1. Natural Ways to Treat Depression

    February 6, 2014

    The post has been removed after editorial review.

  2. The “Tomato Effect” in Treating Depression

    January 29, 2014

    The Tomato Effect in Treating Depression

    The “tomato effect” is something that happens when you attempt to treat a condition, and your mind has already reserved a view or opinion on just how successful that treatment is going to be. It’s an assessment based on the way an individual believes the treatment is going to affect him or her, and this supposed mental awareness can have an impact on the success or failure of treatment.

    The “tomato effect” is often associated with a joke commonly seen on doctor-oriented TV sitcoms. The patient claims to have some type of illness, the doctor prescribes them “medication” (aka, sugar pills), and magically, they are cured. The idea of convincing a person that a particular treatment is going to be effective and can work is often half the battle; belief has a lot of power over the effect of a particular treatment. People’s minds are complex, and the association of an idea, a strong will, and the pre-conceived notion toward how a treatment is going to work has a lot more power than some might think.


    Medicinal Approach Versus Nutritional Balance


    There is a lot of talk surrounding the treatment of depression with medicinal approaches versus adjustments made with regards to basic nutrition. The medicinal treatment comes with the risk of certain side effects, which in some cases, can’t be reversed. The change in nutritional intake, however, is something that can be adjusted without the risk of long-term change in various bodily functions. For individuals that are hesitant toward trying a medicinal approach, research has shown that the proper increase in certain B-Vitamins, which have a lot to do with energy and focus, can lead to increased cognitive behavior and more energy and productivity. The avoidance of unhealthy substances, such as trans fats, also leads to a positive outcome, both in physical development and mental processing.

    One problem with the medicinal approach is previously held opinions about the success or failure of a certain medication. If the patient believes that medicine is a bad idea, then the likelihood of recognizing any kind of positive change could be compromised, whether the changes are happening or not. People may fear side effects, or simply not trust in the success of a particular medication. When treating depression, if the mind doesn’t want to believe it’s being helped, then the treatment may be less successful.  The alternative treatment of making nutritional changes is sometimes the more acceptable approach for certain people, and there really is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; as long as the individual believes that it can work for them, then it is a step in the right direction.


    Belief has more Power than Treatment


    Some treatments used to manage a mental condition are going to be viewed as a possibility for success or as a negative option.  This is before the patient even begins using it on a regular basis. It is human nature to develop opinions and to view something as a good or bad idea; these views and the ability to keep an open mind can have an impact on just how successful treatment is going to be. Human beings and their mental psyche are incredibly complex; by grasping an understanding of exactly what the mind can do, it has a great influence toward how effective treatment can be. It is important to factor in the opinions of a person toward any treatment solution; the ignorance toward something that crucial can be the very platform that defines a successful treatment attempt, or a waste of time all together.

    Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pistoletty/3651313640/

  3. Iceland Tops Worldwide Antidepressant Consumption

    December 20, 2013

    Iceland Tops Worldwide Antidepressant Consumption

    by Niall McCarthy


    Over the course of the past ten years, the consumption of anti-depressants has skyrocketed across much of the developed world. According to the OECD, rich countries are consuming at least 10 percent more antidepressants than they were a decade ago.

    Even though rates of depression have not risen globally, more people are being diagnosed with the illness all over the world. Awareness levels about depression have proven an important factor when it comes to greater drug consumption – greater awareness leads to greater social acceptance of medication.

    The OECD also stated that the financial crisis may have been a factor in recent spikes in antidepressant prescriptions. In Spain and Portugal, consumption has increased by a whopping 20 percent over the past five years. What country is actually on top when it comes to taking this type of medication?


    Iceland is way ahead at almost twice the OECD average. An early casualty of the global financial crisis, it has the highest prescribing rate at 105.8 doses per day per 1,000 inhabitants. In 2000, this figure was 70.9 per 1,000.  Back in 1989, it was just 14.9. These consumption levels can be attributed to the catastrophic failure of Iceland’s three primary banks, as well as the fact that alternative treatments for depression, such as psychotherapy, are deeply unpopular.

    When compared with those alternative treatments, antidepressant drugs were viewed as being more effective by the Icelandic population. However, research suggests that the prescription of this medication has still had little impact on depression levels in the country. On the contrary, percentage of people seeking psychiatric consultations have actually increased.

