Third Post – Series ‘Reloading Mental Health’ – March 2020
The major obstacle with anxiety is ‘under-treatment’. Despite the fact that there are effective treatments for anxiety, many of those affected never seek help. Effective treatment cuts down physical and mental burden and eases the agony. When one falls physically sick with body pain, cough, cold or fever, the first option that comes to mind is to see a physician. When one feels emotionally low, uneasy, does not feel like working, does not feel energetic – the last in the options is to consult a doctor. This is preceded by a mental debate – “I can handle it; I’ll share it with friends; I’ll seek solution from social media friends/close relatives”. Procrastination and Indecision are the culprits of worsening anxiety.. The fear of being ‘exposed’ and the social status of a ‘happy unit’ at stake are enough reasons. Other reasons could be mental illusions like – “That’s just the way I am; I am too scared to try anything new; why bother; nothing works”.
Feeling of anxiety can present itself as – nervousness, grief, sorrow, phobia, anger, fear, horror, panic, and terror. Physical complaints can include increased heart rate, rapid breathing, trembling, cold/clammy hands, dizziness, palpitation, upset stomach, acidity, diarrhoea, nausea, headache, insomnia, hot flushes, lethargy, numbness, tingling sensation and fatigue. Anxiety can lead to or aggravate the existing alcoholism, PMS, PCOD, menstrual irregularities, overeating, acid reflux, hair fall and acne.
The Limitations –
Benzodiazepines are the drug of choice. In most cases these are to be continued for long periods. But even the pharmaceutical companies do not recommend this. Warning in drug packaging inserts states that these drugs are not to be used for longer than three weeks because they very quickly become addictive. Rapid withdrawal from benzodiazepines can cause severe distress and even more dangerous symptoms. Often, they create rebound anxiety and insomnia when withdrawn. Yet many physicians inconsistently and typically renew these prescriptions for months and even years.
Harold H. Bloomfield, American psychiatrist, writer and politician, says –
“Patients complain that their doctors just write prescriptions and don’t suggest any means by which patients can help themselves. When patients enquire if their anxiety can be treated by herbal medication, they are often met with cynicism. In medical offices and clinics, millions of people are crippled annually, not by anxiety but by a reflexive “take-this-prescription” mentality. This further disempowers the anxious person and can interfere with true healing.”
Change the Trend –
Psychiatrist/counsellors/family physician are the first ones that come to mind when seeking a doctor. Change the trend. Ayurveda is a place for comprehensive and inclusive treatment sans the fear of being put straight away on sleeping pills or anti-depressants. Make a trend to seek help through Ayurveda. Ayurveda provides with a multifaceted scope of options. There are selective herbs that act as antioxidants that regulate hormonal imbalances and functioning of the endocrine system. There are adaptogens that strengthen the nervous system and reduce oxidative stress. There are vast range of Panchkarma therapies that help in relaxation and detoxification of the body and mind. These can be carefully selected depending on the chronicity of disease, the symptoms and their severity. Herbs can also be used to support the tapering off or discontinuation of benzodiazepines. The process itself can still be challenging because of addiction to the latter. Thus strict medical supervision is required.
Selecting any herb by merely looking at its price and the disease it can help with does not suffice. The quality and concentration of active ingredient found in the herb plays a key role in ensuring active results. A perfect balance of ingredients and appropriate combination of herbs is essential to treat any disease. Some herbs work right away; others may take three to four weeks to exert their benefits. Thus it is not necessary that the herbal treatments initially chosen give the desired results. Don’t give up. Often the second or third alternative produces the desired benefit. This may be due to chronicity of the disease and the subtle difference in individual needs due to ‘Mind Body Constitution’.
Source: Healing with Herbs – Harold H. Bloomfield
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