Category: Depression

Why Chronic Illness and Depression Aggravate Each Other

Posted on 30 March, 2015  in Depression

Why Chronic Illness and Depression Aggravate Each Other: Part OneNearly one of every two American adults suffers from a chronic disease that’s long lasting or permanent. A complete cure isn’t possible usually, but medications and lifestyle modifications can help control it. Research shows that having a chronic condition may be depressing, and depression can worsen an ongoing malady. An estimated one-third of serious disease patients also have mood disorders like depression and anxiety. About 68 percent of adult mood disorder patients have one or more co-existing physical conditions. Yet depression remains undiagnosed and untreated in many chronic illness patients.

Common Concurrent Conditions

Traditional depression odds are 10 to 25 percent in women and five to 12 percent among men. But a chronic condition raises everyone’s risk to 25-33 percent. Your chances are particularly high if you have a depression history. The likelihood of simultaneous chronic disease and depression rises according to illness severity and the amount of everyday disruption this combination creates.

Scientific evidence indicates that the most common coexisting conditions are chronic pain syndrome, heart attacks, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), cancers, strokes, diabetes, and heart disease without cardiac arrest. Order affordable medicine from Canada Drug Pharmacy for these and additional illnesses.

Chronic pain syndrome:

Some 30-54 percent of these patients experience depression. Pain combines an unpleasant physical sensation with an emotional reaction that resembles depression. This condition is depressing while depression triggers and deepens pain. Ongoing pain triples psychiatric symptom odds of developing anxiety or mood disorders, and depression raises your chronic pain chances three times.

Heart attacks:

The depression rate for these patients is 40 to 65 percent. Although mental stress impacts heart health, depression plays a key destructive role after cardiac arrests. Researchers determined that depressed heart attack survivors had a 17-percent higher death risk during the first six months while that rate was just three percent among cardiac arrest subjects without depressive disorders.

Parkinson’s disease:

Depression affects 40 percent of these patients. Besides a serious illness diagnosis triggering depression, Parkinson’s disease involves pathological causes. Brain images revealed that Parkinson’s patients might have an elevated number of serotonin reuptake pumps, which help regulate mood. They reduce serotonin levels, which may increase depression. The National Institute of Mental Health warns that each illness can worsen the other’s symptoms.

Multiple sclerosisMultiple sclerosis:

About 40 percent of MS patients experience depression. This life-changing diagnosis creates emotional stress, but the physical disease process may deepen depression. MS damages your brain’s nerve and myelin fibers. If it impacts the areas you need for emotional processing, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports that behavioral changes including depression can occur. MS also can lead to neuroendocrine and/or immune system changes that affect depression. Some evidence shows that immune parameter changes accompany mood fluctuations in MS patients. Certain MS drugs including corticosteroid and interferon medications might activate or intensify depression.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

One study found that 40 percent of the people suffering with PTSD developed depression four months after their traumatic events.


A third of advanced cancer patients, a fourth of all cancer sufferers, and a fifth of terminal cancer patients experience depression. Yet under half receive treatment. Any cancer diagnosis can generate anxiety, depression, and fear. The American Cancer Society notes that you may feel helpless and grieve over this dreaded life event that’s beyond your control while also dealing with alarming implications and unexpected body image changes. Unpredictable suffering and death may be terrifying. Nausea, pain, and fatigue are likely to create emotional distress, reducing medication adherence.


Sadness and despair occur in 10 to 27 percent of stroke patients. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, hopelessness might interfere with your functioning while inhibiting your quality of life. Untreated depression may be dangerous because it slows the stroke recovery process. Biological and behavioral risk factors like the stroke damaging your brain, genetic influences, and social isolation may lead to depression. You might be more irritable, experience personality changes, or not follow your treatment regimen.


Moodiness afflicts 25 percent of diabetics. The American Diabetes Association warns that untreated depression may create problems. Daily blood sugar management can be stressful and overwhelming while causing sadness and isolation. Diabetes, depression, and limited energy can initiate an unhealthy cycle. If anxiety prevents you from thinking straight, your diet may suffer. Skip meals, and your glucose level can plummet while deepening your depression. Even after adjusting for additional risk factors including exercise and weight, depression increases women’s diabetes odds by 17 percent.

Heart disease without cardiac arrest:

Major depression affects up to 20 percent of patients who’ve undergone coronary artery bypass surgeries and up to 15 percent of cardiovascular disease patients. People in the first group who go without depression treatment have greater illness and mortality rates. Depressed cardiac patients have higher heart disease risks like greater platelet reactivity, reduced heart variability, and elevated pro-inflammatory markers. The American Heart Association recommends that all cardiac patients undergo depression screenings.

Why Chronic Illness and Depression Aggravate Each Other: Part TwoResearch demonstrates that a blend of biological, genetic, psychological, and environmental factors can lead to depression. Combining it with a chronic disease affects people differently. Either condition can cause the other. Depression may stem from an ongoing malady’s biological and physical effects. An illness can bring on difficulties that trigger depression or disrupt healthy functioning, which can impact your mood adversely.

Some serious diseases can necessitate considerable life changes, which may limit your independence and mobility. If doing what you enjoyed previously becomes impossible, sadness and despair may replace your confidence and hopes for the future.

Discovering How this Combination Occurs

A chronic disease that triggers depression tends to worsen, especially if it involves discomfort and weakness or restricts your interacting abilities. Depression may intensify your pain, sluggishness, and fatigue. Simultaneous sickness and depression may lead to self-imposed isolation, which will probably worsen your depression.

A study found that patients suffering from depression experience a lower quality of life with nearly twice the number of missed work or restricted activity days. Besides exacerbating your ongoing illness, depression increases mortality rates.

Recognizing Depression Symptoms

You, your family, and doctor may disregard your depression symptoms, assuming that sadness is typical with your serious illness. Physical medical problems also might mask your depression indicators. While your doctor focuses on your long-term medical illness, he may overlook depression as a coexisting condition that requires treatment. He might not consider that something besides your chronic disease is causing poor concentration or fatigue. So he might treat your symptoms but not your underlying depression. Or he may skip treatment because your physical ailment would depress anyone.

