An interesting article popped up in my inbox today which really grabbed my attention. The subject was anxiety and depression in people with epilepsy. This is something that I have not really discussed with many other sufferers. Those reading this who can relate to the subject matter, perhaps you can provide me with some feedback if you feel comfortable to do so?
Something you will know should you have read my previous blogs is that I am not a fan of putting any additional chemicals into my body aside from the daily ones that keep me on the straight and narrow! Where possible I will research alternative methods and I had, when in England, a very trusted herbalist who was excellent at treating any ailment if and when it popped up. The wonderful thing about her was that she took into account treating the body as a whole as the majority of holistic practitioners do. This treatment is not a matter of throwing pills at the symptoms and hoping the ailment will go, it’s about evaluating possible influences such as diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, stress levels and any other health problems which can bring clarity to the source of the issue. In all honesty, there were a number of occasions I remember attending her office and breaking down because of feeling so awful inside and not having the ability to be able to pull myself up out of the dark place I was in.
Many times I had wondered the same question to myself, ‘is this me, is it the epilepsy or is it the drugs?’ I have never been able to answer the question. I have had therapy at various times which has been immensely helpful but, as I open a box of Sodium Valproate and look down the horrifically long list of possible side effects it’s enough the scare the pants off anybody to the point of thinking, ‘I’ll stick with the seizures thanks’. I can’t help but err on the side of ‘it’s the drugs’ as my answer. Some of the possible side effects are; suicidal feelings, blood clots, jaundice, breathing problems, blistering or bleeding of the skin around the skin lips, eyes, mouth, nose and genitals, inflammation of the lungs, breast enlargement in men, aggression, kidney problems and bedwetting. Lest we forget the sleepiness so caution should be exercised when operating heavy machinery! Having some anxiety/depression after that list leads me to believe I’ve got off pretty lightly!
New research into depression and anxiety in epilepsy patients has recently been undertaken in Australia at Victoria’s La Trobe University and the results brought forward an interesting combination of contributing factors. These included: how well seizures were controlled, the stigma attached to having the condition, the effects it would have on employment and of course the AED’s themselves. When thought about all those factors seem obvious and of course they do naturally have an impact however; as an individual living with epilepsy one gets used to and subsequently forgets those elements because they become a daily reality. For me, that’s why how to deal with it is so important, simply throwing more drugs into the equation isn’t necessarily going to solve the issue as it’s being on the medication in the first place which is often the root cause.
The article made a valid point of stating that by eating healthily and exercising regularly an improvement can be made and I would 100% agree with that. Exercise has always provided me with endorphins which send me into a euphoric state no matter how grumpy I may be! Also, there are a number of vegetables and herbs with anti-depressant qualities. St John’s Wort has properties related to those found in Prozac, swiss chard is filled with magnesium which is a common deficiency in people with chronic depression and tomato skin is abundant with lycopene which prevents pro-inflammatory build ups that are linked to the condition. Orgeano is full of caffeic acid, quercitin and rosmarinic acid which combat fatigue, depression and anxiety; tree nuts, legumes, whole grains, brown rice and avocado are all high in l-tryptophan. This is a vital amino acid which is converted into 5-htp and subsequently used by the brain to generate serotonin as a depletion correlates with depression. So, enhance your mood by eating some of these veggies and herbs or even better grow them organically in pots or in your garden. Plus, there’s the added bonus of getting your Vitamin D injection whilst staving off the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the warmer weather!
In order to walk my talk I must finish writing this entry as I now have a date with the barre and some magnificent endorphins, have a great weekend all!
For those in the UK to learn more herbalism about Afifah Hamilton click on her website http://www.rosemarycottageclinic.co.uk/ and/or follow her blog at http://rosemarycottageclinic.wordpress.com