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Proven Strategies for Enhancing Mental Health

Proven Strategies for Enhancing Mental Health

Man holding his head in his hands.

Are you struggling with mental health?

Psychiatric conditions or mental illness are more common than you think. Often, mental illness runs in families.

The most common mental health conditions include anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and fear.

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These conditions and others like them interfere with your behaviors, feelings, thoughts, and life. Although finding out that you have a particular mental health condition is frustrating, there are plenty of good reasons to believe you can improve your quality of life.

There are a wide range of treatments available for mental health conditions. Never be afraid to ask for help. Complimentary and alternative therapies aren't considered part of mainstream care. That means you will unlikely find this treatment through your health insurance program. They could complement your standard treatment or be an alternative to standard treatment. If your medical insurance does cover this type of expense, they might be called holistic treatments.

Different complementary and alternative therapies might assist with different symptoms. They can focus on your mental, physical, or spiritual well-being. Keep on reading to find out more about complementary and alternative therapies.

So, What Can You Do to Enhance Your Mental Well-Being?

1. Use Medication

Person holding various pills and a cup of water.

Psychiatric medications never cure mental illness. However, they can improve symptoms. Furthermore, psychiatric medications can help make other treatments, e.g., psychotherapy, more effective. The ideal medications for you will rely on your specific situation and how your body reacts to the medication.

Commonly Prescribed Medications:

  • Antidepressants. They're used to treat anxiety, depression, and other conditions. They may help improve symptoms such as lack of interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, hopelessness, and sadness.
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  • Mood-stabilizing medications. They are most commonly used to treat bipolar disorders. Sometimes, they're used alongside antidepressants to treat depression.
  • Anti-anxiety medications. They are used to treat anxiety disorders, including panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. They might also help reduce insomnia and agitation. Typically, long-term drugs are antidepressants that help with anxiety. Although fast-acting anti-anxiety drugs assist with short-term relief, they can also cause dependency. Therefore, they should be used short term.
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  • Anti-psychotic medications. Typically, these treat a psychotic disorder, e.g., schizophrenia. They might also be used for bipolar disorders or complement antidepressants to treat depression.
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But why do people often stop taking these medications? 

The side effects are nasty:

Medication side effects

While some of these side effects can be minimized by changing your prescription, when you take your meds or what you take them with, there are still some severe side effects.

Every part of your digestive system, from nausea to constipation, seems to be affected negatively. Your mood could become anxious, and you could suffer fatigue or confusion. On top of this, you may have problems with insomnia. Weight gain and sexual problems are often typical. I would be apprehensive about all these side effects if it were me.

2. Using Herbal Medicine

Herbal remedies and herbs

Herbal remedies are generally substances obtained from plants. They're often used to treat and prevent various health disorders. They can come in different forms, including liquid drops, teas, capsules, or skin creams. They are commonly referred to as "herbal medicines." That means products that treat, cure, or prevent a diagnosed health problem.

Here are a few examples:

  • John's wort. It is an herbal remedy that often helps patients with mild-to-moderate depression symptoms. However, it doesn't work well with severe depression. It can interact with certain medications and antidepressants. Therefore, talk to your doctor before trying this option.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. These natural fats predominantly exist in considerable amounts in cold-water fish like salmon. They can enhance the effectiveness of an antidepressant in certain patients with depression. Today, omega-3 supplements are being studied as a substitute for antidepressants during pregnancy.
  • Valerian. Extracted from a pink flower's root, it can relieve anxiety and help enhance sleep like other sedatives. It might be a perfect alternative for older people or even kids - two groups particularly vulnerable to the side effects of prescriptions. The only problem is that the effects take some time to kick in; if you're looking for quick relief, look elsewhere.

WARNINGS AND THINGS TO CONSIDER

Before you buy a herbal medicine, ensure that it contains a Traditional Herbal Registration number (THR) or a product license (PL) number on that packet. Typically, a PL number implies that medical trials have proven that the remedy works and is safe.

