There is a lot of stigma that comes with a mental health diagnosis, and because of that, many people don’t ask for help when they’re suffering from psychological problems. Health isn’t limited to physical problems: your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being are all important pieces of the puzzle. Even mild concerns can have a big impact, and it’s important to talk about what’s going on with you.
Mental illness affects as many as 20% of North Americans, and rates are closer to 30% in the Aboriginal population. That said, you don’t need to have a diagnosable illness to have mental health concerns. Some of the more common general concerns are described below.
Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling of worry or nervousness that is distinct from fear, which is an appropriate response to a real threat. There are many different anxiety disorders and they can range from mildly annoying to severely limiting. They include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Many people experience situational anxiety, for example in times of high stress, before tests or exams, or while public speaking. Sometimes anxiety can be independent of situations you’re in and is the result of an underlying physical condition, like hyperthyroidism or excess cortisol. Take a deeper look into anxiety.
Depression is an extremely common concern, with as many as 8% of Canadians experiencing a major depressive episode at some point in their lives. Even more people experience mild forms of depression that have a significant impact on their ability to enjoy life. More than just sadness, depression includes feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and an inability to enjoy things that were once pleasurable.
Depressed people often experience suicidal thoughts, and if this is the case for you or someone you love, it’s important to seek help immediately. In Toronto, you can call the Crisis Line at 416-408-4357 to speak to a trained, compassionate listener.
Read more about depression and naturopathic approaches to treatment here.
Panic attacks are a kind of extreme anxiety that include physical symptoms like racing heart, shortness of breath, and dizziness. It’s common for people to think they are dying or having a heart attack when they experience their first panic attack. They start suddenly, and usually last 10-20 minutes, although they can last for hours. Recurring or frequent panic attacks can be extremely disabling and a full assessment is a critical step in getting them under control. Find out more on panic attacks.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating states of depression or low mood with periods of heightened mood. Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when someone experiences an episode of full-blown mania, which can be dangerous. Bipolar II disorder involves periods of hypomania, which include some of the symptoms of mania, but to a lesser degree.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood diagnosis, and it can affect adults as well. The standard treatment includes prescribing stimulant medications.
In addition to ADHD, there are many behavioral problems that parents can encounter in their children. Things like oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder can make parenting seem impossible. Adults may experience rage issues or other behavioral difficulties.
How Can Naturopathic Medicine Help?
The standard treatment for most mental health concerns is medication, and many people are looking for alternatives. Sometimes medications are the best choice, but naturopathic doctors have naturally focused treatments that can help people feel better without using drugs.
There is a strong link between digestive health and mental health. Identifying and removing foods that you are sensitive to alone can make a big difference, and supplementing with the right probiotics can help. Nutritional status is another important piece that is often overlooked. For example, vitamins B12, B6, and D are all important for mood and energy, and making sure you have proper levels can improve your mental health. Beyond diet and nutrition, neurotransmitter health can be enhanced using testing and supplementation. NDs’ additional training in counseling provides a safe container to help you make changes and get you feeling your best.
Nurture your mental and psychological well-being with naturopathic medicine, book an appointment today!