When you suffer from continuous disease and depression simultaneously, you need concurrent treatments for both. Dr. Joan Mackell, Ph.D., advises consulting your doctor if any of these symptoms arise during a chronic malady:

  • Lost interest in typically enjoyable activities
  • Significant weight or appetite changes that aren’t related to your lingering disease
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Exhaustion that’s unrelated to your chronic health problem
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating or slower thinking
  • Suicidal ideas or actions

Depression may cause these unhealthy behaviors that can worsen your serious condition:

  • Reduced treatment adherence
  • Increased smoking and drinking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor diet

Exploring Treatment Options

If your chronic condition brings on depression, your mood can inhibit your disease treatment’s success. Take action to overcome depressive symptoms by seeing a medical or mental health professional for a depression screening as quickly as possible.

Prompt diagnosis and early treatments can ease your distress. Understand your treatment options including medications, psychotherapy, or a combination that can help control any negative thinking so you can view your circumstances and yourself more optimistically.

Seroquel (Quetiapine) will stabilize your mood to help control your anxiety and depression symptoms. Over 80 percent of patients improve with treatments for depression and underlying diseases. When this pairing occurs, adjusting your chronic medication also may be necessary. Search Canada Drug Pharmacy for medications that treat various health problems.

Handling your disease’s emotional components is vital to stop the dangerous descent that these interrelated illnesses can create. Depression treatment can lower your complication and suicide chances while upgrading your interminable condition, encouraging ongoing treatment plan compliance, and enhancing your quality of life.

Coping with Depression During Long-Term Disease

Coping with Depression During Long-Term DiseaseThe vicious cycle of enduring illness, disability, and depression can take a toll on you physically and emotionally. Experts offer tips to help you manage this challenging combination.

  • First, you must accept your concurrent illness and depression situation.
  • Choose expert medical and/or mental health professionals who are trustworthy, supportive, and open to addressing all of your questions, fears, anger, and concerns.
  • Study your mental and medical conditions.Understanding depression can help you appreciate the necessity of seeking the mental health care you need. Knowledge will inspire you to get the best treatments available so you can maximize your control and independence.
  • Build a support system of relatives, friends, and fellow sufferers.Frequent interactions with people who care about you can help you avoid isolation and fight depression. Consider joining a support group for peer guidance and encouragement. Visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website to find support and educational programs. Your physician or therapist also may be able to recommend additional community resources.
  • Consult your doctor for pain management medications and techniques.
  • If you think any medicines could be impairing your mood, ask your provider about switching drugs.
  • Serious suicidal thoughts or attempts require emergency treatment.
  • Your doctor can recommend a helpful fitness program.Stay active by engaging in exercises that are appropriate for your medical condition and well-being.
  • Practice healthy habits.Eating well and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco can reduce your chronic condition’s negative effects and depression risk.
  • Maintain your regular routine.Your continual illness is a manageable challenge that you can integrate into your daily life.
  • Continue fun activities whenever possible.Connecting with other people, pursuing hobbies you enjoy, and learning new skills will boost your confidence, sense of belonging, and mood.

How to Tell If It’s You, or If It’s Bipolar Disorder

Posted on 23 March, 2015  in Depression

How to Tell If It’s You, or If It’s Bipolar DisorderWhen you have a mental illness, it’s hard to tell what feelings and traits are part of your core personality, and which ones are actually mental illness symptoms. Bipolar disorder, especially, can rob you of your ability to understand yourself. Are the emotions you’re experiencing right now “real,” or are they a symptom of your illness? How can you make the distinction?

It doesn’t help that those around you may further confuse you by attributing normal emotional estates to your illness. In order to fully understand which experiences and feelings are part of your illness and which are part of your personality, you first need to learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder and its symptoms. Know what you’re like when you’re not experiencing a depressive or hypomanic episode. Keep track of your feelings, thoughts, and moods. Try to stay in the moment. Don’t be afraid to ask others how they’d react to situations you’re experiencing.

Understand Your Illness

Before you begin treatment for bipolar disorder with medications like Seroquel combined with psychotherapy, you may not realize at all that many of the emotional experiences you have are not normal.

Once you get a diagnosis and enter treatment, your first step should be to learn all you can about bipolar disorder and its symptoms. Read books and articles, attend workshops, join online forums, participate in workshops, and, of course, speak with your psychiatrists about the symptoms you can expect to experience. The more information you have about bipolar disorder symptoms, the better prepared you can be to recognize them in yourself.

Know What You’re Like When You’re Not in the Midst of an Episode

Many people with bipolar disorder go through periods when they’re not experiencing symptoms of the disorder — they’re neither depressed nor manic, and they feel normal. Make a list of qualities that define you when you’re in this space. When you’re feeling neither manic nor depressed, what kinds of things do you like? What do you dislike? What are your thoughts like, and at what pace do they move? What are your speech patterns like? Do you speak quickly or slowly?

It’s important to record in writing what you’re like when you’re in a normal mood, but you should also make sure to discuss it with those around you. Your friends and loved ones need to know how to recognize a return of bipolar disorder symptoms, too. Once the people who love you have a firm grasp of what you’re like when you’re in a normal mood versus what you’re like when you’re feeling depressed or manic, they can also be on the alert and help to tip you off when you’re entering a mood swing.

Track Your Mental and Emotional StateTrack Your Mental and Emotional State

Keeping a journal is a great way to document your thoughts, feelings, and moods from one day to the next. By keeping a daily record of the way you feel and think, you can begin to notice patterns and stay aware of your emotional responses. If you start thinking more quickly or become overwhelmed by a long-lasting, overarching emotional state, journaling can help bring your attention to that.

Live in the Moment

Practicing mindfulness can help you cultivate the self-awareness necessary to identify those sometimes miniscule changes in your emotional state that can pinpoint impending mood swings. Many people with bipolar disorder can tell the difference between “normal” emotions and disordered ones because they feel different physically and mentally, but it takes a bit of mindfulness practice before you can begin to make that distinction.

