Can Medication Provide Relief For Chronic Stress?
First and foremost, we here at OptimaLiving Therapy believe and practice in holistic, drug-free treatments. There are patients that are facing chronic stress, where a medicated short-term solution may help them. Chronic stress and medication may provide the much needed assistance to help a patient achieve a balanced lifestyle.
I have been writing about “natural” solutions to reduce chronic stress. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about pharmaceutical interventions as well. Don’t get me wrong, I am your girl for all things natural, organic, non-surgical, drug-free, ethically sourced and environmentally friendly. I know this is a controversial thing to say, but there is a time and place for everything (or most things).
Sometimes anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication are a necessity; not an end-all-be-all this-is-the-perfect-solution-and-I-am-healed necessity. However, medication can provide the foundation which allows you to build a lifetime of healthy habits, including meditation, exercise and a healthy diet. I know, I know. But let me explain.
Our brain, spinal column and gut (I know, right?! Who knew?) produce many different types of neurotransmitters. When we talk about depression and anxiety, we are usually referencing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the major neurotransmitters that dictate how we feel mentally and emotionally. When these chemicals are absorbed by the brain or body too quickly through receptors, then our mental state can take a dive. And we can’t meditate our way out of that because it is a malfunction, of sorts, of our body. That’s when pharmaceuticals may be necessary.
Depression and Anxiety are a Medical Condition
Before I dive into the types of drugs and what they do, let me take a brief detour for an analogy so we are on the same page. I want you to think about someone with diabetes. Their body is either not producing insulin correctly, or it isn’t processing it correctly. There is a dysfunction in the physical system; sometimes this can be controlled through diet, yes (usually type 2 diabetes because they still have the ability to produce insulin). However, medication is a very real and life saving necessity for many people with diabetes. Prescribed drugs for diabetes allow the person’s body to 1.) receive enough insulin so the person can absorb glucose, and 2.) process the insulin so it is effective. Once the person is on the medication and they have a healthy foundation, they will be able to take a close look at diet, exercise and lifestyle to manage the chronic medical condition. Without the medication, though, there is no base to optimize the other components. Think of depression and anxiety the same way.
Okay, I digress. Moving right along! Let's dive into the most common types of medication used for depression and anxiety.
Types of Medication
There are a few different types of medication prescribed for depression and/or anxiety (which can be the root of chronic stress, or a by-product of it). First up are SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). These work by lengthening the amount of time serotonin is allowed to hang out in your brain. Serotonin is known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter. As such, it plays a role in mood, social behavior, appetite, sleep and sexual function. If your brain’s serotonin receptors latch onto the chemical too soon, you’ll take a dive in these areas because you won’t have enough serotonin roaming about. If serotonin can spend some time in the brain and body, then you’ll have an increase in function in these areas. SSRIs, then, allow serotonin to do just that.
Bupropion, another popular anti-depressant, works by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, which means these will stay longer in the brain. As such, it is categorized as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). For the purposes of this conversation, norepinephrine increases alertness and arousal, and speeds reaction time. Dopamine is responsible for regulating mood, behavior, sleep and cognition. It also plays a role in motivation and reward, as well as decision-making and creativity. Again, if these neurotransmitters are permitted to stay in the body for a sufficient amount of time, then mood will be regulated appropriately.
Once neurotransmitters in the body reach the correct level of homeostasis, then the natural remedies discussed previously can be implemented and the results can be astounding. If want to read about these natural interventions, you can find links to them below. Here’s to peace, balance and health!