Saturday, February 22, 2014

Depression: Zyban, Wellbutrin

Both Zyban and Wellbutrin are brand name prescription drugs that contain the same active ingredient, which is Bupropion. Bupropion can be used both as an antidepressant, and as an aid to giving up smoking.

As an antidepressant, it is sold under the brand names Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. It is used to treat major depression and also seasonal affective disorder or SAD as well as some other conditions. No one really understands exactly how it works, but its beneficial effects are due to its ability to inhibit the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, and to a much lesser extent, serotonin, which results in an increase of these chemicals in the brain. These chemicals have an impact on our moods and so by increasing the levels of these important neurotransmitters, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

As a smoking cessation aid under the brand name Zyban, it appears to work by reducing nicotine cravings and the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It also helps to prevent the unwanted weight gain which often accompanies stopping smoking. One thing to remember when taking Zyban is that it is important to take it earlier in the day to help prevent insomnia at night and if two doses are taken one must be taken eight hours after the first so the first one should be taken on waking.

As with all medications there are certain factors to be considered before taking Bupropion, particularly any potential side effects and contraindications, which can have an impact on whether it is an appropriate treatment for you or not.


If you are prescribed Wellbutrin or Zyban it is essential that you tell your doctor about any other medications that you are taking as there are a number of other drugs and substances that can interact with Bupropion and this includes prescription drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins and over the counter preparations like cough medicines etc.

You should also tell your doctor if you drink a lot of alcohol, coffee or other drinks containing caffeine, if you smoke or use illegal drugs, if you are taking sedatives, or MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), or any other drug containing Bupropion, and if you suffer from any medical complaint. In particular your doctor should be fully aware if you suffer or have ever suffered from any of the following conditions as Bupropion may not be suitable or may only be advisable at a reduced dose:

o Epilepsy

o Eating disorders

o Cerebral tumours

o Kidney failure

o Liver failure

o Alcoholism

o A head injury or trauma

o Insomnia

o An allergic reaction to Bupropion

o Diabetes

o Suicidal thoughts

o Tourettes syndrome

o Heart disease

You should also inform your doctor if you are currently pregnant or are trying to conceive or if you are breastfeeding or if you are due to undergo surgery or any other treatment in the near future.

Side effects

Some side effects are more common than others and there are some that are more serious than others. Side effects associated with Bupropion can include:

o Dry mouth

o Changes in taste

o Insomnia

o Headache

o Constipation

o Nausea

o Tremor

o Agitation

o Dizziness

o Increased sweating

o Weight loss

o Mania, hallucinations

o Seizures

o Irritability

o Depression

o Anxiety

o Irregular heartbeat or palpitations

o Chest pain

o Abdominal pain

o Rash and eczema, hives

o Raised blood pressure

o Difficulty breathing or wheezing

o Confusion

o Blurred vision

o Fatigue

o Loss of interest in sex

o Swelling of face, tongue and throat

You should tell your doctor immediately if you experience any dramatic changes in mood or behaviour, particularly if you feel depressed or have suicidal thoughts and if you are feeling overly agitated, hostile, anxious or hyperactive, and if you are having any trouble sleeping.

You should also seek urgent medical attention if you have trouble breathing, if your face, tongue and throat start to swell, if you have a convulsion, if you experience rapid or irregular heartbeats or if you develop hives or severe skin eruptions.

Other important points

Both Zyban and Wellbutrin should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. This means you mustn't increase or decrease your dose unless your doctor tells you to; in particular, don't suddenly stop taking the medication as this can have serious side effects. If you happen to forget to take one, take it as soon as you remember again unless it is nearly time for you to take the next dose, if this is the case then just take the next dose as normal, and don't bother taking the one you forgot.

It is important to note that drinking a lot of alcohol and taking some other medications once you begin to take Bupropion can increase the risk of seizures and other side effects, as can starting or indeed abruptly stopping alcohol, and any other medications, including stopping to take Bupropion, so it isn't advisable to make any changes whatsoever without first seeking medical advice.

Overcoming Clinical Depression - More Than Just Positive Thoughts

Clinical depression is a form of illness that affects us just like any other illness. It can't be cured simply by willing it, nor can it be cured by positive thoughts alone. Whilst creating and maintaining a positive attitude and outlook towards life is a crucial step in overcoming depression, it alone will not suffice.

Overcoming clinical depression involves a number of different factors, which must all be used in conjunction with one another. Of course one can take medication to help manage their clinical depression, but this won't serve as any long term cure. The true way of overcoming clinical depression involves changing the fundamental outlook you have towards life. This includes changing your general thought patterns, the attitude you have towards others and the way you analyze situations.

It's important to realize that the way you perceive yourself, and the way others perceive you, are often two completely different things. In fact, if you are suffering from clinical depression, you can almost be certain that they're two different things.

Someone with clinical depression is usually quicker to judge themselves, give themselves negative feedback, or believe that others think that they're somehow 'weird' or 'outside of the group'. In actual fact, these thought patterns are entirely incorrect, and need to be changed to realistic thought patterns.

Think for a moment, when was the last time you met a person that seemed like such an outsider that no one wanted to talk to them, such a weird person that they were hopeless at everything? Perhaps you can't think of anyone like this. That's because very few people, if any, are hopeless at everything. All of us have certain qualities, and if one group of people doesn't appreciate our qualities, then another group certainly will.

Did you know that we naturally get on well with 25% of people we meet? These 25% of people we can easily establish rapport with, make friends with, and usually have a lot in common with. If you find that the people around you are constantly judging you, or are looking down upon you as a laughing stock, then odds are you're associating yourself with the wrong crowd of people.

Overcoming clinical depression could be as simple as needing a change in your lifestyle. A different job, perhaps moving to a different location, even finding new friends. If you're not finding the 25% of people that you should naturally be getting on well with in your current lifestyle, then change it!

Introverted people get on well with other introverts, just like extroverted people get on well with fellow extroverts. If you're introverted, and your occupation is full of many extroverts, then it's no wonder you're feeling depressed! Change your environment. Find friends or an occupation that has fellow introverts, or vice versa depending upon your personality type.

Once you surround yourself with other like minded individuals that you get on well with, you won't feel that other people are judging you as much, which will lead to you experiencing less anxiety, less stress, and ultimately, less depression.

So to sum up, overcoming clinical depression isn't about forcing yourself to think positively. It's about changing your environment so that you can naturally develop positive thought patterns, without having to make much of a conscious effort. When you associate yourself with people you get on well with, and have a job that you enjoy, you'll begin to think of situations in a more positive and realistic manner, you'll find that your feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, stress, anger and lack of self esteem, will begin to vanish.

Whilst medication may help fight depression by allowing you to instantly achieve a relaxed state of mind, if you want to start overcoming clinical depression naturally, then start creating a more positive environment for yourself. Change your lifestyle, and your thought patterns will change too.

Don't worry about the odd person or two you can't get on well with, because there are plenty of other people out there that will respect you, and view you in high regard. In fact, they probably already exist in your life right now, you just need to realize who they are.

SAM-E Benefits for Depression

In increasing numbers, depression sufferers are looking for natural alternatives to prescription anti-depressants, but do these widely-available non-prescription supplements offer the same benefits? SAM-e is among the top choices for those seeking safe, natural, and effective depression relief.

What It Is
SAM-e, or S-adenosyl-L-methionine, is found throughout the human body in the form of a naturally occurring chemical. SAM-e plays a vital role in cellular growth and repair. It is also helps synthesize mood-effecting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Serotonin deficiencies are commonly associated with the symptoms of depression, insomnia, and anxiety.

Where It Comes From
SAM-e is a synthetic form of a compound which naturally forms in the body from the essential amino acid methionine and adenosine triphosphate, an energy-producing substance contained within each cell of the human body. SAM-e is available as a natural dietary supplement and can be purchased at pharmacies, health food stores, and online without a prescription.

What It Does
A growing body of research indicates that taking a SAM-e supplement increases the availaibility of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter largely credited with regulating mood, sleep patterns, and the mind's perception of pain. SAM-e is also reported to have a positive impact on the brain's ability to access dopamine, a neurotransmitter which plays important roles in controlling voluntary movement, feelings of motivation, the sense of punishment and reward, moods, memory, and learning. As we age, the levels of SAM-e in our bodies tend to decline. Additionally, studies have shown that people experiencing low moods tend to have less SAM-e present in their bodies.

How It Works To Relieve Depression Symptoms
Like prescription SSRIs, or Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors, the exact mechanism which causes SAM-e to have a positive impact on depression symptoms is still unknown. Some researchers have theorized that SAM-e may influence the expression of genes involved in depression or change the way neurotransmitters are transported in the brain. Some have indicated SAM-e may have a direct effect on the creation of neurotransmitters in the brain.

A 2002 study conducted by the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality suggested that SAM-e use resulted in a beneficial impact on depression symptoms, and that in some cases, the supplement was as effective as tricyclic antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants have been associated with a variety of serious side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, weight gain, light sensitivity, sexual dysfunction, disorientation and confusion, urinary retention, constipation and increased heart rate.

Dosage and Side Effects
When being used to treat depression symptoms, SAM-e dosages ranging from 400 mg to 1,600 mg are commonly used. Because some people have a better reaction to a lower dose, it's recommended to start with 400 mg and add more over time if needed.

