Saturday, November 9, 2013

Depression - Brief Definition

Depression can be defined as a mental state that is characterized by an attitude that is pessimistic and melancholic with a lack of mental and physical activity. When a person suffers from depression, there is a reduced amount of neurotransmitters located in the parts of the central nervous system of a person.

The depression also implies that the nervous system does not function properly due to this stimulation from neurotransmitters. With the deficiency serotonin and adrenalin, the nerve cells that send impulses to the other nerve cells, there is reduced activity in the brain that causes slowness in certain parts of the brain and this leads to depression.

The depression also relates to the deficiency of gamma amino butyric acid or GABA. When there is a reduced amount or lack of GABA in the brain, there is a slow response of some nerve impulses that result in anxiety and panic response. There are also other different types of depressive mechanisms that are involved in the process. They vary from person to person and they also influence the nature and the severity of depression.

The depression and its effects should be addressed at the earliest when the symptoms are experienced in a person. A depressed person does not have an interest in normal activities and tends to shun all kinds of social interaction. There is loss of sleep and appetite. The person desires to be left alone and isolated. There are negative emotions and an intense pessimism towards life and people.

There is a tendency to feel that the person is hopeless and does not have the desire to live. The depression definition can also induce a person to self injury and suicide. There are both natural and medical cures and remedies for depression and once a person falls prey to it, he/she should resort to them immediately.

Hopeless Problems, Perfect Answers in Bipolar Disorder

It's difficult to discuss depression because that word describes a whole spectrum of experiences. People often say, "I'm so depressed," when they mean they're disappointed, frustrated or sad. I got a 'C' on my midterm - I'm so depressed. Then there's the kind of depression that occurs with loss, what we might think of as part of the grieving process. Further along the spectrum and we have the clinical disorder with true symptoms of depression. While these various experiences have some features in common, they are very different psychological states of mind.

Many of my clients over the years have suffered from personality disorders, often with severe depressive features. At some unconscious level, they all felt as if they were so damaged that their psychic life was a catastrophe, a kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland, and there was no hope that anything could be done about it. When I was able to understand this and could articulate it to them, it brought a kind of relief: until then, that feeling of being damaged-beyond-repair was so agonizing as to be intolerable, impossible to acknowledge; the fact that we could think about it together made it seem a little less hopeless, at least for a moment.

Often when the hopelessness became unbearable, they'd take flight from it. One day, a client might come in so depressed he or she was practically mute; the next, giddy, talkative and full of optimism. They often made no mention of the prior depression, as if it were a thing of the past. A sudden industriousness had come over them and they began to tackle each and every item on their to-do list. They were going to do everything, change everything, conquer the world. When they were in this state of mind, I often had the feeling that they were keeping me at an emotional distance; if I said anything that called this new enthusiasm into question or tried to remind them of their recent depression, they could easily turn against me and the treatment, as if now I were the problem.

You probably recognize the dynamic - a kind of high-low functioning that characterizes bipolar disorder. Either everything is hopelessly damaged, beyond redemption, or life is wonderful! In mania, it's as if a kind of magic has occurred: the depression has abruptly and permanently vanished.

I believe a similar dynamic occurs in many people who would never receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or major depression, people who are occasionally depressed like many of us. The change isn't as dramatic and extreme, but often when the depression begins to lift, a kind of "magic" has occurred. Serial romantics demonstrate this the most clearly. You probably know someone like this, the one who's always falling in an out of love, on top of the world when in the throes of a new romance, in the depths of despair when the affair ends. These people aren't interested in having an authentic relationship, not with themselves or another person, but instead are using the romance drug as a magical cure for hopeless depression.

There are other kinds of "magic". A different job or career. Move to a new city! My next vacation! The variety of magical solutions is endless, but the problem they are meant to solve is always the same: a feeling of hopelessness, the conviction that one's internal world is in such bad shape that nothing can or ever will make it feel better.

Do you ever feel hopeless? What are your familiar magical solutions?

"Retail therapy" has become a familiar joke, a witty description that makes light of the dynamic. Many people turn to shopping as a way to cure a mood or state of mind which they feel can't be met head-on, can't be made better in any realistic way. Indiscriminate sex can be used for the same purpose. Gambling, alcohol, drugs - all the addictions may function in just this way, as a magical antidote to a problem felt to be hopeless.

What's your drug of choice? Next time you feel the "craving", see if you can resist and get closer to the feeling you want to escape. Is it unbearable? Does it feel hopeless?

One of my favorite theorists once said that many people in therapy refuse to suffer their experience - in the old sense of the word, to "submit" to it - and want to be free of it instead. As a psychotherapist, I believe you can't get rid of any part of your psyche; all you can do is try to develop other internal resources to cope with it. Try to stay with your experience, face it head-on and gain some small bit of understanding. If you can bear with it long enough, you may find your way to some imperfect, small but truly helpful way to make yourself feel a little better.

Type 2 Diabetes and Knowing What Depression Symptoms Are

If you have type 2 diabetes you need to know what depression symptoms are so that you can effectively manage both and achieve a healthy normal life once more. Sadly diabetes and depression are conditions that are related to each other. With type 2 diabetes you are at a higher risk of getting depression.

It is important to realise that depression can become worse when the complications of diabetes get worse. When you become depressed it is harder to be able to manage your disease properly and if you are not careful it can lead to the development of long-term complications like neuropathy, retinopathy or nephropathy.

Many people do not realise they have depression and it can go undetected by yourself and your doctor, especially if you do not converse with your doctor about how you are feeling, depression is not something that is not easily visible to the next person.

Depression is where your everyday activities become too overwhelming and this can be dangerous if you have type 2 diabetes because you will not manage your disease properly, for instance not eating properly, not getting any exercise, and forgetting to take you medications. Fatigue is another problem and the lack of enthusiasm to do anything is a major problem. Your emotions with depression can become non-existent and can cause you anxiety, sadness and unfortunately even suicide.

Knowing what the symptoms are of depression is crucial for you to manage your diabetes effectively; following is a list to help you understand what it's all about:

  • A feeling of sadness for long periods of time

  • A feeling of being hopeless, worthless or even helpless

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Loss of concentration

  • Unable to remember things like you used to

  • A feeling of anxiety, restlessness for no reason at all

  • Lack of a good night's sleep

  • Loss of energy or fatigue, always being tired

  • Loss of appetite, and

  • Thoughts about suicide and death

It is advisable to consult your doctor if you feel you have depression, it can be treated with medication, however you need to make sure that it does not cause you any complications as some medications can pay havoc with your blood glucose levels.

Research has shown that people with depression will have less physical and mental functions, which can lead to not following their required diet or medication plans. This can lead to very serious problems when you have diabetes.

If you have type 2 diabetes it is essential that you know what the symptoms are for depression so that you can take control and avoid the complications that are associated with diabetes.

Can You Pull Yourself Out of Clinical Depression?

Have you been feeling very low lately or reluctant to do usual tasks, or even suddenly hate doing them? Have you been feeling listless and have lost your drive without knowing the reason for these sudden changes? Then you could be suffering from depression.

The first thing you should do in such a condition is to get yourself checked up by an experienced professional. This will help you ascertain your condition so that you can proceed towards the right treatment if it is necessary. Timely diagnosis and a good and well administered treatment will cure you easily provided you have the right attitude.

The following types of depression will help you better analyze which one you are suffering from:

Manic or Bipolar - This usually involves an abrupt change in one's metal disposition. An example can be moving from feelings of peace and joy to those of extreme cynicism.

Postpartum depression - This usually affects mothers who are either expecting or have just given birth. The mother suddenly feels overwhelmed and unable to cope with the extra baggage and may even disown the baby.

Cyclothemia depression - Most people who live stressful lives with little rest or social life usually suffer from this type of depression. Actors, politicians, students on the verge of a major exam and even some parents who have many kids can succumb to it.

Dysthimia type of depression - This type is moderate. Sometimes people may not even know that they have this type of depression although it should be treated quickly nonetheless.

Seasonal - People who suffer from this type of depression are usually fine until certain times of the year. For instance they may be fine during the summer but cave into depression during the winter season. During this time, feelings of optimism may give way to pessimism and unexplained mood swings.

It is recommended that you seek professional help if you begin to suspect that you have depression. But is it possible to actually do it on your own?

The treatment for depression is a slow process. The saying "slowly but surely" is perfectly applicable in this situation. Seeing a therapist can be a good step towards getting yourself out of depression. It is also recommended that one have a strong support group. A person suffering from depression always needs people around him who can provide that emotional support and give him confidence to overcome depression.

It should be understood that the treatment for depression cannot be concluded in a short period of time. It takes a prolonged period of time and continued effort to overcome this problem. It is always better to assign short term goals for yourself and try to reach them in the stipulated time. The treatment needs to be taken step by step and people near the patient need to be a source of constant motivation. The loved ones should understand the patient's situation and give him time to recuperate. In addition to the above, the patient himself needs to be a source of depression help for himself. He should try to believe in himself and think that no obstacle is too difficult to overcome. The right attitude is the best depression help.

Feeling Lethargic, Moody, Tired or Fat? It Could Be Your Thyroid!

We all have hormones and if they are not in 'balance' you can find yourself experiencing symptoms such as depression, headaches, insomnia, fatigue & weight gain, to list a few. Thyroid Disease is one of the most common hormone disorders, after Insulin Resistance and Diabetes. The majority of individuals with thyroid imbalance have hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) a small minority has hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). The problem is that symptoms of low thyroid function are often mistaken for depression, signs of aging, or are not identified.

Your Thyroid

Your thyroid - a small butterfly shaped gland located in the front of your neck, controls the functioning of every cell, organ and gland in your body.

