Keeping Your Emotional Health
Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are able to cope with life’s challenges. They can keep problems in perspective and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships.
Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions. You can deal with them, whether they are positive or negative. Emotionally healthy people still feel stress, anger, and sadness. But they know how to manage their negative feelings. They can tell when a problem is more than they can handle on their own. They also know when to seek help from their doctor.
Research shows that emotional health is a skill. There are steps you can take to improve your emotional health and be happier.
Path to improved well being
Emotional health is an important part of your life. It allows you to realize your full potential. You can work productively and cope with the stresses of everyday life. It helps you work with other people and contribute to society.
It also affects your physical health. Research shows a link between an upbeat mental state and physical signs of good health. These include lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, and a healthier weight
There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health.
Be aware of your emotions and reactions. Notice what in your life makes you sad, frustrated, or angry. Try to address or change those things.
Express your feelings in appropriate ways. Let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside adds to stress. It can cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.
Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. Give yourself time to think, and be calm before you say or do something you might regret.
Manage stress. Try to change situations causing you stress. Learn relaxation methods to cope with stress. These could include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.
Strive for balance. Find a healthy balance between work and play and between activity and rest. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
Take care of your physical health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Exercise regularly, eat healthy meals, and get enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
Connect with others. We are social creatures. We need positive connections with other people. Make a lunch date, join a group, and say hi to strangers.
Find purpose and meaning. Figure out what it is important to you in life, and focus on that. This could be your work, your family, volunteering, caregiving, or something else. Spend your time doing what feels meaningful to you.
Stay positive. Focus on the good things in your life. Forgive yourself for making mistakes, and forgive others. Spend time with healthy, positive people.
Things to consider
People who have good emotional health can still have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause. This could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work, or school can trigger mental illness or make it worse.
Counseling, support groups, and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your family doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.
Questions to ask your doctor
What steps should I take to improve my emotional health?
Would medicine help me be able to cope better?
Should I see a therapist or counselor?
How does my physical health affect my emotional health?
What stress management techniques would work best for me?
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr M Williams
Depression In Teens
It’s not unusual for young people to experience “the blues” or feel “down in the dumps” occasionally. Adolescence is always an unsettling time, with the many physical, emotional, psychological and social changes that accompany this stage of life.
Unrealistic academic, social, or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection and can lead to deep disappointment. When things go wrong at school or at home, teens often overreact. Many young people feel that life is not fair or that things “never go their way.” They feel “stressed out” and confused. To make matters worse, teens are bombarded by conflicting messages from parents, friends and society. Today’s teens see more of what life has to offer — both good and bad — on television, at school, in magazines and on the Internet. They are also forced to learn about the threat of AIDS, even if they are not sexually active or using drugs.
Teens need adult guidance more than ever to understand all the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. When teens’ moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention — adolescent depression. Parents or caregivers must take action.
Dealing With Adolescent Pressures
When teens feel down, there are ways they can cope with these feelings to avoid serious depression. All of these suggestions help develop a sense of acceptance and belonging that is so important to adolescents.
Try to make new friends. Healthy relationships with peers are central to teens’ self-esteem and provide an important social outlet.
Participate in sports, job, school activities or hobbies. Staying busy helps teens focus on positive activities rather than negative feelings or behaviors.
Join organizations that offer programs for young people. Special programs geared to the needs of adolescents help develop additional interests.
Ask a trusted adult for help. When problems are too much to handle alone, teens should not be afraid to ask for help.
But sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, teens become depressed. Many factors can contribute to depression. Studies show that some depressed people have too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Also, a family history of depression may increase the risk for developing depression. Other factors that can contribute to depression are difficult life events (such as death or divorce), side-effects from some medications and negative thought patterns.
Recognizing Adolescent Depression
Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. This is a serious problem that calls for prompt, appropriate treatment. Depression can take several forms, including bipolar disorder (formally called manic-depression), which is a condition that alternates between periods of euphoria and depression.
Depression can be difficult to diagnose in teens because adults may expect teens to act moody. Also, adolescents do not always understand or express their feelings very well. They may not be aware of the symptoms of depression and may not seek help.
These symptoms may indicate depression, particularly when they last for more than two weeks:
Poor performance in school
Withdrawal from friends and activities
Sadness and hopelessness
Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
Anger and rage
Overreaction to criticism
Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
Poor self-esteem or guilt
Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
Restlessness and agitation
Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
Problems with authority
Suicidal thoughts or actions
Teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression. Teens also may express their depression through hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behavior. But such behaviors only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroyed relationships with friends, family, law enforcement or school officials.
Treating Adolescent Depression
It is extremely important that depressed teens receive prompt, professional treatment.
Depression is serious and, if left untreated, can worsen to the point of becoming life-threatening. If depressed teens refuse treatment, it may be necessary for family members or other concerned adults to seek professional advice.
Therapy can help teens understand why they are depressed and learn how to cope with stressful situations. Depending on the situation, treatment may consist of individual, group or family counseling. Medications that can be prescribed by a psychiatrist may be necessary to help teens feel better.
Some of the most common and effective ways to treat depression in adolescents are:
Psychotherapy provides teens an opportunity to explore events and feelings that are painful or troubling to them. Psychotherapy also teaches them coping skills.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps teens change negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on how to develop healthier relationships at home and at school.
Medication relieves some symptoms of depression and is often prescribed along with therapy.
When depressed adolescents recognize the need for help, they have taken a major step toward recovery. However, remember that few adolescents seek help on their own. They may need encouragement from their friends and support from concerned adults to seek help and follow treatment recommendations.
