Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

The Nightmare Pill!

Health and Wellness Associates
EHS – Telehealth

 

1 in 6 Women Take This Nightmare Pill While Many Studies Suggest It’s Useless

 

Use of Antidepressants Continue to Rise

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Major depression is one of the most common disorders in the U.S., with 16 million adults reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year. 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, 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.

 

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, and 90 percent of people who struggle with suicidal thoughts experience a combination of depression and substance abuse.

 

Antidepressant Use Continues to Rise

According to the latest statistics use of antidepressants in the U.S. rose by 65 percent between 1999 and 2014. As of 2017:

 

  • 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 effects (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, studies 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:

 

“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 2010 study 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 review 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.

 

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. 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 medicated, 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, 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.

 

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. 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 symptom 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. One of the most recent studies 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.In one such study, 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. 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.

 

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

 

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. Similar success has been found in people with depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

 

CBT has been used successfully to treat depression. 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. 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.

Helpful supplements

 

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.

 

  • 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, 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.

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.

 

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Dr. P Carrothers

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Chemical Bending DNA and Young Children

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS -TELEHealth

 

Chemical Bending DNA Disorder in Young Children

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Young children with Chemical Bending DNA, or Chemical Balanced Behavior show symptoms similar to depression in the lay world.   These young children get “labeled” with the symptoms related to depression or manic or even bi-polar at an early age.

In this day and age this is a mis-justice to label children with anything, especially when the healthcare industry only treats the symptoms and not the cause.  Society has label these young children Generation Stress.

 

Does your child show any of these symptoms?

 

impaired performance of schoolwork,

persistent boredom,

quickness to anger,

frequent physical complaints, like headaches and stomachaches,

more risk-taking behaviors and/or showing less concern for their own safety.

Examples of risk-taking behaviors in children include unsafe play, like climbing excessively high or running in the street.

 

Parents of infants and children with incorrect “labels” often report noticing the following behavior changes in the child:

 

Crying more often or more easily

Increased sensitivity to criticism or other negative experiences

More irritable mood than usual or compared to others their age and gender, leading to vocal or physical outbursts, defiant, destructive, angry or other acting out behaviors

Eating patterns, sleeping patterns, or significant increase or decrease in weight change, or the child fails to achieve appropriate gain weight for their age

Unexplained physical complaints (for examples, headaches or abdominal pain)

Social withdrawal, in that the youth spends more time alone, away from friends and family

Developing more “clinginess” and more dependent on certain relationships (This is not as common as social withdrawal.)

Overly pessimistic, hopeless, helpless, excessively guilty or feeling worthless

Expressing thoughts about hurting him or herself or engaging in self-injury (like cutting or burning him or herself), reckless or other potentially harmful behavior

Young children may act younger than their age or than they had before (regress).

 

These may be symptoms of depression, bi-polar problems, ADHD, PTSD, and others, but they are symptoms of Chemical Bending DNA Disorder.   These children should not be treated as a mental health child.

Even the best pediatrician will state there is no clear determining factor, except to rule out autism or something more serious.  Interesting is autism is a Chemical Bending DNA disorder.  Some pediatricians will even prescribe thyroid medications, and this medication will clearly affect these children if they take this before puberty.

Chemical Bending DNA is a serious problem that we are seeing more and more in this young generation.  If your doctor or pediatrician is not familiar with Chemical Bending DNA problems, run, and find someone who is.

 

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Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Himalayan Salt for the Bath!

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS – Telehealth

 

Himalayan Salt for the Bath!

bath

 

The Himalayas, the world’s tallest mountains, extend approximately 2,500 kilometers across Asia, along the border between India and Tibet.

Two-hundred-fifty million years ago, when the planet was a pristine ecosystem, a primal sea existed where these iconic mountains now stand. The Himalayas formed approximately 40-50 million years ago when, due to plate movement, India collided with Eurasia.

 

As the plates clicked into place, the sea evaporated, and its life-sustaining minerals beautifully crystallized beneath the sun’s rays—forming what is known as Himalayan pink salt. Due to these unique conditions, the purest form of sea salt was produced.

 

Himalayan pink salt is believed to be one of the best sources of natural minerals on earth and gets its pink shade from the high mineral and iron content.

 

Himalayan salt is a natural mineral made up of two electrolytes, sodium and chloride. Natural salt is one of the fundamental components for life and all living creatures need a supply for survival.

 

When Himalayan salt dissolves in water, it creates a concentrated, electrically charged blend containing 84 trace minerals that match those found in our body. These traces are not found in commonly used refined, bleached and processed table salt.

 

The reason this ionic, mineral-rich solution is so nourishing is because the sole solution that is created makes the salt the right size to be easily absorbed and metabolized by the cells in the human body.

 

Many people indulge in this therapeutic salt for bathing to align with the phases of the moon. This is known as Moon Bathing or Moon Rhythm Bathing.

 

When the moon is full, our healing potential peaks and mineral absorption is optimized. During a new moon, cleansing is peaked, and the body’s potential to internally and externally cleanse and detoxify peaks.

 

Rejuvenating salt baths have been known for their therapeutic benefits for thousands of years. The first known account was between 460-370 B.C.E when Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” noticed that seawater and salt water naturally cleansed, soothed, and healed the infections on fishermen’s rough, cracked, and swollen hands.

 

Soon after, Hippocrates began to advise his patients to bathe in warmed seawater and called the therapeutic treatment Thalassotherapy. It is common in thalassotherapy spas for several people to share the same bath, as salt is a disinfectant.

 

Simply by adding Himalayan salt to a bath, we can create a rejuvenating, detoxing, and relaxing in-home-spa experience.