Mindfulness practice can also help you to accept yourself and grow your self-confidence, which can be a big issue for people with bipolar disorder. Once you learn to accept yourself and your emotions, you have a chance of dealing with those emotions without also having to slog through the burden of all the other emotions you feel about your emotions. For example, it’s much easier to deal with feeling angry with your parents if you can accept that you feel angry with your parents, and you don’t have to also deal with feeling guilty, anxious, or sad about feeling angry with your parents.

Ask for Other Perspectives

One of the easiest ways to identify whether your feelings about a particular situation are normal is to ask others how they would feel about a similar situation in their lives. Of course, it’s important to choose people that you can trust and that don’t suffer from bipolar disorder. But keep in mind that everyone learns how to react to social situations and life events by taking cues from the people around them; there’s no shame in checking your own reactions against those of the people around you.

Bipolar disorder symptoms can have such a profound effect on your mood, emotions, and thoughts that it can take years to figure out who you really are underneath it all. Learn all you can about your illness, discuss your reactions with others, accept yourself, and try to keep track of your thoughts and feelings. With time, you’ll become an expert at identifying which thoughts and feelings are “real” and which ones are symptoms of your bipolar disorder.

Is It Bipolar, or Borderline Personality Disorder?

Posted on 19 March, 2015  in Depression

Is It Bipolar, or Borderline Personality Disorder?It can be difficult, even for clinicians, to tell the difference between bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD). This may be because both disorders have some similar symptoms, and in anywhere from eight to 18 percent of cases, patients with one of these disorders are found to also suffer from the other one. Both of these disorders cause patients to have problems regulating their moods; however, there are some big differences between how people with bipolar disorder experience their moods and emotional states, and how people with BPD experience them.

BPD symptoms typically appear in adolescence and may develop even earlier. Symptoms of BPD are usually present from the beginning of a person’s life, and they make up the sufferer’s personality — that’s why BPD is known as a personality disorder. Bipolar disorder symptoms, on the other hand, consist of mood and emotional changes that are different from the person’s normal personality, which usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood. While medication is necessary for the treatment of bipolar disorder, psychotherapy is the most effective form of treatment for BPD.

BPD and Bipolar Disorder Cause Different Mood Symptoms

Though both BPD and bipolar disorder are characterized by changes in mood, BPD mood changes occur much more rapidly than bipolar disorder mood changes. A person with BPD may experience several severe mood changes each day, with emotional states that last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. That’s because people with BPD experience what’s known as affective dysregulation, or overwhelming, unpleasant, and painful emotional reactions to things that are going on in their lives.

Their most common mood symptoms include sadness, anger, paranoia, fear of abandonment, and anxiety. They may react to these mood changes with fits of rage, threats of suicide, and self-harm.

An important point to remember is that most often, mood changes in people suffering BPD occur in reaction to something that’s happening in their lives, usually perceived rejection or abandonment by someone they care about. It’s also vital to note that, unlike people with bipolar disorder, people with BPD do not cycle from sadness, anger, anxiety, or other negative emotions into a euphoric or elated manic state. They go from a state of emotional upheaval to merely feeling not upset for a brief time, and do not experience euphoria.

For people with bipolar disorder, the disordered emotional states they experience last much longer, typically for days, weeks, or months. While it’s possible that bipolar mood swings can occur due to some triggering stress, there often isn’t any such trigger — the mood changes just happen for no apparent reason. While people with bipolar disorder may experience many of the same emotional states as people with BPD — including feelings of anger and rage — they will demonstrate one particular emotional state that people with BPD almost never display. That emotional state is mania or hypomania, characterized by grandiose thinking and euphoria, as well as possible anger or irritability.

Both people with BPD and bipolar disorder will demonstrate impulsivity, although people with BPD may demonstrate this quality as an overarching personality trait, while people with bipolar disorder tend to display it mostly during manic and hypomanic phases. BPD is driven largely by a fear of abandonment, and leads to rocky, emotionally intense relationships, low self-esteem, suicidal behavior, self-harming behavior, emotional emptiness, and anger management problems.

When a person with bipolar disorder is in a manic phase, he or she will talk more often and more quickly, make lots of grand plans, take more risks, seem to have a lot more energy than normal, need less sleep, and appear to be elated or irritable. When depressed, a person with bipolar disorder exhibits classic symptoms of depression. There will often be periods of normalcy, too, in which the person with bipolar disorder reverts to his or her old self again.

Correct Diagnosis Is Vital

Correct Diagnosis Is VitalWhether you have bipolar disorder or BPD, correct diagnosis is vital to appropriate treatment. People with bipolar disorder need medication to manage the symptoms of the illness. Medications like Abilify and Seroquel can be used to treat bipolar disorder symptoms, as can certain antidepressants. Psychotherapy is also a valuable tool to educate people with bipolar disorder about their condition and help them learn how to manage their symptoms.

Since BPD is a personality disorder, it can be difficult to treat, but with the right combination of therapy and medication, up to 85 percent of people with BPD can experience remission. While psychotherapy is more important for people with BPD, some medications can be used to control mood swings, depression, impulsivity, and suicidal thoughts. Psychotherapy for BPD usually involves dialectical behavior therapy, which can help patients learn to gain control over their emotions, build healthier thought patterns, and have more fulfilling relationships.

Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder often look so similar that it can be difficult even for professionals to tell the difference. But getting the correct diagnosis can make all the difference to your prognosis. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor why he or she gave you your diagnosis, and to talk about any concerns you may have.

Have You Been Misdiagnosed? 5 Conditions That Mimic Depression

Posted on 17 March, 2015  in Depression

Depression causes feelings of hopelessness, a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy, and an inability to take pleasure in much of anything at all. It can cause physical symptoms like body aches and fatigue, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, and reduced appetite. It can even cause excessive feelings of guilt and worthlessness, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, and perhaps most characteristically, feelings of sadness that just won’t seem to recede.