In addition your thyroid regulates:

o the use of oxygen in all tissues,
o the rate of repair of damaged or diseased tissues,
o your blood sugar levels by controlling the release of glucose (sugar) from the liver to the bloodstream,
o electrolyte and water balance in the cells and body,
o your circulatory system,
o the energy and strength of the muscles,
o the speed of the impulses going to the nerves, your libido, and last but not least your fat metabolism.

Four main hormones produced by your thyroid gland directly affect your metabolism and body fat. They are thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine/levo-thyroxin (T4), and calcitonin (used in calcium metabolism).

Although your thyroid gland secretes and regulates these hormones, about 80% of the body's T3 is produced outside the thyroid gland, in the liver, by chemical modification of Thyroxine or T4.

One of the main reasons why hypothyroid people gain weight is because their T4 is not being converted by the liver to the metabolically active form of T3 or the converted T3 hormone is not getting to the cellular level of the body - meaning you are producing it, but your body can't use it.

Although most conventional practitioners only test for the inactive T4 hormone level, it is important to remember that active T3 thyroid hormone doesn't work only in the blood - it works inside every cell of the body.

If T3 isn't available at the cellular level, then those cells can't function properly. The T4 blood test does not test for this, but taking your body temperature does! I personally feel that your body temperature is the single best test of your thyroid function.


Every cell and tissue in your body is affected by hypothyroidism and deficient levels of the active T3 thyroid hormone can produce one or more of the following symptoms:

o Weight Gain
o Fatigue
o Weakness
o Constipation
o Shortness of breath
o Depression
o Irritability
o Poor memory
o Difficulty concentrating
o Intolerance to cold
o Low body temperature
o Dry, coarse hair/dry skin
o Hair loss
o Muscle or joint pain and stiffness
o Headaches
o Decreased Libido
o Elevated cholesterol or triglycerides

Sadly, many hypothyroid symptoms are frequently dismissed by physicians as a normal part of aging, a psychological problem, overwork, or some other condition. As a result, thyroid tests are never performed and the patient never receives the proper medical treatment they require.

What interferes with Thyroid Function

o Insulin Resistance/Metabolic Syndrome
o Chronic stress/Adrenal depletion - there is a strong interplay between the thyroid and the adrenals.

One is usually weak first and then weakens the other.

o Prescription drugs - (including Dilantin, Lithium, Beta Blockers, Premarin, Birth Control Pills and some anti depressants
o Frequent X-rays - from dental or medical exams or radiation treatment to the head, neck or chest
o Thyroid inhibiting foods - Over-consumption of soy & raw thyroid-inhibiting foods, such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale
o Hormones - Synthetic and genetically engineered hormones (estrogen and other hormones) in meat, dairy, poultry and eggs. Also conditions such as Poly Cystic Ovarian Disorder, Fibroids, IVF treatment & Menopause.
o Exercise - The receptors for the thyroid hormones are found deep within the cells and exercise stimulates the thyroid by increasing oxygen to the cells. When you exercise and breathe more oxygen into your body, you speed up your metabolism and the heat in your body rises. So, to pump up your metabolism, you need to pump some iron to heat up your cells "fat burners" by giving them more oxygen.

o Dieting - During a restrictive diet that is either too low calorie or deficient in essential nutrients, the body produces less of the liver enzymes, therefore converting less T4 and producing less T3. Perhaps the biggest problem with diets is that most diets leave you with less muscle and more fat than when you started. Researchers have found that low calorie and low carbohydrate diets eventually suppress T3 hormone levels in the body by providing insufficient fuel for the thyroid and body to function properly.

o Heavy Metal Exposure - Mercury is a toxic heavy metal, which comprises over 50% of "silver" dental fillings & is found in cigarettes. Mercury interferes with the livers production of 5-deodinase an enzyme that is critical in converting thyroid hormones
o Chlorine - (added to most municipal water supplies as a disinfectant)
o Fluoride - (primary sources include toothpaste, dental products, municipal water supplies, pesticide, and residues on commercially grown foods).

These last two elements, fluoride and chlorine, block iodine receptors in the thyroid gland. In fact, fluoride is such a potent thyroid suppressor, that it was once prescribed medically for people with overactive thyroid glands (hyperthyroidism) to slow down their thyroid activity.

Tests for thyroid function

If you are doing everything right and still feeling unwell, there is definitely something going on that needs to be addressed. Perhaps you are suffering from clinical hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid) or sub-clinical hypothyroidism (you have symptoms but the blood tests are normal).

Let's assume you are overweight and think you have hypothyroidism. You've been to the doctor with complaints of weight gain, fatigue, cold hands and feet, and "brain fog". The doctor examines you and performs some blood tests, including thyroid tests. And all the tests come back normal. But you are sure you must have an under-active thyroid. You have all the symptoms including a low body temperature, but doctor decides to not prescribe any treatment. You go home, sentenced to a life of weight gain and feeling plain unwell. This scenario is played out again and again until one day you finally fall below the 'reference' ranges.

The Barnes Temperature Test

If you feel your thyroid is sluggish and you think you may be hypothyroid, testing your thyroid is important. You can take the do it yourself Barnes Thyroid Temperature Test (see below), as an inexpensive, yet surprisingly accurate, initial test. Before the advent of the blood test, the Barnes basal temperature test and patients symptoms were all physicians had available to them to test thyroid function.
Doing the Barnes self temperature test, will give you a starting point to determine if you may have hypothyroidism and need to have further confirmatory tests.


1. Place a thermometer (preferably digital) within easy reach on the bedside table.
2. Place the thermometer in your armpit for five minutes try to move as little as possible because movement will raise your body temperature
3. Record your temperature each morning for five days. (For women, additional consideration is needed during ovulation, since ovulation somewhat elevates temperature. Because of this, women who menstruate should start recording their temperature on the second or third day of menstruation.)
4. A reading of 36.4 degrees or lower may indicate low thyroid function.
Serum (Blood) Test for Hypothyroidism

If your temperature is low, you may want to request further testing. If you want to go the conventional medical test route you need to request that your physician perform the T3, free T3, sensitive TSH, Reverse T3, and anti-thyroid antibody tests. Remember that the Standard T4 blood test for thyroid function only measures T4 (the inactive form of the hormone) function and is rarely sensitive enough to determine hypothyroidism. That is why I recommend that you ask your doctor to perform the other blood tests.

In my clinical experience, I have found most thyroid blood tests will come back within a 'normal range', but the patient still shows signs of (sub-clinical) hypothyroidism such as a low body (basal) temperature etc. There is research indicating that the reference ranges are too broad & do not cater for the individual - I guess we are not all the same after all!

The good news is that new and more accurate salivary and urine thyroid tests have become available.

The Salivary Thyroid Test

Salivary and urine thyroid testing to the rescue! That's right although not readily available Salivary thyroid testing can be an alternative solution. Your saliva and urine now holds the key to determining whether or not you have an under-active thyroid. This brand new technology promises to change the lives of the millions of individuals suffering with an undiagnosed under-active thyroid. Because it tests thyroid function at the cellular level, the salivary/and or urine thyroid panel has been found to be
more accurate than the blood tests in identifying an under-active thyroid.

The thyroid salivary test measures T3, T4 and free TSH. The salivary or urine thyroid test also measures antibodies against thyroperoxidase, an important enzyme involved in the production of thyroid hormone. Positive antibodies are a sign of an autoimmune process (the immune system attacking the body's own thyroid tissue).

Reviving Your Thyroid

If your thyroid gland is found to be sluggish, through any of the various tests, you may first try the natural non-drug approach to reviving your thyroid.
o Identify what is causing it to be sluggish - eg stress, chemical exposure etc
o Check your basal body temperature
o Consult your GP if necessary & request specific blood tests & discuss any possible need for medication changes
o Change your diet - different foods do interfere with thyroid function. You may wish to consult a naturopath for help with this
o Consult an herbalist - herbs such as Withania, Coleus, Rehmania, Kelp etc are helpful if used in the correct dosages.
o Improve your liver function

Avoiding the toxins I mentioned earlier and increasing your intake of iodine-rich foods such as seafood, asparagus, sea vegetables (kelp), garlic, lima beans, sesame seeds, spinach, Swiss chard and sea salt can be helpful.

The bottom line is most of the above symptoms may sound familiar - it's not unusual for a 30, 40, or 50 something woman to feel tired, burnt out, and a little bit overweight and this makes hypothyroidism that much harder to diagnose. However there are few things more frustrating than feeling unwell & it can take a while to get the right diagnosis. Remember though, if you are feeling unwell - there is most likely something triggering it. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away.

Getting a correct diagnosis is crucial when you realize that being treated can be a life-affirming event. So explore your options & strive for a better, healthy life!

And I Made it to Medical School

As a medical student I have many reasons to believe that I am not just another medical student often portrayed as a nerdy, focused, dedicated person. Here is my story of immense struggle, pain, humor and confusion.

"Philosophy! Yes that's what I want to do after finishing school!"- I announced with pride and an intellectual air, sensing almost a discovery of sorts, discovery of my true passion and interest based on my convictions, ideas and daily thought process. Studying for entrance seemed too much of a headache- with all the cramming involved and so much more! Moreover the idea of studying in a medical college didn't fascinate me anymore. The reason why I opted for biology in the 11th grade was because I was planning on studying for the premedical tests but I was just 15 then, realizing that I didn't want to become a doctor but a philosopher at 16 sounded plausible and reasonable to me.

"What?" mom replied back, almost choosing to ignore what I had just said.

"I want to do a course in philosophy," I repeated myself.

