Archive for January, 2018

Mental Health: The Science behind low mood and anxiety

January 28, 2018

I have recently been considering the science behind mental health. I recently watched a documentary on BBC iPlayer about Charlotte Church’s mum which inspired me to write this blog around Serotonin and the affects on our body.


Serotonin is a chemical nerve cells produce. It sends signals between your nerve cells. Serotonin is found mostly in the digestive system, although it’s also in blood platelets and throughout the central nervous system.

Serotonin is made from the essential amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid must enter your body through your diet and is commonly found in foods such as nuts, cheese, and red meat. Tryptophan deficiency can lead to lower serotonin levels. This can result in mood disorders, such as anxiety or depression.

What does Serotonin do?

Serotonin impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer. It’s the chemical that helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting. Serotonin also helps:

  • reduce depression
  • regulate anxiety
  • heal wounds
  • stimulate nausea
  • maintain bone health

How to treat the deficiincy clinically

Low levels of serotonin in the brain may cause depression, anxiety, and sleep trouble. Many doctors will prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to treat depression. They’re the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant.

How to treat it naturally 

  • Exposure to bright light: Sunshine or light therapy are commonly recommended remedies for treating seasonal depression.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can have mood-boosting effects.
  • A healthy diet: Foods that can increase serotonin levels include eggs, cheese, turkey, nuts, salmon, tofu, and pineapple.
  • Meditation: Meditating can help relieve stress and promote a positive outlook on life, which can greatly boost serotonin levels.

Isn’t it strange that something found in my gut can lead to mental health disorders. “Eat more cheese, nuts and red meat, exercise and get some sun” I hear you say! I already do those things so it doesn’t seem that clear cut to me.

My conclusion:

It seems to me that GP’s go straight to the clinical solution of handing out medication rather than looking into the science behind some mental health disorders (specifically low mood and anxiety). Is it really conclusive after a 10 minute consultation to decide SSRI’s are the solution and a bit of CBT will be enough. It sounds like its a one fits all solution.

I would love to find out if I have low levels of serotonin in my body. It might help me to work out what I need to do more of to increase those levels naturally. Whilst I agree in some aspects medication is great, understanding how that works is even greater but we can all do natural things to help ourselves.

I then went on a tangent looking into how vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians get their natural sources of serotonin. It intrigued me because someone I follow on instagram has decided to go plant based vegan for a number of months and I’m not sure what impact that has had on his mental health. Maybe ill ask him.

As my yoga friend says “it just goes to show what you put in your body does lead to a healthy mind”.


It’s okay to ask for help

January 25, 2018

For those who know me or don’t at all I want to admit. I have been really struggling with my mental health.

Whilst I won’t go into the details as that’s personal to me. It got so bad I had to pluck up the courage to ask for help. Which brings me on to the reason for this blog.

One thing I have learnt is that it is ok to ask for help it’s also ok to not be ok! I’m not going to lie asking for help wasn’t a decision I came to lightly, I was in denial about how I was feeling as my pride and my future was at stake.

I have had some really good help from professionals that have guided me through this process. They let me do my thing but always made sure I had a hand to hold as and when I required it 24 hours a day. The work the NHS do for mental health under the strain of the demand is commendable. There are not enough people to help individuals like me in the NHS which is massively unfortunate and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have access to that support. I can admit though that unless you’re willing and motivated to help yourself the unfortunate reality is they can’t do much to get you back on track. It has to come from within and I can tell you there were moments I had to dig really deep to get out of bed, let lone have a shower and brush my teeth! But I did because I knew I had to.

Every single person within the NHS that I have met over the last few weeks made sure I focused on positives. They helped me write up a list of things to do when I get stressed and they encouraged me to find my love of music again and anyone that’s following me on Instagram will see I’ve found it again. Although losing my iPod with over 15 yeas of music on was disappointing but not the end of the world. They helped me work out that distractions were the key, and I found a bit of noise in the background, exercising and cleaning (my place has never been so clean) are good lengthy distractions. I also learnt that it’s ok to lay on your sofa watching box sets. I’m currently on season 4 of greys anatomy! I also actually started to love myself again!

I have had a really good week this week, which means I’ll also have a good weekend which in turn sets me up for next week. I have learnt that everyday is now becoming a win and although it’s only Thursday and a bit premature this whole week is turning into a win. Am I fully recovered and back to my best no! And I’m not disillusioned to think I ever will be 100% fine every day. But I have accepted that now!

Some of my family and friends have been hugely supportive and not once have they pushed me or forced me into doing something I don’t want to do. I did say to them I didn’t want you to fix me, just ask if I’m ok and listen when I need to talk. That’s important to build your own recovery, not to rely on anyone but yourself and that’s when you really do become successful!

Not enough people talk about mental health but As I mentioned above. It’s ok to ask for help and it’s ok to not be ok!

For help and support with mental health I recommend the following websites: