1. Facing my Anxiety and Making Difficult Decisions

    February 20, 2014

    Facing my Anxiety and Making Difficult Decision

    by Audrey  Hollingshead

     

    3AM. My husband was sleeping soundly beside me while I lay awake. I wanted to sleep more than anything but couldn’t seem to do it. It was like I had drank twelve cups of coffee when I haven’t had a drop of regular in years. My hands shook as I puttered around my iPhone listlessly, hating that I’d be spending the next day at work with keyed up nerves. Why was this happening to me? What was going in my life that was making sleep nothing but a dream?

    If this sounds a little too familiar you might be one of the millions of anxiety sufferers losing sleep today. Like pain, sleeplessness and numerous other anxiety symptoms are often a sign that something is up. Unlike pain, however, the “up” doesn’t always have to be physical. It could be almost anything. But some psychologists believe that prolonged anxiety and depression are caused by a subconscious dissatisfaction of life. Weather you know it or not, something is not working out like you had hoped. So, how can you fix this?

    First, Take a deep breath. Deep breathing can lessen the feelings of panic and help make this process easier.

    Second, you have to look into yourself and ask a lot of important questions. Is this what I expected my job to be like? Am I really happy with my spouse or partner? Is there a sad anniversary coming up that I’m forgetting? This may take a long time, or no time, but it is always important to do.

    (more…)


  2. Insomnia and Depression- How the Two Dance Together

    December 10, 2013

    Insomnia and Depression- How the Two Dance Together

    Insomnia and depression are 2 conditions that essentially go together, hand in hand. The lack of rest on a nightly basis for a long period of time leads to an incredible amount of damage toward the mental psyche, and causes changes in the way that an individual perceives daily routines. This is something that can be put into consideration on the notion of common sense. The effect a lack of sleep has on mental health has led to a study conducted at Ryerson University, and claim, that curing insomnia and curing depression fall under similar criteria.

    When a body and mind experience a lack of rest over a long period of time the perception toward everything around an individual changes. When the body and mind are exhausted the most mundane and simple tasks can be seen as challenging, and an overpowering sense of negativity can be felt as a result. The development over time of these negative feelings can lead to them gradually taking over the mind and body, and eventually this leads to the very birth of the condition we know as ‘depression’.

    Therapy and Defeating Insomnia

    Therapy that has been based around effectively curing ‘depression’ has put a study into place around the idea of insomnia, and the interaction it has with depression. The study states by taking various thought processes and structuring the way a mind perceives them, a certain kind of ‘calm’ can be achieved, which will lead to acquiring better sleep patterns. From this, the acquiring of better sleep patterns, the mind will be able to function more clearly, and the result will be a more rested and clear psyche. Thus, the claim that curing insomnia can help cure depression.

    When the body is deprived of a need such as rest, than it falls into a position of panic, stress is heightened, and negative thoughts eventually become a common routine. The claim that healthier sleeping patterns will help cure depression is correct, but it is also a statement that is common sense. The more important thing to recognize in all of this is the idea of ‘perception’, and the coping technique of how to mentally digest various thoughts and feelings. The coping technique of how to take various ideas and stresses in is the actual component that is helping cure the depression, the sleep is simply a side-component. Acquiring sleep is definitely something the body needs, but the effective management of things that make us think and cause stress is the idea here that is most important.

    When the mind is racing and thinking about several different problematic ideas, than the opportunity to get a healthy amount of rest becomes quite challenging. The ability to acquire coping techniques to keep the mind frame in a stable place helps treat the problem we know as depression, and it also defeats the other problem, insomnia.  Do insomnia and depression happen together all the time? Not always. Can learning how to defeat insomnia contribute to a healthier mind frame? Absolutely. The important thing to keep in mind however is that insomnia and depression are two entirely separate problems, and while insomnia can worsen the condition of depression, it isn’t the cause of it. Insomnia is a common side-effect of depression.

    The therapy of curing insomnia is based heavily around our problem solving abilities and how to separate thoughts when they come to mind. When you take a stressful situation and learn how to properly break it down and cope with the final outcome, that is a piece of education that is directly relevant toward overcoming depression. Depression is often associated with the inability to think clearly, and the result of this unclear thinking leading to a lack of motivation, and an overwhelming outcome of negative feelings. These negative feelings are the part of the equation that an individual can’t take control of, and usually is the core of the condition we know as depression. The ability to properly cope with ideas, and separate and understand ideas may be considered a way of ‘curing’ insomnia, but more importantly it is a skill that in itself can help deal with depression. Curing and overcoming depression isn’t so much about making it fully go away, but about how to maximize an individual’s control  over the feelings it can bring.

