Taking a holistic approach to mental health conditions involves providing support that looks at the care of the whole person and not only their mental health needs. This involves treatment for physical, social, and spiritual well-being. Holistic health and psychiatry can be combined for optimal results. Using a holistic approach takes into account various factors, including age, gender, life experience, and personal beliefs. 1
Mental health conditions may be genetic, or they may be caused by certain risk factors. Some of the most common causes of mental health conditions are explained in detail below.
Alcohol abuse is the second most common form of substance abuse in the United States. Approximately 10% of men and 5% of women suffer from an alcohol use disorder in the United States. Dependence on alcohol may lead to problems at work, in relationships, and to a person’s overall health.
Overuse of alcohol is defined by the CDC as: 2
Heavy drinking and drug abuse can potentially result in mental health problems. The use of these unregulated substances can potentially cause changes to the brain and nervous system.
Additionally, studies have found that the use of marijuana may result in an increased risk for psychosis, and the use of other types of drugs can lead to depression and anxiety when their effects wear off. 4
Those who are unable to find work may struggle with mental health conditions. The lack of regular engagement in productive activities may lead to depression and feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy, and it can also result in severe financial strain and leave people unable to meet their regular bills or basic needs. In the worst cases, unemployment can result in homelessness.
Victims of domestic violence can develop severe reactions to abuse. Studies show that being on the receiving end of domestic violence in the home can result in an increased risk of suffering from depression and anxiety, and more than 75% of victims may suffer from PTSD. 5
Those who experience a physical injury with a long recovery period may be at risk of developing a mental health condition. Similar to experiencing domestic violence, injured individuals may be more at risk for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. A recent study found that an increased number of nights spent in a hospital and uncontrolled pain predicted a greater likelihood of developing depression. 6
If an individual experiences significant stress over the long term, they may be more likely to develop a mental health condition. Stressors have a major influence on mood and can impact well-being, behavior, and health. If the stress is constant, the person may experience physical deterioration as well as declining mental health. Healing depression holistically can help ease the effects of long-term stress and improve the outcome for the patient. 7
Those who live in poverty or are otherwise socially disadvantaged may experience a decline in mental health. Being unable to afford life’s basic needs and the other drawbacks of living in poverty can lead to ongoing stress and subsequent mental health conditions.
Holistic approaches to psychological disorders involve treating a person’s entire system and lifestyle. Rather than just concentrating on the individual aspects of a mental health condition, a holistic approach focuses on encouraging healthy habits for the entire body. The belief is that by adopting a healthy approach to living, the symptoms of the mental health condition will decrease naturally over time, therefore almost eliminating the need for pharmaceuticals.
Holistic mental health therapy encourages mindfulness and meditation. Studies have shown that meditation has the ability to change certain regions of the brain associated with memory, awareness, and compassion. It can help in encouraging emotional health by reducing feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. 8
One commonly recommended activity to improve mental health involves journaling. This is a process of recording one’s thoughts and feelings regularly on paper. The use of journaling can help to release suppressed emotions and promote mental balance.
If something happens in a person’s life that they can’t control, such as the loss of a relative or an incurable illness, it’s not uncommon to turn to unhealthy means of coping. This may involve the use of drugs, alcohol, or engagement with repeated negative thoughts. Holistic mental health approaches involve finding healthy and positive ways of coping in order to move forward.
Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins and reduces stress. Under a holistic approach, a patient should strive to meet the minimum guidelines for recommended activity levels.
The CDC recommends that adults obtain at least one hundred and fifty minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. Choosing an activity that you enjoy can be an outlet for negative emotions and encourage all-over physical health. 9
Spirituality is another important facet of the holistic approach to mental health. A patient can pursue their faith through various activities, such as reading the Bible or attending church, synagogue, or mosque. Spiritual beliefs vary from person to person, so it’s important to ensure that the patient engages in a form of spirituality that fits their ideology.
Finally, under a holistic approach, regular social activities with supportive and positive people are encouraged. It’s not healthy to be regularly isolated from others. Thus, encouraging the patient to socialize more, join a club, engage in group interactions, and volunteer can be especially helpful for reducing mental health symptoms.
Taking a holistic approach can be highly beneficial to those who suffer from mental health conditions.
Adopting healthier ways of living can lead to significant lifestyle improvements. If you or a loved one are able to develop better ways of coping with adversity, you can improve physical health and have a better outlook on life as well. The use of drugs can serve as an unhealthy method of coping with stressors, but a focus on making healthy changes can have a positive effect and over time, lifestyle improvements can make it easier to handle stressors and respond in healthy ways.
Eating nutritious food and participating in regular physical activity both help maintain a healthy lifestyle and promote overall well-being. Staying physically healthy through regular activity can build confidence and lower the risk of illnesses as well.
