You have just started college. This is the first time you are living without your parents. The courses at the college are tougher than what you anticipated, and now you are really cursing yourself and asking yourself why you did this. You are thinking that you should have taken fewer courses (Wanted to impress the parents and relatives). Meanwhile, you don’t have too much money to spend, and most of the time you are either eating fast food or TV dinners.
Suddenly, during the second month of your first year of college, you start to have these recurring, intrusive feelings that something is not right. You start getting afraid of the smallest things and have intensive and persistent feeling of not being adequate. You might even stop going out with friends because it makes you feel really uneasy and feels frightening. On a few occasions, you have episodes where you felt that you couldn’t breathe; your heart was beating so fast that it was going to jump out of your chest or you were having this vague chest pain or unexplained headaches or were feeling that you would pass out. Having a little bit of fear and apprehension during those early days of this huge change in your life is okay, but missing classes, and getting low grades and staying further and further away from your friends, that’s all not OK. You’re having severe anxiety and panic attacks.
Among many other factors affecting our ability to cope with the big changes in our life when we start college is our nutrition and food choices, and and making bad decisions about food can lead to us not giving our body and mind strength and means to deal with these stressors.Food choices when we go off to college away from our homes have a significant effect on overall health and mood. The processed foods in fast food and TV dinners contain all the ingredients to make one’s body and mind weak, sluggish and sick. When these Trans Fats or hydrogenated fats go to our brain – which itself is a big blob of fat – it starts to protest initially in the form of mild headaches or mild fatigue, but if it keeps getting the same kind of bad fuel, things progress to worse symptoms, with mood problems like anxiety and depression being one of them, along with severe lack of focus and concentration. Also this evil food, along with the increased stress hormones, starts to cause excessive and uncontrolled inflammation of the gut. This inflammation also reaches the brain and causes mood issues and fatigue. The delicate balance of our good bacteria is disturbed. These bacteria are involved in the synthesis of Serotonin, the happy neurochemical, and in the manufacturing and proper digestion and absorption of many vitamins, minerals and nutrients which are extremely important to keep us happy, active and energetic.
Try simple techniques and make simple changes in your lifestyle in order to avoid these negative outcomes. Beyond diet, begin regular, moderate exercise, plus meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Also, make sure that most of the food you eat is organic and chemical free. Avoid processed foods. Eat mostly fresh vegetables along with some fresh fruit, unprocessed grains, and healthy oils like olive oil. Often, the mood-related symptoms of this period lead to lifelong consequences, such as a regime of antidepressants.
If you would like to make an appointment or have questions about our clinic please give our office a call:
Dr. Shah, MD
Mandala Integrative Medicine