Category Archives: Depression

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The Benefits Of Playing A Musical Instrument At Any Age

Having the ability to play an instrument is a great gift; it also appears to improve your cognitive health in your later years, even if you’ve stopped playing according to a study in the journal Neuropsychology. We know music relieves stress and everyone recognizes that stress is terrible for both your physical and mental health. Beyond this, there’s plenty of science that supports the idea of music being good for you and there’s increasing interest among the medical community in keeping the brain as healthy and strong as the body.

The latest research in the area of music and the brain was conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center and included 70 healthy (with similar fitness/education levels, and free of Alzheimer’s disease) adults who’d been recruited to participate. The subjects were from 60 to 83 years old and were broken into groups based on levels of musical experience from no musical training, one to nine years of music lessons, or at last 10 years studying a musical instrument.

Over half the subjects who had studied music were piano players, another quarter played woodwind instruments and the final quarter played string instruments, percussion or brass. The subjects were given a few cognitive tests, and not surprisingly, the musicians of the group performed better on these tests than those who had never studied or didn’t know how to read music.

When compared to the non-musicians of the study, those who had lots (10 years) of musical training had far higher scores on the cognitive testing. The benefits of musical training were still evident even in those who had stopped playing.

Intriguing that the brain function the team was measuring tends to go down with age.

Continues below…


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Fact: Poor Sleep Increases The Risk of Death/ Disease

Ever lain awake at night and counted the hours till dawn? Isn’t frustrating to be in bed and be unable to sleep?

With around 18 million prescriptions written every year for expensive sleeping pills…

…it’s clear that there’s a national epidemic.

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The Benefits Of Playing A Musical Instrument At Any Age Continued…

It may be that musical ability or learning stays with you and acts as a challenging mental activity that makes your brain sharper, more able to deal with the changes of aging. Learning an instrument takes years of study and practice, and might just create alternative connections in the brain that help to make up for cognitive declines that happen naturally as we get older.

But if you’re older, you can still get a number of health benefits from starting an instrument. Making music can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, ease stress as well as anxiety and depression. There’s also more evidence than before that making music helps the immune response of the body.

As we’ve mentioned here recently, music has been used by therapists to help patients with dementia feel better. Music is familiar, evoking comfortable, happier memories. Music also has a close relationship with our unconscious emotions. It’s engaging and emotionally powerful and can have strong effects on the way we think, how we feel and even our physiology.

What’s great is that anyone, of any age or ability, can make music and get the benefit. You don’t have to be good or be a kid to take lessons. Musical study makes your brain work and this may be just the thing to help address the challenges of aging.

To your good health,

cocoparisienne / Pixabay

Things To Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you dread the shorter days and longer evenings of winter, you might think you have seasonal affective disorder (or SAD for short), but a new study finds that this condition might not be as common as experts originally thought. We know SAD exists, that it is a fact of life for an estimated 14 million Americans as well as being documented by earlier work according to study lead author David Kerr who is an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Science at Oregon State University, but this latest research suggests that what we think of as the “winter blues” doesn’t impact people nearly as much as experts might have thought.

For the current research, appearing in the Journal of Affective Disorders, Kerr and the team looked at the results from surveys taken by over 500 people in Iowa and over 200 in Oregon. They answered questions about depression over the years and the team tried to see if changes in weather (amount of sunlight) might have on mood.

There was a very small effect that appeared during the winter, but it was more modest than you might expect if SAD was as common as people think. That’s a surprise, with a sample size this large, with such precise measures of weather, the team expected to see a larger effect.

SAD is a type of depression that comes on in the fall, as the days shorten, and lifts in the spring and summer months. Just like depression, not everyone with SAD experiences the same physical, emotional or cognitive symptoms to the same extent as another patient. Anyone can get SAD, but it’s more common for those who live in areas where winter days are extremely short or there are large changes in amounts of daylight in different seasons, women, anyone between the ages of 15 to 55 (risk decreases as you get older) and those who have a close family member (parent or full sibling) diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder.

To tell the difference between SAD and other forms of depression, your doctor will ask about the timing of the symptoms and if they recur at the same of year then get better for at least 2 years in a row. You’ll undergo a physical exam to be sure everything else is okay, and your doctor will ask about symptoms that come with SAD like carb craving, gaining weight and sleeping more than is normal for you.