    After Iceland, Australia, Canada, Denmark and Sweden round off the top five countries for the consumption of antidepressant medication. Drugs are now being used in milder cases and this is heightening concerns about their appropriateness as a first resort for sufferers. The majority of psychiatrists agree that medication works well on people suffering from severe cases of depression – they should not be used in milder instances.

    More than one in 10 people in developing nations are taking antidepressant medication. In the United States for instance, 10 percent of adults take antidepressants. In China, the market has grown by 20 percent for each of the past three years. This begs the question. Why are doctors freely prescribing these drugs to so many people?

    Though there have been cases of people trying to commit suicide, antidepressants are not addictive and side-effects are kept to a minimum. As it stands antidepressants are overprescribed in a desperate attempt to combat growing life dissatisfaction and unhappiness. It seems like they are the “quick and easy solution”.

    There are depression treatments that can be administered non-pharmacologically – psychotherapy methods (e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy) are widely regarded as being as effective as antidepressants in the long term. Doctors need to start correctly identifying the symptoms of milder depression and start realising that drugs are not always the answer.


    Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz/Wikimedia


  4. Escaping Depression: A Middle Class Kid’s Guide

    October 11, 2013

    dealing with depression

    by Tyler Fleck

    I feel like a ton of people have this kind of story, the success story that is supposed to be uplifting, and drag how many readers out of a dark hole just on the merit of its ideals and noble notions. But, though I truly hope this can help, this is more of a story of how I dealt with a very dark time in my life, rather than a cure all. I hold no illusions of grandeur, no misappropriated ideals of myself—I know I’m no psychologist or therapist—but, I do know what worked for me, and maybe it can help some of you who might be dealing with a similar issue to work through it. At the least, perhaps it can give you another angle to work from. Anyways, here’s my story of how I was able to defeat depression.


    When I was younger, I went through a period of time where I felt literally nothing can go right. My friends had all moved away—save a loyal few—I couldn’t catch a break in the dating world, and my family life was crumbling as my favorite relatives left one by one, and my parents divorced. Waking up in the mornings was harder and harder every day, and it came to a point—after one of my best friends and mentors died in a car crash—that I started feeling like the darkness was never going to end.

    I felt depressed, lonely, and sometimes I just wondered what the point was. It was hard, to say the least.

    And yet, at the time, I had this strange dichotomy underscoring my life. It wasn’t really apparent at the time, but I was doing well in school, the bullies—who had marred my life before this difficult time—had all moved on to different targets (or different schools) and I still had those aforementioned loyal friends who always seemed to be there for me, even when we had our differences. But, still, I had my problems, and I had to deal with them, which I did in the only way I knew how—by throwing myself into my passions.

    Escaping the Darkness

    I remember, as a younger kid, when things got really bad, I would retreat into my books and my video games to get away from it all. With all the news as of late, many of you might think that’s wrong, that this would just open up a path for me to become some psycho serial-killer; but, for me, I truly needed the escape. Video games and movies and books gave me a whole separate land to go to that I could be king. Nothing was truly impossible, and I had a chance to get out of my head for a while, and just enjoy life. It’s strange to hear, but I think these fantasy lands actually gave me a strange sort of self-confidence; it was just easier to be me while I was playing/reading, and that transferred into the real world after a while. Even more importantly, I started gaining new friends just through common interests in these medias, which really helped me throughout Jr. High and High school, the period of time when I was rebuilding my life.

    Friends and Therapy

    But, with all this said, I don’t want to promote escapism as the only way to fix your problems. I loved playing video games, reading, and throwing myself into projects that would take my mind off of everything else, but that was only part of what I did to save my mental health. I talked to the people close to me (though there weren’t many), pried the minds of whoever would listen (of which there were even fewer), and did the same for others who needed it. Yeah, at the end of the day, those conversations only lasted a few minutes—and sometimes I would go weeks without anyone to talk about where I was in life—but, those few, fleeting moments of true human connection kept me feeling happy, alive even. It was in those moments that I knew I wasn’t completely alone, and I clung to those as hard as I could. I allowed them to drag me out of the dark place I lived in, and it got me where I am today; a perfectly functioning, outgoing individual.

