Every person’s depression equation, including yours, is uniquely different and yet every person’s depression equation shares common denominators.
A common denominator is a commonly shared theme or trait. You will no doubt have heard people speak about the common denominators for success in business, relationships and people who live to be healthy past 100. A common denominator is also a common element in a mathematical equation. In math class you learn to rewrite your math equations to change the undesirable answer. When things are not adding up in your life you may be prompted to start subtracting out potential causes; analyzing and rewriting your mental health equation by subtracting out contributing factors and adding in supports, can help you to restore and maintain better mental as well as physical health.
In the midst of the additional uncertainties and stressors added to our lives and the lives of the people around us due to the Covid-19 pandemic, adding in supports would be a good place to start to restore and maintain better mental health. There are many free mental health supports available, depending on where you live. I have listed several supports at the end of this post. Subtracting out some of the mental health challenging factors, like those I highlight below, may have to wait until a later time after isolation, when your regular healthcare provider and other qualified practitioners can guide you. You now have the time to do your research and planning, make diet changes, add in exercise and mind body strategies.
How do you rewrite your mental health equation?
You can rewrite your mental health equation by subtracting out or cancelling your well-being challenging contributing factors and adding in strategies to help eliminate your depression and other mental challenges. The combined approach strives to ‘right the wrongs’ that may be a part of your depression/mental health equation; allowing your body’s natural healing mechanisms to heal your brain and restore your brain chemistry and function to normal. It took me years of research and trial and error strategies, while also working on my multiple physical health equations to achieve the improved health results I have. This post focuses on the mental health equations that I and my clients have addressed to achieve improved mental health. Obviously brain damage and past trauma are additional factors that will need to be addressed with additional medical and psychological supports. This is a process that will take time. It is not as simple as the equation image below.
I suffered from depression at various times in my life. My understanding and definition of what was possible about being depression free were limited due to everything I was told and read. My father had suffered from depression and I was told once I had two episodes of depression in my life I would probably need to be on medication for the rest of my life for it. I changed my definition of what I believed was possible, I am a bit of a rebel, and then looked for ways to make it happen. I analyzed my depression equation, started researching and then started editing my depression equation, subtracting out potential causes and adding in supports. I am now 100% depression free and have been for many years. I do not take medication or regular supplements for depression. Not only that, I feel upbeat and happy and blessed!
You may need to rewrite your definition of what is possible in terms of becoming depression free so that your brain and body are on the same page. This may require a paradigm shift. Every person may not be able to stop taking medications, but you may be able to reduce your medications and improve your mental health by editing your mental health equation. Do not stop taking your prescribed medications or start editing your depression equation without the supervision of your regular healthcare provider.
“According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway. Because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.”
Understanding the Genetics and Environmental Factors of Your Depression Equation
Although you may have a family history of depression or mental illness, it does not mean that you will have or continue to suffer mentally. Genetic predispositions are inherited but do not always become expressed, allowing for a condition, unless they are turned on by environmental factors. Although you cannot subtract out genetic factors, you can prevent genetic predispositions from activating due to environmental influences, preventing the related health challenge.
Environmental factors or external factors, like your lifestyle, including work and life balance, diet, exercise, pollution and physical, mental, emotional and spiritual stressors can affect your brain chemistry and brain function, mood, resilience, ability to cope and stay positive. You have control over most of these factors and for those out of your control, there are supports that you can add in to cancel out or minimize their negative impact.
Your general health, nurture, supports, medications and habits can affect your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. This is an area where you may have to make some hard and radical decisions, which should only be considered and implemented under the care of qualified health practitioners.
“After completing an enormous study, scientists have dismissed claims that single gene variants, or even a small group of them, can dictate susceptibility to depression. Instead, they suggest that any genetic risk for depression likely arises from very large numbers of variants, each contributing a small effect.”