Continues below…


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Things To Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder Continued…

There are many effective treatments for this mood disorder including cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure to light (using a light box for 30 minutes, usually in the morning) and antidepressants to improve the balance of chemicals in the brain that impact mood. All work well in easing even the toughest symptoms, but only you and your doctor can decide what’s right for you.

Cognitive behavioral therapy stands out as an effective treatment because it’s been shown to keep SAD from coming back the next year. Light therapy also works well for those with SAD, and some patients even report feeling better within a week after starting. If you have felt no improvement by 3-4 weeks, chances are, light therapy isn’t right for you.

Research findings or not, if you, or someone in your life, is coping with seasonal affective disorder, don’t wait – talk with your doctor and find out just what’s happening. It’s the only way to truly feel better.

To your good health,

Lazare / Pixabay

Ease Depression And Anxiety Symptoms With Exercise

If you’re feeling down, or struggling with the jitters, exercising is probably the last thing you’re in the mood for, but it may be the best thing for you according to experts. In fact, it might just make all the difference it the world.

We know that exercise is good for preventing or improving health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. What’s not as well known is what exercise can do for your mental state. Research has shown that the psychological and physical benefits of exercises can help bring down anxiety and improve your mood.

The ties between exercise, anxiety and depression still aren’t fully understood, but we do know that working out can help you burn off tension and feel better. The workout might even keep the anxiety and depression symptoms from coming back. Before you start to be active, talk with your doctor so you know what activities, how much exercise and at what intensity is best for you. Your own doctor knows best about any medications you take, and health conditions you have and can also be an unexpected source of advice for getting started or staying motivated.

When it comes to depression, exercise…

- Releases the feel good chemicals in your brain

- Reduces immune system chemicals that may make depression worse.

- Increase your body temperature, which has a calming effect.

Exercise has many benefits to your mental state too. It can help you…

- Gain confidence by meeting exercise goals, and feel better about how you look in shape leaves you feeling better about how you look.

- Be distracted from worries as exercise takes you out of the cycle of negative thoughts that fuel both depression and anxiety.

- Have positive social interaction during exercise or soothing time alone

- Engage in a healthy, constructive coping strategy for managing anxiety or depression. Other things you might have tried may only have made things worse, exercise is a chance to cope and make things better for yourself too.

Keep in mind that while exercise is a natural way to ease anxiety and depression symptoms, it can’t take the place of medication or other therapy. You’ll want to continue to work on your depression or anxiety root issues with your therapist, and don’t stop or change a dose on any medication, even when you feel better.

Before you decide if exercise is right for you, understand that we’re talking about more than working out at the gym or swimming laps at the pool. There are many other workouts that can be just as effective in lifting mood, easing tension. Anything that gets your heart pumping will do… this includes working in the garden, washing your car, walking around the block, playing basketball with your kids or other everyday activities. Anything that gets you up and off the couch will help.

What’s more, you don’t have to do all your exercise at one time. You can add small amounts of activity all through your day that add up to the benefits of a 30 minutes at once workout. You should try for this at least three, preferably five days a week to get a big improvement in depression symptoms. Activity for as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time can also make a difference. Generally more vigorous activities (running or cycling) are especially good for mood when you don’t have a lot of time.

Starting, and sticking with, an exercise program can be challenging, so we’ve included some suggestions that might help…

Continues below…


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Ease Depression And Anxiety Symptoms With Exercise Continued…

- Find what you like to do and you’re more likely to stick with it. Gardening after work? A jog before dawn? A bike ride with the kids? Find what activity fits into your life and that you genuinely enjoy. Do that as often as you can.

- Set realistic goals. You don’t have to be athlete fit to be successful, instead think honestly about what you’ll really be able to do. Forget guidelines for the moment and focus on getting more active.

- Stop thinking about exercise as a chore, a “should” in your life because when you don’t think you’re living up to this, you associate exercise with failure. Look at exercise the same way you would medication or a therapy session, a tool to help you get better that you need to make time for if you want things to change.

