Helping young people with mental illness…..

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I was reading an article a couple of days ago about the prevalence of mental health issues in adolescents. What struck me, and deeply saddened me, was the statistic that of all visits to health professionals by 13 – 21 year old people, almost 40% of them were for depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns. And these are the kids who are actually seeking help… the number could rise significantly if we include unsupported, financially stressed and struggling kids and families.

A study by the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research showed that 28% of people in the 19 – 21 year old age bracket had had experience with mental illness at some point. The other disturbing fact was that their research found that these kids had major concerns about the stigma surrounding mental health issues and significantly overestimated the reaction of others. These concerns often prevented them from seeking help. We need to make it easier for our kids to get the help they need and talking openly and compassionately about mental illness is a good start.

At a time in your life when you are accutely aware of how you are perceived, when you are trying to work out who you are, when you are flooded with unattainable, unrealistic and often negative images it is little wonder that kids can feel reluctant to seek help or even to let someone know that they are struggling.

So what are the signs to look out for : 

Sleeplessness/ Insomnia
Changed behaviour – problems at school, lack of or excessive socialisation
Loss of interest in hobbies or sport
Concentration problems
Withdrawal
Anger / Agitation
Sadness, hopelessness, tearfulness
Feelings of guilt
Lack of self worth
Difficulty making decisions
Excessive or inappropriate worrying
Loss of appetite or weight changes

It’s worth talking to your kids about these issues even if you feel that they are ok. When you look at the statistics and consider that nearly 1 in 3 kids is affected at some point it is highly likely that you have a child or know a child who may be struggling.

Early intervention is key to addressing the problem before it can take hold and take over. Seeing a naturopath is a great start – at NaturoCath Naturopathy you will find a compassionate listener and herbal and nutritional support.  Assessments can be done to check for potential physiological problems which may be driving the illness and a plan can be formulated to provide support such as counselling, advice and co-ordination of care with schools, GP’s or psychologists. This approach provides a multi faceted, supportive structure and reduces the likelihood of progression to antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications.

If medications are already being used, or if it is necessary to go on to medications we can work co-operatively with GP’s and psychiatrists to ensure that the medications are used in the most effective way and are supported by diet and optimal nutrition.

Talk to your kids, let them know you care enough to have the conversation no matter how hard it is. Help them develop resilience and self worth. Most importantly, take the time to listen. It may be the most important conversation of your life.

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Watching out for our most vulnerable – mental health for teenagers and children

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Did you know that 1 in 5 children or teenagers are affected by a mental health issue ? Depression, anxiety, compulsive disorders, self harm – these are all very confronting topics and difficult enough to deal with as an adult. Take a moment to think how it must feel to be a child or young person trying to navigate their way through a mental minefield.

For people aged between 18 and 24, the prevalence of mental health issues is the highest of any age group. If you feel like a child or young person you care about is struggling you should know that there is help at hand. The worse thing to do is to put your head in the sand. It can be difficult to discuss but, handled carefully and with kindness and respect, you can see this as the first step to helping someone get their life back on track. Talking helps take away the shame, embarrassment and stigma often associated with these types of problems. The person who says they have never had a time of mental turmoil or difficulty is lying. Let your kids know that you understand and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.

It can be difficult to work out whether your child is feeling depressed or anxious or just going through some normal teenage turmoil. My thoughts are that it is better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your child. Let them know they are not alone in feeling this way. If it is a passing thing – great – at least your child knows you cared enough to talk with them. If it is something more serious you have made the first step towards getting some support and getting better.

Look for the signs – social withdrawal, a change in school or work abilities, use of drugs or alcohol as self medication, teariness, changed sleep patterns, changed appetite or weight fluctuations, risky behaviours, anxiety, racing heart, hyperventilation, feelings of overwhelm.

At NaturoCath Naturopathy we provide a caring, supportive and effective environment. We employ a number of strategies to help you and your child through this difficult time. We look for underlying causes such as thyroid disorders, nutritional deficiencies, adrenal issues and hormonal imbalances. We treat with herbal medicine support which offers effective treatment of symptoms without any risk of suicidal tendency associated with some antidepressants or any issues of addiction or withdrawal.

Along with herbal and nutritional support we offer counselling from a qualified and compassionate counsellor with many years experience dealing with young peoples special needs.

There is no pigeon holing, no addictive medications, no sedatives or mind altering medications and no hard and fast rules. Call today for the help you need.