 

There are many types of salt we can add to our bath water, however, I recommend Himalayan pink salt, as it is rich in vital minerals that our skin and body readily absorb including, bicarbonate, bromide, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulphate, and zinc.

 

Taking a mineral bath is known as balneotherapy, and the process of absorbing minerals through the skin is known as “dermal absorption.” It is believed that the health benefits of soaking our skin in minerals are greater than if we were to orally consume the minerals.

 

Estimates suggest that every day we are exposed to anywhere between 700,000 and 2.1 million different toxic chemicals from our food, water, the air we breathe, clothing, and personal and household products.

 

Mixing mineral-based salt to water creates a unique ionic solution that helps to extract these toxins from our skin and tissues through a process known as reverse osmosis.

 

Himalayan salt not only pulls waste toxins out of the skin, which block pores and cause a dull complexion, but it also draws water out of the body, preventing water retention.

 

In a regular bath, moisture is extracted from the skin, as our body fluids are a salt solution rather than solely water. However, adding natural sea salt to our bathwater that contains 84 different nutrients that easily absorb into our skin is significantly less drying, and due to the minerals blend, the pH balance of the skin is restored.

 

After bathing, we will immediately notice that our skin feels soft, supple, and has a radiant, healthy glow as our pores and cells have been cleansed and purified from the inside out.

 

Salt has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic qualities, which makes it the perfect antidote to skin

irritations, infections, and rashes. The high mineral content in Himalayan salt helps to lightly plump the outer skin and creates a protective barrier over it.

 

Himalayan salt reduces inflammation, therefore it can help us to wind down and relax after a stressful day, making it easier to achieve a restful sleep.

 

Due to the presence of magnesium and other trace minerals, salt baths can offer relief from cramped, tired, and aching muscles with studies finding that regular salt bathing can alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve rheumatological diseases.

 

Salt air has anti-bacterial, ant-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, so when we naturally inhale the salty water from the bath, the minute particles flow through our respiratory system. The lungs absorb these tiny particles, and this process can alleviate respiratory conditions such as hay fever, coughs, chest and sinus infections, asthma, and allergies.

 

The first and most obvious benefit we notice when soaking in a salt-water bath is that once we immerse ourselves in the bath our worries, anxiety, and stress quickly subside, and peace and harmony are restored.

 

To get the most benefit from this refreshing and energizing salt-water bath, shower and wash with your regular choice of shampoo and soaps prior to soaking in the bath.

 

Mixing elements, such as, air, fire, and water is known to be spiritually cleansing and healing, so open a window a little, light a few candles, and play some relaxing background music.

 

Dry brushing the skin, known as French bathing, removes toxins, loosens dead skin cells, increases circulation, reduces inflammation, increases muscle tone, and opens the pores to intensify the detox process.

 

To remain hydrated during the bath, regularly sip water, which also releases toxins.

 

The concentration of the salt bath should be around the same salt concentration in our body fluids, which is approximately 0.9 percent salt solution.

 

An average bath uses between 25-35 gallons of water, so to achieve a similar balance, mix approximately one ounce of salt per gallon of water, which will work out to around 1.5 to 2 pounds of salt.

 

Fill the bath about four inches deep with hot water, then add the Himalayan pink salt and stir the water until the flakes have dissolved. Then fill the rest of the tub with lukewarm water.

 

It is essential that the water temperature is not too hot or too cold, and it is advisable to bathe in water as close to body temperature as possible, which is approximately 37° Celsius or 97° Fahrenheit. This allows for maximum absorption of the minerals.

 

The salt bath resembles the temperature and ionic make up of the amniotic fluid we are submerged in when in the womb, which is one of the reasons it feels so safe, relaxing, and healing.

 

There is no need to adjust the water temperature once you are in it, as the bath will remain at a constant temperature because of the biophysical composition of the salt, which is so strong that it causes the molecules to move in a constant rhythm.

 

The body’s organ functions resonate with the natural rhythm of the molecules, which recharge the body and mind, reactivate the body’s regulatory mechanism, boosts metabolism, and triggers cellular healing.

 

At least once a week, at the end of the day, soak in a Himalayan salt bath for around 20-30 minutes—the experience is known to be similar to soaking in an ocean of energy.

 

Don’t rinse the skin in the shower at the end of the bath, just lightly towel dry to achieve the optimum benefits.

 

After this therapeutic body, mind, and soul experience, your muscles will be relaxed and may feel a little weaker than usual, so indulge in some well-earned rest, with a good book and a cup of warm herbal tea,

and relax for at least 30 minutes.

 

On regular bath days, you can cleanse and exfoliate the skin with a bar of Himalayan salt soap.

 

Disclaimer: While there are many benefits to taking these baths, to be on the safe side, if you are pregnant, have diabetes, low or high blood pressure, heart, kidney, or liver disease, any other circulation problems, recent or current illness or any other health concerns please consult a doctor or health professional for advice before bathing in salt water.

 

If you feel dizzy, sick, or unwell when taking your bath, slowly get out, rest until you recover—and if concerned, contact a health professional. Sipping on a glass of water may alleviate adverse reactions.

 

When purchasing Himalayan salt, it is advisable to choose an ethical company committed to sustainable sourcing, which entails mining by hand instead of blasting.

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

Health and Wellness Associates

EHS Telehealth

 

The Shamanic View of Mental Illness

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Looking Through a Different Lens

I am reprinting this from an email I received from Malidoma Some, a West African Shaman whom I’ve had the privilege to meet, drive around Boulder with, and work for. Since I am going through what I believe to be a spiritual emergence, I am reading a lot on the topic. I want to continue to educate others. That what we sometimes call depression, bi-polar, psychosis, schizophrenia, might actually be a significant transformation in consciousness and a necessary stage on the path of human development. While this is a long article it’s well worth the read for those interested in the subject. Particularly if you have suffered from a mental illness or treat those with a mental illness. You might also like to read this short post Beyond Medication, Holistic Psychiatry.

