Tag Archives: depression

Nuerological conditions significantly increase someone to consider suicide.

People diagnosed with MS are twice as likely to commit suicide then the general population, with in 2 years post stroke the risk is also twice as high, ALS, Dementia and other neurological diseases. Some have a plan, some don’t, there is plenty of help out in the medical community, but getting the patient to admit they are depressed is the first hurdle, Then the Doctors want to medicate and medicate you until you are no longer you. Some of the Antidepressants actually cause you to want to commit suicide, I know from experience myself, a medication given to me called Savella made me want to commit suicide, but at least I could recognize something was wrong and I called my Doctor right away, only with the response of well we have a entire list to try so don’t get discouraged.

There are a few red flags, someone talking about suicide or actually attempting suicide but their is no real profile and sometimes asking questions to the patient doesn’t help because they think there fine or won’t admit their feeling suicidal. Family and friends should be specially concerned if there loved one has a neurological disorder. If a patient is depressed and suffering from anxiety they are even at a higher risk. If you add substance abuse or drug use and it increases even more.

When a patient starts a new prescription, this is usually the time to watch them closely, It may motivate them to do things they normally wouldn’t do. Doctors should not only treat the depression but understand the neurological disease the patient has. The two go together and the key is knowledge. This type of patient should be monitored by the Doctor more closely.

Isolation is a very big contributor to depression and suicidal tendency’s. Impulse control- neurological diseases can cause patients to loose their impulse control. This can also add to the risk factor of suicide. Frontal lobe dysfunction adds to the lack of impulse control. The Frontal lobe is considered to be the CEO of the brain.

Certain Hospitals and come up with Risk score assessment forms for different neurological conditions.

Getting the patient to see a trained psychiatrist that actually understands your disease, If your friend or loved one speaks of suicide bring them to the Emergency Room or call 911.

As family and friends it’s important to try to lead this patient to job, their dog, grandchildren-something to distract from the darkness they are living in. Stay close, try to get the patient out into socializing and out of the house. You need to recognize their frustrations, Don’t just say ” Don’t do that, You have so much to live for”. You must acknowledge their feelings and thoughts, make them your safe place to come to talk to about their feelings, that’s how you will know what’s really going on. Building trust with out judgement. Take the conversation of suicide seriously, encourage engagement, patients like myself feel like our lives have been taken away from us, we no longer serve a purpose but now are a burden, Help them get involved in organizations, support groups, non profits so they can feel good about them selves. Keep guns out of the house period. If a firearm is used the death rate is 85%, Pills, and cutting themselves are less likely to work.

Talk to the patient if guns are to be removed explaining it’s because they love you. Not as a punishment and if you feel the patient is in imminent danger, call 911.

Suicide has a stigma, that needs to be addressed, knowledge spread and shared. Below you find information on Suicide.

1-800-suicide or1-800-784-2433

suicidology.org 202-237-2280 This is the American Association that can help families that are dealing with a family member that committed suicide or someone who has survived suicide. there support programs are the following: suicidology.org/suicide-survivors/sos-directory.

American foundation for suicide prevention: afsp.org 1800-273-talk. 24 hour hotline with trained personal as well as books, forums, you can also get names of support groups in your area.

Suicide Awareness voices of education (SAVE) save.org,9529467998, they have booklets and other resources for survivors of suicide loss and a searchable data base for support groups.

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Phantom Pains

Although amputations are visible the phantom pains are not.  The exact cause of phantom pain is still unknown  but originates in the spinal cord and brain.  when a patient feels these pains, it can be seen in a MRI machine.    It is believed that it is a response from mixed signals from the brain.

When a amputation takes place, areas of the spinal cord and brain lose your input from the missing limb and adjust to this detachment in a unpredictable way.  It may send a message to your brain the pain is else where.   Because the sensory information is referred elsewhere-from a missing hand to a present cheek.  So when the cheek is touched its as the missing limb is present.  It is a version of tangled sensory wires.  Thus results in pain.

Phantom pain can be caused by damaged nerve endings, scar tissue at the site of amputation and the physical memory of pre-amputation pain.

Know your triggers, usually you can feel a tingle or some sensation before pain begins, Try to empty your bladder, don’t get constipated, drinking alcohol can add to the pain,  If you learn your triggers you may be able to stop them before they happen,  meditation, calming one self down can prevent the pain.  Number one trigger is Stress!  so if you can exercise, de stress, calm down, you may be able to find tricks by massaging the limb before bed to help prevent the pain or using a (tens) machine to the affected limb.

Treatments and drug

Acupuncture and Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation

(TENS), have been found to be effective treatment for those that don’t want to take oral medications.  Also more invasive options include injections or implanted devices .  This is usually a last resort.

Medications

Although no medications specifically for phantom pain exist, some drugs designed to treat other conditions have been helpful in relieving nerve pain.  Not every pain medication will work for every person’s pain.

Medications used in the treatment of phantom pain include:

  • Antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants may relieve the pain caused by damaged nerves. Examples include amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor) and tramadol (Conzip, Ultram).

    These drugs work by modifying chemical messengers that relay pain signals. Antidepressants may also help you sleep, which can make you feel better.

    Possible side effects include sleepiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, weight gain, and a decrease in sexual performance or desire.

  • Anticonvulsants. Epilepsy drugs — such as gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica) and carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Epitol, Tegretol) — are often used to treat nerve pain. They work by quieting damaged nerves to slow or prevent uncontrolled pain signals.

    Side effects may include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, irritability, and allergic reactions such as hives, fever and swelling.

  • Narcotics. Opioid medications, such as codeine and morphine, may be an option for some people. Taken in appropriate doses under your doctor’s direction, they may help control phantom pain
  • receotor antagonists. This class of anesthetics works by binding to the NMDA receptors on the brain’s nerve cells and blocking the activity of glutamate, a protein that plays a large role in relaying nerve signals.

