Mental Illness - 1
DEPRESSION, BIPOLAR STATES, SCHIZOPHRENIA
Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Calvin L. Thrash, Jr., M.D., M.P.H.
Mental illnesses fall into two large general categories, neuroses and psychoses. Neuroses involves simple discomfort from some kind of emotional or psychological imbalance, such as excessive fear of insects or excessive shyness. Psychoses, or true mental illnesses, cause incapacitation or greatly reduced ability to function in society or hold a job.
This severe mental disorder, a major psychosis, involves a loss of contact with reality and a permanent or temporary disorganization or disintegration of the personality. One-fourth of all hospitalized mental patients fall into this category. Speech may be garbled and actions inappropriate. Voices may be heard and visions seen. Metabolic or organic factors may be the cause, as some schizophrenics have experienced complete relief after a blood exchange transfusion.
Schizophrenia usually develops during late adolescence or early adulthood as a disruption of thought and emotion. It may appear among children. They then suffer from attention and memory problems, which undermine their ability to communicate with others.
In our experience we have found masturbation to be a nearly universal finding among those who are schizophrenic, being present every time we have inquired. In every case of addictive behavior we have treated consisting of obscene or sexually threatening telephone calls, masturbation has been a part of the disease complex. These youngsters generally falter any time rapid mental activity within a set time limit is required. They also have spatial problems manifested by great difficulty copying simple shapes, which they have viewed even a quarter of a minute earlier. These problems reflect an inability to carry information in "working," or short-term, memory. Therefore, they may have illogical or disconnected statements, because their memory response is so delayed.
Tests have shown that tasks that typically spark surges of electrical activity in one or the other brain hemisphere do not function among schizophrenic youngsters. The right and left hemispheres are not as finely specialized in schizophrenic children. We believe the reason for these phenomena could be the loss of the zinc compounds in seminal and other genital fluids—the same zinc compounds used for fine nerve transmissions.
In schizophrenia, studies have shown that the blood is quite thick and has a slow-flow condition, somewhat like honey on a cold morning. It is not known whether the schizophrenia comes first and causes the thick blood, or whether the thick blood comes first and causes the schizophrenia. We favor the latter position. We believe that too many red blood cells and plasma containing too many nutrients, metabolites, and wastes promote the development of schizophrenia (Ref. BLOOD VISCOSITY IN HEART DISEASE AND CANCER, Editors L. Dintenfass and G.V.F. Seaman, Pergamen Press, 1981).
We treated a man in his early 50s with the program given below and a regular and steady schedule of farm labor for one year. He had had his first hospitalization for schizophrenia shortly after his marriage at age 20. From time to time during the next 27 years, he would have furloughs from the hospital lasting one to ten months, but was never able to hold a job or get off medications. After each of his two children were born, he had short periods of discharge from the hospital, but neither lasted more than six months. It was during a three-month furlough he became our patient. Upon beginning the routine, he became noticeably less withdrawn in two months, began more appropriate and responsible remarks and activities, and eventually became able to work alone in the garden or field. He has not had another hospitalization in 22 years and now functions normally.
European studies done years ago showed that placement of severely depressed or psychotic patients in a family setting was much more effective than hospitalization. The family must be very compassionate, sympathetic, but with firm discipline and a regular family government, preferably living in the country.
Manic depressive disorder (bipolar depression) often runs in families. It may occur at any age, but is rare in childhood and often appears between the ages of 20 to 65, women comprising about two-thirds of all cases. In the manic phase the person may have overabundant energy, never-ceasing activity, and exaggerated sense of well-being. Impulsiveness and incessant talking or telephoning may be pronounced. The person may become obsessed with a person or idea. The judgment is disordered, and the decisions are weak. Moods may suddenly change to irritability and extreme anger with violence. This is often followed by a painful emotional condition of regret or of deep despondency, a sense of guilt over illusory misdeeds and sins. The person may consider suicide. Symptoms such as sluggishness, inability to make decisions, and lack of concentration are pronounced. There may be physical signs such as constipation, sleeplessness or sleepiness, loss of weight, and suppressed intellectual activity almost to the point of stupor. Persons who are rigid, obsessional, or perfectionistic are far more likely to be involved. Diagnosis is by history, but laboratory tests should be obtained for diabetes, over- or underactive thyroid, early kidney failure, or drug abuse. For natural treatments see the following section on depression.
Depression usually has a cause, which should be searched for. Causes fall under two categories: (1) Situational, (2) Metabolic. The first include major losses by death or accident. Situational depression may follow bereavement, a financial loss, dysfunctional family relationships, sexual abuse, etc.
