We are often reminded that exercise, good nutrition and enough sleep are good for your physical and mental health. Those are among the lifestyle aspects that are part of an approach to psychiatry called lifestyle psychiatry. Lifestyle psychiatry focuses on addressing psychiatric disorders through an integrated, holistic approach to health, which includes recommendations for exercise, diet, sleep and mindfulness practice for helping people manage their psychiatric disorders.
Technology is increasingly being used in many ways to help meet needs for mental health services and support. For example, apps can help track your mood or symptoms and can help connect you to providers or other support. Among the barriers that technology may help overcome are access to care, cost and stigma. Despite increased awareness and acceptance of mental health care, many people are reluctant to seek help.
Many employers offer wellness programs for their employees. A team of researchers in Australia wanted to explore the potential mental health benefits of a short-term workplace wellness program. Their study involved nearly 2,000 participants in a 100-day, 10,000-step challenge program. They found a small, but consistent effect on several measures of mental health over the term of the program. The positive mental health effect appeared regardless of whether a person reached the 10,000-step goal.
Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem affecting around 50 million people around the world, according to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report. It is a major cause of disability and dependency among adults, often causing significant caregiving and financial stress on families. People with dementia may develop agitation or psychosis which can be very challenging for caregivers. Agitation is a state of excessive physical movement or aggression associated with emotional distress.
Stress affects people in several ways—it activates adrenaline and other hormones, the nervous system and immune system. While not all stress is harmful, and some can even be beneficial, chronic or toxic stress can contribute to health problems. “Men and women react differently to toxic stress because their brains are wired differently,” notes Bruce McEwen, Ph.D., of The Rockefeller University, * “and therefore they may be at risk for different stress-related illnesses.” For example, as a result of chronic stress, women may be more likely to experience symptoms of depression while men may be more likely to develop problems with substance use.