Saturday, May 11, 2013

To Fight Depression - Get Focused and Change What You Can

To fight depression...what do you do? Do you turn to harmful substances, habits, "stuff" or escape mechanisms? Are you tired of merely coping, and seriously want to fight depression, to change what you can, and move on with life?

I'm someone who has a lot of pressures to juggle. I have plenty of "triggers" and habits that have set me on a fight with my own depression, and I don't use chemicals of any sort to deal with life. Mind you: I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or professional counselor. I only share with you, from a layman's perspective, what I've learned.

In hindsight, I think my dad struggled with depression. I won't add insult to his memory, but the gravity of a depressed father and husband pulls others quickly into a downward spiral and Tilt-a-Whirls of emotion. As I grew up, I realized I often struggle in the same way. What follows is what I've learned to practice to find hope and sometimes joy, despite circumstances.

My hope for you is that you'll be able to use these tips to get out of your slump and re-take the helm. Steer your ship for calmer seas, head for hope, wherever that takes you. Hopefully it's nowhere near a shipwreck. Without further ado, here's my simple, general plan to fight depression, and change what you can.
Identify the Triggers
Listing them out, target what you can change
Set the goal, work the plan
Hit the next Trigger...

Let's break those down:

1. Identify the Triggers Depression is caused by a trigger of some sort. There are a number of causes, too numerous to list here, but generally there are two main categories of triggers: trauma of one form or another, or stress. Another trigger that causes depression is a chemical imbalance, or psychiatric condition. If clinical depression runs in your family, stemming from a mental or psychiatric disorder or chemical imbalance, then I can tell you that this article will be of little help. You'll need to speak with a counselor or psychologist, or other mental health professional.

I know what I've done to fight depression, but I don't have a medical or family history, or a chemical imbalance of any sort. The depression I know to fight is caused by everyday, common triggers such as: financial duress, stress, a need to find my purpose in life, self-respect, a lack of goals and directions, disappointing circumstances...otherwise known as: life.

Whatever your triggers may be, the first step in fighting off depression is to identify the source(s) or trigger(s) of the depression.

2. Listing them out, target what you can change When you have a written list of what's causing your depression, then you're closer to a real solution.

Of all your triggers and sources of depression, break the list down into two categories. Be tough and honest here, as you break them down into what you can and what you cannot change. An example of what you can change: your income. This is practically, I want to say always, the case. This is an example of what I meant by "be tough and honest." If you want to change what you can, don't cheat yourself a solution by listing something you have control over as something you can't change.

The point is: to change what you can, don't hide behind the excuse that it's too difficult. Change is by its very nature a challenge. Lasting, meaningful change will be difficult, and well worth the sweat.

Examples of what you can't change: the past, your family or other people, the global or local economy, climate or the government (at least, not until elections!). Avoid dwelling on these sources of depression--you'll just beat your forehead bloody, right into a brick wall. Move on.

Now, you can do something about your past: talk to a trusted counselor, friend or professional who can help you by listening with a sympathetic ear. You can get advice on how to cope with the past in healthy ways. You just can't change the facts as they are. The old term was "kicking against the goads," but what a goad is I'll never know. Focus your energy on changing the one thing you can: you. Everything else will have to wait.

3. Set the goal, work the plan This is fairly simple, since this is still mostly on paper. You want to pick one target from the list of things you can control or change. You want to work what makes the most sense for you. For instance, you may have several small triggers that irritate you, but your depression is really caused by a shortage of income and high level of debt. Identifying the main culprit as an income problem, set the goal as getting out of debt, and make a plan. Now work the plan until the goal is achieved.

This is where the "get focused" part of the title comes in. Say the goal is that you want to lose 35 pounds by summer. Either you come up with the plan, or you can get advice, or buy a program or kit, or join a group of similarly-minded individuals headed the same direction as you, for that particular problem. Then you just stick with the plan. Stay focused.

Using my case as an example, I wanted for the longest time to discover what my purpose was, my calling if you will, in life. I knew I loved to write, I just couldn't figure out how to make that translate into an income (silly, I know!). In any event, I had no idea how to make that work so I asked someone I trust, an entrepreneur I know who's younger than me and in the six figures. From my perspective, he knows what he's talking about in the business and financial realms. He amazed me with a flurry of potential solutions to my problem in an instant. I don't think he batted an eyelash.

Not only did I have the "trigger" of wandering around aimlessly with low self confidence and habitual aimlessness, but I had the pressure of the economy crashing on my head and another child due soon. My friend the entrepreneur answered my two biggest concerns in one fell swoop with four different solutions. All I had to do was pick what I thought would work. Well, it's working!

4. Hit the next Trigger... Once you have a bit of a victory in one area or two of your life, and you're stable in those areas, then you can ease into identifying another trigger. Just "lather, rinse and repeat" so to speak.

That's a very simplified version of what I'm doing in my life. Personally, I've gone from the nadir (low point) to the zenith (high point) in a matter of months. By tackling two of my biggest triggers--and yes, there are other areas of my life I need to watch so I don't spiral into another depression--I can keep the moody blues away a day at a time. More than that, I'm hopeful for what's to come, and you'll often find me laughing out loud when I'm overcome by random joy. It may be overcast this winter, but this sunbeam's shining where clouds can't touch it.

That sunbeam's a ray of hope.

If you get focused and follow these steps, I'm sure you'll change what you can, one step at a time, to fight depression and do so successfully.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and the Stress Spiral

Stress and anxiety are an unfortunate, but sometimes necessary and inevitable feature of modern life.

As with diet, obesity, alcohol and smoking I am afraid that the news is simple. They have to be addressed.

Learning to deal with stress is something that can be consciously learned and practiced and new techniques have proven very effective.

A higher than average percentage of patients undergoing Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue treatment are, or were, engaged in high stress environments.

This may be or have been at home, as carers of relatives or young children. It may have been in work detail or during a divorce or home move.

Whatever the cause a significant increase in stress is frequently cited at the time of onset of the sufferers Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms.

As well as being implicated pre-onset, stress reactions are involved in the maintenance and exacerbation of the Syndrome post-onset.

Blood pressure, heart rate, the entire endocrine system which controls hormone production are all implicated and involved during stress reactions.

Unfortunately, the system that directly controls all these systems, the Autonomic Nervous System, in particular the Sympathetic Nervous System or "day nerve" remains malfunctional post-onset.

The result, unfortunately, will be an exacerbated negative reaction of your Fatigue and Fibromyalgia symptoms to stress and anxiety producing situations.

To make matters worse there is evidence that once activated the stress reaction lasts abnormally longer in patients afflicted with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Is CFS more common in stressed people?

Let me first give a very broad outline of how general medical advice is presented to Healthcare providers in diagnosing Fibromyalgia and CFS patients:

"frequently seen characteristics of CFS and Fibromyalgia patients

* People who through their own personal attitudes and anxieties tend to make their own lives mores stressful.

* People who are highly ambitious, they appear to be always active physically and mentally.

* People whose lives are fully absorbed coping with the needs and requirements of others.

* People who avoid taking the time they need for themselves to rest, relax and recuperate and build supportive relationships that are entirely their own.

*People who have difficulty finding others to confide in, so bottling up years of emotions and pain at times of bereavement or loss. "

In itself this is not an inaccurate description of frequently seen characteristics of Fibromyalgia and CFS sufferers. However it is so broad that it can describe patients with a multitude of other conditions.

As I have said many times the human body is a remarkably resilient organism, able to accommodate fantastic pressures and stresses, but as with all machines and organisms there comes a breaking point.

Stress appears to be a very large facilitating factor for people who become the unfortunate ones to develop CFS and Fibromyalgia post "trigger" infection or trauma.

A lesser, but still analogous example of stress related conditions is frequently referred to as "burnout", or simply "stress" and I quote.

"A series of personal life circumstances combine to create a "breaking point", for example; death of a close family member, chronic pain, moving house, bullying at work, divorce, separation, financial loss or redundancy have all been linked to detrimental changes in health "

How stress can become a causal factor in Fibromyalgia and CFS

The initial trauma that was the notable "trigger" of your CFS or Fibromyalgia is usually cited as a bacterial/viral or chemically invasive attack of some kind, but it has been noted that in some sufferers extreme acute stress, such as bereavement, divorce, bullying, extremes of overwork may also be a trigger for CFS symptoms in the absence of a notable infection or exposure.

This makes sense in that scientific evidence has shown conclusively that stress lowers our immune defenses against infection as witnessed by white blood cell and lymphocyte counts.

Also, stress has been shown to directly affect the body in the short to medium term causing extreme fatigue and more disabling problems such as migraine, impairment of concentration and memory and interrupted sleep patterns.

Fortunately, as a society we have been woken up to the negative effects of stress.

As is often the case it has taken the negative economic implications of stress to spur employers and healthcare providers into action.

Sufferers no longer have to fight against the labeling that was common with previous generations which took the basic premise that "stress, depression and anxiety are all in the mind and are a sign of weakness"

How stress can maintain and exacerbate CFS and Fibromyalgia

Stress, depression and anxiety are known to slow down and in severe cases prevent recovery from infectious illnesses, and this is partly where the confusion and malpractice surrounding the CFS/depression arena was instigated and fed by general practice and psychologists over the last few decades.

