Determinants of Health

September 3, 2021   •  Posted in: 

Where do you begin to support your mental health when life feels chaotic and overwhelming? Notice I said when and not if, because who doesn’t feel like life is chaotic and overwhelming right now?

The Depression and Anxiety World We Live In

In our fast-paced, fad-driven, fact-confused world, we’re given the impression that the answer to our life’s many problems is only a Google search away. Our lives have become inundated with headlines of the next best “Here’s How!” in immediate self-help, vying for our strained attention. 

We are cajoled into creating vision boards – sending a message to ourselves to magically forget the past and focus solely on the future. We are told to make our bed every day – which means we may need to, first, actually get out of bed and brave the depression that keeps us drowning in the sheets. We can practice meditation, sure  –  then risk becoming even more self-critical of our inability to clear our minds for more than five seconds. 

Steps To Help With Depression and Anxiety

While each of these practices can be helpful, they are only skimming the surface of healing and do not address the root cause of why, or when, our health began to decline. If we heal symptoms but do not affect the cause, it’s quite a bit like trying to heal a gunshot wound with gauze. 

The road to recovery may sincerely benefit from vision boards, a perfectly made bed or daily meditation. But before any of these strategies can be successful, it’s imperative we learn how to actually become human again. 

We need to drink clean water and spend time in the sun because we’re basically a houseplant with more complicated emotions. That may sound ridiculous, but it isn’t too far from the truth! 

A Naturopathic Perspective: What Is Addressed in a Depression Treatment Plan?

Becoming human again requires we lovingly parent ourselves and learn to refocus our attention on our primal needs. Naturopathic doctors refer to these primal needs as Determinants of Health. No treatment plan is created without addressing them first and foremost. They include:

  1. Air and Breath
    1. Are you a chest breather or a belly breather?
    2. Are you affected by wildfires? 
      1. Do you have an air filter? Do you have house plants?
    3. If working with chemicals, do you wear a respirator?
  2. Water and Hydration
    1. Are you drinking enough water
    2. Does your tap water need to be filtered?
    3. Do you drink from plastic, disposable bottles?
  3. Nutrition and Digestion
    1. How many colors of food do you incorporate into each meal?
    2. Do you have a formed bowel movement daily?
      1. Are you bloated?
    3. How is your appetite? 
      1. Do you graze on food all day or do you eat meals?
      2. Are you multi-tasking while you eat?
      3. Do you have heartburn?
  4. Quality Sleep
    1. Are you sleeping 6-8 hours each night?
    2. Do you snore? Have a history of high blood pressure? Been told you stop breathing during the night?
    3. Do you wake up at the same time every night?
    4. Are you dreaming and remembering your dreams upon waking?
  5. Vitamin “R”
    1. Do you rest?
    2. Do you surround yourself in nature? 
      1. When was the last time you walked barefoot in the grass, or on the sand?
    3. How do you recover after mental or physical strenuous activity?
    4. Do you allow yourself time to be creative and honor your playful spirit?
    5. Do you surround yourself with community?

How many of these are you struggling with right now? Addressing the Determinants of Health is the foundation of being human and may be the remedy for depression you’ve been searching for. 

While they shouldn’t be complicated – clean air, unpolluted water, a relationship with the living world, deep belonging, nutrient-dense food, and enough security to sleep well at night – the modern world has made it increasingly difficult to acquire even a few. 

The good news is, once these Determinants begin to come within reach, we can witness authentic healing arise organically and spontaneously. By re-establishing them you are better prepared to focus on the underlying conditions that have been a well-spring for your anxiety, depression, fear, or sadness. Imagine feeling hydrated, nourished, and rested, with the support of family and friends as you begin a new CBT for Depression program. What a relief that must be!

The truth is, you were born into health. It is only through trauma that we are pushed out of its alignment. Luckily, the vital life force in you is ready, and willing, and made to heal. We just have to get the barriers out of the way so your inner healer is able to shine through. It’s time to re-establish your health, it’s time to take your power back, and it’s time to begin living again as the vibrant human that you are.

If you or a loved one is struggling with anorexia, it’s important to seek professional help. Our world-class team of eating disorder professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE has helped many people recover from eating disorders through our focus on whole person care. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to get more information or to speak confidentially with an eating disorder recovery specialist today.

Dr. Katie Ferree

Meet Dr. Katie Ferree. She is an Illinois native and a Naturopathic Doctor. Through her own trials and tribulations, her passion grew for helping individuals struggling with mental health, and co-occurring disorders. Dr. Katie finds purpose in helping to guide her patients on a path to reclaim, and reconnect to, their life’s journey.

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