Friday, March 31, 2006

Are Your Eating Habits Affecting Your Mental Health?

Some are beginning to wonder if there’s a link between changes in your eating habits and the rise of mental health problems today. Over the past fifty years, consuming fresh produce has declined and eating more saturated fats and sugars is rising. As a result, the nation’s health is being affected and it could also be damaging to our mental health, according to a recent report. It also shows that an unbalanced diet has led to an increase in depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease.
The study also shows that consumption of vegetables and fish has declined by 34 and 59 percent respectively within the last 60 years. Also, only 13 percent of men and 15 percent of women eat at least five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. There has also been a decrease in the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in such things as fish and nuts. A deficiency in these has been implicated in a number of mental health problems, which includes depression and hyperactivity disorders.
But the problem isn’t just how we eat, but also how our food is now produced. In many cases, due to changes in the way food is manufactured and produced, the vitamins and minerals have been reduced. Pesticides are now more widespread, and the body fat content of many animals is now higher.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Benefits of Exercise

The word exercise may not be the most exciting word in your vocabulary, but it has a lot of benefits that you should be aware of. Participating in daily exercise not only makes us healthier, it can diminish the effects of stress on our bodies as well. How many times have you heard someone say,” The doctor says it’s due to stress”? Stress plays a major role in many diseases. To increase your immune system and decrease your stress levels, you can try daily exercise. Some of the very simple things you can do are bending, stretching, reaching, or walking. You could try a simple aerobic video. You could also so simple stretching exercises of your neck and shoulders while sitting or walk in place while watching TV. Make it a point to move more throughout the day and boost your body’s immune system so you can stay healthier in general. There are no reasons to allow stressful situations to take their toll on your health and well being.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

For many in the military, post-traumatic stress disorder is an unfortunate reality. A study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that nearly 20 percent of those returning from the Iraqi War suffer from this condition or other mental health disturbances. For the Gulf War, the rate of soldiers coming back with these conditions was just half of that. One conclusion was that perhaps the nature of the conflict and the increased risk of being redeployed were making the Iraq War more taxing for these men and women. High amounts of stress and hyper vigilance were considered normal for soldiers serving in Iraq.
Those with post-traumatic stress disorder, whoever they may be, cannot selectively release emotions. For example, letting out love would also mean letting out many other feelings, such as fear and sadness. Therefore, a person with this disorder will stop interacting with the world around them. They will basically withdraw and try to escape. They also frequently feel guilt and shame foe being alive or experiencing pleasure. For these peoples’ partners it can be quite confusing and painful. A highly anticipated reunion may crumble once he or she returns, which can take a significant toll on their relationship. So for our soldiers and their partners it becomes a cruel irony that after a long battle, their plight continues when they do finally return home. For these stories to have happy endings that they deserve, both must make their relationship a priority and bring a strong measure of understanding and compassion to the effort.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stress Is Not Good For Your Heart

If something is stressing you out, it’s probably not good for your heart. Mental stress decreases blood flow to the heart in those who have no problems in other stress tests according to a recent study. Researchers have found that the adverse effects of mental stress are more widespread than previously recognized. The study found that there may be a stronger association between mental stress and it being a serious risk factor for death in those that already have a pre-existing heart disease, just like smoking and high cholesterol are risk factors.
Patients were monitored for heart blood flow as they performed a mentally stressful scenario. All to them had coronary artery disease. They found that 21 percent of the patients had a drop in blood flow to the heart even though they had previously done well on treadmill stress tests. This study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Monday, March 27, 2006

Could Depression Predict the Future?

Switzerland researchers analyzed information on more that 4,000 people over a period of 25 years. They found that there’s a link between childhood depression and adult asthma and obesity. Although researchers believe more study is needed, they believe that the neurobiology of depression is different during childhood than at any other time in their life.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Is There A Link Between Allergies And Depression?

