The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.
Plato (427–347 BC)
Depression Anxiety is Not a Mental Illness
Depression Anxiety is not a mental illness. Depression Anxiety is a physical condition which affects the body, brain, behavior, and mood. Depression anxiety is a symptom of an underlying physical condition.
Understanding that depression anxiety is not a mental illness is crucial to depression anxiety recovery. Mistaking a “mental condition” for a physical condition, leads to ineffective and sometimes dangerous treatments, which focus on symptoms instead of causes. Individuals with depression anxiety end up wasting their time, and in many cases money, futilely searching for ‘mental’ reasons for their physical depression anxiety.
In addition, inaccurately and incorrectly classifying depression anxiety as a mental illness, instead of a physical condition such as arthritis (which are related), places an unnecessary and damaging societal stigma upon the person with depression anxiety.
The Cause of Depression Anxiety is Not Mental Illness
Recent scientific research is showing how the gut brain connection, the physical condition of the gastrointestinal tract, can be responsible for depression anxiety. A damaged gut results in lower absorption of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and sets off an inflammatory chain reaction in the body and brain, both of which can lead to depression anxiety.
Learn More: Gut Brain Connection and Depression Anxiety
In many cases, depression anxiety can be considered an inflammatory auto-immune condition similar to asthma, arthritis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other conditions. The coincidence between depression anxiety and these other conditions, what scientists call comorbidity, is very high. Meaning individuals who have these inflammatory auto-immune disorders have high rates of depression anxiety. Study.
The statistics are revealing. 20% of the population has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, 70% of them go undiagnosed and untreated, and 90% of patients who are diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have depression anxiety. Over 80% of individuals with Fibromyalgia have depression anxiety. Study.
A bad diet alone can cause depression anxiety. People who eat junk food have a 51% higher chance of developing depression anxiety. Study.
What Causes Depression Anxiety
Depression anxiety has two types of causes, which affects the gut and brain, psychological stress and physical or environmental causes. Chronic psychological stress from work, relationships, school, abuse, can cause damage to the gut which leads to depression anxiety.
Learn More: How Stress Causes Depression Anxiety
Physical or environmental factors such as diet, vitamin deficiency, junk food, antibiotics, alcohol, and others, can cause damage to the gut, and / or poor absorption of vitamins and minerals which leads to depression anxiety.
Learn More: What Causes Depression Anxiety
Why Depression Anxiety is Confused for Mental Illness
Because depression anxiety affects behavior and mood, and because it can be caused by psychological stress, depression anxiety is easily confused for a mental illness.
We humans believe we have much more control over our behavior and mood than is the reality. We believe that our mood, and the way we behave, is a choice which we can control with our “minds”. Since we believe that our behavior and mood is controlled by our minds and brains, it leads us to believe that any abnormal behavior or mood, must be a condition of the mind or brain, and hence a mental illness.
Which leads us to believe that the “mental illness” depression anxiety can be treated with cognitive behavior therapy and psychotherapy, mind control over depression anxiety, or with anti-depressant anti-anxiety drugs to affect our brain chemistry.
The reality is that many other external factors, outside of our control, can play a significant part in our behavior and mood. Physical and environmental factors can and do affect our behavior and mood. Diet, antibiotics, chronic stress, toxins, alcohol, sunlight, and more, can cause depression anxiety and affect our mood and behavior.
Take sunlight as an example of how external factors outside our minds can cause depression anxiety. Lack of sunlight during the winter months, can lead to lower Vitamin D 3 production in the body, which can cause depression anxiety. This type of mental illness is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Can our minds control how much sun Minneapolis or Glasgow gets in the winter? No. Depression anxiety related to Seasonal Affective Disorder is not a mental illness, it is a physical condition caused by lack of Vitamin D 3, due to less sunlight.
You cannot control the sun with your mind, and talking to psychotherapist about why you feel so down, or taking drugs, will not change the amount of Vitamin D 3 you physically need to overcome your depression anxiety.
Instead, physically taking a Vitamin D 3 supplement, physically taking a vacation to a sunny locale, or physically eating Vitamin D 3 rich Salmon, will positively affect your mental behavior and mood, and relieve your Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms.
How Depression Anxiety Gets Confused for Mental Illness
Let us stay with the Seasonal Affective Disorder example, due to lack of physical Vitamin D 3, to demonstrate how depression anxiety gets confused for a mental illness.