The dividing line between the two conditions can appear very close to the untrained eye, but on closer inspection CFS and Fibromyalgia do in fact have a totally unique subset of features when compared to depression of any type.

To further muddy the waters both CFS and depression cause physical symptoms which can be similar to each other on initial presentation and also there is crossover with the symptoms of various infectious illnesses of the rheumatic and auto-immune spectrum.

As I have mentioned several times in my text, establishment apathy and nonchalance about the true nature of CFS and Fibromyalgia have lead to it being sidelined as a subdivision of psychology and particularly depression.

Historically, when help is sought, sufferers are left feeling isolated and misunderstood to the extent that they will begin to hide their symptoms, live in denial worried about other peoples reactions, and press on regardless while understating their illness.

Unfortunately, these typical reactions only serve to heighten overall stress levels which is precisely the opposite of the reaction needed for recuperation and so leads to a further exacerbation and worsening of symptoms.

A lot of sufferers understandably avoid further professional help.

Some work very hard to find a cure and convince people that CFS/ME/Fibromyalgia is a real illness. This leads to sufferers experiencing a desperate urgency to recover which is met and fed by a cynical and irresponsible health industry full of fake cures, miracle pills and treatments.

All this while sufferers are feeling threatened, scared, angry, stigmatized and generally ill.

The stress cycle goes even higher, and the result, sufferers sink even lower.

There are times in a person life when it may become particularly difficult to actually be ill at all.

For example as a carer of an ill relative, or a baby or young children, during a period of house renovation or construction, the demands of work as primary source of income.

In the absence of people that can help practically and emotionally in these life scenarios it can be very difficult to actually say "STOP".

Traditional medicine understood the importance of recuperation, rest, relaxation and contemplation as an important therapeutical facet of overcoming serious illnesses and infections.

In the presence of a frightening array of diseases which are now largely purged from modern society, and the absence of powerful antibiotics and antivirals, painkillers and analgesics, the body was largely left to its own devices.

In Traditional medicine patients were often treated with herbal tonics and natural cures, a lot of these were incidentally quite effective but have now been largely forgotten, dismissed or dismantled and reproduced in synthetic form to provide the basis of 75% of modern pharmaceuticals.

However the primary strategy of the era involved long periods of rest and recuperation.

By contrast, modern medicine and society place more importance on masking the symptoms, " keeping a stiff upper lip", "knocking it on the head" and "getting back on the job" as quickly as possible.

A "get well quick" protocol which unfortunately is completely at odds with a recuperative strategy for illnesses such as CFS and fibromyalgia.

Learning to control and reduce stress is an important and essential adjunct to any CFS and Fibromyalgia recovery strategy.

You will need to learn how to recognize stress and how to short circuit the sequence of events that leads to a "stress spiral".

Techniques of physical and psychological relaxation are essential and very effective.

Learning when to say NO is essential and avoiding all events and activities that place you under unnecessary stress or anxiety are essential in the short to medium term.

In my next article on this subject I will be talking about techniques that can be used effectively to short circuit and alleviate stress and anxiety at home, in the car and at the workplace.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: How to Treat It Naturally

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very similar to clinical depression. The main difference between SAD and clinical depression is the time of year and light levels, especially in the northern latitudes. While clinical depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and is usually persistent throughout the year, SAD is seasonal. The symptoms usually appear during the fall and winter and go disappear during the spring and summer.

Receptors in the eye sense light levels, and the change in light levels affect the levels of brain chemicals. Two important brain chemicals that it affects are melatonin and serotonin. In SAD sufferers, serotonin decreases during the fall and winter. Serotonin not only affects mood, energy levels, it can cause carbohydrate cravings and weight gain too.

On the other hand, melatonin is produced in the darkness, and production stops with daylight. When light decreases during the fall and winter, it can skew the levels of melatonin and affect the quality and length of sleep. Furthermore, melatonin is produced from serotonin. When the levels of serotonin fall, melatonin levels can fall too. Consequently, SAD sufferers not only suffer from depression, but they can suffer from sleep disorders too. Even with non-seasonal depression, there is a close connection between depression and sleep. Researchers have discovered that depression can cause sleep disorders, and sleep disorders can depression. Regardless of which came first, it becomes a viscious circle. While some SAD sufferers sleep too much, others develop insomnia or circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Tragically, in addition to the link between depression and sleep, a chronic lack of sleep can cause an increased risk of heart problems, diabetes, traffic and work-related accidents, and more.

The four standard ways of treating SAD are antidepressants, light therapy, negative ion therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, the antidepressants for treating SAD can have negative side effects while cognitive behavioral therapy can be slow process. In fact, in some people, the antidepressants can increase suicidal feelings and violent behavior. Fortunately, in clinical trials, light therapy has been found to be just as effect as antidepressants, and negative ion therapy has been found to be almost as effective as light therapy.

There are two different types of light therapy: SAD lights and wakeup lights/sunrise alarm clocks. SAD light treatment consists of sitting nearby a light box that produces certain wavelengths of lights for approximately thirty minutes upon awakening.

However, even if you don't feel like you have thirty minutes every minutes, there is still hope. SAD light visors and wake up lights make light therapy even easier. Light visors can be worn on your favorite cap while you're going about your morning routine while wakeup lights are even more convenient yet. Unlike light boxes, wakeup lights use dawn simulation. Dawn simulation mimics the morning sun. It uses a gradually intensifying light thirty minutes before arising and to helps you awaken more easily and feel refreshed on those dark winter mornings. Some wakeup lights even have more features like dusk simulation, white noise, and more.

Clinical Depression - How To Find A Treatment

In the past finding any information about clinical depression was very difficult, because of the stigma that came with any mental illness it was just not talked about and sufferers felt ashamed and embarrassed to even go and see their family doctor about their symptoms.

Nowadays, thank goodness, this is changing for the better. Mental health issues are beginning to be understood more and the majority of people no longer look on someone who has symptoms of a mental illness as "nutters" or "headcases". It has taken a long time but a mental "illness" is now being looked on as just that, an "illness" just like any other condition, physical or otherwise. We no longer get locked up for life in a mental asylum as our ancestors would have been.

A lot of people with symptoms of clinical depression now feel they can talk to family or friends about it without being embarrassed and without fear of ridicule.

The next step, if you feel you are suffering with clinical depression will be to see your family doctor as soon as possible so a correct diagnosis can be made. Remember, doctors see this condition every day and have hundreds of patients coming to them looking for answers and treatment, there is nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about visiting the doctors surgery.

If your doctor feels you need further help he will refer you to the mental health team which will include psychiatrists, therapists, counsellors etc, if your condition is mild to moderate depression he may first try medication for a short term to see how you respond before deciding on further treatment.

In the age of the internet there are many thousands of places to find information about clinical depression. Educating yourself in this way is a good idea but do not take everything you see and read about as absolute fact, remember a lot of these sites have sprung up and the site owners have no education or experience in mental health. At the end of the day your doctor and psychiatrist have spent many years in medical school, training to be the best in their field so these are the people you need to take advice from regarding your health, mental or otherwise.

Your doctor or mental health team will decide on the best course of treatment for your individual symptoms, not everyone with clinical depression will have the same symptoms so every case must be dealt with differently.

Remember, it is an illness and it can be treated, so don't delay in seeing your family doctor.

穢 Andrew Tudor Jones

Depression Recovery Differences Between Men And Women

Depression affects far less men than females yet it is nonetheless a figure of six percent on a global scale. Although the medications and treatment offered to women dealing with depression is like that offered to men, the symptoms are different. So male depression recovery has to be approached differently.

According to the majority of physicians and therapists, men react differently compared to females in terms of dealing with depression. Men are more inclined to anger, bad temper and violence. It is more usual for males to lose their self-control whereas women experience greater levels of feelings of insignificance and hopelessness.

Nonetheless, many of the signs are common to both men and women. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include:

-- feelings of sorrow
-- feelings of worthlessness for no evident reason
-- sudden weight loss
-- appetite changes
-- putting on weight
-- eating too much
-- not being able to sleep
-- feeling irritated
-- decreased energy levels
-- frequently feeling drained and sleepy
-- often feeling guilty for no apparent reason
-- unexplained aches and pains
-- lack of ability to focus on things

Males who are depressed tend to cover their feelings and control their emotions to hidden. While females find it easier to verbalize their grief and are more likely to shed tears. They are as well more likely to increase their amount of hours asleep and sometimes eat too much although men more frequently still go to work, visit the gym and continue their every day engagements.

Males also tend to keep their thoughts to themselves rather than tell their family and friends how they are feeling. When this happens, they habitually detach themselves from their normal social life which tends to make matters worse and is one of the numerous reasons why depression amongst males can be difficult to discover.

Even though there are numerous treatments and medications readily accessible to help men with recovering from depression, it is frequently rather challenging to encourage them to ask for such remedies or even simply to see a physician. This is when their condition gets worst.