Facing the Danger Of Teen Suicide
Sometimes teens feel so depressed that they consider ending their lives. Each year, almost 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves. The rate of suicide for this age group has nearly tripled since 1960, making it the third leading cause of death in adolescents and the second leading cause of death among college-age youth.
Studies show that suicide attempts among young people may be based on long-standing problems triggered by a specific event. Suicidal adolescents may view a temporary situation as a permanent condition. Feelings of anger and resentment combined with exaggerated guilt can lead to impulsive, self-destructive acts.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warnings. Pay attention to these warning signs:
Suicide threats, direct and indirect
Obsession with death
Poems, essays and drawings that refer to death
Giving away belongings
Dramatic change in personality or appearance
Irrational, bizarre behavior
Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection
Changed eating or sleeping patterns
Severe drop in school performance
REMEMBER!!! These warning signs should be taken seriously. Obtain help immediately. Caring and support can save a young life.
Helping Suicidal Teens
Offer help and listen. Encourage depressed teens to talk about their feelings. Listen, don’t lecture.
Trust your instincts. If it seems that the situation may be serious, seek prompt help. Break a confidence if necessary, in order to save a life.
Pay attention to talk about suicide. Ask direct questions and don’t be afraid of frank discussions. Silence is deadly!
Seek professional help. It is essential to seek expert advice from a mental health professional who has experience helping depressed teens. Also, alert key adults in the teen’s life — family, friends and teachers.
Looking To The Future
When adolescents are depressed, they have a tough time believing that their outlook can improve. But professional treatment can have a dramatic impact on their lives. It can put them back on track and bring them hope for the future.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
The Boys Town National Hotline. (800)-448-3000.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
3615 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20016-3007
Phone Number: (202) 966-7300
Email Address: email@example.com
Website URL: http://www.aacap.org
American Association of Suicidology
4201 Connecticut Avenue NW; Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008
Suicide Awareness/Voices of Prevention
The Jed Foundation. Suicide prevention for college students.
The Nine Line. (800) 999-9999. Covenant Hours crisis counseling for homeless and at-risk children.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M Williams
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Symptoms
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to an extremely stressful or life-threatening event — involving death, the threat of death or serious injury — with resulting intense fear, helplessness or horror. If you experience these symptoms for a duration of more than a month, you could be suffering from PTSD.
Persistently Re-Experiencing the Event Having recurring dreams about the event or having persistent and distressing recollections of the event. Feeling and acting as if the trauma was reoccurring — hallucinations or flashbacks — and experiencing distress when exposed to cues. For example, Dr. Phil’s guest, Shelia, was attacked at gunpoint in her house, so when she is at home, she often replays the event in her mind.
Avoiding Stimuli Associated with the Trauma Making efforts to avoid thoughts, conversations, people, places and activities associated with the trauma, and avoiding activities, places or people that arouse recollections of the trauma. Shelia makes every effort to avoid being inside her house. She often spends long periods of time at the mall and sits in her car outside her home so she doesn’t have to go inside.
Numbing of General Responsiveness Pulling back and having a diminished interest in activities that are significant, and suffering low energy. Feeling detached or estranged from others. Displaying a restricted range of affect — unable to have loving feelings, or don’t want to become excited and happy or let scared emotions out.
Increased Arousal Symptoms Not Present before the Trauma Being easily startled, having difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Developing a heightened irritability and/or having angry outbursts. Becoming hypervigilant — behaviors you did not experience before the event.
Disturbance Impairs Other Areas of Functioning Experiencing significant impairment in social or occupational activities or any other important areas of functioning. Shelia has a difficult time working, because loud noises easily startle her.
If you have any questions or concerns about this or any area of healthcare please call us.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M Williams
1 in 6 Women Take This Nightmare Pill While Many Studies Suggest It’s Useless
Use of Antidepressants Continue to Rise
Major depression is one of the most common disorders in the U.S.,1 with 16 million adults reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year.2,3 When you look at all forms of depression, that number goes even higher. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 24 million Americans experience some form of depression,4 which can interfere with personal and work relationships, reduce work or academic performance and affect physical health.
Depression reduces your ability to care for yourself properly and make adequate decisions about your health, including nutrition and sleep. Imbalances in nutrition, weight fluctuations and poor sleep habits may lead to compromised immune function.5
If ignored, depression can become chronic and can lead to self-harming behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse6 and even be terminal if the person commits suicide. Up to 70 percent of people who commit suicide are clinically depressed,7 and 90 percent of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts experience a combination of depression and substance abuse.8
Antidepressant Use Continues to Rise
According to the latest statistics,9,10,11,12 use of antidepressants in the U.S. rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014. As of 2014:
- Nearly 1 in 8 Americans (13 percent) over the age of 12 reported being on antidepressant medication
- 1 in 6 women (16.5 percent) reported antidepressant use compared to 1 in 11 men (9 percent)
- About one-quarter of those who had taken an antidepressant in the past month reported being on them for 10 years or more
- Caucasians were more than three times more likely to use antidepressants than Blacks, Hispanics or Asians (16.5 percent compared to 5.6 percent, 5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively)
In Scotland, researchers also warn that antidepressant use among children under the age of 12 has risen dramatically.13 Between 2009 and 2016, use in this age group quadrupled. Use among children under 18 doubled in the same time frame.
