1. Depression Treatment and Relapse

    January 17, 2014

    Depression Treatment and Relapse

    Depression, much like any other mental illness, responds well to certain treatments and not so well to others.  This is true for both: therapy and medications, an anti-depression or anti-anxiety medication may work for one person but fail for another. There is also the possibility of a relapse to the negative feelings, especially if the treatment plan is not followed.   There has been a recent study that discusses adolescents and the likelihood for a relapse with “depressive” feelings, and it discusses various approaches as a means of intervention. Among the examples are:

    1. Switching to another medication, such as anti-depressants Paxil, Celexa, Effexor, or Prozac
    2. A cognitive behavior therapy approach, which places emphasis on problem solving and behavioral change management.
    3. A switch to Venlafaxine as well as engaging in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)

    The variations of treatment approaches for depression fall under the criteria of therapy and medicine essentially. More importantly, the common symptoms that are addressed happen to be the management of stress and strengthening of problem-solving skills.  The challenge of depression isn’t so much treating it, but how long it has to be treated, and that is something that is vastly misunderstood by many.

    To consider depression a temporary problem is to lack a true understanding to the condition. To claim that the feelings diminish and gradually become easier to control is a realistic observation, but depression never fully goes away, at least for some.  Individuals learn to have a better grasp of control over it, and this control allows them to manage the symptoms of their condition.  When an individual learns exactly what depression is for them, and learns how to manage it, the effect it can have on their life is a sense of control and renewed happiness.

    Relapses with Depression are not Relapses


    As mentioned above, a relapse with depression isn’t necessarily a relapse. It is usually inefficient management of stress, and the need to realign with proper coping techniques. When you think of the word relapse, you think of an addiction or a habit that is put to rest, and then resurfaces during a difficult time. Depression is a feeling, not a habit, and the due to this classification it has to be handled as such.

    The approach of chemical balance through various medicine techniques is one way of trying to balance the feeling from a scientific point of view, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But from the perspective of thought and problem solving, depression is learning the most effective way to manage stress and deal with the stressors that drive the feeling of despair.

    Depression is something that needs to be constantly monitored in regard to situations or circumstances that create the feeling of depression. It is a life-long challenge that is never essentially “perfected”, but it is managed in a strategic way that keeps the discomfort at a minimum. To fall back into a feeling of depression is simply a situation that needs to be revised in regard to coping skills.  An effective approach toward managing depression understands that it is a lifelong condition, not something that falls under the confines of resurfacing as what science labels a “relapse”.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dskley/9484448937/

  2. Prescribing Brain Surgery for Depression

    January 14, 2014

    Brain Surgery for Depression

    Depression is a condition that is sometimes impossible to fully cure, and it can be quite difficult to manage. Some individuals are very treatment-resistant; among patients with depression, it has been reported that 10-20% of them will not get better with standard therapy/medications treatments.

    With a rate of failure reaching into the 20th percentile, the scientists are looking for ways to help improve the quality of life for those individuals who are treatment-resistant. This has led to a procedure that involves surgery on the brain. Medical researchers from the University of Toronto reported the surgery on the brain as having a 60% rate of success, and it is considered the equivalent of a process that is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. The procedure is known as DBS, or deep brain stimulation, and it targets the area of the brain that stimulates neural activity. The surgery involves drilling into the brain and placing the equivalent of a pacemaker within (this allows electrodes to be activated in the given area of the brain). The stimulation is meant to cause relief and tame negative feelings. The surgery is done while the patient is conscious to make sure that no brain damage is being inflicted during the procedure.

    While in theory the success rate is fair, the surgery is something that will likely have quite a bit of controversy towards it. People who have suffered with severe depression for all of their lives may be at a point where they are willing to try anything, but people who are still confident in being able to handle the condition on their own may feel the idea of surgery as extreme and unnecessary. For the individual that has given up hope on their condition, this may very well be a viable option, but otherwise the idea of surgery is something the typical individual wants to avoid. The idea of someone drilling into the skull and stimulating areas with electric current isn’t something that should be viewed with a sense of calm; it usually generates an awkward and fearful emotion.