 

What a Shaman Sees in a Mental Hospital

In the shamanic view, mental illness signals “the birth of a healer,” explains Malidoma Patrice Somé. Thus, mental disorders are spiritual emergencies, spiritual crises, and need to be regarded as such to aid the healer in being born.

 

What those in the west view as mental illness, the Dagara people regard as “good news from the other world.” The person going through the crisis has been chosen as a medium for a message to the community that needs to be communicated from the spirit realm. Dr. Somé comments:

“Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field”

Mental disorder, behavioral disorder of all kinds, signal the fact that two obviously incompatible energies have merged into the same field.

These disturbances result when the person does not get assistance in dealing with the presence of the energy from the spirit realm.

 

One of the things Dr. Somé encountered when he first came to the United States in 1980 for graduate study, was how this country deals with mental illness. When a fellow student was sent to a mental institute due to ‘nervous depression,’ Dr. Somé went to visit him.

“I was so shocked. That was the first time I was brought face to face with what is done here to people exhibiting the same symptoms I’ve seen in my village. “

What struck Dr. Somé was that the attention given to such symptoms was based on pathology, on the idea that the condition is something that needs to stop. This was in complete opposition to the way his culture views such a situation. As he looked around the stark ward at the patients, some in straitjackets, some zoned out on medications, others screaming, he observed to himself:

“So this is how the healers who are attempting to be born are treated in this culture. What a loss! What a loss that a person who is finally being aligned with a power from the other world is just being wasted”

Another way to say this, which may make more sense to the Western mind, is that we in the west are not trained in how to deal with, or even taught to acknowledge, the existence of psychic phenomena, the spiritual world. In fact, psychic abilities are denigrated. When energies from the spiritual world emerge in a Western psyche, that individual is completely unequipped to integrate them or even recognize what is happening. The result can be terrifying. Without the proper context for, and assistance, in dealing with the breakthrough from another level of reality, for all practical purposes, the person is insane. Heavy dosing with anti-psychotic drugs compounds the problem and prevents the integration that could lead to soul development and growth in the individual who has received these energies.

 

In the mental ward, Dr. Somé saw a lot of ‘beings’ hanging around the patients, ‘entities’ that are invisible to most people but that shamans and psychics are able to see. “They were causing the crisis in these people,” he says. It appeared to him that these beings were trying to get the medications and their effects out of the bodies of the people the beings were trying to merge with, and were increasing the patients’ pain in the process. “The beings were acting almost like some kind of excavator in the energy field of people. They were really fierce about that. The people they were doing that to were just screaming and yelling,” he said. He couldn’t stay in that environment and had to leave.

 

In the Dagara tradition, the community helps the person reconcile the energies of both worlds–“the world of the spirit that he or she is merged with, and the village and community.” That person is able then to serve as a bridge between the worlds and help the living with the information and healing they need. Thus, the spiritual crisis ends with the birth of another healer. “The other world’s relationship with our world is one of sponsorship,” Dr. Somé explains.

 

“More often than not, the knowledge and skills that arise from this kind of merger are a knowledge or a skill that is provided directly from the other world”

The beings who were increasing the pain of the inmates on the mental hospital ward were actually attempting to merge with the inmates in order to get messages through to this world. The people they had chosen to merge with were getting no assistance in learning how to be a bridge between the worlds and the beings’ attempts to merge were thwarted. The result was the sustaining of the initial disorder of energy and the aborting of the birth of a healer.

Drugs.jpg

Medication only compounds the problem and prevents the integration of the spirit.

 

“The Western culture has consistently ignored the birth of the healer,” states Dr. Somé.

“Consequently, there will be a tendency from the other world to keep trying as many people as possible in an attempt to get somebody’s attention. They have to try harder.”

The spirits are drawn to people whose senses have not been anesthetized. “The sensitivity is pretty much read as an invitation to come in,” he notes.

Those who develop so-called mental disorders are those who are sensitive, which is viewed in Western culture as over sensitivity. Indigenous cultures don’t see it that way and, as a result, sensitive people don’t experience themselves as overly sensitive . In the west, “it is the overload of the culture they’re in that is just wrecking them,” observes Dr. Somé. The frenetic pace, the bombardment of the senses, and the violent energy that characterize Western culture can overwhelm sensitive people.

Schizophrenia and Foreign Energy

With schizophrenia, there is a special “receptivity to a flow of images and information, which cannot be controlled,” stated Dr. Somé.

 

“When this kind of rush occurs at a time that is not personally chosen, and particularly when it comes with images that are scary and contradictory, the person goes into a frenzy”

 

What is required in this situation is first to separate the person’s energy from the extraneous foreign energies, by using shamanic practice (what is known as a ‘sweep’) to clear the latter out of the individual’s aura. With the clearing of their energy field, the person no longer picks up a flood of information and so no longer has a reason to be scared and disturbed, explains Dr. Somé.

Then it is possible to help the person align with the energy of the spirit being attempting to come through from the other world, and give birth to the healer. The blockage of that emergence is what creates problems. “The energy of the healer is a high-voltage energy,” he observes.

 

“When it is blocked, it just burns up the person. It’s like a short-circuit. Fuses are blowing. This is why it can be really scary, and I understand why this culture prefers to confine these people. Here they are yelling and screaming, and they’re put into a straitjacket. That’s a sad image.”

 

Again, the shamanic approach is to work on aligning the energies so there is no blockage, ‘fuses’ aren’t blowing, and the person can become the healer they are meant to be.