    In studies, NMDA receptor antagonists ketamine and dextromethorphan were effective in relieving phantom pain. Side effects of ketamine include mild sedation, hallucinations or loss of consciousness. No side effects were reported from the use of dextromethorphan.

Noninvasive therapies

    • Nerve stimulation. In a procedure called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a device sends a weak electrical current via adhesive patches on the skin near the area of pain. This may interrupt or mask pain signals, preventing them from reaching your brain.

      Used properly, TENS is safe. To avoid an unintentional shock, don’t wear a TENS device in the shower or tub or turn it up too high.

    • Mirror box. This device contains mirrors that make it look like an amputated limb exists. The mirror box has two openings — one for the intact limb and one for the stump.

      The person then performs symmetrical exercises, while watching the intact limb move and imagining that he or she is actually observing the missing limb moving. Studies have found that this exercise may help relieve phantom pain.

    • Acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health has found that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for some types of chronic pain. In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts extremely fine, sterilized stainless steel needles into the skin at specific points on the body.

It’s thought that acupuncture stimulates your central nervous system to release the body’s natural pain-relieving endorphins. Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed correctly.

Minimally invasive therapies

  • Injection. Sometimes injecting pain-killing medications — local anesthetics, steroids or both — into the stump can provide relief of phantom limb pain.
  • Spinal cord stimulation. Your doctor inserts tiny electrodes along your spinal cord. A small electrical current delivered to the spinal cord can sometimes relieve pain.
  • Nerve blocks. This method uses medications that interrupt pain messages between the brain and the site of the phantom pain.

Surgery

Surgery may be an option if other treatments haven’t helped. Surgical options include:

  • Brain stimulation. Deep brain stimulation and motor cortex stimulation are similar to spinal cord stimulation except that the current is delivered within the brain. A surgeon uses a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to position the electrodes correctly.

    Although the data are still limited, brain stimulation appears to be a promising option in selected individuals.

  • Stump revision or neurectomy. If phantom pain is triggered by nerve irritation in the stump, surgical resection or revision can sometimes be helpful. But cutting nerves also carries the risk of making the pain worse.

On the horizon

Newer approaches to relieve phantom pain include virtual reality goggles. The computer program for the goggles mirrors the person’s intact limb, so it looks like there’s been no amputation.

Along with this pain from amputation, a patient may experience grief of the loss of the limb amputated, also depression over the loss can be common,  Loss of activity, or ability to work, or function pre amputation.  So support from family and friends are a important part of the recovery of a amputee.

One patient told me the pain was so bad he wanted to cut his entire leg off or kill himself.   Life was not worth living.

 

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When you wake up every day disappointed about your illness, by Amani Omejer

When You Wake Up Disappointed About Your Illness Every Morning

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I’ve been awake since 3 a.m. I only went to bed at 12:30 a.m., so that definitely does not add up to enough sleep! This is a fairly normal occurrence for me, especially at the moment, and it’s so frustrating! I woke up because of the pain in my ribs and abdomen, and I couldn’t fall asleep because of it, too…

Waking up because of pain is the shittiest way to wake up and start the day… A friend recently fell off her bike and explained that she had been woken up the night before by the pain in her leg. She told me that it was such a horrible way to be woken up, and I explained that this is how I’m woken up most nights or mornings… And if I’m not waking up because of the pain, I feel pain as soon as I have woken up in the morning.

Waking up and being in pain straight away is beyond depressing and demoralizing, but I’d always pick this one over being woken up by the pain. Both options are so tough, lonely and exhausting, though. They also feel indescribable. Words somehow just don’t do being-in-constant-severe-pain justice at all.

For a while last year I noticed that I kept waking up in the morning hoping things might be different. This was more because of emotional stuff that was happening at the time, and for the months beforehand, but the experience was very similar to what I’m experiencing now, except at the moment I’m feeling this hope-for-difference because of the extreme pain I’m experiencing. Last year I was desperately struggling with grief and anxiety (as well as other chronic illness related things!). Each morning I would wake, hoping things would be different, and each morning I felt so sad, heartbrokenly disappointed, and desperately frustrated that it wasn’t… It was exactly the same over and over again, each day, every day, for ages!

cartoon drawing of girl in bed thinking please let me be well i promise i will look after myself

When I prolapsed two discs in my back in 2013, I remember having this same thing: Six months into being completely bed-bound, I was waking up every day with a heartbreaking hope for difference, and feeling completely crushed and exhausted every morning that it wasn’t. Every time I was still waking up to the same slog of navigating intense loneliness and the constant challenge of somehow getting what I needed each day when I could barely get out of bed.

Something eventually shifted, as something always does, but it wasn’t that the symptoms completely eased (the grief/angst still rear their head every day, and my back still gives me troubles), it was just that something else — something more intense — took over dominating my experience.

I was struggling with severe concussion earlier this year, which devastated me for about four months. It didn’t get better, it’s still very present every day (I discovered I have a brain injury!), but it’s just that this pain in my ribs/abdomen developed and took over as being the pain and symptom that was shouting the loudest… When my ribs/abdomen pain is raging, I don’t feel my severe joint pain (or much else) because I can’t — I’m buckled up, struggling to breathe or move beneath the agony. But when my ribs/abdomen pain reduces from a nine or 10 to a seven, I feel my joint pain again…

Ugh. Explaining exactly what is happening, and how many symptoms I’m navigating and have navigated for ages now, always leaves me feeling angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted, scared, helpless, and really f*cking heartbroken and sad…  Living with chronic illness is so, so, hard. So hard. I often can’t believe how much I’m dealing with, so I struggle to trust other people would be able to comprehend it, too.