If you know someone who's going through depression try to talk them around to see a professional so they can get the appropriate medication for them.

Make sure you give them extra care and support. If you spot that they are experiencing frustration and other signs and symptoms associated with depression in men, try to reach out to them and lend a helping hand. You could give them some books or extra materials to help them understand their condition better. These resources may even convince them to search for professional assistance.

Remember that this condition is easier to handle at an early phase plus the fact that the sooner they can be supported the sooner their recovery from depression can be started.

Enduring the Ordeals of Depression

Anyone who has suffered with a condition such as depression knows all too well that the ordeals extend well beyond the devastating symptoms of the illness itself. The misinformation, stigma and bias surrounding the illness needlessly compound the suffering of victims, who just want a fair chance to obtain vital healthcare, make a decent living, and lead something approaching a normal life.

In North America alone, untold millions suffer the crippling symptoms of depression, an illness reaching epidemic proportions. Many of these people are unaware of their illness or have a suspicion but are afraid to learn the truth. Even among those seeking treatment, many will never be properly diagnosed or treated, but will continue to suffer the consequences. Of those fortunate enough to be successfully diagnosed, many will have experienced diagnostic delays or mistakes of some kind along the way. Many of these sufferers will then be given treatment that is ineffective in producing recovery. Often the treatment given is inappropriate for the particular individual or less than optimal. Commonly, a more effective treatment is available but a caregiver is unaware of it or untrained in its application.

No one knows the exact number, but it's unlikely that more than half of all sufferers of depression are fortunate enough to make it successfully past all these hurdles and become able to get the help they need to achieve recovery.

And they still aren't home free, not by a long-shot. In all likelihood, they will have suffered from the destructive stigma and widespread ignorance associated with depression, often in the form of discrimination on the job or in their healthcare. They will lose a job, or several jobs. They will be unable to find a job. They will be unemployed. They will be forced to go on disability leave. They will be without income when the disability coverage expires. They will exhaust their medical insurance benefits. They will be unable to afford medical care. They will wish they had a "physical" illness rather than "mental" or "emotional" one, because the medical coverage is better. They will wonder why there's a difference. They will feel like castoffs from society. They will be right.

They are castoffs. If this isn't bad enough, adding insult to endless injury is the fact that victims of depression are typically blamed for their illnesses. The prevailing opinion seems to be that they should be able to manage it. "Everyone has bad days." "Just suck it up." "Stop dwelling in your sorrow." Like lepers of old, they suffer with an illness that society cannot or will not understand.

Inadequate Opportunity

Aside from the obvious moral issue that it's terribly wrong to abandon or ostracize such victims, consider the medical, social and economic issues. While depression can be chronic and severe, even fatal in the case of suicide, it is often temporary. Victims can recover, if treated properly, and become able to resume a normal life. This means having the life, the job, the family, or the marriage they had before or aspired to before. They could then return to being fully functioning, productive members of society. But they need to have the opportunities to resume normalcy, which they don't have now.

Many victims recover from mood disorders such as depression, and many more could recover if treated properly. Depression can be like terminal cancer under the worst conditions, but it should be like operable cancer- you're incapacitated for a while, you receive effective treatment, you have time to heal, you achieve recovery, and you return to where you were- your workplace, your family, your community. Ideally. How often does this actually happen? Too often, victims of depression don't hold their jobs, they can't maintain their relationships or marriages, and they can't afford to live in their own houses. But with the right opportunities and treatment, they quite possibly could. Impatient, expense-conscious employers today are unwilling to allow victims the unreasonably long period of time required to receive treatment and recover in our woefully inadequate mental healthcare system. Employers habitually turn their backs on sufferers of mood disorders, which only compounds the problems of a victim whose already dark and hopeless mood can only deteriorate further when jobless.

The Cost of Depression

Let's now turn to the economics, since that's often the most powerful argument in this day and age. Just in the US the economic costs of the mistreatment of depression, both medical and social, have become astronomical. A report by the National Mental Health Association, now known as Mental Health America, indicates that business, government and families lose $113 billion a year from the cost of untreated and mistreated mental illness (see the NMHA's Labor Day 2001 Report). This cost, which has nearly tripled in the past decade, is due to such things as "discriminatory business practices" and "unfounded fears and misunderstanding" of mental illness. Mental health conditions are actually the second leading cause of absenteeism from work. Depression alone results in more "bed" days than many other medical ailments, including ulcers, diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. The report adds that, "Business needs to help end the stigma against mental illness by adopting appropriate health insurance and human resources policies, and governments need to shift spending priorities." Increased investment in the prevention and treatment of mental illnesses would more than pay for itself in stemming losses from disability, unemployment, underemployment, broken families, poverty, welfare, substance abuse, and crime.

In spite of the enormous and escalating economic costs of depression, the amount of money spent on diagnosis and treatment for it is dwarfed by spending on cancer, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, and other illnesses.

Another eye-opening fact to consider-- as high as the homicide rate is in the U.S., most people would be surprised to hear that the number of suicides has far exceeded the number of homicides in recent years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website). In fact, it's nearly twice as high (34,598 vs. 18,361 in 2007).

A Misinformed Society

Most people cannot begin to understand depression. It's just not possible-unless you've felt it. Depression is a category-five hurricane against which there's little defense. If you haven't experienced it, you cannot appreciate the awesome power. Unlike most illnesses, depression conquers every aspect of your being- body, mind, and spirit. People tend to equate depression with sadness, but it's much more than that. There is no energy or strength or hope. You're empty, lifeless.

A widespread view people have but often will not verbalize is that depression is just "in your head" and could be avoided or managed better. "Just suck it up," seems to be the prevailing mindset. Let's consider that. It's taken an inexplicably long time, but the evidence is now being widely revealed that underlying depression is severe neurological and physiological injury. I'm not the right person to describe the disrupted hormonal or neurotransmitter processes or the types of physical injuries that occur. In laymen's terms, it falls under the general heading of "brain damage."

That's a chilling term few people associate with depression. So I guess you can say depression is in your head in a sense, just like a brain tumor is in your head. Depression is also in your nervous system, your hormonal system, and other places I'm not qualified to describe. Historically, it was thought to be largely genetic, but the recent evidence suggests that emotional trauma of various kinds, particularly in childhood, often creates the physiological vulnerability to depression.

We're talking about events during childhood that often lead to depression. It begins with innocent, defenseless, vulnerable children. Yes, the victim can later do something about his depression, just as a victim of a "physical" disorder such as heart disease can do something about that- change lifestyle or diet as needed, go for treatment, find the necessary support. Sufferers can almost always do more to help themselves. But often the very illness inhibits one from taking the needed action, as in the case of the lifelessness and despair produced by depression that limits the ability to act. All in all, most "physical" and "emotional" illnesses seem quite similar in the ability victims have to control their conditions through their own actions. Nevertheless, the stubborn stigma of depression remains, often accompanied by the misconception that these disorders are "all in your head."

My Story

No doubt it's become apparent by now that my strong opinions about depression stem from first-hand experience. For every single problem associated with depression I've described here, I have personally experienced the bitter consequences. My condition has been misdiagnosed. I was given a number of treatments that were ineffective. I was prescribed medications that were ineffective or produced side effects as bad as depression itself. I tried ten different medications. My recovery was delayed and my illness prolonged. I had to go on disability leave twice. I exhausted my disability benefits. I lost two good jobs as a result of depression, essentially destroying my career. I had difficulty finding a job and changed careers. I had to see five different therapists and four psychiatrists before achieving substantial recovery. I faced limitations on my healthcare due to having an "emotional" rather than physical illness. I couldn't afford the type of treatment that would have most expeditiously treated my illness. I couldn't afford to maintain my family's lifestyle. My marriage has been severely strained by the prolonged duration of my illness. And, what's perhaps most disturbing, my situation is not unlike that of millions of others.

The Travesty of Mental Healthcare

To further illustrate the shameful state of affairs in mental healthcare, I should add a few significant details about my story. It turned out that depression alone was not my problem. Only after two years of therapy and medication did I learn that there was much more to my condition, and these issues surfaced at my own prompting based on what I had read about the causes of depression. None of the therapists or psychiatrists I saw raised these issues.

I was reading "Healing the Child Within" by Charles Whitfield, an extraordinary book that examines the link between mood disorders such as depression and severe emotional trauma during childhood. I was struck by how similar my symptoms were to a disorder that Dr. Whitfield contends is far more common than the medical community acknowledges, and which can affect a person years after the trauma. My symptoms actually aligned closer with this condition than with depression. It is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Emotional or mental trauma can affect children much more severely than adults and produce a type of chronic shock that disrupts and inhibits emotions. This produces a vulnerability to stresses that occur later in life, which can lead to depression. But PTSD produces serious symptoms of its own-emotional numbness, hyper-vigilance, irritability, moodiness, and withdrawal, to name a few.