It needs to be noted at this point, however, that not all of the spirit beings that enter a person’s energetic field are there for the purposes of promoting healing. There are negative energies as well, which are undesirable presences in the aura. In those cases, the shamanic approach is to remove them from the aura, rather than work to align the discordant energies.

 

Alex: Crazy in the USA, Healer in Africa

To test his belief that the shamanic view of mental illness holds true in the Western world as well as in Indigenous cultures, Dr. Somé took a mental patient back to Africa with him, to his village. He says:

“I was prompted by my own curiosity to find out whether there’s truth in the universality that mental illness could be connected with an alignment with a being from another world”

 

Alex was an 18-year-old American who had suffered a psychotic break when he was 14. He had hallucinations, was suicidal, and went through cycles of dangerously severe depression. He was in a mental hospital and had been given a lot of drugs, but nothing was helping. “The parents had done everything–unsuccessfully,” says Dr. Somé. “They didn’t know what else to do.”

With their permission, Dr. Somé took their son to Africa. “After eight months there, Alex had become quite normal,” Dr. Somé reports. “He was even able to participate with healers in the business of healing; sitting with them all day long and helping them, assisting them in what they were doing with their clients… He spent about four years in my village.” Alex stayed by choice, not because he needed more healing. He felt, “much safer in the village than in America.”

To bring his energy and that of the being from the spiritual realm into alignment, Alex went through a shamanic ritual designed for that purpose, although it was slightly different from the one used with the Dagara people. “He wasn’t born in the village, so something else applied. But the result was similar, even though the ritual was not literally the same,” explains Dr. Somé. The fact that aligning the energy worked to heal Alex demonstrated to Dr. Somé that the connection between other beings and mental illness is indeed universal.

After the ritual, Alex began to share the messages that the spirit being had for this world. Unfortunately, the people he was talking to didn’t speak English (Dr. Somé was away at that point). The whole experience led, however, to Alex’s going to college to study psychology. He returned to the United States after four years because “he discovered that all the things that he needed to do had been done, and he could then move on with his life.”

The last that Dr. Somé heard was that Alex was in graduate school in psychology at Harvard. No one had thought he would ever be able to complete undergraduate studies, much less get an advanced degree.

Dr. Somé sums up what Alex’s mental illness was all about: “He was reaching out. It was an emergency call. His job and his purpose was to be a healer. He said no one was paying attention to that.”

After seeing how well the shamanic approach worked for Alex, Dr. Somé concluded that spirit beings are just as much an issue in the west as in his community in Africa.

 

“Yet the question still remains, the answer to this problem must be found here, instead of having to go all the way overseas to seek the answer. There has to be a way in which a little bit of attention beyond the pathology of this whole experience leads to the possibility of coming up with the proper ritual to help people.”

 

Dr. Malidoma Patrice Somé.

Dr. Malidoma Patrice Somé.

Longing for Spiritual Connection

A common thread that Dr. Somé has noticed in “mental”  disorders in the west is “a very ancient ancestral energy that has been placed in stasis, that finally is coming out in the person.” His job then is to trace it back, to go back in time to discover what that spirit is. In most cases, the spirit is connected to nature, especially with mountains or big rivers, he says.

In the case of mountains, as an example to explain the phenomenon, “it’s a spirit of the mountain that is walking side by side with the person and, as a result, creating a time-space distortion that is affecting the person caught in it.”  What is needed is a merger or alignment of the two energies, “so the person and the mountain spirit become one.” Again, the shaman conducts a specific ritual to bring about this alignment.

Dr. Somé believes that he encounters this situation so often in the United States because:

“Most of the fabric of this country is made up of the energy of the machine, and the result of that is the disconnection and the severing of the past. You can run from the past, but you can’t hide from it”

 

The ancestral spirit of the natural world comes visiting. “It’s not so much what the spirit wants as it is what the person wants,” he says. “The spirit sees in us a call for something grand, something that will make life meaningful, and so the spirit is responding to that.”

That call, which we don’t even know we are making, reflects “a strong longing for a profound connection, a connection that transcends materialism and possession of things and moves into a tangible cosmic dimension. Most of this longing is unconscious, but for spirits, conscious or unconscious doesn’t make any difference.” They respond to either.

As part of the ritual to merge the mountain and human energy, those who are receiving the ‘mountain energy’ are sent to a mountain area of their choice, where they pick up a stone that calls to them. They bring that stone back for the rest of the ritual  and then keep it as a companion; some even carry it around with them. “The presence of the stone does a lot in tuning the perceptive ability of the person,” notes Dr. Somé.

 

“They receive all kinds of information that they can make use of, so it’s like they get some tangible guidance from the other world as to how to live their life.”

 

When it is the ‘river energy,’ those being called go to the river and, after speaking to the river spirit, find a water stone to bring back for the same kind of ritual as with the mountain spirit.

“People think something extraordinary must be done in an extraordinary situation like this,” he says. That’s not usually the case. Sometimes it is as simple as carrying a stone.

HoldingRock

Simply connecting with a mountain or river spirit through an artifact helps us align.

 

A Sacred Ritual Approach to Mental Illness

One of the gifts a shaman can bring to the Western world is to help people rediscover ritual, which is so sadly lacking. “The abandonment of ritual can be devastating. From the spiritual view, ritual is inevitable and necessary if one is to live,” Dr. Somé writes in Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community.

“To say that ritual is needed in the industrialized world is an understatement. We have seen in my own people that it is probably impossible to live a sane life without it”

Dr. Somé did not feel that the rituals from his traditional village could simply be transferred to the west, so over his years of shamanic work here, he has designed rituals that meet the very different needs of this culture. Although the rituals change according to the individual or the group involved, he finds that there is a need for certain rituals in general.

One of these involves helping people discover that their distress is coming from the fact that they are “called by beings from the other world to cooperate with them in doing healing work.” Ritual allows them to move out of the distress and accept that calling.