Some herbal remedies may have an impact on other health conditions you have or on a medication that you use. These are known as interactions. Like prescription drugs, herbal medicines can also cause side effects and interact with other drugs. Always inform your healthcare provider if you add herbal remedies to your treatment plan.

You should approach any medication or supplement with equal caution and ensure you have all the necessary information to feel confident about your choice.

3. Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic appointment

Chiropractic care has always been known to help patients with mental illnesses by applying holistic treatment to alleviate the many symptoms of poor mental health. Mental health issues cause imbalances in the body that play a role in these symptoms.

The good news is that chiropractic care can help! Upon consulting a chiropractor, they will thoroughly examine and pinpoint areas within the spine that may benefit from manipulation.

Apart from spinal manipulation, chiropractors can also provide many other treatments that alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. It often implements a mind-and-body approach to focus on particular problem areas. They usually do this by looking at every health area, such as diet, exercise, therapies, supplements, and adjustments.

Even More Options from Your Chiropractor…
Foot massage.

Massage therapy with chiropractic care. Mental illnesses can cause many health problems, such as insomnia, muscle tightness, high blood pressure, and stress. Studies support that massage therapy and chiropractic care can reduce stress and blood pressure symptoms. Chiropractic care and massage therapy can also help significantly with muscle tightness that causes pains and aches in the body, along with migraines and tension headaches. Lastly, stress plays a vital role in our overall health. It can cause our minds to go into overdrive and even make sleeping difficult.

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Most chiropractors enhance a healthy flow of nutrients and blood by eliminating nerve blockages. Since the nervous system runs from head to toe, a single misplaced vertebra in the spine might result in trouble elsewhere. Suppose the spine is aligned - and the CNS is working effectively. In that case, it can increase immune system performance and relieve stress-related pains and aches.

One of the best advantages of chiropractic care is that it is all-natural. People taking depression and anxiety medication usually complain of the side effects, including fatigue, weight gain, nausea, and insomnia. Since chiropractic care primarily works to relieve anxiety symptoms, you may potentially avoid or minimize the necessity of taking prescriptions and experiencing the side effects. Remember, don't change or stop your medication without your doctor's approval.

4. Supplemental Vitamins

Various supplements

Even minor adjustments to your daily routine (like introducing specific vitamins and supplements to your diet) can significantly impact the symptoms linked to mental health challenges. Incorporating various vitamins, such as Vitamin B complex, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, and Magnesium, can provide targeted support for a range of symptoms that individuals may face, such as muscle tension, low mood, anxiety, stress, and fatigue.

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  • Vitamin B Complex: Boosting Mood and Energy

Symptoms Alleviated: Fatigue, low energy, mood swings, irritability.

How It Helps: The B vitamins play a crucial role in converting food into energy and regulating neurotransmitters in the brain that influence mood. Vitamin B12, for instance, supports the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. Thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3) aid in maintaining a healthy nervous system and balanced mood.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Easing Anxiety and Depression

Symptoms Alleviated: Anxiety, depression, cognitive decline.

How It Helps: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil and certain nuts and seeds, are essential for brain health. They contribute to the structure of brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters that impact mood, like dopamine and serotonin. Research suggests that Omega-3 supplementation may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, promoting overall mental well-being.

  • Vitamin D: Uplifting the Mind and Body

Symptoms Alleviated: Low mood, seasonal depression (SAD), fatigue.

How It Helps: Vitamin D, often called the "sunshine vitamin," is vital in regulating mood and supporting the immune system. It helps maintain healthy serotonin levels, which influences mood, and its deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of mood disorders. Getting adequate sunlight exposure and incorporating Vitamin D supplements can be particularly beneficial in regions with limited sunlight.

  • Magnesium: Calming the Nervous System

Symptoms Alleviated: Muscle tension, anxiety, stress, insomnia.

How It Helps: Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, including those related to the nervous system. It helps relax muscles and nerves, promoting a sense of calmness. Insufficient magnesium levels have been linked to increased stress and anxiety. Incorporating magnesium-rich foods or supplements can aid in reducing muscle tension and promoting relaxation.

5. Acupuncture & Massage

Acupuncture practice.