"Be serious! Anyway you can do whatever you want after you become a doctor," mom said almost forcibly, so not interested in what I was putting across to her.

"Umm, no but philosophy is what really interests me and I am pretty sure about that."

"You are ruining your life and ours too. What do you want to do? Mop the floors? You have taken up biology! Don't talk like those art students! You are seeking escape from hard work. Nothing in this life comes easy. Be courageous and don't step back from what you have already decided. What will relatives say? It's the most crucial stage of your life, don't pollute yourself with thoughts like these." Mom spoke like she would never stop. Finally she did much to my relief. But I had no idea that this was just the beginning of the long ordeal that was staring me in the face. In school all of my classmates in tenth grade had opted for science with mathematics. So in my class were all new comers from different schools.

It was a big stage for them coming from other schools to a bigger, more sophisticated one. I was projected as this sure shot AIIMS guy, the pride of the school. My sister passed out from the same school and cleared medical entrances in first go and topped the district in 12th boards. So according to the genetic theory of the principle it was only obvious that I am going to match her if not do better than her. My classmates used to envy me, how I wish I could have told them that they were wrong and they wouldn't like to be in my shoes. The teachers used to look at me while teaching. All this I wasn't used to because till tenth I used to be this shy, quiet, studious guy.

Though I was always among the toppers but never got any attention. But now, I was given many liberties- an air conditioned room to study in, in case I thought the classes weren't useful enough, given books free of cost, I was allowed to come to school anytime I wanted to and at any time, allowed to miss tests in schools so that I could concentrate more on my studying for pmt's. All this was done so that I don't shift to another school where I intended to go after tenth. Reasons for that were numerous- more babes! My crush was studying in that school, more extra curricular activities, better students and better teachers. But it didn't happen. The principle visited my house on numerous occasions trying to convince my parents and finally it worked and I had to bear the pain of staying away from my crush.

There were many fights in the house regarding this issue but nothing ever went in my favor and to show my protest I decided to push all the liberties I was given to the limit. Anyway, I didn't really make good friends with anyone in my class. So I saw no fun in going to school. But i enjoyed the attention I was getting in school. I was the most talked about guy even though I attended the least number of classes.

Apart from all that I studied, hard and consistently. I was among the toppers in the coaching classes. The first test I gave there and the events that followed deserve special mention. I had got the second rank and my friend cheated from my paper and ended up getting the first rank. That was bad, considering that it was the first test and everyone was talking about the topper, just the kind of start and image everyone would want. But things went out of hand a few days after the result.

I was sitting with the cheater on the side adjacent to the wall and a gorgeous female of our class was sitting in the next row. She started talking to him sounding impressed and asking him how he studies and stuff. I felt like screaming when I saw that. We were losers when it came to talking to girls and never had the guts to even start a conversation with any girl. All I could do was pretend that I am not listening to what they are talking about. But when they started talking about their families then I could bear it no more. I bent side wards to tell her that he had actually cheated and hence he got the first rank. She ignored or didn't hear what I said. She didn't reply and I didn't try to say it again. They continued talking and I had to spend some really uncomfortable moments after that. Finally when their conversation ended my friend had nothing to say but sorry. I was glad he didn't nag me because then I would have killed him for sure. Though after a few days when he called her she refused to recognize him. I was relieved.

Life changed after that dialogue with mom. Studying became much harder. The rank in coaching classes went tumbling down. I started getting reprimanded regularly by my parents for not studying. My classmates who always hated the importance and liberties given to me laughed at me. Teachers started mocking me for they never really liked someone having the audacity to choose not to attend their lectures. The principle started worrying about my performance too. Life started changing, people started changing.

My crush got to know that I like her "that" way. She called me up and said, "What am I hearing? I called you on my birthday thinking that you're a nice guy and you started thinking about me in that way? How sick can one get? My mom has got to know about this and if my dad gets to know he will shoot you for sure." She hung up. I almost urinated in my pants. I was petrified. This wasn't the end of it though. The principle ordered me to join chemistry tuition classes after school. The batch I was given was the one in which she was studying too with 3 more students. She got to know about this and told everything to the teacher. He thought it was his "duty" to inform my parents about this. He would have fulfilled his duty had my beloved friend in that batch not intervened and explained to the sir that it was all a misunderstanding. I was given a different batch and all the love that may have been left after that phone call flew away. "Narrow minded people," I thought.

Class 11th finals approached near but I was in no state to study. And finally when exams started I didn't feel like studying anything. In the examination hall I didn't feel like attempting the questions whatever little I knew. All I used to do was write songs on the question paper. I flunked and got the lowest marks in the whole school. It was embarrassing, very embarrassing, not something I was used to. But I didn't want to blame myself because I knew that it was something I had no control over. I was too numb, learning the ways of the world too fast for my comfort. My confidence has reached rock bottom. I was increasing more nervous and restless. But still I couldn't study.

Everyone around me changed his or her colors. My friends, my teachers, my parents??? That was something that hurt me the most and my heart ached at the very thought of the things they used to say. "You may get everything in life, but if you don't listen to us I am telling you, you will never be a happy man, never!" Mom used to curse me frequently. I was scolded everyday for not studying. Gradually I began to realize that they didn't love me at all, they were just too stuck on their son and never thought about me as an individual, for if they did, they wouldn't behave the way they did. The teachers always used to taunt me and friends always had something sarcastic to direct at me. I thought my sister would never understand my state of mind because she was too nerdy to understand something like this. A "something" that even I was beginning to get confused about. I didn't know where I was headed. I felt lonely, very lonely. I was promoted to 12th somehow.

Come 12th and I was ordered to attend classes regularly. I somehow managed to do that for 2 weeks but after that I gave up. It was too hard. I couldn't talk to anyone because I was too scared that they would ask me if I were going mad with all my eccentricities. I got depressed. The psychiatrist gave some 'happy pills' and asked my parents to not ask me to study for atleast 3 weeks. I was glad about that. But they started pestering me after the third day. I was too tired to be shocked. They used to get paranoid that 'their son' isn't studying, their son wont clear pmt and their son wont become successful. They were just not able to think about the individual in front of them. They are doctors too and I used to wonder if they really have any clue about the subtle human emotions.

They were too insecure to be of any help. Anytime I used to approach them with my problems they used to start worrying that I am worried and as a result used to vent their anxiety on me. Complex it was! They finally decided to take me to mussourie. It felt great there. But while coming back and on reaching home it was the same story. The walls of the house were threatening to eat me. My brain used to ache with million thoughts attacking me. The pills used to make me sleep all day like a dead body. Though it was a welcome respite from the maddening thoughts but still it was no cure. 'Happy pills' are a result of misconception that science can fathom everything, even the complex emotions. No doubt it's a field beyond logic and can be deciphered only by deeply engrossing oneself into meditation and religion. I finally started feeling bored of the dead life and decided to rise. It wasn't anything revolutionary, simple cause and effect.

I started studying, though it was hard, very hard. I was no way near my best. But something was better than nothing. I 'developed' a crush on a girl in my coaching class. I thought it would help me get back on track and more interested in mundane issues and it worked! It gave me an incentive to live. Incidentally my 'cheater' friend has crush on the same girl. We didn't seem to mind that because we both knew deep inside that we wouldn't go far. I used to spend hours to groom myself before going for the coaching class, used to practice zillion times that perfect line which would make her smile. It all ended abruptly when we saw her making out with some guy after class. It was painful but we had someone to share our sorrows with, each other. It was much better than one of us managing to woo her. We got over her in a few weeks.

My efforts to study were still going on, though a thousand thoughts prompted me to run away from the entire wilderness. My rank was improving but it was no way near what it used to be. I felt I had almost lost that ability to study. I just couldn't study for long hours. It was as if my heart used to disallow me to study because it wasn't something I really wanted to do. But my mind knew that I had just three options-to study, run away or die. I always had to choose the first option. Nothing great. I just never had the guts to do the last two. It was destiny taking full charge of me with I having no say. In fact I was clueless what 'I' was. I used to read books on psychology hoping to find answers to my never ending questions about life and its functioning. I used to hate it when I used to hear my friends in other schools taking part in debates and elocution. I was too much of an introvert to have ever taken part in them in the past and now it wasn't allowed for the biology students in our school. But now I had zeal to speak up and be heard. I had come out of my shell I felt. I had to! Though I never got the chance in school it paved the way for me creating opportunities for myself in future.

The pre boards were drawing near but I was too busy doing objectives for entrances. I thought with whatever little study I do I better study for entrance than study for boards, which I was hoping I would pass anyway. Though I still wanted to get a good score in boards to the keep the philosophy option open in case something works out in the future. But I hadn't studied anything for the boards and I didn't know where to start from, so I didn't till the pre boards came knocking on the door and went away.

I got the lowest in the school and that sounded familiar. I flunked again. But because I hadn't started studying anything for the boards I didn't start it until the principle called my parents (stark contrast from when he used to visit us everyday) and told them that I wouldn't be allowed to give the boards if I don't pass the re test. So a week before the boards I was giving exams in school. I had only those three options and again I chose the first one. One of my parents used to sit with me not allowing me to go anywhere else. I just had to study and I hated them for that. Somehow I was allowed to sit for the boards.

The first physics exam I found exceptionally tough. The last hour in the examination hall was spent analyzing the job prospects for a tenth pass twelfth fail guy. I thought I would get a clerical job in a bank for sure. The other exams that followed went ok. Though till one month after that physics paper everyday I used to calculate my marks and every time it used to fall a few marks short of the passing score. Finally the result came out and I passed with an 83 percent and I got the same marks individually in physics.

