Mental health issues, is this the next looming crisis?
The COVID 19 outbreak has touched upon another covert and growing public health crisis that requires an equally matching emergency response. COVID 19 has posed an unknown threat which is challenging to distinguish from simple flu.
Loss of jobs, slow economy, difficult to deal with lockdowns have all contributed to a severe mental health crisis in many people.
Things may get worse before they start moving towards improvement due to the absence of a clear treatment protocol, we all are realizing that nonpharmaceutical interventions are the only way to prevent infection from spreading.
All this is prompting a dramatic shift in our day to day life such as, everyday bodily habits, social interactions, and economic exchanges.
As we all know “change is the only constant” and adapting to this new normal, which involves losing hold of various things like finances, eating habits, socializing norms, new work culture, etc has led to overthinking and requires huge mental strength to adapt.
To add to this people with preexisting mental health conditions, lockdown and job losses, or having to stay away from families’ have built anxiety and compulsive behaviors.
Following general guidelines can help alleviate these symptoms to a certain extent, however, if one is still not able to cope up, we have an extensive way of finding out the imbalances and correct them to support your mental wellbeing.
a) Watch out for what you eat: binge eating, high sugar food, excessive alcohol, refined starches, constant eating packaged food which is always loaded with chemicals, Ignoring the body’s signals of bloating gas, constipation, acidity, diarrhea post eating certain food products, will only make matters worse!
b) Nurture your Gastrointestinal tract to have a healthy balance of neurotransmitters: All essential and non-essential amino acids are needed for the synthesis of and balancing of healthy neurotransmitters, supplementing with high-quality proteins will certainly go a long way in addressing the issue.
Eating food with probiotics such as fermented vegetables, support a healthy gut microbiome and will certainly help improve serotonin levels and in turn, reduce your anxiety issues.
c) Get enough sleep: Practice sleep hygiene, stay away from blue lights they reduce melatonin secretion, turn off your wifi, do not watch the news before sleeping, give your gut plenty of time to digest before you go to sleep, avoid fried and spicy food just before sleeping, some nuts such as pistachios, almonds walnuts, pecans, etc have high melatonin and support your sleep cycle, it is advisable to have fixed time when you go to sleep.
d) Regular physical activity: This is as crucial as all others mentioned above, it helps increase blood circulation and in turn improves the flow of required nutrients into your gut and brain, also helps detox the cellular debris.
e) Practice positive thinking: Reading books is a wonderful way to do so, also focus on yoga meditation, discussing your issues with friends and family often eases out anxiety and worries.
f) Do not randomly keep taking antipsychotic medications: All these chemical pills have side effects and these may suppress your system from improving and helping balance your neurotransmitters naturally.
g) Do Intermittent fasting: This helps auto cleansing of the system and reduces the burden on your organs of the digestive system, improves absorption of required nutrients, makes you eat healthier in the given window, improves the strength of healthy gut microbiome, and therefore improved balancing of the neurotransmitters.
If all of the above is done and you still feel you need help, then we can intervene and help by looking at the neurotransmitter profiling, addressing existing nutritional deficiencies, of various micro and macronutrients, latent infections in the gut or elsewhere, hormone imbalances, accumulation of toxic end-products of metabolism, accumulation of heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, lead arsenic, etc in the brain and other cells of the body, unhealthy damaged gut lining.
Finally, Stay healthy, stay safe, and keep your immunity up to ensure prevention.
Dr Kalpana Shekawat M.D.