Research Reveals Antidepressants Are Rarely the Right Answer
Unfortunately, the most widely used remedy for depression is also among the least effective. In addition to a long list of potential side effects14,15 (which include worsening depression and suicide), 40 percent of people with major depressive disorder treated with antidepressants do not achieve full remission.16
Perhaps more importantly, studies17,18,19 have repeatedly shown antidepressants work no better than placebo for mild to moderate depression, so you’re taking grave risks for a very small chance of benefit. As noted in a 2014 paper on antidepressants and the placebo effect:20
“Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain … But analyses of the published data and the unpublished data that were hidden by drug companies reveals that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect …
Analyzing the data we had found, we were not surprised to find a substantial placebo effect on depression. What surprised us was how small the drug effect was. Seventy-five percent of the improvement in the drug group also occurred when people were give dummy pills with no active ingredient in them.
The serotonin theory is as close as any theory in the history of science to having been proved wrong. Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.”
Placebo Effect Accounts for 82 Percent of Drug Response
The author of that 2014 study, Irving Kirsch, is a psychotherapist who has performed a number of analyses on antidepressants. In 2002, his team filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), asking for the trial data provided by drug companies as part of the drug approval process.
The FDA requires drug companies to provide data on all clinical trials they’ve sponsored, including unpublished trials. As it turned out, nearly half of all clinical trials on antidepressants remained unpublished. When both published and unpublished trials were included, 57 percent showed the drug had no clinical benefit over placebo. What’s more, the placebo response actually accounted for 82 PERCENT of the beneficial response to antidepressants!
These results were reproduced in a 2008 study21 using another, even larger set of FDA trial data. According to Kirsch, “Once again, 82 percent of the drug response was duplicated by placebo.” A major benefit of evaluating FDA trial data was that all of the trials used the same primary measure of depression, which made the drug-to-placebo effects very easy to identify and compare.
The primary measure of depression used in these studies was the Hamilton depression scale, a 17-item scale with a possible score of 0 to 53 points. The higher your score, the more severe your depression. Importantly, the mean difference between antidepressants and placebo was less than two points (1.8) on this scale, which is considered clinically insignificant.
To illustrate just how insignificant of a difference this is, you can score a 6-point difference simply by changing sleep patterns without any reported change in other depressive symptoms.
EMFs — A Not Well-Known Cause of Anxiety and Depression
About one year ago Dr. Martin Pall published a review22 in the Journal of Neuroanatomy showing how microwave radiation from cell phones, Wi-Fi routers and computers and tablets not in airplane mode is clearly associated with many neuropsychiatric disorders. I recently did an interview with him that will air on September 3. In the meantime, you can view my interview on EMFs that I discussed on my recent trip to visit with Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of Bulletproof.23
These microwave EMFs increase intracellular calcium through voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and the tissue with the highest density of VGCCs is the brain. Once these VGCCs are stimulated they also cause the release of neurotransmitters and neuroendocrine hormones leading to not only anxiety and depression, but neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and brain cancer.
So, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technology. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.
Studies have also confirmed the therapeutic effects of spending time in nature. Ecotherapy has been shown to lower stress, improve mood and significantly reduce symptoms of depression.24 Outdoor activities could be just about anything, from walking a nature trail to gardening, or simply taking your exercise outdoors.
Breath work such as the Buteyko breathing technique also has enormous psychological benefits and can quickly reduce anxiety by increasing the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in your body. These three techniques are a perfect complement to each other, and cost nothing. Simply turn off your electronics, head outside and practice proper breathing.
America Struggles With Notable Decline in Mental Health
While prescriptions for psychiatric drugs keep increasing (when you include other drugs beside antidepressants, such as anti-anxiety drugs, nearly 17 percent of American adults are medicated25,26), several parameters show mental health in the U.S. is declining.
Suicide rates are at a 30-year high, mental disorders are now the second most common cause of disability, having risen sharply since 1980,27 and prescription drug abuse and overdose deaths have become a public health emergency. While opioid pain killers are among the most lethal, psychiatric drugs also take their toll. In 2013, anti-anxiety benzodiazepine drugs accounted for nearly one-third of prescription overdose deaths.28
All of these statistics suggest that far from being helpful, antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs are making the situation worse. Sure, these drugs may be helpful for a small minority of people with very severe mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, but clearly, the vast majority of people using these drugs do not suffer from severe psychiatric illness.
Most are struggling with sadness, grief, anxiety, “the blues” and depression, which are in many ways part of your body’s communication system, revealing nutritional or sunlight deficiencies and/or spiritual disconnect, for example. The underlying reasons for these kinds of troubles are manifold, but you can be sure that, whatever the cause, an antidepressant will not correct it.
Women also need to be mindful of the fact that use of antidepressants during pregnancy can significantly increase your chances of having a child with autism. One study found antidepressant use during the second or third trimester was associated with an 87 percent increased risk of autism.29 The use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors was associated with double the risk of autism in the child, while the use of two or more antidepressants increased the risk more than fourfold.
Which Treatments Actually Work?
If you’re at all interested in following science-based recommendations, you’d place antidepressants at the very bottom of your list of treatment candidates. Far more effective treatments for depression include:
- Exercise — A number of studies have shown exercise outperforms drug treatment. Exercise helps create new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm, and boosts serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which helps buffer the effects of stress.
Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity, but even gentle forms of exercise can be effective. Yoga, for example, has received particular attention in a number of studies. A study published this spring found 90-minute yoga sessions three times a week reduced symptoms of major depression by at least 50 percent.30
- Nutritional intervention — Keeping inflammation in check is an important part of any effective treatment plan. If you’re gluten sensitive, you will need to remove all gluten from your diet. A food sensitivity test can help ascertain this. Reducing lectins may also be a good idea. As a general guideline, eating a whole food diet as described in my optimal nutrition plan can go a long way toward lowering your inflammation level. Certain nutritional deficiencies are also notorious contributors to depression, especially:
◦ Omega-3 fats. I recommend getting an omega-3 index test to make sure you’re getting enough. Ideally, you want your omega-3 index to be 8 percent or higher.