I was convinced that CBSE sucks because I expected around 97 in tenth and ended up getting just 90 (I was a nerd then). But the real things, the entrances, were still left. I had this weird confidence that I would be able to clear them no doubt. I had got into the habit of locking myself into the room and listening to songs and lying down the whole day. That doesn't sound too different but it was considering that it was literally the whole day. I used to wonder that my parents haven't noticed that as they would be thinking that I am busy studying and wouldn't even care to ask me if I am ok. But after some time they always got to know when I was lying down in my room. i used to draw all the curtain and even plug the key hole with bits of papers but still they got to know. I scanned the room for any hidden cameras but couldn't find anything. So every time I used to lie down during day time one of the parents used to bang the locked door hurling abuses. Finally I was not allowed to lock the room and 'study'.

As was the case before boards someone used to supervise me while studying. But I got into the practice of just staring at the book and turning pages at regular intervals hence leading them into thinking that I was studying, whereas I used to be lost in my own world. World that can't be described by words. May be it was reality.

The result of entrances started coming out and I didn't clear any of them. For a change I was alarmed because the prospect of dropping a year and staying home seemed dangerous for the health of all of us. I wanted badly to go away from home. Again nothing great, just simple cause and effect. The next two entrances were one month away. So it was practically one last chance. And I studied at an average of eight productive hour's everyday. I cleared one of them. I was relieved but not happy. My parents were mad with happiness and that made me angry but I kept quiet. And a week after the result I saw myself sitting on a chair made of air with some people threatening to slap me. Any guesses?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dealing With A Bipolar Disorder Patient

Family And Support

Although it is hard to realize, but a bipolar disorder does not define a person. At times it becomes hard to cope up with a person suffering from this disorder. It seems impossible to cheer up a person going through this type of depression. The relationships of a person having this condition are adversely affected over time. Living with a such person gives rise to stress, misunderstanding and confrontation. One must reckon that feelings of the person are because of illness and these feelings are beyond his/her control. A strong support group including family is most critical for a patient having this disorder. It is along term illness and small triggering factors can aggravate the symptoms of this disorder over and over again during life time. However, consistent treatment and lifestyle changes can keep the symptoms under control. Patients who realized their condition (patients usually feel like every thing is normal during the episodes of this mood disorder) and adopted defensive measures against this disorder have been living successful lives.

Prominent Symptoms

This type of mood disorder is dominantly characterized by depression episodes as compared to the mania or hypomania (high energy levels and moods). Mania or hypomania episodes of this disorder are comprised of elevated moods, high energy levels and aggressive behaviors. This condition may lead to poor decisions and destructive behavior. However, a patient going through this phase of bipolar disorder is hard to diagnose. In most cases, patients of bipolar are diagnosed during the depression episodes of this disorder. These episodes exhibit symptoms like sadness, hopelessness, lack of interest and concentration in activities, crying spells, low energy and restlessness.

Severe Bipolar Episodes

In severe cases, a patient may experience symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. Most devastating outcomes of bipolar disorder include suicidal thoughts and plans. Hospitalization and medication can relieve these symptoms to some extent in chronic cases of bipolar disorder. Family and loved ones have to be really careful, if the patients talks about death and thinks that ending up his/her is the last resort.Bipolar patients have a higher tendency of attempting suicide.

Best Practices

Learning about this type of depression helps the family to support the patient in a better way. Consistent emotional support and encouragement by the family improves the effectiveness of the treatment. Doctor usually prescribe medication for a longterm and patient's compliance is mandatory for that duration.

Patients also have to play a vital role in enhancing their quality of life. Getting involved in the treatment, healthy diet, regular exercise and enough sleeping are some of the steps to avoid the recurrence of bipolar disorder.

For further information about this disorder and different types of depression click here.

How to Make Money Growing Medicinal Herbs

As more and more people want to live a healthier and more natural lifestyle, the more of a demand there will be for medicinal herbs. This profitable business is perfect for someone wanting to make extra money (it could even become a full-time job), spend more time outdoors, and have fun doing it. It's really quite easy and you can be on your way to big profits in the herbal business before you know it.

Recent medical research has shown that many herbs can be useful as health alternatives to expensive medicines. It's even been reported that in Germany, doctors write seven times as many prescriptions for St John's Wort as they do for Prozac for treating depression. So to say people want medicinal herbs is an understatement. In fact, it's one of the most profitable herb businesses you could start.

First you need to think about what medicinal herbs you'd like to grow. There are hundreds to choose from. Don't feel like you have to grow every one! That might create more headaches and unnecessary hard work than if you just focus on a select few. That way you'll become an expert on those select few and build a reputation as a medicinal herb expert.

Here are a few popular medicinal herbs to consider growing for profit:

Catnip - you've probably heard of this one. It's used primarily as a stimulant for cats, but it also can be a soothing sedative for people. It is also particularly useful for pain and stress relief, as well as helping with cold and flu symptoms.

Chamomile - chamomile can make for a great, soothing tea. It has many medicinal benefits such as being a digestive, calming and sleep aid.

Lemon Balm - the strongly scented leaves of this herb also make for a great tea in addition to being an immune booster and beneficial to the digestive tract.

Marsh mallow - this herb, also known as Althaea officinalis, can be used to treat many skin conditions, coughs and bronchitis, and also is helpful for the digestive tract.

After your herbs are all grown, you're ready to begin selling. There are many opportunities to sell your herbs, whether they are sold right from your backyard, a garage sale, a fundraiser for a church or other charitable cause, or your local farmer's market. At these events, make flyers or posters showcasing the value your medicinal herbs could have for your customers. If people learn what the herbs can do for them, they're more likely to give it a try. When you hear success stories ("That tea really got my cough under control") consider putting quotes on your flyers or posters, and soon your herbs will be flying off the shelves.

The medicinal herb business can be rewarding in that you're not only making a nice profit, but also helping people live a healthier and more natural lifestyle. Have fun with it. Put your creativity into it, and you'll see the customers continue to return.

Depression - A Holistic Perspective and The Use of Food As Medicine

How common it is

Depression affects about 18 million adults, or about 9% of the U.S. Population. People with Depression are more likely to develop disabilities, miss work, be less productive, and spend more money and time on health care. According to the World Health Organization, Depression is the leading cause of nonfatal disability on our planet, accounting for 12 percent of productive years lost. It's a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. It's estimated that for Americans, clinical Depression alone will likely cost more than $50 billion this year. At it's worst, Depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850 000 thousand lives in the world, every year.

Matching the drug to the symptoms: Western medicine's approach to treating Depression

From the reductionistic view of Modern Western medicine, Depression is seen as a Serotonin deficiency in the brain regardless of the underlying cause(s) and is treated most commonly with drugs(SSRIs) meant to address this deficiency.

The above approach of treating the symptoms of Depression with drugs and not dealing with the causes has potentially serious consequences. For one, it makes the person dependent on the drug since the underlying cause(s) , whether physical, emotional or spiritual, may continue to exist while Serotonin levels are artificially regulated by drugs. Also, SSRIs are known to have a range of side effects including weight gain, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal problems and more seriously, suicidal thoughts. Finally, dependence on drugs to make us feel good may keep us from effectively dealing with the root causes like toxicity, inflammation and nutritional deficiencies. Left untreated, these physiological imbalances could lead to more serious health issues and cause irreparable damage to the body.

The Wholistic approach to Depression- Dealing with the causes

The Wholistic view on Depression considers the whole human being and the various extraneous factors that the person is subject to, including social and environmental, and focuses on the causes and not the symptoms. The causes of Depression could be physcial, emotional or spiritual. Most of these causes also raise the stress levels in the body which is associated with low-levels of Serotonin.

1) Physical:

Food sensitivities, poor digestive health, systemic chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, toxicity, and, nutritional imbalances and deficiencies, could all manifest depressive symptoms.

2) Emotional:

Unresolved issues from events/traumas of the past, suppressed emotions, conflicts within oneself as well as others, consistent worries about things that have not happened yet, etc.

3) Spiritual:

Lack of fulfillment in relationships, career etc, a feeling of being 'stuck' in life,feeling empty and meaningless, not feeling like one's aligned with their true purpose in life, inability to find peace due to nonacceptance of one's current situation, feeling like being disconnected from family, friends and society, are the most common.

Depending on one's specific situation, a combinatory approach that addresses all causes would be the most helpful in treating depression. Easy to learn mind-body approaches such as meditation, guided-imagery, and bio-feedback can help regulate stress hormones and neurotransmitter levels. Physical exercise helps increase neurotransmitter levels and releases endorphins, making one feel good. Identifying and correcting imbalances in the body such as toxicity, inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, food allergies and sensitivities, and digestive issues is also crucial. A sense of being connected- to family, friends, jobs, neighbors, nature and culture- can also make us less likely to be depressed.

Creating and maintaining a regular spiritual practice , something that embraces the wisdom from any of the ancient traditions, and helps us go beyond ourselves and connect with something larger than us can help in this regard.

Using Food as medicine

The science behind the effect of food on mood is better understood now than before.

While it's important to be eating enough of the foods that provide us the nutrients for optimum mental health, it is just as important to be minimizing or avoiding foods that deplete us of the same nutrients and/or induce physiological stress through allergies, inflammation, toxicity as well as digestive, metabolic and hormonal imbalances that cause Depression. Chief culprits in the latter category are:

1. Sugar: This includes refined and processed carbohydrates, including all refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.They spike up insulin levels causing fluctuating serotonin levels, deplete essential nutrients from the body, cause inflammation ,weight gain and diabetes.

Healthier alternatives to sugar include maple sugar and yacon root powder/syrup(which is low-glycemic and has many health benefits)

2. Hydrogenated fats: Also known as Trans fats, they are found in baked goods, most fried foods, margarine etc. They cause cellular damage and interrupt normal brain function.