But depression isn’t the only medical condition that can cause these symptoms. There are also several medical conditions of a physical nature that can cause psychological symptoms similar to those of depression, like hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, and even vitamin D deficiency. Other mental illnesses, like anxiety and bipolar disorder, can also cause symptoms similar to those of depression.

1. Hypothyroidism

mar17-1Hypothyroidism, a condition that affects about 10 million Americans, impairs the ability of the thyroid gland to produce the crucial hormones necessary for metabolic regulation. These hormones affect the way that cells use nutrients to make energy. When thyroid hormone levels are too low, it can have a profound impact on every part of the body, including the brain.

Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism mimic those of depression, including low mood, weight gain, fatigue, impaired libido, and difficulty concentrating. If you’re also experiencing symptoms like muscle stiffness and cramps, chills, hoarseness, lowered heart rate, and dryness of the hair and skin, you might be suffering from hypothyroidism instead of depression. The good news is that treatment for hypothyroidism is relatively straightforward, and typically requires taking a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone.

2. Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs when you’re hungry and can cause symptoms similar to those of depression, especially if you suffer from rapidly changing blood sugar levels on a regular basis. If your blood sugar is up and down every day, it could be a sign you’re developing insulin resistance and may be at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

However, a drop in blood sugar can cause moodiness, irritability, and other depressive symptoms because hunger triggers the stress response. If you think you might be having problems with your blood sugar, eat low-carb, high-protein meals every few hours and consider having a glucose tolerance test and a serum insulin test, also known as a fasting insulin test, to check your insulin resistance levels.

3. Vitamin D Deficiency

Up to 75 percent of Americans suffer from a vitamin D deficiency, and most don’t even know it. While it used to be thought that vitamin D deficiency mostly causes bone problems, it’s now understood that a deficiency of this key vitamin can cause symptoms similar to depression.

Vitamin D doesn’t occur naturally in very many foods, although most milk, orange juice, cereal, and some other foods in the United States are fortified with this vitamin. Your body can make its own vitamin D, but it needs adequate exposure to sunlight to do so. How much sun exposure you need depends on your skin color and where you live — the quality of the sunlight you receive will vary based on your latitude. If you wear sun block or other protective gear, you may not be getting all the sunlight you need. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level and make sure you get enough of the nutrient by eating fortified foods or taking a supplement. Aim for about 600 IU of vitamin D a day.

4. Bipolar Disorder

mar17-2Bipolar disorder is often mistaken for depression because people with this disorder typically cycle through a depressive phase, as well as a manic phase and a period of normality. People experiencing the manic phase of bipolar disorder often don’t feel that they need help, but they might seek help during the depressive phase — and they might seek it from an overworked general practitioner who has little knowledge of psychiatric disorders and may be willing to write a prescription for antidepressants without referring the patient to a psychiatrist. Many people with bipolar disorder spend more time in a depressive state than they do in a manic one.

However, bipolar disorder is best treated with mood stabilizing and anti-manic drugs like Seroquel or Abilify. Antidepressants like Prozac can cause a person with bipolar disorder to go into a manic phase. That can be dangerous, because mania often causes risky behavior like gambling or unsafe sex. When combined with the right medication, however, certain antidepressants might be beneficial for people with bipolar disorder.

5. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders like PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder can cause depression-like symptoms, just as depression can often be accompanied by anxiety. Many patients with an anxiety disorder also suffer from depression, and vice versa. While antidepressants can be used to treat anxiety disorders, many anxiety disorders can benefit from specialized psychotherapy — which can only be administered if an appropriate diagnosis is made.

Depression isn’t the only condition that can cause feelings of sadness, irritability, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. If you’re being treated for depression and your symptoms aren’t abating, it might be worth seeking a second opinion.

Can Chronic Sleep Deprivation Cause Depression?

Posted on 16 March, 2015  in Depression

Can Chronic Sleep Deprivation Cause Depression?You probably already knew that depression can cause sleep disorders. Many people who suffer with depression sleep too much, while others have problems sleeping at all. But did you know that sleep deprivation may cause depression symptoms? Often, sleep deprivation and depression occur together and offering treatment for one helps bring about an improvement in the other, too.

Why are sleep deprivation and depression linked? Sleep is essential for healthy functioning of all the body’s major organs, of which the brain is one. When the brain can no longer function properly because of insufficient sleep, depression can occur. Research suggests that getting enough sleep can help protect against intrusive, negative thoughts and other hallmarks of depression. Antidepressants, psychotherapy, and good sleep hygiene can help treat depression caused by sleep deprivation, as can drugs designed to relieve insomnia.

Lack of Sleep Causes Depression in Teens

According to the results of a study performed by sleep specialists, not getting enough sleep can significantly raise the risk of depression symptoms in teens. The study examined sleep habits and depression symptoms in 262 high school students. Over 50 percent of the teens in the study reported feeling “excessively sleepy” during the day, a term that sleep specialists use indicate that a person is likely to doze off while watching TV, reading, or performing other daily tasks.

The students in the study said they slept about six hours a night during the school week and about eight hours a night on Friday and Saturday. That’s a lot less than the minimum of nine hours of nightly sleep that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends for teens. The students’ lack of sleep showed in the high rate at which they reported depression symptoms. Thirty percent of the students demonstrated severe depression symptoms, and an additional 32 percent had milder depression symptoms. Those who were the most sleep deprived were three times more likely than their well-rested peers to suffer from depression.

Adults Are at Risk for Sleep-Related Mood Symptoms, Too

Teens aren’t the only ones who can develop depression symptoms if they don’t get enough sleep; adults are also likely to develop depression if sleep deprivation becomes chronic. Mark Mahowald, MD, who directs the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center, told WebMD that the relationship between insomnia and depression is bi-directional. Not only can depression cause insomnia and sleep deprivation, but sleep deprivation can also cause symptoms of lowered mood — and those mood symptoms can cause further sleep impairment, which causes further mood impairment, and so on. According to R. Robert Auger, a sleep specialist with the Mayo Center for Sleep Medicine, people who suffer from insomnia are four times more likely to develop depression than those who do not suffer from insomnia. For reasons experts don’t fully understand, depression risk can remain elevated even decades after insomnia is resolved. The two conditions so often occur together that many sleep specialists screen their patients for depression as a matter of course.

