positive steps to take for better mental health
17th October 2023
Depession, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Eating Disorders, even serious disorders such as Schizophrenia, can be helped through attention to lifestyle changes and developing an arsenal of coping skills.
Many mental health disorders can go into complete remission through some of the steps mentioned in this article. It takes effort, time and patience, as well as a lot of work, but it can and has been done.
30-35 million people suffer with depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, anxiety disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, OCD, about 10% of the population in the US. This has become increasingly true also of children. The number of children who are taking psychiatric medications has increased dramatically in the US, Britain, Australia, and many her countries.
What is Natural Psychology and Why?
Pharmaceutical treatments for mental health are being overprescribed and some forms of mental illness are being overdiagnosed. Natural psychology refers to a non-pharmaceutical method of working through mental health problems. It can be effective, safe, and it works.
By attention to lifestyle, much can be accomplished in a positive way. This is written out of sincere concern and empathy. We sincerely hope that some of the material that is found in this site can be of help in a spirit of giving.
There are many options in treating mental health disorders. In Great Britain, doctors are known to prescribe self-help books to patients as a first line defense strategy. Medication is given secondary consideration.
There are many therapies that persons can participate in, and some of them are listed below. However, use of psychiatric medications for both adults and children has increased between four and five times in the past decade, some say it has increased seven-fold. This is proving to be true even for children as young as four years old.
There are a number of well-written books that provide useful guidelines, written by physicians and by psychiatrists. Natural Prozac, by Joel Robertson, Prozac Backlash, Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, Rethinking ADHD, by Ruth Neven from Australia, The ADD & ADHD Question and Answer Book by Dr. Susan Ashley, are all helpful references for both depression and ADHD.
Lifestyle changes can help a person to regain and maintain mental balance without having to resort to medications. It takes courage to face one's problems and make changes in one's life and to swim against the current, There is personal responsibility in our decisions and our decisions cannot be relegated to another person, not even to a doctor, family member or other professional.
A Long Term Approach
Some principles and tools for good mental health can be summed up as follows:
Why a Non-Pharmaceutical Approach?
By taking time to look at lifestyle changes, mental hygiene, possibly physical aspects of one's life, or past experiences that might still be effecting one's emotions, it can give insight into how to overcome mood disorders more permanently.
It has been found that by addressing lifestyle issues, much can be done in a positive way, that can help a person successfully cope and even overcome many mental health disorders. This is true of not only mild or moderate depression, but also even more serious psychiatric disorders.
When we floss our teeth, we are surprised how much food is stuck in between. Our teeth looked clean, but daily flossing helps to preserve the life of one's teeth. In the same way, our minds need "mental flossing" quite often, attention to the details of what we are allowing into our mind on a daily basis can work wonders for our mental health. This is true both of adults and children.
Our minds need to rest at times. If you were to use a hair dryer, 24 hours a day, it would eventually, or quickly, burn out. the same is true of our minds. A person who is on the go constantly, even in a positive way, needs to find time to recharge the batteries. We need adequate sleep naturally, without pills or alcohol, for the mind to recharge.
When we think of lifestyle changes, we might think of drinking, smoking or using drugs, changes in these areas can all be of benefit in our mental health, but there are also many small changes in one's life that can make a big difference in one's mental health and in that of a child. Some have found relief from depression by maintaining an exercise regimen.
Brisk walking and exercise is said to be a better and more long-lasting treatment for depression than that of medication.
Other forms of exercise also help. One man who at times has experienced depression and overcame it, takes no medication. Instead he swims three or four times a week. He says it is the only thing that keeps him out of depression and medicine-free.
Attention to diet and engaging in mind strengthening activities also are of benefit:
Avoiding eating sugar, sodas, cakes, candies, ice cream and instead opting for fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts. Avoiding deep fried foods, too much butter, ghee, and switching to whole grains, whole wheat bread instead of white, whole grain rice, instead of white; all of this can help to live healthy, keep off pounds. It can also have a positive effect on mental health.