Another ritual need relates to initiation. In Indigenous cultures all over the world, young people are initiated into adulthood when they reach a certain age. The lack of such initiation in the west is part of the crisis that people are in here, says Dr. Somé. He urges communities to bring together “the creative juices of people who have had this kind of experience, in an attempt to come up with some kind of an alternative ritual that would at least begin to put a dent in this kind of crisis.”

Another ritual that repeatedly speaks to the needs of those coming to him for help entails making a bonfire, and then putting into the bonfire “items that are symbolic of issues carried inside the individuals… It might be the issues of anger  and frustration against an ancestor who has left a legacy of murder and enslavement or anything, things that the descendant has to live with,” he explains.

“If these are approached as things that are blocking the human imagination, the person’s life purpose, and even the person’s view of life as something that can improve, then it makes sense to begin thinking in terms of how to turn that blockage into a roadway that can lead to something more creative and more fulfilling.”

The example of issues with ancestors touches on rituals designed by Dr. Somé that address a serious dysfunction in Western society and in the process ‘trigger enlightenment’ in participants. These are ancestral rituals, and the dysfunction they are aimed at is the mass turning-of-the-back on ancestors. Some of the spirits trying to come through, as described earlier, may be “ancestors who want to merge with a descendant in an attempt to heal what they weren’t able to do while in their physical body.”

“Unless the relationship between the living and the dead is in balance, chaos ensues,” Dr. Somé says.

 

“The Dagara believe that, if such an imbalance exists, it is the duty of the living to heal their ancestors. If these ancestors are not healed, their sick energy  will haunt the souls and psyches of those who are responsible for helping them.”

 

The rituals focus on healing the relationship with our ancestors, both specific issues of an individual ancestor and the larger cultural issues contained in our past. Dr. Somé has seen extraordinary healing occur at these rituals.

Taking a sacred ritual approach to mental illness, rather than regarding the person as a pathological case, gives the person affected–and indeed the community at large–the opportunity to begin looking at it from that vantage point too, which leads to “a whole plethora of opportunities and ritual initiative that can be very, very beneficial to everyone present,” states Dr. Somé.

 

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What to do when Anger tries to Get the Best of You?

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What to do when Anger tries to Get the Best of You?

anger

 

What to do when Anger tries to Get the Best of You.

 

A brass chandelier looms over my kitchen table.

It waits for me to finish my work, stand up, and meet it with my cranium. It’s a jarring blow.

 

First comes pain. Then comes anger.

 

That’s right. I get angry at a lamp.

 

I’ve had plenty of contact with that fixture over the years, so when I bashed my head for the third time one day, I thought little of it. Upon later reflection, however, I realized there was something special about that particular incident. Let me explain.

 

You see, my head-bashing routine is like a controlled experiment for my temper. My reaction is more or less the only variable. And my reaction is not typically one I’m proud of.

 

In my defense, I never hit back. Instead I clench and stew with my blood boiling until I realize that I am, in fact, angry at a light fixture. But this realization doesn’t come until anger successfully infests my mind and leaves my composure in tatters. Not ideal.

 

“The other vices drive the mind on,” wrote the Stoic philosopher Seneca. “Anger hurls it headlong. […] Other vices revolt from good sense, this one from sanity. […] And it makes no difference how great the source is from which [anger] springs; for from the most trivial origins it reaches massive proportions.”

 

Anger hurls the mind headlong. Under its spell, we become senseless beasts.

 

And it doesn’t take much to set us off. A stubbed toe. A barking dog. A paper jam. In the movie “Office Space,” Peter and the gang steal the company copier—infamous for getting jammed—and demolish it with baseball bats. When angry, this is our level of mental maturity.

 

Can anger be willed away? Seneca thought so. He wrote that anger should be “driven” and advised us to “do battle” with this destructive emotion.

 

But here’s where I part ways with the great Stoic. This struggle to suppress emotion—though it could avert some embarrassing displays—only creates more internal strife. We get angry and then feel guilty about getting angry.

 

But the truth is, we all get angry—even the Dalai Lama.

 

When asked if he ever gets angry, the Dalai Lama responded in typical fashion: “Oh, yes, of course,” he said, “I’m a human being. Generally speaking, if a human being never shows anger, then I think something’s wrong. He’s not right in the brain.”(2)

 

If that doesn’t give you permission to accept your anger, I’m not sure what will. But that doesn’t mean anger should be ignored. There’s a world of difference between noticed anger and unnoticed anger. The first can spoil a few moments. The second, a few days.

 

There’s an art to noticing anger. Everyone has their own warning signs: a flushed face, a contracted abdomen, a clenched jaw. These physical symptoms carry the implicit message, “Ah, I’m getting angry.” Try it out. It’s actually hard to stay angry when you’re fully aware of this process.

 

“The best way of dealing with these hindrances is to be aware of them, to be mindful,” recommends the meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein. “Sit back and notice ‘anger, anger.’ Not identifying with it, not condemning oneself for being angry. Simply watch.” (3)

 

The method described by Goldstein is mindfulness in a nutshell: a non-judgmental watching of phenomena arising in the mind. When this attitude is cultivated, we are less likely to be swirled away by a torrent of thoughts and emotions. The chain is broken, and we can settle back to a relaxed state.

 

Yet this goes beyond mere theory. Neuroscientists have, in fact, examined this phenomenon.

 

According to their research, a regular mindfulness practice rewires the brain for increased emotional stability. In brain regions that govern emotional regulation—the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex—experienced meditators had more gray matter than controls. And the amygdala, the stress center of our brains, actually shrinks through meditation. (4)

 

So through mindfulness practice, the brain gets rewired for less emotional reactivity. Very cool.

