As we continue to navigate through the extra challenges and trials of 2020, I grow increasingly concerned with their mental health implications. Conditions only seem be worsening. Surveys have indicated that close to half of Americans are emotionally struggling (1, 2); however, certain subpopulations are impacted disproportionately. The youth, healthcare workers, and ethnic minorities are reported to have even worse mental health outcomes, rates of substance abuse, and elevations of suicide ideation. (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
The psychological impact is so profound, United Kingdom researchers have termed a new phrase for it. Medscape states (13):
Beyond the physical symptoms …, the psychological outcomes are vast and, it seems, prolonged. Researchers have now formalized a definition of the long-term mental maladies associated …, collectively deeming them “coronaphobia.”
The term is a catch-all phrase for the fear and the emotional and social strain experienced by the general public… Obsessive behaviors, distress, avoidance reaction, panic, anxiety, hoarding, paranoia, and depression are some of the responses associated with coronaphobia. On the surface, these appear to be normal, somewhat fitting reactions to this surreal and frightening moment in time. However, for those experiencing coronaphobia, they are distinctly maladaptive and harmful.
It appears the fears held by many psychiatric experts of a mental health crisis of magnitude proportion is coming to fruition. (14, 15, 16, 17) As a result, most are taking heed and providing evidence that attention to the emotional consequences of the crisis needs to be addressed efficiently. According to Psychology Today:
Canadian psychology researchers have created a repository of evidence documenting … people’s mental health. The body of literature is a living systematic review, which investigators are continually updating with emerging research. To date, the review has combined data from 56 different studies looking at mental health symptoms.
The take home message from this compilation of studies is that the state of the world is:
…having a significant impact on the mental health and well-being of people across the globe. Measuring its impact and designing interventions to help improve mental well-being is currently underway and a top priority for researchers. (16)
Extremely disturbing is that agreed-upon interventions have not yet been fully implemented. Furthermore, there is data suggesting that children aren’t getting the proper therapeutic help they need to cope with all of these traumatic events. The impact of adverse childhood events is particularly poignant on a developing brain, and with solutions not readily available, the outcomes could be dire. Parents should be especially mindful of their littles, tweens, teens, and young adults’ changes in behavior. According to Medscape a new survey reports (18):
In a national survey of 1000 high school and college students, almost 25% reported they knew a peer who developed suicidal thoughts since the start of the pandemic — and 5% reported making a suicide attempt themselves…In addition, more than half reported they were worried about their own mental health.
How Naturopathic and Functional Medicine Can Fill the Holistic Mental Health Gap
Naturopathic doctors (NDs) offer a personalized and natural approach and can be effectively combined with conventional care for promoting holistic mind-body support. The naturopathic medicine (NM) approach has been found to be effective in alleviating symptoms of mood disorders in several studies. (19, 20, 21)
In one randomized study that compared naturopathic care (NC) to psychotherapy intervention (PT), researchers reported (21):
Both NC and PT led to significant improvements in patients’ anxiety. Group comparison demonstrated a significant decrease in anxiety levels in the NC group over the PT group. Significant improvements in secondary quality of life measures were also observed in the NC group as compared to PT. The whole system of naturopathic care for anxiety needs to be investigated further including a closer examination of the individual components within the context of their additive effect.
My passion has always been in the field of mind-body medicine, and recently, I joined the Psychological Association of Naturopathic Physicians. Their mission is to:
– lead in developing naturopathic psychiatry education and practice, including residencies and continuing education consistent with the evolving standards of naturopathic psychiatry.
– integrate clinical practice and research that comprise the emerging field of naturopathic psychiatry.
– define the principles of care and advocate for appropriate scope of practice as it relates to naturopathic psychiatry.
– provide a definitive resource of information regarding naturopathic psychiatry for the collaborative health care community. (22)
I am proud to be affiliated with this organization. Specializing in mood imbalances, I am well aware that hormones, gastrointestinal health, and other chronic issues are profoundly affected by emotions, stress, and relationships.
I feel naturopathic doctors (NDs) can fill a gap in addressing society’s emotional wellbeing.* Not only do NDs support mood at the biochemical level, but also look for the root cause of the issue on the physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and emotional level. Functional medicine further compliments this approach by assessing and addressing all brain factors implicated.
To get a better idea of how naturopathic doctors are educated, and their in-depth knowledge of holistic and mind-body health, you can now access my article review of the Annual Association for Naturopathic Physician’s conference on NDNR.
*Note: If you are experiencing suicidal ideation or need urgent attention, it’s important to consult with a licensed mental health provider. You can find information at the end of this article.
More Resources for Better Self-Care & Mood Support Coming: Essential Oils for Fall
I feel it is imperative right now to continue to bring attention to what we are up against with this bombardment of stress on our brains. It is resulting in people experiencing memory lapses, low energy, worry, anxiety, behavioral changes, mental health issues, and many other seemingly disconnected symptoms. This is why I have been providing you with tools for self-care and mental health.
Previously, I listed various resources for children and young adults who are transitioning back to school. In it I highlighted the benefits of essential oils and other natural health suggestions. I also released a short 11-minute video to summarize my favorite naturopathic medicine (NM) tips for mitigating the negative physical and emotional ramifications from the excessive stressors of recent events. These included essential oils, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), mindfulness, and deep breathing. Intervening early could help to prevent the negative repercussions that can result
Essential Oils for Mind-Body Medicine and Naturopathic Care
Essential oils partner perfectly with my integrative mind-body medicine training and the five naturopathic principles. They are one modality, among many, that I use and find very effective across my subspecialties of mental health, mind-body medicine, women’s health, and digestive health. Due to the fact they are becoming so popular and so accessible, I continue to research and report on their uses, especially regarding their impact on brain and emotional well-being.
In an upcoming post, I will highlight several essential oils for this fall season. The focus will be on overall wellness and self-care.
As we continue this journey together, it is my hope we can come through this with a balance of courage, grit, kindness, compassion, and have some fun.
Feel free to comment below.
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Mental Health Resources
If you are in need of additional support and professional health, please reach out!
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) — Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor
- Lifeline Crisis Chat — Chat online with a specialist who can provide emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention services at www.crisischat.org
Other Uplifting Resources
The Tapping Solution, A Technique to Lower Cortisol and Reduce Stress- Podcast interview by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald with Nick Ortner.
Stress management tips and resources
Feel free to use the many free resources on this website. If you need more individualized attention, I am also available to support you through essential oils or naturopathic consults.
Naturopathic Medicine Week
This week is Naturopathic Medicine Week! A shout out of gratitude to all my clients and colleagues!
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.