    Curing Insomnia is Curing Depression

    I think that when you take this statement you have to be careful with how far you place the two together on the same concept, as I’ve mentioned before. A lack of sleep certainly does contribute toward the development of depression, but the sudden ability to rest and get a full night’s sleep shouldn’t be deemed a ‘cure’ for depression. The necessity to separate the claim that curing insomnia can help conquer depression as opposed to the claim it can ‘cure’ it is essential. The ability to overcome the mental condition known as depression has far more strings attached beyond the ability to simply get a good night’s rest. The key to overcoming depression is associated with defining what the condition depends on to exist. From these core dependencies the development of an effective plan to manage stress with various coping strategies, a healthy daily routine, and healthy rest all play vital roles when combating depression. Basing depression solely around the idea of sleep is not only an error, but a delivery of false hope for people who struggle with the condition. The ability to see the condition for all that it is will be the only path that leads to eventually curing it.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/federicoravassard/8552043273


  3. How To Find Peace When Struggling With Mood Swings

    September 21, 2013

    mood swings

    by Katie Lewiz

     

    Do you feel swinging between strong emotions? Like you go for a ride, not knowing whether you’re happy or sad, suddenly losing your positive mood to an irritated one? This article is for people who experience continuous emotional swings, unsure why their mood behaves this way while the outside world still remains the same. Typically, women at their pre-menstrual stage or pregnancy period undergo a melancholy of swings which would be exhausting and a frequent malady which can be reduced by continuous effort and proper guidance. Apart from that, teenagers, people suffering from bipolar disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder, or anyone who come across stress or pain falls in this unwell state of mood swings.

    Mind – Where Your Swings Originates

    Do you know your mind travels faster than any other media in this whole universe? The complex and greatest processing unit, mind, receives information from five senses and any of it could alter the mood. Let me put down an example here; someone close to you have passed away sometime back and you happened to hear the person’s voice through a record from your friend’s phone recently. This could tear your mental state badly and start to struggle inside with unpleasant thoughts which are possibly not able to solve and ultimately end up in a depressed mood.

    Mood swings can be certain stimulus, which can either be known or probably unclear which shifts your current thought, and it could mostly arise from recollecting events you have tried ignoring. Maybe you are aware that people to cope up their swings, take company of alcohol, drugs, pills to compress their temperament. It is known that millions of Americans depend on pills to control their moods. In a study, during 2011 drug companies sold antidepressants, antipsychotics (to battle mental disorders like ADD, bipolar disorder) worth $11 billion, which was later increased to $18 billion. Unfortunate to say, millions around the globe struggle with swings leading to ill-advised decisions like unnatural quitting from job, packing up business, squabbling with spouse, which doesn’t deserve any pill.

     Not Aware Of Your Swings? Symptoms To Note

    Let me begin with good news, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Mood swings, tag as a weird change of mind or an uncontrolled state where you become totally frustrated, sensitive to all feelings. As mentioned above, more than 75% of women undergo emotional instability during menstruation or menopause period. Here are the common symptoms noted during mood swings.

    • Frustration
    • Irritation
    • Insomnia
    • Inability to think
    • Depression
    • Fatigue
    • Stressed out

    Let the cause of mood swing be any, like menopausal emotional imbalance, hormonal fluctuations, depression, stress, pregnancy, clinical disorders, and so on, the ultimate question is, are you finding peace during this roller-coaster struggles ( a more apt term for bipolar suffers)? Though traditional treatment procedures are effective, with narcotic drugs focusing on serotonin levels (actual mood stimulators in brain), finding peace during these episodes are more significant. Are you ready to open yourself and understand how you can knock out these adversities before it feeds you totally?

    Let’s recollect the struggles and get more practical on how to deal it peacefully.

    Know Your Episodes

    According to NIMH, people with bipolar disorder undergo intense swings of mood which can be over-excited or explosive. During depressive swing they go down badly and become hopeless, and once the mood episodes are known, eventually the person could control over the hypersensitive nature. Bipolar mood swings are not as easy to cope as we say, unless proper effort is put by the person. For example, depressive episode makes the person feel empty and anxious. So recognizing the mood, try to curtail the sad state by involving in activities like reading a positive book, talking out with your friend, running for errands, do some gardening, hence slowly awakening yourself that nothing has actually changed except your mood being unnecessarily sad. If you feel the emotions are way intense to control, it is well advised to get needed help from the physician than fantasizing in your own world. A regular check-up or a talk with your counsellor or psychiatrist will help you as well the psychiatrist to explore the swings and provide with new therapies.

    Make Yourself Comfortable

    It is obvious that we depend on some source during our struggles or hard times to feel comfortable. First, build acceptance in yourself, experience your negatives and positives, as when you start digging deep, you will understand how in reality you can control the changing moods. This could lay stones of hope, courage and seek help to battle the affliction. It is required that you build up a healthy relation with a person who could understand your swings and manage your feelings, thereby pulling you out from the life’s difficult condition.

    Avoid Polarised Thinking

    This is a mental state where the person imagine world is either black or white. For example, if you are not the CEO of a big-fat company you feel total failure; if you didn’t have a good credit rating, you are a scrawny wimp. These kinds of polarised belief demotivate and affect one’s healthy living. Think aloud, AM I A COMPUTER OR ELECTRONIC DEVICE? The answer is 100% NO. Enlighten yourself that, I AM A HUMAN. If you are low in your credit rating, no one could come and kill or screw your life, and daresay you are hunting for a good blow and will achieve it the coming days; if you are not the CEO of the company, of course you are worth a team lead in a reputed firm, when many with higher qualification are not.

