Having worked therapeutically with people for many years, I have become all too familiar with the “revolving door” syndrome that can occur with people who struggle with mental health issues, particularly when prescription medication becomes the only solution on offer. People tend to go up and down and in and out of that door until it gets to a point where the door is closed, locked and barricaded resulting in a life sentence of pills and more importantly a sense of disempowerment where people become victims of a choice less situation.
Did you know that its estimated that 1 in 5 Irish people are on anti-depressant medication? That is 20% of the population and does no include sleeping medications and anti-anxiety medication such as Xanax & Valium. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate of extremism in any form be it natural or pharmaceutical and there is most certainly a valid place for prescription medication. However, these statistics don’t reflect the number of people with severe, incurable mental health problems who have exhausted all avenues. I believe that a large number of these people have no awareness that there are other avenues to explore, either instead of medication or in conjunction with it.
Well the good new is –
THERE ARE OTHER OPTIONS!
There are however a few basic rules that must be understood –
Rule No. 1 – There is no magic bullet! Herbal medicine does not work this way and it is a dangerous message to send to people that if they take such and such an herb or supplement that they will be “cured”.
Rule No. 2 – If you want to take a natural approach to healing you need to be willing to put in the work on all levels and be prepared to make changes in your life.
Rule No.3 – The mind and body cannot be separated and people need a treatment approach that caters for both. Diet, exercise, herbal medicines, counseling, meditation & stress management practices all contribute to a holistic approach that works.
Herbal medicine is such a rich resource that is untapped when it comes to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. There are a number of key classifications of herbs that when combined correctly for the individual and accompanied by the aspects outlined above have shown great merit.
3 main classifications are as follows –
Nutritive Herbs: This classification are tonic herbs that can be taken safely over long periods of time to nourish and strengthen the entire system. These herbs form the foundation of any treatment concerning mental health.
Nervine Herbs: This classification directly addresses the nervous system. There are differing aspects of these herbs that need to be matched to the individual and are invaluable in addressing symptoms such as low mood, anxiety and panic attacks and insomnia.
Adaptogenic Herbs: These herbs are once again tonic in nature and support the adrenal glands and therefore the entire endocrine system, balancing hormones increasing resilience to stress and generally strengthening the whole system.
This is a very brief synopsis of some aspects of an herbal approach to mental health difficulties. Natural healing treats the person not the illness so lets remember that every individual is different and unique and this must always be considered. One size does not fit all, but the thing to remember is there are always options!