    I also gained a major appreciation for therapy out of this period of time, as I found a wonderful therapist—a family friend—who was really able to connect to me on an emotional level, and kind of help me through all the bad parts of my life. Honestly, I was really lucky in finding someone who could, in conjunction with my friends, help me see the things that I wasn’t seeing, which I now think is probably the hardest part of getting out of a depressed state. It really was so difficult to appreciate the better parts of my life, when everything else seemed so bad. This is kind of why I have such a high appreciation for therapy now, and is precisely why I it makes me happy to see therapy becoming a much more integral part of our society. I really think that, though it doesn’t work for everyone, just having someone to talk to is the key to getting around the darkness in your life, and a therapist gives you that person if you don’t really have anyone else.

    No Regrets

    The strange thing is, I don’t look back on those moments of darkness and wish they never happened—not anymore at least. I mean, I have no doubt life would have been better then without them, and who knows, maybe it would be better now. But, I honestly feel stronger now because of it. I can see my weaknesses for what they were, and I can push myself as far away from them as possible, which has garnered me a rather large social circle, and an even closer relationship with my friends and family, who stuck with me through thick and thin.

    I know that my story probably isn’t as sad, or as hardship-filled, as many who share here on this blog; but I also know that there are a lot of people out there who do have it good, who have loving friends and family and yet cannot see how great things are because of an unnamed inner turmoil. This story is for you, because sometimes it’s hardest to see that light when it’s everywhere but right in front of you. Just take it from me, someone who has also gone through what you have; you just have to look around a bit to find it.

    Image Credit: Daniel Horacio Agostini at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dhammza/94194086

  5. 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mental Outlook

    August 20, 2013

    Improve Your Mental Outlook
    When we think of ways to improve our overall wellness we tend to think of big projects that tackle big issues head on. That kind of thinking is far to often a symptom of the problem, not a path to a cure. A healthy physical and mental outlook is based on a landscape we exist in, not a destination to achieve. I’ve come up with a short list of simple activities you can add to your routine that, over time, will alleviate stress and tension and help you build wells of positive mental and physical energy to rely on.

    Do Something With Your Own Hands

    For most of us hand eye coordination and dexterity are useful only in the context of operating our digital devices: computers, tablets, mobiles. Your hands aren’t made just for accessing more data and downloading your brain into an overheated frenzy. When is the last time you shaped wet clay, carved a piece of wood, kneaded dough? The interplay between hands and mind that only occurs from doing small jobs like this satisfies your mind and relaxes your body. Whether it’s making a birdhouse, preparing a meal to share, or just giving a tired friend a thorough back rub you will gain mental energy by performing simple tasks with your hands.

    Do Low Impact Exercise

    Our culture is geared to celebrate high impact exercise. TV Infomercials compete against each other to claim their program is harder, sweatier, and more extreme. Sometimes training for a marathon or getting buff is just what you want and need, but these high impact programs can be extremely stressful and require imposing aggressive forms of self discipline to complete. They are a great way to get ripped, but not always a great way to become more relaxed and happy. Take a slow, relaxing evening walk, or slow bike ride on a quiet road. If you have a place to swim find time to just splash around a little. No laps, no grind, no constant focus on goals and improvement. You’ll be surprised at how much improvement you get from less stressful forms of exercise, and the relaxation you gain will in turn help make you physically more fit.

    Perform Manual Labor

    Most of us spend our lives trying to find ways to eliminate manual labor from the equation. The problem is, sometimes we are too successful and we cut ourselves off from any form of work that isn’t intellectually focused. Working with your mind is great, but frequently involves long processes with difficult to measure results. When is the last time you cut your own grass, or picked up trash from a public space, or planted a garden? You don’t need to break your back, just find something simple that fits into your time schedule and work at it. Unlike massive work projects that can bog you down for months without verifiable results when you mow a lawn or weed a garden you have the immediate satisfaction of seeing a job well done. This can be a great way to build positive relationships too: do you know any elderly people who could use help maintaining their yard? A space that could be improved for local children to play in? And besides, who would turn down a basket of fresh picked vegetables from your garden?

    Play a Musical Instrument

    Before the invention of TV and Radio almost everyone in the US and Europe played a musical instrument for entertainment. We have gotten away from that, and now rely on unsatisfying time filler activities instead. There are parts of your mind and spirit that are atrophying away when you don’t express them, and actually making music, however simply, is a world apart from passively listening. You can buy beginners instruments fairly cheaply, and free lessons are available all over the net. Pick up a guitar, or recorder, or small bongo drum and dedicate some time into learning the basics. You will get to the point of playing along with favorite songs before you know it, and you will find that you always feel a little happier and more positive after a half hour of making music.

