Tag Archive for anxiety

Mental Health Awareness Week: October 4th-10th

Mental Health Awareness Week this year takes place October 4th through 10th. It’s important for all of us to get real and educated about stigma and how mental health impacts our friends, family and often ourselves. Depression, anxiety and other diagnoses impact all of us. This Mental Health Awareness Week is dedicated to helping the public understand what resources are available and to help spread stigma-free awareness.  » Read more..

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End of School Stress: How to Help Your Student

As the end of school approaches, stress and strong emotions emerge for many children and teens. In fact, burnout, brain fog, and frustration are common. But how can parents help their child finish strong and start the summer with ease? Testing your child’s neurotransmitter levels is one of the most effective ways to help them feel confident and in control.  » Read more..

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Children Facing Fears when Faced with Anxiety

The Wall Street Journal published an article earlier this week that highlights a better way to treat anxiety in children.

Children today are more stressed and anxious than ever before.  The pressure to measure up to peers, please parents and teachers, perfect their after-school activities, and manage their feelings can be very overwhelming.  These overwhelming feelings often times lead to anxiety.

Experts say that anxiety disorders are some of the most prevalent mental heath issues in youth today.   However they are often undetected and untreated which can prevent a child or teen from developing skills imperative for success later in life.  Unlike normal childhood fears and insecurities  anxiety disorders are extreme and don’t subside with time which

Traditionally anxiety in children has been treated with prescribed medications, cognitive behavior therapy, and cognitive restructuring.  These treatments focus on anxiety-management, relaxation skills, and positive thinking. But therapists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Virginia Tech, and other institutions are finding that exposing children to the things and situations that cause their anxiety can be extremely effective in treating it.

The Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders program at the Mayo Clinic uses this innovative approach to treating anxiety in youths by gradually exposing them to things that they fear most and working with their parents to act as “exposure coaches” as opposed to enablers.

Parents often times help their children to escape or avoid stressful and feared situations, which can cause anxiety symptoms to worsen.  Parents don’t realize that stepping in and making accommodations to help their children avoid things or situations that cause their anxiety can actually make their anxiety worse.  Dr. Stephen Whiteside, a Mayo pediatric psychologist explains that “kids who avoid fearful situations don’t have the opportunity to face their fears and don’t learn that their fears are manageable”.

The Mayo clinic has developed several intensive therapy session plans and anxiety clinics to help children overcome anxiety and phobias, which have proven to be very successful.  Children are slowly exposed to situations that cause fear and therapist work with their parents to reinforce and maintain what the child has learned instead of acting as an enabler.  The results have been astounding with children doing things and putting themselves in situations that before were not even imaginable.

Exposure Therapy 101

 



 

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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant.  Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.

 

 

 

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What Are Amino Acids Anyway?

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

All to often, unless your in this industry, we forget about what our 7th grade biology teacher that taught “amino acids are the building blocks of life.” What does that really mean to us as adults?  Amino acid imbalances can effect us all.  Due to diet, trauma, genetics, fatigue, stress, and GI issues, some of our children are at a neurological disadvantage from the get go, and many adults become at risk do to many of life’s circumstances.  A stressful job, athletic training, depression or anxiety, or stress at home can literally hijack your Neurotransmitter levels, which amino acids create.  Wouldn’t you like to be able to do something about this naturally?  Here are the basics on Amino Acids and how they effect you and your child.

What are Amino Acids?

Amino acids are the breakdown products of proteins, some of which are not readily available in diet and need to be supplemented in a concentrated form.  They are the building blocks of proteins.  Proteins play a very important role in maintaining our health and make up a big part of the diet. The three main macronutrients found in food include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Proteins are required in our diet, as they are an important building block of muscle and brain tissue.

Amino acids, derived from protein intake, are precursors to brain chemicals such as serotonin, a natural anti-depressant-like chemical produced in the brain. Without the proper amino acids in our brains can become depleted of these crucial chemicals, otherwise known as neurotransmitters. However, often times we cannot get amino acids from diet alone. Neurotransmitter depletion can be the root cause of many mood and health issues; depression, insomnia, Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, memory loss, weight gain and addictive disorders, aggression, and increased sensory sensitivities.

The History of Amino Acid Therapy

There is a long, well documented, history of using amino acids for depression and other issues related to brain chemistry imbalances.  Discovered in the early 1900s, amino acids were used up to the late 1980s as the physician’s mainstay for treating these types of conditions.  While the advent of pharmaceutical medications all but eliminated this natural treatment option from the allopathic repertoire, amino acids have continued to be a popular option for complementary / alternative medicine modalities and an essential for those seeking natural methods for brain chemistry balancing.

Can’t You Get Amino Acids From Food?