- Look at what’s stopping you from exercising and you’ll likely come to see an alternative solution, if you look hard enough. If you’re self-conscious about how you look, or your fitness level, exercise at home. If you work better with a partner to motivate you, find someone to work out with. Money tight? Find exercises that don’t cost anything, like walking or gardening.

- Be prepared for setbacks or obstacles, and don’t let them stop you. Yes you might be too busy one day to exercise, but don’t let that derail the whole idea, just try again the next day. Each day is a fresh start.

To your good health,

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

Top 12 Concentration Killers, Part 2

Distractions are all too common in our modern world… and are very good at diverting our attention from the task at hand. In part 1 of our series on concentration killers we discussed some of the focus busting things you might suspect… social media, technology, ADHD and lack of sleep, along with tips on how to regain control. In this next section we’ll cover some of the lesser-known concentration killers, and just as before, give you some smart ways to cope.

One of the most surprising is an action intended to be efficient, multitasking. When you multitask, you believe that you’re getting more things done in a shorter time period, but the experts tell us the opposite is actually true. Research finds you lose time when you shift your attention from one task to another, and you end up doing more things in a longer time – longer than it would have been if you did one project at a time.

The fix is, when you can, put your full attention to one thing at a time, especially if you’re working on something that’s high priority, urgent or demanding. Save the multitasking, if you do it at all, for the routine stuff like cleaning up your work area while on the phone.

Bored? Turns out that tasks that don’t hold your attention make you especially vulnerable to being distracted… all the distractions we’ve mentioned in part one of this article are that much more of a draw. To fight back, make an agreement with yourself that if you stay on task to a set point (or time) you’ll get a 10-minute break. Boring things are easier to get through if you have something to look forward to.

Hunger is something you may not suspect as trouble when it comes to paying attention, but it is a major concentration killer. The brain can’t work without fuel, so if you routinely skip meals (breakfast) you set yourself up for having problems concentrating later on. Both short-term memory and attention suffer when you don’t eat breakfast in the morning according to research.

So what you do is always eat breakfast, go for high protein snacks, stay away from the simple carbs and choose whole grains instead. This is the fuel that keeps hunger away longest and gives your brain a steady stream of energy.

Nagging thoughts are notoriously hard to put aside… the worry over unfinished errands, a recent conversation, a life decision can all sap your concentration faster than anything. Your best bet here is to write down what you’re thinking. Make a list, write out pros and cons, vent – once the thoughts are on paper they are much easier to view objectively and set aside for a bit.

Continues below…


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Top 12 Concentration Killers, Part 2 Continued…

Another little discussed concentration killer is stress. When you feel you have too much responsibility you can have trouble focusing on tasks at work or at home. Stress takes a physical toll as well, leaving you with tight shoulders, a headache or racing heart… all this distracts you from your task.

To help yourself, stress reduction techniques – meditation, laughter, exercise – are what you need to make time for in your life. Meditation is particularly helpful in terms of curtailing stressful thoughts so they don’t take so much of your attention. Research backs this with one study showing that those who took an eight-week meditation course improved their ability to focus.

Depression is an unexpected problem in terms of concentration. The National Institute of Mental Health identifies trouble concentrating (rather than sadness) as one of the most common symptoms of depression. So if you’re having trouble focusing and you also feel hopeless, empty or indifferent for longer than a two week time period, you may well be experiencing symptoms of depression.

If this seems like you, talk with your doctor, as your condition is very treatable, not just with medication but also drug free talk therapy.

Lastly, there are times when prescription medications can cause trouble with concentration. If you find you’re having trouble staying focused, talk to your doctor (or pharmacist) to see if a drug you’re taking is affecting your ability to concentrate. If this turns out to be the case, don’t think you have no choice but to suffer, or no other medication options. An adjustment in dose can sometimes be enough, as can switching to a different class of drugs. Never stop a medication unless you have discussed this with your doctor beforehand.

To your good health,

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Drinking Coffee May Act As Antidepressant

Coffee may be very much more than a companion to the start the day. Drinking two to four cups of coffee each day appears to cut the risk of suicide in adults by an impressive 50% says a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) that appears online in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry. And unlike earlier work, this team was truly able to assess the association of intake of both caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks – finding that caffeine is most likely involved in the protective effect of coffee.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, but also may act as a mild antidepressant by upping the production of some important neurotransmitters in the brain. These include serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, all known to be involved with mood. Coffee’s caffeine might be the reason for the reduced risk of depression in coffee drinkers that has been found in past studies.