    Write Something

    Writing is one of the most popular forms of personal expression there is. There are lot’s of free blogger sites on the web, pick one and open a blog. Write in it at least weekly. Here’s the catch: most people will tell you writing is all about expressing yourself, or releasing inner thoughts and feelings, and you should just write whatever you want and let the muse take you where it will. That may help you and if you enjoy this please continue in your way. I recommend a little different approach though. Write with a little self discipline. Make sure that everything you write has enough of a plan to include two basic things: a format where you have a clear beginning, middle and end is one. A simple message, or point you are making is the other. Using this approach will force you to do one simple thing every time you write: organize your thoughts. Organizing your thoughts is difficult, and it takes practice, and the goal of writing like this often is to give you that practice. If you think of the people you know who are the calmest, happiest individuals who exude a sense of peace around them they will all tend to have very organized thoughts. No jumbled up nervous tension from them, just simplicity and peace. Using writing to practice this mental sorting and indexing of thoughts will give you a tool you can use to build an island of mental peace around yourself at all times.

    Image Credit: Mark Sebastian – www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/4686167305

  6. How to overcome midlife depression?

    August 11, 2013

    midlife depression

    by Emma Brown

    Aging is one of the most dreaded realities of human life, which makes each one of us cringe and whine with unease. It is a bitter truth that can be evaded by no one in the world and needs to be handled with care. Though aging is an ineluctable process that hits people after a certain age, midlife depression can wreck havoc in lives of most people during their prime years.

    Ideally, aging should be accompanied with the realization of many beautiful facts of life that make you feel content and happy from inside. In reality however, aging brings about a totally different picture in front of us.

    Often during our midlife, we face situations where we easily feel depressed and are unable to handle extreme pressures. Midlife crisis can hit anybody and can be one of the most painful things to handle. A major reason for this midlife crisis is the hormonal imbalance faced by most people during this time. Additionally, your changing appearances and slow metabolism along with lower levels of endurance can worsen the problem and make you more whiny!


    Some of the major symptoms of midlife depression often go overlooked, so it is imperative to be well-acquainted with these in advance. Some common symptoms of this depressing phase include:

    • Sadness, emptiness, and anxiety.
    • Sleeping disorder, waking up very early, facing problem to sleep, or excessive sleep.
    • Isolation, losing interest, social withdrawal from meet friends, parties etcetera.
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of self worth, feeling guilty unnecessarily, feeling helpless and hopeless.
    • Losing interest in hobbies and other pastimes.
    • Loss of appetite and weight.
    • Excessive intake of alcohol and drugs
    • Fixation on death, suicidal attempts
    • Body aches and pain that do not go way even after treatment.
    • Crying too often or too much.

    This is kind of chronic depression is recurrent and persistent. Chronic depression has impact on both the physical and mental health of an older adult and may worsen due to many new factors. Aging causes changes in body that increase risks of depression. Reduced concentration of foliate in blood and nervous system may contribute to depression, impairment and dementia. Researchers suspect that mid-life depression and Alzheimer’s disease are also closely related.

    Causes can be many, but ultimately depression has very alarming physical effect on elder people. Mortality rate in elderly people having depression issues is more than those who don’t. It is evident and is noticed several times that people suffering from cardiovascular diseases and other illnesses along with depression take more time to recover than the rest.

    How to tackle midlife depression?

    The loving care and assistance of a loved one often reduces the pain of midlife crisis. Due to increased complications in human lives, basic aging problems have evolved from skin aging concerns to health, physiological and psychological woes as well. Now a days, an effective anti-wrinkle cream alone is not sufficient to deal with this complicated problem. We need advanced solutions and proper medical care to deal with depressing midlife problems.

