The UK is a nation of pill-poppers.
One billion prescriptions were written in 2012.
That’s 2.7 million prescriptions every day.
That’s a 62% rise in the last decade.
That’s a lot of prescriptions.
That’s a lot of manufactured, synthetic drugs.
Drugs for heart disease top the bill. But others, like anti-depressants and diabetes medication are rising fast.
That’s good, right? I meant, people are getting the medication they need to make them feel better.
Well, yes and no…
It’s true that people are becoming more aware of, and more concerned about their health – previous generations had to rely on their GP to tell them what they need, but now we live in an internet age and anyone can “google” their symptoms and diagnose themselves.
But all too often, drugs are seen as a quick-fix get-out.
Rather than making lifestyle changes, we take drugs to combat the effects of that lifestyle. Popping a pill is easier than taking the effort to eat healthily, exercise regularly, or reduce stress. And, perhaps, many of us simply aren’t aware of how to take care of our wellbeing.
Let’s take a look at the rise in anti-depression prescriptions – over 50 million prescriptions were issued in 2012; a rise of over 7%.
This rise could be seen as a result of the economic situation, rising unemployment, and all the other stressful effects of the recession we have been living through over the past five years.
But aren’t there better way to help those with depression and anxiety?
There has been massive government investment into psychotherapy and other treatments.
From a personal perspective
When I was diagnosed with depression about nine years ago, the first thing my GP did was hand me a prescription. In fact, that was the only thing he did – there was no talk of alternative treatments, or lifestyle changes I could make.
I was not prepared to feed my body synthetic chemical drugs for the foreseeable future, so I declined the prescription and committed to finding a better way to heal my mind and body.
And I did. It wasn’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination, but I did it without the use of drugs.
I’ll start by giving you an idea of what my depression looked like… everything felt like such hard work; I was tired all the time and had no energy; I didn’t leave the house unless I really had to; I’d arrange meet-ups with friends, but as the date drew closer I’d start to panic and, in the end, I’d cancel; sometimes I’d go for as much as a week without even washing my hair, and getting dressed just seemed pointless; I just felt flat, I’d lost my fizz and joy of life.
Coming out of this depression started with little steps – getting out of the house was really important. Going for a walk in the countryside, and arranging to meet friends for lunch and actually keeping the date were two of the major turning points.
As well as being good for our physical health, in recent years, studies have shown that regular physical activity also has benefits for mental health.
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. For example, the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric.” That feeling, known as a “runner’s high,” can be accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life, thus combating depression.
Laughing works in a similar way. You’ve heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine”… Well it’s true.
Laughing can lower blood pressure for some by inducing relaxation and preventing the release of stress hormones such as cortisol. Some describe laughter as “internal jogging” as you inhale oxygen which stimulates heart and blood circulation. Laughter can also trigger the release of endorphins which give you a sense of well being. Laughing can reduce stress and anxiety because it naturally relaxes you. Laughter induces your heart rate to slow down and your blood pressure to decrease.
Side-effects and addiction
It’s not just that manufactured prescription drugs are unnecessary in some cases – such as mine, above – but they can actually add to the problems.
More and more Britons are becoming addicted to medications – including anti-depressants, and strong painkillers such as tramadol and fentanyl.
And then there are all of the unwanted side-effects of prescription drugs.
Medication labels can warn of anything from drowsiness, nausea, skin irritation, and allergic reactions, to and increase or decrease in blood pressure, internal bleeding, and I’m sure somewhere I saw “death” listed as a possible side-effect.
One of the most pressing side-effects for society as a whole, is the threat of antibiotics resistance. Recent NHS figures show a “notable increase” (of 2.5 million!) in antibiotic prescriptions in a year. Over-use and miss-use of antibiotics means bacteria are becoming resistant to their affect.
Don’t get me wrong, some complimentary herbal “medicines” can have side-effects, too. But therapists tend to work much more closely with clients, take a full history, and consider the person as a whole (rather than just looking at the symptom – the illness) to ensure the treatment is right for them.
What about our skin?
Ok, this is a skincare website, so I guess I should talk about our skin, too…
If you’ve been following my work for a while (or even if you’ve only had a quick snoop around my website), you probably know by now that I know how embarrassing and emotionally crippling a skin condition such as acne, eczema or psoriasis can be.
I’ve pretty much battled with acne for most of my life since puberty. I lost count of the number of off-the-shelf products I tried. Nothing seemed to work. A lot of the products just dried my skin out, which may have helped with the spots, but the dry and flaky patches looked just as bad.
In the end, I went to my doctor for help and he prescribed a topical lotion. Not only did this lotion leave my skin extremely dry, but it would actually sting my skin when I applied it.
If somebody could have just told me that there was another way… a way that wouldn’t sting my skin or leave it dry… a way that took into account the health of my whole body and not just the “symptom” of my acne…
That is when my journey to healthy skin began. There were no man-made drugs, mass-produced products or other harsh treatments along the way. Instead, there was LOTS of natural gorgeous-ness in the form of natural skincare products and ingredients, healthy fresh food, herbal teas, and natural supplements, as well as a holistic approach to my health.
What’s the answer?
I don’t claim to have all the answers. And some medication can be vital. But I think we need to wake up to the state of our health and the state of our health system.
Taking responsibility for our own health is crucial.
I urge you to take a different approach to your health and wellbeing. Taking an holistic look at your health – which means looking at your diet, losing weight (if need-be), exercising, reducing stress, and assessing your lifestyle – can prevent many conditions, from heartburn to heart disease.
I honestly believe that my story can be replicated for anyone who’s ready to make real in order to get the healthy skin of their dreams.
Here’s to good health!