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

What are the types and sub-types of depression?



Depression doesn’t come in one form, in fact it is possible to be diagnosed with more than one type. E.g. major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Many people report feeling different intensities of depression and wonder what type of depression they are suffering from. A doctor is the best person to diagnose the kind of depression being experienced.

These types of depression range in duration and differ in causes. A normally healthy woman may be excited about her pregnancy and be surprised by feeling blue because of postpartum depression. In another major change of life, women may experience depression during the stages of menopause; many women dismiss the symptoms of depression as being a normal part of aging.

Life changes that are painful and traumatic can cause situational depression; this type lasts for a limited time. Clinical depression differs and is also known as major depressive disorder (MDD). There is further study required to determine what exactly causes MDD, but certain factors contribute to the illness including genetics and a chemical imbalance in the brain. It is so common that it is the leading cause of disability in the world.


Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) has the marks of clinical depression but the symptoms aren’t as intense, yet it is just as serious as major depressive disorder. People with bipolar disorder suffer periods of depression and states of extremely elevated mood.  Psychotic depression has the symptoms of major depressive disorder and sufferers experience delusions and hallucinations.

Atypical depression is a different type of major depression and dysthymia and is marked by persons starting to experience the depressive symptoms during the teenage years. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder affects girls and women just before menstruation begins.


Differences in the types of depression

While the differing types of depression have similar characteristics, there are marked differences that determine how each is treated. There are many people who suffer from depression and are left untreated, in fact this is true for the majority of sufferers. People are either unaware of what is happening to them and don’t understand it is a condition that can be treated, or they are afraid of the stigma of having a mental illness, so they deal with the illness on their own.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

Call it MDD, clinical depression or unipolar depression the symptoms are serious and left untreated can cause death due to suicide. The average age for the first episode of the illness occurring is 32. Women are diagnosed with MDD at a higher rate than men. It is thought that hormonal changes during major life stages are responsible for more women suffering from depression. Symptoms include:

  • thoughts of suicide
  • helplessness
  • hopelessness
  • fatigue
  • lack of motivation and interest in normally enjoyable activities
  • insomnia
  • restlessness
  • anger and irritability
  • social isolation
  • weight gain/loss

Treatments include drug therapy, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and alternative medicine therapies. Some of these treatments may be used together for ultimate results in improvement.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Persons suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) commonly suffer symptoms in the fall and winter though some may even experience the illness in the spring and summer. The symptoms are like MDD, but the duration is usually predictable depending on the seasons.

  • loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • social isolation
  • fatigue
  • cognitive difficulties
  • feelings of excessive guilt
  • low self-esteem
  • suicidal ideation
  • over sleeping
  • change in appetite
  • anxiety

Treatments include antidepressants, psychotherapy, alternative medicine and light therapy; some of these may be used in combination with each other.

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression occurs before and after the birth of a child for up to a year. Symptoms last for longer that two weeks and are like MDD. Also known as the “baby blues”, the mother may not bond well with the child and feel guilty for being a bad parent. Symptoms include:

  • despair
  • hopelessness
  • helplessness
  • excessive guilt
  • anxiety
  • suicidal thinking
  • difficulty making decisions
  • cognitive impairment (lacking concentration)
  • fatigue
  • loss of interests in once enjoyable activities

Treatments include psychotherapy, antidepressants, and help from a support group. It is important to receive help for this condition for the health of the mother and the child; help from loved ones to care for the child and mother may become necessary.

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Menopausal depression

When this change of life is progressing, depressive symptoms may appear and must be treated and not dismissed as being normal symptoms of menopause. Researchers have found a link in families and the stressful changes of life during middle age. The decrease in estrogen during perimenopause is believed to contribute the onset of depression before menopause. Symptoms include:

  • lack of pleasure in regular activities
  • fatigue
  • suicidal thinking
  • concentration difficulties
  • hopelessness
  • helplessness
  • change in appetite
  • excessive guilt

Not getting treatment for depression during this time can lead to increased risk for heart attack and bone fractures. Self care in combination with medical care contribute to better health and well-being. Medical treatments include antidepressants, talk therapy and herbal remedies.


Situational depression

There are times in life where a painful situation can bring on an episode of depression within 90 days of the event occurring. The symptoms may seem the same as MDD in the beginning two weeks but the difference is that MDD runs in families and the cause is a chemical imbalance, not an overwhelming situation. Symptoms include:

  • despair that lasts over two weeks
  • fatigue
  • suicidal thoughts
  • lack of motivation
  • change in appetite
  • crying
  • anxiety
  • social withdrawal
  • concentration difficulties

Treatment involves self care including exercise, eating a healthy diet, and support from friends and family. Medical treatment includes talk therapy and antidepressants. More severe symptoms may require a stay in the hospital.

