stress or relax







Mental Illness Increases Risk of Death

Our society is sick. I’m not just talking about physically, but emotionally. According to the National Alliance for Mental Health:

One in four adults-approximately 61.5 million Americans-experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17-about 13.6 million-live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.

Unfortunately, it’s not getting better, as these are similar statistics that I reported in 2009. Many people don’t automatically equate their mental state with their physical vitality, but it is.

Oh no…..


Do you think that word impacts your biochemistry?

Ok, you got the picture.

When I first started practicing, the impact of chronic, negative stress on health wasn’t widely publicized. Now it’s common knowledge. In fact it’s pretty easy now to find articles on how stress has an impact on every function of the body.

Think about it. When you are stressed, you can’t digest your food effectively and bring nutrients to your vital organs. Furthermore, long-term, negative stress can promote inflammation or immune dysfunction and cause hormones and neurotransmitters to become unbalanced. In their article, How Stress Effects Your Health, The American Psychological Association states:

Other forms of chronic stress, such as depression and low levels of social support, have also been implicated in increased cardiovascular risk. And once you’re sick, stress can also make it harder to recover. One analysis of past studies, for instance, suggests that cardiac patients with so-called “Type D” personalities — characterized by chronic distress — face higher risks of bad outcomes

Now, according to Medical News Today, mental health isn’t just about disease processes, but it can actually be linked to a reduced lifespan:

A new analysis by psychiatrists at the University of Oxford in the UK finds that serious mental disorders can reduce life expectancy by 10 to 20 years – about the same or more than the impact of heavy smoking. Yet, mental health does not receive the same public health priority as smoking, they say.


Stress is Contagious

An article in Psychoneuroendocrinology reports:

Stress disorders are among the most commonly occurring of all mental disorders.

In a trial with 211 subjects, those who witnessed others stress via live video or observing the victims in real time actually experienced physiological stress responses themselves. This stress effect was measured by a rise in the hormone cortisol.


The Mind-Body Connection to Gene/ Disease Expression

One of the best remedies for stress and modifying risk of stress-induced diseases is mindfulness or relaxation-based techniques. The Institute for Society Reports:

This mind-body divide has truly broken down, as researchers are identifying hundreds and thousands of genes that are affected by our subjective mental states. Feeling constantly sad and depressed can genuinely turn on genes that make us physically unwell and prone to viral infections and chronic diseases, just as feeling particularly relaxed and peaceful can turn off those genes and activate others that help us heal and fight infections. The emerging field of human social genomics is demonstrating that social conditions, especially our subjective perceptions thereof can radically change our gene expression states [1]. This has opened up new ways of intervention.

Mindfulness or meditation can be as simple as pausing for a few moments and bringing the focus to the breath in order to calm the brain. Other ways to reduce stress were discussed in my previous blog and include:

1. Eating a healthy diet with whole, organic foods

2. Decreasing the environmental exposure on your brain and body

3. Getting out in nature

4. Bonding with loved ones and friends

5. Exercise


The Physical Effects of Stress & How it “Weighs” on the Mind

In my four part series on weight loss, I listed a variety of physiological factors involved in trumping weight loss and many are also connected to emotional and mood imbalances. These factors can be addressed as one is taking care of the mental chatter and actually make a brain calmer by addressing them. These include:

1. Yeast overgrowth or “intestinal dysbiosis

2. Mal-absorption (Leaky Gut) & nutritional deficiencies

3. Food allergies

4. Parasites

5. Hormonal imbalances, including low thyroid

In fact, I learned from the Thyroid Summit and Thyroid Sessions how low mood and anxiety can be caused by a thyroid imbalance. Unfortunately, this is often missed by practitioners and many are treated with antidepressant medications.

6. Neurotransmitters

I look at neurotransmitter imbalance more as an effect of the mood imbalance. It isn’t that someone has a Prozac deficiency, the serotonin is depleted for a variety of reasons (see 1-5 above) and as a result, depression or anxiety can result.

An integrative practitioner can seek to find and correct the particular brain chemicals that are unbalanced using functional labs and symptom-based surveys. It is important to use the correct neurotransmitter or symptoms can worsen. However, by using the proper assessment, more healthy brain patterns can result along with the relief of addiction and mood imbalances.