The most common side effects of SAM-e are digestive complaints, particularly nausea, but these are often reported to subside as therapy continues. Other possible side effects can include skin rash, lowered blood sugar, increased thirst, increased urination, headache, hyperactivity, anxiety and insomnia. If these occur, consulting a medical professional before continuing SAM-e therapy is strongly advised.

People with Parkinson's disease or who are currently taking a prescription antidepressant should avoid taking SAM-e. People who have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder should consult a medical professional before starting a SAM-e regimen. It is advisable for everyone to consult a medical professional before beginning therapy with any vitamin or supplement.

What's the Reason Women Suffer More From Depression Than Men?

Why do women suffer depression more than men? Put on a skirt and blouse and find out! Sorry, that's facetious.

First of all, let's refresh our memories by naming the three main depressive states.

There's Major, or Clinical, Depression, number one.

Dysthymia, number two and

Bipolar, number three.

Clinical Depression, sometimes known as unipolar, can occur several times in your life.

Dysthymia, same symptoms, but milder. However, it can last for two years, during which major depressive episodes may be experienced.

Then there's Manic Depression, or Bipolar. Not nearly as common as straight depression, but it involves cycles of major depressive symptoms, alternating with euphoria, irritable excitement and mania.

There's also a condition known as 're-active depression,' which occurs during or following a major crisis in one's life.

Now, until puberty, boys and girls suffer equally, indeed it's been found that boys may suffer depressive episodes just a little more than girls. Then puberty strikes, and the incidences of depression are greatly reversed.

To begin with, women's bodies are far more complex than men's, and re-act totally differently to stress than men. This is hardly surprising when you consider that they have to go through menstrual cycles, maternity and menopause.

Yes, we all know about male menopause, but this usually results in men rushing forth to what they think are greener pastures, or doing strange things.

The father of a friend of mine, a bank manager, decided to learn the trumpet. He was a man of staid and regular habits and his son, who was my best friend at the time, told me horror stories of the sounds emanating from the spare room his father had set up as what he euphemistically termed a 'music room.'

If his wife, a charming and very mentally stable lady, had been prone to depression, this would have been the final nail in the coffin of her sanity. In the event, she read him the riot act, threatened to leave, and the offending instrument was quietly sold.

Personally, I don't remember going through any sort of menopause. I was too busy being depressed at the time!

But the change in a woman's body at maternity must be shattering. Then she gives birth, having carried the child for nine back-breaking months, and it's up to her to look after him or her. True, there are a lot of husbands who genuinely do all they can to help. I know I did. I was too frightened of being yelled at!

But half the time, we don't have a clue what to do. Then, with another mouth to feed, the woman, if she hasn't done so already, finds a job and starts working outside the home. Now, she may thoroughly enjoy the experience. It takes her out of the house, she meets new people, makes new friends, etc., but always at the back of her mind she's thinking of baby.

Not only that, but is the day care centre good enough? If the husband's earning a good salary, then she might have the 'luxury' of staying at home. At least she should have time to prepare a meal for her husband when he returns home, but she's expected to greet him with a rose in her teeth and a diaphanous nightgown.

If she works, home she comes to find the king sprawling in front of the television, or a message from the great one to say he won't be in until midnight.

No, let's be fair. There are some first class husbands around, but later on we'll have a look at other reasons a woman is naturally more prone to depression and perhaps what she may be able to do about it.

Manic Depression Treatment - How Can it Be Treated

What is manic depression and how can it be cured? Manic depression is also usually called bipolar disorder. To explain it, it usually is manifested with a lot of either highs or lows in one's behavior as well as emotions. This is characterized by gradual dramatic mood switches that usually affect a person's judgment as well as social behavior. Because this disorder affects one's thoughts, it definitely causes embarrassment alongside other serious difficulties.

A person with manic depression may sometimes feel so active and might even like to be really productive. They may sometimes really feel good about themselves, and it can even reach a point that they would think that they really are a lot better than other people around them. But also sometimes they can really feel useless, that their efforts are worthless both in their personal and professional lives, and more than these, they also may have suicidal tendencies. So to sum it all up, manic depression is characterized by mood instability which can really be critical and can hinder a patient from living a normal life.

More often than not, manic disorder sometimes is not really detected. And it is true that even if a person is diagnosed with it, sometimes the chances for them to get a real good treatment are very limited. One reason is because the reason for this disorder is brought about by a lot of factors that all act up together. So diagnoses really needs to done at an early stage of the disorder before it really disengages the patient from a normal environment. It can also be a result of abnormalities in brain functions that might not support them as they process life events making them anxious and stressed. So what can really be the best manic depression treatment?

Manic depression treatment is long-term. It includes both medication and psychosocial treatments. Medications or "mood stabilizers" include lithium treatment that helps control the recurrence of manic and depressive episodes. Another medication is carbamazepine which is an anticonvulsant, to help stabilize a person in the most difficult bipolar episode. Treatments also can include antipsychotic medications such as such as Quetiapine, Olanzapine and Chlorpromazine. Some also use antidepressants, however the effectiveness of antidepressants are yet to be debated on.

Actually manic depression treatment will not cure the disorder. Treatment is done to help the patient manage the bipolar episodes they experience. Psychosocial treatments, which include talk psychotherapy, are used to educate, guide and support a patient and his family. Although a patient can voluntarily admit himself for hospitalization, especially during their manic episodes, these psychosocial interventions are proven more effective to increase a person's mood stability, and can even help them improve their functions. A treatment that combines medication and psychosocial treatment is vital in dealing with the disorder. Even during treatments, bipolar episodes will still occur but with continuous treatment and with close coordination with a doctor, a full-blown episode can be prevented.

Depression = Anger + Grief + Trauma

Many years ago, when I started my psychiatric training in Europe, I realized that mental illnesses happen to those people who are not allowed to work through their emotional issues. It was then an acknowledged scientific fact that stress events in life triggered depression and other psychiatric conditions. But how does unexpressed emotions turn into an 'illness' is something that mainstream medicine still has difficulty with.

One of my first success stories in treating depression was a lady who had been on antidepressants and who had won money in a lotto game. In her case the money was the trigger for making her depressed. After taking her history, it emerged that she had more to her depression than the immediate event that was the trigger. She had not grieved over the death of her father. She had been angry with her then husband, who was threatening to separate. She had also undergone traumatic experiences at the hands of her relatives that she had not come to terms with. To my surprise, when the impacts of the causes were neutralized, not only did she come off antidepressant successfully, but she remained well without medication for many years till I lost touch with her.

Another story that I remember was of a time much earlier than the above event. A mother in her early 40s used to attend the psychiatric services for the treatment of depression. She was on antidepressant medication for many years. She was not willing to come off medication. She had an excellent upbringing and a good personality. She had lost her child many years ago in an incident that she stated was not a suicide. It was an incident that had shaken her own belief regarding her abilities as a mother. Despite the efforts of the doctors, she was unprepared to allow herself to grieve over the loss of her son. She continued to suffer with depression.

Most of the time the individuals who suffer with depression, have learnt to hold back their anger. This anger could be due to many causes. The commonest one is against one' s parents. Though parents do their best to bring up their children, the children tend to carry some anger or annoyance about their parents. This anger gets compounded if there are elements of neglect, rejection or threat. Other factors are the parental strictness and disallowing the child to cry or express themselves emotionally in any form. The anger is then suppressed. Other life events like bullying and strict teachers add on to the anger. If the person has seen other crises in their lives, anger increases.

Unresolved and unfinished grief is the other cause for depression. Anger and fear of the departed is the main reason for the grief to remain unfinished. This happens especially in the cases of abuse when the abuser is a close relative who has died. Unresolved grief is commonly seen in all forms of abuse.

Traumatic events can occur in many forms. I once saw a lady having unresolved trauma from an accident that took place 25 years ago. She was under the impression that the event had resolved itself as it had occurred many years ago. On remembering the event a few times, she started to have aches and pains in precisely the same spots in the body where she had felt pain immediately after the accident. She was obviously surprised, but she learnt that an event that happened many years ago is not necessarily forgotten by the body even if we believe that we do. Traumatic events can be repetitive, like abuse, or they can be sporadic events like rape or road traffic accident or a physical assault. Each of these experiences individually, can be the trigger for depression. They can also affect the body and the mind in a subtle manner and one may not experience any major depressive event for a long time in life.

A common complaint that family physicians encounter is- persistent and chronic fatigue with loss in interest and excessive sleep. This condition, when it occurs without any physical illness, is termed chronic fatigue syndrome. Fibromyalgia is another term currently used for similar symptoms. These conditions have the same causes, in my experience, as major depression.

Depression, from clinical perspective, is diagnosed when a person has low mood with reduced concentration, reduced ability to enjoy day to day activities and reduced energy that has lasted for more than two weeks. The person may have a loss of appetite, with a reduction (sometimes an increase) in weight. Sleep may be interrupted or the person may wake up two or three hours earlier than usual wake up time. There may be guilt or a death wish especially if the person has a sense of hopelessness about the future.