◦ B vitamins (including B1, B2, B3, B6, B8 and B12). Low dietary folate can raise your risk by as much as 300 percent.31,32 One of the most recent studies33,34 showing the importance of vitamin deficiencies in depression involved suicidal teens. Most turned out to be deficient in cerebral folate and all of them showed improvement after treatment with folinic acid.
- Vitamin D — Studies have shown vitamin D deficiency can predispose you to depression and that depression can respond favorably to optimizing your vitamin D stores, ideally by getting sensible sun exposure.35,36 In one such study,37 people with a vitamin D level below 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with a level greater than 30 ng/mL.
A double-blind randomized trial38 published in 2008 concluded that supplementing with high doses of vitamin D “seems to ameliorate [depression] symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship. “Recent research39 also claims that low vitamin D levels appear to be associated with suicide attempts. For optimal health, make sure your vitamin D level is between 40 and 60 ng/mL year-round. Ideally, get a vitamin D test at least twice a year to monitor your level.
- Probiotics — Keeping your gut microbiome healthy also has a significant effect on your moods, emotions and brain. You can read more in my previous article, “Mental Health May Depend on the Health of Your Gut Flora.”
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) — EFT is a form of psychological acupressure that has been shown to be quite effective for depression and anxiety.40,41,42,43 For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT44 to guide you through the process. That said, for most of you with depression symptoms, this is a technique you can learn to do effectively on your own.
One of my new favorites. My mom passed away unexpectedly in July and I am very grateful she did not have cancer or struggles with any abuses from the conventional health system that many of our readers do. However, losing my mother was a major challenge in grief management for me.
I realize grief is not depression but the book “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender”45 by Dr. David Hawkins, was one of the best books I have read this year and helped teach me the useful tool of how to free yourself of painful emotions. I have read many of Hawkins’ previous books but this was his last one as he also recently passed.
Other Helpful Treatment Strategies
Here are several other strategies that can help improve your mental health:46
Clean up your sleep hygiene
Make sure you’re getting enough high-quality sleep, as sleep is essential for optimal mood and mental health. A fitness tracker that tracks your sleep can be a useful tool. The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep can be due to elevated cortisol levels, so if you have trouble sleeping, you may want to get your saliva cortisol level tested with an Adrenal Stress Index test.
If you’re already taking hormones, you can try applying a small dab of progesterone cream on your neck or face when you awaken during the night and can’t call back to sleep. Another alternative is to take adaptogens, herbal products that help lower cortisol and adjust your body to stress. There are also other excellent herbs and amino acids that help you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Meditation can also help.
Optimize your gut health
A number of studies have confirmed gastrointestinal inflammation can play a critical role in the development of depression.47 Optimizing your gut microbiome will also help regulate a number of neurotransmitters and mood-related hormones, including GABA and corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety and depression-related behavior.48
To nourish your gut microbiome, be sure to eat plenty of fresh vegetables and traditionally fermented foods. Healthy choices include fermented vegetables, lassi, kefir and natto. If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is recommended.
Also remember to severely limit sugars, especially fructose, as well as grains, to rebalance your gut flora. As a standard recommendation, I suggest limiting your daily fructose consumption from all sources to 25 grams per day or less.
Visualization and guided imagery have been used for decades by elite athletes prior to an event, successful business people and cancer patients — all to achieve better results through convincing your mind you have already achieved successful results.49,50 Similar success has been found in people with depression.51
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT has been used successfully to treat depression.52,53 This therapy assumes mood is related to the pattern of thought. CBT attempts to change mood and reverse depression by directing your thought patterns.
Make sure your cholesterol levels aren’t too low for optimal mental health
You may also want to check your cholesterol to make sure it’s not too low. Low cholesterol is linked to dramatically increased rates of suicide, as well as aggression toward others.54 This increased expression of violence toward self and others may be due to the fact that low membrane cholesterol decreases the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, which are approximately 30 percent cholesterol by weight.
Lower serum cholesterol concentrations therefore may contribute to decreasing brain serotonin, which not only contributes to suicidal-associated depression, but prevents the suppression of aggressive behavior and violence toward self and others.
A number of herbs and supplements can be used in lieu of drugs to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. These include:
- St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). This medicinal plant has a long historical use for depression, and is thought to work similarly to antidepressants, raising brain chemicals associated with mood such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.55
- S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression.
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). 5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. Evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression,56 which is more than can be said about antidepressants.
- XingPiJieYu. This Chinese herb, available from doctors of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), has been found to reduce the effects of “chronic and unpredictable stress,” thereby lowering your risk of depression.57
Guidelines for Safe Drug Withdrawal
If you’re currently on an antidepressant and want to get off it, ideally, you’ll want to have the cooperation of your prescribing physician. It would also be wise to do some homework on how to best proceed. Dr. Joseph Glenmullen from Harvard has written a helpful book on how to withdraw called “The Antidepressant Solution: A Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Antidepressant Withdrawal, Dependence, and Addiction.”
You can also turn to an organization with a referral list of doctors who practice more biologically or naturally, such as the American College for Advancement in Medicine at http://www.ACAM.org. A holistic psychiatrist will have a number of treatment options in their tool box that conventional doctors do not, and will typically be familiar with nutritional supplementation.
Once you have the cooperation of your prescribing physician, start lowering the dosage of the medication you’re taking. There are protocols for gradually reducing the dose that your doctor should be well aware of. At the same time, it may be wise to add in a multivitamin and/or other nutritional supplements or herbs. Again, your best bet would be to work with a holistic psychiatrist who is well-versed in the use of nutritional support.
