Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health

By Stefanie Moore
Digital Marketing Coordinator

Exercising and working out is not just beneficial to your overall health, it is also essential to your mental health as well.

I am writing this as running and working out has benefited me a lot, mentally. A stressful day in the office, a stressful week, a lot going on, or just emotions going haywire, going for a run helps me keep that under control.

Exercise improves your mood. A run after a stressful day often makes oneself feel better. Michael Otto, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Boston University told the American Psychological Association “the link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually, within five minutes after moderate exercise, you get a mood-enhancement effect.”

Research has shown exercise helps long term and helps alleviate depression. The evidence is based on experimental studies, as well as population-based correlation studies.

Researchers have also explored using exercise for treating anxiety.

Currently, researchers do not fully know which types and how much exercise can be useful for treating mental health conditions.

According to NAMI, “Exercise has been researched and validated for treating a variety of mental issues and mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, addictions, grief, relationship problems, dementia and personality disorders. Additionally, exercise alleviates such conditions as bad moods, stress, chronic pain and chronic illnesses.”

NAMI’s 8 Keys to Mental Health Through Exercise include:

1. Heal your mind and body with exercise
2. Improve your self-esteem with exercise
3. Exercise as a family
4. Get motivated
5. Change how you think about exercise
6. Overcome roadblocks
7. Get FITT — Physically and mentally
8. Implement your vision and flourish

Before running, stress would overtake my mind, making me have anxiety. I will admit, I have anxiety over somethings still, but while working on them, and implementing exercise and running into my life, I have been able to handle it better.

I workout to improve my mind, reduce stress, improve my mood, alleviate anxiety, tap into creativity, and inspire others. I often run or workout with my husband. We have even done vacations around races. I also love running with my dog Buffy, if it’s not too hot for her. Yoga has also been very beneficial to me, as one of my yoga instructors have said, it helps you zen.

The HuffPost published 13 Mental Health Benefits of Exercise, which includes:

1. Reduce Stress
2. Boost Happy Chemicals
3. Improve Self-Confidence
4. Enjoy The Great Outdoors
5. Prevent Cognitive Decline
6. Alleviate Anxiety
7. Boost Brainpower
8. Sharpen Memory
9. Help Control Addiction
10. Increase Relaxations
11. Get More Done
12. Tap Into Creativity
13. Inspire Others.

For what benefit do you focus on gaining from working out?

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Be sure to watch for updates from Highland-Clarksburg Hospital about its 3rd Annual Ugly Sweater Run in December 2018.

This year, Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is encouraging residents of WV to share their story and raise awareness of Mental Health Month with the hashtags #StigmaFreeWV and #MentalHealthMattersWV.

Assets are available on our website at https://highlandclarksburghospital.com/mentalhealth/ which includes profiles photos, cover photos, fact sheets and more. There is also a link to share your story, anonymously if you would like.

Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is a private, non-profit mental health hospital located in Clarksburg, WV. HCHI offers services for youth, adults, and forensic patients, all suffering from mental health problems.
In the following weeks in May, we will feature blog posts written by staff and therapists here at Highland-Clarksburg Hospital. Posts will include information about breaking the stigma, warning signs of a mental health condition, improving mental health with exercise, nutrition, and mental health, and the top diagnosed mental illnesses.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Please note, not everyone can workout due to other health conditions, be sure to have a doctor’s approval.

Are We What We Eat?

By Brittney Rutledge, MS
Forensic Therapist

What’s for lunch? This question is becoming more expected in behavioral health facilities. There is significant research that a nutritious, well-balanced diet isn’t just good for the body; it’s great for the brain too.

Many well-conducted studies have been published worldwide regarding a link between diet and common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety in both kids and adults.

Half of all long-term mental health disorders start by age 14. Today, childhood mental illness affects more than 17 million kids in the U.S.

“A very large body of evidence now exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health,” says Felice Jacka, president of International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. A healthy diet is protective, and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Food allergies may also play a role in psychoses and personality disorders.

Certain foods may play a minor role in the cause of mental disorders, or they may enhance the symptoms. A nutritious brain diet follows the same logic as a heart-healthy regimen or weight control plan. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health, and hopefully decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders.

It is essential to be mindful when eating and limiting sugary or high fat processed foods, and choose more plant foods like fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains.

Although there’s no direct evidence that diet can improve depression or other mental health disorders and it shouldn’t be a substitution for medication and other treatments; it is essential to be mindful of eating habits. Experts have found a correlation with diet and how it may play a role in mental health. What you eat may affect your immunity, how your genes work and how your body responds to stress.

Diet impacts your mental health, and it is crucial for brain development. Specific nutrients and dietary patterns are linked to changes in the brain protein that helps increase connections between brain cells. Therefore, a diet rich in nutrients like omega-3s and zinc boosts levels of this substance. Whereas, a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars may have a negative impact on brain proteins.

A well-balanced diet also fills the gut with healthy bacteria which is good for the brain. Good bacteria will fend off harmful germs and keep your immune system in check. Good gut health may decrease the inflammation in the body. Foods with probiotics (good bacteria) help maintain a healthy gut environment which may also have positive effects on mood and cognition, whereas, a high-fat or high-sugar diet is bad for gut health and bad for your brain. Some research suggests that high-sugar diets worsen schizophrenia symptoms.