Dysthymia is a term that is used to describe long-term sense of feeling low that does not disturb the sufferer's life in a major way. The quality of life is low because of lack of enjoyment. This condition is diagnosed when it has lasted for at least two years.

In all the above cases mentioned, antidepressants are the main line of treatment in psychiatry. But if the anger, grief and trauma issues are addressed, medication is easy to come off. In most of such cases, the person may not need antidepressant treatment again.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Is a Depression Test Worthwhile?

Depression, whilst hitherto was considered a mental problem, these days it is rightly recognised as a disease and one that can affect anyone. Indeed, with the day to day pressures of the modern world, its grip is becoming firmer every day with a multitude of people affected. The depression test has been developed by the psychiatry profession to diagnose a sufferer. However, whilst most people are more than happy to seek advice from there doctor or the medical profession, there seems to be a stigma attached in consulting a psychiatrist.

Is there a need for the Depression Test?

Whilst the depression test has its place and can be very accurate we all have observation skills which, if we know the signs of depression, we can use to provide our own diagnosis and alleviate the need for a depression test. The common signs of depression are:

1. A continuous feeling of sadness, anxiety or simply an "empty" mood.

2. Sleeping much more or less than is usual.

3. A reduced appetite / weight loss or an increased appetite / weight gain.

4. A loss of interest / pleasure in activities that you once enjoyed.

5. Feelings of irritability or restlessness.

6. Ailments such as headaches, chronic pain, or digestive disorders that don't respond to treatment.

7. Having problems concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.

8. General fatigue or lack of energy.

9. Having feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness. 10. Thoughts of death or suicide.

Of course, if you are displaying any or all of these signs of depression, a depression test would confirm your diagnosis but either way, it is extremely important to seek early medical advice to treat the condition.

Improve Self Confidence - 10 Warning Signs of a Depressed Teenager

Middle and high school years can be the best of times and the worst of times.

Peer pressure, relationships, and test anxiety are just some of the things that can cause your teenager to change moods as often as they change clothes.

However, being moody might not be the problem. They might be experiencing something more serious. They could be depressed.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 4-8% of teenagers suffer from depression. Meaning, for every 100 teenagers in America, 4 to 8 are in some state of depression. Even worse, if left untreated, depression can lead to substance abuse, alcoholism, or suicide.

Most depression goes undetected until it's too late to get it under control. However, the best thing you can do for your teenager is to heed the warning signs and seek treatment.

Here are 10 warning signs to pay attention to:

1. Decreased Social Interaction.

If they don't want to talk on the phone long or go out with their friends. Better yet, if they prefer to spend all their time in their room.

2. Highly Emotional.

Not moody, but emotional. Crying for little to no reason or yelling at the top of their lungs over something that is pointless.

3. Change in Eating Habits.

They prefer to eat in their room or not at all. Or, the exact opposite, they normally wouldn't eat anything during mealtimes and now they gobble down two plates of food.

4. Change in Appearance.

They don't want to get dressed or they dress in lounge wear all day. They hardly comb their hair and maintain minimal hygiene habits.

5. Avoids Eye Contact.

When they speak, they speak with their head held down and continue to roll their eyes to the back of their head. They only look at you when necessary.

6. Change in Language.

Profanity is their new choice of communication and will accept the consequences for their sassy mouth. They don't try to apologize for their choice of words and challenge you with offensive looks.

7. Uninterested in Favorite Activities.

They love music, but hardly listen to it anymore or they enjoy cooking, but won't go in the kitchen for any reason.

8. Lack of Focus.

In the past, they spoke of their goals and dreams often, but now you barely hear them speak about anything of interest.

9. Distrustful.

They think that nobody needs or wants them and that everything is their fault.

10. Lack of Affection.

If you ask them for a hug, they shy away from you or if you give them a kiss on the forehead, they wipe it off.

Now, use these warning signs to test the mental health of your teenager. You may be surprised at the results.

If you believe your teenager is suffering from depression, call your local social support group that handles teens in crisis or ask your medical doctor for a recommendation to a good mental health practitioner for teens.

Remember, stay cool. Stay persistent. Stay in control.

Definition of Acute Depression

Depression is the word that nobody would want to hear. Millions across the world get affected by various forms every year. One of the types is known as acute depression. It is also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It is one of the most severe forms and less common as compared to the all other forms. The exact cause has still not been discovered. Psychological changes, biological changes, stress, loss of loved ones, physical disability, divorce and environmental changes are the common causes.

Following are the most commonly observed symptoms that will help you to distinguish between acute and other types of depression: The common symptoms are:

1. Considerable loss of interest enjoyable activities.

2. Constant sadness, anxiety or blues all the time.

3. Sleeping problems, sufferer usually exhibits Insomnia disorder. Insomnia causes difficulty to get off to sleep, early morning wake ups, less sleep than normal, disrupted sleep. In some cases symptoms of hypomania are also exhibited by the patients. Hypomania causes too much sleep than the normal sleep; sufferer finds it difficult to get out of the bed.

4. Sufferer might exhibit considerable amount of weight gain or weight loss due to poor appetite.

5. Loss of energy or fatigue is quite a common symptom.

6. Persistent feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and guilt disturb the sufferer all the time.

7. Restlessness or tiredness without any reason.

8. Sufferers find it difficult to concentrate in all sorts of things associated with them, as a result of which they find it extremely difficult to make decisions.

9. Socially inactive behavior.

10. Suicidal thoughts or suicidal attempts are quite common.

11. Physical symptoms such as headache and ache in the stomach areas are also quite common.

12. Interest in the sexual intercourse decreases to quite a large extent.

You may not notice all the symptoms in sufferers as the symptoms vary person to person. If you notice majority of these symptoms in an individual, do ask him or her to seek medical attention. Do not ignore this state; if left untreated you might be victimized with the adverse affects. It is a treatable mental disorder and various treatment methods are available. Kids may find it difficult to cope up with treatment methods. The most effective treatment methods are:

1. Antidepressants as per the prescription of specialists.

2. Psychotherapy methods, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy and interpersonal therapies are the best therapies.

3. Electroconvulsive therapy.

4. Combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants can also work in tandem to relieve you.

PMDD and Depression - What Everybody Ought to Know

There are many misconceptions about depression. This lack of knowledge can help you lose your job, friends and even family. Moreover, there exists a stigma about depression, some relating it to some sort of irreversible insanity. Situations like this may aggravate and cause more anxiety, depression and sometimes violence directed to ones self. Some medical conditions can have depression as one of their manifestations. In fact, if it occurs before the menses (a week or two) - but disappears after the onset of bleeding - then it may be PMDD or PMS.

In PMDD, you may manifest emotional liability or changes in mood. Some people may think that you are exhibiting bizarre behaviours. This, however, may appear to you like a monthly experience that disrupts your normal functioning. Understanding your condition will help you deal with it. Let us discuss about what you might possibly want to learn about PMDD.

The Truths about PMDD and Depression

PMDD is a condition wherein your monthly hormonal changes can affect your behaviour. It usually takes place a week or two before menstruation as has been mentioned. Genetics, lifestyle, and environment can be factors to its development. Saying this, it just proves that modifiable factors to this condition may be avoided such as a stressful environment as one example.

Hormonal imbalance can affect mood changes, and brain activity. This fact can explain why PMDD follows a pattern with your menstrual cycle. These hormones affect the way you think and react on things such as stress. So judging person who suffers with this condition shows a lack of understanding of PMDD and hormonal effects on the body and mood. While it can be easy to say 'blame it on the hormones' this is not mind control - you do still have choice.

The endocrine system is responsible for producing the chemicals in the body that regulate body functions. This system reacts through the body's needs and responses (e.g. stress). This explains why stress is one of the factors to this condition. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin can not work well because the hormones are not produced in their correct proportions. This may lead to changes in your mood and behaviour. However, symptoms may differ in every individual. You can manifest signs of clinical depression such as withdrawal from the society. You may also experience periods of depression and mania, which may be mistaken as bipolar disorder.

Steve Jobs - A Must Read

If there is one non-fiction book to read this year, choose Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Released shortly after Jobs's death last year, many people put the book on their "I would like to" list. It's worth moving it to your "to do list" and taking the time to read it. It's even better to digest over flights and vacation days.

Easy to Read

Many readers are intimidated by voluminous biographies. They look like and feel like a lot of work. Isaacson's writing talents make it easy to read.

Just a Jobs transformed the way we relate to and use technology, Isaacson's writing transcends the typical biography. The chapters are well constructed to allow the reader to progress through Jobs's life one part at a time, making it easy to stop and start as needed.

In addition, Isaacson has the ability to describe the mundane, such as a business meeting, and bring it to life so that the reader feels as if he or she is actually in the room as events unfold. He also placed numerous memorable quotes, stories and humor that add breeziness to a big read.

Not Your Typical Biography

Isaacson provides a picture of the whole person and story including the good, the bad and the ugly. Steve Jobs encompasses his business, personal and family life. It also examines Jobs's early successes, mid-point failures and later brilliant innovations. Throughout the book Jobs's equal ability to inspire and motivate is contrasted with his ability to anger and burn out people.

Even though Isaacson took on the book at Jobs's request and interviewed him several times over the last two years of his life, at no point did Isaacson pander to either Jobs himself or in the writing of the biography. It is a fair and balanced view. Jobs himself guessed there were parts of the book that he wouldn't like and Isaacson confirmed as much.

