As a longtime (lifetime?) sufferer of anxiety, medication is just a part of my daily routine. There are times when I’ve had a chart to check off all of my various prescriptions and vitamins and other supplements. I acknowledge anti-anxiety drugs will be with me for the rest of my life. (Since I was 20 I have been through several courses of cognitive behavioural therapy, have read countless books, and sought advice from psychologists, naturopaths, and psychiatrists alike. I did wean off my prescription a few years ago and went without for a few months, but needed to go back on the lowest dose. I believe my anxiety and occasional bouts of depression are biochemical, not situational.)
Recently one part of my dose ran out and I discovered from the pharmacist that there were no refills left on it. I do not have a family doctor (anybody else in this situation?) and decided to wait to visit my local overwhelmed walk in and go without the extra 37.5mg for a week. This got me thinking about how I need to refocus on my other meds more. Other meds? Vitamins, meditation, and you guessed it…exercise.
Before I weaned off my meds a few years ago, I was on a very high dose of Effexor XR. So high that many doctors raised their eyebrows at it at first. During the weaning process, I leaned more on Vitamin D, B vitamins, and my fitness regime. Now that I’m living on the uber-health conscious west coast and am swimming in a sea of hemp hearts and chia seeds, I too am more aware of non-pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety and depression.
I can feel the difference that 37.5mg makes but the moment I feel my chest tighten I lace up and hit the road. When thoughts start racing, I grab my mat and assume a pose. I’m working hard to earn my 13,000 steps a day. I never feel better than after a good run along the ocean and through the woods. I am using exercise as medicine, and I am recommitting myself to a higher dosage.
If you live in the Victoria area, join us on March 29th for No Pain, No Pain. Dr. Kevin Sommerfeldt will be discussing exercise as medicine. Other speakers will discuss the role of nutrition and other holistic approaches to pain management. The event is free and we encourage you to bring donations of cash/pantry items for the Shelbourne Community Kitchen.