Depression and suicide are a dangerous combination that can have tragic results. According to Centers for Disease Control number from 2010, just over 36,000 people in the U.S. kill themselves each year. And though we might focus on teens, those of other ages are also at risk, men more than women.

To conduct the latest research, the team reviewed information from three very large U.S. studies – 43,599 men from the Health Professional Follow-up Study, 73,820 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 91,005 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II. Caffeine and decaf coffee intake was assessed every four years with a questionnaire. Caffeine consumption from coffee and non-coffee drinks like tea, caffeinated soft drinks and chocolate was also calculated. During the 16-year study period there were 277 deaths due to suicide.

The risk of committing suicide for adults who drank from two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day was about half that of people who drank decaf or very little or no coffee at all. Even with the findings, no one is calling for depressed adults to up their caffeine intake, because most people adjust their caffeine intake to an optimal amount for them. Adding more would make unpleasant side effects more likely.

Continues below…


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The Healthy Back Institute’s Back Pain Relief Journal

Jesse Cannone, co-founder of The Healthy Back Institute, has helped over 50,000 “lost cause” back pain sufferers finally get lasting pain relief. Now, he proclaims…

For 15 years their step-by-step system has helped over 50,000 people who’ve suffered from scoliosis … herniated discs … sciatica … arthritis of the spine … spinal stenosis … lower back pain … upper back pain and more…

It only takes a few minutes per day.

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Drinking Coffee May Act As Antidepressant Continued…

Coffee may be very much more than a companion to the start the day. Drinking two to four cups of coffee each day appears to cut the risk of suicide in adults by an impressive 50% says a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) that appears online in The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry. And unlike earlier work, this team was truly able to assess the association of intake of both caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks – finding that caffeine is most likely involved in the protective effect of coffee.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, but also may act as a mild antidepressant by upping the production of some important neurotransmitters in the brain. These include serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, all known to be involved with mood. Coffee’s caffeine might be the reason for the reduced risk of depression in coffee drinkers that has been found in past studies.

Depression and suicide are a dangerous combination that can have tragic results. According to Centers for Disease Control number from 2010, just over 36,000 people in the U.S. kill themselves each year. And though we might focus on teens, those of other ages are also at risk, men more than women.

To conduct the latest research, the team reviewed information from three very large U.S. studies – 43,599 men from the Health Professional Follow-up Study, 73,820 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 91,005 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II. Caffeine and decaf coffee intake was assessed every four years with a questionnaire. Caffeine consumption from coffee and non-coffee drinks like tea, caffeinated soft drinks and chocolate was also calculated. During the 16-year study period there were 277 deaths due to suicide.

The risk of committing suicide for adults who drank from two to four cups of caffeinated coffee a day was about half that of people who drank decaf or very little or no coffee at all. Even with the findings, no one is calling for depressed adults to up their caffeine intake, because most people adjust their caffeine intake to an optimal amount for them. Adding more would make unpleasant side effects more likely.

The current work does not establish cause and effect. Also they didn’t see any difference in risk between coffee drinkers who drank two to three cups and those who had four (or more) cups of coffee each day. This may be due to the small number of subjects who committed suicide.

In an earlier coffee and depression study that appears in JAMA Internal Medicine there was a maximal effect for subjects who drank four (or more) cups of coffee a day.

But If you drink too much, it might have the opposite effect.

There’s also a Finnish study that found a higher risk of suicide among people who drank eight or nine cups of coffee a day. There were very few participants in the U.S. studies who drank such a large amount. Thus the work didn’t look at any consumption over six cups of coffee per day.

If you, or someone you love, is talking about ending their life, please
pay attention. Help is out there, waiting. Please know that suicide is
never your only option.

To your good health,

cocoparisienne / Pixabay

Fight Depression With These Foods

Lots of people struggle under ups and downs, the stress of life events or big changes can get to us all… it’s just that there are times we can’t bounce back like we used to. In fact, estimates suggest nearly 16 million adults had (at least) one major depressive period in the last year. If you’re one of those, you are certainly not alone.

