1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health condition in Canada while about 70% of women claim to experience significant stress in their day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, of these millions of women dealing with chronic stress, low energy and low mood, only 25% say that they are doing something about it.
Naturopathic doctors understand that the mind and body are connected. Science has long established the relationship between the digestive system and mood, often termed the “Gut-Brain Connection” and the connection between the mind, mental health and the immune system, even establishing an entire field termed “psychoneuroimmunology”, linking depression to inflammation in the brain and body. However when it comes to our conventional healthcare model, mental health conditions are treated as being separate from the rest of the body. In mainstream medicine, depression is largely treated as an imbalance in the hormones in the brain that influence our moods, like serotonin and dopamine to be “corrected” with anti-depressants.
Since we understand that our digestive system and immune system are linked to our mood and overall functioning, it becomes imperative that we learn how to fuel our brains, improve digestion, balance inflammation and take aggressive measures against our increasing levels of stress.
Getting help for a mental health disorder first involves removing the stigma and discrimination around mental health—depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are not signs of weakness, they are common conditions that a large portion of the population is dealing with daily. Next, it is important to seek help from a trusted practitioner who will take the time to listen to your case, get to know you as a person and treat your whole body, not just your symptoms or diagnosis.
In treating depression, anxiety, stress and other mood disorders, it is important to make sure that your body is receiving the proper nutrients for neurotransmitter synthesis from diet and is able to absorb those nutrients through a well-functioning digestive system. It is also essential for you and your practitioner to work with unhelpful thought patterns, decrease systemic inflammation and increase the body’s resilience in the face of stress through counselling, herbal medicine and mind-body practices such as acupuncture and homeopathy.
If you or a friend or family member is suffering from a mental health condition, educate them about their options. Naturopathic medicine is a great first-line option for those who have been newly diagnosed with a mood disorder, a preventive measure for those simply dealing with stress, and a great complement to those who have been living with a mental health condition and are already on medication. I work with children, adolescents, adults, pregnant patients, post-partum women and patients dealing with addictions.