    It is strongly recommended to deal with midlife crisis as a medical condition and take requisite steps to relieve yourself or your loved ones from this taxing situation. Here’s a brief lowdown on different ways to deal with midlife crisis:

    • Feel beautiful about yourself: Midlife often hits your confidence really bad, and makes you feel awful about yourself. It is time to find more ways to look good and feel good about yourself. You can always take out time for treating yourself to good clothes, cosmetics and other aesthetics. You can workout and feel better, by toning your body.
    • Pursue your hobbies: Retirement or midlife means no desinence of youth, but a new beginning. It is indicative of finding a new way of life by seeking solace in something you love to do. You can finally look out and encourage others to pursue their favorite hobbies and do things they love. Many people have discovered newer talents and honed their skills during the testing midlife period.
    • Be more health-centered: Midlife is accompanied by many health disorders that need attention. It is better to place importance on health issues and develop some healthful new habits. Try adopting some of the following:

    1. Healthy eating– You would have tried almost every delicacy in the world by now, so its time to resort to some ideal eating habits. Your old ‘hamburgers and cheese’ habits should now be replaced by ‘Green tea and fresh fruits’.

    2. Quit smoking- Research has shown that people who smoke often end up aging early. Prolonged smoking and binge drinking can result in health issues, which is not advisable during this age.

    3. Exercise- If you’ve been procrastinating exercise for quite a long time, its time to stop now! Regular exercise is essential for good health and well-being. Try to take out time for fitness and exercise regularly.

    • Socialize: Find time to spend with people you love and stay happy. It will surely help you evade most midlife problems. A smile is all it takes to deal with some of the most complicated problems of human life. Smile, socialize and stylize your wardrobe to stay happy and bid adieu to all your aging-related worries.
    • Take proper advice from your family doctors or established medical practitioners who have expertize in dealing with midlife crisis. They can help you ascertain whether the depression is triggered by some health problems, or due to any other factor. You may have to take medications or change the old ones if required. Medical practitioners can assess the extremity of the condition and accordingly take further steps. There are specialized professional psychiatrists called geriatric psychiatrists who treat people afflicted with such psychological problems during midlife.
    • If its not you but someone else who needs care, give them proper time and heal them with loving words and proper care.  If you think something is bothering them, make it a point to gently ask them and devise different ways to make them happy.

    There is no greater miracle than positive thinking and strong will. When these two combine with the right intention, you can observe some of the most beautiful miracles in the world. Use these tools to your advantage and make anyone feel at peace. Happiness is after all, an outcome of good intentions of making others happy.

    Image Source/Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/itsallaboutmich/386699958

  7. On Trust, Fear, and Borderline Personality Disorder

    August 7, 2013

    Living with Borderline Personality Disorder

    From BPD patient diary:

    I have a massive issue when it comes to trust which is a major hurdle that I need to overcome if I ever want a clear shot at recovery. The mere thought of putting my well being into the hands of others sends shivers down my spine. This is something that did not appear when my breakdown occurred but probably started sometime in early childhood and is a main factor in the development of what later became Borderline Personality Disorder.


    Right off the bat the first people you are suppose to trust is your parents as they are responsible for damn near everything right off the bat but when certain circumstances happen this is put into jeopardy creating a sort of movement that is going to take a long time to get past. I could never figure out why the people who were suppose to love me and keep me safe would repeatedly put me into situations that caused me harm. My father who could go from fun loving dad to pissed off at the world in a heartbeat created an environment that was a long way from being safe for a child. I never knew what mood he was going to be in so it kept my anxiety level sky high and helped mold my BPD false self in order to eliminate as many factors as possible that would set him off. You cannot trust someone you fear.


    Both of my parents like many around the world worked full time so my primary care giver was someone outside of the home. It was my parents responsibility to make sure that all of the proper steps were taken in order to ensure my safety and well being needless to say this did not happen. I went through a number of different sitters and I would imagine some were wonderful people but the others should have picked a different occupation. Again my view of trust was distorted for how can I trust someone who is suppose to ensure my wellbeing but continues to cause harm on a way to regular basis. Too many days were spent wondering if I was going to get my ass beat at home or at the sitters or both.


    Depending on the year teachers were the closest thing I had to a responsible adult in my life but like everything else there were exceptions to the rule. Finally gathered the nerve to tell the teacher about the abuse I was taking outside of school to only be told if I was a better behaved child it would never happen. Basically the same situation repeated a year later and I learned a lesson that I would hang on to for years to come “The only person who I can trust with my wellbeing and safety is me for no one else cares what happens”.


    Doctors are a difficult group of people to trust as a whole. The first appointment they basically promise the world in terms of recovery then over the next period of time repeatedly fail to come through. I would imagine part of this is my expectations are off base but it seems every time I try to combat these negative thoughts with logic the only thing that comes to mind is examples from the past which are far from positive..