When I volunteered this information, my therapist seemed largely unfazed while confirming that I had probably had PTSD, since, he argued, the treatment would be essentially the same as that for depression. He knew my history, that as a young child I witnessed countless incidents of rage, verbal abuse and threats of violence by an alcoholic father directed at my mother, my only parent who showed me any love, warmth and approval. These raging incidents could go on for hours at a time, and spanned more than a decade. From an early age, I became petrified and numbed by the repeated incidents. A person so wounded by early, chronic stress becomes "hard-wired" to be overly sensitive and reactionary in the face of future stress in a way that creates significant vulnerability to depression and similar disorders.

In order to heal the wounds and recover from a mood disorder, you need to understand what happened to you. Psychoanalyst Alice Miller has sold millions of books making this point, but caregivers evidently aren't getting the word. I absolutely needed to know the whole truth about what made me what I am, and I was incredulous with disappointment that I didn't know earlier about something as significant as PTSD.

There's more. I described to all my caregivers a number of strange symptoms I experienced throughout my life- being easily distracted, difficulty concentrating, inability to follow simple instructions, quickly losing focus while driving or reading, excessive daydreaming and fantasizing. Everyone has these experiences from time to time, but mine were continual and pervasive. They defined me. There was a period of time not too long ago when I thought I might have ADD, then I thought it might be bipolar. I knew something was terribly wrong.

Once again, I stumbled upon some telling information when I was reading about mood disorders-- my symptoms were an awful lot like a condition called dissociative disorder. This too can result from severe trauma. At some point, often in childhood, a person can disconnect from reality as a defense mechanism, because it's so painful and unbearable. In the face of severe, repeated trauma, the disconnection can become a permanent part of personality (Whitfield, 2004). A few weeks into my sessions with a new therapist, number five I believe, I asked if my symptoms could indicate dissociative disorder. This therapist, the first one I feel completely confident in, suspected I might have this condition and gave me an assessment.

In spite of my suspicions, I didn't really expect to be diagnosed with another disorder this late in my treatment. But, it turned out I did in fact have a moderate degree of dissociation, enough to be seriously disruptive. I'm 55 when I learn this, about two and a half years into psychotherapy and medication over two separate episodes. I feel a sense of satisfaction hearing this because it explains a lot of things, like who I am. But I'm understandably upset and frustrated that it wasn't found much earlier. For one, an implication is that I'll probably require yet another type of treatment.


In spite of the many ordeals and frustrations, I'm happy to say that I'm steadily moving forward on the long road to healing and recovery. I no longer feel the full, terrible burden of depression, although I still suffer crippled emotions. I continue to feel anger and sadness much more than I feel peace or joy. My problems were actually compounded by an extreme response to the childhood trauma, which for me generated a particular complex of emotional numbing, shame, disconnection, and subsequent guilt that a "man" would have such weaknesses. As a result, I wouldn't talk about the horrific incidents or about my feelings, with anyone, ever. The wounds were therefore left to fester, which not surprisingly is a major obstacle to healing. Exemplifying the benefits of discussing the harmful events with someone and receiving support, my two older sisters didn't suffer such serious injury because they had each other for vital support. I was alone.

With talk therapy no longer yielding benefits, I decided to try a technique known by the cryptic name, 'eye movement desensitization and reprocessing' (EMDR). This treatment induces the brain to reprocess painful memories and perceptions in a more positive light. The technique, which is reportedly quite successful in most cases, can undo much of the harm of earlier trauma. The treatment was long and difficult, requiring several months of weekly sessions that delved into dark, painful memories. There were some setbacks, and I often had serious doubts, but in the end it helped me a great deal. I began to feel free of crippling guilt and shame, that I was somehow to blame for my own illness. Unloading this burden has helped me to heal. It's just so frustrating that it took so long. I had to take it upon myself to find the right technique and the right therapist.

Too often practitioners mindlessly apply standard treatments in a one-size-fits-all approach that fails to address individual needs. This is true for both therapists and psychiatrists. They treat symptoms, not causes. What's worse, they each have but one tool, no matter what the problem. Psychiatrists do little more than push an endless array of high-priced drugs, many with toxic and addictive properties. And therapists-- they talk, and sometimes they actually listen. Is this really the best we can do?

I've learned many invaluable lessons during my bouts with depression, one being that I am far from alone in my ordeals. It's not at all unusual for a person to have a complex of conditions including PTSD, depression and some degree of dissociative disorder. Knowing all this is critical if for no other reason than it helps to relieve the destructive guilt I've felt that I was inferior, weak, and responsible for my own inability to be "normal." I shouldn't worry anymore about being normal because it's rarely possible to lead anything approaching a normal life with these conditions. It's been painfully difficult to overcome the guilt and the frustration to be anything like normal, but I'm slowly learning to live with the peculiarities of my condition. You can recover enough to function, but how many will completely heal all the wounds deep within the body as well as the mind?

Fighting Back

For the record, and to attest to the ability to endure these ordeals, I somehow managed despite these handicaps to do OK with my life, at least until things recently started unraveling. Depression "officially" struck pretty late in my life, although I always carried the vulnerability and the symptoms of severe traumatic wounds. It appears that dissociation is a condition I've had my whole life. Prior to my depression, I managed to get a masters degree from an Ivy League college, have a 25 year career in market research culminating in an executive position, and enjoy a 34 year marriage and three wonderful children. Now it's all falling apart.

I grieved for a while, but I'm doing alright now. I've been knocked down so many times I can't count anymore. And when I'm down, I don't always get up right away. But I do get up, I'll always get up, and I hit back when necessary. My last employer didn't understand my depression or show any compassion or tolerance; then, after a few conversations with my lawyer, they were happy to part with a handful of money to shut me up. No one should tolerate discrimination. I plan on doing a lot more fighting. Losing a job presents a crisis for anyone, but it's especially traumatic for someone with escalating medical bills whose health condition is already dire and short on hope. I spent $6,000 out of pocket in a recent year on healthcare, and I have what I thought was decent group health insurance, which by the way costs me another $6,000. This is pretty tough on someone working part-time.

Unfortunately, most people are too busy with their own lives and their own problems to pay attention to these arguments and learn the truth about depression. You would think that policymakers could help lead the way in dispelling myths and reforming policies that unfairly restrict the rights victims of mood disorders have or should have in the realms of jobs and healthcare. And considering the massive scale of the problem, much more funding is needed for research into these disorders and what the most effective treatments are. It's time we recognize the reality of mood disorder, end the stigma and discrimination, and come out of the dark ages in the handling of these horrible but treatable illnesses. You'd also think or at least hope that enough concerned mental healthcare providers would step forward and institute measures to improve the current state of care, such as mandated training in the latest and most effective diagnostic and treatment techniques.

The sad truth is that it often requires a highly visible, horrific incident to galvanize the public in a way that finally generates needed reform. Things started to happen after Virginia Tech. The nation and the world were shocked by the mass murder on an unprecedented scale by a mentally unstable individual who failed to receive effective treatment despite overwhelming evidence of serious illness emerging over a period of many years. Who knows how many more people like this may be out there? But following some promising dialogue about reform and a flurry of half-hearted initiatives, very little changed as public policy focused on more pressing concerns. The current state of mental healthcare remains shamefully inadequate.

Finally, on a more positive note, let's return to those powerful economic arguments, which typically trump any moral argument. The costs of improving diagnosis and care for mood disorders will be more than made up by savings in terms of reduced disability, improved productivity, and lower medical costs for treatment of the many disorders that depression leads to if not treated properly. Doing the right thing is even better than "free." It will save money in the long run, which today seems to be of more concern than saving people.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:
Miller, Alice. 2001. The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self. New York: Basic Books.
National Mental Health Association (now known as Mental Health America). 2001. Labor Day 2001 Report.
Whitfield, Charles. 1987. Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications.
Whitfield, Charles. 2004. The Truth about Mental Illness: Choices for Healing. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications.

Bipolar Warning Signs to Look For

Some family members or close friends may be able to help the person they care for recognize bipolar warning signs and take action to prevent full bipolar relapse. Not all people with bipolar disorder get these warning signs, but for those who do, involving a family member or close friend in helping to recognize and or respond to these bipolar signs can be very helpful. Warning signs of mania or hypomania are commonly easier to pick up than signs of bipolar depression.

What can the person with early warning signs of mania or hypomania do to prevent mania, hypomania and negative consequences?

• Seek early medical treatment and take prescribed medication to help them rest or sleep.
• Reduce stimulation (e.g. prioritize and do fewer tasks, avoid stimulating substances).
• Rest
• Take precautions to prevent risky behavior (e.g. temporarily give their credit cards to you or another carer/ caregiver for safekeeping to prevent reckless spending).

It can be very difficult for a person to go against their bipolar mood and use helpful illness management strategies. However, ignoring bipolar warning signs, for example doing stimulating things and lots of activities when becoming manic or hypomanic can make symptoms worse. In fact people with bipolar report that the best chance they have of preventing bipolar relapse is if they catch warning signs early before their symptoms are too severe. Family members and close friends can sometimes encourage helpful illness management strategies and create a calm, quiet environment to reduce stimulation when the person is becoming hypomanic or manic.

What can the person with warning signs of bipolar depression do to try to prevent their symptoms from getting worse?