If you have a friend or family member who struggles with depression, perhaps one of the most helpful things you can do is to help guide them toward healthier eating and lifestyle habits, as making changes can be particularly difficult when you’re feeling blue — or worse, suicidal. Encourage them to unplug and meet you outside for walks. We should not underestimate the power of human connection, and the power of connection with nature. Both, I believe, are essential for mental health and emotional stability.
If you are feeling desperate or have any thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a toll-free number: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or call 911, or simply go to your nearest hospital emergency department. You cannot make long-term plans for lifestyle changes when you are in the middle of a crisis.
Health Wellness Associates
Dr. J Mercola
Dr. P Carrothers
Are You Ready For A Change?
Whether as a family or as an individual, change cannot happen unless you are ready for it.
There are four stages of readiness when it comes to change.
Stage 1: Compelled by authority to change.
Stage 2: Comply to escape criticism. (“It’s when everybody expects you to do it, so you fulfill their expectations.”)
Stage 3: Intellectually aware of the need for change.
Stage 4: Mentally and emotionally self-motivated by change.
“Stage 4 is when you can honest to God say, ‘I am so sick to death of this that I will not put up with this for another second, for another minute of another hour of another day. I don’t care how scary it is, I don’t care what’s on the other side, I will not put up with this for another second. I will change this, I don’t care what it takes.’ That’s when you get change,”
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M. Williams
What to Tell Your Boss About Your Mental Health Diagnosis
A diagnosis of a mental illness—either yours or a family member’s—can upend your career. Your condition may get in the way of your ability to do your job well, or, even if it doesn’t, you may need to make special arrangements to get the care you or your loved one needs.And disruptions can prove costly. Workers with depression lose nearly six hours of productivity a week at work, according to a 2003 study published in JAMA. According to a 2013 Gallup survey, full-time workers with depression miss an additional 4.3 days of work a year compared to their counterparts without depression, while a American Journal of Psychiatry report found that workers with serious mental illness earn about 40% less than those with no such problems.
No two paths are the same. Stan Brodsky, 71, was walking to the shower one morning 15 years ago when a sinking feeling stopped him in his tracks. “I just couldn’t do it,” says Stan. “I had to get back in bed.”Brodsky, diagnosed with serious depression, was fortunate. His therapy costs were held in check thanks to his insurance, while his company essentially told him to take the time he needed to get well.
But then there’s Linette Murphy. She first knew something was wrong when her daughter Sapphira was three-and-a half. “I received calls from daycare saying that she was throwing chairs, having temper tantrums that lasted for hours, and banging her head against the wall,” Murphy recalls.Sapphira was diagnosed with disruptive mood dysregulation (or bipolar disorder) at age four. Over the decade that’s followed, Murphy has spent tens of thousands of dollars, and countless hours, caring for her child. In doing so, she’s sacrificed career advancement over and over again.
“I have willingly taken two demotions, and a cut in pay of about $25,000, so that I could move from my corporate headquarters in Orlando to New England, to better schools for my daughter and to be closer to family so they could help with her care,” Murphy says. “I have turned down a promotion every single year for the last eight years so that I can effectively juggle my career and being her mom.”
What Brodsky and Murphy’s stories underscore is that there is no way to predict how a mental illness will affect your career. And since you may not know how your employer will respond, you may be cautious about revealing your condition in the first place.
What’s more, a condition like depression or anxiety can be a hidden disability, which puts the onus on you to manage the conversation. In fact, one study found that those with a less apparent disability are more concerned with their jobs than those will more obvious symptoms are. They fear they’ll be fired or not hired and won’t be offered a promotion, according to a 2013 study in the Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, which polled 780 people with disabilities ranging from a mental health condition to a hearing impairment.
The most common reason people with any disability gave for not informing an employer was a fear of being fired, not hired or missing out on a promotion. Only a quarter of those with mental health symptoms feel that “people are caring and sympathetic to persons with mental illness,”according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To navigate your work environment no matter your condition, follow this guide.
Know Your Rights
If you can do your job but need some flexibility or specific accommodations, you’re most likely entitled to receive them.
The Americans With Disabilities Act, which applies to companies with more than 15 employees, covers a psychological disability if it “substantially impairs one or more major life activities” and you can do the job “with or without reasonable accommodations.”
That means you could request adaptable start times and schedules, a specialized work area to reduce noise or distraction, and working from home, among other possible accommodations.
Request your reasonable accommodations in writing from your company’s HR department. (You can find a sample letter on the Job Accommodations Network’s website.) If you feel as if your employer is not responsive to your needs, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Take Advantage of In-House Help
Most large and midsize companies offer employee assistance programs, says Aon Hewitt senior senior health and wellbeing consultant Denise Heybrock. You, or your family members, will receive a few free sessions of confidential counseling, generally five to eight, and help finding more permanent in-network care if you need longer-term assistance.
Assess the Culture
If you suffer from, say, bipolar disorder or depression, but don’t need a special schedule or similar adjustment, you may want to think long and hard before disclosing your illness.
“Do you feel good about the culture in your organization?” asks Carolyn McClanahan, a medical doctor and Jacksonville, Fla., financial planner. “Have you seen your organization help people go through issues like your facing?”
If the answer is no, or if your company seems to be looking for an excuse to reduce payroll, you might be better off not disclosing your illness to your supervisor—or even the employee assistance program—unless you absolutely have to.“There’s a lot of fear. People equate mental health with danger and violence,” says Sade Ali, senior associate in the behavioral health technical assistance center of the Altarum Institute. “There’s still a lot of struggle around seeking care and being identified as someone with challenges.”
