health and wellness, Treatment for depression

Mindfulness for my nocturnal self

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Mindfulness for insomnia

Everyone in the house is asleep but me; it has been a few days since my sleeping got messed up. Yesterday I slept until it was the afternoon and I was hoping when I fell asleep earlier than I had the past while, I would stay asleep. It is strange being awake when everyone is deep in slumber. This is part of the depression and it isn’t really something new to me. I wonder what I can do to reset my sleep pattern, though my patterns don’t stay the same for long. I’ve turned on Midnight in the Desert on Newstalk radio 1010 for company.

Far too many times have I sat awake ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Tonight, or if you prefer this morning, I’ve decided to try mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of staying in the present. Research has shown that this helps people with insomnia and I hope it has the same effect on me. I’m feeling quite anxious and before I caught on to what I was doing to myself I was imaging the worst possible outcome to my housing situation and how I’m not prepared for it.

Harvard editor Dr. Ronald Siegel has some guided meditations online that I am going to try. Done. Amazing! I started to yawn while doing the breathing exercises and my body feels much more relaxed. I was told about breathing exercises when I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder, but I haven’t made it a habit. It felt so good to do the exercise that I’m going to have to make a part of my daily routine. I highly suggest that you try it.

Where did mindfulness originate?

I assumed that mindfulness originated in psychology, but I am wrong. It cannot be described as being an eastern or western concept. There is a history of mindfulness being practiced and taught by Hindus and Buddhists; there are differing thoughts on where mindfulness originated. Known history goes back 2,500 years; the methods have changed but the purpose of practicing mindfulness to end pain is the same. The forms of mindfulness have changed and are part of what is now called ” The Mindfulness Movement”, and Time magazine called the popularity of the practice ” The Mindful Revolution”.

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It is understood that Budda was a prince who denounced his privileged lifestyle when he learned of the suffering that surrounded him. He then became a teacher on how to eliminate suffering and be a compassionate person using mindfulness. In the 1970s a psychologist named Jon Kabat-Zinn, of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, was asked to help patients with pain. He had been learning mindfulness at the Insight Meditation Society which has its roots in Buddism. He created a program called the Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program using the techniques of meditation. It is now called the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program and is used in psychiatry as a means for healing and management of depressive disorders.

How does mindfulness help people diagnosed with depression?

Mindfulness has been shown to improve the cognitive symptoms of depression. Cognitive impairment can cause a distortion in thinking increasing negative thoughts and affecting concentration. The practice of mindfulness helps the person with depression focus on the moment and recognize their negative thoughts are untrue. People can then see their negative thoughts as being less powerful and therefore lessen the discomfort that these despairing thoughts cause.

It is important for people with depression to detach from their negative and distorted thoughts; mindfulness keeps the person’s mind from wandering and helps a person maintain control of their thoughts. Mindfulness has expanded to include mindfulness-based art therapy. Research studies on 44 people with depression using mindfulness techniques resulted in reduced symptoms of depression over a period of twelve weeks.

What are other benefits of deep breathing?

Mindfulness practices include deep and concentrated breathing; you focus on each breath in and out for a brief time. Deep breathing is also known as belly breathing, abdominal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, and paced respiration. It slows the heart beat and lowers blood pressure.

By making mindfulness a part of your routine you will notice a reduction in stress making you feel more relaxed. When you catch on to your negative thinking you can replace these thoughts with a mantra or saying that you create when you’re in a better state of mind.

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While you can’t will your way out of depression with positive thinking, mindfulness contributes to combating the symptoms that negative thinking leads to. Types of negative thinking includes:

  • Catastrophic thinking- believing the worst possible outcome of a situation will happen. This is not a rare occurrence. It is depression and anxiety talking and the pattern needs to be broken for relief to be felt.
  • Jumping to conclusions- these are beliefs without evidence and the conclusion is usually negative.
  • Personalization-thinking that negative actions or occurrences are solely your fault.
  • Blaming- we are responsible for our emotions; blaming blames ourselves or others for the pain we are experiencing
  • Emotional reasoning-giving in to negative emotions that aren’t true.
  • Overgeneralizing-making a negative conclusion based on limited evidence
  • Black and white-believing opposite extremes without leaving room for in-between answers
  • Filtering-ignoring positive attributes of a situation and focusing only on the negative

As you can see cognitive distortions can cause a lot of needless painful experiences. Using mindfulness techniques eliminates the unrealistic thinking from continuing any further. Depression and anxiety are suffered by many people concurrently and the negative thinking patterns of both conditions can sneak up when you least expect it. Mindfulness helps people to stop and recognize that their harmful thoughts are irrational and not act or dwell upon them. I feel better already just by recognizing that I was catastrophizing what could possibly happen concerning my housing situation. I don’t have any evidence of the earlier what ifs I was toying with thereby making me feel crummy. Mindfulness has helped me tonight, I hope you will try it too.