A study published in the journal Sleep last year suggests that sleep duration can affect depression symptoms. In a twin study of 1,788 adults, the researchers discovered that people who sleep fewer or more than the recommended eight hours a night increased their risk for depression. Among the twins who slept an average of seven to 8.9 hours a night, 27 percent developed depression symptoms. Those who slept an average of 10 hours a night had a much higher risk of depression symptoms — 49 percent of those twins developed depression. But the twins who slept the least had the highest depression risk of all — 53 percent of those who slept an average of five hours a night developed depression.

Get Enough Sleep, Feel Better

Get Enough Sleep, Feel BetterFor people who suffer from both depression and insomnia, treating either condition can help bring about a speedier recovery from the other. Treating insomnia can be of immense help in achieving depression remission when the two conditions occur together. Many antidepressants, like SSRIs, SNRIs, and tricyclic antidepressants can also help you sleep. Some antidepressants, like mirtazapine and trazodone, have sedative properties. These medications can be combined with other antidepressants, like Abilify, to help bring about complete remission of depression symptoms.

Sleep hygiene is also an important part of treating insomnia. Avoid using alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine at bedtime. Use the bedroom only to sleep or have sex; don’t read, watch TV, or do other activities in your bed. If you can’t sleep after 20 minutes of lying in bed, get up and go into the other room to listen to music, read, or do another relaxing activity until you get tired. When you refrain from using your bed for activities other than sleep, going to bed becomes a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.

You should also try to avoid using e-readers, tablets, computers, or other devices that have a backlit screen before bedtime. The glow of these screens can disrupt production of melatonin, the hormone that caused your brain to go to sleep. Meditation, yoga, listening to soft music, or reading at night can help you unwind and relax before bed.

Though experts don’t yet fully understand why, it’s clear that sleep deprivation and depression are linked. If you’re having problems sleeping, you’re more vulnerable to depression — or you may already be suffering from depression. To protect your mental health, always make sure to get enough sleep.

Bipolar Disorder Could Be Mistaken for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Posted on 5 March, 2015  in Depression

Bipolar Disorder Could Be Mistaken for Seasonal Affective DisorderWe might be past the midpoint of winter, but for many people, it seems like the cold and dark days of winter will never end. About 26 percent of American adults have some form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a medically diagnosable condition marked by symptoms of depression that are tied to the seasons. Most people with SAD experience symptoms beginning in late fall or early winter, and experience relief in the spring when the days get longer again. However, there are some people who experience summer depression, with symptoms brought on or exacerbated by the increased temperatures and sunlight.

Some experts suspect that the actual number of people living with SAD is higher than reported, since many people dismiss their symptoms as just the “winter funk” and never seek help from a doctor. Instead, they manage their symptoms on their own, choosing to “hibernate” instead — they might spend more time in bed, avoid social contact, or turn to forms of self-medication, such as alcohol, until they feel better.

Others choose to get help for their symptoms. Doctors suspect that light levels play a significant role in SAD; the angle and lower intensity of the sun’s rays during the winter months can wreak havoc on melatonin and serotonin production in the brain, negatively affecting mood, sleep patterns, and energy level. For that reason, light therapy, in which patients are exposed to broad-spectrum lights for a set amount of time each day, is one of the most common treatments for SAD. In extreme cases, medication and psychotherapy have proven effective for overcoming symptoms of SAD.

However, in some cases, the treatments aren’t very effective, or don’t work at all. In those cases, there could be another serious underlying psychological mood disorder causing cyclical mood changes.

Bipolar Disorder and SAD

Bipolar disorder, often called “manic depression,” is a serious mood disorder marked by changes in moods. A bipolar patient alternates between episodes of mania, an extreme “high” marked by hyperactivity, extreme happiness, little need for sleep, and quick-trigger tempers, and episodes of depression, marked by sadness, lack of energy, withdrawal, and feelings of helplessness. While individuals may have patterns to their moods, in general, every bipolar patient is different. Some people might have years of “normal” moods before experiencing a swing in either direction, while others may experience episodes that last only a few days — or even hours.

Research shows that about 20 percent of bipolar patients are able to track their moods based on the season. That is, many report transitioning into a down or depressive episode during the winter months, and experiencing mania during the spring. In fact, seasonally driven mood swings are common enough that many doctors refer to the month of May as “manic May.” The reason for the seasons’ effect on bipolar patients is suspected to be the same as with anyone else: Changes in sunlight influence hormone production, making mood regulation more difficult.

Do I Have SAD or Bipolar Disorder?

Currently, the only means of diagnosing SAD and bipolar disorder is via interviews and mental health history review. There are no physical tests to determine whether the condition is present.

Do I Have SAD or Bipolar Disorder?That being said, doctors can distinguish between the two conditions. While both SAD and bipolar are influenced by the changing seasons, SAD patients only experience their symptoms during the winter months (or in some cases summer) and experience relief when the seasons change. The symptoms are predictable and consistent, and the patient experiences stable moods for the rest of the year without any other medical interventions.

Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, is not as consistent. While the seasons influence mood, to be considered bipolar, one must have at least one episode of mania between depressive episodes. In other words, if you get depressed during the winter months, but then experience normal moods until a manic episode in the late summer, followed by a normal mood and then a return to depression in December, you could be bipolar. Symptoms of seasonally influenced bipolar disorder can be eased with light therapy, but the condition generally requires prescription medication treatment (such as Seroquel) as well as psychotherapy.

