1. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    February 14, 2014

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. Natural Ways to Treat Depression

    February 6, 2014

    The post has been removed after editorial review.

  3. Women and Testosterone during Menopause

    January 25, 2014

    Women and Testosterone during Menopause

    Hormone balance is crucial to physical and emotional health. However, perceptions of hormones are often limited by gender. Discussions of male hormones are dominated by testosterone, while estrogen and progesterone are female buzzwords.

    While each sex produces hormones to different degrees, a limited focus can further symptoms of imbalances. This can be most seen during life changes, such as menopause. Depression, body changes, sexual disinterest and low energy are all tied to testosterone loss in women.

    How Healthy Testosterone Levels Benefit Women:


    Menopause can take a toll on relationships. Symptoms such as depression and low sex drive may create emotional distance between partners. A spouse may feel unattractive or neglected during periods of hormone change.

    Low testosterone is correlated with low sexual energy and enjoyment. Testosterone helps restore sensation in the clitoris and nipples for sexual arousal, which may facilitate female orgasms.

    Menopausal treatments often focus on treating physical symptoms, such as hot flashes. Unfortunately, estrogen and progesterone do little to restore libido that drops during menopause. Prescriptions that do not consider testosterone can increase these imbalances.

    Body Image:

    During menopause, women of all fitness levels can experience changes to body composition. Those with fit lifestyles may notice declines in endurance and drops in strength. Menopausal women may have lower results from workout routines.

    Reduced muscle tone and increases in underarm fat could affect self-image. Testosterone is crucial to building lean muscle mass and reducing body fat.  There are effects beyond cosmetic issues that can also plague women with low T.

    Bone strength may decline with age and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Testosterone strengthens bones to reduce the threat of breaks.

    Causes of Low Testosterone in Women:


    The aging process is the most common cause of low testosterone in women and men. Testosterone levels in women may begin to fall in pre menopause years and accelerate after age 40.

    Many ‘manopausal’ men turn to testosterone boosters with maca root or gamma oryzanol to enhance their testosterone and mood. Women should use discretion is choosing testosterone supplements and work with a health professional.

    Oral testosterone supplements may cause drops in HDL cholesterol that limit heart benefits from estrogen replacement. Taking too much testosterone could produce masculine effects in some women.

    Possible Options:

    Diet and Exercise may be tweaked for better hormone balance. Low fat diets may lack the cholesterol needed to produce testosterone and improve heart health, as cholesterol is converted into T in the ovaries.

    HDL cholesterol is needed to clean arteries of plaque buildup for better cardiovascular health.  Women may consider a handful of almonds or fatty oils for essential fatty acids (EFAs) to help restore hormone levels, including testosterone.

    EFAs are not produced by the body and must be consumed. Drizzling walnut oil over a salad with Brazil nuts is an example of a hormone friendly meal.

    Workouts that strain the body are needed to produce a hormone response. Adjusting exercise to include more compound movements can generate testosterone. Squats and bench presses are examples.

    You may also consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This approach adds short bursts of intense activity into your routine. Adding short bursts of sprinting in your jog uses HIIT principles. Women can also change the order of exercises or weights used to shock their bodies.

    Ovarian Surgery:

    Female testosterone is mostly produced in the ovaries. Regardless of age, women who have had their ovaries removed are prone to low T.

    Solution: Working with a medical professional is advised.

    Stress and Lifestyle:

    Cortisol is a stress hormone that can crowd out other hormones. Menopausal women with high levels of stress may see drops in testosterone.


    Managing stress is crucial to overall health. Women should set aside time each day to close their eyes and reflect. Basic meditation or yoga classes offer effective relief with other health benefits.

    Using cue words can help redirect focus during stressful times. A cue word helps direct focus to current tasks. For instance, ‘focus’ can be a cue word to fight the brain fog associated with menopause.

    Hormone Replacement Considerations:

    Individual factors will determine the extent of testosterone replacement for each woman. Therapies may add testosterone for otherwise healthy women. Women who have had their ovaries removed may require special considerations.


     Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregpc/3346027891/



  4. Post Removed

    January 8, 2014

    Post has been removed after the editorial review.

  5. Happy New Year!

    December 31, 2013

    Happy 2014!

    Wishing You: Beauty.. Freshness.. Dreams.. Truth.. Imagination.. Feeling.. Faith.. Trust.. This is beginning of a New Year! 

    And… for those who remember Sathya Sai Baba: “Love All, Serve All”!

    With Love and Hope,


    Happy New Year!

    Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobifirestone/11665379505/

  6. How to Manage Anxiety Sweats

    November 27, 2013

    How to Manage Anxiety Sweats
    The big moment has arrived, you’re having an interview with your dream job. You’ve been preparing your entire working career for this one opportunity and you’ve planned everything you need down to a tee.  A copy of your resume rests flat in your laptop bag, your shirt has been pressed and dry-cleaned and you got a good night’s sleep. It seems that nothing can go wrong. You jump in your car and pull out the driveway, the air con is blasting – you don’t want to get overheated and start sweating right? Only problem is, you are sweating. Despite an 18 degree temperature, two wet circles are starting to form under your arms and they’re spreading quickly – the enemy has won again! By the time you get to your interview, you’re anxiety levels are at an all-time high, and you’re struggling to get it under control. A million thoughts run through your head like, why couldn’t they be one of those new age businesses and conduct a Skype chat interview? Or would it be bad if I cancelled now? Or maybe if I wear my backpack the entire time they won’t notice. People who suffer from anxiety sweats (myself included) know this feeling all too well. You don’t need to be embarrassed, sweating due to anxiety is a common condition that affects more people that you think. Apparently, sweating is a natural response of our sweat glands when we are anxious. For some, the sweating doesn’t begin until you’re standing in a crowded room, others just need to think about interacting with people and they start perspiring. So how do you manage this condition? Here is a few ways to help you overcome anxiety sweats.

    Wear clothes that allow you to breathe


    Much like the aforementioned scenario, if you know you are going to be in a stressful situation that may lead to sweating, try to reduce your external body temperature by wearing non synthetic clothing that is light and breathable. Wearing synthetic materials will only increase your body’s need to sweat, making it seem more excessive. Partner this with a strong antiperspirant (I use Rexona Clinical) to prevent any further sweats.

    Recognise your triggers and focus on something less anxiety provoking


    Feeling of anxiety can be incredibly overwhelming, besides sweating you may also be feeling waves of tightening in the chest, a racing heart, snowballing worries and obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviour. These reactions are provoked by situations that make you uneasy or nervous. I’m not saying it’s easy to recognise all your triggers, but if you can identify a few and find ways to redirect your focus onto something other than your anxiety, you retain a sense of control. You can reach out to others, do work around the house, exercise, listen to music, watch a movie or engage in a creative activity such as drawing, painting or writing.



    Here’s yet another good reason to get involved in some extracurricular activities. Physicians have long recommended exercise as a means of relieving anxiety by helping your body to practice responding to stress. That way, when the real McCoy happens, you are much better prepared to handle an anxiety provoking situation. Exercising prior to anticipated anxiety provoking situation is also a good idea (such as job interview), because the exercise will cause inflow of endorphins into your brain and it will function better. Yet, you should finish the exercise at least two hours prior to the interview.


    This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things you can do to curb anxiety sweats. However, if you do experience anxiety on a regular basis, remember these tips and don’t be afraid to see the psychologist or psychotherapist to deal with root cause of your problems.


    Image Credit: Ryan Hyde @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/breatheindigital/4668093768



  7. Understanding Personality Disorders

    October 3, 2013

    by Jessica Galbraith

    Personality disorders are widely misunderstood by the general public. Although an estimated 10% of people have some type of personality disorder (Mental Health Foundation), the negative stigma that is attached to them makes diagnosing and follow-up treatment difficult. There are ten major types of personality disorders, which cover a wide range of personality spectrum.

    Getting diagnosed can be a challenge in itself, and usually includes psychological testing by a registered psychologist or psychiatrist, extensive interviews, and meeting strict criteria specified by Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association. Let us explore what exactly constitutes a personality disorder, the diagnostic process, and the treatment options available to those who have been diagnosed.

    Getting diagnosed with a personality disorder can be scary, but also brings relief.

    What is a personality disorder?

    Each of us has our own unique personality which determines how we behave, process, and feel. We each react to situations differently, from social engagements to trauma. As we go through life, we learn to cope with these experiences. For someone with a personality disorder, this becomes much more difficult. They may feel isolated, misunderstood, and have a generally hard time in every aspect of life. The illness affects their relationships and how they process their feelings.

    What types of personality disorders are there?

    There are ten officially recognized personality disorders, which are categorized into three groups.

    •  Suspicious Disorders: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder.
    •  Emotional and Impulsive Disorders: anti-social personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder
    •  Anxious Disorders: avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder

    Depression and anxiety are often present with a personality disorder, however the severity can range from mild to unmanageable. In addition, many sufferers deal with issues such as self-harm, eating disorders, panic attacks, and substance abuse.

     on the edge of suicide

    90% of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable personality disorder.