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Continue reading “Mindfulness for my nocturnal self”

health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Antidepressants: Can they all be considered medicine?

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What is medicine?

Definition of medicine

1 a : a substance or preparation used in treating disease

  • cough medicine

    b : something that affects well-being

  • he’s bad medicine
  • —Zane Grey

    2 a : the science and art dealing with the maintenance of health and the prevention, alleviation, or cure of disease

  • She’s interested in a career in medicine.

    b : the branch of medicine concerned with the nonsurgical treatment of disease

    3 : a substance (such as a drug or potion) used to treat something other than disease

    4 : an object held in traditional American Indian belief to give control over natural or magical forces; also : magical power or a magical rite

    “Medicine.”, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

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    I respect the practice of medicine, as a matter of fact, I have considered a career in medicine since I was a child. It is my desire to make helping people a number one priority. Having said this. There are some areas and treatments used in medicine that I find to be confusing and downright harmful. Antidepressants affect me personally as I use them for treatment of depression. I trust my doctor and I believe the doctor is acting on training that she has received. There have been a few antidepressants prescribed to me that had ill effects that were so uncomfortable that I had to stop taking them. Seemingly a no-brainer to me is that if a drug is to be considered a medicine it shouldn’t cause harm.

    There have been many news articles and controversies surrounding the use of antidepressants. We see that many people who have committed violent crimes were taking antidepressants and many people are concerned about their detrimental effects. Was it the mental illness that caused these horrendous incidents or was it the drugs or a combination of both? I certainly don’t want to be taking a drug that has the potential to make me violent; this has never happened to me, but I have experienced the negative effects of certain drugs that were detrimental to my well being. My thought is that if a medicine causes harm, can it really be considered a medicine? E.g. Antidepressants that increase suicidal tendencies. Isn’t this a no-brainer that these kinds of drugs cannot be considered medicine? Depression causes suicidal thinking; a medicine should not affect a person trying to relieve the symptoms of depression, and certainly not intensify them. To me this is too risky and not worth any benefit(s) that the drug may produce.

    I am not a doctor and I don’t want to dissuade anyone from taking their prescribed drugs, but the last thing I expect from an antidepressant is to make me feel worse. I met a girl recently who had to stop taking the medicine because her anxiety and depression became worse for a few weeks when she started to take them. During my treatments over the past few years, I haven’t found the right combination or one antidepressant that has enabled me to function as I’d like to for more than a few months. Some people experience bouts of depression for a seemingly short time while others like myself suffer intense symptoms that are debilitating for years. Am I suffering for years because of not taking the right antidepressant for me? Why do some people suffer for a short time and others for longer? There isn’t a cure all type of antidepressant that works for everyone; why is this?

    Why don’t antidepressants work for everyone?

    People diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder each have differing intensities of symptoms, some more than others and scientists conclude it is because of a person’s genetics. The danger, says Dr. Marianne Müller is that people suffering intense depressive symptoms including suicidal tendencies don’t have enough time to try to find the right medicine that rids the person of suicidal thinking. Some people may commit suicide even though they are taking medicine for their depression. The presence or lack of transcription factor levels predicted with 76% accuracy how someone will respond to SSRIs (serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitor). This high level of response data is not enough to develop new medicines. It is noted by another doctor not involved in this study, Dr. Victor Reus, that the HPA axis most likely contributes to depression, that is the body’s response to stress. Researchers are looking for genetic differences to explain why different types of antidepressants don’t work well for everybody diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

    It has been estimated that more than half of people prescribed antidepressants don’t feel better after taking them. It has been found that the makers of antidepressant have not made the medicine to get at the more complex causes, instead they have oversimplified the cause and as such the drugs only target these simplified areas. The two main beliefs factored into the making of antidepressants includes difficult life circumstances and an imbalance in neurotransmitters as the causes of major depressive disorder. Depression researcher Eva Redei has found inconclusive evidence that stress contributes to depression, while she notes that the drugs purpose is to relieve stress symptoms. As for the theory that depression is caused by decreased levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine she says that treatments aim at the effects, not the cause. Further research is necessary to determine what the cause is exactly.

