In Canada, we like to focus on our physical health…and rightly so. Without our health, what do we have? I’m sure all of you with a chronic health issue will agree—you can’t put a price on your health.
But I would like to argue we that need to include our mental health into the mix. Mental health issues are still getting a bad rap. It’s something that takes some vulnerability to talk about and can seem lesser than a physical health problem.
It’s only in our version of medicine (“western medicine”) where our heads have been cut off. Traditional forms of medicine like Ayurveda (from India) and Traditional Chinese Medicine always bring the mind/body connection into their treatments.
Our brain is inside our body…I’m not sure why we see them as separate. Plus, symptoms can be connected! In particular, our digestion tends to mirror our mental wellness. Anxiety can come with an overactive digestive system (cramping, pain, diarrhea), and depression can come with slow digestion and constipation. They’re mirrored because your neurotransmitter balance drives them both.
But when has your doctor asked about your anxiety/depression when you talk about your IBS (Irritable Bowel Disorder), even though many studies have found a strong correlation between these two conditions?
I believe that our mental health is key to our overall health and well-being, and we need to come out of the closet and start to discuss this publicly.
How common are mental health issues?
20% of Canadians will deal with a diagnosed mental illness in their lives. And most of us will deal with some form of mental distress this year, be that depression, anxiety, insomnia, or stress. How many people do you know that deal with one of those four? I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t dealt with one of these issues in the last five years.
So, it’s time. It’s time to start discussing these issues more openly. We’re comfortable discussing a recent cold or flu, thyroid issue, or other illnesses, so why not our mental health issues?
I’ll go first—I am wired for depression. When I’m under stress or if I’m dealing with a large emotional issue I will get depressed. And it can be really bad sometimes. I’ve had a few deep, longer-term depressions…lasting months to years. But I’m good at hiding it, so I’m committing to you now to talk about this more. To make this as easy for me to talk about as any other health issue.
And please, recognize the possibility of these concerns in yourself, family, co-workers, or customers. There might be something going on under the surface, especially if you’ve noticed anything different in their behaviour. They might not be angry or upset with you…it’s much more likely they’re dealing with something internal.
Be kind, listen, and offer support. We all need this right now.
Trusted Tools for Brain Health
- Passionflower I love this herb and I use it quite regularly. It can help to stop the “brain spin,” those constant thoughts and worries that you can’t stop thinking about.
- GABA A natural anti-neurotransmitter that you can supplement with. It can be very effective for anxiety.
- 5-HTP or St. John’s Wart It may help boost levels of serotonin, and can be effective for depression.
- Exercise An often forgotten about yet potent treatment for anxiety and depression.
Lisa Kilgour, rhn is Nature’s Fare Markets’ Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She is Board Certified in Practical Holistic Nutrition and provides free half hour one-on-one nutrition consultations in our stores. Check out the appointment schedule on page four and book your free appointment in-store today.
Learn more: lisakilgour.com
This article was featured in The Good Life magazine September/October 2016 issue. See all past issues.