Natural Ways to Treat Depression and Anxiety

boy-1758232_1280Burnaby physician Dr. Ali Ghahary works with many patients suffering from depression and anxiety, conditions that often co-exist together. As many as 4.5 million Canadians aged 18 or older, as well as some younger children, are diagnosed with a mental disorder at least once in their lives, which can have a significant impact on their ability to lead normal and healthy lifestyles – including underperformances at work and school, as well as a steady decline in social interactions.

Some of the common symptoms of depression and anxiety include panic attacks, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, loss of interest in once enjoyable activities, disturbances in sleep, changes in appetite and weight loss/gain.

At Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, Dr. Ghahary works in combination with clinical psychologists and psychiatrists in helping patients come up with appropriate treatment plans specifically designed for them, usually consisting of medications in conjecture with behavioural therapy as well as lifestyle and habit changes. While medication is often successful as a standalone treatment, making some natural changes to one’s daily life is also recommended when dealing with mental health.

First and foremost, setting goals, i.e. ‘What do I want to accomplish with my treatment?’ As depression can often interrupt the structure that you were once used to, discussing any goals you have with your physician, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist will help pave the path to a successful outcome and help you with your future plans. In addition, goals can also be something small, such as doing the dishes every day or setting your alarm to wake up at a specific time every morning – which is also another key factor when dealing with depression and anxiety, as it can disrupt sleeping patterns. Trying not to take naps and ensuring you don’t surround yourself with any distractions (computers, television) will also help your sleep improve over time.

sports-1050966_1280To boost the brain’s feel-good chemicals known as endorphins, regular exercise is also helpful. Going for 20 to 30 minute walks a few times a week is a great way to alleviate symptoms associated to depression and anxiety. If outdoor activities aren’t your thing, joining a community centre with exercise equipment is another option. If you are one who has difficulty sleeping as mentioned above, there are also several 24-hour gyms in Canada that you may benefit from joining. As long as you are keeping fit somehow.

You may also want to try taking on new responsibilities. Those suffering from depression tend to avoid taking on too much at once, and it often get in the way of school or work, but it is important to remain involved. If you previously worked full-time, think of re-entering the workforce by taking on a part-time job. You could also consider volunteering; helping others will make you feel good about yourself.

question-1301144_1920When struggling with depression and anxiety, it is also important to avoid thinking negative thoughts. Naturally, we often jump to the worst possible conclusions, but that is especially so in individuals who are depressed. If you constantly tell yourself that you don’t feel good enough, try to change your thinking by listing all of the reasons why you are good enough, and remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished in the past and hope to accomplish in the future.

By making these lifestyle changes and implementing new things, you are altering the dopamine levels in your brain, and in time you will find that you not only feel more energized and focused, but have more pleasure and enjoyment out of life.

Understanding Anxiety

Whether it’s starting a new job, taking care of family matters, or speaking in front of large groups, we all experience anxiety from time to time; and while this kind of anxiety generally does not affect one’s ability to get through their everyday lives, it can be quite debilitating for other individuals and put them at risk of developing further mental illness.

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Below is a look at some of the common disorders associated with anxiety:

Phobias
The strong, relentless and troublesome feeling of fear around any given situation, person, object or animal. People who suffer from phobias will go out of their way to avoid potential triggers, lessening their quality of life as a result. Similarly, those with agoraphobia also suffer from the same kinds of fears in addition to feeling as though they are trapped and unable to escape certain situations.

Panic Disorders
What would be considered a normal reaction to an otherwise stressful situation for those who don’t suffer from anxiety would be an extreme reaction for those who do – with symptoms such as the feeling of intense fear, constant worry, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, shortness of breath and nausea.

Generalized Anxiety
Those with generalized anxiety are oftentimes still able to function in social settings – however, they will excessively worry over what are considered to be mundane, everyday problems, have difficulty sleeping as well as muscle tension.

Social Anxiety Disorder
Unlike generalized anxiety, those who suffer from social anxiety disorder will avoid social situations whenever possible. They fear being judged by others. Social anxiety can have a severe impact on one’s performance in school or at work, as well as impinge on relationships.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Commonly referred to as OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder is an assemblage of unwanted thoughts and urges, and abnormal and repeated actions in effort to diminish anxiety.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Also known as PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder is a result of a traumatic life event. Those with PTSD will experience extreme panic, have harrowing flashbacks, and will feel unsafe even when they are not in danger.

Regardless of age, education, income or cultural background, no one is exempt from anxiety or mental illness. At least 20% of Canadian adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lifetime, with 8% of those experiencing major depression. The stats are even more staggering when it comes to children: Up to 20% between the ages of 12 and 19 have already experienced anxiety or a major depressive episode, and as many as 4 million children are currently at risk of developing a mental illness in the future.

Regrettably, at least half of the individuals who say they suffer from mental illness will not see a physician; this is due in part to the stigma that surrounds mental illness and the fear of being discriminated against as a result. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening problems, including other mental disorders, so it is important to recognize that with the right support, mental illness can be managed.

At Brentwood Medical Clinic in Burnaby, British Columbia, Dr. Ali Ghahary works in conjecture with patients, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists. While treatment varies from patient to patient, medication is oftentimes used to manage depression and anxiety. However, there are also some other commonly recommended suggestions that have been proven to be beneficial for those suffering from mental illness including CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and physical activity.