I heard the poignant answer to this at a seminar by Naturopath Stephen Eddie a few nights ago: “people don’t become depressed because they have a Prozac deficiency.” This is not to detract from the crucial and sometime life-saving role medication plays in psychiatry, but simply highlights that there is more to the picture of mental wellness than medication.
So what is it really?
Mental wellness is not limited to ‘happiness’, but is a state of relative balance that allows us not only to cope with our world as best we can, but also to create the life we would most like to live, and enjoy it. It’s also a plus for those around us.
Mental wellness is part of total wellness: how we think and feel is governed by both physical and psychological health. A huge amount of this is easily able to be balance by lifestyle manipulation and talking – the least expensive self-care options.
For example, most mental health imbalances will have an underpinning of at least one of these:
- Traumatic early life experiences (often subtle in functional families)
- Role modelling an anxious parent
- Life situations that cause stress (social or financial problems)
- Unhelpful thinking patterns and schemas
- Sleep deprivation and low melatonin
- Blood sugar imbalances, mainly hypoglycemia
- Stimulant or drug use (including alcohol, caffeine and marijuana)
- Food allergies and intolerances (salicylates, amines, MSG, sulphites, additives, wheat, gluten and dairy being the most common)
- Over or under-active thyroid
- Testosterone dominance or deficiency
- Oestrogen dominance or deficiency
- Nutritional deficiency (particularly omega 3 essential fatty acids)
- Adrenal fatigue
- Insufficient methylation
- Excess histamine
- Infections, including glandular fever viruses, yeast overgrowth and parasites
- Toxicity (chemicals, heavy metals)
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of dietary protein
- Genetic susceptibility
Mental wellness is a result of the interaction between our genes, our experiences and our biochemistry. For example, we are all born with genetic traits of personality (and to a degree, mood). Similarly we are all born with unique nutritional requirements and physical susceptibilities. We all have extra (genetic) nutritional requirements unique to us. And not one of us has the same experience of the world as another. We are all affected by life experiences differently.
Holistic Mental Health Care aims to optimize all of the contributing factors to mental wellness for each unique individual.
Why is it useful?
At least 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental wellness challenge during the span of their life; and this is rapidly increasing, (it is now closer to 1 in 3). It makes sense to treat the causes before they become a problem; and if they do.
Besides who doesn’t want to be happier, or have better health?
Holistic mental health care:
- Treats the individual
- Treats their unique causes of imbalance/needs
- Treats the whole person – genes, biochemistry, mind and emotion
- Uses natural methods and complements traditional psychiatry and medication
- Is used preventatively; and to optimize mental wellness (e.g. IQ and happiness) to create the best life that we can
Linda has been counseling at the core of her Naturopathic practice for over 10 years. She formalized this aspect of practice with a Psychology qualification in 2006, and has taken great joy in shaping her practice to address all aspects of mental and emotional wellness.
Linda seeks to treat the whole picture of wellness: physical, environmental, mental, emotional and spiritual, including:
- Neurotransmitters (good brain chemistry)
- Hormones (e.g. thyroid, adrenal, male and female)
- Biochemical pathways (such as pyrroluria, histamines)
- Food allergy and sensitivity
- Toxicity, such as heavy metals which alter brain function
- Thinking patterns, schemas and cognitive strategies
Linda is known for her straightforward, respectful approach to identifying issues, and makes it her goal to stimulate growth, eliminate baggage, and equip her clients with the best take-away tools for positive change and continued development.