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Anxiety or Depression

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When taking medications for anxiety or depression patients must realize that these are not necessarily the best answer for these potentially serious mental disorders. There are several issues which rise to the surface including the fact that the medications may work for some people while they fail for others.

These medications including anti-depressants impact the brain in ways which may change people’s moods. Anxiety drugs may help some people deal with their feelings. These medications for anxiety or depression, however, are not cures since they only help to control the symptoms of anxiety or depression.

There is no healing process involved with these drugs for anxiety or depression and they often don’t even impact the symptoms right away. They may take days or even weeks before patients may see changes. Individuals must remember that many of these drugs work by making changes to the chemistry in the brain. However, once you stop taking the medications these changes are reversed back to their original condition and the symptoms of anxiety or depression will return in full force.

I realize that many people have no alternative but to turn to these medications for anxiety or depression so that they can get a chance for a life that approaches some semblance of normality. However, patients must closely monitor their psychological and physiological responses to the medications. Why? Because, while some medications may have no observable negative effect, there are others which can wreak havoc and make your life worse than before. The side effects of some of these medications are often worse than the anxiety or depression that they have been prescribed for.

Additionally, it may not be that your anxiety or depression medication is ineffective or incorrect. It may be that the dosage is incorrect for the problem that you have. When your doctor changes the prescription dosage (up or down), many of the negative side effects may be reduced or disappear altogether. One of the issues with managing the right dosage is that doctors prescribe medications for anxiety or depression without the close follow-up that is needed to ensure that the dosage is right. In many cases, it may take a patient months to get a follow-up appointment with a doctor who has a busy practice.

Therefore, rather than relying on the ‘wisdom’ of a busy doctor, patients who take medications for anxiety or depression should monitor their responses closely, and then if they feel that changes are needed, they should be aggressive in getting to their doctors immediately. In cases like this, I have suggested to my clients that they walk into the doctor’s office and demand to see the doctor right then and there. Doctors can always ‘squeeze’ in another appointment. If you call on the phone however, expecting to get the appointment, the clerical gatekeeper is going to stay on script and attempt to block your efforts to get an immediate appointment (if none is readily available).

There are times when doctors inform patients that it will take time for the anxiety or depression medication to work and for the side effects to ‘smooth out’. Don’t buy that line of reasoning. If you feel bad… if you feel something is not right… if you feel worse… if you are experiencing symptoms that have nothing to do with your anxiety or depression… be aggressive and get help right away… while you can.

Why? Some of the side effects for some of these anxiety or depression medications are potentially deadly including suicide or even black outs and vertigo while driving. Imagine driving on the highway and experiencing vertigo!

So… if you experience troubling symptoms from your new anxiety or depression medication… do whatever needs to be done to get to the doctor. And, if that proves difficult – get another doctor right away!  In this case break the rules that they set… and get help.


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How to Deal with Social Anxiety Disorder

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Social Anxiety Disorder is a Psychiatric disorder that attacks one out of every eight Americans. Those who have the disorder can become physically sick in social situations. This disorder can devastate more than your self esteem, it can destroy your marriage, finances and many other aspects of your life. The disorder is characterized by fear of social situations.

There is help for people suffering with social anxiety disorder. If you seek treatment, you will be able to obtain medications, counseling and support group information to help cope with this psychiatric disorder. After seeking treatment, there are things that you can do to help alleviate stressful social situations and ways to begin to reacquaint yourself with friends and family members.

First, read everything you can on social anxiety disorder. Visit your local library and check out books on the subject. Then, check out books with topics on building self-esteem, positive thinking, public speaking, anything that you think will empower you to gain more confidence. You can not just “snap your fingers” and have this disorder just disappear You need to read everything you can on the subject and subjects that will help you re-build your own self-worth.

2) Start and maintain a daily, weekly, and monthly journal. In the daily journal write down where you are right now in your life. Write about any and all social situations. How did you feel in those social situations? How do you think other people reacted to you and how did you react to them? Did you feel sick today when you were in the social situation? These are crucial questions when trying to deal with social anxiety disorder.

At the end of the week, summarize your set-backs and itemize your progress. At the end of the month, write two pages in your journal. The first page should summarize any difficult situations and how you overcame the situation, or how you dealt with it. The second page should summarize the social events and social situations where you felt comfortable and why you felt comfortable. How did you feel overall? While this may seem to be a waste of time, the journals will help you face and overcome your fears and ultimately help you deal with your social anxiety disorder.

