Category Archives: Depression

Your Health During and After Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks an hour ahead of the standard time. The change, which moves an hour of natural daylight from the morning to the evening, costs millions of Americans an extra 60 minutes of sleep throughout spring and summer. Unfortunately, the time change may do more harm than just make you feel groggy.

Here are some aspects of your life and health DST can affect:

  1. Heart Health

Setting the clocks ahead for even an hour can take a toll on your heart. According to a study, daylight saving time transitions may increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

  1. Diet and Appetite

Transitioning to daylight saving time can wreak havoc on your diet. Sleep deprivation influences the hormone levels in your body, causing changes in appetite and weight gain. As such, you may experience a sudden increase in cravings and binge eating.

  1. Mood and Productivity

As your body clock transitions into daylight saving time, disrupted sleep cycles become inevitable. When springing forward, especially as a regular office employee, your body needs to adjust to sleeping earlier. As a result, you may feel restless during the night, and then lethargic, moody, and unproductive in the day due to the lack of sleep.

How to Overcome Daylight Savings Time Transitions

You can avoid the health risks associated with daylight saving time by taking gradual steps, including:

  • Going to bed and waking up earlier than usual
  • Exposing yourself to sunlight after waking up, which can help reset your body clock
  • Stop drinking caffeinated beverages and other stimulants after lunch
  • Avoid taking naps since it can prevent you from falling asleep faster at night

What Happens When Daylight Savings Time Ends?

After DST, almost everyone in the United States will need to reset their clocks. Although an extra hour of sleep is a wish granted for many, it can also take a toll on your health. You may experience:

  1. Disturbed Sleep and Insomnia

Did you finally adjust to DST? Well, you need to re-acclimate your body clock all over again. While an extra hour of sleep seems heavenly, it can disrupt normal sleep patterns and cause certain health conditions, such as insomnia and fatigue.

  1. Depression

Once DST ends, the sun will go down earlier, meaning sunlit days will be much shorter. People will spend more waking hours in the dark, which may lead to an increased risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that can be difficult to deal with in the winter months.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), SAD manifests in sleep difficulty or excessive sleeping, feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, fatigue, and weight gain.

How to Overcome the End of Daylight Savings Time

The simplest way to adjust your body clock is to start changing your sleep schedule before the time change. Beginning the end of DST by having good sleeping habits and getting enough rest will help your body acclimate better.

When it comes to overcoming SAD, it may help to eat healthier, maintain an active lifestyle, and to expose yourself to sunlight every morning. In some cases, beating the winter blues may require medical treatments, including medications, light therapy, and psychotherapy. If you or someone you love needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

herbal_med

What Is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a medical system that is based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Tiny amounts of natural substances such as plants and minerals are used that they believe will stimulate the healing process. In the 1700’s in Germany, this belief was developed and is common in many European countries. It is not as popular in the United States and is sometimes poo pood. I must say that I had two years of Homeopathy education by some of the world’s best teachers. I have seen what would be thought of as miracles with certain patients that used Homeopathy. In certain countries, there are Homeopathy hospitals.

herbal_medThe belief behind homeopathy is “like cures like”, or rather something that brings on symptoms in a healthy person can treat an illness with similar symptoms, given in a very small dose. This is supposed to trigger the body’s natural defenses. As an example a red onion makes your eyes water and this is the reason it is used in homeopathic remedies for allergies. Other treatments for ailments are made from poison ivy, white arsenic, crushed whole bees and an herb call arnica.

The homeopathic doctors, who are called homeopaths, weaken these various ingredients by adding water or alcohol. It is then shaken as part of a process called potentization, which they believe, transfers the healing essence. They also believe that the lower the dose, the more powerful the medicine. Many of these remedies no longer contain any molecules of the original substance and they come in a variety of forms like sugar pellets, liquid drops, creams, gels and tablets.

When visiting a homeopath they will ask a number of questions about your mental, emotional and physical health to prescribe the remedy that best matches all of your symptoms and then will tailor the treatment best for you.

Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies can also be purchased at drugstores and health food stores. The dosage and quality of these various products will depend on the manufacturer.

Some conditions treated by homeopathy are:
✓ Migraines
✓ Depression
✓ Chronic fatigue syndrome
✓ Rheumatoid arthritis
✓ Irritable bowel syndrome
✓ Premenstrual syndrome

Homeopathy can also be used for minor issues like bruises, scrapes, toothaches, headaches, nausea, coughs and colds.

Homeopathic medicine should not be used for life-threatening illnesses like asthma, cancer, heart disease or in emergencies. Avoid using it in place of vaccines. The homeopathic products are called “nosodes” and are marketed as an alternative for vaccines, but there is no research to prove they are effective.

placebo_effectThe research on whether homeopathic medicine works or not is mixed. There are some studies that show homeopathic remedies are helpful while still others don’t. When symptoms improve because you believe the treatment is working, it is considered the placebo effect. Some critics attribute the benefits of homeopathic remedies to this effect. This can trigger the brain to release chemicals that will briefly relieve the pain or other symptoms that you might be having. Because some of the theories behind homeopathy don’t line up with the principles of chemistry and physics, the doctors are divided. The scientists argue that a medicine with no active ingredient should not have any effect on the body.

The FDA oversees the homeopathic remedies but they aren’t checked to see if they’re safe or effective. Most of these are watered down and don’t cause any side effects. Some exceptions can occur because these medicines can contain a large amount of an active ingredient like a heavy metal, which can be dangerous. In 2016 a warning was issued by the FDA against using homeopathic teething tablets and gels because of possible health risks to infants and children.

Before trying any of these alternative treatments, talk to your doctor. He will make sure that they are safe and won’t interact with any of the other medications that you might be taking.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Bully

Workplace Bullying

BullyThere are many forms of bullying in the workplace, whether it happens to be a co-worker who “forgets” to share important information, a clique that spreads gossip or even a boss who humiliates subordinates. These are all definitions of a hostile work environment that no one should have to be subjected to. Intimidation, threats and sabotage are also more examples of bullying. The worst type of bullying is harassment that has a lasting and profound effect on the target, according to Gary Namie, PhD, co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute and co-author of The Bully-Free Workplace.  All of these are just plain cruel to the bullied employee.

These instances might come in different forms.  If you have a workplace bully, they might focus on a specific target or a group of workers might single out a co-worker.  The more technology available today means that office cyber bullying is on the rise even though it is more often done face-to-face.  This behavior has different reasons for their behavior that might include trying to get ahead at work by sabotaging colleagues in an attempt to control them.  The workplace suffers from productivity, absenteeism and a high turnover of employees.

Those who are bullied end up with stress that can leave them unable to concentrate on their work and will put their jobs at risk.  When an employee suffers psychological distress it is linked to depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They might also have sleep disturbances and in some cases, even thoughts of suicide.  Not only does bullying create a hostile work environment, it’s a serious public health issue.

To deal with the workplace bullying the company policies and training of staff about behaviors that constitute bullying (including sexual harassment) need to be created and implemented. These are suggestions submitted by a 2016 literature review published in the Journal of Psychology Research and Behavior Management.  Even counseling or group therapy should be offered at the workplace.  These victims need to know that they are not alone, did not cause this and help is always available to them.

Some of the statistical numbers of are:

  • 56% of bullies are in positions of authority; just 18% of people who are bullied are bullied by peers.
  • 37 million Americans have been targets of abusive conduct at work.  More than 15 million have witnessed workplace bullying.
  • 60% of workplace bullies are men; 60% of targets of workplace bullying are women.
  • 11% of bullies were punished but kept their jobs; 15% quit or were terminated, per a 2014 study.

If this type of thing is going on in adult populated environments, what does this say for what the children of these people are probably learning at home?  This could be a behavioral problem in my personal opinion that could also affect their own children and their attitudes towards others. I have seen instances of school children being bullied and I have to wonder where the bullies learned this.  At home, naturally!