Surely someone can’t have that many things going on and still be trying to exist?! Is that what my head says… I immediately know that isn’t true, but I often talk myself into feeling suicidal because I’m like, surely I can’t keep — and shouldn’t keep! — fighting when I’m experiencing all of this? Surely I should just want to give up and stop fighting to live…? I end up feeling embarrassed that I continue to fight despite my experience, that I haven’t just gotten the hint yet… I feel like an idiot that I’m still trying so hard to live when actually things are just so damn hard in this body of mine.

But that is all talk from my inner critic — it isn’t truth, it just feels like truth a lot. Life is difficult — it is beautiful but it is f*cking difficult, too. And we all have differing levels and types of difficulty that we experience, and in so, so, many ways, my life is nowhere near as hard as some peoples’ in the world.

I want to continue to reframe this hard time I give myself about something that is actually beautiful — the way I continue to fight despite everything I experience, and the way these experiences actually fuel my experience. It shapes my writing, my activism, the projects I begin… Friends often point out that it’s amazing how I create so much from an experience that actually could bring people to the floor and leave them there…

Our heads, our inner critics, find material for criticism in the most beautiful and inspiring parts of ourselves. The characteristics that actually need and deserve celebration become an area that I pound myself with criticism and comparison about.

But both, especially the latter, just blind us to our experience, our truth: what is actually happening and how we are dealing with it. We get blinded to the fact that we are brilliant. Living with chronic illness is like climbing Mt. Everest over and over again, every single day, except the territory always changes slightly. Nothing is predictable, and it’s really f*cking difficult.

Take time to spot the ways you deal with your experience thaGet help for someone else


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A request from your chronically ill friend: What I need when we talk about my sickness.

A request from your chronically ill friend: what I need when we talk about my sickness.

When I meet new people, I often struggle to explain what I need. This is it.

When I was 14, I woke up with a fat face.

I was sick with a fever higher than I had ever felt. My face felt like a sumo wrestler had crammed a cantaloupe into my ear.

My mom took me to the emergency room in the closest town to our family’s remote lake house in North Carolina. Receptionists shooed me in, nurses injected butt shots, and doctors gave me doe-eyed stares. They had no idea what was wrong with me.

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Photo via iStock.

This routine of waking up suddenly sick, with a fat face and a spiked fever, continued for years.

Finally, when I was 16, doctors handed me a diagnosis and a pill regimen and told me I might be sick forever.

I was young enough that my pediatric doctor called to give my mom the diagnosis over the phone. The most dramatic part happened before the diagnosis, though, when they told my mom that they had somehow lost my eight vials of blood (which had taken hours of sweat and tears and people holding me down to get). Otherwise, the phone call was short and I could hear the words through the phone my mom held up to her ear.

“I’m so sorry,” the pediatric doctor said to my mom. As if we knew anything about an autoimmune disorder called Sjögren’s syndrome, with hallmark symptoms of dry eyes and a dry mouth, and why we should possibly join the doctor in feeling sad.

Now, more than 10 years later, I’m living fairly well with this autoimmune disorder.

But still, when I meet new people, I struggle with how to explain what I need. Part of my introduction to new people has to include these words: “I’m sick.” And that’s not easy.

So hello, new friend. Here’s what I need you to try to understand when we talk about my life with a chronic illness:

1. I need you to let me have my green couch moments.

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After that first day at the hospital in North Carolina, they sent me home without answers and I slept on the green couch at my family’s lake house for days. I remember feeling sad, watching my cousins jump off the diving board at the end of the dock.

Photo via iStock.

But I mostly remember feeling sad about how my family looked at me. They all had the saddest eyes, like they knew something about my future that I couldn’t comprehend at the age of 14.

For some reason, I’ve continued to have a lot of different green couches over the years in various houses and apartments. Sometimes when my sickness takes over, I have to spend days — or weeks — recovering on my green couch. I need you to let me stay there to rest and wait for Netflix to ask me, “Are you still watching ‘Friends’?”

2. I need you to show up.

No one knows what tomorrow holds. But if my tomorrow puts me in the hospital, I need you to come. I need you to show up. Sure, you can bring me flowers, but I really just need you to be there at my bedside, hanging out.

In high school, when my hospital visits lasted for 12 or 14 days of sucking on lemons in the pediatric wing to trigger my salivary glands and going for walks wheeling my IV bag, I remember the friends who showed up. And I remember the friends who only came after my parents bribed them to sit with me for a couple hours so they could go home to shower.

People were afraid. I get it. I was afraid, too.

3. I need you to stop asking why doctors can’t fix me.

The autoimmune disorder that I have is chronic, meaning there isn’t a cure, just like many other people in the world with chronic illnesses. I know it’s confusing — you come down with a cough and you go to the doctor to get better.

For me, it’s not that simple. I take a couple of medications that help tackle my individual symptoms and improve my quality of life with pain management, but that’s it. That’s all doctors can do at this point.

Please stop asking why. Doctors don’t know. I don’t know.

4. I need you to try to see my invisible pain.

All those years when I woke up with a fat face were just my invisible illness trying to make a guest appearance for one episode. Mostly, my body suffers in ways that you can’t see.

Photo via iStock.

The more visible symptoms happen in cold weather when the blood rushes away from my hands and feet. This is when you watch in amazement because my white hands look like a dead person’s. I need you to know that the invisible pain hurts just as bad as the visible pain.

5. I need you to stop asking me how I feel today.

Some days, it’s a big deal to just get out of bed because my joints ache and after even 10 hours of sleep, I still feel like I have a hangover. My right foot and my back feel broken, and my dry eyes build a white film on my contacts that feels like I’m watching the world through a dirty fish bowl.

When you ask me how I feel today, the answer is complicated. The list of pain that’s both inflamed or subsided is longer than we need to hash out. And sometimes the answer to your questions makes me sad, grieving the loss of a dream of a pain-free life I think I deserve.

