Dr. Kassam Holistic Approach to Stress and Anxiety
Holistic Approach to Stress and Anxiety
Written by: Dr. Saira Kassam
What is Bell Let's Talk Day? It is an amazing program designed to break the silence around mental illness. It gives people who silently suffer a platform and a reason to speak up. This initiative was started in 2010 and has since ignited an open discussion about mental illnesses while offering new ideas and solutions for combating it nationwide. Bell Let’s Talk raises awareness surrounding these 4 pillars: (1) Anti-stigma (2) Care & Access (3) Research (4) Workplace health.
Many people suffering from a serious mental illness not only endure the symptoms of the disease but also from the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding it. Rates of stress and anxiety disorders have skyrocketed over the last couple of years. 20% of Canada’s population lives with a mental illness. Two-thirds of people who are living with it don’t seek help because of the associated stigma and negative stereotypes. Stereotypes like, “People with mental health illnesses are dangerous” only present as a barrier, limiting opportunities for things like getting a good job or receiving a quality education. As a community, we need to be involved in the process of recognizing mental health illnesses and educating ourselves. For this reason, this week’s article will parallel Bell Let’s Talk Day where I shed a bit of light into conditions like anxiety and stress.
Stress and anxiety are commonly linked but they are quite different in actuality. Stress is an unavoidable part of life and can negatively impact health in many forms. Stress is a reaction to something that is happening in the present vs. anxiety, which is constant even once the stressor has been removed. With stress, we know exactly what is causing us to worry but with anxiety, we become less aware of what we are anxious about. Chronic stress can alter the hormonal balance in our bodies leading to an imbalance in our Digestive tract, Cardiovascular system, Reproductive system and even Immune health.
Long-term stress raises cortisol levels and can actually lead to anxiety. Anxiety is defined as the feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Occasional worry and situational anxiety are completely normal. The problem arises when it becomes chronic and begins to interfere with daily activities like work, school and/or sleep. There are many types of anxiety, like Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Social anxiety, Panic disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Symptoms can range from mild to debilitating like:
It is important to recognize the differences between stress and anxiety to really combat the root causes. Healing can only begin once we understand what is causing the problem. This will help to develop effective treatment strategies for various mental health conditions. Naturopathic Medicine addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of stress and anxiety.
Stress is totally manageable by incorporating the right tactics into your daily lives. Below are some holistic treatment approaches for stress:
Anxiety is highly treatable, but most people choose to live with it or take prescription drugs. Below are some basic holistic approaches to anxiety:
The stigma around mental health conditions need to be addressed and recognized just the same as physical ailments are. It is just as important to take care of yourself mentally as it is physically. Just because not all mental health issues are visible to the naked eye, does not mean they do not exist. Help alleviate the stigma around mental health by choosing your words carefully, educating others and supporting those around you who need it. If you want to learn more about mental health conditions and how to recognize them, mental health first aid is a great option. It is a training program that allows people to gain the knowledge and skills to assist people in a crisis. Check out the Bell Let’s Talk website for other tools and ways to help. Change is only possible if you speak up. Fight the stigma!
**DisclaimerThe advice in this article is for informational purposes only. It does not replace the care of a Naturopathic physician