Dr Fredda Branyon

Facebook

Facebook Lurking

Facebook Lurking

Are you a lurker?  Well, every month about 1.65 billion people are actively using the social media site Facebook.  Each user is spending about 50 minutes using the site each day, which is really more time than you realize and more than on any other leisure activity except for TV watching.  On the average the U.S. American spends 19 minutes reading every day and only 17 minutes on exercise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That makes the nearly one hour spent on Facebook as significant and around the same amount of time you spend eating and drinking!  Of course this doesn’t take into account those people, specifically teens, that spend far more time and sometimes up to nine hours a day on social media.

This lurking will cause you to be inundated with photos and posts depicting other people’s seemingly perfect families and lives.  These can induce feelings of envy and lead to unrealistic social comparisons that can bring down your mood and level of well being, and even lead to depression.

Those using Facebook expect to feel better but, in fact, they actually feel worse.  If everyone expected that to happen, they’d probably stop using it. Part of this is due to a feeling of having wasted time, according to a Computers in Human Behavior study.  They report that Facebook activity is associated with a dampened mood. I personally do not spend time on Facebook for this very reason. It’s a waste of my time that could better be spent on something productive.

Frequent posting on Facebook has also been associated with increased rumination and the users were more at risk of depression if they displayed the following:

  • Felt envy after observing others
  • Accepted former partners as Facebook friends
  • Made negative social comparisons
  • Made frequent negative status updates

The researchers at the University of Houston explored Facebook’s emotional effects and found a link between usage of the site and symptoms of depression, which among men, was associated with the tendency to make social comparisons with others.  As it turned out in a second study, social comparison was significantly associated with depression symptoms in both men and women.

Nighttime use of social media is also linked to sleep problems, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depression among the 12 to 18 year olds.  Those aged 19 to 32 were also significantly associated with disturbed sleep in a Preventive Medicine study. When melatonin is suppressed, there is less stimulation to promote sleepiness at a healthy bedtime.  

Facebook wants you to spend more time on their site and that it would become a platform that’s on all day to become basically a background for your life. They are busy cooking up ways to get us to spend even more time on their platform.  You must be aware for yourself and your children that using Facebook exposes you to a lot of advertising that is targeted to your habits and interest.

Facebook uses a sophisticated algorithm to track your interests, who you talk with, what you say, your age, gender, income level and a phenomenal number of other specifics that allow advertisers to target exactly who they believe will click on their ads.  Some are not harmless, like drug ads that can have more sinister effects.

Even though it is a wonderful platform for friends and family to socialize and share, it’s important to keep the use in perspective and use the sites that make you feel good and not worse after browsing.

Dr Fredda Branyon

Are you grounded?

Are you Grounded?

 

Are you grounded?

Img c/o Pixabay

Are you running around crazy half the time?  In today’s fast-paced living, we all tend to miss that connection that is most important to our sustained energy and physical well-being.  You must feel like your feet are resting on the earth and you are receiving energy from the earth.  If you are grounded, you feel “in the moment” and aware of your thoughts and of those around you.

This grounding will keep your energy all day long.  This will keep you from getting pulled this way and that as the day’s ups and downs are all around you.  Being able to listen and be focused at work and at home is a benefit of being grounded.  Here are some tips for keeping yourself grounded.

Tips For Keeping Yourself Grounded

  • Rolling your shoulders slowly forward and backwards will release tension.
  • Notice your breathing.
  • Take a deep breath and relax at a stoplight while you wait.
  • Take your shoes off and feel the ground and support on your toes, heels and insteps.
  • Notice the trees and plants growing strong as you take a relaxing walk outside.
  • Imagine the roots coming from the bottom of your feet into the ground to firmly tie you to the core of the earth with energy coming up and into your body.
  • Stop and notice what you were thinking. Keep in the present and not in the ozone.
  • Try the ancient practices of yoga or tai chi to slow you down and become aware.
  • Get outside on the ground or garden when weather permits. Play in the dirt!
  • Connect to the earth energy with regular meditations as a daily goal.