    Diagnosing and Treatment

    Getting diagnosed is often the biggest issue in mental health. Most people don’t seek help until they are forced to by family or friends, or until their illness escalates into a serious situation. Once a healthcare professional is able to assess what the person is dealing with, they will check if they meet enough criteria to be officially diagnosed with a disorder. A large majority of people who suffer from a mental health disorder, meet the criteria for two or even three others. There is usually multiple interviews to determine if the issues are constant or only related to a recent life changing event such as a divorce or loss. Once it has been established that they are dealing with a personality disorder, a treatment plan is devised. For many years, the general consensus was that there was no cure for mental illness. This is changing rapidly however, as research and mental illness education is becoming more accepted and prevalent. Those who have been diagnosed with a personality disorder, more often than not, face a lifetime struggle trying to find a balance through medication and therapy. The goal is usually to manage the disorder as much as possible rather than fix it. Medication can help side issues such as anxiety and depression, and psychotherapy is effective in addressing feelings and concerns as they arise.

    Common Misconceptions

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths out there on mental illness. One of the most common is that personality disorders are not treatable. While treatment is never expected to ‘fix’ the person, it does make life manageable; many people live normal lives with families, jobs, and a functional day-to-day. Another common myth is that mental illness isn’t a real condition. This of course, just isn’t the case. Mental illness is as real as any physical illness and has been linked to genetics and other neurological factors. Mental illness is also commonly believed to be a weakness in a person, and that it is something they should be able to snap out of. These types of misconceptions do tremendous harm to those who suffer with personality disorders. It can deter them in seeking help and creates feelings of shame.

    The misconceptions about mental illness are immense, but education initiatives are slowly making their mark.  As the general public becomes more informed, hopefully the myths and stigmas attached to mental illness will fade. There is still very limited research on the long-term benefits of various treatment options, but more and more research is being done. The future for those who suffer with mental illness has never looked better; but there is still a long way to go.

    Image Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mytudut/5180391961 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/3685379062/

  8. Quit Smoking By Changing Your Thinking and Behavioural Patterns

    August 27, 2013

    how to quit smoking

    “I can’t do it, I have tried everything from the a–z of the quit smoking world and I can’t give up cigarettes”. How many of you have heard this sentence, or at least one very similar. See the thing is most people are looking for that easy fix, the one where they wear a patch for a few months and hey presto they are magically cured. If only it was that simple….

    NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) is promoted by many clinics and it can certainly work with some people. Yet, if you look into the statistics regarding smoking cessation with NRT you will see the success rate is very low, very low indeed. In order to really tackle smoking or more importantly the addiction to nicotine we must first have an understanding of our cognitive behaviours. Why do we smoke? What causes us to pick up a cigarette? And what stops us from wanting to quit?

    Before you decide to quit it is important that you have realistic expectations. Sure everyone wants to quit on their first attempt but in all honesty this will be very hard and may not happen. However it is wrong to look at a relapse and see it as a failure a priory. Read on these useful techniques that will help you quit smoking once and for all.

    Mind Distraction

    This is all about learning to behave differently when you are placed in an environment or situation which usually involves you smoking i.e. on a lunch break. There are certain techniques (incl. mindful meditation) that can be used to distract your mind from smoking related thoughts.

    Altering Your Thinking Patterns

    When your body is deprived of nicotine you can go through a series of mood changes. By learning how to change the way you think in certain situations you can help to make the withdrawal a lot less difficult. For example one of the most common reasons people light up a cigarette is due to stress. Instead of thinking “I really need a cigarette”, you can change your thought process to “I need to go for a walk and get some fresh air” or “I need to count to 10 and focus on my breathing”.

    Improve Your Understanding

    I am sure you have heard the saying “knowledge is power”. The more that you know and understand about your smoking addiction, how to tackle it and what to expect during this process the better place you will be in to combat your addiction.

    Understanding Social and Environmental Triggers

    If you know and understand what situations make you crave nicotine most you can then work out a way to avoid these. For example a lot of people who smoke find that when they drink alcohol they also feel the need to have a cigarette. The obvious solution for this is to instead of having that beer or glass of wine, have an orange juice instead.

    Know Your Motivational Cues

    If there are certain things that make you more motivated to quit then you should surround yourself with these.  When you find these places, people or actions that motivate you it’s a good idea to write a diary or list to help yourself remember. Positive psychology teaches us that having a set of motivational triggers really helps and essential in altering your way of thinking and acquiring positive outlook in life.

    Know Your Negative Triggers

    This again involves making a list of all the negative things that you associate with smoking. By putting this list in a spot that you will see few times a day it will help to change the way you think and feel about cigarettes. Generally speaking, knowing your negative triggers is essential for overcoming addiction, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other mental health condition. Many psychotherapy techniques including CBT, hypnosis, psychoanalysis, etc. aim at discovering these triggers as they are often hidden in your unconscious.

    Social Network

    Do you hang around with a lot of smokers? Surrounding yourself with people who are smoking can negatively affect your chances of quitting. It’s understandable that these people will most likely be your friends and family so you will not wish to avoid them, however by asking them to not smoke in front of you will make a massive difference.

    Weight issues

    For some people the fear of weight gain is what keeps them on the cigarettes. Before you decide to take your first step in giving up join a gym or make an exercise plan which will help you to lose weight or maintain your current weight when you quit smoking.