6. I need you to let me weep in my mom’s arms, even as a grown adult.

Next month, I turn 27. Recently, I wept in my mom’s arms in a shaking way that startled even me. It was the day I got another doctor’s bill for hundreds that I couldn’t afford, and I wasn’t sure if I could even go to my specialist appointment because it might mean I couldn’t pay rent or buy groceries for a couple of months.

My health insurance doesn’t get it. They cover so little, deeming appointments and blood work as “medically unnecessary.” But truthfully, nothing about this sick life is easy to handle, even as a pretty independent adult. I need you to let me weep from the deepest places and not tell me to just shake it off.

7. I need you to stop telling me I can’t.

I told my parents I wanted to go on a mission trip to Africa. Instantly, they said, “You can’t.”

I’ve heard these words before, about studying abroad or becoming an elementary school teacher, with planes and buildings and countries with germs lurking behind every corner. Their advice comes from places of love. But I can’t have you joining in on this whole “You can’t” chant.

Until a doctor gives a definite “No, you can’t do that or go there,” then I need you to invite me to go places. I need you to challenge me and dream with me.

8. I need you to let me be stubborn.

I have a cousin who’s searching for a diagnosis for something autoimmune right now. My biggest prayer for her is that she stays stubborn, even after she knows she’s sick. She studied abroad before she got sick, before anyone tried to tell her she can’t.

The last couple of years, I moved to a new time zone, even when some told me I couldn’t. You might get to know me now and want to protect me in a plastic bubble everywhere we go. Please don’t. If you’re planning a trip somewhere exotic, invite me. I’ll tell you if it’s too much.

Photo via iStock.

Let me wrestle in the dark with my own stubbornness, just like when I was a little girl and insisted on riding my new bike with shiny tassels on the very first night, even though it was too big and pitch dark outside. I might fall down and get hurt, but I promise you I’ll learn from stubbornly ditching the training wheels in the dark.

9. I need you to tell me to stop staring at that hospital waiting in the sky.

I live in Dallas with a clear view to Baylor hospital in the skyline. Sometimes, while I’ve sat by the pool at my apartment, I’ve caught myself staring for too long at the hospital waiting in the sky for my future arrival.

You might be familiar with how we tell the “sick narrative”: sick, sicker, dying, gone. I have a higher risk of lymphoma and other complications, but this doesn’t mean that’s definitely how my story will end.

So if you catch me anxiously staring at my scripted future, stop me. I need you to remind me that the story can twist in so many directions, especially with technology and modern medicine that completely shatter traditional death sentences.

10. I need you to let me change the world today. Now.

The best (and worst) part about being sick: It moves me into action. I don’t have time to wait. I probably quit jobs sooner than you would or chase after dreams in frantic ways while you put yours on the back burner. I also don’t have time to waste.

It’s scary and exciting all wrapped into one. I need you to help me figure out how little me plays a part in this big story. Let me fight for things that matter today because tomorrow is just a gift.

11. I need you to love me like the 80-year-old grandma I am.

I’ve finally found a pill box that fits all the vitamins and medications that I need to sort out for designated times each day. My dream night is one cozied up and warm on the couch, followed by a 9:30 bedtime. Sjögren’s means I don’t produce enough tears, but if I did, I would cry while laughing at how many times I have to go to the bathroom because of all the water I have to drink to stay hydrated.

Yes, me and your 80-year-old grandma probably have more in common than you and I do. I’ve completely accepted this fact. Especially since I’ve been 80 since I was 16.

So love me like a grandma! Stop inviting me out to all-nighters and saying it’s so funny how I go to bed early and love warm socks. It’s not funny or cute. It’s who I am.

My autoimmune disorder is in no way categorized as “the worst.”

Believe me, people suffer every day with far worse, much more incurable diseases than mine. Some days, my illness feels mostly annoying, like an accessory I carry around and must remember to bring with me when I leave the house.

But I hope you will one day meet one of my best friends, a woman who has learned to love me and my sickness. She remembers little details, like how I lack the saliva required to eat dry pretzels filled with dry peanut butter. She figures out how to eat each pretzel with a huge swig of water so I won’t choke, and she does it with me, too. Together, we laugh.

She sits with me on the green couch for Netflix marathons when I’m sick. And together, we cry.

That’s what I want, what I need, and what I want you to know about me, friend: We all have our stuff, and this is mine.

I thought Ashley’s story was exactly what we all wish we could say to family and friends,  I wanted to state a few extra things I would like to add to this article.

Stop telling me to stop trying to find a cure!  I am not going to just take this laying down.  I need to research for my own sanity, start a support group, start a blog, to keep me busy and active with my brain.

Stop telling me a new treatment you heard of from a friend of a friend that you know will cure me.  Including coffee enemas.  or some crazy diet or pyramid business that supplements will cure me.

Stop telling me to stop Gluten, been there done that.

Stop judging how I should feel on certain days because it may interrupt our plans.

Stop saying you will help out when needed and never come by.

Stop telling me to not  be sad, or depressed with my diagnosis.  Some days, I just can’t be positive.

Kelly Helsel

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What you can do to Strengthen your Vegus Nerve

Vegus Nerve
6 Ways to Instantly Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve to Relieve Inflammation, Depression, Migraines And More
September 1, 2016 6 Ways to Instantly Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve to Relieve Inflammation, Depression, Migraines And More2016-09-01T15:38:10+00:00 – Health – No Comment
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This post first appeared on Darou Wellness. Go check out their amazingly informative blog about all things health related with advice from some of the leading Naturopathic Doctors in North America.