Metabolic depression follows a change in the condition of the internal milieu of the body of such a degree as to influence the mind in a depressive way. It includes severe emotional stresses, such as failed career plans as well as such physical problems as prolonged recovery from illness or injury and malfunctioning thyroid or liver. The depressed person may complain of a variety of symptoms—headache, facial pain, chest pain, skeletal pain, abdominal pain, digestive complaints, constipation, genitourinary or menstrual problems.
The person feels sad, hopeless, and sometimes irritable. Poor appetite with significant weight loss, or contrariwise an increased appetite with a significant weight gain; inability to sleep or sleeping all the time; anxiety or extreme sedation; restlessness or extreme motionlessness; agitation or retardation; reduced or increased interest in sex; loss of energy; feelings of guilt; indecisiveness, and inability to think rapidly. The depression may express itself as the onset of the use of alcohol or drugs. Many depressed persons, particularly youth, may complain of physical problems, or appear to be insane.
Fifteen to thirty percent of Americans suffer at least one episode of depression in their lifetime. Only a fraction of these will ever seek professional help. Since fatigue is the most common presenting symptom in any patient with depression, it should always be considered in any case of chronic fatigue. The fatigue of depression usually begins on awakening, when the person is unable to drag out of bed, but gradually feels better as the day progresses. The physically ill person usually feels better in the morning, but gets worse and worse as the day progresses. The depressed person may wish to be alone, but the sick person more likely desires companionship.
The Course and History
A lowering of vitality, slowing down even to the point of stupor, impairment of mental agility, lack of concentration, inability to sleep, excessive talkativeness, or excessive sleepiness (around the clock except for caring for vital functions). The course usually begins gradually with a deepening unhappiness that seems to involve the entire world. Alertness and sharing of experiences and interests in outside affairs wanes. Gestures disappear. Sleep is not satisfying, dreams are disturbing, appetite diminishes, worse in the morning, getting better in the evening. Work becomes impossible. Preoccupation with disease, ruin and death occurs. Delusion about ill health or financial calamity may occur. Past regrets reflect on the mind (venereal disease, flawed income tax returns, and poor investments). There is often a very significant familial component in depression. Brain chemistry is thought to be altered, with an apparent decrease in serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters. Whether this is a cause or a result of the depression has not been determined.
With some modification we treat all mental illnesses similarly. All forms of mental illness will respond to the treatment at least to some degree, and some will be cured. Do not omit any aspect of the treatment that you can do. That item you decide is not for you may be the curative part for you.
Among the first things to look for in mental illness is that of a lifestyle cause. Check the diet, the exercise program, whether regularity is observed in sleep time, mealtime, etc., whether fresh air and pure water are used, and whether unhealthful beverages, tobacco, drugs, or alcohol are used. Many prescription drugs can cause depression. All matters dealing with physical health must be carefully scrutinized. While one can be depressed because of some situation, the situation is usually recognizable, and can be dealt with. Do not allow chronic depression to take hold of the mind, as it can injure not only the mind, but also the immune system and reduce resistance against disease.
Since coffee and its brown relatives regularly cause depression, elimination should occur during the first phase of treatment. Smoking, a high sugar diet, refined foods, and a lack of regularity in the daily schedule all promote depression. These must be corrected with a firm decision.
Excessive stimulation (as with television, prolonged amusements, prolonged meetings of intense religious fervor, competitive sports, etc.) is frequently followed by periods of depression. Avoid overstimulating activities.
The depressed person should be put to bed two to three hours earlier than the usual bedtime, and seven or eight o'clock in the evening is probably ideal. Arise 7 to 9 hours later, and turn on all the lights in the house to make all the rooms as light as possible. Begin some preplanned activity, the best being purposeful labor.
- Take a totally vegetarian diet. It is the most favorable diet in all forms of mental illness.
- Check the diet for foods to which one may be sensitive, as food sensitivities are more commonly involved in depression and mental illness than has been formerly realized.
- Carefully perform an ELIMINATION AND CHALLENGE DIET.
- Special diet for use in allergies and food sensitivities:
- Eat Freely: Fruits, berries, melons, vegetables. (Avoid foods causing sensitivities as listed in the top 10 food groups listed below.)
- Eat Moderately: Whole grains: rice, bread, millet, rye, barley, wheat, corn; bananas; potatoes: Irish, sweet; dried fruit. If on the gluten-free diet, avoid wheat, wheat breads, rye, barley, and oats. (Avoid sensitivities.)