Herb of the Week – Passionflower

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Passionflower is one of my favourite herbs. This safe, gentle and effective herb gives great relief from insomnia, anxiety and depression. It has also been used effectively in the control of high blood pressure, neuralgia pain, sciatica, shingles and migraine. Due to it’s calming affect on the central nervous system it is also beneficial for people suffering with muscle spasm, nervous tics, Parkinson’s Disease and asthma.

Some studies have shown passionflower to be as effective as benzodiazapines. Fortunately it has none of the addictive qualities of these pharmaceutical drugs. The dosage is able to be tailored to your specific needs and situation to avoid any feeling of drowsiness or incapacitation usually associated with those types of drugs.

If you are feeling anxious, agitated or are having trouble sleeping passionflower is one of the safest first line treatments to help you get back on track.

Get in touch to see how I can help you

T 02 45677104

E info@naturocath.com.au

W http://www.naturocath.com.au

Real help and compassionate treatment for panic and anxiety disorders….

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I have just read an article entitled “High Anxiety” in the Good Weekend Magazine of the Sydney Morning Herald. My mind is a whirling blur of reactions  – I feel furious, saddened and disappointed on behalf of the millions of people who have sought help for anxiety and panic disorders only to be given this drug which gives them very short term ‘relief’ and as an added extra, a drug addiction ( after only one weeks use ) which is said to be more difficult to kick than heroin to add to their woes.

Anxiety and panic disorder is one of our most common mental health issues currently affecting about 2 million Australians. It’s been around for as long as anyone can remember in different guises and under an umbrella of different names – PTSD, , frayed nerves, highly strung, panic attacks, neurosis – and you would think that the medical and pharmaceutical professions would have a better handle on things than to prescribe drugs of addiction which actually inhibit the patients ability to deal with their anxiety.

How does a drug like this get through the TGA and how can these big pharma companies ever feel ok about making a profit from people’s misery ? We all hear their speils about how they are caring for our health. One quick look at the Pfizer website and their banner reads “Wellness. Prevention. Treatment. Cure” – Wowser – what a bunch of rubbish that is. I have no doubt that some pharmaceutical drugs can be a literal life saver for people suffering from serious mental illness but surely the aim of treatment is wellness not dependence.

One reason these types of drugs, benzodiazapines, cause so many probelms is that they act by calming the brain and actually slowing it’s functioning. We have a natural brain chemical called GABA which plays this role and when we add these type of drugs to the mix our brains stop making GABA as there is less need. As soon as we stop taking the drug we find ourselves with a brain which has no calming GABA and the panic and anxiety rises rapidly giving the nasty, and often terrifying, withdrawal symptom of unchecked anxiety run rampant. It only takes about a week for your brain to adjust to making less GABA hence the idea that you become ‘addicted’ after a week or so of taking these drugs. The withdrawal effects, even after just one week can include hallucinations, racing heart, high blood pressure, tremors, confusion and rebound spiky anxiety – sounds like a panic attack on roids to me.  It takes another week for your brain to start adjusting back to the lack of GABA and the week or two lag time can be truly horrendous. The absolutely heartbreaking thing about this is that it is a very risky time in terms of suicide, self harm and major depressive episodes.

The idea of treating these disorders in this way makes no sense to me. Surely someone dealing with these issues needs and deserves compassion, care, support and treatment which helps them to be able to deal with and overcome the disorder in order to live a full and happy life. Drug addiction and rebound anxiety doesn’t really gel with that.

Anxiety and panic disorders are plain awful and can be very isolating. Just about everyone I have seen in my clinic who is dealing with these issues feels a degree of embarrassment, shame and loss of quality of life and that they are the only ones feeling this way. Let me tell you it’s way more common than you think and affects people across every spectrum of society. You need not feel alone and help is here when you are ready.

As a naturopath my first thought is to try to identify any factors which may be causing or exacerbating your anxiety. There are many factors such as thyroid disorders, poor blood glucose control, hormonal imbalances, magnesium and B vitamin deficiencies which can impact on these conditions and exacerbate symptoms.

I use a combbination of nutritonal supplements, herbal medicines, counselling and dietary changes to help you get control of your symptoms while addressing the causal factors.

Some symtpoms of panic and anxiety include :

• Muscle tension • High blood pressure • Hypervigilance •

• Dizziness • Palpitations • Trembling • Sweating

• Feelings of unreality • Fatigue • Impaired concentration • Irritability

• Excessive worry/sense of impending doom  • Sleep disturbances

If you are suffering from panic, anxiety or depression please call to see how I can help you.

NaturoCath – Caring. Encouraging. Supportive

Tel : 02 45677104

email : info@naturocath.com.au