In a national survey of over 3,000 U.S. adults, researchers found that women with major depression were more likely to have allergies. Also noted was that men with nervous and anxious personalities also had allergies. These findings lead to the suggestion that there is a relationship between depression or neurotic personality traits and allergies. Although past studies have linked depression and allergies, it’s not clear which one leads to the other.
One hypothesis is that those who have neurotic personalities might be prone to both depression and allergies, which is already thought of as a risk factor for depression. One study found that those with depression were 50 percent more likely to have allergies than those without. And adults with neurotic personalities were 22 percent more likely to have allergies than those without. However, analysis showed that depression and allergies were linked only among women and in contrast, men with neurotic personalities had a higher risk of allergies, but there was no connection between depression and allergies. Researchers speculate that with depression, it’s possible that the disorder contributes to allergy development by impairing the immune system. On the other hand, those that have to deal with chronic allergies may become depressed.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Is It Time To Fix The ADHD Diagnosis And Not The Child?

Ever since the term was first adopted by the American Psychiatric Association in 1987, ADHD has been a source of much debate. And as the multi-million dollar industry has grown, so to have the amount of literature that describes the fundamental flaws in logic and research, and points out that claims of a neurobiological origin has never been substantiated. For example, Ritalin is considered a class 2 drug, which is the same as cocaine. Yet most parents don’t have deep concerns about it because they are unaware of all the facts. Unfortunately parents are not being informed of the medical opinion surrounding ADHD and its validity as a diagnostic concept and the nature of the drugs that are being prescribed. There are basic procedures and medical tests to help establish a correct diagnosis, but very few children have been subjects of these tests and yet they are “medically diagnosed” without finding the source of their symptoms.
Although there has been what some call poor quality research on ADHD, the pharmaceutical industry is now generating huge profits. The differences of opinion in the medical field can be reflected by the wide range of prescription rates throughout the world. In the largest analysis study, published by the Oregon Drug Effectiveness Review Project, researchers found no evidence that supported the claims about the drugs’ safety or even the legitimacy of the diagnosis out of over 2,000 pieces of research. Some feel that to continue giving these drugs while parents aren’t being made aware of safety issues is a crime. Many parents don’t even realize that they’re giving mind altering drugs to children whose brains aren’t fully developed. Yet they do because their doctor gives them a prescription for a drug that has yet to be determined what the long term side effects may be. Will our children just become “junkies” after being on meds for years, will they die from heart complications due to medicines, or will they be properly diagnosed so they don’t have to experience side effects or possibly die?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Britain Now Raises the Health Issue of Strattera

The British are now saying that a new report links drug company Lilly’s Strattera with heart rhythm problems and seizures. This drug has already been linked to rare cases of liver damage and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. But now British authorities have associated this drug with seizures and a lengthening of time between heartbeats, which could be potentially dangerous, in what they consider a handful of more than 3.7 million people who have been using the drug since it came out in 2002. These warnings are based on an internal report that was made by the British Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which is the equivalent of the U.S. FDA. British authorities are updating the label on the medication to warn about the possible side effects. At the moment, no warnings are planned to be given to doctors and their patients taking the medicine here in the states and the U.S. label for Strattera contains no warning of seizures.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ADHD and Females

Today many researchers are complaining that even in the handbook of standard criteria for ADHD the gender base is not adequately addressed. Currently there are 3-5 boys diagnosed with ADHD for every one girl. That may be because girls with ADHD present themselves differently. They tend to be less aggressive and more likely to be very talkative. They also tend to be more depressed and more internalized than boys, who are externalized by doing such things as pushing, shoving, and running. Girls also tend to engage in sexual behavior at an earlier age than normal and face a higher risk of becoming pregnant.
In the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, one study suggests that the major symptoms of ADHD appear similar in both boys and girls, but girls are less likely to have the accompanying disruptive behaviors. This may be one reason that girls have a lower diagnosis rate. Researchers tested 140 girls with ADHD, whose average age was 11. They observed all of the typical symptoms which included inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. The most frequent symptom found was inattention. Girls with ADHD were found to also have a higher of other psychiatric disorders, such as behavioral, mood, anxiety, as well as an increased risk of drug and alcohol abuse. Rates of mood disorders were similar in both genders, but girls had a less tendency to be affected by disruptive conditions, such as oppositional defiant disorder. Girls are more cognitive in symptoms. Unlike boys, they may never by restless, hyperactive, or impulsive. And while boys tend to get more diagnosed than girls because they’re disruptive in class, girls will quietly space off and not bother anyone. Some studies have estimated that as many as half to three fourths of all girls with ADHD will go undiagnosed. Others speculate that may be one more reason girls, and women, are diagnosed with depression than are men.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Is ADHD Really A Disease?