    Cogitate No News Is Bad

    Have you at least once thought pondering too much on a situation could finally bring you despair? It is obvious that too much thinking can spoil the goodness in a person, giving way to rumbling clouds of anxiety and worry. Okay, let’s say, a situation like you worked your tail off for a firm and bounced by your CEO, since you don’t know the cause, don’t fill your mind with tumult, instead console yourself saying it’s time for you to step out of the firm as they took much from you, whereas polishing you stronger and sharper for another company which waits for your skills.

    Exercises Beat Mood Struggles

    Equip your routine chart with exercises, yoga and meditation. Throw yourself to a nearby gym, charge your muscles and cut off the bad moods with high confidence. Regular exercise build more bone density, control the overwhelming feeling of unpleasant swings, stress and stabilise your mood much better than you think. If you are ready to practice some moderate exercises daily, around 15 minutes, you would definitely see the change from the earlier disturbing swings. Start adding exercises to your chart!

    No More False Interpretations

    False interpretations arise mostly by externalising from the outside source. It mostly happens like during your swings, the interpretations you build by externalisation could go wrong. For example, if your lover says, you look so lean – alas you start to fight with her thinking she is enough with you and wish for a smart guy. Here the actual reason is, poor girl, she was affected by your health where you took the external matters alone. Don’t make your mood more irritating by unnecessary deceptions.

    Fix Right Foods And Drink Less

    You are here to regulate your mood. So do you believe certain food can affect your mood? Change in serotonin levels alters one’s mood. You obviously know the fact that mood booster chemicals, serotonin is significant to modulate moods. A diet rich in complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, wheat, pastas, peas, legumes, peanuts can increase serotonin levels, curbing mood swings. Vegetables like broccoli, carrots, pumpkin, sprouts, help in proper liver function, maintain hormonal balance of oestrogen helping you way out of mood swings. Legumes are good for regulating oestrogen, a healthy way to reduce mood swing in women during menstrual cycle. It is good to stay wards away from alcoholic drinks or cocktails, though the booze could charge your nerves for the time being, soon you would get the symptoms kicked up high.

    Cleanse Your Negative Thoughts

    Beading up negative thoughts is the fodder for depressive swings. As you stumble upon a negative thought, purge it out with positive notes. For example, put up a Must-Do-Lists, it maybe not gentle as I say, let it be the exam you were trying for 5-7 years, but once you clear off the clutter of emotional worries and poor self-esteem; you would wonder how brilliantly you have crossed the hurdle which once you thought would never accomplish.

    Have belief in yourself? It is nothing impossible, be patient and start plowing on your swings. Keep in mind, it’s pretty natural everyone get swings, the only worry is how long you ponder on those or is it taking your full energy to come out of the petty matter. Let it be any method you adopt, beware, it’s your mind and you are mastering on the emotions.

     

    Author Bio: Katie Lewiz, a professional blogger, she loves writing on health, fitness, nutrition, technology and medicine, emotional well-being and whatever that provokes a health enthusiast. Off time, she finds herself enjoying nature and its delights and has a long-term obsession with photography.

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51615623@N08/5036658861


  4. Common Sleeping Disorders And How To Resolve Them

    July 19, 2013

    lack of sleep

    by Dr. Frank Shallenberger

    Almost everyone has experienced trouble sleeping at some time or another. Difficulty sleeping is normal and is typically only a temporary problem, which is often due to stress or another outside factor. If you have problems sleeping on a regular basis and the lack of sleep is interfering with your daily activities, you may have a more serious sleeping problem or a sleeping disorder. Sleeping disorders have other symptoms outside of simply sleepiness and they can have a negative impact on your overall well-being, emotional balance and energy. The following are a few of the most common sleeping disorders and how they can be resolved.

     

    Insomnia

     

    Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder. Insomnia prohibits you from getting the amount of sleep that your body needs to wake up feeling refreshed and rested. In most situations, insomnia is a symptom of one or more other problems such as depression, stress, anxiety or a health condition. Insomnia can also be the result of your lifestyle choices such as a lack of exercise, jet lag, excessive consumption of caffeine and/or certain medications. Some common symptoms of insomnia may include:

    • Frequently waking up during the night
    • Trouble falling asleep and/or difficulty getting back to sleep when you wake during the night
    • You have to take something that allows you to get to sleep (sleeping pills)
    • Low energy levels and sleepiness during the day
    • When you do sleep it feels fragmented, light and/or exhausting

    Insomnia can take a toll on your mood, the ability to function in daily activities and energy. Fortunately, there are changes you can make that will help you get a good night’s sleep. For most people, simple changes in lifestyle are the most effective. Taking a natural supplement that works with your body’s own natural rhythm is enough to avoid having to take over-the-counter or prescription sleeping pills.