3. Toxic meats, fish and poultry:Meats from animals raised on hormones and anti-biotics, all pesticide and chemical laden foods, and excessive consumption of fish with high levels of mercury(canned tuna, swordfish etc)

4. Artificial sweeteners, Food additives and Preservatives: These man-made foods are not recognized by the body and hence not metabolized properly and contribute to toxicity.

5. Caffeine and Alcohol: Although small amounts may be beneficial, excessive amounts cause stress and deplete nutrients from the body contributing to Depression.

Many people also have food allergies/sensitivities that they're not aware of. A simple elimination diet could
help isolate the most common foods that are of issue- dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and citrus.

Essential foods and their best sources

Whole foods are the best sources of nutrition since they have all the nutrients that nature intended in them in synergistic proportions.

Fats: Cell membranes are made up of fatty acids and a fat-deficient diet can promote depressive symptoms.Anyone who's tried a low-fat or fat-free diet can possibly attest to this. Much is being said about the importance of Omega 3s and fish oil these days. Two of the most important fatty acids which are essential are eicosapentanoic acid(EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid(DHA) ,and they are the Omega- 3 fatty acids from wild fish and fish oil. Most plant-based sources of Omega 3s such as nuts and seeds do not provide EPA and DHA directly, and our bodies have to do the necessary conversion, and given our modern diets we are not very efficient in this process.

Best sources:

Wild-caught sockeye salmon, canned or fresh
Canned Sardines and other small fish like Mackerel (good sources of Vitamin D)
Good quality Cod liver oil(also rich in Vitamin D)
Nuts and seeds like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, Flax seeds, Sesame seeds and almonds
Cold pressed Olive oil and coconut oil.

Proteins: While fats constitute the cell-membranes, it's the amino acids from the proteins we eat that facilitate the communication , and all of the various neurotransmitters and the receptors needed by the body are created from eight of the amino acids that are essential.

Best sources:

Beans, Lentils and legumes of various kinds
Nuts and seeds that also provide some essential fats
Eggs from healthy happy free-roaming chickens
Meat from naturally raised humanely treated animals in moderation

Carbohydrates: They are the food for brain function and all plant foods- vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices- contain carbohydrates in their natural whole form and they come with all the vitamins, minerals and fiber which together help in the production as well as regulation of serotonin. Low-carb diets contribute to low levels of Serotonin.

Best sources:

Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat

Vitamins and minerals: They are the helpers needed for the conversion of the amino acids from the protein we eat to the neurotransmitters. For example, Vitamin B6 is needed to convert Tryptophan to Serotonin. Minerals like Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium also are essential Magnesium deficiency has been linked to Depression in studies. Likewise, low-levels of Vitamin D are linked to depression as well.

Best sources: Rich colorful vegetables, dark leafy greens and fruits.
Sea vegetables- like kelp, dulse, nori, wakame, kombu etc
Sunlight- 20-30 mins of sun exposure

Using superfoods to boost your fight against depression

A whole-foods based diet that includes many of the foods mentioned above should by itself provide the nutritional platform for healing which would help the effect of complementary efforts like exercise, meditation, psychological/emotional therapies etc to take hold. Including some foods that are considered 'super' foods because of their very rich nutrient content can boost, or even catapult one's nutritional status.
Here are a few foods that belong to this category:

Spirulina- available in tablet and powder forms, it is the the highest source of digestible protein found in the world.It is also abundant in many vitamins especially B1, B2 and B6, and also many enzymes, GLA(a fat that is necessary for brain function), and chlorophyll.

Raw Cacao- Available as a powder or as Cacao nibs, it is rich in many minerals especially magnesium, anandamide(the bliss chemical), tryptophan, serotonin, and is also one of the most potent anti-oxidants of all foods.

Chlorella- Rich in chlorophyll, also supports liver and immune functions and is a de-toxifier and has good anti oxidant properties.

Bee-Pollen- abundant in many enzymes, minerals, all the essential amino acids, and many B vitamins including folic acid(vitamin b9).

Ashwagandha- Long used in India, it is an one of the best adaptogens((class of herbs that adapt to the body's varying requirements intelligently) and is known for mind-body stress reduction.

Maca- another great adaptogen and is available as a powder, it is known for increasing energy and endurance and has most of the amino acids and supports hormone regulation.

Putting it all together - A super-food smoothie

The above foods can be incorporated into your diet in a delicious breakfast smoothie which takes no more than 5 minutes to make altogether including cleanup. This is one of my favorite recipes and since personal tastes vary, it may take experimenting with different fruits and combinations to get your favorite taste.

1 cup of blueberries
1 banana
2 slices of pineapple
1 teaspoon spirulina powder
1 teaspoon Maca powder
1 teaspoon Ashwagandha powder, or 2 capsules
1 tablespoon bee pollen
2 tablespoons of hemp protein powder
1 teaspoon of coconut oil- if you like the taste ,or flax oil
Optionally you can also add a handful of fresh organic greens like spinach, kale or chard.

Blend it all in a high-power blender with enough clean water to the consistency you like(thick or thin) and
sip it while you take a couple of teaspoons of cod liver oil (which then would take away any aftertaste issues). From my experience and that of some of my clients, this is not only very satisfying as a meal but also provide super nutrition and a brain boost that last well later in to the day.

Why People Have Clinical Depression

Why do people become clinically depressed? This is like asking - what causes people to become deeply sad? There are some obvious answers and one can cite financial problems, relationship issues, the death of a loved one, divorce, bankruptcy, loss of one's home or business, chronic illness, the stresses of everyday life, and many others as the cause of clinical depression. Indeed, external events such as these can trigger depression. This, however, just scratches the surface. Two persons may experience the same tragic life event, but it can happen that only one becomes clinically depressed, while the other does not. Why is this so?

There are factors, other than the triggering event, that contribute to depression. One of them is heredity. This is in fact the most common risk factor in many illnesses, and it is no different in the case of a major depression. Research has shown that depression tends to run in families. This is especially true concerning bipolar disorder, a type of depression in which the person alternately experiences manic, depressive, and normal moods. But while a susceptibility to depression can be inherited, it does not mean that those without a family history of the disease will not fall prey to it. Anyone can suffer from a major depression, with or without a family history of the condition.

Environmental factors also seem to play an important role in depression. The presence of chronic stress can slowly wear down a person, such that he eventually breaks down and succumbs to depression. It has also been found out that certain groups of people appear to be more susceptible to depression than others. For instance, minority groups who continually experience discrimination, as well as socio-economically disadvantaged sections of society, seem to have higher rates of depression than other people outside their groups.

Biologically, the cause of clinical depression is linked to brain chemistry. There are more than a hundred chemicals, known as neurotransmitters or neurochemicals that circulate in our brain. Four of the most important neurochemicals are norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. An imbalance in these chemicals results in certain neuro-psychiatric illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and dementia. People with this condition have decreased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine.

Food, medication and activity all have an effect on the neurotransmitters in our brain. As such, having a balanced diet and getting enough exercise and sleep are important considerations for people with depression. They must also bear in mind that certain medications may cause depression as a side effect. In particular, some medications for the treatment of cancer, seizures, high blood pressure and acute pain can all have a depressive side effect. Even certain contraceptives, sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications can contribute to the development of depression. This underlines the importance of not self-medicating, and of strictly following physician's instructions regarding medication.

As can be seen, there are a variety of factors that come into play in clinical depression. Some of them are beyond our control, such as heredity, genetics and ethnicity or the group in society in which one is born. Death, debts, money issues, calamities, unwelcome life changes and such external triggers of depression are also often beyond anyone's control. Depression may then be an unavoidable part of life sometimes, but it can be managed and treated, just like any other medical condition.

The 5 Important Facts You Must Know About the Light Therapy Lamp

If you are viewing this post right now, chances are that you are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and you want to learn how to make use of the Light Therapy Lamp to help solve your problems.

Yes, these lamps have been made use of in hospitals and clinics, and recommended by doctors. However, the consumers and patients ought to know more about what a Light Therapy Lamp is. That is why I will show you 5 important facts about the lamp before you purchase it and use it for yourself.

1) It helps to alleviate symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or in lay man's term, winter blues, is a mental problem many face in winter occurring areas. This is due to the shortening of days in these regions and the body automatically adjust to the lack of light. As a result, the production of melatonin, a hormone that is secreted in the body internally in darkness or dim light, occurs. This results in a change of mood and worse, depression that mimics those of clinical depression.The lamps produce this light that helps users to maintain their level of melatonin, allowing them to be more ready for the day even though it is shorter during winter.

2) Composition on a Light Therapy Lamp.

The Light Therapy Lamp is usually made up of a box of special fluorescent lamps that is installed with a diffusing screen. These lights are more powerful than your everyday lights, as they are needed to jumpstart your body to help adjust to the new body clock. However the lights produced are level of that of natural sunlight. Therefore, by using the SAD Lamps, it can be said that it is similar to you being outdoors, and that is actually great.

3) Intensity of the Light the lamps give out.

The intensity of the Light Therapy Lamp can be varied from 2500 lux to 10000 lux. lux is the measurement of lux illumination of lamps. It really depends on the person's needs and preference. Furthermore, the treatment duration will change variably with the lux value of the lamps they are using. The lower the lux, the dimmer the lamp will be. Usually for a 10000 lux (which is usually the case), the user may only need to bathe in the light for 30 minutes while doing what they want (surfing the net, reading a book). If he/she uses a 2500 lux Lamp, then he may need to bathe in the light for around 2 hours. But one thing very important about them is that the level of light matches that of the sunlight given during sunsets and sunrises. And everyone has their own suitable amount and intensity of light.