Many children today are inattentive, impulsive and hyperactive. They often get bored easily in class, can’t sit still, always on the go, and often don’t get along with other students or their teachers. These are symptoms of an alleged disease called ADHD and a majority of these children are given such medications as Ritalin and Adderall. But is it really ADHD that doctors are treating? Or could these children be bright, normal kids that are full of energy and just bored from sitting in a classroom? Could the National President of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights be right with saying that these kids are simply smart and become hyper while waiting for slower classmates to catch up to them? After all, those who are bored tend to fidget, scratch, wiggle, stretch, and may even start looking for ways to get into trouble, especially boys. There are also other conditions that mimic the symptoms of ADHD. These include hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar, allergies, learning disabilities, problems with the thyroid, hearing or vision, mild to high lead levels in the blood, exposure to toxins, spinal problems, carbon monoxide poisoning, sleeping disorders, and about 16 or more other disorders.
Because these conditions can cause ADHD symptoms, it is almost impossible for a teacher, principal, or even a family doctor to say for certain that the child has ADHD. To be absolutely certain, a doctor would have to test and rule out these other conditions. And since parents or doctors rarely do this, than every diagnosis of ADHD is suspect to say the least. Technically, researchers have found no physical evidence of the disease or laboratory tests to prove that it actually exists. So parents, take heed when school officials tell you that your child has ADHD and wants them put on medicine so they can be more controllable at school. Why give mind altering drugs to children whose brains aren’t fully developed anyway? And just because a doctor prescribes it, doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. I would get a second opinion.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Instead of Pills, Lets Talk About Depression

In a new research study from Stanford University, they found that the number of doctor visits made by kids, ages 7-17, who were depressed, has more than doubled between 1995-2002. The first choice of therapy should be talk therapy. But unfortunately a number of children ended up getting pills instead. And the amount of prescriptions has also grown.
Researchers analyzed records of more than 1,000 doctors nationwide and found that referrals to psychotherapy for adolescents declined by 18 percent, while antidepressant prescriptions nearly tripled. The studies author believes that physicians are over medicating our youth with antidepressants and gives a little advice to parents. First, watch out for symptoms. If your child sleeps a lot, is suddenly getting poor school grades, or loses interest in such things as friends or hobbies for more than two weeks, you should talk to your doctor. Second, get the proper treatment. The first step for treatment should be talk therapy. In cases that are more severe, he/she might prescribe an antidepressant along with counseling. Finally, don’t forget to follow up. If you feel that the current treatment is not working, ask for something else. Some may need to try a different antidepressant. This would have to be under close supervision because now the only antidepressant that is currently approved for children is Prozac.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Women Over 50 Need Tools To Help Deal With Stress

You may be feeling more stress than the average person if you’re a female and over 50. The stress load might grow daily no matter how you try to cope with it. One example may be that you’re probably trying to deal with adult children, grandchildren and or aging parents. You also might have a stressful job, aging issues and health problems. And you probably aren’t thrilled with menopause creeping around the corner.
Women 50 or over can also experience pressure from money problems, such as paying your children’s college loans, and health issues that can be related to weight gain. Due to a number of these circumstances, women are now seeking counseling. Here are a few tips that may also help or that you may want to try before you feel you need counseling.
1). Don’t go it alone. It’s okay to ask a lot of people for a little help. For example, ask one daughter to check in on your mother on Mondays and Fridays, and ask another to check on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
2). To help you take control of future problems, be more demanding. Stop allowing able-bodied people to run you ragged. Tell your husband to make his own doctors’ appointment, for instance.
3). Realize you’re not 20 anymore. Look out for yourself in new creative ways. Instead of trying to keep the house spotless, steal some time to exercise.
4). Gain support for yourself by getting a girlfriend network going. Yes, you may have to listen to a lot of their problems, but friends your age will understand your pain.
Women over 50 sometimes need to give up their nice ways. Some have been taught to be nice and agreeable even at the expense of hurting themselves. Think of this age as the time to become more powerful. Insist doctors and other professionals do their job to your satisfaction. If not, then fire them and find more competent help.
Finally, don’t forget that those who are in a good mood look healthier and sexier. While you face life head on, humor keeps you from dragging others down. Making good choices about food, health, money and time issues are hard to deal with. But humor will help you keep your looks and sustain your mental well-being.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Diets and Depression

