Two things are common knowledge when it comes to depression, the first being it is a mental illness that affects the lives of many Americans, and the second is it can open the door to physical health problems. Something that is not so common knowledge is not all of the 19.4 million American adults struggling with a major depressive disorder are lining up to take antidepressants and other medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat it. Taking a holistic approach to coping with depression can be a great alternative to the traditional methods of treating depression.
When someone falls victim to depression, it doesn’t take long before symptoms of the disorder present themselves. Some of the more notable of these symptoms include the following:
When someone remains depressed for too long, their struggles with depression symptoms can sometimes give way to physical health problems, some of which can be serious.
The negative feelings associated with major depressive disorders, such as isolation and chronic sadness, not to mention physical manifestations of depression, such as insomnia and weight gain, can eventually take a toll on someone’s physical health. Examples of physical health problems born from depression include coronary artery disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), type 2 diabetes, and arthritis. Several studies have also suggested a correlation between depression and an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal problems and certain cancers.
For those averse to seeing a traditional physician and taking prescription medication to combat depression or physical health problems, you might want to look into holistic treatments. The holistic approach is the antithesis of traditional medicine in that it involves treating the whole person instead of compartmentalizing their health problems and treating each separately. Studies show this unique approach to defeating depression and healing the body works by simultaneously addressing the psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of one’s struggles with depression.
While environmental factors, genetics, and regrettable life experiences are the primary contributors to depression, poor lifestyle habits are also sometimes to blame. And this is why making healthy, positive lifestyle changes are part of holistic mental health treatments. Some of these lifestyle changes include
Studies show exercising triggers an uptick in dopamine production in the brain. In short, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that not only combats depression but also reduces anxiety. The uptick in dopamine production in the brain is also associated with improved cognitive function. Regular exercise can also help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight, which counters many of the physical effects of depression, such as type 2 diabetes, insomnia, and low energy.
Multiple studies show that chronic stress adversely affects the body and triggers depression. For this reason, most holistic mental health clinics are proponents of meditation, yoga, and exercise for coping with high stress. Holistic treatments that include these and other stress-reducing activities can significantly lower an individual’s chances of suffering from obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and so much more.
The holistic health approach would not be complete without improvements in nutrition. Many people struggle with depression and other mental illnesses due to nutritional deficiencies. The holistic approach to health, both in mind and body, means consuming foods rich in the following vitamins and nutrients:
In summary, the holistic health approach for dealing with depression and resulting physical health problems can be a viable alternative to traditional physical and mental health treatments. But it may not be the best choice for everyone. Anyone thinking about going this route should schedule a consultation with a holistic mental health clinic so that they can ask questions and find out if the holistic health approach is a good fit for them based on their unique struggles with depression.