Mental Health Disorders
By contrast, practitioners of holistic medicine recognize that there are many factors commonly ignored by conventional practitioners that are at the heart of the many cases of mental health disorders. Such factors include biochemical imbalances, toxins, allergies, food sensitivities, and other environmental causes. By addressing those factors they are often able to safely provide effective long-term solutions for their patients, without the need for dangerous medications and ongoing follow-up care.
Types: Although conventional medicine has defined numerous mental health disorders, they all fall primarily within three categories—emotional disorders, personality disorders, and thinking disorders.
Emotional Disorders: Anxiety and depression are the two most common emotional disorders. Deep-seated fears, or phobias, and panic disorders fall into this category.
Personality Disorders: Mental health disorders in this category are characterized by an inability to socially interact with others in a normal fashion. Personality disorders include chronic antisocial behavior, excessive insecurity, narcissism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia, and passive-aggressive disorders. Alcohol, drug, and/or gambling addictions are other forms of personality disorders.
Thought Disorders: Thought disorders are characterized by behavioral problems, learning disabilities, brain dysfunction, and/or delusional thinking. Conditions in this category include attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bi-polar disorder (manic depression), dementia, multiple personalities, psychosis, and schizophrenia.
Symptoms of mental health disorders can vary greatly, both according to category and degree. Emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are characterized by symptoms that range from feelings of chronic despair, fear, hopelessness, panic, pessimism, sadness, and worthlessness, to physical symptoms, such as racing heartbeat, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal upset. In some cases, people afflicted with emotional disorders can become overwhelmed by feelings of grief and despair to the point of being suicidal.
Symptoms of personality disorders range from the self-destructive behavior that is common with addiction to a chronic inability to properly relate to others, leading to isolation and loneliness. People who suffer from paranoia are often unable to objectively view subjective and objective events in their lives without feeling persecuted and/or in some kind of danger; whereas people with an obsessive-compulsive disorder feel as if they are losing control over their lives if they don’t obsessively perform certain calming behaviors, such as washing their hands over and over again or repeatedly checking to see if they locked their doors before going out.
People who suffer from thought disorders often suffer from cognitive problems and/or are unable to think clearly about issues that concern them. In some instances, such as schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, they can also exhibit completely different personalities at different times during the day, depending on how they react to external stimuli or their own thought processes. Similar changes in personality also characterize people who suffer from bi-polar disorder, ranging from euphoric mania to listless depression.
Caution: If you or your loved ones suffer from any of the above symptoms to a serious degree, seek the assistance of a trained mental health professional with a background in holistic medicine.
Although the causes of mental health disorders are often relegated by conventional mental health professionals to being solely psychological or genetic in nature, holistic health professionals recognize that many other factors can also be involved, and in many cases are far more significant. Moreover, they also recognize the fact that many times people are misdiagnosed with mental health disorders when in actuality they are suffering from significant biochemical problems caused primarily by poor diet and nutritional imbalances.
Other important factors to consider as causes of mental health disorders are food and environmental allergies, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), stress, chronic physical illness, hormone imbalances, lower than normal histamine levels, and viral infections of the brain. Social and cultural factors, as well as a person’s age and gender, can also contribute to or exacerbate mental health disorders. Ironically, so can the use of prescription medication, including those prescribed and recommended for treating mental health disorders.
Addiction/Substance Abuse: Holistically oriented mental health professionals recognize that a similar mechanism, known as specific adaptation, is often at work in cases of both addiction and mental health disorders. According to mental health doctor Karl E. Humiston, M.D., of Albany, Oregon, in cases of addiction, specific adaptation means that the addict’s body has adapted, both chemically and energetically, to substances to which it is allergic or which are toxic in order to derive temporary feelings of pleasure. Similarly, specific adaptation also forms many various types of mental health disorders, such as anxiety, compulsive behavior, depression, and, in some cases, psychosis, all of which can be triggered by allergy-causing foods and toxic chemicals. Because of the way the body adapts to, and then starts to crave such substances, their lack can trigger heightened negative emotional episodes, making it far more difficult to accurately determine the causes of mental health disorders and, therefore, to effectively treat them. This aspect of the relationship between addiction and mental health is often ignored by conventional health professionals.