As you pursue your treatment, it’s smart to tap into the latest research on your condition. Experts have noted that both Scandinavian and Asian nations have lower rates of depression… and they also have diets rich in fish – could there be a connection? More and more science is suggesting that some foods may help with depression, recent research naming cold water fish, walnuts and canola oil as especially beneficial thanks to a natural abundance of omega-3 fatty acids in these foods.

Also of note, a team out of McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA used lab rats to uncover foods that have lots of a substance known as uridine, which appears to have positive impact on mood. Uridine is found naturally in molasses and sugar beets. A Japanese team has evidence that a diet with lots of fish is protective against both depression and suicide. A team from Finland surveyed 1,767 people and reached the conclusion that eating fish more than two times a week did show a protective effect on both depression and suicide.

Some of the other research on diet and depression finds…

B vitamins may be involved. Research finds that if you have low levels of folic acid and high levels of homocysteine (a protein) you’re more apt to be depressed. Be sure you eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and nuts.

Amino acids are known to be part of making key brain chemicals like serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are thought to cause depression. Multiple studies have found that a diet with lots of tryptophan improves depression. You’ll find this in foods with plenty of proteins including meat, fish, beans, eggs.

Continues below…


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Fight Depression With These Foods Continued…

Carbs are all broken down into sugar, the fuel your brain needs to do its work. Eating too much sugar is known to cause swings in blood glucose levels, which can bring on (or enhance) symptoms of depression. Eat a diet that doesn’t have many refined carbs and sugar, but does have lots of fruits and veggies.

 

St. John’s wort is a plant that’s been used for hundreds of years as a supplement to help with anxiety and depression. While there has been evidence for it in the past, two very recent works have shown it no more effective than a placebo when treating major depression.

Treatment for depression may be most effective when it includes not just diet and supplements, but also our modern standbys of psychotherapy and medication. If you’re battling depression, you’ve likely been told to eat a healthy diet of fruits, veggies and fish, as well as getting plenty of vitamins, especially all the B’s. Beyond this, stick to your treatment plan and rest assured that your condition will improve and you will feel better.

To your good health,

Greyerbaby / Pixabay

Fitness May Fight Depression In Girls

One of the best, most natural ways to ward off the blues (at any age) is being in good physical shape. Now a new study finds that the more fit a middle school girl is, the less apt she is to show symptoms of depression. Though the effect on depression was small, it was there, encouraging us to get both boys and girls up and moving in order to fight off this troublesome problem.

The research involved measuring the fitness of over 400 sixth graders from North Texas. The measure was arrived at by noting how many shuttle runs a middle schooler could do within a specific time, as well as their own assessment of strength and endurance. For the girls, the strongest predictor of symptoms of depression was a history of the disease, but even after taking past depression and BMI into account, more fitness in sixth grade was linked to a lower chance of depression in the next grade year.

No one is suggesting that exercise will cure everything, but it is interesting that depression has been associated with a higher BMI in other studies. Also the middle school years are a period where fitness levels tend to drop off, weight goes up and depression follows suit. This is the reason a focus on these years can be so valuable.

Also of note, depression for sixth grade boys did predict poorer fitness the next year. While there was a trend between fitness level and depression in boys, it wasn’t statistically significant. Keep in mind that boys tend to be less depressed, so the impact of fitness may have simply been harder to detect. A work that used a larger number of male subjects would help to clarify this point.

Continues below…


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Fitness May Fight Depression In Girls, Boys Continued…

The link between depression and fitness levels may be explained by any number of things. Better self esteem, getting more positive reinforcement… biology. Science already knows that some proteins and hormones tied to less depression do respond to more exercise. It seems being active on a regular basis really can’t hurt you.

The reasons behind depression, at any age, are complicated. But imagine being a child living in poverty, perhaps amid violence and difficult life events with little (or no) support from family or friends… poor coping skills, negative thought patterns, self-esteem issues. All these raise the risk of depression, though they do not mean a child who deals with any (or all) of them will be depressed, just that the risk is higher. Kids struggling with depression may also benefit from either at school or family therapy, well recognized as a way to treat and prevent depression in children who are at risk.

