Mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and phobias are becoming more common, depression especially. There are lots of reasons for that, but they mostly fall into two categories:
- Some sort of bio chemical imbalance
- Trauma, abuse or some other specific situation(s)
Allopathically, the first would be dealt with by drugs, and the second by counselling. But there are alternatives, and they can be helpful with both major and minor mental health issues.
A minor upset or a simple phobia (or even a complex one) can often be dealt with very easily using EFT. But for other mental imbalances, a more in-depth, multi-faceted approach will give a more permanent improvement.
The main ways I’d suggest approaching improved mental health are through use of EFT, and nutrition. These are not quick fixes, though – for deep seated depression or self image problems, there may be many layers to work through. Read on for more info on how each of these can help your mental health, whether it’s already fairly good, or you have major problems.
How Emotional Freedom Technique can improve mental health
There is no doubt that traumatic experiences can cause major, ongoing emotional problems. But so can a multitude of smaller events that might seem nothing to the casual observer. Criticism, failure, self doubt, the overheard unkind remark, and limiting beliefs about yourself lead to a diminished sense of self worth. This can lead to obvious mental health issues such as depression or anorexia.
It can also contribute to problems nobody else might notice: lacking the confidence to go for that job you want or talk to the girl you fancy, being too shy to go to parties, being unable to communicate with your children, procrastinating till you miss the deadline, tension headaches, overworking to prove yourself, letting yourself be bullied, minor fears or major phobias. You might not be mentally ill, but you’re not entirely healthy either.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) can be used to clear a wide range of things:
- the car accident that still gives you nightmares
- the memory of all the times your father called you stupid
- the phobia that stops you from using lifts
- the belief that you’re no good at sport
- your current anger at your son for forgetting to pick up the groceries
- the dull throb at the base of your neck that makes you snappy with everybody
- the negative body image that forces you to starve yourself
EFT involving tapping on various points on your face and body, to neutralize the energy imbalances associated with your troublesome memory or belief. It’s a simple little technique that you can teach yourself and use daily to feel less stressed and more happy. And it’s an art form that a skilled practitioner can use to neutralise deep, complex, multi faceted emotional problems.
Click here for more information on EFT and how to find a practitioner.
Why we need whole foods for good mental health
In the 1930s, a dentist named Weston Price traveled round the world studying cultures still eating their traditional foods, and compared their health with those members of the same culture eating western foods. Those continuing to eat traditional diets enjoyed excellent physical and emotional health. But those who had changed to a western diet high in white flour, sugar, and canned goods suffered from a range of physical and mental health problems and were prone to infectious diseases. This huge deterioration occurred after just one generation of exposure to processed foods. His book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” is a landmark in the understanding of how food affects the mind and body.
Price found a lot of commonalities between the different traditional diets. The food was organic and high in nutrients, many times higher than our typical diet today. The diets were all high in animal fats, and none of the societies were vegetarian. Where people were unable to get enough meat or fish, they ate a lot of raw dairy products. Fermenting techniques were used, to increase the nutrient value of the food and preserve it. Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds were always soaked, sprouted or fermented to reduce harmful anti-nutrients and increase digestibility.
In contrast, our modern diet is high in sugar, refined grains, trans (processed) fats, pesticides, preservatives and additives. Processing techniques make our food less digestible, rather than more. We’ve been misinformed that nutritious and protective saturated fats are bad for our health, and so often avoid them. We suffer from nutritional deficiencies and are overloaded with toxins. Our digestive health breaks down and we start to get food intolerances. Just a few of the ways this can impact on mental health:
- Food intolerances cause chemical imbalances in the brain, leading to brain fog, depression and many other mental or emotional problems (more on this in the next section)
- Insufficient protein and fat contribute to lack of serotonin, and thus depression
- Sugar and food additives cause hyperactivity in many children
- An early symptom of Vitamin B12 deficiency is irrational anger
- B1 and zinc deficiencies can contribute to anorexia
- Lack of Vitamin D can contribute to insomnia
People are often stunned to discover that in many cases their debilitating mental health conditions such as chronic depression are exacerbated by foods they are consuming daily. The modern staples of wheat and sugar are two of the most common triggers. Returning to a nutrient rich diet, with a few carefully chosen supplements where needed, can transform our body chemistry, our brain chemistry and our mental and emotional health.
Food and/or chemical intolerances
It would be an overstatement to suggest that all mental illness can be linked to these causes, but there is good evidence that a large number of people can be helped without using drugs (or using a minimal amount in the early stages) or therapy.
“Brain Allergies”, by William Philpott and “An Alternative Approach to Allergies”, by Theron Randolph are two books that document a number of cases of mental illness being caused by food or environmental allergies or intolerances. Or even more comprehensive – “The Food, Mood, Body Connection” by Gary Null.
The introductory section is a general overview of how these factors can create physical and mental illnesses, and some of the therapies that are being successfully used to overcome them. He then covers specific illnesses in 3 sections. Disorders of Mood or Behaviour include addictions (drug, alcohol and food), Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression (unipolar and bipolar disorders), schizophrenia, insomnia, thinking disorders and Tardive Dyskinesia. Disorders in children include aggression, ADD and hyperactivity, autism, behavioural disorders, chronic depression and food allergies. Organic conditions commonly misdiagnosed as mental disorders include hypoglycaemia, candidiasis, chronic fatigue, hormone imbalances, PMS, thyroid disorders and nutrient imbalances.
Of major concern is the sheer quantities of children in the States who are suffering from conditions caused by poor food (refined carbohydrates, sugars, trans fats and other foods with inadequate nutrients), food allergies or intolerances, or environmental poisons. These children are often then drugged into submission with substances that stunt their development and cause long term mental damage. If they were fed properly and protected from toxins, this would give a much better result.
I don’t know how New Zealand compares to the USA in this area. Given the breakfasts I sometimes see children eating at the bus stop, and the worrying statistics on obesity, I suspect our children’s diets are also causing a lot of behavioural problems. I don’t think the use of Ritalin and similar drugs is as prevalent here, but unless something is changed, it’s bound to happen.
Many adults also suffer unnecessarily from mental disorders or chronic physical illnesses that are dismissed as mental. This doesn’t have to be the case and can be changed.
The latest research, and treatments by doctors who are prepared to look outside the square, is discussed in this book. These include pinpointing food allergies or intolerances, removing environmental toxins from the home, analysing nutrient statuses in the body and correcting imbalances with the appropriate supplements.
If you or your child suffer from any of the complaints listed, I encourage you to do some research on alternative treatments. This book would be a great place to start. Find a doctor or healthcare provider who is open to helping you with these treatments. Sadly, most doctors are not, and your doctor is unlikely to suggest these types of solutions. It will be up to you to take the initiative. But it will be worth it.
Some possible causes :
* A diet low in essential nutrients
* Food allergies
* Food intolerances/addictions
* Hormonal imbalances
* Sensitivities to chemicals or other environmental substances
* Heavy metal overload in the body or brain
Some possible treatments :
* Eating an organic, whole food diet
* Investigating food sensitivities
* Supplementing with the right micro nutrients, or amino acids
* Herbal treatments
* Chelation therapy
* Eliminating environmental toxins
* Acupuncture, massage and other bodywork modalities