The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that mental illness affects around 3.2million Australians placing a $190billion financial strain on the economy annually, this includes the cost of lost productivity and labour force participation. In a 2003 study “The burden of disease and injury in Australia” concluded that mental illnesses were the leading cause of disability burden within Australia.
Now, are you one of the 3.2 million Australians who suffer on a daily basis from the debilitating effects of a mental illness? Is your brain defective? The truth is it doesn’t have to be, and you’ll be surprised to find out the answer to your daily suffering isn’t inside a box of Prozac or Xanax.
Mental disorders are on the rise and show no signs of slowing down, the annual cost of mental illnesses are around $28 billion a year more than in 2005-2006, and the truth is conventional medicine can’t cure it. Most doctors and/or psychiatrists merely match you symptoms with a diagnosis this could be either depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, ADHD, dementia, bipolar disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson disease or psychosis. Then match an appropriate drug to your disease and manage your symptoms without any consideration for why you began experiencing these symptoms in the first place! I like to call this method of treatment a band aid solution. On the surface it may appear the problem is fixed, but if you rip that band aid off and take a deeper look at the root cause of the problem, it seems the band aid or in the case of mental illness the anti-depressant isn’t really helping you at all, just merely covering up the problem.
The human body isn’t innately designed so that we cannot be happy, or focus, or remember where we left the keys, or sleep soundly without throwing down pill after pill. As Dr Mark Hyman puts it so brilliantly:
- Is depression a Prozac deficiency?
- Is ADHD a Ritalin deficiency?
- Is Alzheimer’s disease an Aricept deficiency?
In short the answer is no, in fact the answer to fixing your brain lies in fixing your body. The thing with conventional medicine is they box a group of people together who all have depression or anxiety then give them all the same treatment for it e.g. if you have depression you’ll need an anti-depressant drug. What this doesn’t explain is why these symptoms are arising, and what the causes may be. We are genetically different from each and every person so why should our treatment be the same? My depression may be caused by a misbehaving thyroid whilst another’s may be caused inflammation. Catching my drift? Two people with the same “disease” but very different causes!
As previously stated to fix your brain you must first fix your body, to do this you must:
- Balance your hormones, this means checking your thyroid and sex hormones
- Improve your nutrient intake through dietary lifestyle changes
- Reduce your inflammation by cutting out all the substances that elicit inflammation whether that be processed carbohydrates, and refined sugars and trans-saturated fats, and eliminate any food you may be unknowingly sensitive to, the main ones tend to be gluten and dairy.
- Increase your body’s natural anti-inflammatory properties, by increasing your intakes of omega-3 fatty acids well documented to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, certain herbal liquids such as turmeric. Increase your intake of natural anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, dark leafy greens, nuts, ginger and beetroots.
- Fix your gut (remember your gut makes 80-90% of your body’s serotonin, that’s right your gut makes more serotonin than your brain)
- Enhance your detoxification pathways
- Improve liver functionality
What you need to realise is that everything is connected, the whole conventional medicine paradigm has it wrong, we chopped up the human body into parts. For heart problems you see a cardiologist, for gut problems you see a gastroenterologist and for brain issues you see a neurologist. You can’t go to your neurologist and ask about your digestive troubles, they would say speak to your gastroenterologist, this is just plain madness. The human body is all interconnected and should be treated that way, as a whole.
Below is a list of things you can do to treat your depression without drugs:
- Check your thyroid, hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is one of the leading causes of depression.
- Check your vitamin D levels a deficiency of this essential vitamin has been linked to depression.
- Check your cholesterol levels, cholesterol makes up 75% of your brain. Low cholesterol levels are directly linked to poor cognitive function, dementia and early cognitive decline in the elderly.
- Get checked for heavy metals such as mercury; mercury toxicity has been linked to neurological problems.
- Eliminate food allergens from your diet this may include gluten and dairy. Food allergies are the direct result of inflammation and are directly linked to depression and other mood disorders.
- EXERCISE, and I don’t mean a stroll down to the shops, I’m talking moderate intensity work outs 4-5 times a week for 30 minutes, this will increase your levels of BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) important for long term memory, and a natural antidepressant for your brain.
- Increase your intake of omega-3 fats, your brain is made up of this fat.
- Start taking a liver tonic, namely St Mary’s Thistle.
- Ensure you take adequate amounts of B12 and B6. These vitamins of essential for metabolising homocysteine, which in excessive amounts can play a role mental illness.
And if you weren’t already convinced that antidepressants don’t work well here is the study that proves they don’t, this study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine that found pharmaceutical companies selectively published research studies on antidepressants:
“They have published nearly all the studies that showed benefit but almost none of the studies that showed these drugs are ineffective”
This gives doctors and public a like a skewed view on the true benefits of antidepressants, giving rise to the tremendous growth in mental disorder prescription medications. Most patients who take an antidepressant either don’t respond to the treatment or only have partial success in treatment, and they have to put up with harmful side effects such as sexual dysfunction, insomnia, weight gain and fatigue.
The New England Journal of Medicine found that after looking at 74 studies concerning 12 drugs and around 12,000 people, revealed that 37 of 38 trials with positive results were published, while only 14 of 36 negative studies were published.
Uncover the underlying root cause and you will fix your mental illness.
By Megan Maitland
Naturopath & Nutritionist