There’s no denying that fitness is a good goal for young people. It’s never too soon to start teaching children about preventing obesity, one of those ways being regular physical activity all through life. For this age group, being active is more appealing when it is fun – they drop out when something isn’t enjoyable or has pressure attached. When the focus stays on building personal skills and abilities, physical activity is more likely to take hold.

To your good health,

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

What’s Behind Your Memory Loss

Memory loss affects everyone at some point. Sometimes this is occasional forgetfulness… where you put the keys, why you left a room or the date of an appointment. These types of lapses are very common. But when memory loss begins to cause problems in everyday life, you’ll want to get to the bottom of an issue that’s just as distressing to you as it is to those around you.

Here are the more common reasons behind memory loss in adults.

Medications, both prescription and over the counter can cause problems with your memory. Some known culprits include antidepressants, antihistamines, antianxiety meds, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and pain medications, especially
those given after a surgical procedure.

Alcohol, tobacco or drugs are linked to loss of memory. For a long time now, we all have known that too much alcohol can impact memory. Smoking hurts memory by cutting the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain – studies show that smokers have trouble with putting names and faces together. Illegal drugs change chemicals
in the brain that make it hard to bring memories to the surface.

Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, and this interferes with the brain’s ability to consolidate and bring back information. Experts tell us that both the quality and quantity of sleep are vital to how well memory functions.

Depression and stress make it hard to pay attention, to focus and this can impact memory. Stress also gets in the way of concentrating, and the ability to remember suffers. Stress from an emotional trauma can also bring on memory loss.

Nutrient deficiency in vitamins like B1 and B12 can impact memory.

Head injury from a serious blow to the head (as the result of an accident or sports related injury) can hurt the brain and cause both short and log term loss of memory. As you heal the memory may return.

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What’s Behind Your Memory Loss Continued…

Stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is stopped due to a blockage or a leak in a vessel into the brain. Often the loss is to short-term memory,
while long term memories stay vivid and intact.

Dementia is the progressive loss of memory and other thinking areas that’s severe enough to interfere with daily life. There are many reasons for dementia (blood vessel disease, drug/alcohol abuse, damage to the brain), the one we all know is Alzheimer’s disease.

- Other reasons including an underactive (or overactive) thyroid gland, or an infection like HIV, tuberculosis or syphilis, known to affect the brain.

It is highly likely that your memory loss comes as the result of one of these causes. Only by working closely with your own healthcare team can you figure out what’s going on and get the support and early intervention you need. By doing this now, you are taking an active part in your own health and well being, today and in the future.

Some things that can help support a flagging memory are lists in the same place, written instructions/cautions, special appliance shutoff devices, frequent reminders and a good deal of support. Being patient and flexible, along with a healthy sense of humor will be important skills to master as you move forward.

To your good health,

PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

10 Foods To Improve Your Mood

When it comes to what we eat, turns out that beyond the flavor and feel in your mouth, there are brain chemicals that impact the pleasure you get from eating. In fact, they get started before you pick up a fork or open a wrapper, your brain sends out dopamine in anticipation of enjoying good food. That anticipation of course, makes anything you eat more pleasurable.

Here are 10 foods that are naturally loaded with compounds shown to help improve your mood.

1. Clams have lots of vitamin B12 (low levels lead to depression) needed to make dopamine and serotonin. Even canned clams do the trick, as do other B12 rich foods like trout, salmon, beef, chicken, dairy and fortified cereals.

2. Walnuts/Flax are a combo that’s packed with alpha linolenic acid (ALA for short). Women who had the most ALA in their diet were less apt to be depressed. Low levels of ALA are linked to inflammation, and this to depression. Reduced ALA is also associated with lower levels of the chemical dopamine and serotonin, both tied to mood.

3. Coffee in the range of 2 to 3 cups a day has been shown to be linked to a 15% lower risk of depression, drinking as much as 5 cups/day brought up the reduction in risk to 20%. The caffeine in coffee works to up do9pamine and serotonin transmission in only 30 minutes.

4. Radishes offer a pleasing, healthy crunch that is also thought to stimulate the release of both dopamine and norepinephrine.