    Therapists and I do not have the best relationships. In a therapy setting you need to be completely open in order for the best possible result but I have found out the hard way that there is something known as too much information. After my first psych stay I was set up with a therapist who has a wonderful reputation of helping those with historical abuse issues. Everything was going well for the first couple of visits until I made a mistake in the third. She asked the typical question on any progress or setbacks since the last appointment and I admitted that I hit a rough patch where I turned to self harm. Almost instantaneously this therapist decided that I was not in a stable enough place mentally to go through therapy and that was the last time I ever saw her. She was followed by two more therapists who basically came to the same conclusion after myself harm issues came out into the open. Since then I have tried to contact a dozen more therapists but once I mention that I do have the Borderline Personality Disorder all communication is cut off and this is before any of them actually took the time to meet me in person to judge for themselves how well I may respond to treatment. I have come to the conclusion in order for me to obtain treatment in a therapeutic setting in this community I am going to have to fail to mention that I am BPD and I have a lengthy self harm history. Not sure how I am going to be able to be open with someone when I believe I need to lie from the onset in order to get proper care.


    Nurses. Well if you have read yesterdays post you will have a fair idea of where the relationship stands with that specific group of people. This area tends to be more separated then others as I try to figure out pretty quickly early on which are in it for the money and which are in there to help. My communication with the two groups is totally different and it has to do with trust. Very difficult to trust someone that does not look at you as a person but what is written down in a file and on paper I past the crazy line a long time ago plus that damn word untreatable is probably in capital letters.


    I do try to give everyone I meet a chance to show me what kind of person they are in and more than once my original assumption was proven wrong. The problem is when the little warning flags start to appear and with the way my brain works situations from the past are quickly linked which ends up putting up the walls to keep me safe. Like I said earlier this is an area I am going to have to figure out how to get around but I am basically clueless on how to do so. Take care.


    by Andrew R.

    Image Credit: Stefano Mortellaro



  8. Extra Tools to Help Effectively Manage Bipolar Disorder

    August 3, 2013

    bipolar disorder

    by Tricia Chilcott

    Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric disease. I know because I live with it. Every day. I know from firsthand experience how much it sucks. I understand the major negative impact it can have on all areas of your life, including things like personal relationships, job performance, and your finances. If you’ve been recently diagnosed, or are having medication management problems, the debilitating effects can throw you into a deep depression which you feel like you’ll never get out of. I’ve been there myself, and I can assure you, the right combination of meds is out there, don’t despair!

    But besides medications, what else can you do to effectively manage your disorder? There are a multitude of tools that you can add to your arsenal to help combat this illness. These are things that have been proven to help by numerous research studies. One of those tools you can use is seeing a therapist regularly, even if you don’t think you need one. A therapist can help you identify what you triggers are, and teach you effective, and healthy coping skills to deal with those events.

    Another thing that can help is practicing good sleep hygiene. I don’t think I can emphasize this one enough. Just a personal example, but I have a 3 day window for poor sleep habits before they trigger an episode in me. I know if I got more than 3 days without sleep, I’ll start cycling into a manic episode, and I contact my doctor. On the flip side, if I go a week or more being unable to get out of bed and sleeping 18 hours a day, it’s time to call my doctor as well. Healthy sleep habits is one of the most effective tools a person can use in stabilizing their disorder. This means going to bed at a reasonable hour, and getting up in the morning at the same time every day. I know some of you are shaking your head at this because insomnia can seem impossible to overcome without medications, but just trying these things can’t hurt,, and I get it where you’re coming from. I take a sleeping pill to get me to sleep every night. But doing what you can to try and establish healthy sleeping habits can potentially have positive effects. This includes things like turning off the TV and computer at least an hour before bed, not drinking caffeine after 6 PM, and not exercising right before bed. Also, keep your bedroom as tranquil as possible and keep electronics out of it. Use your bedroom for sleeping only.

    Of course, exercising regularly can help keep your disorder in check, there are numerous studies that have empirically proven the benefits of exercise in regards to mental illnesses such as major depression and bipolar disorder. In addition to keeping your body healthy, it is recommended that people with bipolar disorder abstain from drinking alcohol, as this tends to exacerbate their symptoms. As much as I hate getting out, I force myself to zumba twice a week, and although I dread going every time, I leave feeling reinvigorated and glad I went. So even if you don’t feel like getting up and moving around, do it anyway! I promise it’ll make you feel better.