    While the process itself has been proven to help up to 60% of the individuals, it is likely going to be something that takes time to be accepted.  This is on account of the sensitivity held toward surgery and processes of such severe nature in general. An individual being treated for depression is going to be in a position of wanting to feel control; they want to believe they are doing all they can to beat this mental ailment. When an individual is led to take the approach of surgery, the moment can be defined as a moment when all internal hope has been abandoned, and they simply want to see if a possible resolution exists for them.

    Surgery may have complications and side effects, and for that reason, it is a solution that unfortunately has a lot of discomfort surrounding it. Surgery and the concept of uncomfortable doubt tend to be two ideas that go together. While improving the feelings that coordinate with depression are showing positive strides from the perspective of numbers, it’s hard to sell many people to the idea of complex surgery.  The important thing to consider is that if the surgical approach continues to deliver positive outcomes, the feeling of it becoming a more acceptable solution will develop on its own time. The important thing to consider is that if the surgical process is delivering results that an individual was otherwise unable to acquire, then the amount of good that is coming out of it will lead it to being viewed in a more positive light over time.

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  3. Can Alcohol and Drugs Cure Your Depression?

    January 12, 2014

    Can Alcohol and Drugs Cure Your Depression?

    by Dominic Bursnell

    If you are depressed and anxious, will you discuss the issue with your closest friends or would you rather go the bar and drink yourself into a stupor? You want to sleep but the anxiety is keeping you from relaxing enough. You want oblivion and you seek the solace of drugs. Individuals have varying thresholds: for some the smallest amount of stress can make them depressed, while others take every problem with a grain of salt. However, most individuals are vulnerable to negative circumstances like the loss of a job, a broken relationship or a poor job evaluation.

    Comorbidity of Depression and Addiction

    • The link between depression and addiction holds true for nicotine and alcohol, the more traditional substances for addiction that is easily available. Nobody knows why smokers tend to be more depressed than non-smokers but people who smoke assume they will better with nicotine. Smoking does not cure depression but creates a lot of health problems.
    • Individuals who suffer from depression would rather seek out drug dealers than therapists because drugs provide them with that brief “high” that makes them forget their issues in life. Others seek relief in eating, gambling, sex and alcohol. Stress can be the trigger for addiction and individuals take drugs with the hope of gaining relief. Individuals who use recreational drugs like cannabis, ecstasy and heroin do so because it changes their mood.
    • Addiction is sometimes used to self medicate depression like when the smoker consumes a pack of cigarettes to get rid of anxiety. A person also tends to drink to numb the pain and drown whatever negative thoughts beseech him. Alcoholics may continue to hit the bottle even if they know that it is not a long lasting solution to their problem.
    • There are a host of other factors that make people prone to depression like gender, genetics, environment and availability of money. Based on research, men are more prone to addiction before depression while women will typically experience depression before addiction. Typically a family history of depression reveals a genetic tendency to suffer severe episodes of depression. Medication is usually used to manage this kind of illness.
    • The sad thing though is the fact that curing depression will not automatically treat addiction. Once the individual becomes hooked on alcohol or drugs, he has to undergo rehabilitation and treatment to get rid of the dependence. Consequently, many addicts can develop clinical depression as a result of their addiction and both have to be treated until full recovery is obtained.

    How to help someone who is depressed and using drugs?

    Qualified medical practitioners can sort out what role drugs play in depression whether it a part of withdrawal symptoms or if it is the underlying cause for the addiction. The best case scenario is to help the individual control his addiction since the withdrawal process can produce periods of depression. If you are suffering from this kind of situation, you can undertake the following steps.

    • Keep a tight control over your drug use so that it doesn’t get worse. Seek for help and support through rehabilitation and treatment.
    • Be honest with your doctor. Confide in him and share the reasons why you turned to drugs. This information will make it easier for them to customize a treatment program that is suitable for your addiction and depression.
    • Help from social services may be a good thing to consider since your drug addiction has surely caused significant financial problems like unpaid debts and mortgages. If these issues don’t get sorted out, they can worsen your problem and will contribute to another depressing episode to forestall your recovery.