I read an article yesterday that has me extremely excited about the implications. The article is called “Hacking the Nervous System” by Gaia Vince (http://mosaicscience.com/story/hacking-nervous-system). In the article, the author describes the experience of a woman who suffered from severe, debilitating rheumatoid arthritis and her eventual treatment with a device which minimized inflammation by simply stimulating the vagus nerve. What this means, is that by activating the vagus nerve which works through the parasympathetic nervous system, we can greatly influence inflammation and the immune system. The role of the brain on body inflammation can be profound. If you suffer from digestive complaints, high blood pressure, depression or any inflammatory condition, please read on. Let me explain the possible implications step by step.

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What is the vagus nerve?

First of all, the vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body which originates in the brain as cranial nerve ten, travels down the from go the neck and then passes around the digestive system, liver, spleen, pancreas, heart and lungs. This nerve is a major player in the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the ‘rest and digest’ part (opposite to the sympathetic nervous system which is ‘fight of flight’).

To find out ways to strengthen your Vegus nerve fo to the following link http://www.healthylifeisbetter.com/6-ways-to-instantly-stimulate-your-vagus-nerve-to-relieve-inflammation-depression-migraines-and-more/

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How Depression changes your brain!!!

depression-brain-changes-improve-1000x600How Depression Changes Your Brain (And Ways to Reverse It)
Power of Positivity
Power of Positivity
August 8, 2016
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It seems that more people in the world live with depression than ever before. In fact, according to the World Health Organization(WHO), an estimated 350 million people of all ages worldwide suffer from this mentally debilitating disease.

Depression can literally change your brain, altering the neural pathways and synapses and shrinking the size of your hippocampus, an area of the brain that regulates emotions and memory. Mentally, you probably feel foggy and exhausted, as your brain must work harder to process information and feelings. If you don’t feel well mentally, it can take a toll on every other area of your life.

Depression can make you feel disconnected from the world around you, helpless to make any sort of change, and paralyzed by the thoughts inside your head. To combat all of these feelings, many people unfortunately turn to prescription drugs as a temporary answer, but we still don’t know the long-term effects of these powerful drugs. Instead of medicating ourselves, we can turn to more natural remedies that often work better than even pills can.

Today, we’ll go over how exactly depression alters your brain, and ways to reverse the damage naturally. It takes willpower and determination, but you CAN take your life back with a few simple lifestyle changes and ways of thinking.
How Depression Changes Your Brain (And Ways to Reverse It)

depression

One groundbreaking study involving an international team of researchers discovered that people with depression generally have a smaller hippocampus.

The research team used brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data on nearly 8,930 people from around the world, 1,728 of which suffered from major depression. The remaining 7,199 individuals did not suffer from depression.

They found that 65% of the depressed patients had a smaller hippocampus; however, those just experiencing their first episode of depression did not have this shrinkage. These findings suggest that recurring episodes of depression might cause the shrinkage of the hippocampus.

Previous studies have found evidence of hippocampus shinkage, however, this study aimed to figure out if the shrinkage caused the depression, or vice versa. They got their answer: first comes the depression, then the brain damage.

According to co-author Professor Ian Hickie:

“[The] more episodes of depression a person had, the greater the reduction in hippocampus size. So recurrent or persistent depression does more harm to the hippocampus the more you leave it untreated.

This largely settles the question of what comes first: the smaller hippocampus or the depression? The damage to the brain comes from recurrent illness…

Other studies have demonstrated reversibility, and the hippocampus is one of the unique areas of the brain that rapidly generates new connections between cells, and what are lost here are connections between cells rather than the cells themselves.

Treating depression effectively does not just mean medicines. If you are unemployed, for example, and then sit in a room doing nothing as a result, this can shrink the hippocampus. So social interventions are just as important, and treatments such as fish oils are also thought to be neuro-protective.”

On the topic of hippocampus shrinkage, we’d also like to mention other groundbreaking research from scientists and the Institute of HeartMath, an organization that studies the connection between the heart and brain. Our feelings become coded into our heart’s electromagnetic field, and the heart can actually send signals to the brain that tell it how to react. So, the researchers found that when you experience negative emotions, this can create chaos in the brain.

Now that you know that your emotions play a huge part in how your brain reacts to stimuli, we thought we’d bring up another common misconception when it comes to depression. Just like most people don’t realize that their feelings play a huge part in their mental health, many of them likely don’t know that the “chemical imbalance” theory regarding depression doesn’t add up when it comes to science.

According to a paper by Jonathan Leo, an Associate Professor of Neuroanatomy at Lincoln Memorial University:

“the cause of mental disorders such as depression remains unknown. However, the idea that neurotransmitter imbalances cause depression is vigorously promoted by pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatric profession at large.”

Furthermore, according to Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, an author and British psychiatrist:

“Of course, there are brain events and biochemical reactions occurring when someone feels depressed, as there are all the time, but no research has ever established that a particular brain state causes, or even correlates with, depression. . . . In all cases studies yield inconsistent results, and none have been shown to be specific to depression, let alone causal. . . . The fact that more than 50 years of intense research efforts have failed to identify depression in the brain may indicate that we simply lack the right technology, or it may suggest we have been barking up the wrong tree!”

With most drugs that aim to treat depression, they advertise that low levels of serotonin in one’s brain actually cause depression. However, no research in the past actually came to this conclusion. Many pharmaceutical companies just use the people’s misconceptions about the illness to their advantage.

“The serotonin theory is simply not a scientific statement. It’s a botched theory – a hypothesis that was proven incorrect.” – Dr. Joseph Mercola

So, the chemical imbalance theory doesn’t really explain depression, but do the drugs actually work in treating it? Well, a review done by the University of California in 2009 found even more damning evidence against pharmaceutical companies. The study found that one third of people treated with antidepressants do not improve, and many of them actually stay depressed.