Keeping ourselves fully in the present and grounded is beneficial to our physical health as well.  Energy overloads are more likely to be noticed that may lead to illness, and we can begin working with this energy for change before the disease develops further.  Keeping present and connected to the earth will give you great resources of energy and will keep the energy flowing all day long.  Get out there and enjoy not only the earth, but the sunshine as well.  Let’s make a pact to keep ourselves focused and healthy!

 

– Dr Fredda Branyon

Increasing Depression Can Predict Higher Dementia Risk

pixabay

Img c/o pixabay

Early stages of dementia may be indicated when symptoms of depression steadily increase in older adults, as indicated in a study linking dementia and depression.  This report was published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal.

Those diagnosed with dementia commonly show symptoms of depression.  Some might experience depressive symptoms only transiently, followed by full remission while others might have remitting and relapsing depression.  Others might be chronically depressed and this might be linked to different risks of dementia.  The study included 3325 adults aged 55 and over, all showing symptoms of depression but no symptoms of dementia.  Data was gathered from the Rotterdam Study, a population-based study of various diseases in the Netherlands.  The authors tracked depressive symptoms over 11 years and the risk of dementia for a subsequent 10 years.

The authors of the article from the Center for Epidemiology Depression Scale (CES­D) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale­Depression (HADS­D) identified 5 different trajectories of depressive symptoms­ 2441 participants with low depression symptoms, 369 with initially high symptoms that decreased, 170 with low starting scores that increased then remitted, 255 initially low symptoms that increased and 90 with constantly high symptoms.

Of all these participants, 434 developed dementia, including 348 cases of Alzheimer’s disease. The group with low symptoms of depression had a 10% that developed dementia.  This was used as a benchmark to compare other trajectories of depression.  Of the group whose symptoms of depression increased over time, 22% of these individuals developed dementia.

The Authors state that their findings support the hypothesis that increasing symptoms of depression in older age could potentially represent an early stage of dementia and that dementia and some forms of depression may be symptoms of a common cause.  Molecular levels, the biological mechanisms of depression and neurodegenerative diseases overlap considerably, including the loss of ability to create new neurons, increased cell death and immune system dysregulation.

Dr. Simone Reppermund from the Department of Developmental Disability and Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, says that several factors can contribute to the development of both depression and dementia.  Depressions, especially steadily increasing depressive symptoms, seem to increase the risk of dementia.  The question of how the presence of depressive symptoms modifies the risk of dementia still remains.  Lifestyle factors such as physical activity and social networks, biological risk factors such as vascular disease, neuroinflammation, high concentrations of stress hormones and neuropathological changes might bring new treatment and prevention strategies a step closer.

It seems that keeping ourselves active and engaged in physical activities might help allay depression for some of the population.  Let’s all work on maintaining a positive attitude and keep busy in our older years with various outside interests.  Beat depression and possibly dementia or Alzheimer’s!

Dr Fredda Branyon

Some of the Top Stressors at Work

Some of the Top Stressors at Work
We spend most of our waking hours at work – so what are some of the stressors we need to be aware of?
Img c/o  Pixabay

Img c/o Pixabay

Work eats up most of our weekdays, at the minimum, 8 productive hours each day or at least 1/3rd of our daily schedule, while for some it can be longer hours depending on the nature of the job, one’s work demands, volume of deliverables, commute, and so forth.Given that, we will list some of the top stressors of the work force that adds to the hustle and bustle of work and living.

Long Commutes

In a given survey, long commute, was one of the top answers of employees that give them most stress.  In fact, it was found that bumper-to-bumper traffic can cause moodiness on top of the financial stress of ever-increasing gas bills and prices.

“Taking In More (Work), than You can Chew”

Sometimes one impresses the boss, to have that feeling of validity from the manager or superior, but it is not all that. Accepting more work than you can handle is also not good. There are finite hours in a day, and in a week, and taking more than you can handle has a stressful effect on yourself. It is always best to be true to yourself and commit to tasks that you can finish on time.

No Rest and Recreation

They say, for one to play hard, one must work smart. Our bodies are not built like robots where we can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our bodies have limitations, and with that, our bodies also need the time to take a rest. Having zero rest is not good for our health and that is why companies have provided vacation leaves every year, so that our bodies and minds can recharge after gruelling days of work.

