Addiction is a disease. We’ve heard this over and over, yet many people still view addiction and behavioral health disorders differently than other medical issues. Because of this, many people feel shame and embarrassment when they struggle with addiction or other behavioral health disorders. It is important to help more people understand the field of Behavioral Health (which includes mental health and addiction) so that we can do awa
y with the stigma and improve treatment protocols and outcomes of these diseases, and so more people can receive the care and experience the transformation we all desire.
Healing of the Mind, Body, and Spirit Leads to Wellness
In order to achieve comprehensive wellness, each sphere of a person, their mind, body, and spirit, must be working properly but then be in healthy connection with each other and integrated together. The mind and body impact and influence each other in many ways, and both must be cared for throughout the person’s life. In the past, behavioral health was not understood or was misinterpreted by many people. Even today, many still fail to see the importance good behavioral health plays in a person’s overall health and wellness.
Behavioral Health is the field of medicine which studies and seeks understanding about what we do, why we do it, and the effects of what we do on our spirit, mind, and body. It then uses that information to help us heal and grow our inner mind and spirit so we can produce healthy decisions and behaviors with a healthy body to act out those decisions.
The brain is an organ like all the rest of the organs in our body, and it can develop problems from various causes, including misuse and poor decision-making, exposure to drugs and toxins, autoimmune issues, or diseases below the neck affecting circulation and nutrients to the brain. Our brain is the most important and complex organ in our body, and is also the most sensitive to stress, poor decisions, and toxins such as drugs or alcohol.
Mental Illness is a Serious Disease
Mental illness is defined as “collectively all diagnosable mental disorders” or “health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.” These are divided into 2 categories of 1. Mental Health and 2. Addictions.
If not cared for properly, the mind and spirit can suffer greatly from behavioral health disorders:
- Addictions (alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, prescription medication misuse and overdose, and food) are the leading cause of death in the United States.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., when you total actual suicides, passive suicides (people losing the will to live and stop taking their insulin, heart medications, or refuse chemotherapy for cancer for example), or the under-reporting of suicides by calling them accidental deaths to avoid stigma, uncertainty of suicide, or to be able to collect on life insurance.
- Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the S. adult population.
- Depression is the leading cause of premature death and days lost to disability in the world.
Behavioral Health Impacts the Entire Body’s Health
If the mind and spirit are unhealthy, a person will often struggle with physical ailments as well. More studies are showing 80% of heart disease (the most common killer other than addictions) is due to behavioral health factors like stress, anger management, conflict, relationship problems, coping skills, emotion management struggles, overeating to soothe, substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, other drugs), chronic stress, and type A personality. Evidence has shown that mental disorders, especially depressive disorders, play a major role in increasing the occurrence, interfering with successful treatment, and worsening the course of many chronic diseases. Some major diseases caused or made worse by mental disorders include diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, asthma, and obesity. Behavioral health issues also lead to risky behaviors such as physical inactivity, smoking, excessive drinking, poor nutrition and eating habits, insufficient sleep, and increase in stress that can cause many other chronic diseases. On the other hand, forgiveness skills play a major part in helping many physical illnesses like heart disease, autoimmune disorders, digestive diseases, depression, addictions, and even cancer!
Maintaining Good Mental and Physical Health
In order to maintain good physical health or to appropriately care for physical illness, healthy psychological skills and self-esteem are important. Good mental health can help increase treatment compliance in all areas such as taking appropriate medications, healthy eating and nutrition, getting proper rest, having the discipline to exercise regularly, maintaining an appropriate weight, following up with your treatment team’s treatment recommendations, and getting preventative tests and exams. If you have a healthy body and are psychologically down, life is very difficult. If you are physically compromised, but have a good attitude, outlook, self-esteem, coping skills, and spiritual maturity and connection with God, life is still very enjoyable and fulfilling. We have seen people in great physical health commit suicide, and seen significantly disabled people (blind, deaf, loss of limb, or even quadriplegic) be very engaged and fulfilled with their life. A healthy mind and spiritual outlook are so much more important than a healthy body.
For overall wellness, all three spheres – spirit, mind, and body – must be cared for. When the primary issue is psychological, we must address it with the same attitude and energy as we do other significant medical disorders, in fact even more serious because how our mind works dramatically affects our physical and spiritual functioning and fulfillment.
Lighthouse Network connects individuals and families with treatment options that incorporate a holistic wellness plan to address all areas of their life. If you or a loved one is struggling with a Behavioral Health disorder, contact us today to learn about your treatment options. Speak to one of our Lighthouse Network Care Guides at 844-LifeChange (543-3242) to learn more.