- Use Sparingly: Nuts, seeds, coconut, olives, and avocados (Avoid all free fats: margarine, butter, mayonnaise, fried foods, cooking fats, salad oils, nut butters, fish, chicken, red meats, sugars, syrup, and honey.)
Eliminate as a test the top 10 food groups causing sensitivity:
- Milk and dairy products
- Coffee, tea, chocolate, colas
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Wheat, corn, rice, oatmeal
- Nightshade group: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, pimento, paprika
- Strawberries, apples, bananas
- Cane sugar, syrup, honey
- Eggs, beef, fish, pork
- Peanuts, all dried legumes, nuts, seeds (except pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, chestnuts, coconuts, pistachios, and pine nuts)
- Garlic, onion, lettuce, spices, flavorings, fats, colorings, yeast products, salt, alcohol, beer, wine.
When testing to discover foods to which one is sensitive, omit all 10 groups for 1 to 6 weeks. When the sensitivity symptoms have disappeared, start adding back foods one at a time every 3 days, until symptoms reappear. Immediately you can know that the last food you added back to your diet is causing sensitivity. Wait again until symptoms disappear, and continue adding back one food every 3 days. Several foods may be at fault, so continue the test, until all foods have been added back that you desire to test.
Never eat even a peanut between meals.
Avoid crash diets for weight reduction.
Fasting for 7 to 30 days has been reported curative in 83 percent of a group of mentally ill patients, including schizophrenia, bipolar states, and depression. If a fast extends longer than 10 days, a physician should supervise the fast, as sudden deaths have occurred in fasts lasting longer than 10 days (Ref. Zhurnal Nevropatologii I Psikhistrii 91(4):101-104, 1991).
We regard lithium to be a dietary supplement very helpful in bipolar states. It is always worth a trial. Consult a physician.
Use a totally vegetarian diet. The same diet used for cancer patients may be beneficial for depression or schizophrenia. Try a gluten-free diet for at least six months.
Certain grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley contain the protein called gluten. These patients may use rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, and corn, if they are not sensitive to these grains for reasons other than the presence of gluten.
Certain individuals sensitive to gluten suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms, malabsorption, headaches, neurotic or psychotic symptoms, agitation and irritation, skin disorders, allergy symptoms, and a host of other problems. These symptoms may arise from increased intestinal permeability.
Use magnesium for schizophrenic symptoms. Start with 1/2 teaspoon of Epsom salts twice a day in a glass of water. If no diarrhea results, increase gradually to 1 teaspoon, three times daily. If it is poorly tolerated, use magnesium oxide or magnesium citrate capsules, 2 three times a day.
Since schizophrenia is often associated with high tissue copper levels, the use of large quantities of garlic or charcoal assist in the excretion of excess copper. Three cloves of raw garlic minced finely and taken with a sandwich three times daily would be sufficient. Two tablespoons of dried powdered garlic may be used instead. Since zinc antagonizes copper, a small supplementation of zinc (no more than 30 mgs. daily) may be tried.
Niacin deficiency (vitamin B3) is associated with pellagra and has been linked by psychiatrists to schizophrenia. Using foods that are high in niacin might be helpful.
- Brewer's yeast
- whole grains
- red kidney beans
- lima beans
- broccoli (more in raw)
- dried apricots
- sunflower seeds
- baking soda
- baking powder
- pork products
- pressed meats
- composite meats
- ground meats
- spices and pepper
It may be beneficial to administer supplements of certain vitamins, such as B12, B3, B6 in high doses for several weeks along with vitamin E, primrose oil, zinc, and manganese. Flaxseed oil, one tablespoon, two or three times a day, may be helpful.
Take one tablespoon of honey half an hour before bedtime and repeat at breakfast to increase serotonin in the brain.
Getting plenty of exercise reduces anxiety and tension. Seventy-five percent of persons with depression showed improvement with jogging. They approached life more optimistically and reported that running gave them more control over their lives. The report was made by Dr. Keith Johnsgard, Professor of Psychology at San Jose University.
Prolonged outdoor exercise 6 to 12 hours daily has been beneficial to schizophrenics and depressed persons treated at our Institute. The treatment is long-term, a year or more.
A deep breathing exercise carried out twice daily can lift the gloom from the spirits. Hold the head high, put a smile on the face, and square the shoulders.