 

This leads back to my last encounter with the chandelier. As I suggested, this encounter was different than the others. When I blundered into the lamp, I felt the blunt sensation of pressure radiating through my skull. I watched it closely. The pain, of course, didn’t last for long.

 

And that was that. No destructive impulse arose. Not even one fantasy of tearing it out, Hulk style, from the ceiling.

 

The results of this experiment have left me convinced. I’m not a long-term meditator, yet it seems I’ve already rewired my brain. And thankfully, some of my temper has gone extinct.

 

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The 4 Words holding us back from Happiness.

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The 4 Words holding us back from Happiness.

 

Embracing the Freedom that comes when we Stop Asking, “Are we there Yet?”

 

 rwethereyet

 

Last night, I had the pleasure of enjoying dinner and a “few” cocktails with a very dear old friend of mine.

Because of life and its happenings, this person and I had not seen each other or really been in touch for a little over six years, but our connection was still fierce.

 

When we knew each other way back when, this was someone who I viewed with great admiration—a man with truly staggering ambition as well as genuine insight into the sensitivities of the world. Our conversations in the past have been filled with lighthearted laughter and deep soul searching. I was excited to see him again and relight the fire that our friendship possessed so many years ago.

 

Lately, my run-ins with old friends have inspired me and stirred up the pot in my mind with fresh ideas; I knew this interaction would do exactly the same. I pulled up to the restaurant and walked inside. Immediately, I was greeted with the warmest embrace and the sound of a familiar voice in my ear. He found me.

 

Right off the bat, we started catching up: How is so-and-so? What is so-and-so up to? It was exhilarating to hear about all of these people I once lived with and to see friends of mine thriving in their lives as travelers, doctors, writers, and up-and-coming celebrities.

 

Slowly, our conversation delved deeper and deeper into our latest thoughts. As a writer—a published writer I might add—my friend has a way with words that draws a conversation out smoothly and with great ease. These are my favorite kinds of friends. It did not take long for our talk to approach a point that has been circling in my consciousness for quite some time now.

 

There’s a message that the universe, or something like it, has been sending me—by any means necessary. Finding it in books, street art, social media posts, and conversations with old and new friends, I have felt so bombarded by this message over the last several weeks that it has finally hit me that it’s probably time I listen.

 

Sitting across the table from my friend in this dimly lit booth of a train car-themed cocktail bar, we locked eyes as he said to me, “The key is to be present.” I couldn’t believe it. I wondered how long this point had been trying to get my attention. I looked back at him and said, “I can’t believe you just said that,” and from there, our conversation took off.

 

So many profound thoughts came to us in this discussion. Through the weaving and twisting conversation, I walked away with one important message. You see, my friend and I are both at very different stages in our lives. A lifelong goal of his has recently come to fruition; he is a published author and has the opportunity to travel and live his dream. I, on the other hand, am at a starting point. I have realized that my personal passion is to travel, and although I know my career will one day require my full attention, that day is not today. My direction is changing, while he is reaching his next highest peak.

 

But regardless of those differences, we are both completely aware that none of that really matters. Why? Because we are not our careers. He is not a published author, and I am not a waitress. Those are roles that we play, and they are important and necessary, but they do not make us who we are. At any given moment, our jobs, our careers, or our passions can change in the blink of an eye…and what then?

 

All we will have is this moment, all we will know is the person we are in the present. But what if we do not know them? What if we become so engrossed in the roles that we play that we become doctors or lawyers or CEOs, and we are successful and well-established and rich and powerful, but one day we don’t want to do that anymore? And what if one day we realize this but because we haven’t paid attention to the person inside of us that isn’t just a doctor, but is also a writer or a yogi or a traveler or an artist, we don’t know how to be anything else?

 

By completely identifying ourselves with the roles that we play, by considering myself inferior because I’m a waitress or by seeing himself superior because he’s an author, we are losing ourselves to our roles. We are not being present with our true selves because we are seeing these roles as who we are. But I’m not a waitress—I’m Erin.

 

And, when I look at it that way and take a look at what that provides me in the current moment, it’s actually perfectly aligned with who I want to be—someone who loves travel, who has the freedom to explore California, and the freedom to explore myself. I want to be on my feet and constantly meeting new and interesting people. Those are the things that I want at this moment, and I have all of them. For that, I am grateful.

 

When we stop asking, “Are we there yet?” with every decision we make, when we stop imagining that there is some finish line out there somewhere in the distance that we will reach, when we stop looking forward to our happiness as something that hasn’t even happened yet, we can take a moment like this—a moment with a dear friend in a train car bar with a margarita—and we can say:

 

“Yes, we are here now.”

 

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How Friends Impact Your Health

How Friends Impact Your Health

How Friends Impact Your Health

 

There is a strong connection between friendship and health. Recall the happiest times of your life, and those memories likely include friends celebrating with you. Just as important, true friends support you through the bad times that happen in every life, from everyday disappointments to the heartbreak of loss. That’s what good friends do.

Friendship enriches our existence and makes life’s journey more enjoyable. Friends give us a sense of belonging and bolster our self-esteem. Yet, our closest friends will “tell it like it is” and encourage us to change bad habits or adopt good ones. Best friends assume the role of trusted confidante. Who better to listen to your rant in a non-judgmental way than your best friend? Having someone with whom you can talk about anything promotes healthy stress management.

Even self-described loners need interaction with people. Appropriate doses of companionship are especially helpful to prevent loneliness if you live by yourself. The never-married or single-again adult can too easily fall into the trap of staying home too much and eating solitary dinners off a tray in front of the TV. A tendency toward reclusivity may become more pronounced after retirement. Finding one still wearing pajamas mid-day is a red flag that it’s time to get out of a rut.