    Another finding suggests that reducing the amount of autoreceptors may increase the positive effects of antidepressants. Autoreceptors are responsible for sending messages to the axon terminal deciphering how much of a neurotransmitter has been released. The higher the level of autoreceptors detected, the less effective antidepressants were shown to be.

    An obvious reason that antidepressants won’t work is because of a misdiagnosis. There are questions you should ask before commencing treatment to see if they are right for you:

  1. Is it depression causing pain?
  2. Are you willing to try different treatments for an extended period?
  3. Would antidepressants work best with another therapy such as counselling?
  4. Do you trust your doctor?

Basically, it’s best to realize that treatment may need to be ongoing and a matter of trial and error. Build a trusting relationship with your doctor and communicate about your concerns before taking an antidepressant. Know what to expect and be prepared for trying new medicines to alleviate your pain.

What to do when antidepressants don’t work effectively

If the antidepressants you have been prescribed aren’t helping you may have what is called treatment-resistant depression. It may be mild or severe. If you aren’t already seeing a mental health professional seek one out. They can determine what is contributing to your depressive episode(s) and what can be done about it while excluding other possible causes for your symptoms. Together you may find that you require more time to adjust to the medicine, you may need to increase the dose, or you may need to start taking a different type of antidepressant. This can be a frustrating time waiting for relief from this painful disorder. Reach out and talk about it with your doctor, a counselling phone line or someone you trust to get the support you need to help you through this time.

Other treatments are physical and include electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation. In addition, there are other measures you can take to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Live a healthier lifestyle that includes the reduction of alcohol and drugs, eating a more nutritious diet, including exercise into your daily routine, and using stress reduction techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises and mindfulness.

I know from first hand experience about the difficulties faced when antidepressants don’t work. Reaching out to someone to talk about my experience has been helpful, but still caused me great concern when my mood was extremely low with no remedy. Taking pictures of nature was very calming and interesting during daily walks in the spring and summer. It is a frightening experience to suffer from despair and think about suicide daily; many people are speaking up about not having enough resources dedicated to helping people with mental health issues like major depressive disorder. Hopefully, soon enough we will have more options for remedy and relief for our painful symptoms of depression.

Leave a comment. Have you had an experience with antidepressants you want to mention?

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Children and depression

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Diagnosing depression in children

It is difficult to imagine a child suffering from the depths of depression but there are many who are diagnosed with different types of depression.  One may mistake the symptoms of depression as the child misbehaving or being lazy. When you see children acting out of sorts check for the symptoms of depression before you make a wrong judgement that could cause more harm by going without the medical care required to manage the illness. Types of depression includes:

  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Bipolar disorder

If you are concerned talk to your family doctor of pediatrician for a diagnosis and treatment. Even though they are young the thought of suicide can occur, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from the health care professionals including counselors.  

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Symptoms of depression in children

The symptoms of depression are mostly the same as for adults, but children need extra tlc so be kind even when children are in the rottenest mood because it is the disorder talking. You may think the child is being rebellious and disrespectful when they show irritability but it is a symptom of all forms of depression. When the child is not doing their homework or is slow in the morning to get ready for school on a regular basis it could be fatigue from depression causing them to be so slow. Children may lose interest in playing with their friends, hobbies and sports. Other symptoms include:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Feeling rejected
  • Sleep troubles — over and under sleeping
  • Aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating

Looking back, I see that doctors started to catch on to my symptoms including stomach aches when I was in grade 8 and just had my appendix taken out. I didn’t have the ability to tell them how I felt suicidal, I didn’t realize it is a medical concern, I thought it was because of a negative attitude. I told one of my friends once that I thought about suicide, but children don’t know what to do to help so I suffered alone. I missed a lot of school in grade 7 and was quite irritable; it is amazing that I had any friends. When you see symptoms please don’t ignore them because it is very painful and confusing to a child, you may save the child a lot of needless pain and suffering alone.  

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health and wellness, major depressive disorder family and friends, Treatment for depression

Depression and seniors

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Why do elderly people get depressed?