Now, we know that many people report feeling better with antidepressants, but there’s no way of telling if this is just a placebo effect or not. In summary, we know that depression causes a smaller hippocampus in the brain, but we can reverse this damage. Our thoughts and emotions play a huge role in our mental health, but conventional medicine doesn’t seem to guarantee a recovery, or even a small breakthrough, in many cases.

So, if no scientific evidence truly supports the chemical imbalance theory, then why do we continue to take drugs that claim to alter our brain chemistry in the first place? Maybe we should put our attention elsewhere, on areas where we can take action in our lives that can bring about real changes in our mental and physical health, without dangerous side effects.
How To Reverse Depression

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Related: 5 Natural Treatments for Depression You Can Start Right Now
1. Change your thoughts.

The brain can change and adapt based on our thoughts and emotions, and in turn, how we perceive stimuli. Highly malleable and changeable, the brain can actually form new synapses and pathways based on new knowledge, skills, or thought processes. In other words, what we think matters greatly, as these thoughts literally create our brain chemistry, and therefore, our reality. The mind contains great power, as demonstrated by the following study.

A study from the Baylor School of Medicine published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine took patients with severe knee pain and divided them into three groups. Most surgeons don’t believe in placebo effects as a substitute for surgery, but this study proved them wrong. For the first group, the surgeons shaved the damaged cartilage in their knees. For the second group, the surgeons flushed out the knee joint, removing anything that might cause inflammation. People with severe arthritis in their knees typically go through one of these two procedures when they go to the doctor for help.

The third group, however, received a “fake” surgery; the doctors sedated the patients, made incisions, and splashed salt water on the knees just like they would do in a real surgery. Then, they sewed up the incisions just like normal. All three groups went through a rehab program together, and upon completion, researchers found that the placebo group had improved just as much as the others had.

So, if the brain can make us think we just had knee surgery to correct the pain in our knees, why can’t we utilize this power in treating depression? We can, it just takes willpower and dedication to change our brains. However, changing just a few of your thoughts per day by focusing your attention toward them will go a long way in helping you reverse depression.
2. Eat healthy

In general, stay away from processed, GMO, or highly refined foods. Stick to nature in order to get the most health benefits from your food; go for raw, organic fruits and vegetables, and raw, unsalted nuts and seeds, if possible. Eliminate or greatly reduce sugary, processed, altered foods in order to keep your brain healthy. Also, try to limit consumption of white flours, sugars, breads, and other grains. Your brain and your stomach have more to do with each other than you’d think, so if you want a clean mind, focus on adopting a clean diet.
3. Exercise

Exercise – one of the most effective, yet underutilized, treatments for depression. Studies have shown how lack of exercise can actually cause depression. In fact, according to an article from Dr. Mercola,

“Women who sat for more than seven hours a day were found to have a 47 percent higher risk of depression than women who sat for four hours or less per day. Those who didn’t participate in any physical activity at all had a 99 percent higher risk of developing depression than women who exercised. Indeed, exercise is perhaps one of the most effective yet underutilized treatments for depression.”

4. Adopt a mindfulness practice

Finally, you have to take care of your mind if you want it to work properly. Countless studies have found the link between positive mental health and meditation or some other type of mindfulness exercise. By focusing your attention on the present moment and just sinking into the bliss that each uninterrupted second of meditation allows, you can actually restructure your brain and eliminate depression. In fact, many studies have found meditation to rival medication in treating depression.

Related article: This Is For Every Person Who Has Ever Been Depressed

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Bipolar Affective disorder.

Bipolar affective disorder, or manic-depressive illness (MDI), is a common, severe, and persistent mental illness. This condition is a serious lifelong struggle and challenge.[1]
Signs and symptoms

Bipolar affective disorder is characterized by periods of deep, prolonged, and profound depression that alternate with periods of an excessively elevated or irritable mood known as mania.

Manic episodes are feature at least 1 week of profound mood disturbance, characterized by elation, irritability, or expansiveness (referred to as gateway criteria). At least 3 of the following symptoms must also be present[2] :

Hypomanic episodes are characterized by an elevated, expansive, or irritable mood of at least 4 consecutive days’ duration. At least 3 of the following symptoms are also present[2] :

Grandiosity or inflated self-esteem
Diminished need for sleep
Pressured speech
Racing thoughts or flight of ideas
Clear evidence of distractibility
Increased level of goal-focused activity at home, at work, or sexually
Engaging in activities with a high potential for painful consequences

Major depressive episodes are characterized as, for the same 2 weeks, the person experiences 5 or more of the following symptoms, with at least 1 of the symptoms being either a depressed mood or characterized by a loss of pleasure or interest[2] :

Depressed mood
Markedly diminished pleasure or interest in nearly all activities
Significant weight loss or gain or significant loss or increase in appetite
Hypersomnia or insomnia
Psychomotor retardation or agitation
Loss of energy or fatigue
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
Decreased concentration ability or marked indecisiveness
Preoccupation with death or suicide; patient has a plan or has attempted suicide

See Clinical Presentation for more detail.
Diagnosis

Examination of patients with suspected bipolar affective disorder includes evaluation using the Mental Status Examination as well as assessment of the following:

Appearance
Affect/mood
Thought content
Perception
Suicide/self-destruction
Homicide/violence/aggression
Judgment/insight
Cognition
Physical health

Testing

Although bipolar disorder is diagnosed based on the patient’s history and clinical course, laboratory studies may be necessary to rule out other potential causes of the patient’s signs and symptoms as well as to have baseline results before administering certain medications.

Laboratory tests that may be helpful include the following:

CBC count
ESR levels
Fasting glucose levels
Electrolyte levels
Protein levels
Thyroid hormone levels
Creatinine and blood urea nitrogen levels
Liver and lipid panel
Substance and alcohol screening

Depending on the patient’s presentation, other laboratory tests may be indicated, which may include the following:

Urinary copper levels
Antinuclear antibody testing
HIV testing
VDRL testing

Electrocardiography is important in elderly patients and before antidepressant therapy. Electroencephalography and/or MRI may be appropriate for selected patients.

