and mental health. The two go hand in hand. Food is meant to not only
nourish the body, but it should be enjoyed. However, unhealthy eating
habits can have devastating effects for those dealing with mental
health issues, which is why proper nutrition is so important.
clinically diagnosed with depression or anxiety, eating healthy can
help improve those things," says registered dietician Tricia
Helwig works at
Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc and is in charge of the child
and adolescent programs. She predominately deals with children who
suffer from depression and anxiety or have obsessive-compulsive
disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. She says most of the
children who come through her program donít have very good
not eating regular family meals, so they tend to be eating a lot more
of whatís classified as Ďjunk food.í Because their diet is
suffering, theyíre not getting the well rounded, balanced nutrition
their bodies need," say Helwig.
example, is essential for providing amino acids, the building blocks
for neurotransmitters, which create a sense of happiness in people.
"If you donít
have certain neurotransmitters present, or if theyíre in low levels
from certain types of food, that exacerbates depressive moods,"
nutrients that play a key role in proper mental health include
magnesium, zinc, vitamin D, selenium, omega 3-fatty acids and
appropriate carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans and fresh fruit.
With so many
processed foods being consumed on a daily basis and replacing fresh
foods, itís important that people are aware of the potential dangers
and impacts that things like food dyes and preservatives can have on
mental health, especially when it comes to mood regulation.
should be mindful of the types of food theyíre consuming, should
they contain food dyes. They should try avoiding those foods for a few
days to see if it helps regulate mood," says Helwig.
taken food dyes out of most of our food products here," says Kari
Johnson, lead dietician at Rogers Memorial Hospital.
She admits that
ingesting food dyes in small amounts is safe and normal; however, she
stresses that moderation is the key and people need to be aware of how
much their bodies can tolerate. "We tell people that certain
types of foods are a sometimes thing, not an everyday thing,"
Both Johnson and
Helwig, work with families on fixed budgets and admit they would
rather see them eat certain types of foods than no food at all. Their
goal is to make sure theyíre teaching people the importance of
introducing fresh, healthy food into their diets and the key role that
this plays in staying both physically and mentally healthy.
relatively new tool giving doctors a unique look at how patients
suffering from mental illness process medications. Itís called
pharmacogenomics, which involves swabbing the cheek and then having
the sample analyzed.
"I can find
the patientsí genetics, their genomes, and find out based on how
their liver is metabolizing pills which medications available they
might better tolerate," says Milwaukee-based psychiatrist Dr.
Pheister, a psychiatrist with the Medical College of Wisconsin, has
used this test on a handful of patients within the last few years. She
says the test is perfect for those who donít respond to normal drug
treatment or suffer severe side effects from previously tried
patient Iím going to do a swab on is someone who I have a good
reason to, based on their treatment history. It can be useful, but you
really have to weigh your options to see if this is actually going to
change the treatment outcome," says Pheister.
In 2008, the FDA
approved a treatment known as repetitive transcrainial magnetic
stimulation (rTMS) for those suffering from major depression. Since
that time, itís become a viable option for doctors when treating
those who arenít responding to traditional medication or therapy.
Dr. Dami Salami
is a psychiatrist at the Medical College of Wisconsin and has been
using this treatment on patients for several years now.
itís using a small, handheld magnetic device to induce
electromagnetic current in the brain cells," says Salami.
The 20 to 30
sessions, which each take about 20 minutes over a four-to six-week
period, target the front, left side of the brain, which regulates
Salami, before MCW rolled out the procedure in clinical practice, a
research study showed an 80 percent response rate with the treatment,
compared with about a 50 percent rate with medications and therapy.
response was quite encouraging and impressive," says Salami. He
also says the treatment essentially has fewer potential risks or side