“In an American Journal of Psychiatry paper, the team concludes that early theories about ‘depression candidate genes’ are wrong and that studies identifying them have likely done no more than produce ‘false positives’.”
“A genetic predisposition (sometimes also called genetic susceptibility) is an increased likelihood of developing a particular disease based on a person’s genetic makeup. A genetic predisposition results from specific genetic variations that are often inherited from a parent. These genetic changes contribute to the development of a disease but do not directly cause it. Some people with a predisposing genetic variation will never get the disease while others will, even within the same family.”
“However, it appears that even with a genetic predisposition to mental illness during birth, resistance to mental illness is possible. Resilience is heightened because of a favorable nurturing environment after birth or perhaps due to exercise. People should create enriched environments where they help and support each other, exercise actively, and gain resistance to stress.”
Environmental pollutants can become a part of your body pollution and mental health equation. As a teenager I pumped leaded gasoline at my father’s gas station. I started to suffer from depression at that time. While investigating my depression equation later in life, when I once again suffered from depression after off gassing of a new house, I made the environmental pollution connection and implemented whole body detoxification, a two step detox; through natural strategies to deal with my accumulated body pollution. Do you know what your body pollution looks like? Read my blog post on body pollution to find out. A combination of whole body detoxification and BodyFeedback Interview and Therapy treatment for a client, eliminated a disabling 50+ year caterpillar phobia. Keeping your blood brain barrier healthy is important to prevent pollutants into your brain. Read more at my blog post: NATURAL CURES: Protecting and Repairing Your Blood Brain Barrier to Restore Mental Health
“A cocktail of harmful toxic chemicals has been detected in every person tested in a cross Canada study of pollution in people.”
“In this sample of young adults with low levels of lead exposure, higher blood lead was associated with increased odds of major depression and panic disorder. Exposure to lead at levels generally considered safe could result in adverse mental health outcomes.”
“Lead exposure in childhood appears to have long-lasting negative effects on mental health and personality in adulthood, according to a study of people who grew up in the era of leaded gasoline. The findings reveal that the higher a person’s blood lead levels at age 11, the more likely they are to show signs of mental illness and difficult personality traits by age 38.”
“Vert and colleagues in Barcelona identified significantly increasing rates of depression among those exposed to a range of air pollutants, with doubling odds of depression”
“Emergency department attendance for depressive episodes were significantly higher for particular combinations of air pollutants at certain times”
What we eat effects not only our physical, but also mental health. Although you may not have been advised to look at your diet when presenting at your doctor’s office with symptoms of depression, research has shown that diet is a key factor in brain health. Although I was eating a fairly healthy diet during my periods of depression, study through a Nutritional Consulting course provided me with an in depth knowledge of nutrition, detoxification pathways and health recovery.
“Few people are aware of the connection between nutrition and depression while they easily understand the connection between nutritional deficiencies and physical illness. Depression is more typically thought of as strictly biochemical-based or emotionally-rooted. On the contrary, nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression. Many of the easily noticeable food patterns that precede depression are the same as those that occur during depression. These may include poor appetite, skipping meals, and a dominant desire for sweet foods. Nutritional neuroscience is an emerging discipline shedding light on the fact that nutritional factors are intertwined with human cognition, behavior, and emotions.”
“Studies have compared ‘traditional’ diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical ‘Western’ diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. Scientists account for this difference because these traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars, which are staples of the ‘Western’ dietary pattern. In addition, many of these unprocessed foods are fermented, and therefore act as natural probiotics.”
Dr. Emily Deans, in her Psychology Today article, reports that randomized controlled trials show that the right diet can improve depression.
Stress, stress idling and stress sensitization can be contributing factors to depression and chronic anxiety, factors in your mental health equation. Implementing ongoing stress management strategies throughout your life are important to living depression free and enjoying good, consistent mental health. Hopefully this will be the first go to, as well as diet changes and exercise that doctors prescribe to people presenting with anxiety and depression symptoms, not just a suggestion or after thought. You can read more in my blog post on stress title STRESS IDLING & SENSITIVITY: A Modern Day Health Challenge.