 


 

Persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia)

Persistent depressive disorder otherwise known as dysthymia is a chronic condition affecting more women than men. Diagnosing the condition requires that the person suffer depressive symptoms for over two years; it is a milder form of MDD, but it is disabling nevertheless. Most sufferers of dysthymia will experience MDD as well called double depression. Symptoms include:

  • poor appetite
  • overeating
  • fatigue
  • helplessness
  • hopelessness
  • suicidal thoughts
  • poor self esteem
  • insomnia
  • low mood

Treatment for dysthymia includes regular visits with a doctor, antidepressants, and talk therapy. Some family doctors don’t recognize the symptoms therefore, it is important to know the signs to discuss with your health practitioner. It is all too easy to dismiss the symptoms being caused by getting older.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder involves extreme highs and lows. The lows present as depression causing the same symptoms of MDD. It is a lifelong condition that can be managed with treatment and self care; episodes may happen a few times per year or less. There is more than one type of bipolar disorder.

  • Bipolar I– one or more manic episodes and depressive episodes. Mania may cause psychosis
  • Bipolar II– lacking a manic episode but including hypomania and depressive episodes
  • Cyclothymic disorder– children and teenagers experience one year of alternating depressive and hypomania while adults suffer for two years or more

Symptoms of hypomania

  • Reckless behaviour
  • Fast paced thoughts
  • Talkativeness that is extreme
  • Plenty of energy
  • Upbeat
  • Easily distracted

Treatments for bipolar disorder includes long-term treatment with medication, hospitalization, talk therapy and electroconvulsive therapy. It is important to continue with maintenance treatment(s) even when the person with bipolar disorder feels better.

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Psychotic depression

Psychotic depression is also known as major depressive disorder with psychotic features suffered by 20% of sufferers of MDD. The causes aren’t known but seems to run in families; hormonal changes and stress both alter the chemicals in the brain and contribute to psychotic depression. Symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional thinking
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Excessive guilt
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Changes in appetite
  • Low energy
  • Cognitive impairment

A person being treated for psychotic depression benefits from visits with a psychiatrist, medication and talk therapy. If the sufferer is in immediate danger of hurting themselves, they may be hospitalized for a brief period.

Atypical depression

Persons suffering from atypical depression have several symptoms that can be debilitating. It is a subtype of major depressive disorder and dysthymia and is first experienced in the younger years. The condition may make people sensitive to their environment and prone to feel rejection. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive sleeping pattern
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Increase in appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide

Treatment for atypical depression includes talk therapy, medication and frequent visits with a medical doctor. It is a treatable condition that is like major depressive disorder.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Teens and young women are prone to suffering depression just before commencing menstruation. It is part of premenstrual dysphoric disorder and causes the suffer to experience symptoms of varying intensities. Though they sound the same, PMS is different that this condition; it is more severe. Symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Change in appetite
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Low self esteem

These symptoms will subside when menstruation begins; it is a good idea to see a doctor for treatment to alleviate the symptoms which can affect the day to day life of the sufferer.

All these types are treatable, and the sufferers can find relief in the form of many available treatments that include talk therapy, medication and the inclusion of regular self care activities. For more information, talk to your doctor.

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Addictions and depression, health and wellness, Treatment for depression

Addiction and depression: often diagnosed together

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In my city, like many cities in North America, the opioid crisis is affecting many people and taking many lives. I haven’t lived here for long, but it seems all types of people are suffering because of drug addiction. I just learned today of a person passing away from mixing cocaine and fentanyl; she was young and now she is gone. I didn’t know her, but I feel for her and her family.

It is known that depression and drug addictions go hand in hand for a lot of people. Often, people who are addicted have turned to drugs to relieve stress, trauma and were recreational drug users. The crisis isn’t only occurring in adults; adolescents are turning to drugs to self-medicate when they experience the symptoms of depression.
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If you would like an in-depth study, you can take a free course on Edx, courtesy of Harvard University. I have taken it and it is well worth studying to know more about drug addiction and how to treat people with an addiction to opioids. It is highly recommended.

Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate, all socioeconomic classes are affected ranging from homeless people to doctors and teenagers addicted to prescription medicine. How much is too much in a prescription? There is debate going on now about restricting the use of opioids to treat pain because of the high potential for addictions to start by their use.

It is estimated that in the United States, over 1,000 people are treated daily in the country’s emergency departments for incorrect administration of an opioid based drug.

The effects of the dual-diagnosis of addiction and depression

Studies show that women suffer from depression first and men suffer with a drug addiction first. Many feel hopeless and lost and turn to the drugs to feel better, yet they feel worse in the end. A study conducted by the National Institute on Health found that one-third of people suffering from the mood disorder had struggled with an addiction. Men who were addicted to alcohol were diagnoses three times as much as the general population.