 Depression is no respecter of age; it is diagnosed in teens, younger children, adults who are in mid-life and in the elderly. It is well noted that sickness and depression go together, not that all elderly people are sick, but many have chronic illnesses. When older adults experience depression and a painful illness, they can be apt to isolate themselves. If you know someone like this, you might want to consider checking in on them and spending quality time together.

Older people become widows and widowers that causes grief which has similar symptoms to clinical depression . Doctors are urged not to diagnose people with depression when they are grieving. Retirement can also cause major depressive disorder to occur in older adults. It is important to know the signs to help yourself or a loved one who is in despair from depression.

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Signs and symptoms of depression to look for

If you suspect that your elderly friend or loved one is suffering from depression, educate yourself about the signs and symptoms so you can help them before it gets worse. Signs and symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • change in appetite
  • feelings of despair
  • isolation
  • troubles with sleep (too much or too little)
  • forgetfulness
  • slow body movements
  • lack of hygiene
  • low self esteem
  • suicidal thoughts

You don’t have to care for the depressed person on your own. Find help in the community in places such as: your family doctor, church, family and friends and community groups dedicated to help people with depression.

Retirement and depression

For some, retirement is a phase in life that is rewarding and fulfilling. For others, it is a time of loss and emptiness. The good news is that there are ways to prevent and cope with this time which can be embarrassing for some people, but it is important to talk about it. It is just as important as planning your financial future. A few ways that retirees find helpful to alleviate boredom and depression includes:

  • ​volunteer work
  • engaging more actively in hobbies
  • stay active by walking, playing sports, swimming
  • get social play cards, bingo, bus trips
  • spend more time with your grandchildren
  • self-employment
  • part-time work

    ​It is important to note that these activities may not be suitable for everyone. Do what you like and explore new activities to keep engaged and fulfilled. Many retirees are happy immediately after retiring but years later become depressed. Plan so your needs are met later on.

    Chronic illness and depression

    There is a correlation between chronic illness and depression that needs to be known for assessing whether to get help for an elderly person who displays signs and symptoms. A high percentage of people with a chronic illness experience this double trouble that hinders important areas of one’s lifestyle. It is difficult to cope with not being fully abled and living the life they desire due to the disabling conditions that lead to depression.

    ​Research shows that chronic medical conditions with depression have a high prevalence rate. These conditions include multiple sclerosis, heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Stay educated about depression to nip it in the bud early. Some mistake the pain and sadness to the chronic condition, but it can be depression that needs to be treated differently than the major condition. Talk to a doctor about the symptoms and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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health and wellness, Treatment for depression

My first visit with a psychiatrist

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What is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are physicians who treat people with mental illnesses. These illnesses include major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. They may prescribe medication or special treatments that are beneficial to their patients. My first visit I didn’t know what to expect. I thought that you are supposed to tell the doctor all your problems and they would have a solution as to how to overcome difficult situations. The doctor prescribed Prozac and I had to be monitored because I was a teenager and it is sometimes risky for teens to be taking antidepressants.

The effects of antidepressants

After a few weeks of taking Prozac I felt like a zombie. I didn’t feel immediate relief, but this is how many antidepressants work on people. It can take some time to get the right medication combinations before relief is felt. I lost weight and I didn’t mind this, but I experienced a few traumatic events in a short period of time and I’m not quite sure that any medicine would lessen the pain that these events caused. I appreciated the kindness that the doctor showed me, and I trusted his judgement. When I told him of my symptoms he weaned me off Prozac and prescribed Paxil to me. This pill worked better than the Prozac; I went to counselling sessions and took the medicine which was helpful at the time. More side effects of the medicine upset me, so I was prescribed Zoloft.

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Getting used to the fact I need medication

After years of going on and off medication I have reached a point where I have needed antidepressants for a few years. It has been a matter of finding the right medication with minimal side effects. The funny thing is that some of these medicines have side effects that are like depression. It is a little bewildering that some antidepressants can intensify suicidal ideation. Some of these medicines made me tired and one altered my menstrual cycle. Once I tried St. John’s Wort for a little bit, but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t think that depression would be a life long ordeal that needs to be tended to every day; I don’t like taking the medicine, but I know I need it.

Regular appointments with my psychiatrist

For the past few years I have had mornings where I wake up in despair thinking about suicide. I have needed to see my doctor monthly for quite some time. The past few months have been much better in terms of thinking about suicide the moment I awake but I continue to go every month. It is a little frustrating that all my symptoms have not been alleviated no matter how hard I try to do everything I know how to do to combat depression.

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