Overall, certain foods may have effects on your mental health, or they may make symptoms worse. The goal is to choose foods that pack as many nutrients in as few calories as possible. Nutrients may be particularity helpful as preventive care in mental illness.

People who have low B12 levels have higher rates of depression and dementia, too little iron in the blood has been linked to depression. Healthy fatty acids like omega-3s aides in improving thinking, mood, and memory. Nutrients like zinc can help control the body’s response to stress where low zinc levels may cause depression. Fermented foods and drinks like yogurt and kombucha with active live cultures provide good gut bacteria; resulting in lower stress, depression, and anxiety. And, dark chocolate has antioxidants, which increases blood flow to the brain assisting in memory and mood. So, the next time you eat a piece of chocolate, don’t feel so guilty, remember it’s good for the brain.

Mental Health is for everybody and just as we should follow a daily regimen that keeps our hearts, skin, and other organs flourishing, we should also be mindful of nourishing our brains, even if we don’t suffer from mental illness.

Remember to eat healthier fats, get more protein, avoid sugar highs, treat stress with vitamins, and learn how to live in constant state of release, forgiveness, and peace.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Mental Health Barriers: Breaking the Stigma

By Brianna Hardman MSW, LGSW
Therapist, Children’s Services

Each year one in five Americans experience a mental health issue, despite this prevalence, seeking help continues to come with a stigma that leaves many suffering in silence. Only a portion of those who need support can find it, and while there are other reasons such as financial and transportation barriers, the shame and judgment perceived by those experiencing these challenges often leave individuals struggling behind closed doors. We all have heard words such as “crazy,” “nuts,” and “psycho” utilized colloquially to negatively describe people, situations, and circumstances related to mental illness; but do we understand where the stigma derives?

Mental health stigma can be divided into two distinct types. Social stigma is categorized by judgmental attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health challenges as a result of the psychiatric diagnosis they have been given. The second type is perceived stigma or “self-stigma” is the internalizing by the individual of their perceptions of discrimination based on mental illness. So both the attitudes of others and the perception of the individual categorize the two main types of stigma that can hinder one’s ability to seek treatment.

These stigmas are held in differing socioeconomic statuses, education levels, and across various cultures, much like mental health issues stigma can also impact anyone. Stigma embraces both attitudes and actions towards individuals with mental health issues, and the social impacts include social isolation, lack of support, quality of life, and low self-esteem. Stigma also has a detrimental effect on treatment outcomes and impedes recovery from mental health problems. Self-stigma is linked with employment success and increased social isolation. These factors alone represent significant reasons for attempting to eliminate mental health stigma and ensure that social inclusion and a supportive, welcoming environment is possible.

Decreasing stigma will, in turn, allow individuals to seek support more readily, and without fear of judgment or discrimination. The impact of early intervention in mental health challenges is clear. The earlier one seeks help, the more likely they will be of overcoming challenges. Not only does early intervention improve treatment outcomes, but can also have an impact on receiving the correct diagnosis to form a solid modality for treatment. It’s never too late to seek help, but early intervention decreases the solitude that often coincides with mental illness.

What can be done to decrease stigma? Awareness such as this month, while we educate and explore mental health needs, can help reduce that stigma and show individuals that they are not alone. Mental illness and stigma can lead to isolation, the simple notion of learning that many individuals are going through similar struggles can be enough to break that barrier and lead to seeking out treatment. For parents and other caregivers, it’s important to talk to your children about the importance of mental health and not to fear sharing if they are feeling sad, anxious, angry, or just different than their baseline. Reaching out to schools and community centers to provide education and awareness can reach a larger audience. Many mental health disorders begin to shows signs in adolescence, and learning these signs can be helpful for children and teens.

Other places of interest to provide awareness are through local health departments, doctor’s offices, and clinics. Mental and physical health often coincides, and those who are reporting physical ailments may have a level of shame or fear in sharing the mental aspects that could be impacting their daily life. As a therapist, I find it important to participate in education and awareness events so that my scope of practice reaches further than the hospital. As providers, we all share the same ethical responsibility, but it isn’t just up to professionals to provide outreach. Trainings, such as Mental Health First Aid, are occurring all over the country and offer information for any interested person to learn how to aid, intervene, and spread awareness about mental health. Reaching out to a local health department, mental and behavioral hospital or other community-based organizations can also offer ways to volunteer and contribute. If we as a society can place an emphasis on mental health care at the same capacity, we do physical health and wellness we can reach a point in which there are less and less individuals suffering in silence.

For more information about Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, visit HighlandClarksburgHospital.com or call 304-969-3100. Keep up-to-date with our activities and events by following our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HighlandClarksburgHospital

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Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCHI) is a private, non-profit hospital that is dedicated to providing the best care for persons with mental disorders in West Virginia, parts of Ohio, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It has established an integrated system of high-quality behavioral health services, including mental health treatment services for Children, Adolescents’ and Forensic patients. Highland-Clarksburg Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

References:

https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/mental-health/prevention-and-promotion/early-intervention-in-mental-health

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/why-we-worry/201308/mental-health-stigma