     

    Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders

     

    Everyone has an internal biological clock to regulate the 24-hour sleep and wake cycle, which is known as the circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are primarily cued by light, so in the morning when the sun rises, your brain tells your body it is time to wake-up; when there is less light at night, the brain begins to trigger the release of melatonin, a hormone in your body that makes you sleepy. When the circadian rhythms get thrown off or disrupted, you may begin to feel sleepy, disoriented or groggy at inappropriate times. Many sleeping disorders and sleeping problems are associated with disrupted circadian rhythms such as seasonal affective disorder, jet lag, insomnia and shift work. If you have a circadian rhythm disorder, there are several beneficial treatments you can try such as keeping the room dark and quiet while you are sleeping and well-lit when you are awake. It is also best to avoid exposure to bright light during the evening and to maintain a routine for eating and activity hours. You should make all attempts to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, avoid napping and try to avoid sleep deprivation, stress and fatigue.

     

    Shift Work Sleeping Disorder

     

    Shift work sleeping disorder may occur if your biological clock and work schedule are disrupted or are out of sync. It is common for workers to have a midnight shift, early morning shift or a rotating shift, but these schedules may be forcing your body to work when your brain is signaling sleep time, and vice versa. Many people rapidly adjust to the demands of shift work, while others get significantly less quality sleep. When workers are struggling with shift work sleeping problems, it causes sleepiness and mental lethargy while at work, which can put you at the risk of injury and decrease your productivity. To reduce the impact of shift work on your sleeping patterns, regulate your wake and sleep cycle by limiting your exposure to light when it is time to sleep and increasing exposure to light while at work, use blackout curtains during the daytime when you sleep to block out the sun, and consider taking a natural supplement such as melatonin when it is time to go to sleep.

    The first step to finding a solution for your sleeping problems is identifying what the problem is. While many sleep disorders may require a visit to your physician or CBT sessions with a psychologist, you can address many sleeping problems on your own. A consistent sleep routine, changes in lifestyle, natural sleep supplements and keeping a sleep diary are all beneficial for monitoring your sleeping patterns. For example, keep a sleep journal to record when you went to bed, when you woke up, how many hours of quality sleep you had, the food and beverages you consumed before bedtime and when you exercised. The journal will help you identify what may be preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.
    When it comes to supplements that aid in sleep disorders, many believe in melatonin or valerian as natural ways to get a good night’s sleep. But the latest research casts doubts on the ability of these nutrients alone to do the job. Reading Beyond Melatonin and Valarian here sheds new perspective on this wide spread problem, and what to do to get that restful, deep sleep we all need.

    Image Credit: Jöshua Barnett

     


  5. The Single Most Important Factor for your Mental Health

    July 5, 2013

    sleep and mental health

    by Mark Kislich

    What is it? Good, healthy, deep sleep. If you’re looking for a magic solution to improve your life…well: this is it!

    Sleep is grossly underestimated in it’s importance for a productive, happy life and for a sound, balanced mind.

    The statement “You can sleep when you’re dead.” is typical, and complete nonsense. It’s more like “If you don’t sleep properly, you’ll not live properly.”

    Think I exaggerate? Look at a small child. What happens when they’re tired? They get cranky, they cry. Well, the same goes for adults. They might not cry (or they might), but given a lack of sleep, even the most positive people will eventually get sour. A tired person is a frustrated person, then -if the sleep deprivation continues- depression can set in.

    This is not just an opinion: serotonin is an important neurotransmitter tied to sleep and mood. So it looks like good sleep and good mood are intimately related. Well what’s new.

    “When you’re tired, you get wired” Sleep problems often result in a nervous, jittery kind of behavior, especially when the tiredness is temporarily offset by caffeine.

    People who can’t stop talking and pacing around are likely very tired and running on coffee. This is also the time when anxiety sets in. “Why did they look at me like that?”, or: “They didn’t have to say it like THAT!”…

    If you ever found yourself feeling like this -overly sensitive to others and your surroundings, taking everything very personally- you’ve probably been sleep deprived.

    As if all the above was not bad enough, clumsiness and reduced reflexes increase the risk for accidents and injury.

    Positive thinking and motivation are seriously hampered by lack of quality sleep.

    OK enough of the bad stuff, here’s the good news: you can do a whole lot to fix this and ensure a perfect slumber every time. Following are a few tried and proven tips that will help you do just that.

    Always Wake Up at the Same Time
    Regularity is important: even when you had a late night (which should be avoided wherever possible), try and get up when the bell rings anyway. In the long run this is better than over sleeping and ruining your circadian rhythm for it.

    In that Vein: Go to Bed at the Same Time

    After a while your internal clock will be so fine tuned, you fall asleep on cue and wake up without an alarm clock.

    Try to avoid Daylight and Artificial Light during Sleeping Hours

    In Scandinavia, the midnight sun can cause problems. Other places, the TV and electric lights do about the same: Your body’s sleeping patterns get disturbed by it, melatonin production is reduced (an important hormone related to sleep).

