I am a middle aged single mom, with lots to say and talk about. I have been divorced for 16 years and through the many ups and downs of our life, I have always managed to keep myself emotionally, sane and healthy. During the past month, I am experiencing what the psychiatrist has called anxiety attacks, and am feelings intensely sad and depressed and really don’t know what I can do to help myself. I am against, taking meds and would like to ask your opinion on how I can work through this phase, without western medicine.
Kelly, Chino Hills, CA
Thank you for reaching out; I will do my best to answer your questions. First and foremost, it is very important to consider any recent incident that may have triggered these symptoms. You mentioned that your middle aged and that makes me think of, hormone changes and menopause. It is very common that woman at this stage of their life, begin to experience anxiety attacks that can be caused by changes in your biological make-up, particularly in the hormonal levels. Menopause may start anytime from her late 40′s to the early 50′s. This condition creates a hormonal imbalance in the body which in turn results to emotional, mental and physical stress. Menopause and anxiety have common symptoms such as, hot flushes and chills, trembling and shaking, headaches, and raging heartbeat. Women who undergo menopause become irritable, restless, and have trouble concentrating, and have some feelings of sadness.
It has been proven that regular exercise can be as effective at treating depression as medication. Not only does exercise boost serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals, it triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, just like antidepressants do. Even a half-hour daily walk can make a big difference. Eating well is important for both your physical and mental health. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. They'll get you going without the all-too-soon sugar crash.Sleep has a strong effect on mood. When you don't get enough sleep, your depression symptoms will be worse. Sleep deprivation exacerbates irritability, moodiness, sadness, and fatigue. Make sure you're getting enough sleep each night. Very few people do well on less than 7 hours a night. Aim for somewhere between 7 to 9 hours each night.
Strong social networks reduce isolation, a key risk factor for depression. Keep in regular contact with friends and family, and remember that asking for help, isn’t sign of weakness. Make changes in your life to help manage and reduce stress. Too much stress exacerbates depression and puts you at risk for future depression. Take the aspects of your life that stress you out, such as work overload or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to minimize their impact.
Lastly, psychotherapy is an extremely effective treatment for depression. Therapy gives you tools to treat depression from a variety of ways. What you learn in therapy gives you skills and understanding to help prevent depression from coming back. Some types of therapy teach you practical techniques on how to reframe negative thinking and employ behavioral skills in eliminating depression. Therapy can also help you work through the root of your depression, helping you understand why you feel a certain way, what your triggers are for depression, and what you can do to stay healthy. Please Consult your M.D. if any of the above, doesn’t help alleviate your anxiety and mood.
This is rather, a wide and very broad subject and I hope, I have answered your questions. I wish you love and light through this journey of getting well.
Sherry S. Nafeh, M.A,LMFT
Names and story has been altred to keep the cofiditiality of the individul.