Some of the herbal teas such as sage, catnip, mint, or alfalfa can be helpful. Use one cup in the morning and one at night, one teaspoon of tea leaves in one cup of boiling water. Set aside to soak 20 to 30 minutes before drinking. Skullcap and valerian root are very useful on a daily basis. For the acute phase, or for severe symptoms, use blue verbena and European mistletoe. The recipe for blue verbena is 1 tablespoon of the root, boiled gently in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes; then pour it all into a container with four teaspoons of mistletoe, and steep for 20 minutes (do not boil the mistletoe). Strain and store in a cool place. Use half a cup every two hours as needed for control of symptoms. Make fresh daily.
St. John's wort as a tea, 1 cup 3 times a day or 2 capsules of the powdered herb 3 times a day, has helped many depressed people.
Another herbal tea recipe may be very helpful as follows:
- 1 tablespoon skullcap
- 1 tablespoon damiana
- 1 tablespoon mistletoe, European variety
- 1 quart water
Boil gently for one-half hour. Strain and drink throughout the day. Make fresh daily.
Over two hundred drugs have been reported to cause depression. If you are taking any kind of medication, be aware that drugs are a very common source of depression. Some of the antidepressant drugs can have very adverse side effects, including liver damage, dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, sweating, rapid heartbeat, impotence, etc. Do not forget that coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate contain drugs famous for causing depression.
Get plenty of sunshine, generally while fully clothed. During the day, keep bright lights blazing in the portion of the house the depressed person stays in. Buy the brightest light bulbs and put them in all possible places where the depressed person works. Darken the house at sundown. All lights off at an early bedtime, always before 9:00 pm.
Some persons with psychosis will require some form of restraint, either physical restraint or chemical restraint. Many have found selenium supplementation to be helpful for controlling the manic-depressive states. Lithium supplementation may also be necessary.
Schizophrenics may sometimes become unmanageable, and indeed dangerous to family or friends. In these cases hospitalization, at least until the patient is stabilized, may be mandatory.
The use of oats in any way may help: oatmeal cereal, oatmeal gruel, broth, or tea. The simplest way is to serve oats for breakfast as a cereal, waffles, dodgers, breakfast cakes, etc. See Eat for Strength cookbook for recipes. Oats stimulate the thyroid in a way to normalize its function.
Sometimes a wet sheet pack can offer sufficient physical restraint and enough sedation to avoid hospitalization or the use of medications. Keep the head cool during the entire treatment after the patient gets warmed up. A continuous neutral bath at about 97 to 98 degrees, being sure to keep the head nicely cool, will calm many an agitated patient.
Hot baths (keeping the head cool) for three weeks, five days a week with two days off— a total of fifteen baths. This should be followed by tepid baths at 96 to 97 degrees, being sure to have a cold compress to the face, head and neck. These cool baths can be maintained for two to six hours or more to calm an agitated patient.
Use skin stimulation with a stiff brush before the daily cool shower. See "Brush Massage" in our book Home Remedies for the technique.
A full body massage, or even a foot rub or back rub, three to five times a week stimulates the production of endorphins and reduces tension.
Check the transit time by using three tablespoons of moistened sesame seeds. It should be less than 30 hours from the time the sesame seeds are taken, until the last of the seeds appear in the stool. The average American has a transit time of more than 80 hours.
Regularity in all things must become a study. A large part of depression is a sickness of the brain center controlling the circadian rhythm or biologic time clock. Many cases of depression have been cured by adjusting the hour of bedtime so that the patient retires two hours earlier, usually at 7 or 8 o'clock. The house must be made quiet and dark and all activity cease. The bedtime chosen should be as early as possible and should be adhered to with religious punctuality. If the bedtime chosen is 7:30 each night, then the person turns out the lights and lies down at 7:30 each night, without fail. This is a treatment and not optional. The objective is to reset the circadian rhythm. Many investigators in this field regard depression as a sickness of the circadian rhythm.
Get laboratory tests for blood sugar, blood urea, hematocrit, thyroid, and a battery of chemical tests to determine if a metabolic problem is a factor in the depression. These may be corrected by appropriate dietary and physical means.
Works of charity have a marvelous effect on gloomy spirits. Seek out the widow and orphan, the lonely or bereaved, or the homesick student. Give a back rub to a weary shut-in, or select something that fits your personality and situation.
Control talking carefully—not too much and not too little—and only talk about cheerful subjects. Courage, hope, faith, sympathy, love, and patience promote health and prolong life. Speak often of the New Earth, the home of the saints.
Develop a program of guided Bible study and daily prayer. Learn to control the thoughts and to dwell on heavenly themes.
Control sexuality. Many have no extra strength to use in this direction. Masturbation must be strictly avoided.
Follow the "Eight Laws of Health" with as much adherence as you would obey the Ten Commandments. Pray and commune with the Lord as your constant Companion.
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