    A common problem is that too few people seek help. They assume that depression is a passing episode in their life and it cannot be all too serious for therapy. The truth is you don’t need to suffer a lot of symptoms to consult your doctor about getting treatment.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindseykone/5362282427

  4. How To Detect If You Are Headed For A Mental Breakdown?

    January 10, 2014

    Are Headed For A Mental Breakdown?

    Do you feel so stressed and full of anxiety that you think you are headed for a mental breakdown? Have you gone through a horrific situation lately and due to this you are extremely fatigued, emotional, worn down, and ready to break down?


    If so, you are probably on your way to a breakdown.  Those that experience a mental breakdown don’t normally get there quickly. It is usually a process of stress induced situations and negative emotions that tend to take over one’s life.


    The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that among 26.2 percent of American adults, who are diagnosed with mental health disorders, almost 70% suffer from an anxiety disorder. They actually wonder if perhaps a vast majority of Americans are on the verge of a nation-wide breakdown.


    People respond to stressors differently, so while one person may have a lot of stress and tend to manage it, others may not be able to handle it as well and it can put them on a path to a breakdown. For example, sales is a demanding career field and can throw a lot of stress one’s way.  One person may be well able to let go of that stress on a daily basis. Maybe this person is doing daily meditation and yoga or other exercises to relieve the stress buildup.  Another person may not be able to handle it as well and as that stress load builds up, he may begin to feel extreme anxiety, agitation, fear, and have mood changes.  The stress build up can lead him to become confused, angry, withdrawn, act out, or a host of other symptoms can occur.  In the worst case scenario, the latter may tend to display psychotic behaviors, thus detaching somewhat from reality and having a complete breakdown.


    Mental breakdown symptoms


    If you are experiencing more than three out the following symptoms, you may be headed for a mental breakdown and ought to consider seeing a counselor for professional help.


    Mood changes. If you are experiencing mood changes frequently, you could be headed for a breakdown. If you are normally happy go lucky, but are not miserable many days, there is something underneath the surface causing the mood changes, which very well could be stress or emotional distress.


    Many tears. If you find yourself crying a lot and that is not like you, you may be struggling with some heavy emotions and stress. Crying is actually a good way to relieve stress and negative emotions, but if you are crying a lot more than normal, you could be on your way to a mental breakdown.


    Using alcohol/drugs. If you have been feeling a lot of pain, stress, frustration, etc. and opt to use alcohol and/or drugs to cope, you could be on the road to a mental breakdown. All such substances do is stuff all of that negativity deeper down into your consciousness, which will not heal or cure it.  Not only could you be headed for a breakdown, but also a life of addiction and negative consequences.


    Apathetic. If you were once full of life and vitality and lately you just don’t care about anything or anyone, your mental state is suffering.  If you don’t enjoy the things you used to or simply can’t focus on anything, you could be headed for a mental breakdown.


    Dietary changes. Those that are headed for a mental breakdown could either be eating way too much or not eating enough.  Stress and racing thoughts can cause a person to not feel hungry and cause digestive problems even when he or she eats.


    Shaking. When the nerves are on high alert, the body reacts physically.  If your hands are shaking or your body feels shaky in general, your thoughts and mind could be anxiously controlling your life.


    Sick all the time. Hypochondriacs always feel like something is attacking their bodies or they imagine they have come down with every sort of illness.  Chronic stress can certainly wear the body down and illness can become a result. If you feel sick all the time, see someone in regards to whether or not you are headed for a breakdown.


    Depression. Chances are if you are majorly depressed most of the time, you are headed for a mental breakdown. You could be ridden with guilt, shame, or chronic grief that continues to bring you down and down. If you feel as such, please seek professional help.


