If you ever feel like you are alone dealing with depression, anxiety or other emotional disorders, you’re not! Did you know that nearly one in five people in the United States struggle with a mental health illness? Our society has been slow at acknowledging mental and emotional disorders as real health issues. Fortunately, people are starting to speak up about these issues and bring them to light. Emotional disorders impact your everyday life and even affect your physical well-being. It’s important to talk about your mental health symptoms and get help without feeling embarrassed.
Most conventional doctors listen to your symptoms and then give you a prescription that could help or could, unfortunately, exacerbate your symptoms. Doctors can diagnose you with an emotional disorder with just your said symptoms and without any kind of testing. This can cause issues because maybe you didn’t describe your symptoms correctly, or you missed something. Or you could be experiencing a symptom that is caused by different problems within your body. Prescription medications will only cover up the symptoms, not fix the root cause of the problems.
How Can Functional Medicine Help Mental/Emotional Disorders?
Do you find yourself struggling with anxiety, depression, neurological and/or neurodegenerative and other emotional disorders? If you do, health care from functional medicine doctors could help you. Our bodies are all interconnected in some way. Even though we have separate organs, they all impact one another.
This is where functional medicine can play a positive role in diagnosing and treating emotional and mental disorders. Not only do functional medicine practitioners listen to you about your symptoms, but they also dig deeper and look at your genetics, lifestyle behaviors, environmental factors, and lab tests. Looking at all these factors can lead your doctor to the cause of your body’s imbalance in the first place. Once you treat the root cause, the additional issues will reside.
There are a couple of reasons that you could be experiencing emotional issues. You could have an underlying issue that is causing chemicals in your body to become unbalanced. As a result, your brain could be affected in some way or another, making you feel unlike yourself.
Here are some reasons why you may be struggling with anxiety, depression or any other type of neurological disorder(s).
- Adrenal Imbalance
- Gut Microbiome Imbalances
- Liver Toxicities
- Body Burden Toxicities
An adrenal imbalance can occur when your adrenal glands can’t keep up with the production of vital hormones due to chronic stress or infections. This causes an imbalance of key hormones that can have an effect on your brain. For example, when cortisol levels are too low, you may experience anxiety or have an increased risk factor for PTSD after traumatic experiences.
Cushing’s Disease, on the other hand, is when there is an imbalance of adrenal steroid hormones (too much cortisol). When this imbalance is present, especially at limbic sites, it can negatively affect your mood and memory leading to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Gut Microbiome Imbalances
In more recent years, more research is being published on the importance of our gut health. Our gut is known as our “second brain”. The health of our gut microbiome can determine the risk for other health issues from sleep disorders to mental disorders to chronic fatigue. Many chemicals and processes are created and begin in our gut, so when our gut doesn’t have the right bacteria it cannot function properly. Between the gut and brain, there are neurocrine and endocrine signaling mechanisms that take place. When there is an imbalance in the gut, it can cause havoc on those signaling pathways. Especially when the lining of your gut becomes more permeable (from an unhealthy gut), it allows those unwanted microbes to enter into your bloodstream. This can cause other areas of your body, like your brain, to become affected as well and cause depression along with other health issues.
More interesting is that findings have suggested that diseases like multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease even have a connection with the gut microbiome and microbial‐driven systemic inflammation. Focusing on gut health can possibly help reduce your risk of these neurological diseases.
Individuals who are living with liver imbalances from liver diseases show higher rates of depression and anxiety. Patients who undergo liver transplants from chronic liver disease also have higher rates of these emotional disorders as well. This may be from hepatic encephalopathy. This is when your brain function declines because your liver can’t properly get rid of the toxins inside your body. The build-up enters your bloodstream and can cause damage to your brain, causing emotional disorders.
Body Burden Toxicities
When your body is overloaded with toxic chemicals from environmental exposures like pesticides, mold, lead and mercury exposure, fragrances, PCBs and dioxins, etc, your body can’t eliminate it fast enough. These chemicals can interfere with your body’s normal processes and bind to receptors they shouldn’t be binding to. This can lead to neurological problems itself or cause increased and prolonged amounts of inflammation in the body, which can then lead to emotional and mental issues. These toxicities can lead to dementia, behavioral disorders in children, and other neurocognitive effects.
Ways to Improve Mental Health
There is hope for patients who struggle with mental and emotional disorders. There are things you can do to help decrease the harmful effects on your body that could contribute to your neurological imbalances. Reducing inflammation and toxic chemicals in your body can be a simple way to see improvements.
Try these practices to help improve your emotional wellbeing:
- Any Type of Exercise (Not excessive exercise, however)
- Eat Organic
- Use Natural, Non-toxic Cleaners and Beauty Products
- Avoid Processed Foods and Sugars
- Get Adequate Amounts of Sleep
- Get Labs Done to See Underlying Causes
- Spend More Time Doing Activities That Bring You Joy
- Say No to Situations/Events that Don’t Make You Happy
Get In Touch With A Functional Medicine Doctor
If you are tired of trying medication after medication to help with your emotional disorders, talking with a functional medicine doctor is a great option for you. Dr. Lisa Ballehr is a phenomenal physician who uses functional medicine methods to treat her patients. She is located in Mesa, Arizona but takes patients from around the country using telemedicine.
She takes the time to look at you as a whole, not just your symptoms. She specializes in treating emotional and neurological disorders using this approach. You can take her FREE Online Health Assessment now to get started on your journey of finding the true you and your optimal health.