The treatment of bipolar affective disorder is directly related to the phase of the episode (ie, depression or mania) and the severity of that phase, and it may involve a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Always evaluate patients with mania, hypomania, or mixed episode, and those with bipolar depression, for suicidality, acute or chronic psychosis, or other unstable or dangerous conditions.[3

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Eight common warning signs of Gluten Intolerance!

Eight Common Warning Signs Of Gluten Intolerance
By Barbara Diamond
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Sure, the word “gluten” has become somewhat of a buzzword lately — but gluten intolerance isn’t just a fad.

Despite what many people may think, gluten intolerance isn’t a food allergy and does not signify celiac disease. Rather, it’s a condition in your gut, and it can have a negative impact on one’s overall lifestyle and well-being.

According to Food Renegade, “undigested gluten proteins (prevalent in wheat and other grains) hang out in your intestines and are treated by your body like a foreign invader, irritating your gut and flattening the microvilli along the small intestine wall. Without those microvilli, you have considerably less surface area with which to absorb the nutrients from your food.”

We know that debilitating pain, vomiting, and diarrhea after eating are surefire signs of a serious gastrointestinal condition — but when looking at gluten intolerance, many of these universal signs may sound quite general and vague. However, those who remain undiagnosed may continue to eat gluten for the rest of their lives, putting themselves at risk for autoimmune and other diseases, along with a wide array of exhausting, frustrating, and uncomfortable symptoms.

Scroll down to see eight common signs of gluten intolerance, and please make sure to consult your doctor if you’re experiencing severe forms of any of the following symptoms.

Image Credit: DIY Network
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1. Stomach Pain
1. Stomach Pain
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

You know what they say: Listen to your gut.

Digestive issues are perhaps the most obvious sign of gluten intolerance. After eating foods containing gluten, you may often experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. According to Digestion Relief Center, eating foods that contain gluten can damage the lining of the small intestine, and can lead to poor absorption of minerals, vitamins, and most of the food you eat.
2. Dizziness
2. Dizziness
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Many people with gluten intolerance experience brain fog, disorientation, and a strange feeling of being off-balance after consuming foods made with gluten — but they fail to connect the dots.

That frequent feeling of cloudiness isn’t normal, and by eliminating gluten from your diet, you may feel that cloud lifted. Some people have actually seen a decrease in vertigo attacks after cutting gluten from their diet.
3. Mood Swings
3. Mood Swings
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Think about it… If your gut is unhappy with the foods you eat, then your brain will be, too. People with gluten intolerance often find themselves unexplainably irritable, anxious, or upset.

The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 diseases caused or exacerbated by eating gluten, which included depression and anxiety.
4. Chronic Migraine
4. Chronic Migraine
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Headaches are highly common for people with gluten intolerance. While it’s not associated with one specific type of headache, the pattern typically occurs within 30 to 60 minutes after eating.

Frequent migraines can also lead to blurry vision and pain around the eye sockets.
5. Itchy Skin
5. Itchy Skin
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

When your intestines have trouble processing gluten, they become inflamed, which can outwardly “reveal” itself through the skin. That’s why gluten sensitivity is often associated to skin conditions, like eczema and psoriasis. The immune system responds to an unhappy digestive system by creating antibodies that can cause dry, itchy skin.

These symptoms may result in many sleepless nights spent scratching at your knees, elbows, fingers, and/or shins.
6. Fibromyalgia
6. Fibromyalgia
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It affects about 4 percent of the U.S. population, and mostly women.

According to many health professionals, avoiding gluten can alleviate fibromyalgia. As Medicine Net reports, rheumatology experts like Alex Shikhman, M.D., believe the diversity of dietary approaches may have less to do with the impact on fibromyalgia, and more to do with treating a secondary, possibly undiagnosed illness. “When patients are helped by a specific dietary measure, it is often because of the presence of a secondary condition that does have a recognized response to diet. And when you take care of that, you do get some relief from all the symptoms. You feel better overall.”

Makes sense, right?
7. Chronic Fatigue
7. Chronic Fatigue
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

It also makes total sense that if your body is out of whack and your mind is up and down, you’d also feel tired and exhausted. Even if you get eight to nine hours of sleep, you may still wake up feeling drained; this can signify a much bigger problem.

When your body is always inflamed and spending its energy on trying to deal with unwanted gluten proteins, then your energy will be spent much quicker and easier than normal.
8. Lactose Intolerance
8. Lactose Intolerance
LittleThings / Heeral Chhibber

Gluten and dairy intolerance have very similar symptoms, and sometimes the two go hand-in-hand. This is probably the most surprising sign of gluten intolerance, but it’s a big one.

If lactose is already a dietary issue for you, then chances are gluten is, too. There’s a specific type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products that can trigger digestive issues and add on to the already uncomfortable symptoms of gluten intolerance. Dairy foods are also a common trigger for acid reflux, which is also linked to gluten intolerance.

Please SHARE this important information with all those who may have been experiencing symptoms!

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What is an Invisible Disability?

March30,2016
What is an Invisible Disability?
Invisible Disabilities Association – InvisibleDisabilities.org

By Guest Blogger Wayne Connell, Founder, Invisible Disabilities Association

What is an “invisible disability?” Is it a specific illness or condition, such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, diabetes, a Chiari malformation or syringomyelia? Is it the symptoms of an illness or disability, such as pain or fatigue or neuropathy or brain fog? Why do we even use the phrase or where did it come from? Isn’t a disability just a disability, no matter if you can see it or not? Are people treated differently because their disability manifests itself visibly? Is having a disability different from being disabled? All great questions! Is someone, who has an illness or is in pain or has a disability or is disabled, a bad person who should be treated like a lesser human? I can answer that one. NO!