• Consult their doctor.
• Be with supportive people.
• Schedule small activities (e.g activities that may give them pleasure or a sense of achievement or some physical exercise).
• Get organized and try to maintain a routine.
• Not sleep during the day and get up at the same time each morning.
• Not make important decisions about their life until they feel better.
• Talk about their negative thoughts with someone they trust.
• Get help if they feel suicidal.

What does not help with warning signs of depression is ignoring these signs and being inactive or self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. You may be able to help by inviting the person to do manageable activities together and talking things through with them.

Taking action early to prevent full bipolar episodes can make a difference. Close family and friends can often be the first to notice mood changes. However, misinterpreting mood fluctuations and behavior that are common to us all as part of bipolar disorder can be hurtful and frustrating. Also, constantly watching and questioning the person for signs of illness can affect your relationship and prevent them from enjoying times when they are well.

For some ideas about how to recognize bipolar warning signs and helpful ways to communicate with the person about them see:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Online Depression Tests - Test Your Symptoms

Online depression test is one of the simplest and easily available options to determine if a person is a victim of depression. Although the analytical results obtained from such tests would be less accurate than that of a proper medical examination, it would still give a rough picture of the level of depression an individual is suffering from.

The best part of online depression tests is the availability of a wide variety of options. For example, a simple question like "Are you feeling sad and helpless" would be followed typically with several options such as "Not at all", "Slightly", "Partially", "Most of the time" and "Always". A set of 12-18 such questions forms an online depression test and gives a good representation of the state of the mind of the patient. At the end of the test, there would be a button, which is to be clicked to check the depression score of the patient.

Questions in such tests generally focus on how a person is feeling in certain scenarios, his state of mind, physical condition, and interest in routine activities and so on. Doctors and consultants for depression treatment also use such tests. Furthermore, the same test can be repeated on a periodic basis, such as weekly, monthly, etc. to check the patient's response to the treatment given, and to determine future scope of improvement.

Online depression tests are generally free in nature and several web sites cater to it. Such tests are generally anonymous and no personal / confidential details of the patient are required. The database resulting from such tests is generally used by large healthcare organizations for their own research.

Sometimes, it may happen that the online depression tests do not cover the scenario, which an individual is experiencing. In such cases, if depression continues, or a person exhibits suicidal tendencies and other signs of depression, he should be taken to a consultant or medical centre at the earliest.

How Medical Assistants Can Cope With Stress And Work Related Demands

Stress at work is inevitable. Encountering a person who has a severe disease, dealing with different kinds of people and the boss flooding demanding work loads are the common scenarios that medical assistants are experiencing at work.

Medical assistants' tasks are obviously coupled with uneasy challenges and that is the reason why they are also prone to stress. We all know that stress is not good. It can cause symptoms to arise both physical and emotional. To cope with stress and work related demands, here are excellent tips:

Stay Positive
A change of mind can help you turn things around positive. Positive thoughts plus positive action is equals to positive results. Never panic. Take every load as an opportunity for you to show that you can kick off challenges and make things happen extraordinarily. Who knows, you may be promoted because of that task.

Get Comfort From Pals
Yes, we need someone, our pals. An old saying, "No man is an island" is indeed true. Being positive can be more effective when someone is helping us down the road. An encouraging word from your mom, sister, co-worker or a friend can certainly help eliminate stress. Find time to talk or hang out with them and release the stress within you. Ask help when you need to, do not keep it inside. People need someone to lean on. But of course, make sure that you will call someone who is a genuine positive thinker who will lift you up and not someone who will just add to your stress levels.

Discover What Makes You Happy
Many studies showed that hobbies can eliminate stress. It is found that those who keep in physical time-off activities for at least 20 minutes a week are less prone to fatigue. Leisure activities are also linked to greater levels of positive psychosocial states and reduced depression. Hobbies like playing badminton, singing, drawing, and playing mind games can help battle depression. Another simple way to lessen the effects of stress is to do something fun and enjoyable.

Be Organized
Planning is important in any work setting. Psychologists believe that one main reason why people becomes frustrated and stressed out is because they cannot accomplish anything from their lists. Sadly, even the "to do list" is not organized. The right way to organize your engagements is to prioritize. Do the important things first. Review your schedule at the end of the day and check what you have accomplished. This can help you in organizing your plans and endeavors.

Meditation Fights Irritation
That's right! Meditation fights irritation. Meditating in inspirational words and phrases can keep you stay positive. There are so many inspirational and spiritual resources online that you can browse. Inspirational and spiritual books can teach us how to be a positive person. Learn something from it and it will not just make you a better medical assistant but also a better person. Meditation is like chewing and enjoying a meal. You get the nutrition from positive words. Putting bible verses or positive quotes in a piece of paper and then posting it to the place where you can see it always can help you fight any pressure from work.

Now, if you are a medical assistant you must realized that no one is excused from challenges. It boils down to how a person handles every situation. Follow the tips mentioned above on how to overcome stress and surely you will be able to enjoy being a medical assistant. No one is perfect so stop acting like one.

The Mess in the US - Part III

In the first two parts of this series, we covered the rise of securitized loans and birth of credit default swaps. We left off in the throngs of a raging bull market being driven by a new era of technology companies. With the exception of a few hiccups, Wall Street has prepetuated almost 20 years of wealth creating, bull market returns on the backs of financial leverage, innovation, and good ol' fashion greed.

The booming 90's came to a screeching halt at the turn of the century, when the "dot-com bubble" finally burst. Technology stocks, especially anything even remotely related to the Internet, were trading at astronomical valuation levels on pure speculation that at someday in the future these dot-com companies would be making loads of cash. Once the market realized that "the emperor has no clothes," investors bolted for the door, yanking the much needed capital (money) that non-profit producing start up companies needed to survive. During this time, some companies like Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco were exposed for investor fraud and eventually went bankrupt. In the midst of all this, the US also suffered it's first attack on US soil since the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. It was a dire time for many Americans as the US was slipping into a recession and fear of another terror attack weighed on people's hearts and minds.

In an attempt to stimulate the economy, the Federal Reserve Bank (commonly know as "the Fed") systematically slashed the Fed Funds rate all the way down to 1%. To give some background, banks are required by law to maintain a certain level of reserves to back up their portfolio of loans. If they fall below the reserve amount, they can borrow funds from other banks who have excess reserves. The nominal Fed Funds rate is the target interest rate at which banks should lend money to each other and is set by the Fed. The effective Fed Funds rate is the actual rate at which banks lend from each other. The Fed tries to bring these two rates closer together through open market activity (e.g. if the effective rate is too high, the Fed injects more money into the system making it easier to get a loan, so banks have to drop their rates to stay competitive). A bank makes a profit on the spread between the rate at which they borrow and the rate at which they lend out. With the cost of borrowing at historical lows, banks were able to lend out funds at very attractive rates making it extremely easy for people to get their hands on OPM (other people's money).

There was no bigger winner from the Fed's fast and loose monetary policy than the US housing market. With the stock market tanking and the cost of debt at historic lows, money started to pour into real estate markets. Americans started to "up size" their homes and investors began to jump into the market. As the number of buyers started to outpace sellers, prices adjusted upward to match supply with demand (a little econ 101). This in turn attracted more money into the market as people began to flip houses for profit, which added to the demand and further perpetuated the housing market's meteoric rise. Homeowners became "house-rich" and cash poor, so they turned to home equity loans to tap some of this new found wealth. This money in-turn was dumped back into the economy as Americans continued to feed their spending addiction. The spending spree stimulated economic growth, pulled the US markets out of a recession, and put the bull market back on track.

Historically, under "normal" market conditions, the average home owner purchases a home worth three to four times their annual household income. During the peak of this proflict housing boom, the average house sold for five times (a 50% increase) household income with some hot markets along the coasts hitting much higher levels. Housing prices rose to unsustainably high levels, which was perpetuated by both aggressive lending practices and Congressional posturing.

Back in the day, when someone wanted to buy a house they would go to a bank or a thrift for a loan. The lender would then originate the loan, keep it on their balance sheet, and service it until it was paid off or defaulted. The beauty of this simple system is that each lender was keenly aware of the risk they were taking by making loans to each Joe Soon-to-be-Homeowner that walked through the door. But as we've previously addressed, this all changed with the dawn of the securitized loan market. Under the new world of mortgage lending, loan originators were stand alone entities (Countrywide is a good example) who's compensation was more closely aligned to the quantity of loans created rather than the quality.

In order to keep the lending spigot flowing at full blast, loan originators created new, exotic loans that offered stated income, teaser rates, interest only, and balloon payment features. The details of these exotic terms are beyond the scope of this discussion, but all of them tweaked the characteristics of a conventional fixed rate amortizing loan. The primary purchasers of these loans were the securitization firms (mainly Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac) who took the loans, packed them together, and sold them to investors (primarily banks). Packaged loans were being analyzed by outdated computer programs which were not fully capturing the risks associated with these exotic new products. Marc Gott, a former director of Fannie Mae's loan servicing department was quoted as saying: "We didn't really know what we were buying. This system was designed for plain vanilla loans, and we were trying to push chocolate sundaes through the gears." But that didn't stop the machine from pumping out new securitized products backed by "chocolate sundaes." As long as the rating agencies (who's financial interests were also aligned with the number of loans they rated) signed off on the methodology and put a triple AAA rating on the product, securitization firms could sell them with easy and therefore also cared more about the quantity versus the quality of loans they purchased.