Do not wait until our bodies give up like an engine overheating.

No Performance Reviews

Once an employee starts in a company, and after a year’s work, an employee is subjected to the annual performance review. Now, when a company or boss does not include performance review in his plan, why is it stressful?

It is because one’s pay increase and promotion are tied to these annual evaluations and the loss of it, makes any employee stressed and unmotivated that will link to a decrease in his productivity towards work. It is but normal to be excited for that next raise after a year’s work and to look forward to that higher job level right above us.

Job Insecurity

Job Insecurity is one of the top reasons that contribute to work-related stress. Jobs give us salary. Salaries give us the money to be able to pay our bills such as mortgage, grocery, tuition, etc. Without a job, our lives will be so difficult.

When one hears of plans to retrench, or a company downsizing, the security of one’s job is always part of the equation. Will I get retrenched? Admittedly, this is a worthy stress to think about and losing one’s job is probably the top in our list of work stressors.

These are some of the stressors that some of us have endured or have come across during our work lives. It is important to know that some illnesses have been linked to work-related stress such as high-blood pressure, depression, headaches, muscle pain or insomnia. Therefore, we must be aware of these factors of stress, and if we feel these are happening, we should pause, and rest, and think of our body’s health first above anything else. No job is worth the failure of our health.

Get Your Anger under Control

Get Your Anger under Control
Img c/o  Pixabay

Img c/o Pixabay

We get angry and it is only normal. But if you get mad for simple or wrong reasons or if you flare up every minute or every day, something is wrong with you. You are wasting your emotions, you are hurting the people around you, and you are making your world smaller each day. You are also allowing yourself to live a troubled life. It’s time to get your anger under control. Here are useful ways how:

1. Know what triggers your anger.

What makes you angry? Is it waiting for your turn in a long queue in grocery stores? Is it when people cannot follow your instructions? To be able to manage your ire, it is important that you are aware where it is coming from so you can either avoid being in the situation or make yourself prepared. For instance, you can choose to buy grocery items during off-peak hours to stay away from long queues. You can also ask another family member to do it for you.

2. Teach yourself how to cool down.

Soon as you feel that you an inch closer to flaring up, perform some techniques so you can easily chill. These include performing deep breathing, counting from 1 to 10 (repeat your count until you are calm), doing some simple stretches, and massaging your neck and scalp.

3. Seek professional help.

If your anger has become chronic, it is important that you consult with a medical expert so he can offer you therapy. He does not only help you identify the causes of your fury. He also teaches you how to manage it.

4. Find and join community support groups.

Interacting with people who have the same condition as yours can help you picture your true situation, particularly if you are still in denial. Hearing their ordeals and discovering their coping skills can contribute a lot in your improvement. However, there are some cases (such as anger caused by domestic violence) when this is not an appropriate method.

5. Recognize the symptoms.

Some individuals are not able to stop their rage all because they are not aware of the signs that they are set to burst. These symptoms include jaw clenching, tensed muscles, Goosebumps, dizziness, and shaking.

6. Sometimes, it just helps to get away.

No matter how you want to say something to defend yourself or to raise your point, you may still come in a situation when the only solution is to walk away from the scene. It may truly hurt your pride but if this is the only way to stop your outburst, why not? You can just forget about what happen or you can clear things up later when you are already in your good state of mind.

Another way to stop your wrath is to not open your mouth. Close your eyes and tell yourself to loosen up. Keep still and think. Ask yourself: “Is the situation worthy or necessitate anger?” “Will I hurt someone if I say what I want to say?” “What will be the consequences if I do not overcome this ire?” Really, you have to think forward so you can avoid getting yourself in much trouble.

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Ways to Fight Depression without Medication

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You feel alone and empty.

You think your life is miserable and you blame your current issues (like the loss of a loved one) for it.

But why allow yourself to live with downheartedness when you can search for solutions to fight it? Before your condition becomes full-blown depression, it’s time to work on some methods or strategies to release all your negative feelings and return to your old, happy self.

