What You Can Do To Minimize or Stave Off Mental Illness

Posted May 2, 2018 by FrankGroff

(Expert Says To Be Proactive & Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle)

Those diagnosed with mental illness are oftentimes prescribed psychotherapy and/or medication to minimize their symptoms, but what’s often left out of the equation are lifestyle changes that could have a significant positive impact. According to psychologist Robert Myers, PhD. of Brand New Day, a Medicare approved health plan, taking some proactive steps not only can help minimize symptoms but can also stave off some forms of mental illness.

The causes of mental illness are many – from genetics, prenatal damage, alcohol fetal syndrome and a dysfunctional family life to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, anger, loneliness, failure to fulfill social or cultural expectations and substance abuse.

“Those dealing with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and the like are often prescribed medication and psychotherapy, but we have seen greater progress when patients also embrace a healthier lifestyle,” he said. “In addition to improving mental health, taking the proper steps can minimize the development of risk factors that can lead to conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension, all of which are seen at higher rates among the mentally ill.

“And for those at risk of mental illness (e.g., family history, drug abuse, etc.) should also adopt lifestyle changes to keep it at bay,” he said.

Myers says that at Brand New Day, caregivers encourage their patients to:

Enhance Your Diet -- Fatty foods may increase the risk for psychiatric symptoms. A study done with mice showed increased anxiety, impaired memory, repetitive behavior and brain inflammation as a result of a high-fat diet. Some fats, however, like Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, spinach, walnuts, etc.) actually may help with some forms of depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness advises to avoid sugar, which has been linked to higher rates of depression.

Exercise -- Check with your doctor first, but physical activity has been called in a study by Southern Methodist University as a “magic drug” for those with anxiety, depression and even schizophrenia. Research shows that even mild exercise like walking or gardening for half an hour a day can ward off depression. Those with bipolar disorder, however, should be aware that exercise can trigger mania in some so getting your doctor's OK is essential.

Engage in Stress Reduction Practices -- Meditation practiced 25 minutes per day at least 3 days each week has been shown to reduce stress and build resilience, says a Carnegie Mellon University study. Johns Hopkins research reveals that meditation can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Yoga is another powerful choice for stress reduction. A Queen’s University study found it can even help us view the world in a less negative, less threatening way, which can be a huge benefit for those with mental health disorders.

Get Enough Sleep -- Try to get 8 hours sleep per night and take the steps to make it happen. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, avoid eating and drinking (especially alcohol) before bedtime, keep your room comfortable and avoid TV, computers and other electronics before turning in for the night. While sleep deprivation has been shown to trigger schizophrenia and exacerbate depression, a consistent good night’s sleep can help keep stress at bay and boost our mood.

For those diagnosed with mental health issues like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar, major depression and paranoid disorder, Brand New Day offers its Harmony Program. Here, members benefit from a team approach to care that may involve their medical doctor, psychiatrist, behavioral health trained life coach and a nurse.

Brand New Day is the Medicare product name of Universal Care, Inc., a privately held California Knox-Keene Healthcare Service Plan licensed by the California Department of Managed Health Care and contracted with the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services as a Medicare Advantage contractor.

Established in 1983, Universal Care, Inc. is owned and operated by an experienced group of managed care executives and physicians. For more information, visit BNDHMO.com or call (866) 255-4795.
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Issued By Frank Groff
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Tags Los Angeles , orange county , Riverside , San Bernardino , Kern County , san diego , Fresno , San Mateo
Last Updated May 2, 2018