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As a healthcare provider, speaking about the role of mental health in overall health has become routine.  I also happen to be married to a psychologist so speaking about mental health comes relatively easy for me.  But, I recognize it does not come easy for many. For this reason, it is critical we increase the awareness of mental health matters so that more people can feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, emotions, and, in turn, struggles. Psychological disorders like depression and anxiety are prevalent in our society, yet many suffer in silence. The annual Bell Let’s Talk day is an example of a corporate marketing campaign designed to increase mental health awareness, with the hope that awareness leads to improved mental health outcomes.

During the past two years, amid a global pandemic, there has been an increased focus on mental health. Lockdowns, job and income loss, isolation, health anxiety has affected many (most?) during this time period, including people of all ages. Of course, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety pre-date the global pandemic and will occur when it has ended.

If you’re reading this blog you’re likely a patient of mine, and thus already aware that the pandemic incited change to my workplace. Stress has been a constant for me during the pandemic, ping-ponging from work-related stress to my son’s education to my family’s health. I shudder to think how I would have handled this stress had I not had people in my life willing to listen, empathize, sympathize, and support.

Stress, in and of itself, is not a mental health condition. In the past, I’ve written about the role stress might play in physical pain and other physical disorders. This blog can be found clicking here. Stress is a naturally occurring thought process that we must find an outlet for in order to keep ourselves healthy. If you’ve already identified the outlet that works well for you then you’re probably managing better than some. For many, exercise is that outlet. For others, meditation or reading is their escape from the negative thoughts associated with stress.

I have always experienced a better mood when I’m regularly exercising or engrossed in a novel. I’ve also dabbled in meditation. Recently, due to ongoing pandemic-related stress, I’ve increased my commitment to meditation, and I have begun keeping a gratitude journal. Read about the benefits of a gratitude journal [here]. Reminding myself what I am grateful for is a great equalizer to the stress I might be experiencing. After all, there are many facets to our lives – so we should ensure that we take a big picture view more regularly so we don’t get overwhelmed by the stress of the day/week/month/year/pandemic.

What we write in our own gratitude journal is really for our own eyes only. However, it should come as no surprise that I am grateful to be a chiropractor. My wife and I just finished watching the mini-series, Dopesick, chronicling the opioid crisis in North America spearheaded by the narcotic pain killing drug, OxyContin (contains the narcotic opioid Oxycodone). This highly addictive drug has been prescribed for moderate to severe pain to millions of people. My role as a chiropractor is primarily to help others manage their pain without the use of drugs or surgery as much as possible. While the opioid crisis story is not new to me, watching Dopesick reinforced my passion as a chiropractor to help those who would otherwise turn to medications, including stronger medications like an opioid.

Pain comes in various forms and severity. In turn, there is and will always need to be a role for pain medication. But, there are several pain medications to try before turning to an opioid (such as pain relievers like Acetaminophen [Tylenol], or NSAIDS like ibuprofen [Advil] or naproxen). And, of course, the best course of action is to manage pain while seeking a remedy for the source of said pain. Physical injuries and mental health conditions are commonly associated with pain, and while pain medication may be required as part of the solution, physical and mental rehabilitation can turn out to be life savers.

If you’re struggling with an injury or pain, whether the problem is new or old, don’t hesitate to come see me to begin the road to recovery.

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