After a lengthy pandemic, you might have noticed changes in your physical health. Maybe you slimmed down from your obsessive use of your new Peloton, or maybe you put on a few pounds from one too many attempts to match skills displayed on the Great British Bakeoff. Regardless, that impact on your physical health is probably something you noticed easily as numbers on the scale change, or your clothes fit a little differently. But there’s one huge factor that impacts your overall well-being that’s not so easily noticed. It’s rarely measured or evaluated and can’t be seen clearly in your reflection. It was likely also impacted by the pandemic, and maybe even caused some of those physical changes.
Mental Health Awareness
Yes, we are talking about mental health. It is so important to talk about mental health, not only to de-stigmatize very common conditions, but also because it is well-known that mental and physical health are intertwined. For example, many symptoms of mental health decline are physical: headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues, low energy, and trouble sleeping. Poor mental health can also trigger autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. And this is particularly concerning when you consider the rise in mental health disorders resulting from the pandemic. Nearly 80% of patients in the U.S. that took an anxiety screening in 2020 scored in the “moderate to severe” category! Similarly, depression rates more than tripled, with 32.8% of U.S. adults experiencing elevated depressive symptoms in 2021, compared to 8.5% before the pandemic.
Mental Health Conditions Can Be Treatable
Healthcare providers must start taking this as “serious as a heart attack”, which actually can be a result of mental health disorders such as chronic stress and anxiety. Your providers should be asking about your satisfaction and happiness just as much as they ask about your blood pressure. Just like high blood pressure, mental health disorders are treatable. These conditions are caused by imbalances of different neurochemicals in the brain such as the serotonin that allows us to feel happiness or the dopamine that drives our motivation. While medication is often a great option, there are more than just medications that can be utilized for treatment. Certain lifestyle practices, foods, and vitamins can also work to correct these imbalances. While there is typically more of a “guess and check” approach to which method would work best for you, we now have the super-sciencey world of genetics to direct and personalize treatment, making remission more attainable.
Every single person has their own individual set of genetic code that is a unique blend of genes from your biological mother and father. The set you have is totally out of your control and cannot change, but the good news is that you can use this to your advantage if you know about them. If your healthcare provider is trained in genetic interpretation and is able to test for certain genes, you can bypass a lot of the usual “guess and check” process and avoid adverse effects of many medications. In our clinic, we look at genes that can tell you how much your mental health will benefit from exercise alone, or if your low mood may be caused by a simple vitamin deficiency that can’t be detected in a blood draw. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, or other mental health conditions, genetics will tell us what kind of medicine is going to be best to balance the neurochemicals in your individual brain!
Take The First Step
The first step in any mental health struggle is to talk about it with someone, whether it’s your partner, family member, a friend, or your healthcare provider. We understand that these are common problems, and our providers at ZüpMed are available to help you take the next steps in a way that is personalized to you.