Many people carry friendships from high school or college into adulthood. New friendships are formed with compatible individuals met through work or after moves to new neighborhoods. Sometimes, life changes—increased workloads, rearing children, caring for aging parents—interfere with existing friendships, and we let them slip out of our lives. Career moves may require relocation and leaving friends behind.

Extroverts—naturally outgoing and sociable— find it easy to meet people and form new friendships. They are often described as, “She never meets a stranger,” or “He makes friends everywhere he goes.”

The naturally shy, socially anxious, or introverted person does not meet people or form new attachments easily. Social events are often avoided. Small talk is dreaded like torture. Without coaxing from others to join in or a personal effort to overcome inhibitions and fears, this individual may let friendship slide—perhaps forever.

It takes effort to make friends and nurture friendships. While social networking can provide connections and relieve loneliness to some extent, making 100 new “friends” online does not take the place of face time in offline relationships. Meeting new people and discovering common interests and values requires getting off the sofa and going out there….Go where you will find other people doing things you are likely to enjoy.

If you like to read, join a book discussion group. Think about those things you really enjoy—cooking, gardening, crafts, music, live theater—and search for groups that share your interests. Volunteer your time with a charitable organization where you’ll come together with others whose compassion for these issues matches your own. Take a continuing education class at your local community college—inexpensive, short-termed and a broad variety of topics. Learning something new enhances conversation.

Friendships—whether existing or new—must be nurtured to last and grow. In order to have (and keep) friends in your life, you must also be a good friend. Forge a positive attitude, practice tolerance, and don’t be judgmental. Friendship is a two-way street, and both parties in the relationship must be willing to give, not just take. Cultivate active listening skills. (Some of the best listeners are those who don’t like to talk, but make a great audience for the more talkative.)

Cultivating and cherishing friendships can affect anyone’s longevity. A ten-year Australian study of 1500 senior citizens by Flinders University’s Centre for Ageing Studies found that the participants who had a large support group of friends outlived those with the least friends by 22%. As one’s social connections decrease, the risk for mortality increases. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, states the mortality risk is nearly as great as that created by smoking.

So…fill the friendship “prescription” for good health. It’s a renewable prescription for life!

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The High Cost of Ignoring Your Intuition

The High Cost of Ignoring Your Intuition

 

The High Cost of Ignoring Your Intuition

 

Cindy met Bill through her tennis club. He was charming, good-looking, and he swept her off her feet in a whirlwind courtship. Pushing for a quick marriage, he proposed after only two months. Though she felt a few flutters of anxiety, Cindy accepted, hoping for true love. Six months later, she deeply regretted the haste. Bill turned out to be both alcoholic and verbally abusive, with the threat of physical abuse lurking in the volatile atmosphere. Frightened, she moved out and filed for divorce. Later, she reflected on how she had gotten herself in such a painful place.

Something deep inside Cindy had sent up warning flares, telling her that she was moving too fast. But she’d plunged ahead, repressing her own better judgment, which was trying to get her to slow down. Why had she ignored the signals?

“I was afraid that if I told him I wanted to slow down, he might lose interest. He was so passionate, so full of life, and I felt so flattered that this great looking guy wanted me. All the women liked him. It wasn’t hard to imagine that he might drop me and move on to someone more willing.”

The high cost of ignoring your own signals? High-risk relationships and the likelihood of divorce. But most of all, the cost is to your own self-esteem, because the bottom line is that you let yourself down. You failed at your most basic job in life: taking care of you.

These days, Cindy is reluctant to accept even the most seemingly safe dates. She doesn’t trust herself, fearful of repeating the past and making another disastrous mistake. Self-forgiveness is the hardest when we know we didn’t protect ourselves.

The lesson is simple: never let your desire for a particular person override your common sense. When your gut is screaming at you, listen, honor what it is telling you, and proceed with caution. And this goes for any area of your life, not just relationships – trust your intuition, go with your gut.

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How to Recover From an Affair – When You’re the Cheater

How to Recover From an Affair – When You’re the Cheater

cheater

I addressed people whose spouses have cheated on them and tried to offer some guidelines for surviving the crisis. In this post I’d like to speak to those on the other side of the equation, namely, the cheaters. In particular I will be speaking to folks who have already been caught and who would like to save the marriage – if you are planning to leave the marriage anyway, that is a whole different kettle of fish, and if you haven’t been caught, you have a major moral decision to make. Perhaps we can tackle this in a future post.

What are the things you need to know in order to repair the damage of your extremely poor choice? Note that I will not be mincing words here – if you cheated on your spouse, you did something wrong. Certainly you can change and seek forgiveness – we all make mistakes –but it was a mistake nonetheless. So that is our first point:

1. Take responsibility

If you are serious about saving your marriage, you will have to accept that you acted in error. Unfaithful spouses who blame their partner – even a little bit – for the affair are not going to be successful at rebuilding the relationship. (In a relationship that is already characterized by emotional abuse, the cheated-on spouse might be accustomed to being mistreated by their partner and then manipulated into accepting responsibility for it. This does not mean that the cheater is going to succeed in saving the relationship without taking responsibility. What it actually means is there wasn’t really a true relationship to save in the first place.)

It doesn’t matter if your husband was distant. It doesn’t matter if your wife was not being sexual with you. Nobody forced you to have an affair; there are many ways to deal with problems in your marriage (couples counseling, anyone?), and you made the choice to pursue this one. Only once you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions can you hope to achieve forgiveness from your spouse and re-enter into a balanced relationship. If you are still saying or thinking, “Well,if s/he hadn’t…” – you are not ready to fix your marriage.