If you get Seasonal Affective Disorder, from lack of sunlight and Vitamin D 3, your behavior and mood negatively changes. You can become unhappy, irritable, anxious, less satisfied with yourself, your work, and your relationships.
Which can lead you to confuse your unhappiness and lowered satisfaction, due to lack of sunlight and Vitamin D 3, with yourself, your work, and your relationships.
You ask yourself why am I so unhappy? What is causing my depression anxiety? You negatively look at yourself, your work, your relationships, and since your depression anxiety causes lowered satisfaction in any or all of these areas, you conclude that they must be the cause of your depression anxiety.
You visit a psychologist, and tell him or her that your poor self-image, work or spouse is causing your depression anxiety. Work is stressing you out, you are no longer satisfied with your relationship, you feel like a failure. You visit a psychiatrist and tell him or her that you are constantly unhappy, chronically stressed out, or fatigued.
The psychologist prescribes you cognitive behavior exercises and the psychiatrist prescribes you anti-depressants. Meanwhile it’s still winter, the sun is not shining, and you continue to be unhappy and unsatisfied with your life, work, and relationships.
Related Article: Depression Anxiety is Not a Disease
Then Spring comes, the sun begins shining again, your body starts to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D 3, and you suddenly and miraculously start to feel better. Your self image improves, your work becomes less stressful, and your relationships become satisfying again.
Nothing has changed, except that your sunlight exposure has increased, and your body is physically producing more Vitamin D 3. Your mental illness, Seasonal Affective Disorder, was not a mental illness. But instead, a physical condition which caused changes to your behavior, and mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is only one of the several different types of depression anxiety, caused by physical factors, which can get confused for a mental illness. Again, read What Causes Depression Anxiety for a list of other physical causes of depression anxiety.
How Psychologically Induced Depression Anxiety Gets Confused for Mental Illness
What also makes depression anxiety get confused for a mental illness, is psychologically induced depression anxiety, which transforms into a physical condition leading to chronic depression anxiety.
Chronic stress from work, school, finances, or relationships. A psychologically traumatic event such as a divorce, death of a loved one, war. Constant emotional, physical, sexual abuse. All, and more, can cause depression anxiety.
It is natural and normal, that anyone suffering from one of these conditions, would get depression anxiety. However, long term stress from a psychological event can cause damage to the gut, which can then lead to chronic depression anxiety, even after the causal event has been resolved, leading to a diagnosis of mental illness.
Example of Psychological Stress Induced Physical Depression Anxiety
Divorce, for instance, can be a very stressful event. The constant stress from a failing relationship and divorce, or any long term stressful event, causes the body to release the stress hormone cortisol which interrupts the normal digestive process.
Learn More: How a Bad Marriage Causes Depression Anxiety
When the normal digestive process is constantly interrupted, damage to the gastrointestinal tract or gut occurs, which leads to inflammation in the body and brain and depression anxiety.
Once the gut has been damaged, it can remain damaged, and continue to cause depression anxiety long after the psychological event has passed.
Someone who is young, attractive, successful, and still depressed and still grieving their divorce 5 years after it happened, would by many be considered irrational, and suffering from a mental illness. There is no good or apparent reason why this person should be feeling worthless, hopeless, and helpless 5 years on.
Learn More: How to Help Someone With Depression Anxiety
Counseling would be recommended to help them explore their feelings, and drugs may be prescribed, to help them overcome their depressed mood and anxiety. Neither of which, tackles the problem that their psychological stressful event, has transformed into a physical condition.
Counseling and drugs may bring some relief. However, as long as the physical condition remains, a damaged gut, so too will their depression anxiety.
Counseling and drugs are treating the symptoms not the cause. Counseling and drugs for depression anxiety, is like focusing on happy thoughts and taking an aspirin, to deal with the pain from a toothache.
Related Article: Depression Anxiety is Not a Disease
A toothache can cause you to become irritable, anxious, and depressed. Is a toothache a mental illness? No. A toothache is a physical condition which can cause changes in your behavior and mood. Fix the tooth and the behavior and mood returns to normal.
So too, depression anxiety is a physical condition, a damaged gut, which can cause changes in your behavior and mood. Depression anxiety is not a mental illness. Heal the gut and the behavior and mood returns to normal.
Depression anxiety recovery is naturally possible. Learn more about our diet, exercise, supplement plans, and use our step by step Guide to Depression Anxiety Recovery.