Mental health conditions are being diagnosed and treated at an increasing rate. This article discusses a Psychiatrist’s perspective on fundamentals of health that need to be addressed along with other treatments of mental health conditions.
Today, mental health conditions are commonly diagnosed. Depression is widespread and commonly treated with antidepressants. Attention Deficit Disorder is very commonly diagnosed, with stimulants prescribed quite often. Bipolar Disorder is becoming a common mental health diagnosis with medications prescribed frequently.
I have been a Board Certified practicing Psychiatrist for the past twenty years. My current observations are based on years of experience from talking to people diagnosed with these conditions.
I remember many years ago wondering why I was being asked to prescribe medication to children eating fast food and lots of sweets. How was I to tell if these children really had ADD, or were their systems “stressed” from lack of nutrients? I also wondered about the role of our sedentary lifestyle in the increasing numbers of people diagnosed with mental health conditions. Children seem to watch hours of TV and spend even more time in front of computers and video games. Yet, when we take them from this environment to a mainstream classroom we consider them distractible. But their brains have been programmed to absorb stimuli from TV and computers since they were very young. So are they really distractible, or have their learning circuits not yet been wired to learn traditionally? And as for adults with sedentary lifestyles, it seems to reason that depression or mood disorder is a consequence.
Of course, many people with healthy lifestyles still suffer from depression, ADD, and the like. But are we adequately evaluating the role of lifestyle when we make our diagnosis and prescribe medication? Talking to literally hundreds of families is a very humbling process. The more you get to know people the less you really understand. As a clinician, my dilemma was always, does this child or adult need medication? And have all other variables contributing to distractibility or other mental health issue been addressed first? Another area that is not typically evaluated in a routine doctor’s visit is that of exposure to environmental toxins. As a conventional practitioner, I used to believe only small numbers of people were particularly sensitive to the environment.
Pollution is everywhere. How can we think that pollution will not affect our health and well-being, physical or mental? We usually think of pollution as coming from fumes in the air from cars or factories. It’s true, but pollution is far more widespread than that. The plastic liners that we use to feed our infants formula contain toxins. The carpets our babies are crawling on are full of toxins.
How can we think that consistent exposure to toxins, even microtoxins, and lack of nutrition will not have an effect on our children’s physical and emotional states? And how about ours? Last year, several colleagues and I published a study on the effects of nutritional supplements in children with Bipolar Disorder. Out of 15 children, 14 demonstrated considerable improvements with the addition of high-quality nutritional supplements. All the children were prescribed psychotropic medication. After 6 months of nutritional supplements, their side effect scores dropped from 45.9 to 3.6!
Clearly more scientific research is needed in these areas. But if you are on psychotropic medication, or have a child on psychotropic medication, it would seem prudent to do everything possible to minimize stress in your bodies. That includes eating as healthy as possible. Healthy cells make for healthy bodies.
It also means vigilance around the issue of environmental toxins. In reality, we are all exposed to toxins, more than ever before. Also, cleansing the body with fresh water and quality supplements becomes essential for health maintenance.
A proactive approach to one’s mental health will go a long way toward restoration of balance and stability of the mind and of the emotions.
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