    One thing that has proven helpful to many bipolar patients is keeping a mood journal. This is a very useful tool that you use to track your mood everyday, and to also add in what activities you did that day that might have impacted your mood. You can also add how much sleep you got the night before, if you napped or not during the day, if you worked out, and how your eating habits were. There are several apps that you can download to help you keep track of these, or you can find an example online and print it off. This is also a very helpful thing to show your doctor when you meet with them.

    The last suggestion I have is for you to adopt a routine and stick to it. Have a list of things you need to accomplish each day, and work towards accomplishing them. Not only does this give you a sense of purpose, but it also helps you build your self esteem as you are able to cross off activities you’ve accomplished each day. These don’t have to be huge projects your taking on, they can be as simple as taking a short walk outside, watering your garden, doing the dishes, getting one load of laundry done, or even showering and getting dressed for the day.

    These might seem like mundane activities, and unlikely to help you manage your disorder better to boot. I can assure you that by making these small changes to your life, you will feel more in control of your disorder, and happier and healthier overall. I know this for a fact because many of the things I’ve touched on are things I do myself to manage my disorder. It’s true I’m on an effective drug cocktail, but medications can only take you so far. At some point, you have to start putting more effort in as well. I promise if you do, you’ll be amazed at the benefits you will reap from it. I hope you’ve found this an informative read, good luck in managing your disorder, and God bless!

    Image Credit: Giulia Bartra

  9. Natural Ways to Overcome Anxiety and Depression

    July 30, 2013

    Anxiety and depression

    Anxiety and depression are often a result of situations that are out of control: things like injuries, illness, job loss, relationship changes and moving. However, most anxiety and depression can be dealt with naturally instead of through drugs. In fact, natural ways to cope will typically provide faster relief from your distress than medications will. Especially for situational anxiety and depression, embrace these ways to help feel better that go beyond the standard advice of eating healthy, getting adequate sleep and exercising.

    Go Against Your Instincts

    Feelings of anxiety and depression often cause individuals to retreat from others and from social situations. However, that is the worst thing you can do and will often exacerbate symptoms. Instead, force yourself to get out of the house and spend time with people you usually enjoy. The adage “laughter is the best medicine” really is true when it comes to anxiety and depression. Time spent with friends and favorite family members will likely help you turn the corner and feel much better.

    Make and Achieve Goals

    A feeling of worthlessness is often a hallmark of depression and anxiety. You can curtail these feelings and help make yourself feel better by simply doing. Take the time to set small achievable, measurable goals. Working on meeting these goals can help take your mind off negative thoughts. The feeling of accomplishment you get with each goal you meet is a step on the ladder to feeling better.

    Do Onto Others

    When you are down or anxious, one of the best bets to improve your mood is to help others. Find a place to volunteer, cook a meal for someone else, help an expectant or new mother or even just knit, sew or build something for someone else. The action of helping another person provides a rewarding sense of contentment that is unmatched. The increased self-worth you will feel will help you move out of the gloom much more quickly.

    Rely on Your Higher Power

    Regardless of the religion or belief system, most people have a higher power that they look to. Often, focusing on your spiritual life will bring you a kind of contentment and relief from anxiety and depression that cannot be found in other places. Spend time praying or meditating to refocus your thoughts.

    Try a Little Avoidance

    Depression and anxiety often mean you are wrapped up in your own thoughts. Getting a break from the course of your own thinking will greatly help you. An easy solution is to settle in with a favorite TV show, preferably one that is upbeat and will keep you from thinking about the issues that are contributing to your depression and anxiety. This mental health break will usually provide you with the space needed to start to feel better.

    Try Some Big Picture Thinking

    Putting your present situation into perspective can greatly help when it comes to feeling better. That means considering the situation you are in and how its duration compares to your life. In the grand scheme of things, is it worth it affecting you this way? What will you learn from this situation and how will it help you in the long run? Is it worth the angst you are living with?

    Reach Out for Support

    There is nothing like the empathy you get from someone in the same place or someone who has recently moved past the same kinds of feelings of depression and anxiety. Get the support you need from established support groups for people fighting these issues. You can often find local groups online, but will also find an abundance of virtual support groups that can be even more helpful. Online support groups for depression and anxiety are there for you 24/7, and you can access them from your own home by simply going on the Internet. Get the peace of mind that comes from knowing someone else is in the same place as you.