3) Set social goals for yourself and follow through on them. If you are extremely uneasy at the mall, then go to the mall and walk in. Then walk out, immediately. If your social anxiety seems to attack you when you are in the middle of a crowded building, walk to the center of the crowd, and immediately turn and walk away. Take small practical steps at the start and them move on to the more challenging issues you may have with social anxiety disorder.

Finally, always talk to your doctor or psychologist openly and honestly. If you are on medication, take it as prescribed and try to overcome your social anxiety so that you can experience the life that you deserve to live at the very fullest. Stressful social situations happen to everyone at some point in their lives and one out of every eight people know how you feel to be living with something much worse than ‘one social situation’, you are not alone at all and though there is little comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone , do know that you are understood.

Social anxiety disorder is serious but, but all over the world, millions of people have learned how to manage their symptoms on a daily basis.

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High Fat Foods Make You Depressed

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Here is a frightening article written by S Kirley in the Post Media news that “Fatty ‘comfort’ foods might actually make people depressed!!!  Can you imagine the devastating impact of the millions of hamburgers, french fries, chicken nuggets, fry chicken and hot dogs being sold every hour around this world? We know of the impact of high fat foods on our hearts, livers, and arteries and how they contribute to early untimely deaths. Now we are finding out that these foods also have an impact on our mental health too – not only depression but anxiety too!

Here is the article:

Universite de Montreal researchers are reporting that high fat foods increase anxiety and depressive-like behaviours in mice — a finding that a leading Canadian obesity expert said runs counter to almost everything we have been told about fat-dense foods.

High-fat foods are comforting, said the University of Calgary’s Dr. David Lau. Brain scans even show it: they tend to light up different parts of the brain. That suggests fat-rich foods are so “feel good” they could become addictive and explain why obese people tend to gravitate toward them.

But the authors of the new study found the opposite: mice fed highly palatable, high fat foods displayed behaviours that were more in keeping, in the animal world, with depression and anxiety.

According to lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Fulton, “fat rich foods can actually cause chemical reactions in the brain in a similar way to illicit drugs, ultimately leading to depression as the ‘comedowns’ take their toll.”

Recent studies increasingly suggest that obesity is linked to a higher risk of depression, said Fulton, but exactly why that might be true — what the underlying biological mechanisms are linking the two — remains obscure.

Fulton and her co-author, Sandeep Sharma, wondered whether a high-fat diet might affect the brain’s emotion and reward circuits.

For their study — which appears in the International Journal of Obesity — the researchers studied a strain of mice prone to obesity. One group was fed a diet high in fat, particularly saturated fat, the other low-fat chow.

After 12 weeks, the animals were put through a series of behavioural tests, including “anxiety” tests measuring how rodents respond to a new environment. Stressed animals tend to freeze, or scurry off to a corner, rather than explore.

Mice exposed to the high-fat diet were considerably less active, explored less and avoided open areas.

In a swim test used to measure “behavioural despair” — a test also widely used by drug companies to screen new anti-depressants — mice were forced to swim in a glass cylinder filled with water for six minutes.

“Animals that give up quickly — they stop swimming and just float and stop trying to pull themselves out of the beaker — that’s (a sign of) self-helplessness,” Fulton said.

Mice on the high-fat diet “actually gave up” and attempted fewer escapes, she said.

When the researchers looked at the animals’ brains, they found higher levels of the stress hormone, corticosterone. They also saw changes in the expression of proteins that help control signalling between neurons in areas of the brain regulating emotions and reward.

Fulton said the type of fat might make a difference. Other research has shown that food high in saturated fat — such as hamburgers, bacon, pork sausages, cheese, butter, ice cream — cause inflammation throughout the body, including the brain, and that this inflammation may be causing changes that can lead to “negative mood states.” But Fulton’s lab has found some evidence that animals consuming the same total amount of fat, but “good fat, like olive oil,” experience less anxiety.

The researchers can’t rule out the possibility that the extra fat gained by the mice on the high-fat chow affected their performance and “increased immobility times” in the swim test.

They also said it’s not clear how to reconcile their results with what others have found. Other teams have reported that rats fed high-fat diets are less anxious and more docile.

But that’s only the case in the short-term, Fulton said. Animals, including humans, exposed to a stressful situation — or even long-term, moderate stress — “will have a reduced physiological stress response” — meaning they’ll feel a sense of relief — “when given the opportunity to eat high-fat food,” said Fulton, a principal investigator at the Centre hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal and a member of the Montreal Diabetes Research Centre.