    Keep It Quiet

    There should be no noise at all whatsoever, total silence is what you want. If that’s not an option, a good pair of ear plugs can come to the rescue.

    Wind Down towards the Evenings

    Exercising too close to bed time can jack up cortisol and ruin your night. Do something relaxing instead: a nice walk in the evening, some Yoga, a massage, a hot bath.

    Here’s some herbals that can help you relax:  Fever few, Reishi, Wild Lettuce.

    Get into Physical Training

    Having said that you shouldn’t train too close to bed, doing some exercise during the day can sure help get rid of steam, get in shape and you’ll be nice and tired at the end of the day.

    Take some Magnesium

    Magnesium is an important mineral that many are deficient in. It’s involved hundreds of biological functions and also helps muscles -and you- to relax. Best taken in the evening.

    Meditate

    Like I said above, it helps to wind down at nights. Meditation can calm your mind, so that brain won’t keep you thinking and worrying through those valuable sleeping hours.

    Don’t Drink Coffee too Late in the Day

    Coffee can stay in the blood for around 12 hours, so that’s a good time frame to shoot for: if you go to bed at midnight, have the last cup of coffee at lunch.

     

    Remember the last time you woke up in the morning, all by your self -no need for an alarm clock- and you were totally refreshed and recuperated, ready to take on a new day?

    The world looks a better place when we’re well rested. A positive mindset and a positive outlook on life – require one thing, more than anything else: good, deep, beautiful sleep. Don’t let anybody ever tell you otherwise!

    P.S.

    This is not about being selfish, and most definitely not about being lazy. If you’re cranky, you and those around you only suffer. That’s a lose-lose.

    So do yourself and your family and friends and coworkers a great, huge, great big favor…and sleep well.

     

    Author Bio: Mark Kislich is an Olympic Performance Coach and Fitness and Health Blogger. He helps people find appropriate solutions for their fitness and health issues.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian


  6. Insomnia and depression? Some Weird Ways Insomnia Can Help You.

    June 25, 2013

    Insomnia and depression

    by Ryan Lawrence

     

    A frustrating problem that plagues millions of Americans, insomnia has become a widespread issue. In fact, sleep deprivation affects so many people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have named it a public health epidemic. At its worst, insomnia promotes fatigue, drowsiness and a myriad of health problems. That said, in certain instances, it can also offer some interesting benefits.

    Relief from Depression

     

    You might think that poor sleep would make people more depressed; however, numerous studies suggest otherwise. In fact, research has shown that sleep deprivation can actually alleviate symptoms of major depression, even causing suicidal people to forget their intentions at least for a while. Sadly, these effects appear to last only a few hours, making intentional sleep deprivation a poor option when it comes to treating chronic depression. That said, the odd relationship between sleep deprivation and mood has given scientists new insights on how and why we get depressed in the first place.

    Memory Enhancement

     

    Although insufficient sleep has been linked to memory difficulties; in one weird way, it can actually enhance our abilities to remember new information. Researchers out of the University of California, Riverside, recently found that people who take Ambien to combat insomnia find it easier to convert short-term memories into long-term ones. That said, according to sleep expert Dr. Donna Blair, in the end, the risks probably outweigh the benefits.

    “Insufficient sleep has been linked to short-term memory problems as well as an increased risk of dementia,” she said. “Sleep aids such as Ambien may have some noteworthy benefits; however, they also come with some pretty frightening side-effects. What’s more, they aren’t suited for people who owe their sleep difficulties to disorders such as sleep apnea, which causes breathing disruptions that make sufferers wake up gasping for breath.”

    The University of California researchers gave a similar assessment when reporting their study by clearly asserting that they do not recommend Ambien as a memory aid due to its many side-effects; however, the memory benefits appear to be there for traditional insomniacs who can tolerate the drug.

    Fear Suppression

     

    A noted researcher out of the Yale University School of Medicine found that sleep deprivation after a traumatic experience reduced the likelihood of posttraumatic stress disorder. While it’s not clear why this might occur, it could have something to do with memory issues linked with insufficient sleep. Whatever the relationship, the study was so compelling, the researchers suggest it may convince medical professionals to begin using sleep deprivation to treat serious cases of posttraumatic stress disorder.

    Only Slight Benefits

     

    While inadequate sleep may offer a few benefits; they don’t compare to the myriad of problems associated with sleep deprivation. Linked with serious diseases, such as cancer, dementia, cardiovascular disease and more, insufficient sleep can cause big problems when it persists for long periods of time. So, if you continuously suffer from sleep difficulties, make lifestyle changes that promote better sleep and seek treatment for any sort of disorder that may ultimately put you in harm’s way.