Allergies: Allergies, especially those caused by foods and food additives, can contribute to a number of mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. The late Benjamin Feingold, MD, found that allergic reactions to certain foods and food additives are a primary cause of many types of behavioral problems, such as ADD and ADHD.
Aspartame, a common artificial sweetener, is an especially toxic food additive in this regard because of how it can cause imbalances in brain chemistry once the body digests and assimilates it. Artificial food colorings, flavorings, and preservatives act similarly on the brain, significantly increasing the risk of developing many types of mental health disorders. Foods such as chocolate, corn, dairy products, eggs, milk, refined carbohydrates, sugar and sugar substitutes, tomatoes, and wheat are common allergens, and if allergic, these foods can negatively impact an individual’s mental and emotional well-being.
Amino Acid Imbalance: Amino Acid imbalances can significantly affect mental and emotional states and can be the root cause of a variety of mental problems. Urine testing can be effective in determining amino acid levels. Find an alternative doctor who is familiar with neuro testing. Amino Acid Therapy can be a turning point in many cases as balancing one’s brain chemistry is very important and is often overlooked when treating most mental disorders.
Chronic Physical Illness: The experience of being chronically ill can often result in mental health problems, especially when a person is beset by serious forms of illness that can be life-threatening. Over time, as people fail to experience relief from their physical symptoms, they can grow increasingly anxious or depressed. In cases of severe chronic pain, they can even become suicidal. Compounding this problem is the fact that many pharmaceutical medications that are commonly prescribed to treat physical illnesses can adversely affect brain chemistry and disrupt immunity, opening the door for biochemical imbalances and immune dysfunctions to occur, which can have a profound negative impact on a person’s mental and emotional health. Candidiasis is another chronic health problem that can cause or worsen mental health disorders, due to the way that systemic yeast overgrowth can create nutritional deficiencies. Research conducted by allergy specialist Doris Rapp, M.D., has proven that just a few drops of allergenic food substances can trigger anger, confusion, and hyperactivity, especially in children. A long-term Candida diet can be used specifically for the purpose of lifting the emotional pain and simultaneously clear Candidiasis.
Diet: Poor diet is a serious cause of mental health disorders because of the nutritional deficiencies and imbalances it results in. In addition, certain foods, as mentioned above, can trigger allergies that can cause or worsen mental health problems. This is especially true with diets devoid of fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and other organic whole foods. To make matters worse, diets neglecting whole foods are often high in commercially packaged and processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugars. Such a diet not only lacks the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients essential for good health, but it is also high in unhealthy food additives, preservatives, and other chemicals that can seriously impair mental health.
Environmental Toxins and Other Environmental Factors: Heavy metal poisoning, as well as exposure to toxic chemicals contained in exhaust fumes, paints, solvents, and other substances, have been shown by research to cause a variety of mental health problems, such as depression, thinking disorders, and even violent behavior. This is especially true when such exposure leads to elevated levels of cadmium, copper, lead, manganese, mercury and/or tin.
Living near or otherwise being regularly exposed to high voltage lines can also pose serious mental health problems, including chronic depression and suicide. The link between close proximity to power lines and depression, for example, has been clearly established by scientific research.
The quality and quantity of light can also influence mental health. This scientific fact was first established by John Nash Ott, Sc.D., a photobiologist who discovered that fluorescent and incandescent lighting impairs the body’s ability to properly absorb and assimilate nutrients and can trigger a variety of mental health problems, including alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, hostility, hyperactivity, and irritability, as well as contributing to lowered immune function, a shortened life span, and chronic degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. People who spend the majority of their time indoors in buildings with artificial light are particularly susceptible to these types of health risks.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is caused by a lack of sunlight, especially during the winter months, can also cause or worsen mental health disorders, as can exposure to mold and pollen.
