Australian’s use of anti-depressants has doubled over the last decade to the point where close to one in ten people are on medication for depression. Recent research into the impact of anti-depressants shows very little evidence of any benefit beyond placebo, especially for mild to moderate symptoms.
Of course that doesn’t mean that for some people, drugs don’t provide essential respite from difficult symptoms but for many the combination of unwanted side effects as well as limited effectiveness has them searching for an alternative. That search has created a surge in interest in non-drug based approaches like natural therapies.
Beyond masking the symptoms
A holistic perspective tells us that depression, like any other symptom is a sign that your mind and body are out of balance. Regardless of their effectiveness, anti-depressants ultimately don't tackle the underlying causes of depression which makes it worth considering approaches like natural therapies that treat you holistically and work to restore your balance and wellbeing.
In my experience, natural therapies do offer true relief from symptoms rather than a band aid and long lasting improvement rather than just a short term fix and that’s why they are emerging as a potent compliment or alternative to conventional approaches.
Where to start
Seek professional advice. Unfortunately when it comes to most people’s first foray into using natural therapies, they’re more likely to get advice from ‘Dr Google’ or from their friends than seek expert advice. Even worse, even if they manage to figure out exactly what they need, most people then go and buy cheap, low quality supplements from the supermarket and are disappointed when they don’t see any results. As a first step I would suggest booking in with a suitably qualified naturopath or acupuncturist.
Not so fast
Incidentally, if a client comes to me and tells me they want to get off their depression medication I always tell them that we have to get them feeling better first. Just like there’s no point throwing away your crutches until your broken leg is healed, there’s nothing to be gained by coming off anti-depressants before your body and mind are ready for it and even then only under supervision and guidance of your GP.
Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stress, anxiety and depression.
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation.
For the month of May, Live Well is focusing on helping with depression. For more information please head to the Live Well website livewellnaturally.com.au