Most biographies of notable people are written years or decades after the person's death, for example, Isaacson's previous biographies included Einstein and Benjamin Franklin. The personal interviews and timeliness add a richness that many biographies do not and cannot have. Biographies can gain insight into what someone was like in "real life" based on personal papers or interviews with people who knew them, however, they rarely accurately know through personal interaction. To Isaacson's credit, he resisted inserting himself into the story except where appropriate.

The Most Relevant Biography for Our Times

Steve Jobs is timely and relevant. We've been working our way through the most challenging economic times since the Depression. Jobs's biography is a stirring reminder of how to overcome failures and get back to winning. Innovation, leadership and outstanding success are all recurring themes throughout the book. More importantly, there are plenty of practical "how to ideas" in the chapters. For those reasons alone, Steve Jobs is the one book to read this year.

Teen Depression - Warning Signs, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Teens are at their most hormonal stage in their entire life thus far. This is why so many teens are constantly moody and emotional, and sometimes unable to properly express their frustrations, happiness, confusion and so many other emotional states. However, for some teens it becomes more than just an emotional roller coaster ride. For some teens, depression might take over and surpass all of the other emotional turmoil the teen might be experiencing. There are many reasons as to why a teen could be depressed. Fortunately there are also ways to treat teen depression.

What is teen depression and what are some of the causes:

Depression is often described as a feeling of prolonged sadness and despair. There are many reasons as to why a teen might be going through teen depression including the inability to cope with daily stresses like trying to maintain good grades in school, struggling with learning, struggling with relationships, problems with social status and peers, peer pressure to do drugs, drinking, etc. Some teens might also have problems with bullying as well as discovering their own sexual orientation and more. Sometimes teen depression simply comes from an environmental stress like from what is going on around them. If the teen is having family problems or dealing with their parent's divorce, the loss or absence of a parent, these can all have an effect on what is going wrong with the teen, which might lead to teen depression.

Signs and symptoms of teen depression:

There are many ways you can watch the behaviors of your teen to see if they might be experiencing symptoms of teen depression. Many of the teens and even children that experience depression symptoms will sleep excessively or will have trouble sleeping. They will also be likely to show a change in their eating habits and may exhibit extreme behaviors like drinking, doing drugs, shoplifting and more. Keep in mind that not all teens with depression will show all of these signs, but if someone does show a good amount of the signs for an extended period of time.

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Fatigue

  • Apathy

  • Unexplainable pains like headaches, back pain, etc.

  • Irresponsible behavior

  • Memory loss

  • Rebellious behavior

  • Sadness

  • Anxiety

  • Feeling of hopelessness

  • Weight Gain or Weight Loss

  • Withdrawal from friends

  • Drop in grades

  • Thoughts of suicide

  • Harmful behaviors like cutting, burning and self-mutilation

  • Suicidal tendencies

Treatment options for teen depression:

Once a teen has be diagnosed by a doctor or clinical therapist or psychologist, it is important that they begin receiving treatment right away. In the most extreme of circumstances, some teens may end up self-mutilating or even killing themselves if treatment does not occur. Unfortunately the majority of teens and adults with depression do not seek treatment for their depression symptoms. This is why it is extremely important for parents, teachers and friends of teens to be aware of the signs and symptoms of teen depression to help get their loved one treatment as soon as possible to prevent such dire circumstances as suicide. Treatment comes in many forms. For some teens therapy and support groups are a great way to deal with teen depression. Some teens might need intense therapy, while some might do better with support groups. Other teens might not feel comfortable with either option and might instead choose to begin treatments with medication using antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. Some teens might do best in their recovery process from a using a combination of therapy and medication. However, antidepressants must be used and prescribed with caution especially among teens. The FDA warns that some types of antidepressant medications actually can increase the risk of suicide and suicidal thinking among children and teens with depression and other psychiatric disorders like bipolar or manic depression. If a teen is bipolar, that may carry similar symptoms to depression, but must be treated with an entirely different type of medication or risk increasing the likelihood of suicide. Unfortunately about 500,000 teens attempt to commit suicide each year and about 5,000 succeed in this attempt. Because these numbers have reached epidemic numbers, preventative measures are needing to be taken to an all-time high for parents, teens and peers of the teens at risk.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

3 Simple Tips on Defeating Stress Depression

I have a fried who is quite fragile and can easily find himself worrying about the smallest of things. People who I have a friend who is quite fragile and can easily find himself worrying about the smallest of things. People who know him comment that he always stressed and should attempt to learn to relax more. Unfortunately, we all know it is not that easy. In this article, I will explain few things you can do to avoid getting stressed and depressed.

1. Think of it as a project, or an experiment

This is what most psychologists will tell you as a way to change your perspective. If you change your perspective, it is easier for you to see what's wrong with you, and how you can deal with it effectively. You should be determined to change yourself and be positive about it. There's no use of being a negative person at this point of life (especially when you have a lot of things to be done).

2. Write down when you get stress and depression

Try to jot down when you had stress and depression. Write down what do you feel when you got it, and how it happens. Ask yourself specific questions, such as am I am tired? Have I recently had an argument with someone? Is work getting me down?

3. Don't drink alcohol (or drink less of it)

One research shows that by drinking less, you could actually decrease the frequency of "stress attack" you experienced. My friend noted that he always felt very low and sorry for himself after he drank alcohol because he doesn't really enjoy it.

Try this tips, and I hope it will worked for you as well as my friend has!

Brighten Your Day With Daily Inspirational Quotes

Though often consisting of a few words, daily inspirational quotes are known to greatly affect an individual's life. In this constantly changing world, we are often faced with a lot of struggles, hardships, failures and heartbreaks that could possibly shatter us into pieces and make us feel hopeless and helpless. Yes, we should always turn to our family and friends for support and encouragement but there are times when we have to face our demons alone. It is during these times when we really need to arm ourselves with great inspirational quotes in order to survive the emotional turmoil we are going through.

We may need to seek inspiration from these powerful quotes during:

Death of a loved one.
Losing someone is one of the most painful tragedies a person can encounter. It is during this stage of life when sadness, grief, regret and guilt are all felt at the same time. Sometimes we feel like all the hope, happiness and reason to live were taken away from us. But, we need to remind ourselves that life must go on, even without that special person. Inspirational quotes about overcoming the death of someone can serve as our source of strength that we need to face the day again with the memories of our dearly departed.

Dreams and ambitions are what encourage us to do our very best. But sometimes, the things we wanted to achieve do not come easily. At some point, we may fail in achieving what we wanted but that isn't suppose to make us stop dreaming. Failure does not mean giving up. The best way to handle the situation is to consider these failures as part of our learning experience. Keep in mind that we become better people through these experiences.

Break ups.
Love is supposed to linger forever. But we cannot avoid the fact that love sometimes jumps out of the window due to differences in beliefs, status in life and many other factors. It is hard to let go of someone we love but in the end, we really need to because that's the only way for us to grow and become happy. Reading inspirational quotes about getting over heart break, in addition to kind gestures from family and friends can help us get through this rough situation.

The above mentioned scenarios are just a few of the most difficult times we may encounter as we live our lives but let us not forget that there is always hope as long as we believe and that we can always strengthen our hopes with the help of powerful daily inspirational quotes.

Depression and Self-Harm

About Depression

Moments of depression or sadness are quite common and part of living. Depression becomes clinical, and a problem to varying degrees, when it continues for many months or even years, becomes crippling and makes it difficult or impossible to work/go to school, or occurs for no reason at all.

When a family member dies, a pet is lost, you lose your job or your marriage falls apart, it's natural to be depressed. These things happen, and recovering from the depression is part of becoming a stronger person.

But depression can be crippling. Some of the symptoms are constant sadness, bouts of crying for no reason, inability to sleep oversleeping, losing interest in activities that you've always loved, not wanting to do anything at all, hating everyone and everything, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, et cetera. These things can all be symptoms of something else, but if you've got more than four of these symptoms you should do some research of your own and take some psychiatric testing.

I personally am BiPolar and have actively struggled with depression for four and a half years. I may have shown symptoms of depression before that, but I am not aware of them as symptoms of depression. The depression became serious when my Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and was going through his treatments. I was always Daddy's little girl, and it hurt to see him crippled by the pain of his cancer, and slowly wasting away.

Depression runs in my family as well. It is not completely a genetic disorder, and can be triggered by circumstances and a variety of other things, but having family members who have struggled with depression does increase the risk of getting it yourself.

Depression can be painful. It can be fatal, or near-fatal, as is my case. It can manifest in any number of behaviours. I was lucky in that I never lost a passion for my writing when depressed-in fact, when struggling with depression I have written more poetry than at any 'stable' or 'manic' time in my life.

There are many ways to help a family member or friend who is depressed, and to identify depression in yourself and others, but these are not the focus of this article.


Self-harm is the general term, and the politically correct one, for a variety of behaviors, including cutting, burning, anorexia and bulimia, hair-pulling, scab-picking and other such things. Some of these we do not commonly recognize as self harm, and are not as dangerous as others (scab-picking mostly), with the most infamous forms of self-harm being anorexia and cutting.