Acupuncture is based on an old Chinese treatment. An acupuncture practitioner will typically use tiny, thin needles and put them into your skin at specific points on your body. Most practitioners believe these needles can help begin your body's recovery process.

This method reduces stress by helping to restore a healthy flow of energy, qi, across the body. Acupuncture does so via applying needles positioned in certain parts of the body. On the other hand, massage therapy targets particular muscles and other body parts to relieve tension.

The application of acupuncture and massage may also help regulate symptoms of mental health issues and enhance overall well-being by promoting the secretion of endorphins – hormones released by the brain that cause pleasant and positive emotions.

An increase in endorphins may improve mood and offer an emotional boost, which can help patients with mood disorders, e.g., anxiety or depression. Furthermore, acupuncture and massage therapy help by reducing the amount of cortisol in the body. 

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This method provides safe and effective treatment alternatives for people who don't want to risk experiencing side effects or adverse reactions to prescriptions used for mental illness. These types of alternative medicine may also work more effectively and faster than therapy for patients with mental health disorders.

Although acupuncture involves the use of needles, they're safely applied whenever they're inserted and are very thin. Both acupuncture and massage have low risks of side effects, e.g., soreness, and are considered safe for most.

6. Homeopathy

Homeopathic remedies, herbs and flowers.

Homeopathy entails using diluted natural substances to treat mental and physical health conditions. Homeopaths believe that when a substance is diluted, the energy remains, and it can be beneficial in terms of healing and less likely to bring any unexpected side effects. Certain people find that opting for homeopathic remedies for depression, anxiety, and stress makes them feel much better.

While some doctors don't see any benefit to homeopathic treatment, this practice has persisted since the 1700s, and there is plenty of evidence it helps people experience better health and a better quality of life.

It's also worth noting that homeopathic remedies are usually made from high dilutions of natural substances. As a result, they don't share the unpleasant side effects or withdrawal symptoms of traditional antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and tranquilizers. Furthermore, because they never cause any interaction, you can feel confident using them with other treatments or medications.

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Natural Daily Habits That Will Improve Your Mental Health:

1. Increase physical activity.
Man using elliptical.

Regarding mental health, exercise can be essential for your recovery. Physical activity is a proven mood elevator that could bring positive ripples into most aspects of your life. Increased energy, muscle strengthening, and weight loss can all result from routine exercise. Ensure that you choose an activity you love doing so that you can stay motivated to follow it.

2. Take sleep seriously. 
Woman sleeping in bed.

Always listen to the voice in your head saying it is time for bed. Low-quality sleep and lack of sleep could significantly affect how you feel the following day. It could make you more irritable and lower your ability to concentrate on the work at hand. That means it's essential to ensure that you're having enough sleep every night.

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3. Have a balanced diet. 
Woman writing in notebook on table with healthy foods and measuring tape.

One factor that plays a role in poor mental health is the deficiency of nutrition your body receives by depriving it of certain healthy foods. Rather than choosing junk or processed foods, opt for natural options for your diet. Fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains contribute to a better lifestyle that enhances positive mental health.

4. Meditate. 
Woman meditating outdoors.

Regardless of your particular religious or spiritual beliefs, meditation can be a joyful and effective way to reduce stress and boost your mental health. Whether you download an app on your smartphone or follow an in-person guide at a workshop or class, several resources can help you relax and breathe in this practical way.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to mental health, there are many options but also many side effects. Be careful to talk to your healthcare provider and don’t be afraid of alternative holistic practices. The above options can prove to be useful. They have been for hundreds of years, they can work alone or complement other treatments, and can even improve your quality of life. 

As you explore your options, remember that your well-being is worth cherishing. Each choice you make, each step you take, contributes your mental health journey. Approach it with patience, self-care, and the understanding that there is hope for a brighter tomorrow. You deserve a life filled with joy, resilience, and balance – pathways are available to help you achieve just that!

Remember, you don't have to deal with this alone. If you need help determining whether you have a mental condition or want help navigating an existing mental illness, seek professional assistance.

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