Anxiety and depression are probably the most common conditions presented in our Natural Health Clinic; so it is not surprising that research shows approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience one of these each year. (Spiers et al., 2016)
Anxiety and depression have a huge impact on our daily lives, with people feeling anxious, dissociated, tearful, unable to carry out simple tasks, or losing interest in things that once made them happy. (MIND.org.uk, 2019)
Experiencing these symptoms?
Anxiety and Depression
The number of people with mental health problems has not risen significantly over the last several years, but it would appear that the ability to cope has become more difficult, with a statistical increase in thoughts of self harm and suicide. (Jenkins et al., 2009)
In its mildest form, depression can mean being in low spirits. It may not prevent you from leading your life, but tasks are harder to carry out and seem less worthwhile, with no joy in things that used to make you happy. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening, as being unable to cope can, at its worst, bring suicidal thoughts. (MIND.org.uk, 2013a)
A diagnosis of depression is usually made by a doctor, who will score you according to your symptoms and severity of the impact that those symptoms have on your life. From that score, the GP will be able to discuss appropriate treatments, which are likely to involve Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), other talking therapies and/or anti-depressants.
What do the terms anxiety and depression mean?
Anxiety and depression are often linked as some symptoms are very similar and often it can be hard to differentiate between the two.
One area where they differ is that depression is essentially one condition, with many symptoms. Individuals may suffer from specific types of depression, such as Post Natal Depression, Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD) or Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD). Core symptoms of depression are feelings of helplessness and inability to enjoy or feel value in activities that were once very much enjoyed.(Canadian Mental Health Association, 2015)
Anxiety is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of more specific conditions, which may include Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Phobias and Panic Disorders. (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2015)
Sufferers of anxiety often report feeling as if they are on “high alert” all the time – with feelings of anxiousness and irritability – as if something terrible might happen. (MIND.org.uk, 2019)
But there are also physical symptoms that can present in anxiety and depression. Physical symptoms of depression might include:
- weight changes, often caused by changes in appetite
- being slower in your movements
The physical effects of anxiety include:
- muscle tension and aches
- bowel / digestion problems
- a fast heartbeat and shortness of breath
However, these symptoms can potentially be signs of other problems with your physical health, so should not be ignored if you experience them.
It is not unusual for someone to experience both anxiety and depression at the same time. According to (Yeung, Ivkovic and Fricchione, 2016) approximately 85% of people struggling with emotional health report symptoms of both anxiety and depression.
Physical symptoms that can be present in both anxiety and depression, include:
- poor concentration
- Sleeping too much or being unable to sleep
- Changes in appetite
Some Mental Health professionals view ‘mixed anxiety and depressive disorder’ (MADD) as a separate category in itself. This is where someone may have symptoms of both conditions, but they are not considered severe enough to have a formal diagnosis of either condition. These are the people that we see the most often in the clinic. Their symptoms are extremely severe to them, but not considered severe enough to access a very overstretched and underfunded NHS system for mental health.
Living with Depression and Anxiety
Depression and Anxiety are conditions that can’t be seen and are invisible to others but can have a devastating effect on the sufferer.
Small tasks, such as answering the door, getting children to school or shopping can seem monumental – with sufferers saying that getting through the day can take up all their energy.
This, in turn can cause feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. Often, it is difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and sufferers may find that with weight gain or loss and lack of exercise impacts on self-esteem and confidence. This contributes to a vicious circle perpetuating negative feelings and poor health, which in turn exacerbates depression and anxiety.
The Physical Effects of Depression and Anxiety
If we feel anxious and stressed for any length of time, it will directly affect our health.
When the body is forced to continually respond to extreme stress and try to adapt to adverse situations, the metabolic system will suffer from the continual pressure.(Yeung, Ivkovic and Fricchione, 2016)
If someone is threatened by overwhelming stress or anxiety, perhaps following a traumatic event, or persistent threat of losing their home or job, they will suffer metabolic strain, leaving them vulnerable to disease.
Individuals at risk of Type 2 Diabetes, gout and other metabolic disorders are also at risk, as chronic psychological stress alters insulin requirements and increases cortisol. (Salleh, 2008)
Long term stress can have an adverse effect on Blood Pressure, putting sufferers at risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke.
Chronic stress raises catecholamine and suppressor T cells levels, which has a negative effect on the immune system; increasing the risk of viral infection. (Salleh, 2008)
Those struggling with depression and anxiety often report changes to their digestive system, as stress alters the acid concentration in the stomach, which can lead to digestive ulcers, Irritable Bowel or ulcerative colitis.
What Can We Do To Help?
There is much that we can do at our Natural Health Clinic to support Anxiety, Depression and Stress.
Iridology and Live Blood Analysis are helpful in assessing health potential and indicating where support would be beneficial.
Herbal Medicine, Flower Remedies and Vibronic Homeopathy may help to affect your outlook and help alter the metabolic imbalances that have occurred. We can also help advise with other Wellness techniques, such as nutrition, sleep hygiene and relaxation.
It is extremely important that you bring along any medication that you have been given by your GP and any supplements or natural medicine that you are already taking. As qualified Medical Herbalists, we can support you with Herbal Medication alongside any other medication that you are taking, but it is important that we know what you have been given. Many orthodox and natural drugs for anxiety or depression are likely to contain Serotonin; which is a very useful hormone in the support of anxiety and some types of depression. However, too much Serotonin can cause Serotonin Syndrome, a potentially serious group of symptoms that can be very severe.
You are very welcome to contact us if you would like to discuss how we might help support you with any depression, anxiety or stress that you may be encountering.