Self-harm and cutting may or may not be related to a depressed state. Anyone you know may be someone who self-harms in any one of a number of ways. People who self-harm are not usually suicidal, using the self-harm as a method of releasing their pain. There are many misconceptions about self-harm and I hope to eliminate some of these with my work.

People who self-harm are not usually doing so for attention. They usually go out of their way to hide the scars, wearing long sleeves even in the summer or self-harming in ways that are easy to hide, such as cutting the stomach area or upper thighs and pulling small amounts of hair. Even scab picking can be easy to hide to an extent. There are some who do this for attention, as it has, sadly, become somewhat of a trend, called 'emo'. This is a very small percentage of those who self-harm and mostly applies to cutters.

Many self-harmers have been abused at some point in their lives, and some self-harm internalizing the idea that they are bad and need to be punished. In this way self-harm can stem from insecurity and self-hatred, which can lead to depression or come from depression.

More self-harmers are female than male, possibly relating to a higher number of abused women than men. The average self-harmer is a woman between the ages of 13-30, although it could be anyone, male, female, young, old, with or without a family. Some who are happily married and have children continue to cut, as it helps them alleviate the stresses of their life.

The Relationship Between Depression And Self-Harm

Depression can commonly lead to self-harm, as it did in my case. I was clinically depressed for most of three years before I began cutting, and while the original incident was not out of depression but out of curiosity, I soon discovered that cutting distracted me from the mental pain, blocking it out while I took care of the physical pain.

You will find this to be a common thread amongst many cutters. It distracts them from their daily struggle with life and perhaps depression, and gives them a rushy feeling. Some like the sight and even the taste of their own blood. There are many different reasons people self-harm that I cannot describe all in one place.

Not everyone who is depressed self-harms, and not everyone who self-harms is depressed. Many people who are depressed, who often can't quite understand why, are either afraid of pain both mental and physical, or love their bodies and do not want to hurt themselves. Many who self-harm do so as a way to escape every day life and prove that they are brave, having the bravery to hurt themselves.

Many who self-harm are ashamed of the fact that they self-harm, and so they hide it from their friends and family. The same stands for many who are depressed. Depression and self-harm are both things more likely to occur when someone has been abused in their past, in any way, shape or form.

Depression and self-harm are related, though one thing does not always signify the other. Many of the same people who are likely to experience depression are likely to self-harm.

A person struggling with depression could be anyone, even the person you think of as being the happiest person you know. A person who self-harms could be anyone, even that same person you think of as being the happiest person you know.

This is not a fully comprehensive article, but the beginning of a series of articles about depression and self-harm from the point of view of someone who is BiPolar and has struggled with both depression and self-harm in the past.

Exercise Heals Depression and Stress

Why treat depression with antidepressants and other kind of medication when you can have better results by only exercising and performing regural physical activities? It's a fact that exercising solves various health related problems and also empowers your brain and your mental abilities. Thus helping you beat depressive emotions and stress.

I was passing by the APA's (American Psychology Association) website the other day and I came across various clinical studies mentioning that depression can be treated very effectively with regular exercise. In fact, these guys at APA recommend to all psychologists to put exercise in their top list and to recommend it to all their clients.

An interesting clinical study pointed out that not only exercise can beat severe depression, but it also helps stop depression from reappearing. The risk of depression and anxiety symptoms increases dramatically when people stop exercising. APA's Psychologists say that it doesn't really matter how much time you spend for exercise. What's really importand is that you exercise very regularly (e.g. once or twice a day).

Of course, people suffering from severe depression and anxiety should not just stop taking medicines or quit therapy and start exercising to cure their depression. But the benefits of exercising are enormous. According to the studies, if a person performs physical activities every day then the chances for the depressive symptoms to disappear are great.

But how can exercise beat depression?. You know that a lot of people pay a visit to the gym after a stressful day at work. Remember that rewarding and calming emotion after a good workout? I've felt it. I bet you've felt it too. Why is that happening? According to the researchers it's because exercise makes people happier and boosts their self-esteem. Now, if you're suffering from depression you definitely display lack of self-confidence and low levels of self-esteem. And that's where exercise really helps. By making you feel better for yourself and by giving you that feeling of accomplishment.

It's really simple if you think about it.

You don't need chemical antidepressants because regular exercise is your original, natural and effective antidepressant. The one that will relieve you from stress, anxiety and all depressive symptoms. Even if you suffer from severe depressive states you still have chances to beat depression only by exercising.

But there's a catch.

People tend to go too far with exercise and over perform. They become obsessive and exhausted. That's not a good thing when dealing with depression because you must always be strong enough to fight with yourself and your depressive symptoms. Exercise really drains your energy reserves and leaves you weak to face depression.

In order to survive this you have to be balanced. You have to take small steps one at a time. That's why it's importand to consult an expert before taking exercise to a point of self-abuse. Exercise does improve your mental health and can heal your depression but you have to do it right. And take it easy.

Let's go through some of the key benefits of exercise in the struggle against depression:

- Boosts your self esteem

- Eliminates sad feelings

- Promotes feelings of accomplishment

- Increases productivity

Consider the fact that 20 percent of the world's population suffers from various depressive states. Consider the fact that 50 percent of the world's population do not exercise at all. Most people suffering from depression are missing the number one natural and most effective antidepresant. Which is exercise.

Not to mention that exercise is also the cheapest antidepressant of all!

How Devastating Loss Teaches Us to Overcome Challenges

I'm going to share something very personal, and very painful with you. But as I reflect on my loss and life, I've realized the significant role it is playing in changing me as a person - and the lessons I am learning apply to anyone who is suffering a major disappointment or loss in their lives. This could be personal, professional, or both. I must start by thanking Jennifer Gresham for writing an article that both motivated, and inspired me to share my insight with you. I hope that sharing my story will spread hope and optimism to those suffering loss, and provide a road map to getting your life and career back on track.

Our Loss

The most devastating loss a parent can experience is the loss of a child. Our family experienced this tragedy last year when we lost our baby boy Gavin at only 10 weeks old.

Gavin was born after a healthy, uneventful pregnancy. I practiced yoga 3x a week, special ordered organic vitamins and ate a healthy, nutritious diet. But despite taking excellent care of myself, Gavin was born with a very rare brain malformation called Lissencephaly, it literally means "smooth brain". He was born extremely ill, with severe seizures and spent most of his too short life in and out of the hospital. Eventually it became clear that Gavin's quality of life was terrible, and our family made the difficult choice to allow him to naturally pass on, and finally have comfort and peace.

As I cried at the funeral, looking at his tiny coffin and watching the large group of family and friends release balloons into the blue sky, I honestly felt as though I would die from a broken heart.

One morning, as I lay in bed crying and looking at pictures of my precious child, I made a commitment to myself, to my husband, living child and extended family, to not let this life shattering loss ruin me. Change me? Yes, forever. But I decided it was not going to ruin the life that I currently had, and hang like a dark shadow over everything I do. It was time to start the hard work to deal with, and learn to live a good life, along with this tragedy.

So here is what I have learned so far, it applies to overcoming any major disappointment, failure or tragedy. I used the well known '5 Stages of Grief' to mourn my loss, but learn to live well and move forward in spite of it.

Step One - Denial

They say this step is the first because it helps you cope with a major loss. Denial helps us pace feelings of grief, and accept our loss at a rate we can handle.

As we begin to move out of this stage, into accepting the fact that the loss happened, that is when we begin to ask ourselves some very important questions. This is a time for true reflection.

For myself, I reflected long and hard on the choices we made for Gavin. I came to the conclusion that as much as it hurt to lose our child, I was also very proud of the decisions we made. During hard, stressful times, we were able to stay focused on what was best for Gavin, and fought hard to make sure he was comfortable. This terrible experience showed me an inner strength I didn't know I possessed, and that was something to be proud of.

If you have recently been laid off, downsized, or experienced any major disappointment, take the time you need to fully realize what you have been through. There is no set amount of time for this process, take all of the time you need to fully realize the extent of your loss. As you begin to accept it, reflect on why you are so upset - Why did you value that position so much? Get clear on why you wanted what you did - and you may very well find insight that eases the pain of your loss, and may even illuminate a new path for your future.

Step Two - Anger

This step is pretty clear. As the denial wears off, the anger sets in. "Why did this happen to me?"

In my case, I felt intense anger at pregnant women that did not take care of themselves and their babies. I remember watching a Dr. Phil show where a baby was born addicted to pain pills and seething with pure anger. How could she do that to her baby? Why did my baby have to die, that I took such good care of - when her baby was just fine after a few days in the NICU?!

Underneath anger is pain. The more you allow yourself to really feel it, the faster it will dissipate and you can begin to heal.

Anger can also be a huge motivator. Are you hurt, angry and upset at your former employer for promising you a bright future, then bringing in new management and letting you go with seemingly no care in the world? Use that anger as a stepping stone - use it to make you strive for more, do better and go farther.

I used my anger at Gavin's birth defect to motivate me to be the best parent possible to my older, living child. I suddenly appreciated his presence so much more, and realized what a miracle it is any time a child is born without complications. I decided I would convert my anger into energy, and pour that energy into my family, and business. To this day, anytime I feel anger about what happened to our child, I do something positive for my family or business - bake cupcakes with my child, write an article for my website, work extra hours to provide research for a client.