    In addition to all these natural ways to beat anxiety and depression, focus on healthy daily routines, including getting enough sleep every night, exercising regularly and eating healthily, especially foods known to improve mood such as milk, eggs, salmon, chocolate and those containing vitamin C. By combining a variety of these techniques, you are sure to find the relief you are seeking.

    Image Credit: Helga Weber

  10. Panic Attacks And Acupuncture: An Alternative Treatment

    June 27, 2013

    Panic attack

    by Ryan Rivera

    While the Bay area is a great place to live, it’s not without its stresses. Many people struggle with stress and anxiety daily, and some of those people experience stress so severe that it culminates to panic attacks. Aubrey Huff of the San Francisco Giants made headlines last year when he was sidelined for hours as a result of a severe panic attack, and thousands of less famous residents suffer from these attacks regularly to the point where they need serious intervention.

    Panic attacks are complicated anxiety problems. They’re not just an issue with stress and anxiety. They’re also a problem with “over-sensitivity” – where the mind becomes overly focused on physical sensations to the point where it notices each and every change in the way your body feels, and those sensations end up triggering panic attacks. That’s what makes acupuncture as a panic attack treatment so interesting, because it can potentially help control not only the anxiety, but also the sensitivity that triggers episodes of panic.

    The Benefits of Acupuncture for Panic Attacks

    In order to treat panic attacks, you have to first combat anxiety and stress, and then follow that up with some type of solution that counters some of the anxiety attack triggers – for example, minor aches and pains, an increased heart rate, etc. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been fond of acupuncture. Acupuncture has specific points on the body (which can vary depending on your stresses) that are known to promote significant mental wellness. Acupuncturists often have different views on which points to use depending on their training, but you’ll find that such points may include:  ST 30,  LIV 13, P 4, HE 5, and P 6

    These are the areas that reduce issues like heart palpitations, mania, tension, and more. They’re the release points for a variety of anxiety-related symptoms and issues, and some of many that are linked to providing the body with considerably more resistant to anxiety and stress.

    However, in addition to the basic anxiety relief points, acupuncture can be used to address other issues as well, and may have some additional benefits beyond reducing anxiety and stress symptoms that can help you overcome your panic attack issues.

    Acupuncture and Focus

    One of the main problems with panic attacks is that the more reminders you have about your panic attacks, the more likely you are to get one. This is because thinking about panic attacks can cause panic attacks. The more distracted you are, the less likely a panic attack will occur.

    Taking medications every day or going to therapy regularly may have some advantages, but they also force you to remind yourself that you suffer from panic disorder, which of course increases the likelihood that you’ll think about your symptoms and create a new attack. On the other hand, while you may need to attend regular acupuncture treatments, it is also not something you need to address daily. This will help ensure that you’re not overly focused on it, so that when you’re living without stress you’re not as reminded of your panic.

    Acupuncture and Reducing Physical Sensations

    Similarly, acupuncture can potentially stop some of the physical sensations that cause panic attacks beyond those related directly to anxiety. For example, if you often feel that your legs are weak, and when you feel this way you have a panic attack, then by addressing this directly (ie, using acupuncture to prevent leg weakness) you’ll decrease the frequency of your physical sensations and ultimately have fewer issues that cause attacks.

    Using Acupuncture as an Alternative Panic Attack Treatment

    For all of these reasons, acupuncture has become a very interesting method of treating anxiety and panic, and is growing in popularity within the Bay Area.

    Any anxiety treatment needs to incorporate lifestyle changes that contribute to anxiety. Fatty foods, obesity, a lack of exercise, and working in a stressful environment are all issues that will always cause some anxiety. Make sure that you’ve examined the ways that you yourself have increased your own anxiety symptoms, because while acupuncture (and any anxiety treatment) can reduce anxiety, they cannot stop you from contributing to it without your own willingness to commit to life changes.

    But when you’ve made those changes, there are several reasons that acupuncture may be to your advantage when you suffer from panic attacks. Find an acupuncturist you trust, and you may find that your panic attacks drastically decrease in overall frequency and severity for weeks at a time.

    Image CreditLuis Sánchez