medical doctor prior to taking them.
Bonus — Music as medicine
Music is one of the best things you can have in your life for your state of mind. While music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an emotional outlet, the notion of using music to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain. A wealth of new studies are touting the benefits of music on mental and physical health. For example, a meta-analysis of 400 studies found that music improves the body’s immune system function and reduces stress. Listening to music was also found to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery. [Source]
Below is some very soothing meditation music that has proven benefits of lessening stress, and listening to it in combination to the breathing techniques I’ve outlined above, it absolutely can affect your state of mind in a very positive way. You can do this daily as needed.
When it’s all said and done, it is up to the individual to be their own best health advocate, because only they, and perhaps with the help of others, can find the answers to the questions they’ve been looking for that will finally set them on a path of healing.
Here’s to your good mental health!
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