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Depression and anxiety

Everyone goes through a case of the blues at some time; however, when we speak of depression in physiotherapy we are referring to much more than that. Clinical depression is a worldwide problem, affecting thousands of people and sending up health care costs. Depression and anxiety often coexist, with depression manifesting itself in the form of sadness, loss of interest in everyday activities, decreased energy and withdrawal. Symptoms of anxiety may include erratic heart rate, muscle tension, irritability and sleep disturbance.

If you experience the above symptoms, you should see your doctor, who may prescribe antidepressant medication. Some of these medications work very well for some people, but in many instances the body soon becomes used to them and the dosage may have to be adjusted, or the medicine changed altogether. Others may have unpleasant side effects. Some patients may benefit from psychotherapy in conjunction with medication.

Many doctors advocate physiotherapy for their patients. Depressed people experience low energy to the point that everyday tasks become overwhelming. Complaints of pain are also common. When you are depressed, the last thing you want to think of is exercise, however, a physiotherapist can help you begin moving gradually. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin - the feel-good hormones - which stabilise your mood and help you feel better.

Stretching and breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and massage help relieve pain and muscle tension, improve circulation and promote flexibility. As you begin to feel more relaxed, the irritability goes away and your sleep pattern improves. With improved sleep comes more energy and having more energy makes exercising easier. All of this leads to decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure and a reduction of other medical conditions associated with depression.

Following a fitness routine can enable you to come off your depression and anxiety medication in a shorter time. You don't have to live with this disabling condition, nor exist on medicine for the rest of your life. Seeing a physiotherapist may be a great first step.


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