IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I am not a qualified person. I just spend my time reading everything I can to get a unified picture of mental health. Do not do anything suggested here without talking to a medical professional first.
I think that mental health is hard to deal with currently because we’ve disconnected so many fields from each other. I’m going to postulate a few ideas I have about what might need to be included to work toward a more unified complex system model of health. There’s evidence of things working in isolation – but the fields seem too disparate and disconnected to make sense to my brain after wide reading.
I think a lot of current autoimmune conditions are the result of psychosomatic occurrences – that absolutely does not mean that these do not occur but I think when it’s been repeatedly demonstrated that cortisol causes an exacerbation of many of these – the role of this hormone and it’s production in the adrenal gland cannot be ignored.
I got interested in blood because they said in the old days to just drain it all the time – that’s something they stopped doing – then I started to look into the treatment of conditions in non-Western countries. Blood letting is still used in a lot of places – it might actually have some therapeutic effect. I will talk about why soon – I don’t know if this is the best practice – just removing it, but I want to discuss why it might work.
I think two things are important in regards to blood – blood flow, and iron levels, not necessarily blood pressure.
Iron (Fe) – Specifically Iron Homeostasis (The right level)
A complex set of interactions occurs with iron – one of the most important trace elements in health.
There’s a number of studies that have come out recently that support the hypothesis that iron levels in blood may play a major role in neurochemistry. The mechanism is from my research still vaguely understood and there’s a reason why it might not be as simple as supplementing iron or reducing iron.
In this study one of the things they noted is that serum ferritin levels (blood iron concentration) was not as important as hemoglobin concentration. Hemoglobin protein’s primary function is to transport oxygen.
We need iron to make more red blood cells – and those who have anemia are likely to have low hemoglobin. One of the things the brain appears to do is to regulate where iron is directed if it is low, and when it does this – it will forgo using serum ferritin levels in place of making sure that hemoglobin production takes place as oxygen transportation is more essential for survival
These results are to be viewed with caution as this is a single study the further avenues for research here are presented as follows:
Blood Flow to the Brain
This is different to blood pressure, but also tangentially related. Recently a couple of drugs have been approved for ADHD treatment of impulsivity and aggressive behaviour. Both of them are heart drugs – Clonidine and Guanfacine.
I was wondering why these drugs might work. They say it’s a neurochemical reaction – but I am skeptical of these claims, their suggested mechanism of action is that with Guanfacine in particular it binds to neurotransmitters and therefore repairs damage – this might be entirely true – but here’s what the drug is supposed to do for people with heart conditions:
What if it wasn’t neurochemistry but simply blood that was important actually regulating the level of amygdala function – when the amygdala is primarily used for interpreting signals this triggers anxiety responses – it’s the fight or flight centre of the brain. If we argue that blood flow is important it might better explain how blood is able to reach the prefrontal cortex that supposedly controls impulsive behaviour. If you look at how blood is transported up the brain stem and out into the other regions of the brain maybe the simplest answer here (Occam’s razor) is the right one.
Supporting Evidence – Massage
Blood flow has beneficial effects and this has been measured in a variety of contexts – investigating the sport benefits they have consistently found that blood flow increases with massage.
Ok that’s sports people what about evidence for other conditions?
Supporting Evidence – Exercise
So everyone knows that exercise seems to work for mental health – but exercise improves blood flow…
My ADHD symptoms are reduced with exercise, I feel better with massage – I am not going to deny there’s an underlying neurological difference in my brain. But couldn’t it be partially explained by blood flow or iron homeostasis?
Want to know how my ADHD/Depression/Anxiety and OCD get worse – especially when seasonal depression kicks in? This happens:
- It’s winter / I have anxiety / I have no motivation to do exercise / I am stigmatised in life / I have no time to exercise as I am overloaded with sensory stuff or emotional stuff at work from bullying
- I reduce my exercise by withdrawing from this activity
- My blood flow decreases
- I start getting asthma issues
- My blood oxygen transportation and iron transportation levels probably decrease
- My body gets fat – I feel society judging me for this
- I end up with massive amounts of unknown muscle pain from sitting incorrectly most likely
- There’s no release of this stress so it constricts blood flow
- Winter finishes / I start exercising / I get therapy that’s useful / I start to exercise again with a partner / I am scared of looking awful for summer because body standards are ridiculous
- My symptoms reduce as I increase exercise – I feel good about myself – positive neurochemicals start being absorbed
- I feel way more anxious in Winter than Summer…
Why do we have to complicate it with neurochemistry? This seems like an atomization of science – an attempt to reduce things down to a level that is not needed – and Occam’s razor could provide one reason why these apparently different things work.
The reason I ask is that genes significantly impact the role of neurochemicals. I had serotonin shock syndrome for over 10 years due to the fact I think that I am Autistic and there’s a high level of hyperserotonemia (ie. I have a higher than normal level of serotonin in my blood). When I was put on different drugs for treatment of “depression” all of them gave me lasting side effects – but no improvement – some of these made me want to kill myself – blocking my norepinephrine in combination with my serotonin caused the worst of all of these – Venlafaxine almost killed me.
This is not guaranteed for all people but the risk of trying to treat Autistic people especially as though we have the same brains is utterly wrong.
This is just one of the theories I have for mental health – I will be going through them in a series – they need to be addressed at the same time – combination therapy.
- Peripheral iron levels in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Psychiatric disorders risk in patients with iron deficiency anemia and association with iron supplementation medications: a nationwide database analysis
- Iron regulatory protein (IRP)-iron responsive element (IRE) signaling pathway in human neurodegenerative diseases
- Impact of chronic and acute inflammation on extra- and intracellular iron homeostasis
- Acupuncture therapy for fibromyalgia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- Effectiveness of Therapeutic Exercise in Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials
- Physical therapy modalities for treating fibromyalgia
- Manual massage for persons living with dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis
- Paediatric massage for treatment of acute diarrhoea in children: a meta-analysis
- Massage therapy for the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis
- Acupoint Massage for Managing Cognitive Alterations in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Massage therapy in chronic musculoskeletal pain management: a scoping review of the literature