When it comes to anxiety and depression, our thoughts certainly do play a big role. What we think and how we think about it affects how we feel about something. And how we feel about something emotionally can affect how we actually feel physically. If we think negative and self-defeating thoughts, it can affect our body chemistry—making us feel tired, irritable and even achy. Some doctors connect chronic back pain to anger, fear, and other difficult emotions that are held in and not being dealt with effectively.
But, more and more research demonstrates the opposite also holds true. If we’re not doing well physically, particularly with our gut health, we’re more likely to experience anxiety and depression and even more serious disorders such as bipolar disorder, ADD, and ADHD. From Johns Hopkins to the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine researchers are recommending optimizing your gut health to prevent, and even reverse, more serious chronic conditions, including emotional disorders.
For many, tracing the cause of their emotional distress can seem pretty simple…a traumatic event in childhood, a stressful divorce, a business setback, and marital problems are pretty easy to pinpoint as the culprits of psychological suffering. So why, you may ask, would we need to look further into physical or gut health when those issues seem so self evident? The answer is that as whole humans with bodies, minds and souls, each interact with each other and need to be brought into harmony in order for us to be at our best and to cope effectively with the emotional challenges that come our way.
Facing Prolonged Stress
When faced with a crisis or prolonged stress, proper sleep and healthy eating are usually the first things that go as we struggle simply to get through the day. Even without a crisis, for many, dealing with the daily stress of balancing work and family life puts a strain on our health and leads to less than healthy habits (can you spell fast food?). I experienced this first hand over several years of caring for my mother. There was simply no time many days to cook or even shop for healthy food. The emotional stress took its toll both physically and emotionally. Many people live in this same boat today.
In order to get the best outcomes psychologically, we do well to address our physical state as well. Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications may be helpful at times but are not meant to be a way of life as they have become for so many in America. They may mitigate a percentage of symptoms but most come with some significant side effects, some of which can also impact gut health and in turn, keep the negative cycle going.
A Healthcare Crossroad
We are hopefully coming to a crossroad in how we address health care in America. The current conventional model of treating symptoms is woefully inadequate, and problematic. The pharmaceutical solutions we’re all too familiar with have in great part, lead to the crisis in which we find ourselves. Over the counter and prescription drugs, anti-bacterial products, pesticides and genetically modified foods and overuse of antibiotics are contributing to antibiotic resistant superbugs and a healthcare crisis that is claiming too many victims. Gary Null’s groundbreaking book Death by Medicine offers a chilling glimpse of how death by pharmaceuticals and medical mistakes are now the leading causes of death in the United States.
God’s wisdom is amazing. We look at nature and we see an ecosystem that is balanced and self-renewing. The human body is no different. It’s a sophisticated ecosystem comprised of many organ systems, mind, and spirit. There is nothing else like it. And God gave us everything we need in nature and scripture to keep our bodies, minds, and spirits in good working order. Science has helped to unlock the secrets of biology and chemistry and has had a great impact on improving health and prolonging our lives. But when science is worshipped and usurps its role to serve God, big problems arise. Getting back to basics through diet, basic common sense, and natural plant remedies such as essential oils can yield very promising results.
If you’re struggling with stress, emotional difficulties, or other chronic health concerns, getting a gut check is a wise first step. Our resident Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, Vincine (Vinnie) Franchilli can help you to evaluate if testing, dietary changes, supplements, and essential oils can help you. Contact Vinnie to schedule a free 15-minute evaluation.
Allison is also the Founder and President of www.CatholicTherapists.com, a nationwide network of dedicated Catholic therapists.