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Diagnosed with a Mental Illness: Now What?

Updated on July 15, 2014

Perhaps You or a Loved One Has Been Diagnosed with a Mental Illness

To receive a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one of a form of mental illness often causes shock and bewilderment. Feelings range from complete denial that it could even be possible, to actual relief that after so long there is finally an explanation and a name for such suffering. Regardless of where in this spectrum one seems to fit, the journey is never easy. Most patients feel they are at the mercy of their doctor, pleading for both relief and help. The diagnosis can seem completely overwhelming, leaving one with a feeling of little or no ability to know where to begin, how to proceed, or what to do. “Doctor, what do we do now?” is perhaps one of the first questions asked. Usually the doctor prescribes one or more medications. Transitions to acclimate the body to these substances often produce new forms of suffering and discomfort. Side effects can be as life changing as the previous suffering and diagnosis. And then, over time, our bodies often adapt to our prescriptions and therefore, they become less and less effective, requiring either an increase in dosage, or finding alternative medications.

This is a grim picture, but it is a reality for many people faced with such diagnoses. However, this article is not a focus on the dark side. It is encouragement that mental illness can, in many cases, be treatable similarly to diabetes, a cold or flu. But there are many factors to consider, such as the severity of the illness, how long the illness has progressed, possible organic damage to the brain or digestive system, and more.

You and Your Medical Professionals Are a Team

Whether you actually believe and feel you and your doctor are a team or not, it's still true. Either you are a patient who allows your doctor to dictate all actions and treatments to you, or you confer with your doctor, become educated about the process, and assist in making effective decisions for your treatment. This article is further encouragement for all patients to become actively involved in their own treatment and healing process, and to not transfer that responsibility solely to another person. It's purpose is to help empower individuals and families in providing additional information which may help in managing, and in many cases, healing mental illness.

Prescription medications have and do continue to save lives and increase the quality of life for countless people. However, it is well established that long-term use of prescription medications can cause severe health problems and body dysfunction. The purpose of this article is to provide information to the patient to help form a consultation team between themselves and the medical professionals who assist in their well-being.

You Are a Person, Not a Label

If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, you are not the label for your illness. You are a person. The illness described as your diagnosis resides in you separately from who you are, much the same way that the food you eat is separate from you. How the illness causes you to suffer is the issue to resolve. There is more and more evidence to suggest that mental illness can be lessened in its severity, and in many cases, reversed. Nutrition and the body’s ability to assimilate seem to be the golden key.

Digestion and Assimilation

When the brain is starving, it will do weird things, and thus behaviors in the individual also become weird. These dysfunctional behaviors are usually contrary to the true nature of the person. If a starving brain could be fed all that it needs, it seems logical that dysfunction could be reversed, and thus, the person's true nature restored.

This sounds simple enough. However, it's usually more complicated than just adding better nutrition to a diet. If there is organic damage to the digestive system, then assimilation of nutrients is compromised. This is one possible reason why the brain may be starving. If the brain is damaged, but the digestive system is healthy, then the brain may not be able to assimilate all the nutrients it needs. But if digestion and brain have no organic damage, there may also be temporary adverse conditions in the digestive system and brain which are reversible. Begin by addressing one thing at a time with the assumption that if you have assimilation problems, they can be improved.

Candidiasis Albicans, or Systemic Yeast Infections

Possible Conditions That Inhibit Nutrient Assimilation

There is a long list of possibilities, but some of the most prominent which establish the link between nutrition and mental illness include conditions related to digestion and assimilation, such as:

1. Overgrowth of systemic yeast infection (also known as candidiasis albicans) mostly due to overuse or long-term use of antibiotics. (See the video link below.)

2. Parasites, fungus and other invaders in the digestive tract.

3. Sludge and build up in the colon and intestines.

4. Food allergies.

5. Some prescription medications.

6. Some herbal remedies.

Where Do I Start?