A report by the Mental Health Foundation and Sustain said that the changes in diets and methods of farming over the past five decades have played a major role in the rise in mental health problems. Less Nutritious and imbalanced diets have led to the growing numbers of those with depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, and Alzheimer's. Because industrialised farming has introduced pesticides and altered body fat composition of animals, there are large reductions in essential fats, vitamins and minerals consumed by most. According to the Mental Health Foundation and Sustain, the drop in intake of the omega-3 & 6 fatty acids has resulted in increases in depression and concentration problems. Evidence linking diet to mood and behavior has been growing. Certain complex carbohydrates as well as folic acid, fatty acids, and selenium decrease the symptoms of depression. They have also found correlations between low fish intake and high levels of depression and diets high in saturated fat and low in vitamins ad minerals may contribute to Alzheimer's. Also found in the report was that in the last 60 years, there's been a 34 percent decline in vegetable consumption and 59 percent decline in fish eaten. They say that a diet that contains an adequate amount of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and water will promote balanced moods and feelings.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Depression May Be Linked To Alzheimer's

A study in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry says that those who have a history of lifetime depression may also have the increased plaques and angles that are associated in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease and may have a more rapid cognitive decline.
Previous studies have already linked the two, and both conditions are likely to affect the brain's memory related temporal lobes. Researchers compared the brains of 44 Alzheimer's patients who had a history of depression to 51 patients who did not. Those with depression problems had ore tangles and plaques than those without problems. Analysis of cognitive tests during their lifetime showed that those with Alzheimer's had a history of depression and experienced a more rapid decline into dementia that those without depression. The identification of potential mechanisms that link depression as a treatable risk factor to neuropathological changes in Alzheimer's may help lead to the development of differential intervention and prevention strategies for Alzheimer's.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Infants Withdrawal From SSRI's

In a new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescence Medicine, concerns for regnant women taking Serotonin Re uptake Inhibitors (SSRI's) was addressed. those who too SSRI's while pregnant had babies that showed signs of withdrawal shortly after birth. It states that one third of 60 newborns whose mother's took antidepressants during pregnancy had neonatal abstinence syndromes. This is a type of withdrawal with symptoms that include high-pitched crying, tremors and disturbed sleep. Infants born with this syndrome should be monitored closely for at least 48 hours.
One fourth of women develop depression at some time in their life. The added stress of pregnancy can make matters worse and may increase the need for medication. SSRI's are the most common class of antidepressants used, but they can cross the placenta barrier and affect the fetus.
Researchers examined 120 babies born over a two year period at the Rabin Medical Center in Israel. 60 had been exposed to SSRI's and monitored for two hours after birth and at regular intervals thereafter. They found that 30 percent had neonatal abstinence syndrome. Symptoms included tremors, gastrointestinal problems, hypertonicity, which is an abnormal increase in uscle tone, sleep disturbances and high pitched cries. They also noted that eight of these babies had severe cases of symptoms. Fortunately none of the babies required treatment.
This study concerned it's authors who said that family physicians, psychiatrists and gynecologists should be more aware of this problem. And the risk to benefit ratio of SSRI treatment should be assessed. They also recommend prescribing the most minimum dose that would be effective for the mom's condition.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Stress Linked to Mortality

A new study shows that women who are exposed to high levels of financial and emotional stress are more likely to die sooner than those who have an easier life. The findings had been projected by the Statistics Canada Study, who evaluated stress levels in women between 1994 & 1995. It was their conclusion that those i the experimental group were more likely to die over the next eight years.
Psychological stress factors included feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and or worthlessness. This was an important predictor in determining the mortality of women 65 or older. Of the more than 2,400 seniors studied, when factors such as age, family circumstances, financial status, level of education, presence of long term diseases, obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption were taken into consideration, the effects of this psychological distress was significant. This study correlates with previous studies. It also shows that women are more prone to stress than men, suggesting that degenerative conditions such as cancer and heart disease could be more dangerous to women than men.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