Adding to this massive tailwind was Congress pushing both Fannie and Freddie to take more risks and keep the breakneck pace going. Whenever anyone would suggest that Congress rein in the giant pseudo government lenders, lawmakers where hit with a barrage of angry phone calls and letters. One such automated phone call warned, "Your congressman is trying to make mortgages more expensive. Ask him why he opposes the American dream of home ownership." To make matters worse, Wall Street decided to jump into the market as investment banks like Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and Goldman Sachs were cutting Fannie and Freddie out of the loop by securitizing loans and selling them directly to investors. Suddenly, Fannie and Freddie ran the risk of becoming obsolete and failing on their Congressional mandate. Another former senior executive at Fannie Mae was quoted as saying:

Everybody understood that we were now buying loans that we would have previously rejected, and that the models were telling us that we were charging way too little, but our mandate was to stay relevant and to serve low-income borrowers. So that's what we did.

With Congressional support, the sub-prime mortgage market ballooned from $160 billion in 2001 to $540 billion by 2004, a three fold increase in just four years.

Loose monetary policy, aggressive lending practices, speculative real estate investors, and financial weapons of mass destruction had now set the stage for biggest finanical disaster in US history since the Great Depression. We'll explore the wild ride down from 2007 to today in the next and final installment of this series.

Frugal Franco

All quotes taken from The New York Times article entitled The Reckoning.

Psychotic Depression - Fast and Permanent Method to Treat Psychotic Depression

Whether you are in a place where you are dealing with depression or you know someone who is, you may find that there are other issues at work that can make things even more difficult. More to the point, if you find that psychotic depression is something that you are dealing with, either in yourself or in others, there are some facts that you need to know! Take a moment to thoroughly understand what psychotic depression is all about and to figure out what you need to know about it.

In the first place, psychotic depression is a subset of major depression, where the depression has a co-existing form of psychosis. In this case, psychosis is defined as a flawed view of reality. You may find that some of the symptoms of psychosis include delusions, visual hallucinations or auditory hallucinations. This can be a situation that is extremely convincing and frightening and about one in four people who are hospitalized for depression might fall under the umbrella term of psychotic depression.

When looking to diagnose psychotic depression, you will find that the full range of clinical depression symptoms are there as well. Things like feeling hopeless or worthless, fatigue and self loathing are certainly there, but you will also find that irrational thoughts and fears and the propensity for seeing and hearing things that are not real is present as well. In many cases, especially when things are very rough and when there has been a major upset in the life of the sufferer, it is not out of the question for hospitalization to be necessary.

If you are dealing with someone who is afflicted with psychotic depression, you will find that the first and most important thing that you need to do is to get them to a situation where they cannot harm the people around them or themselves. People who are afflicted with psychosis may not be able to tell fantasy from reality or they may become obsessed with a certain concept and refuse to let it go. They may feel as though the people around them are trying to harm them or that they need to protect themselves and their family from dangers that only they know about. Take a moment to consider what they might be going through.

When it comes to treatment for psychotic depression, you will discover that there is a lot of literature out there, and a lot of things that point towards the use of drugs. Remember that you should be careful about anything that you put into your body and make sure that you explore all of the options that are available to you. This is where our e-course might come in. With our e-course, you will be able to find a natural way to treat depression that is safe and fast. The effects are permanent and the program is highly lauded as being very effective; see what our program can do for you today!

Underactive Thyroid Symptoms in Women - Quick Tips on Spotting Hypothyroidism

Underactive thyroid symptoms in women can vary, and can often be confused with other illnesses. In this article you will learn several ways of detecting thyroid symptoms in women.

Underactive thyroid, or Hypothyroidism, could mean that you do not have enough thyroxine. This contributes to a reduced metabolic rate, excess weight, poor memory, dried-out skin and fatigue. It's an ailment attributed to insufficient thyroid gland hormone within the body. It is often times the result of Hashimoto's disease, an autoimmune condition that is responsible for the majority of hypothyroidism cases in the U.S. It often affects women, and can lead to high cholesterol levels.

Thyroid conditions are one the most typical women's health issues. Underactive thyroid symptoms are documented in 50% of women throughout their menopausal phase. Menopause brings a difficult and challenging time in women's lives.

The hormonal changes that occur during menopause can lead to psychological challenges, as well as physiological ones. Thyroid gland disease can even be the result of menstruation irregularities.

Before women get pregnant, their thyroid functions ought to be normalized if they have pre-existing thyroid conditions. Once they are pregnant, they will usually take thyroxine. Their dosage needs to be increased, and future thyroid function exams should be administered.

Common Underactive Thyroid Symptoms in Women

Here is a list of common under active thyroid symptoms in women. Again, some of these symptoms could be a sign of other serious diseases, and this should not be used as a self-diagnosis. If your conditions persist, you should consult your physician.

• Quick weight gain is one of the most common hypothyroidism symptoms in women. If you notice you're gaining excess weight, but not eating that much, this could be a sign that your metabolism has slowed down, and this could be due to your thyroid not functioning properly.
• If you are experiencing stronger and longer menstruations than normal, this could also be a sign of an underactive thyroid. If this continues for a few months, it's better to have a talk with your gynecologist.
• Fatigue can be caused by many things, including not getting enough sleep, exercising too much, or not eating properly. However, it's also a sign of underactive thyroid symptoms in women, too.
• If your body begins to look bloated, or puffy, it might be retaining too much water. This could also be a signal that your thyroid is not functioning properly.
• Other underactive thyroid symptoms in women include: joint pain and muscle aches, signs of depression, constant forgetfulness, extremely dry skin, and cold sensitivity.

Myxedema is a skin condition, and an advanced form of under active thyroid symptoms in women. It can lead to illnesses such as congestive heart failure if not treated. Although this condition is rare, you should be aware of how serious hypothyroidism is, if left untreated. For this reason, it's best to take care of this illness quickly.

It's clear that underactive thyroid symptoms in women should be treated seriously. Your body usually has a way of warning you of potential problems. Listen to these warning signs, and get the proper treatment

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Depression and Sleep Disorders, Natural Remedies

I've been plagued with sleep disorder for over twenty years. This can come as part of menopause and post menopausal experience. Hormones change and so do sleep patterns.

I experienced an exacerbation of symptoms about eleven years ago when I had to make sudden decisions regarding my elderly aunt's care. I was kept awake by worry over whether to put her in an assisted living facility or have in home help. Many nights I only slept three to four hours.

About six months ago the problem reoccurred with a vengeance. Some nights I didn't sleep at all. I thought I was going to have to retire.

I considered traditional sleep meds but did not want to worry about getting up in the middle of the night and driving my car, so I looked for natural remedies.

Statistically, women are three times more likely to experience sleep disorders than men. There seems to be a hormonal relationship.

The most common sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome.

During one of my sleepless nights, I prayed all night long for an answer to appear.

The next evening, a chiropractor/nutritionist called me out of the blue after no contact for the previous twelve years! She asked me how I was doing. I tearfully explained my situation.

Dr. Madeleine told me about some research she had been doing regarding iodine levels. Apparently low levels can interfere with the body's ability to utilize the B vitamins. She advised getting an Iodine loading test done.

The results of the test were astounding. I had very low levels.

I was then placed on an iodine supplement and I started on whole food raw vitamins as opposed to the store bought kind.

My sleep improved within two weeks. It still wasn't perfect, however. At that point I began doing hormone creams three times a day.

In addition, I had a neorotransmitter test done. Again, I was low in all categories and was placed on supplements designed to improve symptoms of depression.

I now sleep eight to ten uninterrupted hours a night.

Dear readers, if you have a sleep disorder, please consider getting an iodine loading test as well as a neurotransmitter test. Your life and health may improve dramatically! Mine have.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are emotional disorders. Persons affected by anxiety and depression show some specific symptoms. Victims of anxiety and depression often show suicidal tendencies. These disorders can even lead to a separation of the patient from his self.

Anxiety and depression disorders can be diagnosed by expert consultation; doctors rely on clinical tests for accurate diagnosis. Increased levels of homocysteine, and lowered levels of serum magnesium, zinc, potassium, essential vitamins such as folate, as well as over release of cortisol, imbalance of cofactors and unbalanced re-absorption of neurotransmitters are all indicative of the disease. Anxiety and depression can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic factors, psychological disposition, or physical factors and environmental factors. The brain biochemistry of the person is a major cause for the occurrence of the disease. The ratio of incidence of the disease in men and women are equal. However, anxiety and depression are more explicitly manifested in woman.

There are six types of anxieties, and they are further subdivided into twelve depending on the severity of symptoms. Depression also has many variations such as dysthymia, manic depression, and cyclothymia. Some seasonal affective disorders include premenstrual depression and postpartum depression, mood disorders due to medical conditions, medication-induced depression, and substance-induced mood disorder. Temporary depressions can be relieved through certain autosuggestion techniques. Proper diagnosis and treatment are required for anxiety and depression caused by physiological disorders since they can lead to many serious and degenerative diseases.