Be Willing to Be Flexible
Open a line of dialogue with your employer if you need to alter your schedule. MaryEllen Joyce, much like Linette Murphy, had two full-time jobs: coordinating care for her son, who suffered from substance abuse and depression, and working as a business manager for a Massachusetts marketing company.
The responsibility of her son’s care fell squarely on Joyce’s shoulders, which meant she had fewer hours in the day to do her job. So she and her boss settled on a deal: Three days a week she’d leave at 2 p.m., and in exchange her pay would be cut by a third. While the trade-off was difficult to swallow, it allowed Joyce to drive to her son’s therapeutic school visits, wrangle with insurance providers, and keep her job.Her son has made progress, she says, and things have started to settle down, letting Joyce invest more in her career. “It was hard fought, but I got my full-time job back,” Joyce says. “I was rewarded by getting more responsibility.”
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M. Williams
Seven Steps to Reaching Your Goals
Successfully executing any personal strategic plan for change requires that as you develop your plan, you effectively incorporate these seven steps for attaining each and every goal:
- Express your goal in terms of specific events or behaviors.
For a dream to become a goal, it has to be specifically defined in terms of operations, meaning what will be done. When a goal is broken down into steps, it can be managed and pursued much more directly. “Being happy,” for example, is neither an event nor a behavior. When you set out to identify a goal, define what you want in clear and specific terms.
- Express your goal in terms that can be measured.
How else will you be able to determine your level of progress, or even know when you have successfully arrived where you wanted to be? For instance, how much money do you aspire to make?
- 3. Assign a timeline to your goal.
Once you have determined precisely what it is you want, you must decide on a timeframe for having it. The deadline you’ve created fosters a sense of urgency or purpose, which in turn will serve as an important motivator, and prevent inertia or procrastination.
- 4. Choose a goal you can control.
Unlike dreams, which allow you to fantasize about events over which you have no control, goals have to do with aspects of your existence that you control and can therefore manipulate. In identifying your goal, strive for what you can create, not for what you can’t.
- Plan and program a strategy that will get you to your goal.
Pursuing a goal seriously requires that you realistically assess the obstacles and resources involved, and that you create a strategy for navigating that reality. Willpower is unreliable, fickle fuel because it is based on your emotions. Your environment, your schedule and your accountability must be programmed in such a way that all three support you — long after an emotional high is gone. Life is full of temptations and opportunities to fail. Those temptations and opportunities compete with your more constructive and task-oriented behavior. Without programming, you will find it much harder to stay the course.
- Define your goal in terms of steps.
Major life changes don’t just happen; they happen one step at a time. Steady progress, through well-chosen, realistic, interval steps, produces results in the end. Know what those steps are before you set out.
- Create accountability for your progress toward your goal.
Without accountability, people are apt to con themselves. If you know precisely what you want, when you want it — and there are real consequences for not doing the assigned work — you are much more likely to continue in your pursuit of your goal. Find someone in your circle of family or friends to whom you can be accountable. Make periodic reports on your progress.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M. Williams
This is What Happens To Your Brain Every Time You Eat 1 Tbsp of White Sugar
For years doctors and health professionals have been telling us that process foods, too many red meats, and sugars are unhealthy for our bodies. However, it wasn’t until much more recently that researchers began to make a connection between nutrition and mental health.
All Food is Not Created Equal
Sadly, only 13% of men and 15% of women are eating enough fruits and vegetables to sustain a healthy body and mind. Substances and additives from processed foods have to go somewhere. Your body absorbs them the same way that it does essential nutrients and vitamins.
However, your body, and most importantly, your brain uses nutrients and vitamins to keep your tissue healthy and your brain functioning at 100%. If those ingredients are replaced with artificial ingredients, hormones, and preservatives, your body has been stripped of one of its most basic functions – keeping you healthy and sharp.
Take processed foods that are high in refined sugar, for example. Research has shown that once the brain takes in processed materials that it cannot use, it is very hard for it to get rid of these materials. Refined sugar is one of these substances.
Your body doesn’t quite know what to do with it, and it can actually cause inflammation of tissue inside the body, which can cause permanent damage. As a result, many people suffer from slowed brain function or cloudiness as well as worsened mood and even depression just from eating an unhealthy snack.
As they say, once and awhile shouldn’t produce any long term effects, but less often is always a better option.
How Food is Linked to Your Mental Health
Since nutrition is one of our body’s most basic needs, folks suffering from mental and physical illnesses may want first take a look at their diet when starting recovery.
Of course, this is not to say that changing your diet will cure all health related problems, but it has been scientifically proven that maintaining a healthy diet can help the body flush out unnecessary toxins and free-radicals as well as improve their mood.
For example, people who abuse drugs for an extended period may experience a huge change in mood and their mental health. This is due to the nature of certain drugs. Drugs like heroin interact with the brain in a way that makes the user feel euphoric by telling the brain to send out a plethora of pleasure-inducing chemicals, like dopamine.
When someone decides to get off the drug, their mental health often plummets because of the instant lack of dopamine in the brain. Their brain essentially “crashes” and doesn’t know how to heal itself just yet. So, in tandem with a stable rehabilitation, proper nutrition can help to restore the brain to its former glory.
Unfortunately for some, permanent damage does occur which may not ever be reversible, but in many cases, a well-balanced diet can truly, positively affect a person’s mental health by boosting their mood and maintaining a healthy balance of good chemicals in the brain.
The Digestive Tract
Another great example that proves how important diet is is the digestive tract. 95% of our serotonin is produced in the digestive tract. Serotonin is a chemical that regulates sleep, our moods, and our appetite.
