Olivia Alonso |
Madrid (EFE).- «Mental health problems are not only the result of chemical and genetic imbalances from which you get rid of with pills; they also depend on environmental factors against which we can act to feel better”, as explained in an interview with EFE the American psychiatrist Ellen Vora.
Vora -graduated from Yale University and specialized in Columbia- has just published “The Anatomy of Anxiety” (Paidós), a book to understand and overcome our body’s response to fear and in which she insists that ” The health of our body has a lot of influence on the mental one.
“How we sleep, eat, take care of ourselves or meet our psychosocial needs are things that we can do economically to help our mental health,” says the expert, who also recommends limiting and learning to use screens.
Although he warns of the current unprecedented global crisis in mental health and recognizes the role of professional help in coping, he warns that “we are at the highest medication peak in history.”
QUESTION: Distinguish between “true” and “false” anxiety. What is the difference?
ANSWER: Some of the anxiety is totally avoidable and that is the false one. It is the result of a physiological imbalance such as inflammation, micronutrient deficiencies or hormonal changes. It does not mean that the brain’s reaction to these situations is a lie, but it does indicate that we can correct it and avoid suffering.
However, the real anxiety is within us, it is a wake-up call that tells us that we have to slow down or make changes.
Q: One of the triggers for anxiety is lack of sleep. What do you have to do to sleep well?
A: Our body wants to sleep and knows how to sleep, it is not broken, but we are giving it all the wrong instructions. We have to change the strategy and create the conditions so that it can sleep, which has to do with respecting the circadian rhythm, our temperature, stabilizing our sugar levels at night or giving up alcohol and coffee.
Q: How do screens affect sleep?
A: I recommend turning them off an hour or two before going to bed and not having them in the room because we suppress melatonin and stimulate ourselves. Leaving the mobile outside will be a means of protecting sleep.
Q: What role do screens play in anxiety?
A: Staring at screens can signal to our brain that we are anxious because we have tension in our skulls and shoulders. Thus, a friendly video chat can cause more physiological anxiety than we think.
On the other hand, when we are sitting in the same room, we turn our necks, we focus our gaze further and this is important for the relaxation of the muscles of the neck, head, jaw and shoulders, which has a lot to do with the stress response. .
Q.- Does the relationship between the brain and the stomach also influence stress?
A.- It is completely bidirectional. We are beginning to realize that if we are feeling anxiety, this has an impact on digestion, but we do not perceive what is happening in the opposite direction.
Our intestine tells the brain how it is, how medications, antibiotics, fats or ultra-processed foods affect it, and that is reflected in anxiety. Let’s cure our intestinal tract and we will see the healing and the positive consequences on other levels!
Q: Faced with the general message to avoid the sun, do you recommend sunbathing so as not to have a vitamin D deficiency?
A: I’m not saying you have to throw away creams and get sunburn. The risks from sunlight have to be evaluated on an individual level, keeping in mind that there are many reports that warn of the risks associated with low vitamin D, which are not resolved with supplements.
In addition, the risks and benefits vary depending on the melanin that our skin has, the family history of cancer or our own burns in the past.
Q.- How can you keep anxiety at bay? Isn’t it something that is far from the most vulnerable?
A.- I would prioritize going to bed earlier, keeping sugar levels stable and connecting with the people we love. We can also do breathing exercises, sing or dance.
My advice is free or more profitable. Eating well is a cost-saving investment in the long run and can be done by consuming frozen vegetables, rice, or butter.
It is important to start with this pedagogy and not see the lack of resources as a barrier to improve health.