ADHD or Normal Development

The border between ADHD and normal development is not an easy line to see. Often, judgement comes from teachers, who are usually the first ones that suggest a diagnosis of ADHD in almost half of the cases. This is according to a study that was published in the Annals of Family Medicine.
Research shows that the call can be affected by the varying levels of tolerance for boys and girls who behave badly. A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the questionnaires used to rate a child were subjective and subject to bias, and the decisions about inappropriate behavior in children are dependant on subjective judgements of observers.
A national survey, lasting six years, of doctors visits showed ethnic and demographic distinctions in the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD by primary care physicians. They found the condition was less likely to be identified in Hispanic children than in their white or black counter parts. Also, it was more likely to be treated with medicines like Ritalin or Adderall in young ones of all backgrounds. Unfortunately, children barely three are under ADHD scrutiny. Researchers from one study found 223 children were identified as having ADHD by age 3 wit more than a quarter of them by their second birthday. Investigators reported that even though there's barely any studies of long term effects and no government approval, nearly 60 percent of the toddlers were prescribed combinations of 22 medications. Sadly, nearly half of them were given 2-6 of the drugs.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Coffee and ADHD

For those who suffer from ADHD, they may find that drinking coffee could help them be calm and help them focus. There have been no known intense medical studies to confirm this, but parents who have hyperactive children have noticed the benefits on them. the effectiveness of coffee in calming ADHD children has become great discussion among Web sites and forums.
Children with ADHD are usually given drugs like Ritalin and Strattera that increases dopamine levels in the body. Higher levels tend to calm and help overactive minds focus. Coffee can also increase dopamine without the risks associated with [prescriptions. The only side effect coffee has may be a headache from withdrawal. but they should also avoid sweetening their coffee because sugar aggravates the symptoms of ADHD.
Dozens of studies have been done and more continue to seek the health benefits of coffee consumption. One study has shown how coffee has antioxidant benefits for those who drink more than two cups daily. One study shows benefits of increased short term memory. Finally, several have shown a decreased risk for diabetes and liver and breast cancer.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

7 Memory Boosters

If your memory has been less than perfect recently, don't despair. Most of us experience a mild decline usually in our 30's and 40's and up to 15 percent that are older than 65 develop Alzheimer's disease.
Right now, there's plenty you can do to ward of cognitive problems. Some believe that the key is to challenge your mind, improve your diet and be smart about supplements you take. Some can lead to a drastic improvement in memory and mental functioning. Better brain builders include 1.) Get enough sleep. Too little can impair your recollection. Aim at getting seven to nine hours each night. 2). Note smells whenever possible. Scent has the ability to trigger memory. Researchers reported that adults who were shown images along with a scent, ere better at remembering then those who didn't. 3). Researchers at the University of New Castle in the U.K. found that drinking green or black tea might inhibit certain enzymes in the brain that are associated with memory decline. 4). If lately your mind seems fuzzy, ask your doctor to check your homocysteine levels in your blood. Studies have tied high levels to memory loss. Reversing this effect could be as easy as increasing your vitamin B intake. 5). Think of your ind as a muscle. If it doesn't get regular exercise, it will get stiff and slow. Good mind strengthening games include crossword puzzles, board and card games, and even computer games like Tetris. 6). Don't forget to eat the good fats. Omega-3, which is found mostly in fish, nourish brain cells and help regulate brain chemicals. 7). Your brain also needs nutrients to function properly. You should be eating a balanced diet and taking a multivitamin. Eat vegetables that contain antioxidants. One study that found that when vitamins E and C were taken together in supplements, they had the potential to prevent Alzheimer's by fighting memory damaging free radicals in the brain.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Right Scent Can Help

Will doing the dishes help you relax? It might. Growing evidence is showing that certain scents, even those from dish soap, can be a benefit to you. Aromatherapy does work because it works on the brain's emotional center, called the amygdala. And you may feel the effects instantaneously because the thinking part of the brain can't inhibit the effects of the scent. One doctor studied the benefits of aromatherapy to find ways to speed up recovery time for his patients and reduce anxiety. With the help of an aromatherapist, he found results using such things as lavender, chamomile or eucalyptus. Also, short term exposure is important because people stop responding to scents after a few minutes.
To relax, placing a few drops of vanilla extract on a handkerchief and keep it with you all day-use as needed. To help you recharge, peppermint, jasmine, and citrus have an effect similar o smelling salts. Even though they are pleasant, they act as mild irritants. And to help you relieve pain, the smell of a green apple will reduce the severity and duration of migraine headache pain, and has a similar effect on joint pain. It works because it seems to reduce muscle contractions, which are the main cause of migraine pain.