If you have any doubts regarding the intimate link between mind, body and spirit, then consider these facts:
People living with a serious mental illness are at higher risk
of experiencing a wide range of chronic physical conditions.
Conversely, people living with chronic physical health con-
ditions experience depression and anxiety at twice the rate
of the general population. Canadian Mental Health Assoc.
This statement led me to ponder the connection between society’s increasing levels of mental illness and obesity. In my research of current healthcare data, I was surprised to discover that neither addiction nor obesity is considered a form of mental illness. Furthermore, the American Medical Association did not consider obesity a medical disease until 2013 and as far as I can tell does not consider it an addiction.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) recently updated its definition of mental illness as “a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning.” Arguably, obesity and addictions could be considered behavioural disorders reflecting a dysfunction in physical, mental and/or spiritual functioning.
What would you say if you discovered that everything you think you know about addiction is wrong? In his TedX talk, Johann Hari asked this question — “What if addiction is not about the chemical hooks but about your environment, [that is, your experience]?” Hari poses that when we are traumatized, isolated, beaten down and not able to be present in our life (possibly mentally ill), addiction increasingly becomes a coping strategy. Conversely, happy, engaged, contributing citizens with connected and healthy relationships opt to fully live life rather than numb their awareness with distractions including drugs and food.
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. Johann Hari
If what Hari believes is true — that we are one of the loneliest societies in history — then spiritual, physical and mental reconnection builds social recovery not the alienation and abandonment we currently witness. In ancient cultures and belief systems (First Nations, Yoga, Buddhism, etc.), mind-body-spirit integration is viewed as holistic (personal and societal) wellness and the route to enlightenment (knowledge and understanding). Furthermore, to separately diagnose illness as physical or mental mistreats the whole being. As multi-faceted beings, physical or mental diagnoses of health oversimplify our inherent complexity, which is why we each need to take responsibility for our overall wellness.
What steps are you taking to become your own holistic healthcare provider?
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