4) Treatment using the Light Therapy Lamp

Treatment using the Light Therapy Lamp is very simple. Just by switching on the lamp and making sure that you sit or position yourself comfortably, doing what you like (for example, reading a book, eating a meal etc). You do not have to stare into the lamp, but instead position the lamp lights towards your head and body. Treatment is simple and hassle-free as you can do what you still need to do (e.g. use the computer for work). You only have to open your eyes during the treatment and concentrate on the activity while being illuminated by the light. Of course, you can blink during treatment.

5) Cost of the Light Therapy Lamp

The cost of these lamps usually hovers around the range of US$150. There are many other more expensive ones which usually incorporate other technology such as ionic technology. One example is the NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp. Other types have adjustable light intensity and adjustable timing to switch on, allowing you to suit it to your own preference, like the Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device.

All in all, the Light Therapy Lamp is the most effective solution against Seasonal Affective Disorder. The lamps are generally not expensive, especially if you look in the long-term perspective. It is really worth it as you can use it for a few years. If the lamp cost US$150 and you use it for 5 years, it'll only be around 0.82 cents per day!

Well, I hope that these facts about Light Therapy Lamps have helped you in your decision to purchase and use them. I wish all of you can enjoy your winter days.

PMDD and Depression - Tips to Cure The Symptoms

If you are suffering from depression when PMDD comes upon you near the end of your menstrual cycle then you know just how low and miserable you can possibly feel. Combined with the fact you feel fine after menses, that fear of lapsing back into soul sucking depression can be just as bad as the issue itself! So if you have PMDD and depression - just what can you do?

Here are some tips to help cure the symptoms you suffer with depression and PMDD that might just help you end this spiralling nightmare!

Eating Healthy

The food that we eat has great influence in dealing with such condition as PMDD. We hear contradicting views and new findings about what diet is healthy for you all the time, but these core tips may be helpful when recovering from depression or PMDD. However they are not an instant cure, they do take time to come to fruition.

  • Avoid sweets -Eating sugary foods is a no-no in PMDD. High intake of sugar may cause sudden increase in blood glucose level. The body then compensates by producing insulin in response to hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). The excessive production of insulin in response to the abrupt increase in blood sugar may cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) in return. Sweets alter our body's natural balance and cause the extremes in blood glucose level. If your blood sugar is low, depression may set in.

  • Avoid Packaged and Refined Foods -As explained above sudden elevation of blood sugar level may result to rebound hypoglycemia. Aside from low levels of essential nutrients compared to the fresh ones, processed foods are so refined that they easily breakdown into glucose. To avoid this, stick with the "fresh".

  • Eat Low GI Foods - These are low carbohydrate foods that are converted into energy at a steady rate which allows your body to utilize it well. Higher GI foods (high carbohydrate foods), however, are the ones that cause the same problems as mentioned above. Introduce low GI foods to your diet and prevent hypoglycaemia.

Work-Out... Works Out!

Everyone knows and says that exercise is good for all. The question is, "How and when should you exercise?" During depression, exercise does not even cross your mind. You will rather prefer to stay inactive. Again, you need to be reminded of what everyone says about exercise. Knowing the right exercise for you will be helpful in promoting the release of your happy hormones, endorphins. Also, studies show that exercise allows you to relax and allows you to sleep well. Here are some helpful tips on how to make exercise effective for you.

  • Stick To It- Even just the thought of how you can benefit from exercise and how fun it can be when done in groups is exciting. However, the hard part of it is keeping up with it as part of your lifestyle. Women do encounter this problem with consistency in relation to exercise. If you finally believe what most people tell you about exercising, you may choose to engage in regular exercise. In the end, you will realize that even during depression, you can get out of your pyjamas and get in to your gym clothes. In time, it becomes a habit that is hard to give up.

  • Hard work- High intensity workout may not be easy for you and for some women. However, if you work out more intensely, the happy hormones (e.g. endorphins) are released and can stabilize mood. A good exercise usually gives you a boost after. On the other hand, long-term effects are appreciated after days of being consistent with the program.

  • Strength Training - Most women prefer cardio over the weights. This may also be true to you. Strength training allows you to develop your endurance. This exercise allows you to work on the muscles of the body and can trigger the release of your "feel-good hormone", the endorphins.

Herbal Medicine

Medications given for PMDD works for temporary relief of symptoms only; just like an antipyretic to a fever. As long as the root cause of the condition is not treated, then same problems recur. Also, drug dependence may also arise. This is something you do not want to happen. The action and the benefits of these agents may be fast yet these can wear off in time. However, safer remedies can be found in your garden. Alternative herbal medicines can pose lesser risks and can be considered as a long term treatment option.

There are many herbal formulas that can be helpful in PMDD. St. John's Wort, is one of the wonder-drugs. It mimics or has the same benefits with antidepressant medications. The good thing about it is you don't get to suffer side effects.

This may be found in your backyard or maybe along the neighbourhood. If it is hard to look for one, you can visit online stores. The recommended time to take this is at the start of your menses and days or weeks after it. This may allow better outcomes in treating the symptoms of PMDD. Remember, do not use it with other antidepressant drugs and always seek for the expert's help.

Everyone Needs Support

Support is as important as diet, exercise and herbal remedies. When you experience depression, you need the help of your family and friends. You want to feel that you are understood and that you are accepted in a way. A good support system will create an environment that can pave your way to recovery. Educating the family about PPMD is very important in establishing a good support system.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Current Depression Linked With Crack Cocaine Use

Mental Health professionals have for years been searching for the magic bullet for solving addiction to various drugs. When the crack cocaine problem hit the streets in 1980's addiction treatment counselors one time would get you hooked, and it was true for many. Many therapist, psychiatrist and physicians either intentionally or ignorantly labeled many addicts as suffering depression and were "self medicating" with crack cocaine.

Recent reports and studies costing no telling what show that women who are suffering from a major depressive episode when they enter drug court are at substantially greater risk of using crack cocaine within four months, compared with women who are not currently depressed. These are pretty important facts but these studies usually have an agenda that result in coming up with solution that can be profited from.

While it is most certainly true pre-addicted individuals could have been suffering depression, the true cause was not determined. Self medicating is the most absurd diagnosis possible as no drug exists that can cure depression. Just like crack cocaine, antidepressants actually create the very thing they are prescribed and marketed as "treating" not curing.

Crack cocaine effects cause physiological changes and nutritional deficiencies that create depression. Lack of vitamin B reduces the ability to the body to produce serotonin; magnesium deficiencies create paranoia, nervousness and anxiety. Crack cocaine burns up these nutrients at tremendous levels. Nutritional deficiencies usually exists in people predisposed to addiction and the true causes of the depression were never really looked at I can guarantee.

Studies are important factor in heading off possible problems in the future as long as the correct cause of the problem is determined. Not simply treating symptoms caused by some ailment as is done with antidepressants. Drugs that have very dangerous side effects that often turns out deadly. Knowing someone suffering with depression is 4-6 time more likely to abuse crack cocaine is an important fact.

"Treating" that depression with drugs, regardless prescribed or illicit without further testing is taking a step the wrong uninformed direction. A comparison that can be made here is physicians and mental health professionals are making the same mistake the addict is making. No before you go should be the policy and that is most certainly the case with nearly all patients prescribed anti-depressant drugs which are " thought to" help alleviate depression symptoms.

Nutritional deficiencies and thyroid problems are very common in those suffering depression. These and other problems should be ruled out prior to any drugs being ingested either off the street or pharmacy.

Parent With Manic-Depression

"Roxanne, hi, umm, it's Ralph, your mother is dead", this was the beginning of the phone conversation from Wyoming. Wyoming, the place where my mother was supposed to be happy for the first time in her life. A new home, a loving partner, a garden grown with love and care by my mother's hands. This call came while I was taking a nap before finals in the middle of the afternoon. I stumbled over my words, "why are you telling me this, my mom is not dead, what are you saying, why are you telling me these lies, my mother is not dead, why would you two pull some kind of joke like this on me?" Yes, those were my first words of reaction to the news that Ralph had just found my mother in her closet. She had found his gun while he was out shopping, and shot herself in her face. Sorry readers, for the graphics. However, that is what happened. My forty eight year old mother had just committed suicide. I was only twenty-nine at the time and for years had dreaded this day. Nine years have gone by since that fateful phone call, nine years of nightmares, fear, and the constant dread that it will happen to me.

The history behind that final day of my mother's life is rife with pain, hurt, loss, abandonment, and loss of childhood. She was diagnosed with Manic Depression Bi-Polar when she was in her early thirties, although her siblings can attest to her strange behavior as a child. Her solitariness, her withdrawal from peer relationships, her impulsive nature which led to the birth of her first child, me. I grew up in a home where the lights were never on. I fondly called my mother the "Vampire Lady". She was either asleep or too drugged out to have any real mother daughter talks. Our relationship was ripe with volatility from the age of about sixteen or so. Her illness had us jumping through hoops as children, us being my younger sister and I. I was my sister's caretaker from way back. Through the many moves, the many men, some abusers that my mother tried to find solace in. She never did.

Her mental illness is what is the driving force behind my quest to help others with mental illness. I grew up with a mother who threatened suicide yearly. She was hospitalized at least five times during my adolescence. I can honestly say though, that she always sought help. I remember many times she would find a new doctor who wanted to try yet another experimental antidepressant. My mother and her medications were the theme of everyday. Did mom take her meds? Did the Doctor call with the new script? After the many stays in the psychiatric hospital, my mother acquired a bizarre crew of confidantes. There was the friend with Turret's, the one with multiple personalities. Some nights our form of entertainment would be playing Monopoly with this mix of folks. You would never know what personality would come out from Paige, or if Mark would start to cuss with no control. Although, this probably was not the ideal way to spend an evening for two young kids, it was a form of humor for us. With my mother, you would take the good times and hold them dearly, because you never knew if you would get "that" call. The one where mom tried to check out again.