Start with clues you have noticed, that are not normal. Google some of the symptoms you seem to have and get educated about the possibilities. If you have several symptoms of systemic yeast infection, for example, your best bet is to do one thing at a time to address that specific issue. If you start addressing multiple issues, you'll most likely compound your misery and confusion. Google searches will reveal a wealth of information, but be sure to stick with reliable sources, based in fact and science.

The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Illness

Many, many people are discovering that there is a link between nutrition deficiencies and mental illness. 2Discover Magazine reported the effect of nutrition on bipolar disorder in May 2005.

With help of Google search, there is compelling evidence that ADD, ADHD, and unipolar (long-term) depression can be improved by optimizing assimilation of nutrients in the body.

Orthomolecular cure for mental illness by Dr. Abram Hoffer includes bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more.

The effects of autism can, in many cases, be reduced or eliminated with nutrition optimization in the human body:

There Is No Silver Bullet, but There Is Plenty of Evidence for Hope

The human body is a complex symphony of hormones, chemical changes, and the ebb and flow of the body's essential building blocks. Billions and billions of changes occur every day to keep your body going. Frustration can occur if we expect immediate results, and don't see them. But regardless of your impatience, your body is working as hard as it can to keep you healthy. It's important to realize that prescription medications nearly always yield quicker, more dramatic results than alternatives described in this article. But there are drawbacks to using such powerful substances on a long-term basis, which include a host of side effects, many of which can become permanent over time. Nutrition, as opposed to the synthetic compounds in prescription medications, is most often the best long-term antidote to most of the body's ills.

Taking a nutritional approach must be done methodically, and as mentioned previously, addressing one problem at a time. Cleaning out digestion problems and optimizing assimilation can have its own side effects. Keeping in mind that your body is working as hard as it can to keep you well will help you begin to appreciate the miraculous work your body does (without you even noticing!). Even where moderate to severe organic damage is sustained to the digestive tract and the brain, the process of optimizing your assimilation of nutrients will usually still yield improvement. Some people may never be able to wean off prescription medications completely, but often with increased assimilation of nutrients as a component, they can reduce the amounts (dosage or frequency) of some of their medications.

A Caution about Protracted Withdrawals

Correcting the problems described in this article are not easy. Often as the body begins to receive the nutrients it needs, it can go into protracted withdrawals, where the prescription medications stored in the body's tissues begin to break loose in the bloodstream, causing most of the side effects listed in those medications. It takes persistence and patience to get through this process. It’s much like any detoxing system where the body needs to complete the process in order to clean out the toxins.

Many in the medical community do not believe there is such a thing as 3"protracted withdrawal" while yet many others have both witnessed it in their patients as well as experienced it themselves. Regardless of one's position on this subject, to those who experience it, it's very real, and very difficult. However, once through this process, clarity of mind, normalizing of emotions, and a clearer, more rational approach to life begins its restoration.

Dr. Heather Ashton Addresses Benzodiazepine Protracted Withdrawal

No Stroll Through the Park, but There Can Be Joy in the Journey

The key is to remain adaptable to what your body is doing and what it needs. Poor eating habits, physical and mental activity (or inactivity) can have a dramatic impact on your wellness. Even after health and stability are achieved for a period, your body can change and there can be setbacks. However, it's best not to be alarmed. Stay calm and work through the blips and set backs and usually, because of your experience, you'll know what to do and how to get back to good health. When you observe something isn't working right, it's probably time to consider a change in diet and/or activity. It's always best to start with the simplest things first, looking for clues your body is giving you. Achieving health is about being educated, consistency, and wanting to take responsibility for as much of your health as you can. It's also about forming a good team that can include medical professionals, family, and friends. Success to any team is success all around, and it does bring joy to life’s journey.

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    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 3 years ago from India

      Impressive article on Nutrition Deficiency and Mental Illness. Voted up.

    • MyFunHealthyLife profile image
      Author

      Daniel Carter 3 years ago from Western United States

      Thank you, jabelufiroz!

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