2. Take appropriate steps to provide security to your spouse

I am assuming that – having accepted full responsibility for the infidelity – you have already apologized profusely, and will continue to do so for a while. That is certainly necessary, but not sufficient. Actions speak louder than words; if you say you’re sorry but keep your affair partner “as a friend,” you are not respecting your spouse. Your spouse needs an extra dose of commitment, trustworthiness, and respect at this point. You do this by cutting off all communications with your affair partner – all communications– to show your spouse that you value him/her above anyone and anything else. If you are concerned about the feelings of the person who you will be cutting off, then you are unconcerned about the feelings of your spouse.

This might become pretty drastic. If the person in question is a co-worker, you may need to change jobs. If it was a neighbor, you may seriously have to consider moving – if your marriage is that important to you, that is.

There are other important steps to take, all of which might very well be hard for you. You need to be punctilious about letting your spouse know your whereabouts. There are many apps these days that allow you to be located by your spouse at all times via GPS. If your spouse finds this reassuring, you should give him/her that reassurance without hesitation. Likewise, your spouse should have full access to your phone, texts, e-mails, Facebook account, and anything else s/he asks for. If you are concerned about your own need for privacy, then you are unconcerned about your spouse’s need for security at this time.

3. Take time

Even once you have accepted responsibility, apologized, and properly addressed your spouse’s need for security and respect, it will take time. You can’t expect that your spouse will be ready to forgive and forget just as soon as you check off all the things on the list. You probably have caused significant emotional pain, and that will take time to heal. If at any time you find yourself wanting to say, “Can’t you just get over it already?” or, “I said I’m sorry!” you need to check in with yourself and think about whether you are really seeking forgiveness, or demanding it. You are not entitled to forgiveness; it is something you must earn. And your spouse is not obligated to offer it. If you are truly remorseful and invested in repairing your relationship, that means giving your partner the time and space to recover at his/her own pace. (However, if you find yourself in a situation where your spouse is throwing your mistake in your face on a daily basis, or holding the grudge for years, professional help may be necessary.)

This article is just a short accounting of what a person who was unfaithful must do to save their marriage; it is not an exhaustive guide. Certainly seeking out a qualified marriage counselor would be of benefit for anyone in this situation. An affair does not have to mean the end of a marriage – but without appropriate repentance on the part of the guilty party, it is likely that it will be.

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Bi-polar of Shizophrenic

bipolar

What are signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder and of schizophrenia?

 

To qualify for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, a person must experience at least one manic episode. Symptoms of mania include

 

elevated, expansive, or irritable mood;

racing thoughts;

pressured speech (rapid, excessive, and frenzied speaking);

decreased need for sleep;

grandiose ideas (for example, false beliefs of superiority or failures);

tangential speech (repeatedly changing topics to topics that are hardly related);

restlessness/increased goal-directed activity; and

impulsivity, poor judgment, or engaging in risky activity (like spending sprees, promiscuity, or excess desire for sex).

While a major depressive episode is not required for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, depression often alternates with manic episodes and tends to occur more often than mania in many people.

 

Symptoms of schizophrenia may include

 

delusions (beliefs not at all based in reality),

hallucinations (seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting something that is not really there),

catatonia,

negative symptoms, like not talking (mutism, low motivation, and movement), and

disorganized speech or behavior.

 

What tests do health care professionals use to diagnose bipolar disorder and schizophrenia?

Since there is no one test that determines that someone has bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, health care professionals diagnose these conditions by gathering medical, family, and mental health information. The mental health professional will also either perform a physical examination or request that the individual’s primary care doctor do so, including lab tests to assess the person’s general health and whether he or she has mental health symptoms that are due to a physical condition.

 

 

What are treatments and medications for bipolar disorder and for schizophrenia?

 

People with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can expect their mental health professionals to consider several interventions, including medications, psychotherapies, and lifestyle advice. Medication treatment of bipolar disorder tends to address relieving already existing symptoms of the illness and preventing symptoms from returning. For schizophrenia, medications have been found to be effective in treating the positive symptoms (for example, delusions or hallucinations).

 

Antipsychotic medications that treat the positive symptoms of schizophrenia and the manic and mixed symptoms of bipolar disorder include olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), ziprasidone (Geodon), aripiprazole (Abilify), paliperidone (Invega), asenapine (Saphris), iloperidone (Fanapt), lurasidone (Latuda), and brexpiprazole (Rexulti). Older medications, like haloperidol (Haldol), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), and thioridazine (Mellaril), are more likely to cause muscular side effects, rarely one that can be permanent.

 

Mood stabilizers like lithium (Lithobid) and antiseizure (anticonvulsant) medications like divalproex (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol XR), and lamotrigine (Lamictal) treat active manic or mixed symptoms and those symptoms from returning. Antidepressants are the primary medical treatment for the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications like fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), vortioxetine (Trintellix), and vilazodone (Viibryd); serotonergic/adrenergic medications (SNRIs) like venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and levomilnacipran (Fetzima), as well as bupropion (Wellbutrin), a dopaminergic antidepressant.

 

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can treat people whose symptoms of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are severe and have inadequately responded to psychotherapies and a number of medication trials. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can treat resistant depression, as well.

 

Talk therapy (psychotherapy) is an important part of helping individuals living with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia achieve the highest level of functioning possible by improving ways of coping with the illness. Assertive community treatment (ACT) involves members of the treatment team having daily meetings with the schizophrenia sufferer in community settings (for example, at home, work, or otherwise in the community) rather than just in an office or hospital.

 

What is the prognosis of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia?

Bipolar disorder sufferers tend to have mood problems up to 60% of the time but can be helped with psychotherapy and medication. Schizophrenia has a more difficult course, less so with treatment. People with either condition are at risk for developing medical problems, other mental health disorders, taking their own life, or otherwise dying younger.

 

 

 

 

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