We are currently living in a unique time in human history.
I mean, for the most part, things are as good as they have ever been. Life expectancy is at an all-time high, we have easy access to clean water and high-quality food, and all the entertainment we could ever want is at the touch of our fingertips.
But on the other hand, mental health issues are on the rise.
Anxiety is on the rise.
Yep, you guessed it — on the rise.
Despite living in a time of abundance, we are completely and utterly overloaded with stress.
Stress from our work and from our boss. Stress from the gas company, and stress from the costs of simply living. Hell, most of us even get stress from our friends and families.
And it is wearing us down.
But the thing to remember is that this is not a death sentence.
In fact, by taking some key steps in the right direction you can say “no” to stress and fight your black dog head-on.
Over the last couple of decades, the western diet has gone downhill fast.
It is now full to the brim with highly processed carbohydrates, junk foods, and nasty trans fats. With this, it is almost completely void of any nutritious fish, meat, fruits, or vegetables.
While most people know that this way of eating is not good for your physical health, they fail to realise that it can impact your mental health too.
Many of these whole foods contain important compounds that help your brain function effectively.
As a result, they can also have a huge impact on your mental health.
However, while obtaining all these compounds through natural food sources would be the ideal, we also realize that it may not be feasible for everyone. Which is why you should be happy that many of them come in supplement form.
Some of the most effective natural medications for mental health include:
How good do you feel when you are outside with the sun shining on your face?
It’s amazing, right?
The cool thing here is that there is actually a very good reason for this. See, sunlight interacts with your body and your brain in such a way that promotes the increased secretion of “feel good” hormones.
As a result, simply getting more sunlight has been shown to boost mental health and stave off mental illness.
However, as you would be aware, getting out into the sun is a whole lot easier than done — which is exactly where light therapy comes into play.
Light therapy is a powerful new treatment that involves you sitting next to a ‘light therapy box’ for 30-60 minutes per day (I have mine sitting next to my desk at work).
This box produces light that is exactly the same as sunlight — and like sunlight, it has been shown to improve almost all facets of mental health.
More often than not we find solace in discussing our problems with friends and family — but when it comes to mental health, we are afraid to do so.
Whether it be due to fear of judgement, or even a fear of being perceived as weak, it is a real challenge.
And it is right here where talk therapy comes into its own.
Talk therapy essentially describes you talking about your problems, feelings, and fears with a trained professional (most often a psychoanalyst, or psychiatrist).
In this manner, talk therapy can help you find the root case of your mental health issues so you can deal with them effectively. Moreover, it also teaches you how to better handle your emotions on a daily basis.
There is a very good reason talk therapy is such a popular treatment for things like depression and anxiety — because it works.
One of the more powerful depression treatments available at the moment is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
First developed for treating severe psychiatric disorders (things like schizophrenia and psychosis), over the last decade ECT has become popular through its ability to treat some very severe cases of depression and anxiety.
The thing you need to know about ECT is that it is performed in an operating theatre, under general anesthesia, and with a doctor present.
This is because ECT treatment requires a small electric shock being provided straight to your brain. This shock shock then causes a small seizure, which lasts for about a minute.
While this may sound pretty extreme, I need to reiterate that this seizure is extremely important.
See, it resets your brain, ultimately restoring its ability to function normally — and it is this ‘reset’ that has such a huge effect on your mental health.
While we are on the topic of ECT, I can’t not talk about TMS (short for transcranial magnetic stimulation).
TMS is a unique mental health treatment that uses small magnetic fields to stimulate your brain cells.
During a single session of TMS, an electromagnetic pad is placed on your head. This pad sends a magnetic pulse into your brain, stimulating those key cells that manage your mood and emotions.
These magnetic waves actually increase the activity of these brain cells, improving mood and wellbeing in the process.
It is for this reason that TMS has been shown to have large implications for several mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety.
Lastly, we have medication.
Arguably the most common depression treatment in modern day, this revolves around prescription medications called antidepressants. These compounds simply provide a potent dose of neurotransmitters (or ‘brain chemicals’) directly into your brain.
These medications alter the chemical makeup of your brain, improving mood.
But how does this help with stress and depression?
Many of the neurotransmitters found in your brain are used to maintain a normal mental state. But they need to be in balance to do this — and, as I am sure you could have guessed, if they become out of balance… well lets just say things go a little haywire.
As a result, antidepressants essentially act to correct this imbalance, improving your mental state in the process.
Take Home Message
Taking a stand and choosing to fight your black dog is no easy feat — but it can be done.
In fact, by taking key steps to stave off stress and improve your mental state, you can even keep it away for good.