Guest post by Kristen Wells; Image Credit: Unsplash
When you think of mental health, specifically its treatment, do you immediately think of psychotropic medication? You’re not alone.
Medication is the most prevalent approach for treating mental health disorders, but that doesn’t mean that we’re getting better from it. In fact, this is discussed in length in medical journalist Robert Whitaker’s Mad in America, a book that examines the overprescription of pharmaceuticals for mental health patients.
Whitaker’s work also touches on the success of alternative models of psychiatric healthcare. For example, Norway leads in medication-free treatment, while Israel has recovery centers that provide residents with a supportive environment as their main form of therapy. These are approaches we can certainly use in the US as they are more similar to the naturopathic approach to wellness, which also applies to mental health.
Naturopathy and Your Mental Health
Since naturopathy deals in holistic health, this method evaluates the different aspects of your life that could be creating or aggravating mental health conditions. These include your lifestyle and environment, diet and exercise routines, and existing medical conditions. All of these have been proven to have some effect on your mental health.
Seek non-invasive techniques like therapy and mindfulness
Since naturopathy blends traditional and modern treatments, you can incorporate techniques like therapy and mindfulness in your mental health management. These are non-invasive and encourage the process of self-healing, one of the guiding principles of naturopathy.
Psychotherapy and counselling are great places to begin your journey as they focus on talking through your emotional stressors and addressing your trauma. Fortunately, the training of both doctors and nurses now includes mental health education, so it’s easier to seek help. The focus here is on educating patients, so instead of giving you a pill to take daily, your practitioner can help you find a more holistic approach to your mental well-being. Other than talk therapy, you can explore alternative treatments such as meditation, aromatherapy, and homeopathy.
Optimize your nutrition
These links have even led to emerging fields in treating the mind, like nutritional psychiatry.
One study shows that people with moderate to severe depression benefited from a Mediterranean diet, which replaced sugar-rich ingredients with more whole food and plant-based staples. You might have to replace processed and salty food with more fruits and vegetables. A healthy daily serving of fiber can also improve gut health which has been found crucial in managing conditions like OCD and anxiety. Additionally, a naturopath or nutritional psychiatrist can determine if you have certain nutritional deficiencies that could be resulting in your mood disorder, emotional fatigue, or low self-esteem.
Along these lines, neurotransmitter imbalance may be at the root of your mental health symptoms, especially if you have had long-standing mental health challenges or a family history. Neurotransmitter Testing would also guide nutritional and supplemental recommendations.
Incorporate physical activity into your routine
Staying physically healthy is also important as it contributes to your overall well-being. You might want to check out this guest post by Laura May, which highlights a few tips on how to stay fit, starting with making time for regular exercise. If you’re finding that difficult, try to do something you can enjoy, like taking a hike in the woods or attending an online yoga class with your friends. Dancing can be good for the soul too, as SymptomFind notes that it’s showing promise in alleviating symptoms of depression. At the very least, it is a great way to reduce stress and stimulate the release of endorphins, which can give you a positive emotional boost.
It might also be worth looking into personal training if you have specific goals you want to achieve and don’t know where to begin. Fitness trainers, yoga teachers, dance instructors—all of them can help you incorporate movement into your daily life, which can boost your energy levels and keep your mental health in check.
Stay educated on—and in control of—your health
The naturopathic approach entails continuous self-education with regard to your health and illness prevention. It’s best to stay curious on how certain factors in your life are worsening or benefiting your mental health, so you can make the necessary changes. Trying talk therapy, optimizing your diet and exercise, and seeking professional help are some things you can try now and benefit from later.