     

    Author Bio: Ryan Lawrence writes for Off-Topic Media. Thanks to Dr. Donna Blair for sharing her expertise on sleep. Dr. Blair can be reached via her website at her office in Fresno, California: www.drdonnablair.com

    Image CreditMark Sebastian

     


  7. Coping With Mental Illness: Anxiety, Depression, Adult ADHD and Other Conditions

    June 14, 2013

    Coping With Mental Illness

    by Valerie Johnston

     

    Mental illness can easily interfere with a person’s quality of life, even if the issues aren’t outwardly apparent. People who suffer from mental illness often struggle with inner demons that can make the ordinary tasks of life seem like burdens that are impossible to overcome. Each type of mental illness has its own unique set of problems as well as methods of psychological treatment. However, there are a few coping strategies that can help people with any kind of mental illness or disorder, from anxiety and depression, to adult ADHD and other serious types of mental illnesses.

    Step 1: Get Help

    Mental illness still carries a stigma in many communities; so people are often reluctant to seek treatment for their condition. If you are experiencing the symptoms of any mental illness or disorder, it is important to realize that the problem that you are suffering from is a real and physical problem. Though you may or may not be able to see any outward physical problems of the condition, that doesn’t make the symptoms any less real. If you are experiencing anxiety, fear, depression, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, or any other symptom, you should plan a visit to the psychiatrist or clinical psychologist to get help. At the very least, you should confide in family members or friends that you trust. They will be able to give you some support and advice to help you move forward.

    Step 2: Develop a Plan for Treatment

    The best way to cope with mental illness is to get regular treatment from a doctor, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist. They will be able to help you treat your condition in any number of ways. They may prescribe medication that will help reduce your symptoms and make coping with your condition easier, though medications do not necessarily have to be used as the first line of defense. Many clinical psychologists will suggest starting with therapy (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to help you learn how to cope with your mental illness. Having regular appointments with a therapist can help you work through some of your issues and create routines that make it easier to manage the symptoms of depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, or whatever type of mental illness you are suffering from.

    Step 3: Build a Network of Support

    There is no doubt that patients who have a support system will experience far better success rates with their treatment of mental illness. Coping with the stress and added anxiety of a mental illness is easier when you have friends and family members who can take some of the burden away from you. It is important to build a support network and to involve these people in your treatment, so they can know how to help you cope. If your family and friends are aggravating your symptoms and making your condition worse, they might not know what to do to help you manage your condition. Sit down and talk with them, and explain to them how they can help you cope with different types of situations.

    Step 4: Make Lifestyle Changes

    Sometimes our lives are a source of undue stress, and this can easily aggravate any type of health problem, especially a problem like depression, ADD, or bipolar disorder. Clinical psychologists recommend taking the time to evaluate your life and look for ways to reduce your stress levels, which will hopefully help alleviate some of the problems you are dealing with. If work is particularly stressful, try to sit down and talk to your employers about your condition.

    See if there is anything they can do to help make the work environment more productive and less triggering for your illness. Make changes to your thinking, positive thinking is the best remedy for anxiety and depression. It is equally important to make sure your home life is as balanced and stress free as can be as well. Have your family members lend a hand, so you can cut down on the stress at home. Making changes to your lifestyle can reduce your level of stress and ultimately make it easier to cope with the symptoms of your illness.

    Author Bio: Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian


  8. The Science of Sleep: Lessons from a UK Study

    May 24, 2013

    lack of sleep

    by Angus Carbarns

     

    You slip the PJ’s on, switch the light off and as your head hits the pillow after a long day you fall into a deep, restful slumber… at least, that’s the dream – but a third of the population gets by on just five or six hours sleep a night and bedtime has become a nightly struggle. Read to find out how to sleep longer and better, and why sleep is so important.

     

    Why sleep matters

     

    Margaret Thatcher may have been able to get by on just 4 hours of shut-eye a night, but for us mere mortals, a good night’s sleep is crucial to help us feel our best. The dangers of a lack of sleep are enough to keep us up at night worrying: sleep deprivation has been blamed for stimulating the creation of the sinister-sounding ghrelin which makes us eat more and put on weight, is linked to an increase risk of stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure and can affect our performance at work (Bill Clinton has said that ‘every important mistake I’ve made in my life, I’ve made because I was too tired’).

    Worryingly, recent reports suggest that British schoolchildren aren’t concentrating in class because they’re not getting enough kip – and researchers from Berkeley in California say it may even contribute to marital woes.

     

    Britain’s sleep deficit

     

    Unfortunately, it seems many Brits are getting by with far too little sleep, opting to play catch-up at the weekend to make up for the lack of sleep.

    A recent sleep study has found that we’re a nation of eternal snoozers who are too sleepy to get up as soon as our alarm goes off. One in ten of respondents to their survey hit the snooze button up to five times before lugging themselves out of bed, with 14% waiting for the very last minute to get up.

    But some don’t even make it out of bed in time, with one in ten people owning up to having missed a job interview because they slept in and a whopping 25% sheepishly admitting to having received a warning from their boss for being late.

    So how can we get a more restful night and bound out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm instead of lethargically hitting snooze again?

     

    5 tips for better sleep

     

    1.       Lights off

    Let’s face it, we’re a society addicted to our gadgets. If you turn to your phone or tablet to check out what’s happening on Twitter before nodding off or take an e-reader instead of a paperback to bed to help you wind down, stop.