    If you can resonate with some of these symptoms, it may be time to seek a healthcare provider that can help you, as you may need to navigate through this time with someone who has experience helping others with the same issue.  Understand that mental breakdowns are not necessarily a bad thing; they are simply stepping stones to dealing with some unresolved issues in your life and making some necessary changes in order for you to live a happy and healthy life.

     Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mbg_photos/2768320831/

  5. 7 Signs You Have an Anxiety Disorder

    January 6, 2014

    7 Signs You Have an Anxiety Disorder

    It’s pretty normal to get nervous on occasion, as anxiety certainly can come when you find yourself in a new situation or having to speak to a crowd.  For some individuals, though, anxiety can become a hindrance to everyday tasks and can take over their lives.

    Maybe you struggle with anxiety more often than an average person or the intensity seems to get a bit out of control at times.  How can you tell if your anxiety is normal or has crossed over into an anxiety disorder?  It’s not always easy to tell, but there are certain signs that will help you identify where you are on the scale of anxiety levels.

    If you happen to experience some of the following signs, you may want to contact a health professional (such as psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist) to discuss your anxiety and how you can manage what you are contending with.

    1. Irrational or extreme fears. If you are extremely fearful of something or a situation, you may be dealing with irrational thoughts, which can lead to an anxiety disorder called a phobia.  If that phobia disrupts your life in ways that you are not satisfied with, it is time to face that phobia and work on overcoming that irrational fear.
    2. Extreme worry. Excessive worry is a very common characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you are worrying about all sorts of things most days of the week and your life is suffering in one way or another, you may be suffering from such. It is normal to worry on occasion about something, but when the emotions get out of whack from excessive worry and it is affecting you and others negatively, it’s time to take an honest look at the cause and check into treatments.
    3. Excessive self-consciousness. Sometimes everyone is self-conscious, but if your world starts revolving around anxiety at the thought of being in public, talking to anyone, or eating in front of people, you may have a social anxiety disorder.  Do you find yourself sweating profusely, getting a stomach ache, feeling nauseated, or stumbling all over your words while being around people?  Feeling that eyes are always on you and being super self-conscious makes for a stressful and fearful life, so if this sounds like you, you could have an anxiety disorder.
    4. Inability to sleep. Many people have sleep problems, but if you are tossing and turning every night full of anxious thoughts and concerns racing through your mind, you may have an anxiety disorder.
    5. Digestive issues. Anxiety certainly affects the physical body. In fact, many indigestion problems are directly linked to chronic anxiety and stress.  If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, an ulcer, or other digestive issues, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
    6. Feelings of panic. Extreme feelings of panic and fear are termed panic attacks. If you find yourself suddenly gripped with paralyzing fear, a feeling of helplessness, intense emptiness feelings, racing heart, chest pain, and breathing problems, chances are you are suffering from a panic attack and require some help in order to manage such.
    7. Compulsiveness. One anxiety disorder that not many people are aware of in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  The anxious and compulsive thoughts that go along with this can make a person feel like he or she is going crazy. For example, if you have to have every item on your desk in a certain spot and get highly upset when someone moves something- to the point of yelling- you may have an issue with OCD.

    These signs are indicators that something is not quite on target with the way you process and manage stress and anxiety. Treatment for such includes a combination psychotherapy (e.g. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT), changes in lifestyle (i.e. exercise, yoga, meditation), and healthy diet. Anti-anxiety medications may also be needed to manage severe cases of anxiety. Many people who struggle with anxiety disorders lead happy, healthy, and relaxed lives due to a variety of treatment options.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spaceodissey/2580085025/


  6. Untreated Stress Can Lead To A Nervous Breakdown

    January 4, 2014

    Untreated Stress Can Lead To A Nervous Breakdown

    We live in a world that is full of anxiety and stress. In fact, many doctors will tell you that a great deal of ailments and sicknesses are caused by an overload of chronic stress.  From finances to health to relationships, there seems to always be a stressor knocking at our door.  If you are allowing stressor after stressor to build in your life without treating it, it could lead to a nervous breakdown.