Use anger to your advantage. Allow yourself to deeply feel the disappointment and anger. Then use that anger and direct it towards activities that will benefit you personally, and professionally.

Step Three - Bargaining

Bargaining is your attempt to make sense of what has happened to you. Many people go through this step by thinking about what they could have done to avoid the loss happening in the first place. If you have recently lost employment, you may think, "If only I had worked longer/harder on that key project, the board would have seen my dedication to the company".

In my case, I wondered if I should have never taken Tylenol for a bad headache, or had that glass of wine before I knew I was pregnant. Of course, those are silly thoughts - Tylenol a few times, and a glass of wine at 4 weeks pregnant didn't create Gavin's Lissencephaly.. and chances are working harder on that key project wouldn't have saved the job you lost either.

I encourage you to use this step to obtain clarity about your loss. I realized I didn't cause Gavin's birth defect, and while we may never have answers about what happened, it did show me inner strength I never knew I had. Use this time to be realistic about what happened to you, let go of blame and guilt, and focus on what you can learn from the situation moving forward.

Step Four - Depression

This is the worst step in the grief process, by far. It's also totally unavoidable - but luckily, most of us do not experience it for long if we can really feel our feelings and work through them. Grief is a process of healing, and depression is one of the necessary steps along the way.

Right after Gavin died, I would take my 8 year old to school, come back home, and go to bed. I would lay in bed and cry, look at pictures of Gavin on my phone, smell his clothes and relive the moment he took his last breath in my husband's arms. This was so painful at times I honestly felt like it might be possible to die from heartache. But as time went on, I found myself spending less time crying and more time moving on with my life. To deny the depression would only prolong it, the fastest way around it, is right through it.

If you are recovering from a major disappointment or loss, don't try to avoid the painful feelings. Feel them. Accept them. If you begin to worry that this stage is taking too long, seek professional help. I did, at the advice of my counselor, begin taking an anti-depressant for the first time in my life. Sometimes we can use a little help dealing with such powerful feelings, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. So seek help if necessary, but don't avoid dealing with your emotions.

Step four is awful, but it leads to the final step, and ultimate healing - keep that in mind when you are ready to bury your emotions and never look back.

Step Five - Acceptance

Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being "all right" or "OK" with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don't ever feel OK or all right about a major disappointment or loss. I will never be OK with the loss of my child, but I am learning to live with it.

A major sign you are approaching this step is when you start to have more good days than bad days. Maybe you will find yourself laughing out loud, and really feeling happy. Or you will feel good enough to have lunch with an old co-worker without being jealous or angry.

I knew I was accepting my loss when I was ready to throw myself back into work. Instead of dwelling on Gavin all day, I was ready to reconnect with my network and produce work I was passionate about. Many executives in transition find themselves at this step in the process when they are finally ready to actively seek new employment. That can be an overwhelming and intimidating task, especially if you have never had to actively seek a job offer.

Whatever your loss, you will know you are healing when you begin to think about the future and make plans to move forward. Remember to really use all of your reflections, pain and healing as you make your strategic plan to move forward. One of the greatest lessons grief teaches us is about ourselves, what is really important, and we can find great focus on where our life needs to head from this point on.

I just love this quote from Jennifer Gresham's blog, "You can't always be lucky. And when your heart is broken, you can't always be happy. But you can be brave. You can embrace hope like an old friend... the one who lied, the one you forgave. Keep dreaming."

What encouraging, true words. I hope sharing my experience can help those of you experiencing a major loss or disappointment in your lives. Sometimes what does not kill us, makes us stronger. I'm learning that every single day, and believe I am a better, stronger person because of it.

Life is not fair, and sometimes, it's downright unfair. But what matters is how we deal with it. Any loss is an opportunity to grow and make ourselves better.

Keep dreaming - and make those dreams happen.

Holiday Blues: Depression in the Elderly

We who are involved in Elder Law have to be vigilant about recognizing the symptoms of depression in our older clients. For one thing, it can affect the care we put in place. This concern becomes even more acute during the holiday season, when the symptoms of depression can become heightened. This is often referred to as the "Holiday Blues".

As we spend time with the older people in our families and communities, we should all be on the look out for signs of depression. It is, it turns out, more common than generally believed. According to the National Institutes of Health, of the 35 million Americans age 65 years or older, about 2 million suffer from full-blown depression, and another 5 million suffer from less severe forms of the illness. This represents about 20% of the senior population.

Exacerbating the problem is that depression in the elderly is frequently misdiagnosed and often goes untreated. The symptoms may be confused with a medical illness, dementia, or malnutrition due to a poor diet. Another factor is that many older people will not accept the idea that they have depression and refuse to seek treatment.

What causes depression in the elderly?

The holidays tend to bring memories of earlier, perhaps happier, times. Additional contributing factors that bring on depression may be the loss of a spouse or close friend, or a move from a home to an assisted living facility, or a change in an older person's routine.

Depression may also be a sign of a medical problem. Chronic pain or complications of an illness or memory loss can also cause depression. In addition, diet can also be a factor when proper nutrition and vitamins are lacking. Often, there are both mental and physical reasons for depression.

Symptoms to look for in depression might include:

  • Depressed or irritable mood

  • Feelings of worthlessness or sadness

  • Expressions of helplessness

  • Anxiety

  • Loss of interest in daily activities

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Fatigue

  • Lack of attending to personal care and hygiene

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irresponsible behavior

  • Obsessive thoughts about death

  • Talk about suicide

How do you know if it is depression or dementia?

Depression and dementia share similar symptoms, but here is a guide to some differences that might help to distinguish between the two:

In depression there is a rapid mental decline, but memory of time, date and awareness of the environment remains. Motor skills are slow but normal in depression. Concern with concentration and worry about impaired memory may occur.

On the other hand, dementia symptoms reveal a slow mental decline with confusion and loss of recognizing familiar locations. Writing, speaking and motor skills are impaired, and memory loss is not acknowledged as being a problem by the person suffering dementia.

Whether it is depression or dementia, prompt treatment is recommended. A physical examination will help determine if there is a medical cause for depression. A geriatric medical practitioner is skilled in diagnosing depression and illnesses in the elderly. If you are the caregiver of an elderly person it may be beneficial for you to seek out a geriatric health care specialist.

Treating depression in older people

Once the cause of the depression is identified, a treatment program can be implemented. Treatment may be as simple as relieving loneliness through visitations, outings and involvement in family activities. In more severe cases antidepressant drugs have been known to improve the quality of life in depressed elderly people. Cognitive therapy sessions with a counselor may also be effective.

As a caregiver or family member of a depressed elderly person, it is important to take the initiative. The elderly person will generally deny any problems; they may fear being labelled as mentally ill. Your intervention can make the difference and alleviate the depression and Holiday Blues of a senior in your family or community.
Disclaimer: The foregoing is not medical advice, and no action or refraining from action should be based on it. Anyone who is dealing with the issues discussed above should immediately consult their physician or other health care provider.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Vitamin D Benefits and Depression - Is Vitamin D a Potential Depression Cure?

Is it possible that vitamin D benefits depression? A new study says it does, and raises the intriguing possibility that boosting blood levels of this crucial vitamin might help lift or even prevent depression in many.

The study, conducted by by VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, speculated that depression may be the consequence of inadequate levels of the "sunshine vitamin". Noting that about 13 percent of older individuals have symptoms of depression, the Amsterdam study cited numerous underlying causes of D vitamin deficiency among the elderly, including less sun exposure as a result of decreased outdoor activity, and different housing or clothing habits.

Research shows correlation between low vitamin D and high parathyroid levels in depressed people

The Amsterdam study correlated two important facts: one, inadequate levels of D vitamin cause an increase in parathyroid hormone levels, and two, overactive parathyroid glands are frequently accompanied by symptoms of depression. It was further noted that the depression symptoms disappear after the restoration of adequate D vitamin levels.

The Amsterdam research, which tracked over 1200 people aged 65 to 95, showed that blood  levels of the vitamin were 14 percent lower in individuals with major and minor depression compared with non-depressed participants.

It was also revealed that, in comparison with non-depressed people, patients with minor depression had five percent higher parathyroid hormone thyroid levels and those with major depressive disorders but levels of the hormone were a surprising 33 percent higher in those with major depressive disorder.

Vitamin D as possible depression treatment?

The Amsterdam study stopped short of affirming that the vitamin can prevent or treat depression, but called for additional study to investigate the possibility. High parathyroid hormone levels can be treated with higher dietary intake of vitamin D or calcium and increased sunlight exposure, the researchers said, and because the levels of both substances are predictable indicators of depression such treatment has real preventive potential. However, it must be determined whether changes in levels of the vitamin lead to depression or are a result of it.

What is the Main Cause of Depression for Men?

What is the main cause of depression for men? We know that men are much less likely to suffer from depression than women and for that reason, we often forget that men can suffer as well.

Depression in men, although less common, is still a major problem. Some signs of depression in men are similar to those in women and include withdrawal from the outside world, disinterest in formerly enjoyable activities, thoughts of suicide and sleep problems. Other symptoms more exclusive to men may include reckless behaviour such as speeding, taking drugs or other dangerous activities. Men are also more likely to indulge in alcohol, overwork and casual sex to try and relieve the depression.