Twenty years ago in 1996, my wife, Sherri, coined the term “invisible disability.” Why did she come up with it? After receiving a diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis and chronic late stage Lyme disease in 1991, at the young age of 27, Sherri endured the stares and accusations and disbelief of strangers and friends that questioned how she could be disabled and still walk with seemingly unapparent outward signs of her disabilities. People would often scream at her when she parked in an accessible space or ignore her when she collapsed on the floor of a department store. So the phrase, “I have an invisible disability,” became an apt description of what she was living with.

As a tech guy, I decided to use some of Sherri’s pamphlets she wrote to help friends and family better understand what she was going through such as “Multiple What? Untangling the Perplexities of Multiple Sclerosis” and “Don’t Judge by Appearances – Parking with Invisible Disabilities” and created the InvisibleDisabilities.org website. That is when The Invisible Disabilities Advocate® was launched (which became the Invisible Disabilities® Association (IDA)). Almost immediately, 25,000 people a month started coming to IDA’s website and said that we put into words what they had been trying to tell their friends and families. “Invisible disabilities” progressed from a very descriptive term to an international organization and movement.

Of course, the question most-asked of our organization is, “what is an ‘invisible disability?’” In general, the term “disability” is often used to describe an ongoing physical challenge. This could be a bump in life that can be well-managed or a mountain that creates serious changes and loss. Either way, this term should not be used to describe a person as weaker or lesser than anyone else! Every person has a purpose, special uniqueness and value, no matter what hurdles they may face.

In addition, just because a person has a disability does not mean they are disabled. Many living with these challenges are still fully active in their work, families, sports or hobbies. Some with disabilities are able to work full or part time, but struggle to get through their day, with little or no energy for other things. Others are unable to maintain gainful or substantial employment due to their disability, have trouble with daily living activities and/or need assistance with their care.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), an individual with a disability is a person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.

Furthermore, “A person is considered to have a disability if he or she has difficulty performing certain functions (seeing, hearing, talking, walking, climbing stairs and lifting and carrying), or has difficulty performing activities of daily living, or has difficulty with certain social roles (doing school work for children, working at a job and around the house for adults).”

Often people think the term “disability” only refers to people using a wheelchair or walker. On the contrary, the 1994-1995 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) found that 26 million Americans (almost one in 10) were considered to have a severe disability, while only 1.8 million used a wheelchair and 5.2 million used a cane, crutches or walker. In other words, 74 percent of Americans who live with a severe disability do not use such devices. Therefore, a disability cannot be determined solely on whether or not a person uses assistive equipment.

The term “invisible disability” refers to symptoms such as debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments. These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to severe limitations and vary from person to person.

Also, someone who has a visible impairment or uses an assistive device such as a wheelchair, walker or cane can also have an invisible disability. For example, whether or not a person utilizes an assistive device, if they are debilitated by such symptoms as described above, they live with an invisible disability.

Unfortunately, people often judge others by what they see and often conclude a person can or cannot do something by the way they look. This can be equally frustrating for those who may appear unable, but are perfectly capable, as well as those who appear able, but are not.

International Disability expert Joni Eareckson Tada explained it well when she told someone living with debilitating fatigue, “people have such high expectations of folks like you [with invisible disabilities], like, ‘come on, get your act together.’ But they have such low expectations of folks like me in wheelchairs, as though it’s expected that we can’t do much.”

The bottom line is that everyone with a disability is different, with varying challenges and needs, as well as abilities and attributes. Thus, we all should learn to listen with our ears, instead of judging with our eyes.

At the Invisible Disabilities® Association, we do not maintain a list of specific illnesses and diagnoses that are considered invisible disabilities. There are thousands of illnesses, disorders, diseases, dysfunctions, genetic defects, impairments and injuries that can be debilitating. Therefore, all conditions that are debilitating are included when we talk about invisible disabilities. However, our focus is not to attempt to provide a vast amount of information about thousands of specific conditions (there are plenty of amazing organizations that do that).

IDA is here to provide awareness, education, connection and support for everyone who lives with a debilitating condition. We do this by offering articles, pamphlets, books, resources, radio interviews, video, seminars, symposiums and more to give hope and compassion to all living with invisible disabilities as well as information for loved ones to better understand.

IDA’s mission is to encourage, educate and connect people and organizations touched by illness, pain and disability around the globe. Hard to believe it has been twenty years yet there is still so much more work to do. Will you join us on this journey and envision a world where people living with illness, pain and disability will be Invisible No More®?
About the Guest Blogger

Wayne Connell, the founder and president of the Invisible Disabilities® Association (IDA), established IDA twenty years ago in 1996 out of the desire to educate friends and family about his wife’s debilitating illness. Soon afterwards, people around the globe began sending emails sharing how IDA had changed their relationships with their loved ones. He is co-author of the book, “But You LOOK Good, How to Encourage and Understand People Living with Illness and Pain.” Wayne’s background fueled his passion for helping people living with illness, pain and disability. His experience includes that of a professional, multitasking husband caregiver with an extensive background in management, media and technology. This man on a mission quickly launched IDA into a world-wide outreach for millions living with invisible disabilities.

Make sure you check out IDA’s website for additional resources and stories at www.InvisibleDisabilities.org. Share your personal video story with us at www.InvisibleNoMore.tv. You can also be part of other people’s stories by joining them at www.Facebook.com/invisibledisabilities or becoming a member of InvisibleDisabilities.Inspire.com. Join IDA at our 2nd annual Brain IDEAS Symposium on August 5th. Invisible Disabilities Week is Oct 16 through 22, 2016. Our 9th Annual Awards Gala, “Jazzed About You” will be Octob

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