Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Medication debate

Hello you lovely bunch!
It's been a long time since I've blogged myself - I've been thoroughly overwhelmed with the amount of offers I've had from guest bloggers. But keep them coming! It's so important for us all to hear about each others experiences, and to learn from that, so if you're interested in telling us you're experience with mental illness - please get in touch.
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Today's blog from me is about the big medication debate.
I have spoken to many people over the years who are pro-medication to treat mental illness. However, I've also spoken to a great number of people who are anti-medication.
I understand both viewpoints - and am just intrigued to know all your thoughts on this!

I take fluoxetine (aka Prozac) for my anxiety. I have done for 4 years now.
Fluoxetine is an anti-depressant used not only to treat depression, but also anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and sometimes ADHD.

However, taking medication like this doesn't come without side effects.
I am tired constantly, I sleep too much and it triples the effects of alcohol  (1 glass gives me the effect of having 3). To be fair, these side effects are not bad at all when you look at what the alternatives could be which is why I've always stuck with these pills. Sure, the tiredness is difficult, but you can adapt, which I have.
Also - everyone's side effects vary. Some bodies may completely reject it whereas mine takes to it quite well, so a lot of the time, it's about trial and error.

Therefore I've always had an ok experience with taking medication for anxiety, but I know not everybody has.

Recently - I went to the doctor's who suggested upping my dose of fluoxetine.
It wasn't until a friend was so appalled that that was the doctors first and only suggestion - that it got me thinking...Could I try something else before I resort to taking a higher dose and increasing the side effects I already have?
So I've been looking into more natural remedies and brought myself back down to my usual dose. Although my experience with medication isn't bad, I think my friend was right. I should try and see if more natural remedies help me before I resort to taking such a strong dosage of medication.

Be Natural?

Here are some natural remedies I've come across the last few weeks that are good for anxiety. It could be argued that most of this list is just basic health - which it is - but I know all these things can help everyone - from those who suffer from very minor anxiety to those who suffer from full blown panic disorders.

1 - Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is one of the most common herbal remedies used to treat anxiety. Now, if I wasn't overcome with nausea every time my sister makes a cup of chamomile tea, perhaps I would have tried this.
However, if you're a fan of chamomile tea - it's a win-win situation really!
Apparently it helps with sleep and produces calm and can also come in capsule form (whether that then counts as medication or not, I guess is another debate in itself...)
I've heard passionflower tea is also great for anxiety sufferers (though I think much stronger!)

2 - Exercise
Exercise has been proven to be very closely linked with mental health. It gives you more self esteem and makes you feel healthier.
Exercise also apparently boosts serotonin levels (the chemical most mental health patients lack) AND you get fit in the process so it makes sense right?

I used to dance and be a figure skater, so getting exercise wasn't a problem for me.
Since stopping both of those, I haven't been a big exerciser at all - but last week I started doing yoga which I've done everyday so far - and this is having a very positive effect on me already.
There's short 10 minute yoga routines on YouTube - so I'm struggling for excuses to not be doing it!!

3 - Meditation
Meditation makes you become more present in the here and now, which instantly takes away feelings of anxiety. It also quietens an overactive brain, as everyone with anxiety will have. It requires commitment, as it obviously isn't an instant cure. You have to keep persisting and eventually results will be seen.
I went through a phase of meditating every day which I remember really helped me. I unfortunately fell out of this routine, but I intend to start again sometime soon! There's plenty of free apps that offer 5 minute morning meditations. - I think Headspace was the app I used - which I remember being fantastic!

4 - Food is important!
Eating a good breakfast, getting a good level of omega-3, keeping your blood sugar levels up.
All of this is key to maintaining a healthy mind and keeping the anxiety thoughts at bay.

5 - Essential Oils
The use of essential oils work for some and not for others. The fragrance is supposed to create relaxation and raise our mood.
I used a small pot of Lavender oil for some time, dabbing a tiny bit on my neck and wrists when I started feeling anxious. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn't - I found it a bit hit and miss really but I know some people who completely swear by essential oils and aromatherapy. Definitely worth a try!!!!

6 - Therapy
Unfortunately, getting therapy from a professional is not always easy to come by. It involves long waiting lists, assessments and I think sometimes people feel its more hassle than it's worth.
Honestly, getting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was the best thing I've ever done. It took weeks to actually get an assessment, then weeks to actually get seen but once I was up and running it worked wonders for me. I did a course of 6 weeks and was exactly what I needed and has helped me in the long term!!
If you're UK based - IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) are the company I went to and always recommend to others. They are very efficient and work their hardest to get you seen as soon as possible.
Find you're nearest IAPT service here

I've hit a bit of a writers block recently so that's all for this week - I hope some of this has been useful to someone out there.
Please let me know your thoughts on the Medication vs. Natural Remedies debate - I'm intrigued to know all your opinions - may culminate all opinions into an upcoming blog if you want to send me a paragraph of your thoughts!

As I say - I'm absolutely not anti-medication at all. Quite the opposite as I don't know where I would be without mine. But I do agree that perhaps we should try more natural solutions before we turn to medication - it isn't always the answer!

Suzy x

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