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How to Improve Mental Illness — So Much Is Already Within Your Power! Part One

Updated: Apr 5

“Don’t take no for an answer, never submit to failure.” — Winston Churchill

In 2017 the World Health Organization estimated that more than 10% of the world’s population, or one in every ten people suffered from mental health disorders.

The most common were anxiety disorders, followed by depression. The rates of these were the highest in the US at 20% of the population. Dr. Christopher Palmer, the author of Brain Energy, estimates these rates now, in 2023, are more like 50% of the population who meet the criteria for a mental disorder at some point in their lives.¹

In this article, Part One, I want to paint a broad picture of the situation we all face and what we can actually do about it.

Part Two will look at more specifics regarding the new findings of causes, cures, and the fascinating new viewpoint of a root cause for all mental illness!

Mental Illness Signs and Symptoms

Here is a list of early signs that you or a loved one may be on a path toward mental illness in the future:

  • Mood, sleep, or appetite changes

  • Decline in personal care

  • Emotional shifts

  • Depressed feelings

  • Irritability

  • Social withdrawal

  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed

  • Excessive or long-lasting fear, worry, anxiety, sadness

  • Feeling ‘low’

  • Memory loss

  • Finger or hand tremors while at rest⁵

And more signs that are often overlooked by the person themselves, and even their family and friends are:

  • Constant fatigue (wanting to sleep a lot)

  • Physical pain

  • Perfectionism to extreme

  • Excitable, hyper, manic (the opposite of depressed or low)

  • Blankness, nothingness, disregard of self or the world around them

  • Inability to experience joy or pleasure

  • Avoidance of people, situations, tasks, etc. Some of this may be normal, but patterns may be a red flag.

In addition, they may avoid what for them are panic-causing situations. They may set extreme limits on themselves as a coping or protective strategy, thereby worsening their condition. For example, not leaving the house which leads to isolation, or severely limiting food intake to attain their ideal body image, to name two.

Of course, in the short term, none of these is cause to worry. Rather, just a reason to keep an eye on the situation.²

Are Some People Genetically Predisposed to Develop Mental Illness?

There are some people who are terrified of developing a mental illness themselves because a parent, grandparent, or other relative had, or has, that disorder. And this is totally understandable! Everyone knows that mental illness runs in families, right?

Along those lines, there are many folks who decide not to have children of their own for the same reason. While no one can decide this for them, I have good news on that front!

Recent studies find, as reported in Dr. Chris Palmer’s new book, Brain Energy:

“There are genes that confer tiny amounts of risk, but other studies suggest that not even one gene has been found that confers significant risk, despite looking at more than 1.2 million genetic variations in human DNA.”³

Furthermore, the genetic answer has eluded researchers in other disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Finding no easy answers in human DNA for these was disappointing. In other words, there is no specific gene for these conditions, mental or physical.

However, there can be preexisting areas of weakness from genetics, past experiences, our own personal background, family history, and more. The good news is that there is a lot we can do to mitigate any risk in the above areas! In Part Two, I’ll share my own experience with this situation. I found that understanding the facts concerning epigenetics can go a long way to calming the fears of inheriting mental illness.

Here I’d like to share Dr. Palmer’s dedication of his book, Brain Energy:

To my mother: My futile attempts to save you from the ravages of mental illness lit a fire in me that burns to this day. I’m sorry I didn’t figure this out in time to help you. May you rest in peace.

Dr. Palmer’s war against mental illness is personal for him, and I believe his commitment to finding the best answers for us all is very real and dependable.

Obviously, it is important to establish whether or not mental illness is transmitted through our genes. But so far, research has not been able to prove that this is a significant means of transference down family lines. For a lot more on this subject please see Brain Energy, Chapter 10, Genetics and Epigenetics.

Dr. Palmer’s Theory of One Root Cause for Mental Illness in a Nutshell

It is a fact that patients who present with mental symptoms commonly have symptoms of medical disorders as well. Often there are overlaps between a patient’s mental, neurological, and physical health problems. Specific symptoms may have a bidirectional relationship where, if you find one, you will often find the other with it.