“In the short-term high-fat food feels comforting, but in the long-term, and with increasing adiposity (fat mass) it is having negative effects on mood.

“We know that diet is a large contributor to the obesity epidemic throughout the world,” Fulton added. Foods high in saturated fats and sugar are particularly abundant, she said.

In addition to obesity’s well-known associations with high blood pressure, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes, “we really need to consider mental disorders,” she said.

Lau, editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Diabetes and chair of the diabetes and endocrine research group at U of Calgary, said the story is much more complex.

“We still don’t understand why obese people are more depressed — is it related to body image (or other issues)?” he asked.

“Basically what they saw was some association,” he said — not cause-and-effect.

It’s an interesting hypothesis-generating observation, he said, “but it needs a lot more work. More research is needed, especially in humans, to better understand how nutrient signals affect the hedonic brain pathways.”



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Beating Depression with Action

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Depression can come on us at any time of the year. Sometimes, holidays are the worst times for those that feel this down-in-the-dumps fear and worry and things just seem to happen to make us feel gloomy and sad. Note that this feeling happens to all of us at one time or another. How to recognize the feeling and know what to do about it is the purpose of this article which features several steps to help you in beating depression.

No one can or should ignore this feeling. It is universal and the blues are very much ingrained in our world. Music and movies are legendary in handling this subject. If the feeling is too overwhelming, then sometimes professional help is the desired action. We will just talk here about the funk of depression, the knotted thinking that nothing is right and it will only get worse. The following things are suggested to help you in beating depression:

  1. Laughing is the best medicine is an old adage, but so true. It is amazing how when you are depressed, just laughing about something and releasing the stress, can make you feel better. If you are having trouble finding something to laugh about, maybe you can find some people to keep close that cheer you up, that you can call when you feel bad, those who you know will let you apply the “strength in numbers” theory. Invite a few good friends over just to talk and have an appetizer and you will see how much better you feel afterwards. Laughing will help you to move towards your goal of beating depression.
  2. Listening to music is another key to beating depression. If you can just relax and let the type of music you love drift over you and enter your senses, you will find that you calm down and feel better. Even as babies in the womb, we respond to music. Maybe you will find you want to get up and dance and there is nothing wrong with that – even without a partner! Just move to the beat and let all your stress flow out of your fingertips and toes.
  3. Do some work and you will find you feel less depressed. There is something about a clean bathroom, living room, or kitchen that gives most women a sense of pride and order and joy. Men sometimes enjoy doing some of the same work and experiencing the same attitudes. The point is you just need to get out and do something that moves your body. Maybe you can shoot hoops in the driveway, ride a bicycle through the neighborhood and say “HI” to a few of your neighbors. There is something to be said for just watching a sunset and realizing how mighty the world is and how we are just one part of it. That sometimes seems to put our troubles more in perspective and help in beating depression.
  4. While we are on that thought, why not try prayer when you feel depressed? Try helping out someone less fortunate. Think of hospital patients and know that they most likely have things worse than you. Yet, you see happier children and adults in some of the worst settings in the hospital. Count your blessings. Hug someone or maybe go through some old pictures of happy times with your family. Prayer can be used as a premier strategy in beating depression.

Doing productive activities will always perk you up. Think positively about your life and the things you have been given and do not dwell on the problems. Take your dog for a walk and relish in the animal’s unending enjoyment at seeing you and being with you. Sometimes simple undemanding love is all we need to overcome the blue feeling and move towards beating depression for good.

The last suggestion may sound unusual, but here it is. EAT ICE CREAM! Yes, just swirling that cold stuff around on your tongue and all the different flavors can make you feel good! The idea is to eat something that you totally enjoy and see how hard it is to be depressed when you have your favorite food and are enjoying it. The world just seems a little better! Yes – eat ice cream or something you really love – and use your tastes in beating depression.

Of course, all the suggestions given above may not apply to everyone. But give them a try and who knows…maybe they can help just a little. Keep this list handy and the next time you are feeling a little down, find something that triggers the best response to get you to feel happy again. Be aware that when depression creeps in, you need to take action in beatin depression back to the corner – way otu of your life where it belongs.

We all have more important things to do in life than feel blue and depressed. Keep this thought in-mind and may your life be filled with joy.

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