Histamine Imbalance: Lower or higher than normal histamine levels can also be a factor in mental health disorders, especially schizophrenia. This was first shown in the 1950s by the late Carl Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D., a pioneering orthomolecular physician who found that nearly 50 percent of the schizophrenic patients he examined had lower than normal histamine levels while approximately a third of them had elevated histamine levels. Dr. Pfeiffer also found histamine imbalances to be a factor in many cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder, severe depression, paranoia, suicidal tendencies, and thinking disorders. Typically, such patients also showed abnormal levels of basophils, a type of white blood cell that stores histamine in the body. They also usually suffered from nutritional imbalances, especially folic acid and zinc.
Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal imbalances can also contribute to mental health problems, especially in women who rely on birth control pills and/or who take synthetic progesterone, both of which can cause overall hormone levels to become imbalanced. In addition, birth control pills and synthetic progesterone can also result in systemic yeast overgrowth (candidiasis), further exacerbating mental health issues.
Hypoglycemia: Many patients who suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, unexplained or irrational fear, hyperactivity, and irritability also suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In certain instances, hypoglycemia may even be the sole cause of such conditions. For such patients, stabilizing blood sugar levels is essential for proper treatment.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Imbalances: Nutritional deficiencies and imbalances represent two of the most important causes of mental health disorders, and are nearly as significant as the genetic factors that can predispose people to suffer from mental and emotional problems. Since the 1950s, leaders in the field of orthomolecular medicine, such as Linus Pauling, Carl Pfeiffer, and Abram Hoffer, have shown that deficiencies in any nutrient can cause mental health problems, ranging from anxiety, attention deficit disorders, depression, and hyperactivity to impaired mental function, schizophrenia, thinking disorders, and habitual violent behaviors.
Among the nutrients most commonly found to be deficient or imbalanced in people with mental health disorders are B complex vitamins—especially vitamins B1, B3 (niacin), B6, and B12—vitamin C, calcium, copper, iron, lithium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Low levels of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid, or HCl) are also commonly found among patients with mental health problems. A lack of HCl can significantly interfere with the body’s ability to digest and assimilate nutrients contained in food.
Scientific samplings of thousands of people in prison conducted by William Walsh, Ph.D., a former research scientist at the Argonne National Laboratories, revealed that 95 percent of them suffered from pronounced nutritional and biochemical imbalances, and often also had elevated levels of potential toxic minerals such as lead. This was particularly true of prisoners who exhibited severe antisocial behaviors, as well as those who were convicted of homicide, rape, and other violent crimes, as well as those most prone to suicidal tendencies.
Psychiatric Medications: In the last few decades, the field of mental health has been increasingly co-opted by the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, so-called psychiatric medications are now the primary treatment approach used by practitioners of conventional medicine for mental health disorders. This trend has been exacerbated by the fact that emphasis is now placed more on cost-saving measures when it comes to health care, than on treatment methods that actually work, particularly on the part of HMOs, PPOs, and other managed care health organizations.
Further compounding this problem is the fact that pharmaceutical medications are increasingly recommended and prescribed for children despite the fact that their young brains are not fully developed and are therefore less capable of resisting the medications' serious side effects. Moreover, no data has ever been compiled that shows such medications are safe or effective for younger age groups (and in fact little convincing data exists showing that they are safe and effective for adults). So influential has the pharmaceutical industry become in this regard that all across the United States, parents now risk having their children taken from them to be placed into foster homes if they refuse to use medications such as Ritalin, which can cause very serious side effects, to treat their children. Thus far, an estimated 100,000 children across America have been taken from their parents for this reason, with the full support of both state and federal judicial courts. This, despite the fact that psychiatric medications are known to carry serious health risks, including suicidal and homicidal tendencies, as well as other psychotic behaviors.
Psychiatric medications primary fall into four categories: stimulants, antidepressants, anti-psychotic medications, and sleep aids. What follows are various health risks associated with each class of medication.