    According to the sleepcouncil.org.uk, being exposed to even the slightest glimmer from an electronic gadget can disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythms, keeping you awake at night.

    Bright lights, whether it’s from a streetlight or a phone, suppresses melatonin (the sleepy chemical) so invest in some decent blackout blinds and a good eye mask. You can even get some eye masks that are filled with lavender to help you feel even more tranquil and ready to get some zzzs.

     

    2.       Switch off your thoughts

    Many people struggle to nod off because their minds are racing with worries about what to say in that meeting the next day or going through a mental to-do list for the weak. And with the economic downturn, many Brits are kept up worrying about how to pay their bills or if they’re going to lose their job.

    Break the cycle by writing things down on paper to get niggling worries out of your head. If you’re plagued with recurring feelings of anxiety, it may be best to try simple cognitive behavioural therapy exercises, or even speak to a therapist or a friend to get it off your chest.

     

    3.       Get moving

    It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re chronically tired, but going for a gentle jog or doing some form of light exercise in the evening will help you wind down and sleep more deeply. If running’s not your thing, try to slot in time for yoga – the mindfulness and breathing techniques you’re taught in a yoga class will help you chill in no time.

     

    4.       Snack to snooze

    Being too full or too hungry will affect your sleep, so you want to aim to eat a light snack a few hours before bed that’s just enough to satiate any hunger pangs.

    Go for foods that contain Tryptophan which converts into serotonin, a clever chemical that helps you deal with stress and anxiety and turns into melatonin at night which helps you sleep. Tryptophan tends to be found in foods that are high in protein like turkey, pumpkin seeds, chicken and cheese. Yes, you heard that right – it’s a myth that cheese will give you nightmares.

    Though many people unwind with a glass of wine before bed to help them doze off, alcohol severely disrupts the quality of your sleep — stopping you from getting REM (the holy grail of the sleep world). If you crave a reward after work and feel a bit frazzled, try a bubble bath with a few drops of lavender oil or go for a run instead.

    5.       Get into a routine

    Try to get into the habit of heading to bed at the same time every night and banish any distractions like work or TV from the bedroom after a cut-off point so your body gets used to winding down at a certain time.

    And everyone knows that it’s quality, not quantity that matters when it comes to sleep. Your body goes through various sleep cycles during the night, and you’ll feel groggy if you wake up at the wrong point during a cycle, even if you’ve been asleep for a while. One sleep cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes, so decide when you need to wake up and work out when time to go to bed to get about four or five complete cycles.

    Do you have problems getting to sleep at night? Share in comments what worked for you?

     

    Author Bio: Angus Carbarns is a freelance writer and Psychology and Sociology graduate.  Since graduating, Angus has worked predominantly alongside individuals on the autistic spectrum in an educational capacity.  This article was inspired by a recent study conducted by hotel chain Premier Inn.

    Image Credit: Ashley Webb

     


  9. Put Insomnia To Bed With These Tips

    April 27, 2013

    insomnia

    Image Credit: Brian Wolfe

    by Chris Mayhew

     

    Anyone who has ever suffered from this problem will know just how infuriating and frustrating it is to lay awake at night trying to get to sleep. There is nothing worse than laying there watching the time tick by, knowing that every second is another second of sleep you have missed out on and that you are going to be exhausted the next day.

    There are a lot of things that are said to bring on insomnia but it seems that it can hit you at some of the most unexpected times. And although it feels like there is nothing you can do at the time; there are many ways you can prevent this from occurring. Here are just a few ways you could try and put insomnia to bed for good.

    Have Strict Bedroom Rules

    Sometimes it can be difficult to do, but in order to get into a good sleep routine you need to set out some rules surrounding the bedroom. If you are struggling to rest easy at night then you need to make sure the bedroom is reserved for sleeping and sleeping only. This includes removing all technology that could keep you wired and only going to bed when you feel tired enough to sleep.

    Replace Old Furniture

    Because a bed or mattress can slowly deteriorate over time; sometimes you don’t even notice how bad it has gotten until you check properly. An uncomfortable mattress could result in many hours of sleep being lost and a new one could be just what you need.

    Also, as we get older it can be harder to get comfortable in bed and so you may want to upgrade from an ordinary one to an electrical adjustable bed. An electrical adjustable bed will allow you find your own angle of comfort and is sure to improve your standard of sleep.

    Eliminate Stimulants

    Although other resources will tell you that drinking alcohol can help you sleep; this is only true if you drink enough to make you pass out which isn’t good for your health. Alcohol and other stimulants also reduce the quality of your sleep so even if you do drop off it will still leave you feeling groggy in the morning. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and any other stimulants prior to going to bed otherwise your mind will be racing.

    Leave Problems At The Bedroom Door

    Everybody has problems in their life and it is likely to be these that are keeping you up at night. Therefore you should do your best to not take them with you to bed. This obviously isn’t an easy thing to do but try and relieve any stress that you might have by taking a bath or fully relaxing in whatever way suits you. If you have any smaller issues, try and sort them out before you head off to bed and leave any larger problems until the morning.

