As a mental health therapist, I spend my days chatting with people who are struggling with depression or anxiety or going through a tough time. And what drives me bonkers is how quickly many practitioners prescribe antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety medications – without first exploring the constellation of holistic factors that contribute to mental illness.
Rarely do we consider diet, exercise, sleep, toxins, relationships, hormones, grief, stress, purpose, substance use (caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine being common ones), past trauma, or gut health. It just seems clinical practice has yet to catch up to the research. Or maybe the influence of the pharmaceutical industry is just too strong.
Of course, like most things, making changes in these areas is easier said than done, especially without professional support. Despite the challenge though, I’ve never met a person who’s regretted the time and money they’ve invested in making a change. Still, if you’re not ready to commit to completely revamping your lifestyle, improving gut health (or “microbiome”) there is a simple, research-supported and inexpensive avenue toward better mental health. Numerous studies confirm probiotics (live bacteria that keep our guts healthy), have a positive effect on mood, and consuming them is as easy as adding certain foods to your diet or taking a supplement.