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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live with self-care mastery. It is for all medical patients, caregivers, and advocates who want to learn how to collaborate with physicians to optimize health. It is also for those living with a debilitating medical condition who want to learn about the power of the mind to effect physiological changes, including ideas and practices that allow the mind to be the catalyst for healing.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are relevant published articles. Wednesday posts are videos of webinars or interviews. Friday posts consist of questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Can Mental Health Improve Physical Health?

ANSWER: There are two distinct areas that dramatically influence health outcomes.

1. Healthcare: This starts with having a good primary care physician who takes good care of you and refers you to the proper specialists when appropriate.

2. Self-care

          a. Diet, exercise, sleep, stress-management

          b. Mental health: This is the most challenging and the most overlooked area of life that influences our state of health. Mental health directly influences physiological health.

Here is how:

We all engage in ways of thinking that create emotional distress. When emotional distress becomes chronic, it results in physiological stress, which then influences our state of health.  If you live with chronic health challenges, it is important to work on improving your mental health. Good mental health may not cure you of your chronic illness, but it will certainly have positive, healthy, physiological effects, thereby improving your odds of experiencing better health.  I recommend doing all you can do to increase wellbeing. Emotional baggage that we carry through life, which prevents us from being happier, can be worked with in psychotherapy. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find the right therapist. My preference is for group therapy. Even if you are lucky enough to find a therapist who helps you improve your state of wellbeing, it is not enough. See all the various recommendations that have previously been described in this weekly column. Lastly…

          c. Beyond what can be offered through good psychotherapy there is the realm of mind training and altered states of consciousness that are associated with improved health and even remarkable, unexpected recoveries from serious illnesses.  I have presented interesting case studies involving various altered states of consciousness in my book In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions, and I plan to increase my writing about it here in this column.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.
What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges that are related to the relationship between states of mind and health?
Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. I will post a reply to your comment, but your specific question may not appear in this column. When I get a certain number of related questions, I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

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