    Signs of chronic stress


    The first sign that you are carrying chronic stress is a change in your behavior or thought life.  If you are normally an upbeat, caring, thoughtful, and happy person, but have been displaying characteristics and emotions like selfishness, cruelty, bitterness, anger, fatigue, etc., then you are probably carrying a load of stress that is bringing you down. You might not even notice that your attitude and behavior is changing. It may be a loved one or friend that points out your moodiness or lack of drive.

    For example, if a man’s finances have been off for the past few months and he has been stressing over it, he might not be sleeping well at night, overeating because food makes him feel better, or lashing out at his kids because the stress has caused him to have a short fuse.  The financial stress and strain is wearing on this man little by little and if he does not do something to relieve or eliminate the stress, he could be headed for a nervous breakdown.

    Other signs of stress or that you are headed for a breakdown include:


    • Emotional outbursts
    • Isolation
    • Severe depression
    • Victim mentality
    • Hopelessness
    • Loss or gain of weight
    • Constant guilty feelings

    Ways to relieve stress


    It is important to understand how you can relieve and/or eliminate your stress.  You really can’t avoid stress, because it pops up periodically whether at work, at home, or anywhere!  The key is to find out what stress relievers work for you and use them on a regular basis. Here are some common stress busters that you can try:

    Deep breathing/meditation/yoga. All three of these fall into the same category. There are many people who can attest to the fact that deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are great stress busters.  What is great about deep breathing and yoga is that you can do these exercises each day and only spend about 15 minutes per day doing such to experience stress relief. Find a quiet place to sit and breathe deeply and let go of cares, concerns, and stress.  Think happy thoughts or as in meditation, simply concentrate on the inhale and exhale. You will notice the stress leaving your body.  Yoga is a great form of exercise and a stress reliever. You can do yoga classes or do it in the privacy of your own home.  Commit to these stress busters regularly for less stress and happier living.

    Exercise. Many people find that regular exercise helps them de-stress and feel better emotionally and physically.  You can take a brisk walk, go jogging, play tennis, disc golf, golf, hit the gym, or any other sport or exercise regimen that appeals to you. If you exercise 3 to 5 times per week, you are not only de-stressing, but also burning calories and strengthening your body.

    See a therapist. If you are having a rather difficult time with stressors, such as relationship problems, divorce, extreme anxiety and fear, depression, etc., consider seeing a counselor to learn how to cope with the root issues that are stressing you out. Sometimes people just need a little bit of insight and encouragement to get through the rough patches and therapists are well equipped to help.

    If you, or a loved one, is struggling with chronic stress and is headed for a nervous breakdown, rest assured that help is available.  Talk to a professional or at the very least, a close friend or family member about what you can do to change the situation and cope with the stressors.  Know that if you or someone close to you has a nervous breakdown, that he or she does not have a mental illness.  A nervous breakdown is a temporary condition that can be relieved with encouragement, support, and some form of treatment.  Life can resume back to normal and the person can be happy and free once again.


     Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hojas_cayendo/5204062581/



  7. The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

    January 2, 2014

    The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

    There have been many studies that have linked mental health, and most notably depression, with the food that we eat. Researchers studied a variety of “favorites”, such as:

    • Doughnuts
    • Fairy Cakes
    • Croissants
    • Hot dogs
    • Hamburgers
    • Pizza


    Essentially, commercial baked goods and fast food have been found to have a negative impact on the mental psyche, leading to the possibility of depression. Much of this is linked to a lack of physical behavior, which leads to negative physical growth, as well as the development of poor self-esteem.

    The studies also conclude that the consumption of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and olive oil play a preventative role when it comes to depression. B vitamins, especially, play an active role toward maintaining increased energy levels and living a healthy lifestyle.

    Poor diet comes combined with unhealthy lifestyle habits (such as lounging around, watching too much television, or lacking in physical activity) leads to feeling negative.  Most people know that eating fast food and commercial bakery goods is unhealthy, yet the reason people indulge is often associated with convenience and the fact that it tastes good.  It provides comfort for many people (aka, stress eating), but it leads to a vicious cycle of feeling good (temporarily), only to be let down by guilt after the indulgence is over.