Children of people who are addicted are at risk of developing the same addictions; they are also at a higher risk for developing a mood disorder. In an article written by Dennis C. Daley, Ph.D, he sums up the effects of addictions and depression on a family:

“clients with addiction and depression are at higher risk for suicidal and homicidal behaviors, poorer treatment adherence, higher relapse rates to either disorder, and higher re-hospitalization rates (Cornelius et al, 1997; Salloum et al, 1996; Daley & Zuckoff, 1998 & 1999).”

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Not only does an addiction and mood disorder affect a family, it affects the local community as well. People who are untreated may not be able to show up to work, school or important events. Locally, the prison has been under investigation involving eight prisoners who died from an overdose. Medical personnel were questioned, and one nurse agreed that communication when an overdose occurs needs improvement. It was said that the problems in the community are now in the jail.

Of course, when news spreads of an overdose in a community it can frighten people and sadden people when it has lead to death. It is important to realize the seriousness of mental illness and drug addiction in combination with one another.

Help for people with concurrent diagnoses

Some people have difficulty finding the help they need for recovery because some institutions or places of help demand that a person be free from drug addiction before they can receive treatment. Having depression and a drug addiction can be difficult to be treated separately because they both affect each other. It seems like double the pain for addicts and persons with a mood disorder. The symptoms of both can be debilitating and the worst consequences of each is death from the condition.

More public awareness is helping to educate people about depression and addiction. There are conversations occurring world wide on how to view addictions. Some people may be afraid to ask for help because illicit drugs are illegal, but some cities are providing immunity in certain cases where drugs are found on the scene of a medical emergency. It is called the Good Samaritan law.

Good self-care can help tremendously as well. Some tips from Psychology Today include:

  • Get some sunshine
  • Exercise
  • Make attainable goals
  • Stand up and ground yourself
  • Get help from a professional

Using illicit drugs and alcohol can make depression worse even though the person may feel the drugs will make them feel better; it is a dangerous combination that left untreated can lead to serious consequences. Alcohol is a depressant that also impairs good judgment; being intoxicating increases the risk of a suicide attempt.

When seeking help from professionals, it is best to ask if they are qualified to help in both areas of addictions and depression. It is important that they both be treated at the same time.

If you are in need of help for suicidal thoughts please visit suicide.org where you can find the resources such as hotline numbers to help with your crisis.

Would you like someone to talk to for free? Visit 7 Cups to talk to an active listener and you can be referred to a therapist if needed.

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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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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.com, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/medicine. 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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Good Health is More Than What You Eat

Make all aspects of your life healthy for optimal living and improve mental health.

 

(NewsUSA) – Behavioral health issues are more common today. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, about 25 percent of all adults in the United States have a mental illness and 50 percent will develop one in their lifetime. Mental health diseases affect not only the mind, but the body too. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “[mental illness] is associated with chronic medical diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.” Public health surveillance, the continuous collection and analysis of health-related data, can help ensure high-quality health care.

 
Monitoring mental health illnesses via population-based surveys and other methods can provide valuable information on how to run effective treatment programs. If behavioral health problems are managed successfully, the effects of mental illness and chronic diseases can be minimized, leading to improved general health. Currently, companies and institutions around the country are working to provide better access to mental health treatment services. Humana, a leading health and well-being company, has pilot programs and initiatives as part of its Bold Goal aimed at making communities 20 percent healthier by 2020. To do this, they tackle barriers that prevent good mental health, as well as food insecurity and social isolation.
 
Program objectives of the Bold Goal include: providing remote access to behavioral health within a primary care setting, teaching educational classes that discuss nutrition and health literacy, and addressing suicide prevention. Try these ideas, from Humana’s Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, Chief Medical Officer for Humana Behavioral Health, to enhance your own mental health.
 
Exercise: There is overwhelming evidence that indicates physical exercise helps to lessen the effects of depression. This is due to the release of endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones, in the brain.
 
Eat a Healthy Diet: A diet high in sugar consumption is strongly correlated with mental health problems. Eating whole foods and limiting intake of processed foods are important habits to maintain. Go Outside: Get enough exposure to sunlight to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with psychiatric and neurological disorders.
 
Eliminate Bad Habits: Both smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can cause increased levels of stress and tension. Over time, this can lead to mental illnesses, such as depression.
 
Get Help When Needed: Getting help from a friend, family member, or professional is highly likely to improve behavioral health. Actively seeking guidance can lead to a quicker recovery from mental illnesses and mental disorders. And this will ultimately allow you to live a healthier, fuller life. For more information, visit www.humana.com