Since depressed men are four times more likely to commit suicide, it's vital that we recognize the signs of depression in men. Often a wife or girlfriend will be the first to realize that her husband is depressed. By taking action immediately, tragic results can be avoided.

So, the question remains, what is the main cause of depression for men? The number of causes of depression in men is great, so it's difficult to determine the main cause. Many men are taught from a very young age to be the rock, strong and independent, and they tend to feel the burden of providing for a family more than the woman.

This over-developed sense of responsibility can lead to problems when a man loses his job or is incapacitated in some way. He is required to depend on others and can no longer support his family, making him feel useless and leading to depression.

If you ask a group therapists what is the main cause of depression for men, you will probably get a different answer from each one. But the overall gist can be used to get the answer to the question "what is the main cause of depression for men?" Stress on the job and at home. When a man feels he isn't measuring up to the standard of success he has set for himself or that others have set for him, he is likely to fall into a depression.

When asking what is the main cause of depression for men one must also take into consideration that each man is different in what level of stress he can handle. Men with a history of alcohol or drug abuse are likely to become depressed quicker than a man who has a clean history. Those with a family or personal history of depression are also at higher risk.

A supplement of ginkgo biloba or chamomile might also prove useful in easing the effects of stress on the average man, making him less susceptible to depression due to job or in the home stress and anxiety. Taking time to relax and enjoy life is another essential ingredient in the prevention of depression in men, as is the recognition of the signs of depression in men so that it can be treated early on.

Men do not deal with depression in the same way as women and it must be remembered that each gender has unique manners of handling stress. Finding a treatment for the stress will most likely result in a prevention of depression later on.

The Effects of Depression on the Human Body

Clinical depression can leave a person feeling like they're being held down - not just by a lack of motivation - but a heavy physical lethargy. Depression can cause a person to have an overwhelming sense of melancholy, erectile dysfunction, weight loss and reoccurring feelings of anxiety. If you're suffering from depression, exercise is probably one of the last things on your mind. But, exercise can be very, very useful in treating depression. And, it's easier than you think to get both the psychological and physiological benefits that come from a healthy exercise routine.

Clinical depression could have a seriously debilitating effect on a man's life. The fatigue, anxiety and overall inability to experience joy in the simplest things in life can be a crippling problem. Luckily for many, antidepressant medications have been very effective in treating the debilitating symptoms of depression. At the same time, anti-depressant medications could also come with sexual side effects such as lowered libido, difficulty reaching orgasm and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Although it's far from a miracle cure, exercise seems to give both body and mind just about everything it lacks when someone is suffering from depression. Exercise raises your endorphin levels or your "feel good brain chemicals." Athletes are always talking about the feelings of euphoria they get after working out and long-distance marathon runners always talk of a "runner's high." Those are all due to the hard work of endorphins.

Exercise is also great at reducing anxiety levels and creating a positive outlook on life. Many people with depression, who after a bit of exercise start to notice themselves dropping a few pounds or generally improving their physical appearance, can gain self confidence and esteem, which works to ward off the feelings of uselessness often associated with depression

Depression is a major health issue and, of course, you should talk to a doctor about any course of treatment you are interested in taking. After you've done that, you'll find that getting into a positive exercise routine is really fun and can help you get back the lust for life you previously thought was robbed by depression.

Postpartum Depression Facts - Recognizing and Alleviating Baby Blues and Depression

New mothers often experience conflicting feelings of joy and emotional letdown during the first few weeks after birth. This is often called postpartum blues, or the "baby blues". She may feel down, but overall she finds pleasure in life. These feelings are normal and temporary.

The transition to motherhood brings many hormonal changes, changes in body image, and changes in intrapsychic reorganization. Fluctuating hormones in pregnancy and puerperium, the four-week period following childbirth, have an effect on mood, causing early elation at delivery that can be followed by mild depression with tearfulness, irritability, and fatigue. These feelings peak on the fifth day postpartum. Most women recover and adapt to these postpartum changes in a few days.

However, the physiological factors that affect mood can interact with minor anxieties and stresses to result in a clinical depression. Postpartum depression (PPD) is recognized by a persistent mood of despondency and the mother's disinterest in bonding with baby. Beyond 5 days, the persistence is not expected and should be reported to a health care provider immediately. Additional infant care by a baby nurse can also be recommended as this allows mother to alleviate physical and mental fatigue.

Typical postpartum change/recovery is described in three phases:

Phase 1- Taking In -
Mother is passive and willing to let others care for her. Conversation centers on her birth experience. Mother has great interest in her infant but has little interest in learning about caring for the child, as her primary focus is on recovery from birth and her need for food, fluids, and deep restorative sleep. She is willing to let others handle the care of the child.

Phase 2- Taking Hold -
Mother begins to initiate action and becomes more interested in caring for her infant. She becomes critical of her "performance". She has increased concern about her body's functions and assumes responsibility for her self-care needs. This phase is ideal for teaching infant care by a baby nurse.

Phase 3- Letting Go -:
Mothers, and often fathers, work through giving up their previous lifestyle and family arrangements to incorporate the new infant. Many mothers must give up their ideal of their birth experience and reconcile it with what actually happened.

Postpartum assessment typically includes physical valuation, and assessment of psychological bonding, but must also include evaluation for fatigue. Because today's lifestyle often has the woman working through most of her pregnancy, rooming-in after delivery with responsibility for newborn care, and then returning home in 48 hours or less to accept full home responsibilities, many women do not have the opportunity to rest and adapt in the postpartum phase.

Healthcare providers can lessen the level of maternal fatigue by recommending and initiating appropriate relief measures such as taking on the care of the newborn for a few hours, or scheduling baby nurse care that allows for periods of rest. Allowing the mother proper rest assists in her proper recovery.

In some cases, medication is necessary to help mothers with PPD. However, postpartum support can be received through social service agencies, public health nurses, parenting courses and group discussions. These social avenues show mothers they are not alone, and aid them in personal support as well as bonding with baby.

Why Eat, Pray, Love Has Stuck a Chord With Women Entrepreneurs

So, have you read this inspirational book yet?

Seen the movie? Whatever you do, don't skip reading the book in favor of watching the movie or you'll miss all the rich storytelling-texture the book has to offer.

Elizabeth Gilbert has written a book that many women entrepreneurs will take inspiration from. Some will enjoy her fun prose with its mix of intelligence, charm, and wit. Others will resonate with the honest and transparent way she talks about the good, the bad, and the ugly that led her to and through her yearlong journey.

There have been mixed reviews of the book. Oprah loved it and dedicated two episodes of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to it. Maureen Callahan of the "New York Post" harshly criticized the book and Oprah for devoting so much time to it.

So what does this have to do with being an entrepreneur? You might be surprised.

First and foremost, this memoir about Gilbert's yearlong travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia underscores just how much a woman's inner journey affects her outer life journey.

For the woman entrepreneur, it is also her inner journey that makes her entrepreneurial journey worth taking and ultimately determines the success or failure of her business.

Five Quotations from "Eat, Pray, Love" to Sustain You along Your Entrepreneurial Journey

1. "Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be."

That's a tough one for many women in general and women entrepreneurs specifically. Because women are such community and consensus builders focused on the good of the whole, we often lack the backbone to just stand up and tell it like it is.

In fact, that's the main thread of Gilbert's book: Tell the truth. Tell the truth about who you are and what's important to you. Tell it to yourself and to those important people around you. And when you do, you'll find you've developed the backbone you need to complete the entrepreneurial journey.

2. "I am stronger than Depression and braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me."

This quotation is part of a much longer one that both calmed and strengthened Gilbert when she was at her point of greatest despair. Alone and crying out for the first time to God, what she heard, from deep within herself, was this: She was never alone, eternally loved, and always protected.

As women entrepreneurs, haven't we all been there? Alone. Crying out in the dark. Looking more for a relationship than for answers. Whether that calm, all-knowing voice actually comes from God or from within, it is good to know that we are not alone. Together, we are stronger than we ever realized, with a deep reservoir of energy.

3. "'Tis better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else's life perfectly."

This quotation from the "Bhagavad Gita" is a powerful mantra for women entrepreneurs. Shades of what society once considered women should be perfect daughters, wives, and mothers still color our world today. Yet times have changed. No longer is the right of passage for modern women one of age (from girlhood to womanhood); it is one of thought.

As a woman entrepreneur, you already have a strongly developed thought form of wanting to live life on your own terms. You already have independence, wealth, and wanting to make a difference in the world as your driving forces. This quotation reminds us that the joy of the entrepreneurial journey is when it's not so perfect.

4. "I am a better person when I have less on my plate."

What "Eat, Pray, Love" exhorts you to do is fill up our body, mind, and soul with smiles. "Smile from your liver" with what is pleasing to you. From an energetic perspective, what you focus upon is added upon. It may sound cliche to say, "Let go, let God." However, you must find a way to let go of the little irritations that occur throughout your day and move quickly past that which annoys you to a more pleasing thought form.

5. "You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control."

The first time I read this, I laughed out loud! How true. How true! Show me a woman entrepreneur who doesn't want to be in control of her life, and I'll show you a woman whose business is struggling.

