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Can we stop classifying any disorder as a Mental Disorder and call it what it truly is? A lynchpin to health

anxiety autoimmune depression mental health neurofeedback ocd trauma Mar 18, 2024



The World Health Organization describes a mental disorder as a significant disruption in a person's thinking, emotional regulation, or behavior. Now don't get me wrong, I am not abdicating that conditions like anxiety and depression and obsessive compulsive disorder and PTSD go unspoken and under recognized. On the contrary, it's essential to understand that our bodies operate as a unified system, where the health of one part impacts the whole. I believe this classification causes their importance and relevance to be mitigated and segregated from the rest of the health of the individual. 

Research supports the notion that the mind, brain and body are deeply interconnected. The co-occurrence of mental disorders and physical disorders is well documented.  In one study of the 12 million respondents with both symptoms of anxiety and depression, 6.3 million (61.3%) reported having chronic pain and 4.2 million ( 41.1%)  report having high impact chronic pain. Anxiety and chronic pain both cause a specfic dyregulation pattern in the brain that has a cascade of effects on the body. Should we treat the anxiety and not the chronic pain? Should we continue to define them as separate issues instead of co-morbidities? Chronic pain effects sleep. Anxiety effects sleep. Lack of sleep effects memory, brain health, heart health, kidney health, lowers testosterone levels and sex drive, executive function and mood. The examples of the mind and body connections are endless. This raises an important question: should we continue to treat these conditions as isolated issues rather than as interconnected health concerns?

The connection between the mind and body extends beyond chronic pain. For example, childhood traumatic stress has been linked to an increased likelihood of being hospitalized for an autoimmune disease later in life. The data suggests that the more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) an individual has, the higher their risk of hospitalization for autoimmune disorders in adulthood. Childhood traumatic stress increased the likelihood of hospitalization with a diagnosed autoimmune disease decades into adulthood. The average age of hospitalization was 31.4 in women and 34.4 in men. People with 2 or more ACE's were at a 70% increased risk for hospitalizations with myocarditis, 80% increased risk for myesthenia gravis and 100% increased risk for rheumatic diseases. What if these ACE's were treated earlier? What if these autoimmune disorders were treated with the mind and brain as the first consideration instead of just the physical symptoms they present with? What if the dysregulated brainwave patterns were treated  in childhood? Would this prevent the development of the auto-immune condition? I believe it would. This highlights the potential benefits of addressing both mental and physical health concerns together, from an early age.

Understanding the profound connection between the brain and body emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to health. Treating the mind and body as separate entities overlooks the complex interplay between mental and physical health, potentially missing opportunities for more effective treatment and prevention strategies.

A study involving 106,640 patients diagnosed with stress-related disorders, compared to their 126,652 siblings without such diagnoses, revealed a significantly higher occurrence of autoimmune diseases among the former group. This finding aligns with evidence that stress-related disorders can lead to increased levels of cytokines or inflammatory responses, which are not only implicated in the development of autoimmune diseases but may also play a role in conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. 

I vividly recall a transformative moment over a decade ago while listening to a late-night podcast on fibromyalgia. An anesthesiologist guest mentioned the need to "turn down the volume of the pain in the brain." Although I can't recall his name, that statement and the serendipitous events that followed marked a turning point in my life. Since then, I transitioned from my traditional practice to focus on spreading the message of the importance of brain health. In treating the brain's dysregulation in fibromyalgia patients, I observed not only improvements in their condition but also in their anxiety and depression, which I hadn't initially recognized. This experience underscored for me the interconnectedness of brain health and overall well-being.

Stress-related diagnoses are crucial to understanding and improving an individual's overall health. I believe we can no longer accept "we don't know what causes them" or "you'll just have to live with it" scenarios. The law of parsinomy suggests when faced with competing explanations for the same phenomenon, the simplest is likely the correct one. Recognizing and addressing the effects of trauma and stress through objective measures, such as QEEG, and interventions like neurofeedback, should be initiated as early as possible following trauma.

I urge you to share this message and join me in my mission to prioritize brain health. If you're dealing with a stress-related diagnosis and a chronic, especially autoimmune, condition, it's important to understand the connection between the two. Seek care that acknowledges and addresses this link, and don't settle for less.

Dr Jackie Kilraine DC BCN



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