My mother's mental illness has changed my life course, how could it not? I am not good at trusting people, or I trust too easily. I question my sanity all the time because at one point when I was sixteen one of my mother's doctor's told me that I would most likely inherit this lovely disease, due to its genetic makeup. Therefore, I never know if I am just crazy from the stresses of the world, or that I am manic-depressive and will commit suicide at some point in my life. I can say I have survived my mother's suicide, and that I have at times put it in perspective. However, there are those days that I cannot get out of bed and I do not want the lights on. Candlelight is the most soothing, thanks to mom. My mother and I had a very volatile relationship, at times, I believed she hated me and wished that I had never been born. I grew up blaming myself for her illness. I have her journal that I inherited after her death; it is rife with ranting of her hatred for me. As an adult, I have had to remind myself that it was not her, that it was her illness. Sometimes for me that is hard to reconcile. Now readers, I do not want you to misunderstand me, my childhood did have its benefits, and people who tried to make a difference. My grandparents tried to bring some semblance of normality to my sister's and my life. I am thirty-eight now, married with no children. My fears of this hereditary disease have stopped me from bringing children into this world. I will say I have some peace about the last moments of my mother's life, she seemed happy finally and at peace. I suppose that should have been a big warning sign that something was amiss. I carry guilt around to this day because I was the last person to speak to my mother before she shot herself. I hung up on her because she had what I used to call her "headache" voice, the voice that could not be reached. I hung up on her and the police believe I interrupted her while she was getting ready to go into that closet. I live with that, and I know that mental illness is the most heinous of diseases.

Information for Spouses of Husbands and Wives with Bipolar Disorder

I wish I could promise you a happy ending in your marriage to a spouse with bipolar disorder. I wish I could give you a checklist of things to do to guarantee whatever success you're seeking. But bipolar disorder manic depression doesn't work that way (as if I need to remind you of that).

Each bipolar case is different. Everyone comes with a unique brain, so each manifestation of the illness is different. The most important information I can give you for handling your spouse's bipolar disorder may sound counterintuitive:

Identify who YOU are. Figure out what in your life you hold closest to your heart (other than your spouse). Remember to nurture these ideals so you stretch and grow--regardless of your spouse's daily mood.

There is no blueprint for success when you read information about how to support a husband or wife with bipolar disorder. Every "well" person is unique, too. Making a marriage work with two "normal" people is hard enough. Witness how today's divorce rate tops 50%. Throw in a wild card of bipolar disorder, and you're penalized with a handicap right from the start.

But you can learn concrete strategies for handling unexpected mood swings, uncontrollable outbursts of anger, inevitable guilt and remorse (yours and his!) You can learn to talk to a husband or wife with bipolar disorder and even handle the emotions that accompany the realization that the life partner you have may not be the one you married.

If you're "Married To Mania", you must make critical decisions everyday that take into account your spouse's best interests but don't eradicate your morale
and self-esteem in the process. But you can learn how to still be you, and know that you are a good person who doesn't deserve any of this.

You can learn tips for dealing with the bipolar medical and insurance establishments without second-guessing yourself. You can learn to accept that the mental illness professionals are decidedly not on your side.

Counseling is helpful. I recommend it, in fact. But your therapist will not be with you when your bipolar spouse screams at you uncontrollably for no reason, goes on a manic spending spree that squanders your future or becomes obsessed with having affairs or gets addicted to internet pornography or drugs. You are the only one there to handle these manic depressive meltdowns.

Your therapist cannot help you decide whether you should call the police or the mental hospital admissions desk. Your therapist cannot be there everyday to help you figure out what to say to your bipolar husband or wife. The therapist isn't there at the exact moment you must explain to your children what's wrong with mom or dad, and how it's not their fault.

You can learn life-tested and proven strategies to become a stronger person and a better husband or wife, despite the odds stacked against you. You can find out how to take a mental-health break every now and to appreciate the unexpected good days. And then jump back into your flak jacket, switch off the memory bank and turn up the force field when the reality of having a bipolar husband or wife hits again.

Lastly, you can find the strength to merge two seemingly impossible objectives: staying married to your bipolar spouse and taking charge of your own life (instead of waiting to see what your partner's mood is before deciding what yours will be that day). Or you can develop the insight and strength to leave a life filled with bipolar disorder once and for all.

How To Overcome Depression Using These 2 Tips

The first tip is to always be moving and to be moving with certainty. The idea here is to keep moving. A lot of people here miss the point. Plenty of people experiencing depression don't follow through with their convictions. Will Smith had a great line when he was striving for success " I am going to do this or die". One needs to have the exact same mental toughness when in the process of exiting depression. So move with haste. Hanging around doing nothing is a one way ticket to severe depression. You need to keep yourself active, take up new interests but above all stay busy and plugged into something you enjoy doing.

So the essence of this first principle is to get good at something. When one is an expert or proficient at something, one feels good about self. This is very important as it creates a positive self-image. You can become proficient at anything. It could be sport, it could be career orientated, it could be relationships, it could be your health or spiritual life but whatever it is, it will make you feel better as a human being. Remember you never have to perfect it as in my opinion perfection never exists, just ask any business man or golfer, etc. Just strive to become more and get better and as a result you will feel energized and positive

The second tip is to become a decision maker and I mean a real decision maker. So may people experiencing depression never make a real decision. What I mean by this is that when you make a real decision, there is no way back. Decision comes from the Latin word "to cut". A real decision leaves you with no way back. You 100% must do this or you die, period. So, this is the person you should be after you make that real decision to overcome depression. Firstly, when a negative thought crosses your mind, you do not entertain it!, you quickly change track to keep yourself in a positive vibration. Next, when you have a commitment made to work or to meet your friends or do some sport, you do it.. Remember you made a decision to act and now you must back up your decision with your actions. Remember, once that decision is made, there is no going back. The newly adopted daily rituals will ensure overcoming depression will soon be a past event.

Click The link below to learn more powerful information about overcoming depression

Take the Depression Test

Depression can come in many forms and in many levels of potency to the individual and the scary thing is that you might be suffering from some form of depression and not even know about it. What you need to do when you are not sure whether or not you have depression is to take the test and it will let you know whether or not there are any grey areas you should be addressing about your own personality matrix.

Depression is a serious condition and when it spills over to a clinical condition, then people have to sit up and take notice. It is no longer than a simple emotional disorder, but a progressive mental disorder that can be characterized by known signs and symptoms. Causes of depression can range far and wide, but normally, you should look at the bio psychosocial process within the body. This is actually a holistic theme that is placed on all the body's natural functions and looks at the psychological and social, as well as the normal processes in the body and how these can affect and bring about serious cases of depression.

One of the major causes of depression is from the vulnerability of the psyche, or the diatheses that has been caused by stressful events in life. There is also a study that looks at the interaction between nurture and nature, and how a schematic experiential factor can be the major driving and continuity factor that drives major depressive disorders. In the end of the day, we all know the signs and symptoms of someone who is depressed, but what of people who are merely depressed at times. These are the beginning signs when the condition would start to gnaw away at the spirit and perhaps build up in the subconscious.

You should do all you can to avoid this and you need to take a mental status examination, the only known way to spot the signs of clinical depression in the mind. What it is really is a series of tests and procedures that assess the mind and the state of mind of a patient in a psychiatric environment. The purpose of the MSE or mental status exam is to really look at the behaviour, the mood, the thought process and the cognitive insights of the individual, and help to ascertain if there is in fact any sort of depressive or any other mental disorder in the mind.

Data here is actually collected through two main ways, which can be either direct or indirect, and they come from a battery of biological testing, questions, social information schemes and focused psychological tests. This is a good way for anyone to ascertain whether or not they have any debilitating condition in the mind. So, if you are not sure whether or not you have depression, or just a passing phase, then take the depression test and find out for yourself. Any move to detect and take away clinical depression at an early stage is good.

How to Develop Positive Thinking

It is only in a calm and peaceful mind that powerful thoughts and positive ideas can take root. The attainment of inner peace is possible through the practices of emptying the mind, and replacing the feelings of fears, hate, insecurities, regrets, guilt with creative and healthy thoughts. You should focus not just upon mind but also also on speech. Norman Vincent Peale, author of the bestseller, The Power of Positive Thinking says, "Watch your manner of speech if you wish to develop a peaceful state of mind... It is important to eliminate from conversations all negative ideas, for they tend to produce tension and annoyance inwardly" (p. 27). One must also find some time alone in quiet contemplation thinking about nothing. Picture your mind as a smooth pond and let there be no ripples. Peale quotes Abraham Lincoln, "People were just about as happy as they made their minds up to be" (p. 70) to prove that happiness is a choice. You get what you choose. Happiness is a matter of habit. It is the state you decide to be in. One should speak to one's unconscious mind. It is a powerful entity that can transform mental habits and attitudes toward positive direction, provided we are firm and persist in our endeavor. Peale goes on to show how we can rid of our negative personal traits and inculcate positive virtues through positive thinking. The methods and strategies taught by Peale to culture positive thoughts are practical steps that can be adopted by any one to solve problems, get rid of anger and other negative emotions, and drain away all your malice, and attain the ultimate self-improvement.