The key, though, is to select what thoughts to think. " your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day."I like how easy this quote makes it sound. After all, controlling someone else's thoughts is never easy. It's not even possible! However, controlling your own can be done, can only be done by you, and is well worth the effort.

Gilbert's book is not the first book of its kind nor will it be the last. However, its popularity means that it struck a universal chord of realization with many readers. As a woman entrepreneur, this book is a present-day reminder to you about how important your inner journey is to your entrepreneurial journey. If you want to run a successful business, first learn to control your own thoughts. Let these five quotations from "Eat, Pray, Love" remind you to select your own thoughts each day, to smile both inside and out, and to stay strong along your entrepreneurial journey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Prediction for 2011 and Beyond

For this installment, I will be examining the state of the world in 2011 and what we can expect to happen in the subsequent years to follow. Given the nature of predicting the future, this article will have fewer citations simply because these are estimated guesses; nothing is set in stone until it happens. In addition to that, there will not be any wild accusations such as the complete collapse of the American economy in less than ten months, or green technology obtaining over 30% of the energy market. So sit back and enjoy reading my analysis of what the future holds for 2011.

One of the main questions my readers have is what will the state of the American economy be next year? Most economists agree that there will be growth of around 3.5% which is decent coming out of this recession, however it will only chip at the nations 9.8% unemployment. At best it'll come down to 9%, however, history tells us that the unemployment number is the most stubborn and sluggish aspect for seeing a recovery, compared to a standard company's recovery in terms of revenue. The recent tax cut compromise will also come into play here, which may potentially aid in the recovery with low taxes, though at the cost of a massive increase to the federal deficit. What will be certain is that both political parties will take responsibility for the increased growth, considering the 2012 presidential elections will be right around the corner at this time.

For Congress next year, President Obama will most likely be playing defense, as he will attempt to halt the new coming freshmen Republicans from dismantling his legislative victories over the past year, most notably the health care bill. However, this will cause friction in Congress considering the Democrats will still maintain a majority in the Senate, though reduced, and of course Mr. Obama has the veto power which he'll use to prevent any major changes. Most likely the Republicans will be able to change minor things via amendments, but hardly anything significant as the more popular provisions in the bill begin to take affect. However, the recently passed legislation during the lame duck session of Congress may predict that Mr. Obama may be able to broker more bipartisan deals in the future, pulling moderates away from the right side of the aisle.

Speaking of which, by the summer of 2011 well have a good picture of which GOP contender will be running for presidential elections for 2012. At the top of everyone's list is of course the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney who was a frontrunner in 2008 but eventually backed out due to financial reasons. Mr. Romney has the experience and the money to once again be in the limelight for this election however in the age of the Tea Party he may be seen as too moderate. Most likely he'll face tough questions on his own health care reform bill in Massachusetts which gave pseudo-universal health care to its citizens via private insurance. Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, is also a favorite among political analysts, having previously run in 2008 but failed to secure the nomination from John McCain due to his insurmountable delegate lead after Mr. Romney backed out. His main strength is his charisma and passion: he's a truly likeable guy which can aid him in persuading moderates to back the former governor.

Continuing on, I believe that Tim Pawlenty, the outgoing governor of Minnesota, will not throw his hat into the ring, due to his low popularity in his own home state, and his name is quite unheard of throughout much of the United States. On the contrary the always controversial Sarah Palin will be the one that everyone will have their eye on. Her decision to either enter the presidential election or remain on the sidelines (and most likely endorse and finance a candidate) will effect every single other GOP contender's strategy. It would most likely be wise for Mrs. Palin to sit this one out, due to consistent polls finding her polling below President Obama for the nomination, losing most of the moderate support that the Republicans have recently obtained. Finally, for the wild card I believe the former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will finally run for the presidency, considering he's been contemplating a run for the past decade, waiting for the right time. However I believe he will do poorly due to his past history with his family issues, especially with his previous marriages, and of course his hyper-partisanship. Mr. Gingrich has repeatedly called Mr. Obama a socialist, Marxist, Muslim, and Hitler, of which during a presidential election will seem as vulgar and turn away many moderates due to his muckraking style of politics.

The world economy will be a dichotomy with onlookers seeing Western Europe and America continue to tangle with deficits and unemployment, while in the East there will be growth. However, India may supersede China for the first time in nearly a decade. This is mainly due to China's growing internal inflation problem and the rise of consumer prices by nearly 5% in one year, which is greatly affecting their currency. In Europe, all eyes will be on Britain's austerity gamble to see if the bond markets stabilize and control the deficit they have accumulated in the past several decades. As you may know, Britain and Germany's approach to the recent recession has been retrenchment, a policy seen in the 1930???s during the Great Depression. Budgets have been slashed to the bone and services cut for numerous social programs sparking outrage to trade unions and other government groups. In 2011 we may see Germany finally call it quits on the bailout packages the Euro Zone has given to nations in trouble such as Greece and most recently Ireland. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has become weary of being Europe's bank if there's a crisis and may finally call it quits due to domestic pressure.

In other worldly matters, July 2011 will see President Obama's plan to reduce combat troops in Afghanistan begin to take effect, though most likely that will be delayed by the request of General Petraeus, the commander of all U.S. Forces in the region. As of now, Mr. Obama reports that the war is on track, especially in the south which was the target of the 30,000 reinforcement surge earlier in the year. However, the biggest test will be whether the newly trained Afghan military can pick up the slack after American and NATO forces leave. With the widespread corruption in President Hamid Karzai's administration told by Wikileaks documents I doubt any progress will be sustained without some American military presence for the years to come, hence the predicted delay withdrawal.

2011 will also mark the dominance of new media technology such as the iPad, E-Books, and Apps belonging to a variety of companies. Smart-phones and other related devices will become the mainstream and 3G wireless and wifi will become a standard in most local hotspots. Contributing to this boom in electronic sales will be the reduction of these devices, already the Amazon Kindle is $139 and will probably be an even $100 by the middle of next year. Publishers will find it easier to work with digital distribution instead of hard copies due to price and revenue controls. Amazon, for example will begin to regularly sell more digital books than hard copies, which will be a worldwide trend for other companies and devices.

All of this is just a glimpse of what 2011 may bring to the United States and the international community, which will be a mixed bag for everyone. Bottom line though is that the economy will improve, though the question is how much? And will it be able to put a dent in the high unemployment numbers? As this year comes to a close we should reflect what occurred this year; the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, riots in Greece after the partial collapse of the economy, Wikileaks, the Winter Olympics and FIFA World Cup, and plague of partisan politics just to name a few. The Boston Globe's.The Big Picture section has an excellent section of photos which you can view here as well, capturing the moment of 2010's most dramatic events. I'd also like to thank Jacob Cohen Donnelly for the privilege of writing for We the People Politics and my amazing editor Jessica McAdams for her assistance in revising all of my articles. I wish all of my readers the best for 2011 and hope you'll come back for more insight into today's issues and events.

Fish Oil and Depression - How it Can Help

Not many people seem to know it but it has been found through many research and clinical studies that there is a strong connection between fish oil and depression. This finding was first observed by scientists who observed how countries with high daily fish consumption experienced the lowest depression rates.

In the same way, it was noticed that mothers resident of England who ate little fish during pregnancy had twice as much risk in developing post-partum depression compared to those who had regular intakes of fish. Since then, a handful of clinical studies were conducted which all agree that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils can help in smoothing out mood swings and relieving depression. It was further found that omega 3 in fatty acids can increase the level of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter, in the brain. This is where the connection exists between omega 3 fish oil and depression.

The connection between fish oil and depression

Omega 3 fatty acids are actually polyunsaturated fats which cannot be produced by the body; they have to be taken in from food where they are derived mainly from seafood, especially fish. The two most important omega 3 fatty acids are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

These fatty acids can be found in the cell-membranes and in the brain, and they play an important role in nervous system functioning, especially that of the nerve cells (the neurons). They play a critical role in the growth and the maintenance of brain cells. It has been also found in many research studies that increasing omega 3 levels makes it easy for serotonin to pass through the cell membranes. In fact, it has been found that it has the same effect on the brain as antidepressant medications such as Prozac in raising the levels of this critical neurotransmitter.


DHA and EPA in fish oils help promote a general feeling of wellness, thereby elevating moods and smoothing out mood swings. Studies also prove that omega-3 can help improve symptoms of depression including sleeping problems, anxiety, decreased sexual desire, sadness, and even suicidal tendencies. Aside from its effect in your psyche, it provide you with more health benefits - from regulating blood pressure and relieving inflammation to promoting healthy weight loss.

Where to get fish oil for depression

As mentioned earlier, omega 3 fish oils can be derived from seafood. However, important essential fatty acids EPA and DHA are only found in fish. Make sure you eat sufficient amounts of fish such as mackerel and tuna in your diet. If you want to be even sure that you are taking enough amounts to reap health benefits, take some good quality fish oil supplements every day.

On the other hand, if you are suffering from serious depression that it impedes your normal mode of thinking, you should seek help from a doctor or an experienced medical practitioner. Although fish oils and supplements may be advised, you will need more intensive measures to cure your depression. Remember that supplements should not be regarded as a substitute for proper medical care.