Socialize. Stop dealing with your concerns; be with people who can bring the smile back on your face. Do what you are used to: watch your favorite movies, go on out-of-town trips, attend parties, and others. Even social networking sites can help. Chat with friends or have fun posting your (old or new) pictures. Be updated with what’s happening in your circle.

Expose yourself to early morning sunlight. As you wake up early in the morning, go for a walk. You may also consider sitting on the patio while talking to some neighbors passing by or while having your breakfast. Do not worry because sunlight at this time is less intense. Do not forget to apply sunscreen.

Seek professional help. You may want to seek help from an expert by going through therapy. Never allow fear or doubts prevent you from seeking joy and fulfillment in life. Submit yourself to solutions—not problems.

Perform some exercises specific to fighting depression. Working on some exercises may help alleviate melancholy. It can boost self-confidence and stop the cycle of negative thoughts. You may start from basics like walking up and down the stairs and biking but there are certain workouts designed for this condition. You may want to ask the assistance of your doctor for these. Perform routines for 30 minutes for 3 to 5 days every week. Even a 10-minute workout can help because it can still make a difference.

Face your problem. You may not realize it but your depression is triggered by the unending flow of negative thoughts on your mind. So think about facing your current issues and looking for possible ways to address them instead of thinking about what bad thing is going to happen next. There are some circumstances that you may not be able to solve or prevent (like health conditions) but you can at least discover some ways to make your situation better. Before depression ruins your life, you should think about fighting it. In some instances, taking medications may not be the only way out. Some simple strategies may help.

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Winter Health Conditions to Look Out for This Season

Winter Health Conditions to Look Out for This Season
Keep an eye out for these winter health conditions that befall so many unknowing individuals. Learn what to do to prevent getting sick before the year ends.
img c/o pixabay

img c/o pixabay

While most people welcome the winter season with open hearts, there are an unfortunate few who develop certain conditions during this cold period. Here are some of the most common illnesses that people experience during the last quarter of the year.

Heart Problems

If you think heart attacks are mainly caused by exerting too much force when shoveling snow, think again. When winter comes, heart attacks rise by 53 percent compared to the number that we get in summer and this applies to states across the nation, even those that have not experienced snowfall or seen snowflakes around their town or neighborhood.

Cardiovascular problems are at an all time high during this season not because of the heavy snowfall, but because of the temperature drop. The arteries’ way of responding to the cold weather is by constricting themselves, making people vulnerable to heart attacks, especially those with a history of heart problems.

Narrower arteries causes the blood flow to be cut down, which makes the heart work twice as hard as normal just to get more blood to various parts of the body. They cause the arterial walls to be torn or split, causing blood clots that trigger strokes or heart attacks.

This phenomenon becomes more difficult as people age, especially when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or lower. It’s harder for older people to regulate their body temperature since they usually have less body mass and less fat, which means more difficulty in generating body heat.

This is also why men and women around 70 years of age and above get colder quickly than those in their 50s and 60s.

Winter Depression

If you’re starting to feel a bit down and lonely lately, then you might be experiencing SAD, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder, which is a specific type of depression that occurs every season, but the most common is during winter and fall. People who are diagnosed with SAD typically experience energy loss, anxiety, social withdrawal, oversleeping, along with other symptoms.

Treatment for this particular disorder is primarily increased exposure to sunlight and engaging in more physical activities.

Vitamin D deficiency

Another condition that is related to not getting enough sunlight is Vitamin D deficiency, which is popularly known as the sunshine vitamin. This is probably because we experience shorter sun exposure during winter’s gray days. Vitamin D is primarily obtained from the sun and passes through the skin. If you have dangerously low levels of vitamin D, your chances of developing heart problems, osteoporosis, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease becomes higher.

You can get back what you’re lacking by just stepping outside and letting your body absorb as much sunlight as it can for 15 minutes everyday. There are regions though that literally do not have sunlight for months, so if you happen to live in those areas, then vitamin D supplements should serve as an alternative.

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