The amino acid profile of various proteins varies greatly. Foods that contain protein, whether they are vegetarian or animal in origin, contain different combinations of amino acids. While we do need to keep up our overall daily intake of protein in order to maintain our health, proper neurotransmitter balance cannot always be achieved through diet alone.  Stress, trauma, ones GI issues, and physical exertion can all play a role. Protein intake increases the level of amino acids circulating around in the blood stream. Once proteins are broken down into amino acids by the digestive system, they are then released into the blood stream. In order for these amino acids to be taken up into the brain, they have to be carried across the blood-brain barrier using a specific transport system. This transport system will not help to correct amino acid imbalances within the brain. For example, if you have become depleted in serotonin because of high stress, dietary deficiencies or other lifestyle factors, the tryptophan uptake will not increase in any capacity across the blood-brain barrier.

Why We Need Amino Acid Supplements

Amino acid therapy is often used to help address many of the symptoms listed in Table 1.  Each neurotransmitter has a specific amino acid, which is required for its synthesis and plays a particular role within the brain and body.

Table 1:  Amino Acid Precursors

Neurotransmitter Neurotransmitter plays a role in:
Serotonin Sleep cycle, depression, anxiety, carbohydrate cravings, PMS (inhibitory)
Dopamine Focus, attention, memory, motivation/ drive, mood, addictive disorders (inhibitory/excitatory)
Norepinephrine Energy, drive, anxiety, focus, metabolism, mood (excitatory)
Epinephrine Energy, drive, anxiety, focus, metabolism, mood (excitatory)
Gaba Reduces excess stimulation (inhibitory)

Since each of us has a unique neurotransmitter profile, recommended supplements in any program should be specific to your imbalances which are derived through testing, without testing it becomes a “guessing game.”  While single amino acids can work to balance the brain, testing for these imbalances is the only way to know for sure what is out of balance. Using this method often requires several different products and should also include mineral cofactors, vitamins and a high quality omega-3 fatty acid.  Protocols that are created after your results are received incorporate your individual requirements and provide a program of highly targeted amino acids specific to your imbalances.  All of your brain nutrient needs are combined into a few products making it easy and convenient to buy and use.  Individual protocols can make the difference when based on proven testing methods. Restoring neurotransmitter levels and achieving your correct balance can change your life.

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Eliminate Negative Self Talk: 5 Steps

 By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Mistaken beliefs often keep you from achieving your important goals in life, they come from the negative thoughts we have about ourselves.  These thoughts can come from others, negative scripts we have told ourselves, and the mixed messages you hear from the media.  Mistaken believes set limits on your self-esteem and self-worth.  Many times I hear clients say ” I should be _______”, when you focus more on the should’s, ought’s, and could’ves you are selling yourself short and not looking at what you have done and are capable of doing.  Negative thinking and mistaken beliefs need to be challenged to reduce anxiety, decrease depression, and increase well-being.

Try this exercise to help rid yourself of a of a negative believe you have.

ex) People don’t like me

1.  What is the evidence for this belief?  Looking objectively at all your life experience, what is the evidence that this belief is true?   Evidence- in the past others rejected my friendship.  BUT I also have made and maintained many friendships over the years.  My friends and family love me for who I am. 

 2.  Does this belief always hold true for you?  If not, when has it been proven false? This belief only looks at a few circumstances when I was not accepted by others; this has only happened a few times. I also just made a new friend at work.

3.  Does this belief look at the whole picture?  Does it take into account both positive and negative ramifications? If I think this way I wont get hurt by people, but if I think this way I also will be lonely and not make new friendships or form new relationships.

 4.  Does this belief promote your well-being and/or peace of mind?This belief makes me more anxious and does not promote well being.  When I feel this way I am less confident, making it harder to make new friends and be myself. It DOES NOT benefit me.

 5.  Did you choose this belief on your own or did it develop out of your experience of growing up in your family? Experience with a bully in high school and a few failed relationships in my twenties made me feel like others don’t like me.  However, these people were not positive, and were aggressive personalities, perhaps they are not the best judge of my character. Family and long term friends do not feel this way.

Try this exercise when you notice you have an overwhelming negative thought, one that is causing you distress or a perpetuating beleif that is not benefiting you.  Long lasting change and elimination of the negitive self-talk takes time and practice, be patient and determined.

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Running on Empty: Stress and Women

 By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Adults today are more frazzled and overwhelmed than ever before.  For many of us, being stressed has become a way of life; managing a hectic schedule, meeting deadlines at work, striving to be the perfect parent and partner, or dealing with increased financial woes,  all of these daily stressors can have a negative affect on our health.

Dr. Robert Leahy, the director of The American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, and author of The Worry Cure, reports that women today “have the same anxiety level as a psychiatric patient did in the 1950s”.  Wow Ladies…what are we doing to ourselves?

This is extremely worrisome for women.  Not only can in contribute to the onset of mental and physical disorders, but it can cause hormonal and immune system imbalances. 

They longer we run on “low”, the more of our neurotransmitters we burn through.  Our excitatory neurotransmitters, those that allow us to meet deadlines, bake 3 dozen cookies for the bake sale, and read your child a bedtimes story (all in the same night), are harder to access. The longer they are activated without downtime the more likely they are to become depleted. Depletion can cause burn out, depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. Compare this to a car that’s running on empty, you can’t drive it forever, you need to stop and refill your gas tank…you get the analogy.