Mind Strengthening Activities
Additionally, engaging in mind strengthening activities can do much for positive long term gains in one's mental health. "Mental hygiene" is a term that has been coined in some psychiatric circles and it is something many need to give attention to in order to restore their mental balance.
In addition to lifestyle changes, for a person who may have experienced some serious trauma such as child or spousal abuse, or might have repressed memories, which can be a very real component in psychological problems for some persons, talking things out with a good listener or a trained professional can be of value in relieving oneself of these burdens. That person might be a therapist or psychologist, or it might be a friend, spouse, minister or teacher, with whom one trusts and can confide, sometimes on one or two occassions, but for some, over an extended period of time. This can often be of help in repairing emotional wounds. Not everyone needs to talk about the past, but for those who do, it can be one key to mental and emotional balance and it can help one to gain understanding into their problems and organize one's thoughts.
Dr. George Albee was at one time president of the American Psychological Association and professor emeritus at Vermont University, until his death in 2006. He advanced the idea that the roots of mental illness lay in the social structures and pressures, stresses and traumas that people have experienced.
The widespread use of medication treatment in psychiatry is a relatively new practice. The first true psychiatric medications that were extensively used were developed in the 1950s, and it wasn't until the mid to late 1950s that thorazine, a psychotropic, atypical antipsychotic, was used in psychiatric hospitals. Since that time, hundreds, perhaps thousands of different psychiatric medications have been developed. Medicines such as barbiturates and amphetamines, developed in the 1930s, started to be used more frequently in the late 1950s and 1960s.
Children are being bombarded today with overwhelming social, family as well as entertainment issues. Family life has deteriorated for many. Children thrive on love and attention. They need the support and love of a father and mother. Up to 50% of children in the U.S. will be without one or the other parent at some time in their life. 25% of children are victims of child abuse in the country of Brazil as one example. Other countries show similar trends. In some Asian countries (India is one) that percentage soars to 50% for sexual abuse alone. The current statistics show that about 20% of all children are victims of child abuse throughout the world. (WHO). This can lead to emotional wounds and to mental health disorders. Love, support, and gentleness is the key to healing the mind and emotional wounds of children who have been abused.
Self esteem is a vital component of a healthy mind. When we see tangible results of our own work, it helps to build a healthy self-esteem. Mind strengthening activities can help. Doing good things for others helps us to build positive feelings about ourselves. Creative endeavors also are of help in building self-esteem. Avoiding self-destructive behavior and having a regular job also build a positive sense of self-worth. Choosing associates who are a source of strength also is of value, rather than those who might be engaging in actions that are self-destructive such as hanging out at bars, drinking, or taking drugs.
"Don't think of doctors as God," is one suggestion on the National Resource Website for CHADD. In other words, we have to take charge of our own lives and make informed decisions. Parents need to do this if their children have mental health problems. Much can be accomplished on the home front.
Art, is a form of recreation, if it is kept in its proper place, can help calm the mind down in the same way that a tranquilizer does in a natural way. It can help to stabilize the mood of someone suffering with bi-polar disorder, as well as a child suffering with ADHD when it is engaged in regularly. It helps one to establish new thought patterns. It can be a natural mood stabilizer.
Art can strengthen the mind, and helps both children and adults have a healthy form of recreation. It can be a positive force to help one spend less time with TV
video games or movies. It can be of assistance in breaking free from pornography. It can also be a tool for building self-esteem. It can be a peaceful healing tool for those who may have suffered from abuse.
Is a key element of good mental health.
It takes much effort for educators, parents and doctors to work together to protect children and teenagers, from potentially destructive influences and to provide a home, as well as a school atmosphere that gives a child love and peace, and that contributes to their good mental health. It takes effort for adults also, to break free from lifestyles or habits that may be contributing to mental health problems. It is something of most serious concern.
It is sincerely hoped that this information is a help in a better success ratio with the treatment of mental health disorders for both adults and children in this rapidly changing world.
This page has been produced by AYCNP which includes professionals in the educational field rather than in the mental health field. Please see here for more details about AYCNP.
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