In his book, Dr. Palmer also makes a clear and well-documented case for proving the link between our mitochondria, (a fascinating structure found in large numbers in most cells in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur. They are the drivers of our cells.) our metabolism (the end purpose of which is to nourish and produce energy for both brain and body), and the brain itself. Wherever the weakest link or vulnerability is — that will most likely determine the signs and symptoms that present first.⁴

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Follow the money.” Well, here I say, “Follow the energy!” If there is a block of some kind to any group of cells, whether they are in the brain, body, or both, then there will be a metabolic problem. To compare this to electrical energy, if there is a block in the circuit, the electricity will cease to flow.

All cells and their batteries (mitochondria) need energy to thrive and do their jobs. If they get their necessary nourishment and care, they will thrive. If they don’t, signs and symptoms may begin to show. There will be mental symptoms if the mitochondria in the brain are deprived, and physical symptoms if the deprivation takes place in the body. It makes sense that if a deprivation or condition or situation is affecting the body, it is also affecting the brain and vice versa. They are really not separate entities!

So if a group of cells, whether it be brain cells or other parts of the anatomy, doesn’t get what it needs for whatever reason (and there are many), then mental and/or physical illness will result. Parkinson’s Disease, for example, is a neurological condition in which both the brain and the body are chronically affected. Mainstream medicine says the cause is unknown.

Dr. Palmer’s research, however, examines the existence of a common cause and pathway for all of these seemingly unrelated illnesses that somehow tend to show up together! And if we can find that common cause maybe we can find a common cure!

This is a very simplified explanation of the theory presented in Brain Energy, a book written for doctors, mental health professionals, and the everyday reader. Dr. Palmer’s elegant and many-faceted work is worth the read if you or someone you know is dealing with this problem.

Important Steps for Everyone

Start now to practice healthy life habits that will go a long way to prevent metabolic disease of all kinds. Teach them to your children as well! Tell them why these things are important by tying them to a simple explanation of cause and cure. We can spare them a lifetime of doctor visits, medication, and illness by giving them guidelines for a healthy body and mind.

We can also share these with friends and loved ones who may already have a health problem or one of the warning signs listed in this article. A natural approach is very effective for healing and prevention. Here is a general list of the categories in which we can take definite steps for prevention and even remission:

  • Diet

  • Good sleep

  • Stress Reduction

  • Removing toxic substances (including medications) wherever possible — you must work with your doctor to slowly wean off psychotropic medications if he sees fit for your situation. Dr. Palmer says the key is to go slowly, in tiny increments!

  • Exercise in moderation

  • Vitamin and mineral supplementation with your doctor’s approval

  • Working with our bodies’ circadian rhythm

  • Finding purpose in life

  • Getting help with life’s major stress situations

  • Keeping in touch with a supportive network of friends

  • Life balance

If you or a family member have concerns about your health, whether mental or physical, please be encouraged. We do have hope, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That tunnel may not be as long or scary as we once thought! It will take determination, support, and a “no holds barred” attitude to prevent or control a disorder. If you and your loved one have what it takes then you can beat the odds in many cases.

For more information on cases where real people have fought and won the battle against mental illness, please see my article, “One Special Treatment for Schizophrenia Using a Cutting Edge Diet” on Medium or on my website,

In Part Two, I’ll do a thorough breakdown of the tactics recommended by cutting-edge experts that we can use to improve or prevent mental illness so that you can take real, positive action!

“Never give up, never surrender!” — Galaxy Quest

1 Palmer, Brain Energy, BenBella Books, Dallas, TX, 2022, p. 9,10 2 Schueler, McKenna. “Five Warning Signs of Mental Illness that People Miss,” 3 May 2021. 3 Palmer, Brain Energy, BenBella Books, Dallas, TX, 2022, p. 177 4 Ibid., pp.170–171 5

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