“If the stress is continued or prolonged, it can leave adverse effects on body’s immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems. When chronic stress goes untreated it can result into serious disabilities like insomnia, weakened immune system, high blood pressure, anxiety and muscle pain. It can also play a role in developing major disorders like depression, heart disease and obesity.”
The human body was created with many amazing abilities, often referred to as ‘the doctor within’. Understanding and utilizing those often misunderstood and mostly forgotten powers is crucial to well-being and eliminating depression. Exploring ways to continually develop and maintain strength of mind and body will enable you to better endure the demands of life with grace and confidence; ultimately allowing you to stay focused on the pursuit of meaningful goals. Change and fortitude often start with a healthy dose of fear. Sometimes fear comes through a ‘wake up call, something is really wrong’, like the debilitating symptoms of depression.
“Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi don’t simply relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression, according to a study by the universities of Coventry and Radboud.”
You can find the summarized strategies that I used to edit my physical and mental health equations to improve my health eliminating depression, toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT), multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and multiple food allergies in my book The Whole Person Well-being Equation. You can find out about the additional supports that I use through my blog posts and social media pages which are listed at the end of this post.
Follow my road map to help you edit your mental and physical health equations, restoring your health so that you can get on with your life and the pursuit of meaningful goals and relationships. Find alternate mood protecting and enhancing supports at My Green Medicine Cabinet.
These are very difficult times and existing mental health and addiction challenges can be magnified. If you have people in your life who are exhibiting threatening mental health behaviours towards themselves or others, it is important to take action through setting boundaries and incident reporting. Failure to take note and action could result in serious consequences for other people, including your loved ones. The recent events in Nova Scotia highlights the seriousness of radical changes in a person’s mental state that led to the death of many innocent people. Utilize and recommend the mental health supports that are readily available during the pandemic through governments and community services. Check out the resource list below.
Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/
 What does it mean to have a genetic predisposition to a disease? US National Library of Medicine, https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/mutationsanddisorders/predisposition
 Involvement of Genetic and Environmental Factors in the Onset of Depression, US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897684/
 Pollution in People, Toxic Chemical Profiles of 11 families and 5 adults across Canada, https://environmentaldefence.ca/report/report-pollution-in-people-toxic-chemical-profiles-of-11-adults-and-5-families-across-canada/
 Blood lead levels and major depressive disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder in U.S. young adults, US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917196/
 Childhood lead exposure linked to poor adult mental health, Science Daily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190123112330.htm
 Air pollution, mental health, and implications for urban design: a review, Journal of Urban Design and Mental Health, https://www.urbandesignmentalhealth.com/journal-4—air-pollution-and-mental-health.html
 Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, US National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
 Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Dr. Eva Selhub, Harvard Health Blog, March 26, 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
 A Dietary Treatment for Depression: A Randomized controlled trial shows the right diet can improve depression. Dr. Emily Deans, Psychology Today, March 17, 2017
 Chronic Stress Leads to Anxiety and Depression, Annals of Psychiatry and Mental Health, https://www.jscimedcentral.com/Psychiatry/psychiatry-5-1091.pdf
 Meditation and yoga can ‘reverse’ DNA reactions which cause stress, new study suggests, Science Daily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615213301.htm
Check with your local and national government websites to find supports for your region and country.
Mental Health Commission of Canada – https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/external-covid-19-resources-general-public
Taking Care of your Mental Health During COVID-19, Government of Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/mental-health.html
Canadian Mental Health Association – https://cmha.ca/news/covid-19-and-mental-health
Diet quality and depression risk: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. Journal of Affective Disorders, January 15, 2018.
Diet and Depression. Dr. Monique Tello, Harvard Health Blog, January 29, 2020.
Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis. Psychiatry Research, July 2017.