We hear this term used so often, but what does it mean for you and your health. Mental health is used to describe our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It is how we think, feel, act and how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Our mental health is important in every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. If you are not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems, then consider the following warning signs:
• Pulling away from people and usual activities.
• Eating or sleeping too much or too little.
• Low or no energy, feeling numb or like nothing matters.
• Having unexplained aches and pains.
• Feeling hopeless or helpless.
• Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual.
• Yelling or fighting with family and severe mood swings.
• Feeling angry upset, worried, confused, scared.
• Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of children, going to work, etc.
If any of the above are issues that have been causing problems in your life, then it is important to seek the help of a mental health professional. It is estimated that nearly 40 million Americans live with various types of mental health problems and 18% of the population struggles with anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, with about half of those with depression also experiencing anxiety.”
If you’re dealing with depression or anxiety, first seek the help of a mental health professional. But you may also want to consider alternative methods that have proven to be safe and effective in recent studies. Of those alternative methods, chiropractic care, cold laser therapy and whole food nutritional supplementation have been shown to be the most effective in helping to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. When talking about chiropractic, most people think of neck and back pain, but chiropractic is much more. Chiropractic research has shown that many people report decreased stress, lowered blood pressure, improved mood (with the release of dopamine — a happy hormone) and an improved quality of sleep after spinal adjustments. The reason for these types of results are due to the reduction of stress on the nervous system after a specific spinal adjustment which assisted the body in its recovery and improved system function. This is not to say that chiropractic is treating these symptoms; for many individuals this is a positive effect of treatment.
Another alternative is cold laser therapy, which isn’t new, but the application of this therapy is new to the medical profession. The University of Texas performed a study on the use of lasers to treat people with anxiety, depression and even mental decline. The people that were exposed to the infrared lasers had greater attention and memory, and it gave them a superior cognitive edge over a placebo group. To further explain, the low-level lasers emit photons (light), which are absorbed in the mitochondria, resulting in an increase in ATP (energy) production. The increase in energy production in neurons seems to be the cause for the improvement in mental abilities following treatment. Continual research is being done with cold laser therapy applications as it pertains to health benefits. In recent studies, low level light therapy is being utilized to study the benefits of treatment on individuals with depression and although there is currently limited research in this area, the results are showing that it could be a promising treatment in the future.
It has also been noted that our diet plays a significant role in our health. A study published in Nutritional Journal, October 2010, showed that “based on available evidence, it appears that nutritional and herbal supplementation is an effective method for treating anxiety and anxiety related conditions without the risk of serious side effects.” As traditional health care costs continue to soar, more people are looking to alternatives that are affordable and effective “without the risk of serious side effects.”
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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene and the phone number is 208-966-4425.