Millions of nerve cells cover your digestive tract, and these nerve cells are the ones who produce good chemicals, like serotonin – as long as they are healthy. When you eat foods with healthy oils and good bacteria, like yogurt or kombucha, your nerve cells are protected from any nasty things that might interrupt their functions.
However, regular ingestion of foods with preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics can kill the good bacteria in your gut and essentially kill your nerve cells as well. If this happens, those nerve cells aren’t able to do their job, and it can severely affect your mood.
Taking care of your body is just as important as taking care of your mental health – and vice versa. It’s time that we all realize that our body truly is amazing and can heal itself in miraculous ways, but only if we feed it the right ingredients to do so.
If you need a healthcare plan just for you, give us a call and we can accommodate you.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. P Carrothers
An Over-Toxified Body Could Be Causing Fibromyalgia
Are you fatigued or in pain? It may be time to check underlying toxic exposures that create conditions which may be exacerbating how you feel.
We are electrical beings. There are many things in our world today that can deplete electricity. Causes of depleted electricity can be linked to Fluoride, and medications containing fluoride such as SSRI’s, toxic cosmetics containing aluminum, mercury, and vaccines. Addictions causing a toxic liver can be a cause of depleted oxygen and energy. These include smoking, excessive alcohol, and sugar. Food choices that can steal our energy and disrupt our hormones are pesticides in processed foods, MSG, Aspartame, HFCS and the SAD diet, all which can lead to increased risk for inflammation and other autoimmunity disorders. According to Science News, chronic fatigue is in our gut and not our head. A toxic liver and toxic gut will affect all organs without exception. It could deter healing, slow down recovery, cause fatigue, weaken immunity, cause low energy, increase weight gain, depression, and ailments of all sorts including autoimmunity disorders. EMF’s can deplete our energy and disrupt our sleep patterns which continue to stress the mind and body. A high caffeine diet can exhaust adrenal glands. And finally, deficiencies in Magnesium can steal our energy and oxygen-rich red blood cell count can be low.
There is a blood test called FM/a that identifies possible markers produced by immune system blood cells in people with fibromyalgia. But a diagnosis is really dependent on how you feel. Fibromyalgia includes body pain, fatigue, and insomnia. But Fibromyalgia can also be called a skin condition. Trigger points are inflamed tissue that’s located just below the skin and is generally especially sensitive to the touch. The pain symptoms of fibromyalgia are believed by many researchers to be related to the fascia of the body. In fibromyalgia, the amount of blood flow to the peripheral tissues (the skin) is substantially reduced.
In layman terms, the immune system within the skin is acting up and this involves the capillaries and small blood vessels. To make matters worst, fibromyalgia is found in our gut. Fibromyalgia pain is found mostly in the back of the head, neck, stomach, hip and knees. Most complaints are chronic headaches and nausea.
But, fibromyalgia is no longer considered to be similar to the arthritic condition. (a disease of the joints) If we were to take a step back -we could possibly find the hidden connections. There is a mental health concern with fibromyalgia that is not with arthritis.
Today our children from about age 7 to 10 years old are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. You may find this shocking. But if we check, it’s no surprise to find that these children can also have a toxic internal environment from a poor diet and lack of movement. They are also stressed. Subsidized school lunches can increase the risk for obesity. Increase wi-fi use can increase toxicities. Being overweight can play a causative role in pain, inflammation, and low energy levels. Secondly, children are prescribed more antibiotics, Ritalin, statins and antidepressants in the last decade. Medications can decrease good gut microbiome, decrease the quality of sleep and cause weight issues.
Dont ever treat fibromyalgia with another toxin or chemical, such as an unnecessary prescription.
If you think you have fibromyalgia, and you want to know how to cure this, please give us a call and set up a consultation.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr P Carrothers
The Link Between Sugar and Depression
Men consuming more than 67 grams of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to develop anxiety or depression over the course of five years than those whose sugar consumption was less than 40 grams per day
Other studies have also linked high-sugar diets to a higher risk of depression and anxiety, showing a low-sugar diet is an important part of the prevention and treatment of common mental health problems
Sugar increases your risk of depression by contributing to insulin and leptin resistance, suppressing BDNF, affecting dopamine, damaging your mitochondria and promoting chronic inflammation
How Sugar Raises Your Depression Risk
A number of other studies have also identified mechanisms by which excessive sugar consumption can wreak havoc with your mental health. For example, eating excessive amounts of sugar:
- Contributes to insulin and leptin resistance and impaired signaling, which play a significant role in mental health.
- Suppresses activity of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a key growth hormone that promotes healthy brain neurons. BDNF levels tend to be critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, and animal models suggest this may actually be a causative factor.
- Affects dopamine, a neurotransmitter that fuels your brain’s reward system9 (hence sugar’s addictive potential10,11,12) and is known to play a role in mood disorders.13
- Damages your mitochondria, which can have body-wide effects. Your mitochondria generate the vast majority of the energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) in your body. When sugar is your primary fuel, excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals are created, which damage cellular mitochondrial membranes and DNA.
Needless to say, as your mitochondria are damaged, the energy currency in your body declines and your brain will struggle to work properly. Healthy dietary fats, on the other hand, create far fewer ROS and free radicals. Fats are also critical for the health of cellular membranes and many other biological functions, including and especially the functioning of your brain.
Among the most important fats for brain function and mental health are the long-chained animal-based omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. Not only are they anti-inflammatory, but DHA is actually a component in every cell of your body, and 90 percent of the omega-3 fat found in brain tissue is DHA.
- Promotes chronic inflammation which, in the long term, disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system, thereby raising your risk of depression. A 2004 cross-cultural analysis14 of the relationship between diet and mental illness found a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk for depression and schizophrenia.