Stimulants—Stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderal, which are routinely prescribed for ADD and ADHD, has been shown by research to act on the brain in much the same way that cocaine and amphetamine drugs do. Common side effects caused by Ritalin, Adderal, and other stimulant medications include, but are not limited to, brain damage, unhealthy behavioral changes, dizziness, headache, stomach problems, stunted growth, suicide, and violent and homicidal tendencies. Stimulant medications also have a strong tendency to leave those who use them feeling listless and “zombie-like,” to the point where their inherent personality seems completely suppressed. Despite these grave health risks, current statistics indicate that approximately 20 percent of all school children in kindergarten through the 12th grade take Ritalin and similar medications, usually because they have been diagnosed as having ADD or ADHD, two so-called health conditions which many scientists and physicians in the fields of both conventional and holistic medicine dispute are even real. Moreover, half of all children in this country who are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD are placed on Ritalin and similar medications without ever receiving proper psychological or educational testing. In addition, though no child has ever died as a result of either ADD or ADHD, a number of deaths have been attributed to children with these so-called conditions as a direct result of Ritalin and similar stimulant medication use.
Antidepressants—Antidepressant medications, such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, are another class of medications that can cause serious side effects. Such side effects include anxiety, dizziness, nausea, sexual dysfunction (including impotence and loss of libido), uncontrollable facial and body tics, visual hallucinations, unhealthy weight gain and obesity, withdrawal symptoms, and sexual dysfunction. Other side effects include electric shock sensations in the brain, as well as severe and permanent neurological damage. In addition, some users of antidepressant medications can exhibit suicidal and homicidal tendencies, as well as other forms of violent behavior, and the use of tricyclic medications, such as Norpramin, has even been implicated in the sudden deaths of children for whom it was prescribed.
Anti-Psychotic Medications—Anti-psychotic medication use can result in movement disorders, such as tardive dyskinesia, as well as neurological damage that can lead to such conditions as Alzheimer's disease.
Sleeping Aids—Side effects associated with pharmaceutical medications used to treat sleep disorders include overdose, unhealthy lowering of the heart rate (hypotension), depressed respiration, unhealthy changes in mood, diminished cognitive function, and impaired consciousness.
In addition to the above side effects, psychiatric and pharmaceutical medications can trigger and/or exacerbate a variety of mental health disorders.
Stress: Chronic, unresolved stress can also trigger and exacerbate mental health disorders, as well as negatively impacting the health of your body’s endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. Stress has been implicated by researchers such as Dr. Bruce Lipton of Stanford University as the primary cause of 95 percent of all health conditions, including those which fall under the category of mental health. By weakening your body’s endocrine system, stress can result in hormonal imbalances that are associated with mental health disorders. By weakening immunity, stress opens the door to various disease-causing agents, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi such as Candida albicans (which, unchecked, causes candidiasis), all of which can negatively effect the health of the brain and lead to ongoing feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear, as well as impairing cognitive and mental function. And by affecting the nervous system, stress makes it much more difficult for people to feel relaxed, think clearly, and properly express themselves.
Conversely, mental health disorders, and the life situations that can cause or contribute to them, such as job loss, divorce, or the death of a loved one, can significantly increase a person’s stress levels, setting in motion a vicious cycle that further aggravates and perpetuates mental health problems.
Viral Infections of the Brain: Pioneering holistic physician William H. Philpott, MD, of Choctaw, Oklahoma, has found that all mental health disorders related to organic brain dysfunction are initiated by viral infection of the brain. According to Dr. Philpott, it is the herpes class of viruses that causes the brain to become infected. Viruses in this class include cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus, human herpes virus 6 (HHV6), and infectious mononucleosis. He has found that people who are born with a predisposition for mental health disorders typically have such viruses passed onto them by their mothers while they are gestating in the womb. Or viruses will often invade the brains of young children early on in life. Once the viruses take hold in the brain, they begin to infect the brain’s neurons and create brain swelling. This results in abnormalities in a person’s ability to concentrate, as well as in their judgment and perception, often to a seriously damaging degree.
According to Dr. Philpott, the activity of such viruses in the brain is both chronic and fluctuating, and can make people who are afflicted by brain viruses more susceptible to other factors that can cause or worsen mental health disorders, such as environmental toxins, food allergies, and nutritional deficiencies.
Mental health disorders that are associated with viral brain infections include bi-polar disorders, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, psychosis, and schizophrenia.