Medication is the common remedy resorted to by physicians. Medicines help reduce physical symptoms of the disease. Anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants, and mood stabilizers are the commonly prescribed medicines. Psychotherapy is also found effective in many patients. In many cases, both therapy and medication are recommended. Behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy help calm the mind and reset the patient's thinking pattern.

The Lasting Effects of Concussions in the NFL

Concussions in sports have always been a major concern and its long-lasting effects worrisome for athletes and their families. A former quarterback recently revealed his struggles with having to deal with the effects of the numerous concussions he suffered during his career as a player. He is now forced to seek treatment for short-term memory loss and hand-eye coordination. He is one of many quarterbacks who have had to succumb to concussions during their careers in the NFL.

Many football players have had to endure post-concussion syndrome. The suggestion that concussions contribute to a 'footballer's dementia' is widely debated even though there seems to be a correlation between the cause of deaths of former NFL players and the fact that they had all suffered from head trauma during their career. A former football player, who died of a heart attack at age 50, had exhibited symptoms of depression, memory loss, and Parkinson's disease according to statements made by family members. An autopsy revealed brain damage that may have led to his dementia.

Similar brain damage and mental problems have been linked to the suicides of former NFL players. They had been suffering from severe depression and abnormal behavior. Findings from a study of the brains of dead NFL athletes have found lasting damage to their brains after having received concussions. This damage can also lead to a variety of other health issues. Many concussions may be under-diagnosed as athletes try to cover up their injuries to remain in the game. These symptoms usually go away without the need for treatment, but with successive injuries, the cumulative effects are more severe and changes in neurophysiology can occur after three or more concussions.

It's not clear whether athletes have longer recovery times after repeat concussions and whether cumulative effects such as impairment in cognition and memory occur. In post-concussion syndrome, symptoms don't fade away for weeks, months, or years after suffering a concussion. It may be permanent with ongoing headaches, dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, memory and attention problems, trouble sleeping, and irritability. A 2009 study found that individuals with a history of concussions demonstrated a decline in both physical and mental performance for longer than 30 years.

The risk of developing clinical depression has been found to be greater for retired football players with a history of several concussions than those without a history. The cumulative effects can not only lead to psychiatric disorders and loss of long-term memory, but can also increase the chance of developing Alzheimer's disease earlier in life. Although concussions more commonly occur in sports like American football and boxing, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that at least 300,000 sports-related concussions occur yearly in the U.S.

Preventing concussions in the NFL is a challenging problem. Even though players can expect monetary fines if they make illegal hits, it most likely won't deter a player from trying to intimidate his opponents by head-down tackling or "spearing" them with helmet-to-helmet assaults. Rule changes and practices are frowned upon by athletes and coaches who don't want to play under new, more careful restrictions.

Much like the spectators in the arenas of ancient Rome, the fans must have their gladiators. Despite the danger of injury or even death, the fight must go on in all its bloody brutality. That's the price for glory.

What Does Love Mean?

What does love mean to you?

When, where, and/or with whom in your life are you with-holding love on some level? Why do you feel the need to do so? Is it because you lack trust in yourself, the other person or in the situation? Perhaps you are self sabotaging. Maybe it's out of spite, envy or jealousy. Could it be you don't believe in yourself, your worth or love?

Fear is one of the biggest reasons people hold back love from themselves or others, or in situations they don't like.

They might be afraid of being hurt, rejected, misunderstood, or being alone, settling, being honest or taking risks.

Sometimes people withhold love because they are stuck in resentment and hurts from the past and they fear if they love themselves, the other person, or a situation, that they might get hurt again or that things will never change. So, what's the point of trying?

It's true. Sometimes experiences can leave you feeling less than lovable at the time and often for a long time to come, but remember you always have a choice to love or to hate, or to like or dislike someone or something, including yourself. The choice is yours and yours alone. No one can make that decision for you.

Maybe you have forgotten what love means, and that you are love, and that it truly is the answer to all problems and concerns. It's a call for love, for yourself, another person, or what is occurring in your life.

A group of 4-8 year old were asked what love meant to them. Here are some of their responses. See if you can find the innocence in love again that you might have buried beneath the upset, bitterness, and/or trepidation that sometimes arises in your life.

Let your heart open, even if only a crack, and let these wonderful words of wisdom remind you of what love means.

"Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way". Charlie, Age 5

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love". Rebecca, Age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth". Billy, Age 4

"Love is what makes you smile when you are tired". Terri, Age 4

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen". Bobby, Age 5

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend you hate". Nikka, Age 6

"Love is hugging. Love is kissing. Love is saying no". Patty, Age 8

"When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you're scared they won't love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more". Matthew, Age 7

"There are two kinds of love. Our love. God's love. But God makes both kinds of them". Jenny, Age 8

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well". Tommy, Age 6

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day". Mary Ann, Age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you". Karen, Age 7

"Love is when someone hurts you and you get so mad but you don't yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings". Samantha, Age 7

"You really shouldn't say I love you unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget". Jessica, Age 8

Which one(s) of these quotes plucked a string in your heart as you read it?

Maybe you have another quote(s) on love that really strikes a cord in you, or you have a few of your own. Write them down and post them somewhere where you can see them often.

Perhaps there is a photograph, picture, or place where you feel love. Whatever helps you to let go and love again, try it. You might be pleasantly surprised when you do.

If you find yourself withholding love with yourself, another or in a situation, read the quote(s), or ask a child what love means to them and see if your heart doesn't return to love again; your natural state of being.

Be the expression of love that you were born to be. Let the past and your fears go. Love openly and honestly.

Don't wait for that special day to tell someone you love them, or for something or someone great to come into your life to show love. Certainly don't allow the past to keep you from loving anymore.

The Insight Technique assists you in seeing how and where you are withholding love for yourself, another, or in a situation, and what you can do about it.

Why Do You Stay in Your Bipolar Relationship?

Husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends of partners with bipolar disorder are the overlooked and underserved mental illness support network of the Bipolar treatment world. Why do you stay in your bipolar relationship?

First, we are never secure about our own emotional needs. Are they more or less important the needs of our mentally ill spouse? If we choose to take care of our own needs first, we often suffer, then punish ourselves with guilt, then get angry toward our sick partner that he or she has caused us such misery.

But if we choose to put our partner's emotional, physical and mental health needs ahead of ours--after all, he's the sick one--our quality of life diminishes. Our choices are never easy and always agonizing.

Second, husbands and wives are alone in coping with our spouses' Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic Depression). Besides managing doctor visits, medications, decisions on whether to hospitalize or not, "well" partners must fight for our relationships. The line between partner and caregiver is thin and often non-existent. It can make for a lonely and often devastating life.

You cannot share your feelings with your partner; he's the sick one and the cause of your distress! Your parents are empty nesters; you can't burden them with your problems. Your siblings have their own families to worry about. Unless mental illness runs in your friends' families, they're not going to understand what you're coping with. Plus your bipolar husband or wife may not want you violating their privacy rights.

The pressure on us from friends, family and professionals is unrelenting. Those who ask, "Why do you stay in your relationship?" are not supportive. And neither are the ones that imply that it's your duty to stay married to your bipolar husband or wife. Bipolar disorder runs roughshod over relationships. The divorce rate is three times higher in these marriages than in the general population.

In my personal story, when I did find a "spousal support group," there was one man (divorced) and 16 women. A third of the women's husbands lived in their basements, couldn't hold jobs and couldn't contribute financially or emotionally to their family life. One third of the women were divorced from violent men who beat them or were emotionally abusive to them or their children (a common side effect of problems with bipolar medication).

The last third were widows--their bipolar husbands had committed suicide. (The suicide rate for bipolar disorder is 12 times higher than the "normal" population.) Everyone in the support group thought I was in denial for having a goal to stay married.

Why do you stay in your bipolar relationship?

How To Overcome Anxiety - Expert Suggestions

Experts Views on How to Overcome Anxiety

Here are several views from experts on how to overcome anxiety:

  • According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the beginning step towards treatment of anxiety disorders is to understand the condition well. If you are showing symptoms of the disorder, getting a diagnosis from your physician is necessary to rule out underlying medical conditions. Along with the feeling of depression anxiety sufferers may also have depression symptoms and need psychiatric help.

  • Experts agree that feeling anxious does not necessarily mean you are suffering from an anxiety disorder. It is therefore crucial that you are able to distinguish between what is normal and what is not. If you are showing anxiety symptoms, you should not immediately conclude that you are suffering from the disorder, or something is wrong with your mental health. An excellent indication if an anxiety disorder is present, is the feeling of "I can't". Most individuals that are held captive by anxiety disorder cannot function in everyday life and seclude themselves from everyone.

  • Anxiety disorders can affect both kids and adults, and are in fact, the most common among mental illnesses. However, these disorders are curable; unfortunately, only a handful of those who have it seek treatment and seek solutions on how to overcome anxiety.