    Author Bio: Chris Mayhew has suffered from insomnia a lot in the past, trying a lot of things on this list, and wants to help others who are suffering from this problem. He is working for Theraposture who supply a large range of adjustable furniture to help you get a good nights sleep.


  10. Psychologist Advice: Treat Insomnia with CBT

    March 25, 2013

    insomnia

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsofan/7218989202/

    by Joanna Fishman

     

    There are more than 70 medically recognised sleep disorders, but insomnia is one of the most common.  As many as 90% of people will suffer from some kind of sleep disturbance during their lifetime, with 30% of people suffering from a severe form.  Insomnia, in its simplest incarnation, is the inability to get enough sleep, either because of being unable to get to sleep, or because of waking too soon.  Naturally insomnia can lead to tiredness during the day and a lack of concentration, but it is also associated with anxiety and depression, especially when it is longstanding.

     

    Treatment

     

    Insomnia can be caused by a large number of factors, both physical and psychological.  Medication can be prescribed by health professionals, but sleeping tablets can become addictive and are not a long-term solution, especially if there is no underlying medical cause for the insomnia.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) conducted by a psychologist or psychotherapist can offer a drug-free solution to insomnia.

     

    CBT is a psychotherapeutic treatment/taling therapy for many different emotional and psychological conditions.  It works on the basis of helping to reprogramme the mind to prevent it from falling into timeworn patterns.  By helping the sufferer to see the cycle that they are in, it provides alternative pathways to break the cycle.  The therapy is goal-orientated and follows systemic patterns to break the bad habits that the insomnia sufferer has unwittingly fallen into.  [1]

     

    How it works

     

    When an insomnia sufferer begins a CBT programme [3], their attitudes towards sleep will be assessed and the main issue relating to sleep problems will be focussed on.  There are then three stages that are worked through to try and rebalance the body’s need for sleep.

     

    1. Stimulus control

    In the same way that a baby is taught to associate its cot with sleeping, so an insomniac must learn to associate the bed with only sleep.  The bed should only be used for sleeping in; not reading, working or watching the TV.  The sufferer must go to bed only when tired, and if they don’t fall asleep within ten minutes of getting into bed, they must get up and move to another room, to prevent falling into the pattern of trying to sleep and not managing to.  They must also get out of bed at the same time every day, regardless of how much sleep they have had.

     

    1. Sleep hygiene

    Sleep hygiene does not actually relate to physical cleanliness but to the clean and undisturbed rituals surrounding going to bed.  Things that could cause one’s sleep environment to become unhygienic include noise pollution from television, light pollution from video games or stimulant pollution from caffeine, tobacco or alcohol.  During CBT, the insomnia sufferer is asked to focus particularly on the 4-6 hours prior to bed and must keep these hours clean of things that could interrupt their sleep.  They are encouraged to do something calming such as reading or having a bath, in order to prepare their body for sleep.

     

    1. Sleep restriction

    Restricting the amount of sleep that an insomnia sufferer is allowed to have may seem like a contradiction at first, however, CBT aims to balance out the person’s need for sleep and their desire to sleep with the amount of sleep that they get. Much of the anxiety surrounding insomnia is down to the stress from knowing that you are not getting enough sleep in order to function properly.  Lying awake for hours worrying about not sleeping only makes matters worse.  In order to get the balance right, CBT looks at the ratio of sleep efficiency.  Sleep efficiency (SE) is calculated using the following formula:

     

    SE = Total Sleep Time/Time in Bed

     

    Therefore, in order to increase a person’s sleep efficiency, their time in bed must be reduced.  A person undergoing CBT will be instructed to alter their time in bed by 20-minute increments until they reach the desired goal of a Sleep Efficiency value of more than 90%.  This can lead to the person being very tired when they first start out, and it can take weeks or months for the goal to be achieved, but by reducing the amount of time that they are in bed, when they do get to bed, they will fall asleep quickly and sleep well, rather than being in bed for a longer time, without sleeping as long.

     

    CBT has been shown to have between an 80% and 90% success rate [2] for insomnia sufferers.  Although the patient must be committed to the therapy and may find some of the stages hard, particularly the restricting sleep stage, the steps are relatively uncomplicated and easy to understand.  By addressing the issue of insomnia as a whole body issue rather than just a medical one, CBT often gets to the bottom of the sleep issues, rather than just masking them with medication.  Because of this, CBT has become a very popular way to treat insomnia, and its success rate is conclusive evidence that it is a viable and effective treatment.

     

    Author Bio: Joanna Fishman writes for Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney. Her blog, www.counsellingsydney.com.au/blog tackles a range of topics relevant to mental health, emotional wellbeing and relationships.

    References:

    [1] http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/hot-topics/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-insomnia

    [2] http://sleephealthcme.com/pictures/1030_CBT-I%20eD%20gLAUSERfor%20Sleep%20Health%202012%20Conference.pdf

    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavioral_therapy_for_insomnia