    Recognition of the real problems

    The real underlying problems associated with poor dietary choices and the subsequent low self-esteem needs to be addressed, and rather than truly address the epidemic, it is simply becoming more and more acceptable. The idea of living casual and non-eventful days is much more acceptable in today’s society; there isn’t enough pressure or consideration put toward where the problems truly begin.

    An effective way to address this problem isn’t necessarily to make a public service announcement, as people are aware of the problems. It’s about educating the youth who don’t fully have an understanding of just how serious the problem is. When one looks at the obesity epidemic (most notably recognized in America), then the proper resolve should be to put more effort into the education that schools deliver to our youth. In addition to education, there should be more action put forward in what the schools offer for meals; there should be healthier options made available rather than high-sugar and high-fat snacks that currently pollute the common school cafeteria.

    It is easy to point the finger at society and blame marketing on today’s poor diet choices, but the ability to deliver a solution to the widespread problems is an entirely separate matter. When people eat poorly and are inactive, then of course depression can become an issue. Whether it is unhappiness around the way we physically look, unhappiness because of the amount we get done in a day, or whatever the case may be, it’s easier to claim and remain stuck.  Solutions are right there, but the cloud of depression tends to keep us from utilizing them.  It might be a hard first step, but once you take that first step, each subsequent step becomes a little bit easier.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marketing-deluxe/8260087763

  8. Stages of Grief and Loss

    December 30, 2013

    Stages of Grief and Loss

    by Ivan Dimitrijevic

    Losing someone is not easy. Every culture in the world has its own way of mourning the dead, but the thing that connects every single culture in the universe is grieving the lost one and the effect it leaves on people.

    There are different ways of showing grief, but overcoming grief comes after certain stages of grief and loss. The stages are:

    • Denial and isolation
    • Anger
    • Bargaining
    • Depression
    • Acceptance

    Denial and isolation

    The first reaction to learning about your loved one’s terminal illness is denying the reality of the situation and the loss of rational thinking. It is a normal reaction to rationalize these strong, overwhelming emotions. Rationalizing is a defense mechanism that softens the intense, immediate shock. All we do in these situations is block out certain words and hide the facts that are connected with the subject of loss. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first stages of pain and grief.


    The second stage in this rough period of your life is anger. It comes as the masking effect of denial, isolation and rationalization – reality hits you and its pain re-emerges. That means that we haven’t done the thing yet. The core of intense emotions is deflected, redirected and expressed as anger. The anger may be aimed at everything around the individual that’s suffering; objects, strangers, friends, family, even children. It may be even directed at the dying or already deceased one. By thinking rationally, we know that the person is not to be blamed, but emotionally we may insult the person for causing us pain and a hard time or for leaving us too early. We feel guilt, anger, which makes us more frustrated and, as a result, angrier.

    There is also a situation where the doctor who diagnosed the illness and was unable to cure it and he or she becomes a suitable target. Do not hesitate to ask the doctor to devote some extra time to you or to explain everything in more detail. Arrange a special appointment to learn about everything you need to know related to the sickness.


    Bargaining is a normal reaction to feeling helpless and vulnerable and it is often needed in order to regain control –

    • If we had only contacted the doctor sooner…
    • If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
    • If only we had tried to be better to the person…

    Secretly, we make a deal with higher powers or various deities in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. This is the weakest line of defense to protect us from the painful reality. It’s also called superstition.


    Two types of depression are connected with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications related to the loss. Sadness and regret are dominating emotions in this type of depressive state. We worry about everything, even the costs and the burial. Constant worrying if our final times with the loved one were badly utilized is also present. The stage can be eased with a little bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. If not treated, this can evolve into major depressive disorder.

    The second type of post-loss depression is more subtle and, in a sense, more private. It is a quiet preparation to separate and to wish our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a friendly hug. Friends and family are always there for us, even though it may not seem like that. They feel sorry for the loss just like you, so talking with them can always be helpful.