However, it’s important to note that bipolar mood swings are not your typical mood fluctuations. Everyone experiences mood changes, sometimes several times during the same day. You might head to work in a great mood but have a spat with a co-worker that puts you in a foul mood, only to have our spirits lifted by a phone call with a friend. Those are normal mood fluctuations. Bipolar disorder mood, on the other hand, are extreme and affect one’s ability to engage in normal activities; for example, the patient might demonstrate unrealistically high or low opinions of his or her abilities, or engage in dangerous or self-destructive behaviors. Usually this extreme behavior spurs a patient (or his or her loved ones) to seek help.

Only a doctor can make a definitive diagnosis of SAD or bipolar disorder. However, if you or a loved one is having difficulty regulating your mood, there is help — you do not have to suffer alone.

Don’t Be So Quick to Blame Social Media for Your Stress

Posted on 3 March, 2015  in Depression

mar3-1We’ve all seen the headlines about how social media is bad for your health. It seems like every week there’s yet another study showing that social media is responsible for any number of ailments, from being overweight to dealing with anxiety, depression, and inadequacy. Researchers claim that seeing others’ supposedly “perfect” lives online makes one feel bad about themselves — and can even lead to debt and poor health as we try to keep up with the cyber-Joneses.

There may be some truth to the negative effects of social media — after all, who hasn’t felt a little envious after seeing a friend’s fabulous vacation or major weight loss? However, a new study has concluded that social media doesn’t create as much stress as you might think. In fact, according to this new report, social media might actually be good for you.

A New Study

With the rapid growth of social media in the last decade, researchers have grown curious about its effects on our lives. As anyone with a Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account can attest, it’s not always sunshine and roses in the online universe. As a result, many researchers have concluded that social media has a detrimental effect on our overall mental and physical stress. Stress is a major contributing factor to heart disease; not only can it raise blood pressure and heart rate, but it also increases the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream which can contribute to diabetes. There’s also some evidence that suggests that stress also increases the amount of cholesterol being released into the bloodstream, leading to the need for cholesterol lowering drugs like Lipitor.

Researchers at Rutgers University, in conjunction with the Pew Research Center, were curious about those conclusions, though. Few of the existing studies, for example, compared the stress levels of non-social media users to those who used the sites. In addition, many of the studies relied on subjects’ own reports of their mental state after using social media. In other words, some of the most widely touted studies connecting stress to social media were based on simply asking subjects about their stress levels after using social media, without examining any other assignable causes.

The Rutgers study, on the other hand, compared the stress levels of those who use social media to those who do not, and based their conclusions on an objective test of stress levels. The most surprising conclusion? Women who use social media — including email and text — on a regular basis scored an average of 21 points lower on the stress test than those women who do not use online forms of staying connected. While the test did not specifically ask questions related to the use of particular technologies and stress, i.e., do you feel more or less stressed after using Facebook, the researchers argue that the significant difference in overall stress between the users and non-users of social media cannot be overlooked.

Facebook as a Coping Mechanismmar3-2

Researchers suspect that one of the contributing factors to reduced stress among female social media users is the fact that social media is a coping mechanism. Social media is all about making connections with friends and family (as well as complete strangers), and as a result, women who are active online tend to report feeling more supportive, more trusting of others, and more politically active. Sites like Facebook provide a forum for women to share their feeling and connect with others, and as a result, often have more close friends than those who aren’t online.

However, there is a downside. In some cases, social media can increase feelings of stress, at least temporarily, due to the fact that social media makes users privy to the stress in others’ lives. For example, when a friend loses a job or faces a serious illness, and shares that information online, some users experience a spike in stress due to their empathy and concern for a loved one. Researchers call this the “cost of caring,” and note that while it’s essentially unavoidable, it’s a far cry from the torrent of uncontrollable stress that other studies attribute to social media.

Managing Social Media Stress

Given the news that social media doesn’t contribute to stress as much as previously believed, there’s no reason to close down your accounts and revert to a tech-free lifestyle. As with anything, though, it’s important to practice moderation when it comes to social media. If you find that you’re experiencing negative emotions because of social media, go on a “social media diet,” and restrict how often you use the sites. For example,

  • Limit yourself to using one or two social media sites.
  • Set time limits on how often you use the sites; i.e., one hour per day.
  • Remove social media apps from your mobile devices to help curb your usage.
  • Declare “social media free” days and unplug completely.
  • Learn to use site settings to hide or block people that cause you stress or anxiety.

    Just because your cousin wants to share the gory details of an argument with a co-worker doesn’t mean you have to read them.

  • Log off from social media well before bed – and don’t log in again until morning.

Social media is here to stay, so understanding how it affects our lies — positively and negatively — is important. However, if you are worried about how checking your status updates and commenting on your friends’ snapshots is affecting your health, don’t be. You most likely aren’t increasing your stress.


Breathing: You’re Doing it Wrong

Posted on 2 March, 2015  in Depression

Breathing: You’re Doing it WrongHow often do you think about how you are breathing? If you are like most people, unless you are having trouble taking in air, you don’t give it a whole lot of thought. It’s literally automatic — and you might think that by doing something around 20,000 times a day, you would have it down pat.

Yet most people actually breathe incorrectly. That’s right. Even though breathing is an unconscious function, we actually have more control over it than you might think. Often, bad habits, stress, or simply being unaware of our breath can cause ineffective breathing, which can contribute to serious health problems.

How We Breathe Improperly

Respiration is vital to life. The process of ventilation — inhaling and exhaling — delivers vital oxygen throughout the body, and helps ensure proper circulation. Breathing also removes harmful carbon dioxide from the body. When you do it improperly, though, you negatively affect your circulatory system and other parts of the body.

Improper breathing is generally the result of both physical and emotional factors. For example, when you’re stressed, your shoulders and neck tense up, lifting the lungs and preventing them from completely filling on each inhale. Stress can also lead to “overbreathing,” or taking in too many shallow breaths, limiting oxygen intake.

Concerns about body image also contribute to poor breathing. Most adults want to have a flat stomach — flat, tight abs are a sign of fitness and considered attractive. But to maintain a flat stomach, many people, either consciously or unconsciously, hold in their abdomens. The problem with focusing on maintaining and tightening the abdominal muscles at all times, though,  is that it prevents the diaphragm, the muscle located behind the lungs, from doing its job. When we breathe in, the diaphragm tightens and flattens and compresses the abdominal cavity to allow air to enter the lungs. This should cause your belly to bulge slightly. However, when you are focused on “holding it in,” the lung are unable to expand, again, preventing oxygen from entering the body.

