Below is the fourth instalment of the series of questions from a book club meeting at which Dr. Chris was the guest author. Navigate back for part 3, and forward for part 5. What would you like to ask? Contact Dr Chris and bring her to your next group meeting or book club!
1. How do you manage your mental health now? Are there good days and bad days? Are you “cured”?
Like anyone else, of course there are good days and bad days! I know it’s important to still experience both the ups and downs in life because that’s actually what makes us feel alive. The more we try to shut down and flatline emotion, the less we are engaged in life. So, while I do my best to minimize the extreme highs and the extreme lows, I still value the every-day variance in my experience.
That being said, I do have protocols that help me maintain my emotional variance within a healthy window. I haven’t experienced a manic episode since 2008. While I like to believe I am “cured”, there is one part of me that views this condition similarly to addictions. As such, it needs to be managed and I am recovering, and maintaining that healthy recovery with constant effort and self-care. Time will tell if I am “cured”.
My health maintenance protocol is a combination of treatments. First and foremost, I protect my sleep, because I know this was a major trigger in the escalation of previous manic episodes. I sleep at least 7 hours a night, and actually aim for 9. If there are a few nights in a row of poor sleep due to schedules, a cold or flu, or stress, I nip it in the bud and take some melatonin or natural sleep aids to knock me out and re-set my sleep. If that doesn’t work, I will use sleep medications on an acute basis to re-establish restful sleep.
Second, I support my brain health with a healthy diet aimed at mental wellness. In my book “The Essential Diet: Eating for Mental Health”, I spell out a diet guide for getting the important amino acids, omega 3 fats, fibre, minerals and vitamins that are necessary for neurotransmitter and neuronal health. Ever since adopting this healthy balanced diet, it has been easier to maintain more stable moods and manage my stress.
Exercise and stress management are important pieces of my health maintenance, and they go hand-in-hand. In fact, exercise is one of the most effective anti-depressant treatments that exist today, and the side effect is better health. I manage stress with an exercise called the 7 Rs of working with problematic thoughts and breaking the thought-emotion cycle. This exercise is part of my daily routine. For me, stress often comes from my own extremely high expectations, so working with these difficult thoughts of “I need to do more to be valuable, or to be loved” helps me not take on too much, and not to over-extend myself. This exercise is in my book “Beyond The Label: 10 Steps to Improve Your Mental Health with Naturopathic Medicine”.
Finally, I take a regimen of supportive supplements to help maintain my mental health, including essential amino acids for neurotransmitter health, omega 3 fats for reducing inflammation, B vitamins, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D to support biochemical pathways.
2. What is your opinion on IgG food testing? Is it legitimate or a waste of money?
IgG food testing is a valid tool for evaluating reactivity to foods.
Classic/conventional allergy testing tests for a certain type of reactivity in the body known as an Immunoglobulin E reaction or IgE. This type of reaction is responsible for immediate hypersensitivity, or the classic allergic reaction/anaphylaxis. But there are actually several more types of reactivity in the body, with each one causing a different kind of reaction.
IgG testing tests for Immunoglobulin G reactions, which is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. This means it’s not immediate anaphylaxis, but rather a slower reactivity that shows up 36-72 hours after eating the food. The reactions can be in the skin (eczema, itchiness, redness, etc), the digestive tract (bloating, pain, constipation, loose stools, etc), mood (depression, anxiety, sleepiness, panic, irritability, etc), or other systems (heart palpitations, asthma, cravings, etc).
Some intolerance testing uses bioresonance, which is a form of testing that is less validated than the IgG blood test, so make sure you’re using either a full blood sample or a fingerprick test rather than hair testing.
IgG reports should be interpreted by someone who knowns and understands the underlying physiology well, so that you aren’t led to believe you have intolerances when you don’t or vice versa. I use IgG tests when there are concomitant symptoms along with mental health issues, like skin and digestive concerns. If you have a positive IgG test, it means you have leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability. This is treatable and it is recommended that you see a Naturopathic Doctor who can guide you in a treatment protocol. To schedule an appointment contact us or visit cand.ca to find practitioner near you.
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