    Finally, acceptance

    Death may be sudden and unexpected and we may never see anything beyond our anger or denial. It is not a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity for peace. This stage is marked with withdrawal and calmness. This is not a period of happiness, but it is different from depression.  You can feel that depression is wearing off, the people around you look more familiar and things are going back to normal, maybe not right now, but hope is always there. Your private mourning period is over and you could start talking about the loss with a little more thinking than before.

    These represent the five stages of grief taken from the Kübler-Ross model.

    Not everything is lost

    Dying is inevitable. As someone dies, maybe it’s the thought of not seeing the person again or maybe it’s the frightening for your own death. You really can’t explain it, but you have to accept it. It’s a normal part of living, even though some cultures see it as an end; nobody really knows what happens after. That should not make you more frightened, but more rational.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andy_bernay-roman/312526080/

  9. Astrocytes and Depression

    December 28, 2013

    Astrocytes and Depression


    by Sean M.


    Yes, astrocytes, a term that very few of us are familiar with, but in due time many of us will be more aware of. Millions of people who experience consistent depression are in a constant venture to understand the why’s and the how’s in regard to its occurrence, and how to put an end to these terrible sluggish feelings that impact being productive, let alone happy. Well, astrocytes are apparently a very important thing to put into consideration according to some recent neuropsychology studies.

    So, what are astrocytes? Astrocytes are star-shaped brain cells that cause a rapid improvement in mood in depressed ‘patients’ after acute sleep deprivation. Currently the majority of anti-depressant medications take weeks of time to kick in and begin to have a lasting-effect, whereas the sleep-deprivation technique kicks in almost immediately, but currently is not long lasting solution. With all the talk that is placed around depression and unhealthy sleep patterns it sure ties your brain in knots to question which path leads to results, and which path is downright ‘nutty’.


    Sleep Deprivation Versus Normal Sleep


    If you look up the term ‘sleep deprivation’ it’s actually defined as a form of ‘mental torture’, so it makes you wonder just how effective this technique can be when placed toward people who are already experiencing some tough mental conditions. According to scientists that placed medication that delivered the ‘sleep deprivation’ reaction, mice seemed to still sleep ‘normal’, but had decreased depressive-like symptoms, and increased levels of adenosine in the brain. These results were sustained for a period of 48 hours. So, what is adenosine? Adenosine is the chemical that controls the urge and need to sleep according to what the brain tells us.

    Sleep has a lot to do with how we feel during the day, whether it is the impact it has on our motor functions, our mental clarity, or our overall productivity, it has an impact on each example. A healthy amount of sleep is associated with being able to be at our very best in all conditions of life. There is a large amount of thought that is based around the condition of sleep to and how changes in sleep patterns can help aid in curing depressive feelings. When it comes to something as sensitive as ‘sleep deprivation’ it makes you wonder how an idea viewed as ‘torture’ has ended up as an idea for depression release.

    The discussion behind the idea of curing ‘insomnia’ as a means for defeating feelings associated with depression holds fair angles and relevance, but ‘sleep deprivation’ is the opposite side of things and I fail to see how a loss of sleep could actually help this condition.  The idea behind it I supposed is having just enough rest to allow the mind to be in a position of having full awareness and the ability to have maximum potential for productivity. I still can’t find a way of taking something that is defined as ‘torture’ and using it as a technique for a potential solution for a condition that is already delivering feelings of mental challenge.

    When you consider depression you think about the impact it has on motor functions and thought processes and it all contributes toward a collection of ideas that lead to ‘sluggish’ behavior, decreased response time, lack of motivation, and other mentally challenging characteristics. The further deprivation of sleep, regardless of what scientific efforts are able to report, I can only view as a stab at something that could lead to worsening the problem in the long run. The emphasis put toward the fact that it is only a short-term cure only further confirms that the potential for it to do more harm than good. For the long-term view of things sleep deprivation can take a condition that is already on a very unstable level of mental psyche and turn it into an even worse situation.  When you tamper with sleep patterns it has a very sensitive effect on the most basic of bodily functions, in regard to mental stability. To take a body that is already suffering from a lack of motivation and energy and to deprive it further of something that helps replenish that, sleep, I fail to see the positive outcomes that are considered a ‘possibility’.