Of course, there are other reasons for poor breathing habits. Sinus issues, poor posture, being overweight, and improper “breath form” during exercise can all cause you to breath improperly as well.

Signs You Don’t Breathe Properly

Since most people who don’t breathe correctly are unaware of the problem, solving it requires conscious breathing, or taking time to stop and focus on your breath and correcting any issues. Fortunately, there are signs that you are not breathing correctly. These include:

  • You breathe through your mouth when you don’t have sinus issues that prevent nose breathing.
  • Your neck and shoulders move as you breathe.
  • Your breath is noisy without any medical reason.
  • Your breathing is jerky, uneven, or shallow.
  • You take more than 20 breaths per minute without any identifiable cause.
  • Long pauses between breaths, or unconsciously holding your breath.

Keep in mind that these signs are often similar to those of asthma or other lung diseases, so be aware of your breathing and practice conscious breathing to determine whether it is your breathing habits, or something else, that’s leading to difficulties breathing.

Consequences of Poor Breathing

Consequences of Poor BreathingYou might be thinking, “So I’m not breathing perfectly. I’m still alive, and that’s what counts, right?”

To an extent, yes, the fact that you are breathing at all is what’s important. However, not breathing properly can have a wide range of negative impacts on your health and well-being. For example, not breathing effectively will limit your athletic performance, and reduce the positive effects of exercise. It can also lead to anxiety, depression, and an agitated mood, due to the reduced oxygen flow to the brain. Better breathing can also reduce pain. Because proper breathing requires you to relax our neck, shoulders, chest, and abdomen, you’ll experience less tension, and therefore less pain.

Perhaps most importantly, though, breathing properly helps improve cardiovascular health. When your chest and belly are relaxed and your lungs don’t have to work as hard to take in oxygen, then your heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body. This helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate, two factors in the risk of heart disease.

Learning to Breathe Again

Since chances are good that you aren’t breathing right, you may need to learn to breathe again. The first step is to determine whether there is a medical issue preventing you from breathing properly; for example, allergies may be causing sinus congestion that can be treated with a medication like Nasonex to ease the flow of air through the lungs.

The next step is to practice conscious breathing and pay attention to how you are normally breathing. You might set reminders on your phone, or leave notes around where you will find them throughout the day, and do a “breath check-in” four to five times each day. Ideally, you should be breathing through your nose most of the time, and about 70-80 percent of your breaths should fully expand your diaphragm. To check this, place our hands on your abdomen, and deliberately expand your belly with every breath. In time, it will become second nature.

Focusing on breathing properly is one of the best things that you can do for your health. When you get enough fresh oxygen into your system, it won’t take long before you feel better overall.

9 Surprising Depression Causes to Consider

Posted on 7 January, 2015  in Depression

Depression, a common mental disorder, affects your mood and general perspective. Classic depression triggers include grief, trauma, unemployment, and financial troubles. But if none of those applies to you, pinpointing your specific cause can be challenging. According to research, sources you might not suspect could be responsible for your depressed state.

Treatment Is Vital

Typical depression symptoms include sadness, fatigue, trouble concentrating and making decisions, worry, guilt, restlessness, increased appetite, losing interest in previously enjoyable activities, and requiring more sleep. Uncontrolled depression prevents you from perceiving things clearly, thinking rationally, and making sound judgments. Life may seem futile because nothing matters to you. Untreated depression may have long-lasting influences on your life including strained relationships, employment struggles, alcohol and/or drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts, tendencies, or attempts.

Seeking treatment for depression is vital if it interferes with your daily routine and distresses you and your loved ones. Get help before your symptoms become so intense that they may drive you to harm yourself or others. Quetiapine, generic Seroquel, helps relieve depressive symptoms by changing how brain chemicals affect your moods, thoughts, and actions. For the best results, take this medication without food right before going to bed. Successful treatment enables most patients to enjoy healthy, happy lives. Depression can be caused by any number of things that you may not realize. Consider these nine unexpected possibilities.

1. Social Networking Overload

Numerous studies associate spending excess time interacting via social-networking websites and chat rooms with depression. Internet addicts might suffer from inadequate companionship, struggle to maintain in-person relationships, and view humanity unrealistically. One study showed that the 1.2 percent of 16- to 51-year-olds who clocked inordinate amounts of time online also had higher rates of moderate to severe depression.

9 Surprising Depression Causes to Consider2. Movie and TV Show Finales

When film or TV series end, some people develop depression. Some avid “Avatar” fans claimed that they felt depressed or suicidal because the fictional realm it depicted wasn’t real. The final “Harry Potter” installments created similar reactions. Distress mounts when people watch escapist entertainment mostly for companionship, according to Ohio State’s Emily Moyer-Gusé, Ph.D. With “Avatar,” she suspects that fans lost themselves in the imaginative storyline, pushing aside their real lives and personal problems.

3. Unhappy Sibling Relationships

Even though all types of difficult relationships can trigger depression, a study discovered that men who’d had trouble getting along with siblings before the age of 20 were more apt to suffer from depression in later life. The researchers concluded that excess squabbling increases the risk of depression developing before 50.

4. Low Fish Consumption

A study linked eating limited amounts of omega-3 fatty acids with greater depression risks in women. These essential nutrients regulate your neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Get your fill from fish including albacore tuna, anchovies, herring, lake trout, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. Vegetable oils like canola, flaxseed, and soybean also are good sources. So are nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

Low Fish Consumption Is Actually Good For Your Health5. Excess Shopping Options

The multitude of selections for everyday purchases like breakfast cereals, soups, and toothpastes can make grocery shopping an overwhelming ordeal. Some psychologists report that an overabundance of product choices doesn’t bother shoppers who grab the first solution that fulfills their needs.