    What you have to remember is that although you may not be successful on your first attempt this is 100% normal. Some can quit first time around while others find it harder to break the addiction. If you are someone that has a relapse make sure to remember what worked for you the previous time around and try to include these more in your daily life.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian – http://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/2752162749

  9. Looking ahead to the Affordable Care Act: How can it make America’s mental health system better?

    June 30, 2013


    by Michael Cahill


    Last year, the tragedies in Aurora and Sandy Hook put America’s poor mental health system into the national spotlight. They revealed an expensive system devastated by budget cuts as a result of the 2008 – 2009 financial crisis. These cuts forced the closure and downsizing of state-run mental health facilities, driving up the cost of treatment.


    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the cost of mental health treatment was the main obstacle for people when choosing to seek mental health care. The agency also discovered that the majority of those with health insurance actually have significant limitations on coverage when it comes to mental health services.


    So if the primary barrier to mental health treatment for Americans is cost, that’s where the Affordable Care Act comes in. Here are five ways it can help improve our situation:

    1. Mental health coverage included in every plan


    The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will take full effect beginning next year. It brings with it a mandated list of “essential health benefits” in 10 categories that insurance companies must cover with each new plan they offer. This mandate will help provide some 32 million Americans get mental health coverage for the first time.


    The ten categories issued by the federal government will have direct and indirect impact on mental health. However, three benefits stand out – mental health and substance use disorder services (includes behavioral health treatment), prescription drugs, as well as preventive and wellness services.


    According to numbers from the White House, 20 percent of health insurance plans do not include mental health coverage and about a third do not cover substance abuse treatment.


    Aside from providing 32 million Americans with access to mental health care for the first time, the ACA will also improve mental health coverage for the 30 million who already have it, said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.


    2. Health plans will be more affordable


    For years, health insurance companies were allowed to discriminate against customers and their beneficiaries based on their health status. Starting in 2014, customers cannot be denied coverage or charged extra because of a pre-existing condition.


    Under the law, the lifetime and annual limits for spending on health benefits will also be removed. This means there can be no limit to how much your health insurer will pay to cover your mental health benefits. Likely this is welcome news for people with a mental illness who need more resources because of their condition.


    Preventive and wellness programs are also mandated under Obamacare. People who suffer from mental illness are at high risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, and cancer. Health insurers are not allowed to charge co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles for these measures.


    Having a preventive care program is important for people with mental illness since almost 70 percent are likely to smoke. Smoking cessation counseling and aides are included in preventive programs starting next year.


    3. You can buy coverage through the Health Insurance Exchanges


    Health Insurance Exchanges will be new marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can compare and choose the right plan for them. Each state will have its own exchange and enrollment for plans will be available starting Oct. 1, 2013 for coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2014.


    Those who suffer from mental health disorders can now easily access information about different plans and buy the one they prefer. Assistance via call centers will be available to help consumers make their choice. All plans sold in the exchanges will include the “essential health benefits.”


    Customers can also find out if they qualify for the government subsidies available for low income families and individuals. Those who earn between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level do not have to pay more than 9.5 percent of their yearly income for health coverage. The 9.5 percent is a sliding number, which means those who earn less will have more affordable plans.


    4. Medicaid coverage will be expanded.


    Many health advocates say that Medicaid expansion will improve access to mental health services.


    According to a study by the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), the Medicaid expansion will help approximately 2.7 million uninsured individuals who currently suffer from mental illness nationwide.

    Medicaid will provide health coverage for the poorest of the nation’s uninsured. Government subsidies will be 100 percent for the first 3 years and then at least 90 percent for the next 7 years. Those who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level (around $15,000 annually for an individual) will be included in the expansion.


    Unfortunately, the expansion will not be available across the country. So far, twenty states and the District of Columbia have signed on, while fourteen states have rejected it.


    5. Quality and availability of services will be improved


    Obamacare doesn’t stop at providing health insurance and increasing coverage. The law also focuses on improving the quality of services delivered by the health care system.


    Treating mental illness is not only expensive, it is also very complex. What works for one patient may not work for the other. Going in and out of treatment is common among people with mental health disorders.


    The new healthcare law will also create the National Strategy for Quality Improvement which focuses on the overall improvement of health care delivery. High-cost chronic diseases including mental illness will be a priority.


    The Centers for Excellence in Depression will also be established to develop coordinated and integrated care, encourage positive health behaviors and outcomes, and promote interdisciplinary training of mental health professionals.


    Author Bio: Michael Cahill is the editor of the Vista Health Solutions blog. Follow him on Twitter at @Vistahealth  and @Electronicmike

  10. Happy Easter!

    March 31, 2013

    Happy Easter!

    Image Credit: Grzegorz Lobinski