    Image Credit: Jessia Hime @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessia-hime/3038466793/

  10. A Condition Often Misunderstood

    December 26, 2013

    A Condition Often Misunderstood

    by Sean M.

    When we think about depression the initial thing that comes to mind is ‘sadness’, but there is a lot more to being depressed than the simple feeling of despair. Sadness is certainly a part of the condition, but there are several more elements that make it much more complex and, therefore, more difficult to understand and treat. The only way to grasp an understanding toward depression is by evaluating the impact it can have on various angles of life, and from those angles developing a point of view with proper explanation. Yet, any definition of depression is always going to fall under the category of opinion, on account of there being so many different ways to describe it.


    Person’s Goals and Mental Perception


    When someone is depressed the ability to think clearly becomes heavily compromised. The ability to set  clear goals in life becomes incredibly complex to someone who is depressed and, typically, these goals are very ‘generalized’. An example of an effective goal would be something like “I want to feel better about myself, and I’m going to do so by losing 15 pounds, and learning a new language”, whereas an example of someone dealing with depression would set a goal such as “I want to be happier”. The idea being that there is an ideal there that the depressed individual wants to achieve, however there is no effective plan to achieve it, therefore it is a ‘generalized’ goal.

    Another idea that can be taken from that example is the overall ability known as ‘perception’. The way that a depressed individual views life can be explained as having a general acceptance for things, as opposed to trying to be proactive and find solutions for problems and challenges on their own. The whole entire mental condition of someone dealing with depression becomes very submissive,  which tends to prevent the individual from achieving goals as well as any other positive self-development over time. When someone is depressed the feeling to achieve and try to better oneself is almost non-existent, and the feelings of negative emotions are so powerful that desire for self-improvement is very uncommon.

    Depression acts as a powerful hindrance toward mental capabilities such as:

    • A difficultly to remember positive times in life, which leads to a more permanent stasis on the condition of feeling lost and depressed.
    • A habit of over-generalizing which impacts the ability to remember memories all together, and the memories that are remembered are often blur and unclear.
    • Loss of time in general. When someone is severely depressed the attention towards the day of the week, the time of the year, and so forth are inaccurate. Depression defeats the desire to pay attention to what is going on around you.


    Depression and a Sense of Reality


    While many studies have claimed that people who are suffering from depression have a more realistic grasp on life and perception, the question is what researchers call “realistic”. If you take an individual that has experienced a number of difficult times through their life, than from ‘life experience’ it can be claimed they have developed a “realistic” mind-frame based on what they have been through. When you have a depressed individual, their mind frame is going to be based on a flow of negative factors, and the expectation for a minimized potential for a positive outcome. This kind of feeling would be on account of having a generalized negative bias towards everything, and a lack of belief that good things are to come. This is a point of view in regard to what depression can be defined as. When a similarity is made between realism and depression it is a very fine example in regard to how depression is often misunderstood, realism and depression are two totally different mind frames.

    Realism is something that is developed from life experience that leads to an ability of generating an opinion toward ‘situational’ outcome based on probability. Depression is essentially a chemical imbalance that occurs for a number of different reasons. It prevents the mind from having hopeful expectations in a number of ways, and between depression and realism they are two mental frames that couldn’t be more different. Depression is something that is learned about further each and every day, but it is ineffective to try to claim depression and ‘realistic’ thinking go hand in hand, they simply don’t.

    Depression is a condition that has existed for a very long time, and on account of having such a spread of different definitions it can be easy to misunderstand. It’s misunderstood because of how many elements compose its condition, and with that being put into consideration, depression needs to be evaluated with an open-mind because there are so many different factors that can define it. The more open-minded one can be toward the feeling of depression, the closer the opportunity is to fully understand it.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/metabolico/536081022/