5. Oysters are a rich natural source of zinc, a substance shown to be effective in lifting depressed mood. Lower zinc levels have also been associated with anxiety.

6. Pomegranate has been shown in research to lower blood pressure as well as ease anxiety and depression in a study where subjects drank a glass a day for a two-week period.

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10 Foods To Improve Your Mood Continued…

7. Yogurt/Kefir offer cultured dairy products that help the natural population of probiotic organisms that live in your digestive tract. Since your digestive system and brain communicate regularly (via that vagus nerve) the increase in good bacteria sends a positive message to the brain.

8. Shiitake Mushrooms are loaded with selenium and magnesium, two substances that appear to have a positive, uplifting effect on mood.

9. Chocolate, the darker the better, has plenty of polyphenols that boost mood and offer a dose of calm and contentment according to research from 2013.

10. Apricots are loaded with B6, which has been shown to cut depression in those over 65. They also have antioxidants, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which in higher levels is linked to improvements in mood.

If you, or someone in your life is struggling with the mood disorder we call depression, know that this is a physical disorder, not a character flaw or sign of weakness. It is not something you can “just get over” when you wish. This condition changes the way you feel, how you think and act. You can have trouble handling everyday activities, and you might even feel as if life is not worth living. The good news, the thing to hang onto is that depression can be treated – most people who take this step feel so much better. You can too.

To your good health,

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Depression Ups Heart Failure Risk By 40%

Depression is a difficult disease on it’s own, but now we’ve learned that it might up your risk for other dangerous conditions as well. According to work presented at EuroHeartCare 2014, moderate to severe depression raises the risk of heart failure by an astonishing 40%. EuroHeartCare is the annual meeting of the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professions (CCNAP) from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The meeting for 2014 was held in Stavanger, Norway.

The Norwegian study presented found a dose response relationship between symptoms of depression and the risk of heart failure. The more down you feel, the greater your risk cautions Ms. Lise Tuset Gustad an intensive care nurse who is lead author on the study. If you have signs of depression, such as losing interest in (or not getting pleasure from) the things you used to like, you may actually be experiencing very early signs of depression. Give this some time to clear on it’s own, but if these feelings last for a month or more, a visit to your doctor or another healthcare provider is in order. When addressed at its earliest stage, depression responds well and quickly to treatment – not all of which is medication. Many people find talking to a professional is all that’s really needed.

We know that depression does trigger stress hormones to be released,
and the body will naturally react to them. These same hormones also induce inflammation
and atherosclerosis that can make heart diseases worse.
Depressed people also find it hard to take medications, put the breaks on bad habits (like overeating or smoking) and make the effort to live a healthy lifestyle, get up and exercise. Those things feel impossibly difficult.

The work presented at the meeting is one of the first large, prospective research projects to look at if depression ups the risk of being diagnosed with heart failure. The data used was collected from 63,000 subjects during the second wave of a very large epidemiological study in Norway. The study, known as the Nord Trondelag Health Study (HUNT for short) second wave started in 1995, data was collected on body mass index, physical activity, smoking habits and blood pressure. Depression was assessed and ranked based on its severity using a test known as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The researchers then used the unique 11 digit number Norwegians get at birth to keep track of which patients were put in the hospital for heart failure, or died from the disease during the 11 year study period.

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Depression Ups Heart Failure Risk By 40% Continued…

During this time almost 1,500 participants were diagnosed with heart failure.
When compared to those who had no symptoms of depression, those identified as
having mild depression had a 5% higher risk of being diagnosed with heart failure.
Moderate to severe depression symptoms brought a 40% higher risk of dangerous
heart failure.

It seems that symptoms of depression up the chances of heart failure, with the more severe symptoms making the risk that much greater. It’s true that those dealing with depression tend to have less healthy lifestyles. This is why the analysis adjusted for things like obesity and smoking that could cause both the depression and heart failure. This means the researchers are very confident that these two factors didn’t cause the association between depression and heart failure.

Going forward, the research points out the need for screening for depression by all healthcare professionals as part of routine care, or hospital admission. Only by identifying those at risk can healthcare pros begin to treat the source of the problem and help patients feel better.

To your good health,