In other words, neurotransmitter levels are clues to determine which part of the brain needs to be calmed or activated. Dr. Amen founded this technique and uses it in his clinic. (I discuss this in more detail in my book)


Dr. Kelly Brogan on the Disillusion and Poor Science Behind Modern Psychiatry

In this video, Dr. Brogan reviews why a whole body approach to brain health is vital and why the theory of neurotransmitters as a cause of depression is flawed:

Now, I can’t leave out the mood-balancing effect of essential oils!

Did you know lemon was an essential oil that can relieve stress and anxiety?

Read more about the benefits of lemon here.



The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Statistics: Any Disorder Among Adults.

National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Any Disorder Among Children.

Lambrinoudaki I, et al. Thyroid function and postpartum mood disturbances in Greek women. J Affect Disord. 2009 Jul 24. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 19632726

Sabeen S, Chou C, Holroyd S. Abnormal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in psychiatric long-term care patients. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2009 Jul 16. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 19616322

Frye MA. Et al. Depressive relapse during lithium treatment associated with increased serum thyroid-stimulating hormone: results from two placebo-controlled bipolar I maintenance studies. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2009 Jul;120(1):10-3. Epub 2009 Jan 31. PMID: 19183414

Pae CU, et al. Thyroid hormones affect recovery from depression during antidepressant treatment. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2009 Jun;63(3):305-13. PMID: 19566761

Kritz Silverstein D, Schultz ST, Palinska LA, Wingard DL, Barrett Connor E. The association of thyroid stimulating hormone levels with cognitive function and depressed mood: the rancho bernardo study. J Nutr Health Aging. 2009 Apr;13(4):317-21. PMID: 19300866

Kelly T, Lieberman DZ. J The use of triiodothyronine as an augmentation agent in treatment-resistant bipolar II and bipolar disorder NOS. Affect Disord. 2009 Aug;116(3):222-6. Epub 2009 Feb 11. PMID: 19215985

Paddock, C. Mental illness threat to life expectancy similar to heavy smoking. Medical News Today. May 28, 2014.

Engerta, V, Plessowb, F, Millerb, R, Kirschbaumb, C, Singera, T. Cortisol increase in empathic stress is modulated by emotional closeness and observation modality (abstract). Psychoneuroendocrinology. 45:192-201, July 2014.

Mercola, J. Science Says Stress Is Contagious . May 29, 2014.

Eurekalert. Your Stress Is My Stress. April 30, 2014.

Institute of Science in Society. How Mind Changes Genes through Meditation. ISIS Report. May 21, 2014.

Mercola, J. New Research Confirms Multiple Benefits of Yoga on Your Body and Mind. 6, 2014.

Brogan, K. What We Didn’t Know About the Brain That Changes Everything. June 2, 2014.

Amen, D. Ghrelin: Why We Choose Comfort Foods When Stressed. Dr. Amen’s Blog. Accessed August 9, 2011.

Rucklidge J, Johnstone J, Harrison R, Boggis A. Micronutrients reduce stress and anxiety following a 7.1 earthquake in adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jul 28. [Epub ahead of print]. Accessed August 16, 2011.

Effects of Exercise On Meal-Related Gut Hormone Signals. Science Daily. July 12, 2011.

York University (2011, July 27). Yoga boosts stress-busting hormone, reduces pain, study finds. ScienceDaily. Accessed August 2, 2011, from

Mercola, J. Exercise Can Override Fat Genes. September 16, 2010.

Wetherby, C. Get Out! Nature Boosts Brains and Spirit. Vital Choice Newsletter. August 5, 2011.

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Shirom, Arie; Toker, Sharon; Alkaly, Yasmin; Jacobson, Orit; Balicer, Ran.  Work-based predictors of mortality: A 20-year follow-up of healthy employees. Health Psychology, Vol 30(3), May 2011, 268-275. doi: 10.1037/a0023138

Chopra Newsletter. Let Go of Stress and Struggle: Embrace the Law of Least Effort. Chopra August 2011 Newsletter. Accessed August 12, 2011.

Migiwa Komiya, Takashi Takeuchi, Etsumori Harada. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behav Brain Res. 2006 Sep 25;172(2):240-9. Epub 2006 Jun 15. PMID: 16780969

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