Tag Archive for depression

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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The Depressed Brain: Alternative Treatments

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

It is estimated that 25 percent of the American population will experience depression at some point in their lives.  What we do know is that depression is treatable, and a variety approaches have been proven effective for reducing and overcoming symptoms.   Many consumers and those who suffer from depression symptoms are under the impression that medication is the only option.  This is not the case.

A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and GlaxoSmithKline (a pharmaceutical corporation), indicates that cognitive therapy is at least as effective as medication for long-term treatment of severe depression, and it is less expensive.  This is not to say that medication is not effective, but rather that there are often options, such as talk therapy, that are overlooked by the average consumer.  We are told by commercials, friends, and even our physicians that depression can be treated with medications, but there are other options.

A recent article by Dr. Daniel Amen confirmed that natural supplements are effective in treating the neurological imbalances causing depression symptoms. Dr. Amen, author of Change Your Brain Change Your Life, is a renowned physician, child and adult psychiatrist, and brain imaging specialist.  He discusses the surprising outcomes after speaking to a group of UC Psychiatrists:

As a group, they were very interested in learning about using natural supplements as a way to treat their patients. You have to understand that in most traditional psychiatry programs in the U.S., the use of natural supplements as a treatment option is NOT part of the curriculum. Most psychiatrists get absolutely NO training in this.

And that’s a real shame. Because there are many supplements that have A level (strong) or B level (good) scientific evidence that they are effective in treating a number of mental disorders. Here are some examples:

  • St. John’s wort, SAMe, and sage have A level evidence that they help with depression.
  • 5-HTP, omega-3s, saffron, and DHEA have B level evidence that they reduce symptoms of depression.
  • St. John’s wort, 5-HTP, and inositol have B level evidence that they calm anxiety.
  • 5-HTP has B level evidence that it helps with weight loss.
  • Ginkgo biloba and sage have A level evidence that they enhance memory.
  • Huperzine A, vinpocetine, acetyl-l-carnitine, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3s have B level evidence that they boost memory.
  • Melatonin has A level evidence that it improves sleep.

For more on Dr. Amen Click Here

What has been confirmed by the scientific community is that most forms of depression can be traced to imbalances in neurotransmitter levels, more specifically Serotonin levels.  These levels can be depleted through genetics, or environmental triggers (stress, trauma, and lifestyle).  Serotonin is one of the primary inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitters in the central nervous system.  Serotonin plays a role in so many areas of the body, and is one of the first neurotransmitters to become depleted.  It is involved in balancing mood, apatite, sugar and carbohydrate cravings (due to low Serotonin levels), sleep cycle regulation, pain receptors (including headaches and muscle pain), and many more.  When looking for alternative options to treating depression, testing ones brain chemistry is extremely important in identifying the neurotransmitters that are out of balance, and is another option for treating depression.  For more information on neurotransmitter testing and depression Click Here.

*If you or someone you know is suffering from depression please contact your practitioner immediately.

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What is Gluten and Why Shouldn’t I Eat it?

By Nikki Jackson-Drummond, CCN

Have you ever wondered what gluten intolerance is and why it has received so much attention recently?  Is this just a new fad from the health food industry or something to take notice of?  How do you find out if you or your child is gluten intolerant?

The answers to these questions might be surprising….

The Basics about Gluten

First, let’s be clear on the meaning of gluten intolerance.  It does not mean allergy.  Gluten intolerance is a physical condition in the gut.   It basically means that your body is not able to digest gluten proteins (from wheat and other grains).  Instead, the body begins to attack these undigested proteins as if they were a foreign invader, damaging the micro-villi that line the small intestine.  The lining becomes inflamed, which reduces the surface area available to absorb nutrients. 

Common symptoms of gluten intolerance:

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Impulsivity and/or aggression in children
  • Poor Focus/ Poor Memory
  • Weight Gain or loss
  • Bloating and/or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Joint pain
  • Eczema/Psoriasis
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Low Iron levels
  • Neurological disorders

It All Starts in the Gut

The severity of gluten intolerance may range from gluten sensitivity all the way up to full-blown celiac disease, a true “allergy” to gluten that is an inherited autoimmune disorder.  This is no fad.  In fact, many people are gluten sensitive or intolerant and have absolutely no idea.  In 2000, gluten intolerance was estimated in 1 out of 2500.  Today that statistic is an astounding 1 in 133! 

The misuse of words by the media has caused lots of confusion on this topic.   However, the differences are profound. 

Gluten Sensitivity Can be Fixed 

Put simply, if you test “sensitive” to gluten, take it out of the diet for at least 6 months.  The gut heals and gluten can gradually be re-introduced.  However, some folks may not be so lucky.  Removing the gluten and healing the gut can take care of the symptoms, but removing gluten from the diet must be permanent if there is a true intolerance. 

Why Are More People Gluten Intolerant Today?

Even over the last ten years, cases of gluten intolerance are on the rise.  There are several factors:

  • Dysbiosis:  Some people may not be able to digest gluten because they have gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.  Dysbiosis can occur from taking antibiotics (especially if used more than once every few years), or from eating foods you can’t digest.  For example:  feeding grains to infants before they can digest them can cause dysbiosis.  The overgrowth of “bad bacteria” along with the undigested fragments of gluten can trick their immune system into thinking the undigested food particles are from the bad bacteria. 
  • Genetics:  Some people may have the gene responsible for improper digestion of gluten, although it has not yet been identified. 
  • Food Quality:  We all know that food today is much more processed and genetically modified in many cases.  We also know that breads today are not made the same as they used to be.  In fact, the gluten proteins found in grains today are structurally different from the grains our ancestors used.  Scientists have recently discovered a peptide in gluten (which triggers the intolerance) that did not exist in ancestral grains. 


How Do I Get Tested?


Click here.  Gluten intolerance is identified with a simple blood test.  As a clinical nutritionist, this is one of the first tests I order when patients do not respond well to neurotransmitter balancing.  We’ll  send you a test kit and then go over the results to devise a diet that suits your body’s needs.  The lab I like to use for this testing will also test for 19 other common food sensitivities, 10 food additives, and 10 food colorings.  You’ll receive the following:

  • Food Intolerance Test kit
  • Results identifying both food intolerances AND food sensitivities
  • 50-page Guide to living with food sensitivities
  • Half-hour consultation with Clinical Nutritionist
  • Gut restoration protocol
  • Price:  $225

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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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