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Nutrition | Mental Health

Four out of the ten leading causes of disability in the US and other western countries are mental disorders, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Among the most common mental disorders today are major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (Murray CJL, Lopez AD: The Global Burden Of Disease. World Health Organization 1996, 270). These have varying incidence rates from 26 percent in the USA to 4 percent in China (World Mental Health Survey).

Some of this difference can be ascribed to a diagnosis disorder in the West. In Germany between 1992 and 2005 the total number of prescriptions decreased by 41 %, yet the number of children prescribed ADHD medication increased 47 times. That is an exponential rise in diagnosing an illness in less than a generation. (Wissenschaftliches Institut der AOK, Schwabe U, Paffrath D: Arzneiverordnungs-Report 2006. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer; 2007)

Antidepressant and stimulant prevalence are 3 or more times greater in the USA than in the Netherlands, Germany and Britain in proportion to their populations.

In Britain the cost of ADHD medication increased three times more than the prescription rate, mainly due to more expensive variations of ADHD medication, mainly Strattera, ConcertaXL and RitalinSR. These facts appear to support the idea that the diagnosis epidemic is fuelled by the pharmaceutical companies greed for profits.

The long term effect of ADHD medication is not known. Trials to licence new medicines are conducted over months. The long term effects are only discovered when damage has been done to at least a generation of patients. There have been over the decades that antidepressants have been freely promoted and prescribed, scientific articles published questioning the efficacy of these drugs and compared them to other forms of treatment, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition most antidepressants and other prescription drugs cause severe side effects, which usually discourage patients from taking their medications. Side effects are the most common reason people stop taking antidepressants. Such non-compliant patients who have mental disorders are at a higher risk for committing suicide or being institutionalized.

In an article published in Nutrition Journal, two researchers Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vieira, from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation in California, have correlated a lack of certain dietary nutrients to the development of mental disorders. Notably, essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids are often deficient in the general population in the United States and other western countries; and are exceptionally deficient in patients suffering from mental disorders.

Studies have shown that daily supplements of vital nutrients often effectively reduce patients' symptoms. Supplements that contain amino acids also reduce symptoms, because they are converted to neurotransmitters, that alleviate depression and other mental disorders in a natural way, as opposed to neurotransmitter manipulation by medication. These are anti depression food.

Based on emerging scientific evidence, this form of nutritional supplement treatment may be appropriate for controlling major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), addiction, and autism.

A 2005 study showed, approximately 1 in 4 adult Americans have been diagnosed with a mental disorder, which translates into about 58 million affected people (Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders). Though the incidence of mental disorders is higher in the United States than in other countries, a World Health Organization study of 14 countries reported a worldwide prevalence of mental disorders between 4.3 percent (China) and 26.4 percent (USA).

Mental disorders are among the leading causes for disability in the USA and other western countries. Common mental health disorders include mood disorders, anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorders, eating disorders, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), and autism.

The conventional first choice treatment is with with prescription drugs. The side effects of many of these medications are so severe and unpleasant, the patients choose their condition rather than the treatment. As an example, lithium is often prescribed for bipolar disorder, but the high-doses of lithium that are normally prescribed causes side effects that include a dulled personality, reduced emotions, memory loss, tremors and weight gain.

Researchers in clinical nutrition have observed that mental health disorders have increased in western countries, correlated with the deterioration of the Western diet. Previous research has shown nutrient imbalances in some depressive disorders. The most common nutritional deficiencies seen in mental disorder patients are of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are precursors to neurotransmitters. Western diets are usually also lacking in fruits and vegetables, which further contributes to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Compelling population studies link high fish consumption to a low incidence of mental disorders; this lower incidence rate has proven to be a direct result of omega-3 fatty acid intake. One to two grams of omega-3 fatty acids taken daily is the generally accepted dose for healthy individuals, but for patients with mental disorders, up to 9.6 g has been shown to be necessary.

Stresses in our social and physical environments does cause us to need more of certain nutrients, than we would require if we were living a calm, laid back, stress free lifestyle.

Good nutrition is a healthy alternative to a regaining a naturally well balanced neurotransmitter system in the brain, as opposed to manipulation of only a part of the complex natural neurotransmitter system by strong drugs.

There is truth in the saying that we are what we eat. A bad diet is a stress factor to our bodies. Some of the food additives we consume cause mood disorders. Strong drugs, such as those used to treat anxiety, depression, bipolar and ADHD subject our bodies to chemical stress.

Before the medication route is tried, experimenting with a healthy diet is a wise option.

There are many sites on the Internet which can help and guide us to find Nature's health foods.

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