It also concluded that dietary predictors of depression are similar to those for diabetes and heart disease. One of the hallmarks of these diseases is chronic inflammation, which sugar is a primary driver of. So, excessive amounts of sugar can truly set off an avalanche of negative health events — both physical and mental.
Inflammation May Be the No. 1 Risk Factor for Depression
Another previous study published in the International Breastfeeding Journal15 found inflammation may be more than just another risk factor. It may actually be the primary risk factor that underlies all others. According to the researchers:
“The old paradigm described inflammation as simply one of many risk factors for depression. The new paradigm is based on more recent research that has indicated that physical and psychological stressors increase inflammation. These recent studies constitute an important shift in the depression paradigm: inflammation is not simply a risk factor; it is the risk factor that underlies all the others.
Moreover, inflammation explains why psychosocial, behavioral and physical risk factors increase the risk of depression. This is true for depression in general and for postpartum depression in particular.”
In another study,16 the researchers suggested “depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome.” Here, they refer specifically to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have also found depression is closely linked to dysfunction in the gut-brain axis, in which gut inflammation plays an important role.
Artificial Sweeteners Are Also Strongly Associated With Depression
Unfortunately, many are under the mistaken belief they can protect their health by swapping refined sugar for artificial sweeteners. Nothing could be further from the truth, as research suggests artificial sweeteners may actually be more detrimental to your health than regular sugar. For example:
- In a 1986 evaluation of reactions to food additives,17 aspartame (in commonly consumed amounts) was linked to mood alterations such as anxiety, agitation, irritability and depression.
- A 1993 study18 found that individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to aspartame, suggesting its use in this population should be discouraged. In the clinical study, the project was halted by the Institutional Review Board after a total of 13 individuals had completed the study because of the severity of reactions within the group of patients with a history of depression.
- In 2008, researchers asserted that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders and may compromise emotional functioning.19
- Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in 2013 found that consumption of sweetened beverages — whether they’re sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners — was associated with an increased risk of depression.20,21 The study included nearly 264,000 American adults over the age of 50 who were enrolled in an AARP diet and health study.
At the outset, participants filled out a detailed dietary survey. At a 10-year follow-up, they were asked whether they’d been diagnosed with depression at any point during the past decade.
Those who drank more than four cans or glasses of diet soda or other artificially sweetened beverages had a nearly 30 percent higher risk of depression compared to those who did not consume diet drinks. Regular soda drinkers had a 22 percent increased risk.
To Cure Depression, Be Sure to Address Root Causes
According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide,22,23 affecting an estimated 322 million people, including more than 16 million Americans. Globally, rates of depression increased by 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.24 According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressant drugs. Among women in their 40 and 50s, 1 in 4 is on antidepressants.25
While a number of different factors can contribute to depression, I’m convinced diet plays an enormous role. There’s no doubt in my mind that radically reducing or eliminating sugar and artificial sweeteners from your diet is a crucial step to prevent and/or address depression.
One simple way to dramatically reduce your sugar intake is to replace processed foods with real whole foods. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower odds of depression and anxiety,26,27 an effect ascribed to antioxidants that help combat inflammation in your body. Certain nutrients are also known to cause symptoms of depression when lacking, so it’s important to eat a varied whole food diet.
Another major contributor to depression and anxiety is microwave exposure from wireless technologies, which I address below. To suggest that depression is rooted in poor diet and other lifestyle factors does not detract from the fact that it’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed with compassion and non-judgment. It simply shifts the conversation about what the most appropriate answers and remedies are.
Considering the many hazards associated with antidepressants (the efficacy of which have been repeatedly found to be right on par with placebo), it would be wise to address the known root causes of depression, which are primarily lifestyle-based. Drugs, even when they do work, do not actually fix the problem. They only mask it.
Antidepressants may also worsen the situation, as many are associated with an increased risk of suicide, violence and worsened mental health in the long term. So, before you resort to medication, please consider addressing the lifestyle strategies listed below.
Nondrug Solutions for Depression
Limit microwave exposure from wireless technologies
Studies have linked excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields to an increased risk of both depression and suicide.28 Power lines and high-voltage cables appear to be particularly troublesome. Addiction to or “high engagement” with mobile devices can also trigger depression and anxiety, according to recent research from the University of Illinois.29
Research30 by Dr. Martin Pall reveals a previously unknown mechanism of biological harm from microwaves emitted by cellphones and other wireless technologies, which helps explain why these technologies can have such a potent impact on your mental health.
Embedded in your cell membranes are voltage gated calcium channels (VGCCs), which are activated by microwaves. When that happens, about 1 million calcium ions per second are released, which stimulates the release of nitric oxide (NO) inside your cell and mitochondria. The NO then combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite, which in turn creates hydroxyl free radicals, which are the most destructive free radicals known to man.
Hydroxyl free radicals decimate mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, their membranes and proteins. The end result is mitochondrial dysfunction, which we now know is at the heart of most chronic disease. The tissues with the highest density of VGCCs are your brain, the pacemaker in your heart and male testes.
Hence, health problems such as Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism, cardiac arrhythmias and infertility can be directly linked to excessive microwave exposure.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, be sure to limit your exposure to wireless technology. Simple measures include turning your Wi-Fi off at night, not carrying your cellphone on your body and not keeping portable phones, cellphones and other electric devices in your bedroom.
Call us for information and help with preventative medicine. If you are not comfortable with that, make sure your physician is certified or had done a specialty in preventative medicine. The trick question to ask is, where did you go to school for that. Easy to look up, not many schools offer it.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr Anna Sullivan