But other people spend inordinate amounts of time reviewing each item exhaustively until they find the best one. Research links that coping style to perfectionism as well as depression.

6. Your Environment

Research shows that urban dwellers have a 39-percent greater risk of suffering from mood disorders than people inhabiting rural areas. ANew York study indicated that living in city centers with uncontrollably high pollution levels increased subjects’ depression incidences by 50 percent. Another study found that elevated stress initiated psychotic issues among metropolitan residents who experienced extra activity in their brains’ stress-regulating region. Citizens in affluent nations tend to experience depression more than those in low-income countries. Depression rates differ by state, and suicide risks increase as altitude does.

7. Thyroid Disease

Depression is a symptom of hypothyroidism, which occurs if your thyroid gland can’t produce sufficient thyroid hormone. One of this multifunctional hormone’s main purposes is to be a neurotransmitter that regulates your serotonin levels. Have a thyroid test if new depressive symptoms occur, especially with cold sensitivity, fatigue, and constipation.

8. Smoking

Scientific evidence shows that the depression/smoking correlation goes both ways. Depression-prone people might be more apt to engage in this bad habit. Nicotine affects your brain’s neurotransmitter activity, which ups your serotonin and dopamine levels. That might explain its addictive nature, mood swings that accompany withdrawal, and why smoking cessation might cause depression. Not smoking can help keep your brain chemicals in balance.

9. Sleep Deprivation

Inadequate sleep may trigger irritability and increase your depression risk. Researchers found that healthy participants who viewed upsetting images following sleep deprivation had more brain activity than well-rested subjects. That reaction is comparable to what depressed patients experience. Without sleep, you can’t replenish your brain cells. Irregular sleep schedules, bad sleeping habits, and too little or too much sleep also disturb brain activity severely. Depression can occur when your brain quits functioning properly, warns Dr. Matthew Edlund, M.D.

10 Ways to Make Depression Worse

Posted on 30 December, 2014  in Depression

Depression is a debilitating mental illness that can even be life-threatening, but it doesn’t have to ruin the rest of your life. Recovery from depression is possible with time, therapy, and medication. But it’s all too easy to fall into bad habits that can make overcoming depression that much harder. Let’s take a look at some of the bad habits that can make your depression symptoms seem insurmountable — and what you can do about them.

Spend Too Much Time Lounging AroundSpend Too Much Time Lounging Around

Depression can sap your energy and make it hard to get off the couch and head to the gym. But not exercising doesn’t do you any favors, either. Exercise releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that boost your mood and ease feelings of pain. Research shows that regular exercise has psychological benefits, and can even effectively treat feelings of mild to moderate depression.

You don’t need to work yourself to the point of exhaustion to feel the benefits of exercise for depression. Thirty to 40 minutes of mild to moderate exercise, like walking or yoga, three or more days a week can help keep depression at bay, especially when combined with an antidepressant like Abilify.

Ignore Your Terrible Posture

It might seem like it shouldn’t matter, but your posture can have a profound effect on the way you feel about yourself and the world. Your body language is deeply linked to your state of mind, and researchers have found that your posture can even affect your hormone levels. Standing up straight makes you more likely to have positive thoughts and form positive memories, makes you more confident, and can boost your mood.

Don’t Take Omega-3s

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help ward off depression by supporting brain health. Your brain needs omega-3s to maintain tissue health and prevent the inflammation that researchers now believe is linked to depression. But many Americans don’t eat enough of the foods richest in these fatty acids, like fatty fish and wild game. If changing your diet isn’t possible, consider taking a 1,000 mg daily dose of EPA.

Don’t Get Out Enough

Even if you don’t have seasonal affective disorder, a lack of natural sunlight can lead to decreased serotonin production and trigger feelings of depression and anxiety. Exposure to sunlight also helps keep your circadian rhythms balanced. Even during the winter, try to get outside as much as you can.

Put Off Tasks That Make You AnxiousPut Off Tasks That Make You Anxious

Everyone puts off things that bore them or things they simply don’t feel inclined to do right away. That kind of procrastination may not always be helpful, but it’s not likely to make you more depressed. However, avoiding distasteful tasks that make you anxious will only increase your anxiety in the end. If you’re facing a task that fills you with dread, first do something to manage your stress, like exercising or listening to some music. Then take on the nerve-wracking chore.

Don’t Laugh at Yourself

People who take themselves too seriously tend to berate themselves when they make a mistake or do something embarrassing, like falling in front of friends. Learning to laugh at yourself and at the world around you is one of the best ways to avoid harmful rumination and improve your mental health. Spend time reading funny books or watching funny films or TV programs. Grab lunch with your wittiest friend. Sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine.

Toss and Turn All Night

Depression can make it hard to get to sleep, but not getting enough sleep can worsen depression symptoms and make you feel irritable, tense, and emotionally fragile. Not sleeping enough can also make it hard to get the exercise you need to cope with depression symptoms. Make sure you get plenty of sleep at night and if you can’t sleep despite practicing good sleep hygiene, talk to a doctor.

Don’t Spend Enough Quality Time with Others

Many people with depression stop doing the things they enjoy and withdraw from social contact, sometimes to the point that they don’t even want to leave the house. It’s important to continue spending meaningful time with friends and loved ones — make time to connect face-to-face with someone in your social circle at least once a week.

Don’t Take Any “Me Time”

While this might seem to contradict the previous point, it’s just as important to take time for yourself to de-stress, especially if you’re feeling pressured to meet many demands from your family, job, and other activities. Schedule time to decompress as often as you can, preferably every day.

Don’t Seek Professional Help

Many people with depression symptoms don’t see a doctor because they suffer from the misconception that depression is a character flaw or something they can “tough out” or “snap out of.” Don’t believe it. Getting help from a psychiatrist and counselor can help you put together the right treatment plan for you, so you can start feeling like yourself again.

Depression is a serious medical condition, but with treatment, recovery is possible. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression symptoms, see a doctor and form a treatment plan right away. The consequences of not treating depression could be deadly.