The techniques and examples offered by Norman Vincent Peale is nothing new. We find them as inherent doctrines in some of the Eastern religions. The other self-help books, too, offer more or less the same prescription. We might briefly formulate Peale's thesis in the following words: Mind is a powerful entity. It determines your characters and habits that ultimately decide success or failure for you. But mind is not independent of you. It absorbs what you might feed it with. Feed it with the negative thoughts of doubts, fear and failure, and you might find these mind-directed traits in you. Feed it with the positive thoughts and you will discover these traits in you. When you are armed with this understanding, you can effectively empower yourself by directing, guiding and suggesting the thoughts of confidence, success, achievements to your mind.

It is quite true that positive thinking is universally acknowledged going a long way in personal improvement and success, but we cannot claim that it can be a universal panacea to all human evils. Human beings inherit certain traits - positive and negative - as a matter of genetic determinism. Some of us are short tempered and the others are relatively quiet. You might ask how his methods and examples even when applied practically change those gene-led traits. Lombroso held that criminal traits are genetically determined and a criminal cannot help committing crimes in the same manner as a lame person cannot help limping. Yet, in a population aberrant genes are insignificantly small in number so that most of us can hope to transform the way we think, speak and behave to learn better and more positive ideas. Much of what we understand by subconscious and unconscious influences are still in the realm of scientific investigation so that the manner and extent of their influences are not quite clear but we have begun to understand that what ever we think eventually sinks down to the level of subconscious and continue to impact the conscious thought and behavior. Positive thoughts and affirmations will therefore feed our subconscious mind with positive ideas which in turn propel us toward a growth trajectory.

While there is broad understanding on the powers of positive thinking and there are many theories derived from them, differences remain on the manner of their application. For instance no one can guide you on for how many hours should your mind is fed with positive thoughts or positive affirmations to bring about a certain result. Yet isn't it enough to know that we must continually strive to think positive and learn to be an optimist.

It is true that we can bring about a more harmonious society when for instance, employers and employees or husbands and wives begin doing positive affirmations. This is of course not to deny that we can't stop retrenchments or we can't stop divorces among husbands and wives from taking place with positive affirmations. It seems unlikely. While positive affirmations by husbands and wives will make them positive in their outlook, it will not melt away the structural and social issues that may be the underlying cause of a problem. Isn't it enough that we can make the differences sweet and appealing.

Nonetheless, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that techniques like visualizations and suggestions add to your level of confidence. Successful players have reported that they mentally picture themselves winning. Successful orators have reported making use of auto-suggestions to get over the fear of facing audience. It is plain and logical. Every conscious and unconscious act that we do follows the mental command. Success to a large extent depends on the power of this command. If someone is hesitant and lacks confidence before doing a certain action, he/she will probably not do it. The same individual after discovering the power of positive thinking will eventually overcome the hurdle that had been keeping success at a bay.

The Sisters

A white BMW rounded the curve in the night darkness, its headlights catching the silhouette of two standard poodles running into the road. A screech pierced the air as the driver hit the brakes.

My husband, Dick, had had the dogs off-leash at a dog park on a rainy Thanksgiving evening when they heard something that frightened them. They sprinted off, their black coats blending into the surrounding darkness. He ran after them, calling their names, "Chien! BonBon!"

Now, Dick saw Chien, the male, lying on the ground. The driver and passengers were climbing out of the BMW. One passenger, an older woman, had started to cry. BonBon was prancing in circles in the road. Dick grabbed her by the collar and pulled her into our van, which was parked nearby. Dick gingerly lifted Chien into the van with the help of a passerby, and drove to the nearest animal hospital. BonBon, frightened and shaking, crouched in the front wheel-well of the vehicle--while Chien died in the back.

Dick and I grieved deeply over Chien's sudden death. BonBon was traumatized-she took to her bed with one of her stuffed toys, or "babies," and rarely left the bed, day or night, except when she needed to go outside.

For years, BonBon and Chien had relished an early morning routine in our back yard in a Phoenix suburb of barking back and forth with the dogs next door. Fortunately, no other neighbors were close enough to be disturbed. Our property has a block wall around it, but if the poodles crouched down, they could peer at their pals through an opening under the wall where a wash runs between the two lots. Now, when BonBon went out in the morning, she stood by silently while the dogs on the other side barked. She ignored her favorite treat-Trader Joe's peanut butter dog cookies. And, when we got home from work (in the past, a joyous occasion with the poodles jumping up on us, barking and licking us), she stayed on her bed. It was very sad to her in this terrible state of depression.

Within a few days of Chien's death, Dick and I knew we had to get another companion for BonBon. We agreed to look for a female about her age, and we definitely wanted another black standard poodle.

We started our search by contacting animal shelters and poodle rescue leagues over the

Internet. However, we did not find any standard poodles that needed a home, let alone one of our specifications. The breeders we talked to had only puppies.

A whisper of Fate stirred in my mind at some point, reminding me that the breeder in El Paso, Texas, who had sold us Chien and BonBon, had said when we left the kennel with BonBon, "If anything ever happens, and you can't keep your dogs, call me, and I'll take them."

I reminded Dick of this and said, "Maybe she told other people that, too, and someone has brought back a poodle we could have." When we found no standard poodles closer to home, he finally looked up the breeder's name and called her.

Brigitte Copeland was in the process of closing down Copeland Kennels, after 26 years, to go home to Germany to take care of her aging parents. She had several poodles for sale, including Maggie, a retired show dog, who turned out to be exactly the dog we were looking for. Maggie, a six-year old, female, black standard poodle, was BonBon's littermate. Her Sister!

We flew to El Paso on December 18 to pick up Maggie, almost six years to the day we had made the same trip to pick up BonBon. Maggie is an American Kennel Club "finished champion," whose formal name is Champion Falkirk Hocus Pocus. While BonBon was living the life of a common pet, hanging out in our back yard with Chien, her sister Maggie had strutted around the show ring to the applause of the crowds. While BonBon, spayed at an early age, mothered stuffed toys, Maggie had nursed a litter of real pups.

When we put a collar around Maggie's neck to attach a leash to lead her from the kennel to our rental car, it was the first time in her life that she had worn a regular dog collar. A show dog doesn't wear a collar because it will wear down the fur around its neck. When Brigitte wanted Maggie to do something, instead of pulling on a collar, she led her by the ears.

Dick drove the rental car from El Paso to Phoenix, with me sitting in the back, tightly hugging Maggie. We arrived home in the early evening and took Maggie and BonBon into our back yard to introduce them. They sniffed each other and got acquainted while on leashes; then were let loose. They were standoffish, but everything seemed to be going fine, until BonBon did a fast run around the yard and "body slammed" Maggie.

The body slam was a signal that BonBon was ready to play-it was something Chien used to do to BonBon when he wanted her to chase him. Maggie, who had never been body slammed, turned up her nose at this crude behavior, and started to walk back toward the house, straight into the swimming pool. As soon as her front paws got wet, she realized she was in trouble, caught her balance and backed up, walked around the pool, and into the house, holding her nose high in the air.

Maggie's grooming put poor BonBon to shame. Maggie was coal black, although Brigette had described her as starting to grey, and BonBon was clearly going grey. Maggie had a fairly simple poodle cut, not the fancy cut she would have strutted in the show ring, but she did sport a wonderful puffy, pom pom tail with a little ring shaved at the base of it. BonBon had still a simpler cut and was overdue to be professionally groomed. I immediately got out a brush and started working on her.

At bed time, BonBon lay down on her bed in our bedroom, where she sleeps next to a very large, floppy, stuffed bunny we bought when she was new at our house to give her a "mother" to cuddle up to at night. She stretched out her legs and strategically placed her front paws on Chien's bed, next to hers, to keep Maggie off. But Maggie was not interested in sleeping on a dog bed. She was uneasy in her new surroundings, and spent the night stretched out on the floor next to Dick's side of the bed. We assumed she had slept in a cage at the breeders.

We took the poodles on leashes for a walk in the neighborhood the next morning. Maggie held her head high and glided along as though she were in a show ring; BonBon, harking back to her German ancestors, ran alongside the road with her nose to the ground, sniffing for game. Quite a contrast! We had to leave the dogs alone during the day while we went to work, but they were ignoring each other, so we were sure they would be okay while we were gone.

Dick came home from work early that day and took the dogs to the grocery store in what we call "the Dog Van," a van, purchased specifically for the poodles. Chien and BonBon loved sleeping on the back seat, looking out the side windows, or lying on the floor between the captain chairs in front, and being petted as we traveled along. Maggie apparently had never ridden in a vehicle except while in a cage, and she seemed a little confused about what to do. She chose to lie on the floor-and traveled along, facing backward.

Over the next few weeks, BonBon's depression disappeared, and Maggie's assimilation into the family became complete. Maggie was just as loving as Chien and BonBon had always been. The sisters became close friends, licking each other's faces in unison, running together to the wall in the back yard to bark at the dogs next door, and playfully taking turns sleeping on each other's beds. BonBon gave up body slams, perhaps because she was learning more dignified behavior from her more refined sister. For our part, we bought some professional "Black Star" color-enhancing shampoo to take to our dog groomer, after which both dogs pranced around in coal-black coats.

Chien's death was the result of bad Fate, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If Dick had not taken the poodles to the dog park that night, or had kept them on their leashes, Chien would not have died as he did. If the BMW had not happened along just when it did, things might have been different. However, we also had good Fate, in that we found Maggie because we called Brigitte when we did. If we had called even a few days later, Maggie might have been sold to someone else, and a few weeks later, Brigitte would already have left for Germany, and the phone would have been disconnected. The two sisters, separated shortly after birth and never expected to be together again, were reunited six years later to live out their lives together-due to Fate.

By Brenda Warneka