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Pandemic PTSD and the Surprising Secret to Supporting Good Mental Health
The last year and a half has been marked by fear… isolation… anxiety… loneliness... and grief. And for many, it’s been a time of tremendous loss.
Then there’s the pandemic fallout…
It came on suddenly and intensely, and it’s likely that it completely changed your everyday life. Your sanctuary was transformed into a classroom and a workplace. And, at times, it felt like you were just trapped there.
Even “normal” activities like grocery shopping felt dangerous, and many of your regular outlets – like going to the gym – just weren’t available.
All of those major stressors caused record levels of mental health issues – and how could they not? So if you feel like you’ve been suffering from some form or depression or anxiety – what many are referring to as “pandemic PTSD,” you need real relief.
And the surprising first step toward reclaiming your mental health starts in your gut. Because – weird as it sounds – good mental health requires a healthy, well-balanced gut.
The Pandemic Toll on Mental Health
COVID-19 turned life upside down without warning. It forced changes in your daily routine, used up all of your mental energy, and demanded new coping skills. The forced isolation… the constant fear of infection… the daily death counts all over the media…the loss of normalcy… all of these traumatic events took a huge toll on our collective mental health.
And if you or a loved one got hit by the virus, that added another layer of fear and worry – not to mention the physical toll of COVID-19. Plus, new research shows that 18% of COVID-19 patients develop first-time mental health problems within three months of getting the virus.
The impact of pandemic PTSD has been far-reaching. Research shows that pandemic-related PTSD has struck:
- 27% of health care workers
- 24% of COVID-19 patients
- 20% of the general public
So it’s not surprising – but definitely alarming – that nearly four times as many Americans experienced mental health problems in 2020 compared to 2019.
The Brain Chemicals That Control Your Moods and Mental Health
Special brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are responsible for all of your emotions. And to keep you in good mental health, your brain needs plenty of these crucial chemicals:
- Serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter that naturally reduces symptoms of PTSD and depression
- Dopamine, the “reward” neurotransmitter that gives you a quick mood boost and helps you enjoy life
- GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the calming neurotransmitter than turns down the volume on fear and anxiety
When production of these essential neurotransmitters runs low – which happens when you experience prolonged stress and trauma – your moods follow, leading to depression, anxiety, and intensified PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) symptoms.
Plus, it turns out that the COVID-19 virus itself can interfere with neurotransmitter production and cause mental health issues.
So with all of that, it’s no wonder that more people than ever have sought help for mental health problems… including taking antidepressants.
But here's the kicker: The most commonly prescribed antidepressants work by sort of recycling your serotonin to keep levels up high enough to boost your mood.
The drugs prevent your cells from reabsorbing serotonin after it’s been used. That’s why they’re called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). But when serotonin production drops too low, there’s still not enough to go around.
That’s why it’s prudent to consider approaching mental health support another way, and focus on increasing neurotransmitter production. And most of your neurotransmitter production happens in your gut!
The Neurotransmitter Production Plant in Your Gut
Your gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria. And when it’s in healthy balance, a state where diverse populations of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) vastly outnumber harmful bacteria, you feel your best. Those beneficial bacteria help keep you healthy… physically and mentally.
In fact, beneficial gut bacteria produce more than 90% of your body’s total serotonin supply. And they also produce other key neurotransmitters like GABA and dopamine. At the same time, beneficial bacteria help keep stress hormone levels under control, so you don’t feel on edge all of the time.
But when your gut microbiome has an overgrowth of harmful bacteria – a condition called dysbiosis – production of those important neurotransmitters drops dramatically. That can trigger or worsen depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to knock your gut microbiome into a state of dysbiosis. Anything from chronic stress to a dose of antibiotics to a few meals worth of unhealthy foods can do it. And it turns out that the COVID-19 virus can bring on dysbiosis too.
An Unbalanced Gut Shuts Down Neurotransmitter Production
Gut dysbiosis undermines your mental health in a few different ways, starting with depressed neurotransmitter production. With dysbiosis, harmful bacteria crowd out beneficial bacteria, leaving much fewer good guys available to produce calming, mood-boosting brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.
Along with that major blow to good mental health, the bad bacteria overgrowth makes things even worse by:
- Increasing levels of cortisol – the stress hormone – making it harder for your mind and body to ever calm down
- Causing inflammation that can reach your brain, which can provoke anxiety and other mental health disorders
- Releasing LPS toxins (lipopolysaccharides) that trick your nervous system into sending distress signals to your brain, triggering fear and anxiety symptoms
So getting good mental health back on track calls for a supporting the balance of your gut microbiome. Because a balanced gut means beneficial probiotic bacteria can produce more feel-better neurotransmitters… and harmful bacteria can’t drag you down.
Rebalance Your Gut for a Natural Neurotransmitter Boost
Getting – and keeping – your gut microbiome in balance is easy. By taking just two simple steps, you’ll be able to effectively address harmful bacteria and encourage beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive.
Step 1: Restore Balance with Spore Probiotic Supplements
High quality spore probiotics have a huge advantage over other off-the-shelf probiotics: They survive everything from extreme temperatures to stomach acid to arrive in your gut microbiome 100% alive and ready to work. These powerful probiotic strains quickly take control of the gut environment to clear out bad bacteria and drive the growth of large, diverse populations of beneficial probiotic bacteria.
Step 2: Nourish Probiotics with Targeted PREbiotics
Probiotic bacteria need the right food to grow and multiply. That means special forms of prebiotic fiber that specifically nourish only probiotic bacteria. These prebiotics deliver exactly what probiotics need to produce neurotransmitters and other life-sustaining compounds.
So to ramp up neurotransmitter production and optimally support your mental health, focus on balance of your microbiome.
Just Thrive Keeps Your Gut Microbiome in Healthy Balance
A healthy, happy gut microbiome delivers hundreds of physical and mental health benefits every day – but it needs support to stay optimally strong and balanced.
Just Thrive Probiotic contains four strains of clinically-proven spore probiotics that support a healthy, diverse gut microbiome.
Just Thrive Precision PREbiotic exclusively nourishes beneficial probiotic bacteria, giving them their best chance to survive and thrive.