Fortunately, today there is far more understanding about mental wellness and mental health conditions. The lockdowns during the pandemic also bought mental health to the forefront for many, as cases rose.
Individuals who were suffering from mental health symptoms before the pandemic were far more likely to have coping issues during it. The impact of lockdown on brain health cannot be ignored.
But brain health isn’t just about mental health issues. This can refer to other areas of mental wellness, and while knowledge is growing, many people are unaware of how it can affect their physical health too.
Brain health is important as it can affect the body and general wellness of an individual.
What is brain health exactly?
The idea of brain health, in general, is still quite a new concept, but it is widely agreed that it can affect several areas of the mind including development and function.
The World Health Organization characterises brain health as being able to realise and use one’s brain’s functions to navigate through life. This means cognitive, psychological, emotional, and behavioural functions.
Neurological and developmental issues play a major part in brain health. The term brain health relates to the whole life of the individual. Brains develop, they alter, and they can become damaged from trauma or disease.
How does the health of your brain affect your body?
It may not be immediately aware to the average individual, but the brain’s health can affect physical symptoms in the body as well.
For example, PTSD sufferers have been linked with obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and musculoskeletal pain. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is often used to help to treat PTSD patients.
The brain is a bit similar to the CPU in a computer. It enables us to move, lets us make considered decisions, and allows us to have emotions. If it isn’t healthy then it cannot function properly. Normally, with a healthy brain, you will be in control of how you feel. When brain health is poor, it can bring out symptoms of lethargy, or more serious issues.
Does poor brain health affect other areas of your general wellness?
Although some experts say brain health and mental health are two distinct areas, others say that they are essentially the same thing.
It could be said though, that poor brain health can lead to more serious mental illnesses. What starts as mood swings could then develop into depression.
Some areas of brain health are hard to treat. Extreme trauma from an accident, long-term damage from abusing substances, dementia. These areas obviously affect overall health.
Emotional behavior is one clear area that can be affected by poor brain health. This can be aggravated by the use of alcohol, or by other lifestyle choices.
What are the indications of poor brain health?
Most people will suffer or experience some of the symptoms of poor brain health during their lifetime. Most are nothing to be worried about if they are fleeting. If however, you are feeling any of these intensely, or more than one, it may be an idea to see a trained medical professional.
This article is only for general advice on brain health and cannot be a substitute for genuine mental health advice from a professional.
But there are many common symptoms that show a brain may be in poor health to some degree:
- Brain fog – Sometimes you are unable to concentrate
- Lack of motivation – Simply no drive
- Mood changes – Going from lows to sudden highs or vice versa
- Sex drive changes – Lack of interest
- Lethargy – Or just general fatigue and constant tiredness
- Forgetfulness – Struggling to remember everyday things
- Sudden outbursts of anger – Is your temper rising too quickly, and too often?
- Paranoia – This can mean general delusions, or being detached from reality
- Problems sleeping – Insomnia, changes in sleep patterns
- Generally feeling down – Mild depressive feelings
- Confusion – Occasional trouble with understanding situations or people
- Extreme concerns and worries – Irrational fears
It is worth considering whether there is any family history of mental health concerns, or had dementia in later life.
If you have any symptoms such as these, it can do no harm to consult with a professional. If you are having suicidal thoughts then please contact a loved one, a mental health professional, or one of the suicide prevention lines.
For many of these symptoms though, there are ways to help alleviate them. Many come from lifestyle choices and can be improved fairly easily.
How can you improve your brain’s health?
Your brain is much like your body, as in how you treat it will affect how healthy it is. If you keep drinking like a fish, you can’t really expect your brain to function to its best ability.
However, you can still enjoy the things you love while making sure your brain’s health is tip-top. In return, you’ll start to enjoy a much better sense of overall health.
You can improve your brain’s health with some of these methods.
Multi-vitamins are not a substitute for a good meal or a healthy fruit salad. However, they can help to make sure you get your RDA of each vitamin.
Vendors such as Brain Reference, not only supply multivitamins, but also amino acids, herbs, fatty acids, and minerals. All of which can affect brain health in different ways.
Omega 3 fatty acid is linked to brain development, and amino acids are important for the central nervous system. Helping the body’s health can also help the brain. Improved health can result in improved mood.
One of the very effective ways to boost brain function is to exercise. Exercising releases endorphins which quite simply make people feel good. But there are many more advantages to exercise when it comes to brain health.
Regular exercise is likely to improve mood, concentration, help with sleep patterns, increase energy, and alleviate feelings of depression.
It is also a great way to get your mind away from any excessive worries or stress you may have.
Alter your diet
Diet affects not only the body but the brain too. It is no secret that caffeine can cause temporary feelings of anxiety in some people. A poor diet will lead to many of the symptoms that you read above.
Food that is high in antioxidants will help to protect the brain. A good diet that avoids processed foods will provide more energy and help to lose any feelings of lethargy which can also affect mood and motivation.
If you feel that you need to talk to someone then you should contact a local mental health professional or your regular physician.
Many people find that therapy can help with some areas of brain health, and can remove mild mental health symptoms before they develop further. If you feel that your symptoms are already growing then contact a professional as soon as you can.
There are a number of different types of therapy, and they can treat all manner of issues surrounding brain health.
While brain health isn’t quite categorised the same as mental health, there are incredible similarities in the symptoms that individuals feel.
When poor health starts in the brain, it will affect other areas of the sufferer. The mind itself, the body, and the individual’s personality will all be affected by brain health.
Fortunately, many aspects of poor brain health can simply be improved by supplements or a lifestyle change.
James Wallace did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.