5 Factors That Elevate Levels of Toxic Stress
We are beginning to see that the American (Western) diet is causing health problems of epidemic proportion, but new research suggests that this same diet is causing mental health issues. Guess that “Open Happiness” campaign isn’t working. Remember that a low acid diet of fresher foods and vegetables, combined with daily consumption of Evamor Alkaline Water, is your best plan for better overall health – mental and physical.
Title: Depression? Anxiety? Five Factors That Elevate Levels of Toxic-Stress in Body & Mind, 2 of 3
By ATHENA STAIK, PH.D.
If there is evidence that questions both the effectiveness of psychiatric drugs and whether they cause more harm than good, what are options to consider (with your doctor, as necessary)?
In Part 1, we looked at some of the significant findings and publications that sound alarm on the prevailing take-a-pill approach to mental health (and health in general), and certain forces responsible for fueling an epidemic of mental (and physical) illness in the last decades, curiously unique to the United States.
In the next post, Part 3, we consider five essential strategies that studies show reduce anxiety and depression naturally. Here, we first consider five factors that can elevate stress in the mind and body to toxic levels, and that must be addressed in treatment to successfully eliminate or lower the toxic levels of stress that can feed anxiety or depression.
The position of this therapist is that depression and anxiety are serious problems with affect regulation that are learned neural associations or chemical-reaction patterns, rather than genetic diseases. You may disagree, and question the ‘scientific’ value of this view. If so, you are on the side of the majority.
This approach has several strengths, however.
It is good news. If neural patterns are programmed learning, that means they can be unlearned! One of the most exciting recent findings in neuroscience is that the human brain is designed for a lifetime of growth, wiring and re-wiring, known as plasticity, or the ability of the brain to change and heal, wire and re-wiire itself, given certain conditions.
It puts the responsibility for your health and wellbeing squarely in your hands. From here, you experience the power of your choices. You are no longer waiting, for example, for the discovery of a ‘pill’ that will absolve you from making wise-self choices. Instead you realize that taking care of your health (and happiness) is perhaps your most important responsibility. Everything else you do, your dreams, the people and relationships you most care about, and so on, all depend on your health in some way or another.
In therapy, taking this approach also imbues both client (and therapist alike) with a sense of hope and optimism, emotional states that are critical to not only healthy brain functioning, but also optimal results in therapy, as studies show in the field of positive psychology, led by Dr. Martin Seligman and others.
Factors that elevate stress in the body and mind.
Five main factors often work together to set the stage for debilitating states of anxiety and depression. These agents can be caustic on their own, however, in cases where they produce toxic levels of certain fatty acids or stress hormones that, in turn, promote chronic inflammation in the brain and body. This can occur either directly via toxic foods or substances the body ingests – or indirectly via emotional-command brain circuitry that unnecessarily activates the body’s stress response or parasympathetic nervous system (automatically, with increased frequency and intensity).
Naturally their effects are more deleterious when all or most are present, as is frequently the case in elevated states of depression or anxiety. They are:
1. The American Diet
Numerous studies link mental and physical illness to diet, to include one of the most comprehensive research projects, The China Study. The conclusion? The ‘American Diet’ is poison to the body.
– It not only lacks the nutrients the body needs from foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it contains toxic substances that disturb glandular functioning.
– It consists of a high concentration of foods that cause inflammation in the brain and body, such as processed sugar and other simple carbohydrates, trans-fats, and artificial sweeteners, which are some of the main culprits.