I firmly believe that anxiety and mood disorders have their root in the physical, emotional, and spiritual spheres of life. We must address each one to get to a place of complete freedom. I’m going to address each one from my experience. Please don’t use these posts to self-diagnose or treat anything that may be a real problem. My goal is to inspire you reach out for help and wisdom with what you’re struggling with, and to give you hope.
I believe there is a place for drugs – sometimes it’s the only thing that will quiet the voices long enough so you can deal with the emotional side of things.
But keep in mind that though they may address a root problem like chemical imbalance, they needn’t be a long term solution. I strongly believe that if you have an anxiety issue, you should be looking at nutrition and your over-all health. Food sensitivities, undiagnosed allergies, digestive issues, stimulant addiction – these can all put a physical strain on your body that can have a huge impact on mental health.
Malnutrition can also be a factor. Listen to this: moods are triggered by hormones. Hormones regulate themselves only when proper nutrition is available to fuel them. The main fuel for the hormone system is fat. If you say, “Oh, well, I’ve got plenty of that!” you’re thinking of the wrong kind of fat. I’m not talking about body fat, I’m talking about adding rich, saturated, nourishing fats in your diet like butter, lard, and coconut oil. (Learn more about good fats here!) If you think you’re not getting enough saturated fats in your diet, coconut oil is one of the tastiest ways to supplement your fat intake. With its mild, pleasant favor and workable constancy, it delightfully incorporates into many familiar recipes, or you can simply add a dollop to your next smoothie. (Remember, it ain’t fat that makes you fat, it’s usually carbs and sweets!)
I feel one must take a holistic (whole-body) approach to anxiety disorders. Realizing there can be many factors and triggers to your symptoms can do much to alleviate guilt — it’s not just in your head or all your fault! A holistic approach gives hope because you have more than one place help may come from.
So, did I do drugs? I would have if necessary, but we began by addressing the nutritional area and never got to the point of needing drugs. I went off all processed foods, especially refined grains, because we knew my digestion was weak and breads and pastas were putting a huge strain on me. I also avoided all sweeteners except honey, and any stimulant like caffeine. I focused on regularly consuming super foods like yogurt and bone broths, and a fresh vegetable fruit juice blend I made fresh each day. (To learn more about my favorite, nourishing diet and see a menu plan, visit this page.)
Wonder how we learned all this about my system? My naturopath had me do a simple urine and saliva test (pee in a cup, spit in a cup – very simple) as well as a single blood test (one finger prick, with a drop of blood transferred to a slide and viewed under a microscope). That was all that was needed to reveal the areas my body was struggling. Naturopaths are great at non-invasive diagnostics!
The good news is that I did not have to restrict my diet forever. Learning to properly prepare grains and adding lacto-fermented drinks and condiments to my diet have allowed me to add much back into my menu without adding strain to my system. Also, a diet focused on nourishing, whole foods such as homemade soups, whole milk, and good fats has restored and renewed my body so that I am healthier and have more energy than I’ve had since my teens.
If you are on drugs, think you need them, wonder if you would be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder if you went to a doctor, or suffer from insomnia, I encourage you to look at everything that might be affecting your mental health – mind, body and spirit. All three collectively hold the key to emotional health. I highly recommend seeking the advice of a naturopath or holistically-minded doctor for non-invasive diagnostics and whole-body support. Think outside the box and your health blueprint and consider that the answer may come where you least expect it. Like a delicious, full fat, coconut yogurt smoothie. Mmmm.
Next Time…The Mental Fix…Quick and Easy?
It’s been great to connect with other women who have struggled with anxiety through this series! I recently ‘met’ Amy (we’ll meet in person at Relevant – Whoo-hoo!) and she has willingly shared her story of getting a diagnosis on a life-long anxiety disorder, treating the chemical imbalance with medication, and, most recently, discovering that gluten intolerance may be at the root of her health issues. I hope you’ll jump over and be encouraged by her story – to be assured, yet again, that you are not alone and there IS hope!