Updated: Sep 22
Trauma and life changes aside, sometimes we look at ourselves and we don't like what we see. We are having fluctuations in mood and have no. idea. why. So, we start searching. We turn into crime scene detectives for our lives. It's a mess but someone's got to figure this out, so we roll up our sleeves and head over to our favorite search engine.
If you look up "living with mood imbalances" you might find the following suggestions:
Reduce/avoid caffeine, sugar and alcohol
Eat regularly, plenty of fiber and protein
Address any digestive or hormonal imbalances
Check for any food reactivities
Take a serious look at how you manage stress
St. John’s Wort. This herb is extremely useful for treating mood disorders. ...
Kava kava is effectively used to treat the mood disorders that are caused from depression as well as anxiety.
Vitamin B. Deficiency of vitamin B can cause mood swings, paranoia, panic disorder, irritability, depression as well as anxiety problems.
Alright. This is a list of things to do in addressing your mood, but how many of these are you REALLY going to try and for how long? These are not just "things to try" but rather, lifestyle changes. I'm sorry, but when is the last time you looked at the ingredients list on nearly anything at all in you home pantry or while you're grocery shopping? Dairy and sugar are in EVERYTHING. Food dye is in everything. So, if you're going to try numbers two, three, and four on the list, you are talking massive overhaul of your diet. However, if you live an actual life where you have things to accomplish every day, and nutritive meal planning/prepping isn't your favorite thing in the world, you might not see this as an exciting new hobby.
Chances are, you poop out on it before you even really get rolling. Now, this isn't to say that I don't have faith in you or that I don't think you can do anything you want. I do and you can. But, before you ask yourself to commit to something, take a real look at what you are really asking yourself to do. Do you have the right support? Do you have the right information?
For most of us, number two on the list, "Address any digestive or hormonal imbalances," means exactly what? Keep a food log? Read ingredients of everything you're eating? Before we know it, we've asked ourselves to take on a massive undertaking and lose confidence before we've really even made an impact. I know this because I've been there. I, too, have made the awe-inspiring, highly ambitious New Year's resolution and then abandoned it when real life started to take back over my infatuation with meditating or practicing yoga every day. There was no plan or support in place to actually ensure meeting that goal. The result? Shame and guilt for not having tried harder at something I was ill-equipped for in the first place. Just like so many of us.
So, before we get into navigating something that most people spend years going to school to learn about, I strongly encourage you to seek the right support so that you can achieve your goal and don't wind up in the spiral of guilt or shame for not accomplishing what you set out to accomplish without the best chances of success.
If you want to know why you are having mood imbalances and how to treat them, there are other avenues. Of course, I'm a huge proponent of therapy. However, we are not only our minds. Our bodies need attention too, as we well know. Both works together to create a sense of well-being. As a psychotherapist, I treat the mind, but the body can absolutely not be ignored. Decades of research show that nutrition, hormones, gut health (the gut creates many hormones that affect our mindset), and activity level all play a part in helping us lead a life of happiness and fulfillment. When one element is off, our proverbial dominoes topple onto each other, and we feel unwell, irritable, moody, angry, shameful, even hopeless at times.
One of my well-valued community partners, Melissa Altman, RN, CFMP, CCWFN, a Certified Holistic Health Coach at Merge Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina offered up this bit of insight:
"Sometimes mood imbalances can be persistent because they reflect what is happening inside the body at the cellular level where our neurotransmitters are actually being made. These processes are dependent on amino acids, vitamins and minerals from our diets that are used in these amazing biochemical pathways. Obtaining a balance at this level often times provide relief from anxiety and concentration issues that can improve the quality of life for patients and their families.
In Functional Medicine, we can do innovative testing to detect these kinds of imbalances so they can be corrected with the appropriate nutrient and lifestyle changes. We look for the root causes of these problems so they can be treated naturally."
Her stand is that doctors and nurses can actually provide legitimate testing to do the investigative work for you rather than the former, less efficient process, of flying blind with a search engine as your guide. What your search engine says does not make it applicable directly to you just because you find it in print. We know this because we are educated people. However, when we are searching for answers and some kind of guidance, this is the quickest way to get an "answer" that isn't a real answer.
Taking a look at the infographic below from JULIAN DALLMEIER at straightfromascientist.com, you can see how the links between brain and gut can cause regulation or dysregulation depending on what is put into the body:
JULIAN DALLMEIER at straightfromascientist.com
We also understand that the vagus nerve interacts with the gut to some degree, effecting the immune system, and tryptophan generation (the precursor to serotonin). Most of us have heard of serotonin, one of the feel-good hormones that helps to fight stress. This hormone specifically is known to be tied between the gut and the brain. When we discuss this link, we often look to the vagus nerve as it seems most influential in providing the primary information highway between the brain and the good/bad bacterial growth in the gut. If we have a lot of good flora, or bacteria to fight off infection and effectively digest our food, our bodies tend to be more well-regulated because we are effectively producing tryptophan, among other hormones. We feel better. More regulated. Think about your mindset when you are sick. Do you feel that you can handle stress the same? For a few reasons, probably not. One of those reasons may just be because of the imbalance of nutrients resulting in an imbalance of hormones at the time of the illness.
The infographic below also depicts the interchange well:
JULIAN DALLMEIER at straightfromascientist.com
If you're ready to address some additional options for the path of holistic well-being, I encourage you to contact Merge Medical Center here in Mount Pleasant rather than taking the steps on your own without the right support. Set yourself up for success. They offer a variety of different therapies based in medical research and provided by medical staff for your safety and well-being combined.
Be kind to yourself. This life is short and your body can only operate at its maximum potential when you give it what it needs. Perhaps you need support in finding out just what that is. Until next time, know that I wish you well and the light in me sees and honors the light in you.