Delivering acupuncture + traditional Chinese medicine to Gippsland.
The black dog. Overthinking. Stressful social situations. Not coping. Snappy. Sleeping to escape. Lethargic. Indecisive. Can't do it. Self medicating with food &/or drugs. Can't concentrate. Crying all the time and don't know why. Feeling blah. No motivation. Aching. Overwhelmed. Sad. Lost interest in everything...
Hands up if you've felt like this before (raises hand), or feel like this now. You may be suffering from anxiety or depression.
Anxiety and depression are often lumped together when talking about how we feel, but they are two distinct and different, serious mental health problems. In Australia, estimates show around 1 million people have depression, and around 2 million have anxiety. And that's just the adults. Our kids are suffering too - one in 35 kids aged between 4-17 years will experience a depressive episode, and one in seven anxiety... and the rates are rising. Suicide is the biggest killer of young Aussies, killing more kids than car accidents.
In clinic, I am seeing a growing number of people seeking acupuncture treatment who may meet the clinical diagnostic criteria for anxiety and depression, but here's the funny thing - it's rarely the main reason they want acupuncture!
This suggests to me that:
as a society, we don't take anxiety and depression seriously enough
there is a lingering whiff of taboo around discussing and seeking treatment for mental health issues
our tough Aussie culture encourages us to shrug it off and just get on with it
Western medicine still doesn't understand how depression develops. What it does know is that in response to stress, our brains release neurotransmitters, that regulate nervous system responses to the perceived 'threat'.
Usual care of anxiety involves either drugs (anxiolytics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines), no drugs (behavioural therapies like cognitive behaviour therapy), or a combination of both. Depression is usually treated straight away with medication.
Let me put this out front and centre... I am NOT anti-drug! But, I do agree with the research, anxiolytics are "grossly overprescribed." I have seen the life-saving effects of medication for loved ones suffering from a major depressive disorder. Literally life-saving. Praise science that this option is available!
I have also seen how these medications don't always work as intended, and I can't quite get my head around the fact that the side effects of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications can include... anxiety and depression. Please science, fix this ASAP!
Other common side effects are: drowsiness; weight gain, nausea; vomiting; constipation and diarrhoea; insomnia, just to name a few. Boy, that sounds helpful.
Acupuncture is thought to work by regulating both the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), and the parasympathetic nervous system (peace, rest and digest) and recent research shows that there is strong evidence for acupuncture as an effective treatment of anxiety and a moderate level of evidence for the treatment of depression. Acupuncture is truly a natural alternative/adjunct treatment to address anxiety and depression.
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DISCLAIMER: If you suspect you are anxious or depressed, your first stop should always be your GP. The information provided above is not medical advice, and should not be taken as such. If you are taking medications prescribed by your GP, any changes to your medication must be done with the guidance and support of your GP. Be smart. Ask them about acupuncture and show them the references provided in the links above.
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