Now, I am not trying to stress you out even more, but it is imperative to look at your life and where your daily stressors come from. Your demanding boss, that obnoxious PTA mom who is always delegating her tasks to you, paying bills, or the high expectations you put on yourself; once these are identified take action to reduce their impact on your life.  Talk to your boss about setting up expectations she has for you or making more reasonable deadlines; set up a coffee date with the PTA mom to ask how you and she can work together (or avoid her all together); set up your bank account to pay bills automatically, you won’t even think about them. If you find that you are putting more pressure on yourself than the world is demeaning of you, and it’s more than you can handle it may be beneficial to seek out professional help.

Here are some other ways to manage and reduce stress:

  • One of the best ways to reduce stress is to get it out. Write in a journal, talk to a good friend, and make a to-do list.  The act of writing worries down is shown to automatically reduce stress and improve your memory.
  • Boost your immune system and fight stress with good food and supplements.
    • Find a good immunity complex at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joes, containing high amounts of Vitamins B, C, and D; these are the first vitamins to deplete when you are getting sick or running on empty.
    • Make good fats a staple in your diet. Supplement with an Omega 3 fatty acids, such as a fish oil containing DHA and EPA.  These fats that contribute to well-being, healthy skin and nails, and boost your immune system.
  • Eat to fight stress; don’t overload on carbohydrates and make sure your eating enough protein.  Protein is the precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (aka the feel good neurotransmitter). 
  • Delegate tasks, instead of taking things on that you don’t have time for ask for help. Recruit a co-worker to help with a project or your partner to help with cooking dinner or taking your place in the carpool when you’re overwhelmed.
  • Exercise is a great way to reduce stress; it releases endorphins in your body to make you feel good, plus it temporarily increases your energy. Try an afternoon jog rather that that cup of coffee, or go for a walk with a friend rather than catching up on the phone.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Therapists swear by combining deep breathing with visual imagery, to even there most anxious patients.  It increases oxygen to your brain; physiologically calming you down and allowing you to move on quickly to the next task, without getting overwhelmed. 

If you are stressed, often times your family and friends can feel it too. Get a handle on it now, before it takes over your life.

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Prescription Drug Coupons

For those of you taking prescription medications and struggling with the ever-increasing costs, you might find this website helpful.  Visit www.needymeds.org to get great coupons for medications that you can print out and take to your local pharmacy.  Just thought I’d share this great website with everyone- every little bit of savings helps!  -Nikki Jackson-Drummond, CCN

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The PTSD Brain

By Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

There has been a recent buzz in the media regarding Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Iraq veterans. Although anyone who has suffered from a trauma knows, PTSD has been around since the dawn of time (watching your caveman buddy get eaten by a Saber Tooth tiger).  However, it was not recognised by the American Psychological Association until the 1980′s. The media attention and those brave soldiers who speak out about suffering from the disorder, are allowing more soldiers to get help and making it let stigmatized to do so.  

The incidence of PTSD is on the rise as two wars drag on. In April, a Rand Corp. study concluded that 1 out of almost every 5 military service members on combat tours — about 300,000 so far — returns home with symptoms of PTSD or major depression. “Anyone who goes through multiple deployments is going to be affected,” says Dr. Matthew Friedman, director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD. But nearly half of these cases, according to the Rand study, go untreated because of the stigma that the military and civil society attach to mental disorders.
This expert is from  TIME Magazine’s eye-opening article “How One Army Town Copes with Posttramatic Stress” by Tim McGirk. He talks about the rise in suicides and homicidal behavior due to untreated symptoms.  Colorado Springs, AKA Army Town, has the highest suicide rate in the country! This is not ironic, it is also the home to many soldiers who have just come back from war.
 Click Here to read the article in its entirety. 

Daniel Amen, M.D., author of Change Your Brain Change Your Life, who has made brain imagining through of SPECT scans available to the public, has hundreds of brain scans from PTSD brains.  There is a significant difference in looking at the scan, and for many out there seeing the effect trauma has on their brain, may be enough to get them to seek out therapeutic interventions.  His recent blog post follows an Army Snipers battle with PTSD and how changing his brain chemistry helped to relieve him of daunting symptoms http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-amen-md/changing-the-brain-of-an_b_666631.html

The good news is that the brain CAN change, and PTSD symptoms can be reversible.  One has to be willing to seek out treatment for symptoms.  We know that brain chemistry imbalances are treatable through amino acid therapy, pharmacology, talk-therapy, and specialized approaches such as EMDR, EFT, and many others.  If you or someone you know is suffering from these symptoms share the articles listed, it may help normalize their experience and allow them to get well.

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5 HTP Liposomal Liquid is here!

Neurogistics has the only twice tested liposomal delivery system 5HTP.  This superior form of 5HTP allows for quick absorption with a sweet taste.  The dosage of this very absorbable form of 5HTP is lower since the absorption rate is higher.  5-HTP is the amino acid intermediate to the mood regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. 5-HTP crosses the blood brain barrier converting into serotonin in serotonin producing nerve cells. Besides benefiting mood, supporting serotonin levels can also help fight sugar and carbohydrate cravings and improve sleep quality by converting into melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle.

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