Engaging in activities like meditation and journaling can reduce overall stress and anxiety. Since the holistic approach puts much more emphasis on healthy living and emotional balance, patients are able to reduce their levels of worry through natural means.
When a person is working to overcome mental health symptoms, allowing their body to access its natural healing abilities can be very helpful. It can also improve long-term outcomes for mental health conditions, as a greater emphasis is placed on the individual to rely on their personal strengths and choices. This eventually results in increased confidence and adaptability.
The reduction of depressive symptoms is another key benefit of using the holistic technique. Treating the entire body as a whole, as opposed to just treating the mental health condition, often gives rise to reduced feelings of depression and a higher quality of life. Increased socialization and greater emotional stability can positively impact existing depressive feelings.
Finally, adopting holistic care in mental health results in overall better health. While pharmaceuticals and therapy have a place in treating mental health conditions, the holistic approach also offers powerful results. It touches on all areas of the body and mind, allowing the person to access inner strength and use other tools to promote healthier and happier living.
The holistic approach touches on four separate cornerstones. By using this method, patients often have a better outcome to their mental health condition. They’re also able to improve their outlook and physical health.
A holistic model is much less drastic than engaging in traditional treatment for mental health conditions. Rather than undergoing a continuous cycle of medication and therapy, the patient is encouraged to adjust their lifestyle, eating habits, and the activities that they engage in.
Medications are generally not part of a holistic mental health program, especially for conditions such as depression and anxiety. This remains true unless the patient is not responsive at all to the holistic program, in which case, small amounts of pharmaceuticals may be used to improve patient health.
Some types of mental illness, such as schizophrenia, may require the use of pharmaceutical treatment regardless of what mental health approach is used.
Part of a holistic mental health treatment plan involves dietary changes. Ensuring that your body has all of the nutrients it needs to function optimally can result in healthier hormonal functioning and an improved sense of well-being. The better that one eats, the more likely it is that feelings of depression and anxiety will lessen and mental health conditions will improve.
Proper nutrition helps people in a holistic treatment program feel better because nutrients give the body energy, help build and repair organ tissue, and strengthen the immune system.
Nutrition can also impact mood. Changes in the diet can alter brain structure both chemically and physiologically, and certain foods have been connected to the body’s hormones, such as serotonin. Eating superfoods also help one to attain mental and physical health benefits. Some superfoods include:
Ensuring a varied diet with a full slate of vitamins and minerals can go a long way to assisting in overcoming mental health issues.
It may not be possible to obtain all the nutrients that you need through food alone. Certain conditions can impact the way one absorbs vitamins and minerals from food. It’s also possible that while someone’s diet may be well-rounded, they simply can’t meet every dietary recommendation.
To allow for better nutritional intake, holistic approaches recommend that supplements be included as a part of the program. Having bloodwork done can reveal potential vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Once a deficiency has been determined to exist, supplements can be prescribed.
Finally, lifestyle changes can make a tremendous difference. Regularly working out has significant benefits, especially if it’s an activity that one enjoys. You can choose to sweat it out daily at the gym, or you may prefer a more non-structured approach to exercise. This can include hiking, taking brisk walks around the neighborhood, or dancing. Many gyms also offer group fitness classes, such as kickboxing, tai chi, and HIIT. These may be a good fit for someone who enjoys more socially oriented exercise programs.
Another major component of holistic treatment programs is socialization. Over the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us lost our regular routines, including working at the office and engaging in group activities. Rebounding from the lockdowns involves being social again.
Human beings are mostly social creatures. Even the most introverted person requires some level of social interaction, even if it’s just a few words spoken at a coffee shop. Social interaction allows us to share our thoughts with others and validate our feelings and gives an outlet to share ideas and form relationships with others.
Those who struggle with mental health conditions may feel very isolated. Depression and anxiety can lead these individuals to shy away from extended social interactions. Instead, it’s best to take steps to become more social in a way that the person feels comfortable with.
At Genesis Recovery, we understand how important a holistic approach is to mental health treatment. A combination of nutritional therapy, supplements, regular physical exercise, and activities that promote emotional, social, and spiritual wellness often result in the best outcomes and may prevent the need for pharmaceuticals in some cases. Utilizing a holistic approach also allows those who may not want to use medication or go to therapy, or for whom those avenues have proven unsuccessful, to still treat underlying mental health issues. A holistic approach can be beneficial for many people who haven’t even considered it as an option yet.
To learn more about the holistic approach to mental health treatment and find out how it can benefit you, contact us today. We firmly believe in offering the best care available, and we will be with you or your loved one every step of the way towards mental health recovery.