  • Since the disorder involves physical symptoms, you should make it a point to treat and manage your condition to prevent any issues on your physical well-being. In managing your anxiety, the key is to get to know yourself better. For instance, if you are prone to stress, you have to find ways to relieve your stress, as it is one of the major triggers for anxiety attacks.

  • Sometimes, you may need help with anxiety. You have several options for this. These options include: seeking professional help and treatment for the disorder, benefiting from self-help books on how to overcome anxiety, visiting sites dedicated to provide you with relevant resources in overcoming anxiety.

  • Both the WebMD and Mayo Clinic list alternative treatments for anxiety disorders. Those whose anxiety does not involve medical condition can benefit the most from natural treatments and home remedies such as lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, diet and exercise, and strengthening one's support system.

Why should you endure your anxiety attacks and allow it to interfere with your life when you can take action and do something to manage it? On the web, you will find several good resources that you can use in finding the most appropriate solution for your situation. Choose a site that gives you authoritative information on how to overcome anxiety.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Can Acupuncture Replace Prescription Anti Depression Drugs?

I recently read an article while waiting at the doctors office entitled; "Can acupuncture replace prescription anti depression drugs?" For some people it seems the answer is yes.

In 2002 the World Health Organization released their findings on acupuncture and depression and stated that acupuncture for the treatment of depression was one of the most beneficial of treatments and was in fact more effective in some depressive patients than drugs. Several studies were cited.

The drugs I am speaking of are drugs that carry names like Xanax, Alprazolam, Valium.  They are known as Benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are medications which are sedatives and muscle relaxants and as such are often used as anti-anxiety drugs.

Another group of anti anxiety drugs with names like bastioned, isoprene and gepirone. These drugs are known as Azapirones.  They work on serotonergic neurotransmission and are not know to be addictive. Some of the known side effects are rare but may include confusion, headaches, nervousness, vertigo, increased depression, heart palpitations, dry mouth, and joint and muscle pains.

We all know that drugs have side affects which in some cases are worse than the problem the drugs ares suppose to help which makes acupuncture an inviting alternative. But will it work?


Sometime in 1998 the National Institutes of Health conducted a 16 week study in relation to Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression. The study which was supported by the NIH's office of Alternative Medicine was conducted at the University of Arizona under the direction of John Allen PhD, and with the co-operation of Acupuncturist Rosa Schyner.

The test was performed using two treatment procedures, one using targeted and specific acupuncture points used in Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression and a series of unrelated dummy points with no known purpose.

This study group was split in three groups with only one receiving the Anti-Depression Acupuncture Treatment, the second group was given the mock treatment and a final third group received no treatment and put on a waiting list.


The results were published in the September 1998 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society, as "Efficacy of Acupuncture In The Treatment of Major Depression in Women".

As a direct result of the Anti-Depression Acupuncture Treatment the first group experienced a 43 percent reduction in their symptoms. When compared to the small 22 percent reduction experienced by the dummy group-- this percentage can be attributed to a natural placebo effect, this is an excellent indication of the benefits of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression. After treatment more than half no longer met the criteria for clinical depression.

How to Recognize the Bipolar Warning Signs

Bipolar disorder is one of several medical conditions commonly called depressive disorders or manic depression. This is a mental disorder that often affects thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and behavior. It also affects how a person feels physically and it's clinically known as psychosomatic presentations.

Most of the time, a person with manic-depression experiences mood swings that shift from high to low and back again in different degrees of severity. The two extremities of bipolar disorder are mania and depression.

The following are signs of depression:

* Sleeping much more than usual
* Tired all the time but unable to fall sleep
* Refusing to get out of bed for days
* Having series of uncontrollable crying
* No longer interested in things they once enjoyed
* Not paying attention to daily responsibilities
* Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless for a prolonged period of time
* Not able to make simple decisions
* Suicidal tendency 

The following are signs of manic disorder:

* "High" feeling that you can do anything, even something very risky
* Sleeping little and yet never feeling tired
* Talking very fast and jumping from one idea to another
* Increasing sexual desires and getting into risky sexual behavior
* Having an unrealistic belief, experiencing hallucinations or delusions
* Very goal oriented and behaving impulsively such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.

Hypo mania is a less extreme form of manic episode. Hypo mania does not include hallucinations or even delusions, but a hypo manic person still might exhibit some inappropriate behavior.

If you are not aware of the extremities, you may think that you have finally gotten over your depression when you become manic, only to realize later that this exaggerated state is also part of being bipolar.

The four basic types of bipolar disorder:

1. Bipolar I - It is mainly characterized by manic or mixed episodes that last at least a week. Severe manic symptoms need immediate hospital care. The symptoms of depression or mania must be a major change from the person's normal behavior.

2. Bipolar II - It is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes that shift back and forth with hypo manic episodes, but this stage has no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.

3. Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS) - This stage is diagnosed when a person has symptoms of bipolar that do not meet diagnostic criteria for either bipolar I or II. The person may have too few symptoms, to be diagnosed with bipolar I or II and most of the time the symptoms don't last long enough.

4. Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia) - This is a mild form of bipolar disorder. People who suffer cyclothymia have episodes of hypo mania that often shift back and forth with mild depression for at least two years. But the symptoms do not meet the indicative requirements for any other type of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is not a sign of a character flaw or weakness; this is a serious medical condition that requires medical treatment, just like any other condition. Understanding the true reason behind this illness is a big help to our loved ones or to other people who suffered the same condition.

Hope this helps

Manic Depression Facts

Manic depression is a type of mental disorder that is commonly referred to as bipolar disorder. This can be recognized by the person's high and low mood swings which can shift at anytime and for any reason. It can affect the person's mood as well as their energy and how they function during their everyday lives.

This certain type of depression can affect both men and women and can manifest itself at any age. However, it more commonly begins when the person is a teenager or young adult. Most health experts believe that this condition can be passed along through the genetic code in people and can affect someone no matter what race or ethnic group they belong to.

People with this problem can hurt not only themselves - but also the people that are around them. There are medications that they can take - which will help to control the symptoms and the mood changes. one of the best ways to control the problem is to understand that things that can set you off.

Usually there is a pattern that can trigger an episode and knowing what it is and how to avoid it will help. Besides being treated regularly you must make sure that you receive the proper amount of sleep. Basically anything that can affect your mood in a negative or overly positive way can send you into an episode.

Most people think that when you have manic depression you will be sad or angry all the time by different life events or even everyday things. However, it can also affect how happy and excited you are. One second you can be so excited about something that you are behaving oddly and the next second you could be extremely sad or angry about something else.

Looking For Manic Depression Symptoms - The Terrible Truth About Mania

Manic depression can occur in both sexes. There are various factors that you have to consider when looking for manic depression symptoms. Are you suffering from extreme feelings of sadness then happiness or vice versa? Is this preventing you from leading the life how you're used to? These are some questions you need to assess to prevent manic depression from taking over you life.

Are mood swings getting in the way of your daily activities? Is it difficult to go back to enjoying the things you loved to do before? Depression can get in the way of your work, family ties and even social life. Why prolong the agony of staying in a life like this? It's stressful to have to constantly worry how you're going to make it through the day.

How would it be for you if I told you that there is a fast and permanent method to help you break the cycle of mania and depression, so you can have your life back, would you be interested? Reading word for word, you'll soon enough discover the secret method that has helped many people over the last 10 years to fight depression, and its different forms.

Manic depression symptoms are usually associated with extreme mood swings. Also known as bipolar affective disorder, manic depression is characterized by alternating highs (mania) and lows (depression). When looking for manic depression symptoms, you need to watch out for the following:

If you're experiencing mania (the 'high' in bipolar affective disorder), you'd be having the following symptoms:

  • Frequently irritable

  • Flight of ideas (jumping from one idea to another with no association from the previous topic)

  • Inability to focus

  • High energy levels despite little sleep

  • Impulsive actions and behavior (e.g. spending a lot of money; diminished sense of danger)

  • Aggressive

  • Euphoric (feeling of extreme happiness)

  • High sex drive

  • The most interesting thing about people having a manic episode is that they don't feel sick. They believe they are perfectly fine, enjoying life to the fullest. The ones who notice that something is wrong are the people who surround them.

  • If you're experiencing depression (the 'low' in bipolar affective disorder), you'd have the following symptoms:

  • Negative feelings, hopelessness

  • 'Feeling of feeling nothing' (numbness)

  • Easily tired

  • Low self-confidence, worthlessness

  • Social withdrawal (avoiding people)

  • Suicidal thoughts/Attempting suicide

  • Significant changes in weight (lost or gain)

  • Sleeping problems, especially waking up in the early hours

  • Persistent pain without medical causes

  • Bleak outlook on present and future

  • Low sex drive

Between manic and depressed episodes you can feel absolutely normal. However, this normal state of mood is very transient. You might experience one of the mood swings sooner or later. Rapid cycling or alternating manic and depressive episodes can happen if you're not in your normal state. After a depression cycle you can experience a hypo-manic interval where you have mild symptoms of mania that may last for a few days.