Tag Archive for Dr. Daniel Amen

Keep Your Brain & Body Healthy This Winter

By: Emily Roberts, MA, LPC

Tis the season to be…Sick? Injured? Exhausted?  Let’s hope not.  As the chilly air approaches and the snowflakes begin to fall your immune system is up for a challenge.  Winter is notoriously one of the most difficult times of the year on our health.  Holiday stress takes a toll on us mentally and physically, add in a cold, dehydration, or even a hit to the head and you have yourself a rough few months.  In order to keep your family healthy this seasons our suggestions below.

Immunity Boost.  Our immune systems often take a nose dive when there is a change in temperature.  As adults, the stress of the season, end of year deadlines, and having contact with our office mates who arefeeling under-the-weather, can severely affect our body’s ability to fight off viruses. For kids, they are constantly around runny noses and germs. You know the drill one kid get the flu, and suddenly a classroom of 20 becomes 10.

- Tip: For adults and children, make sure that you are taking your vitamins consistently. Studies suggest that when taken regularly, vitamins and minerals do their job to keep us healthy and happy. When implemented at the sign of sickness, they are not built up in our immune system enough to ward off viruses. Also, it is suggested that Vitamin D, especially in the wintertime, can ward off depression and increase overall immunity.

-Tip: Remember the basics and remind children: cover your mouth/ nose when you sneeze-don’t sneeze on others, wash your hands,  use hand sanitizer, blow your nose in a tissuenot your shirt sleeve ( I really do see adults do this all the time- yuck!) .

Stay Hydrated.  Getting our H20 intake is one of the most neglected parts of our winter routine and is detrimentally to our health.  Dehydration can be just as common in the winter as in the summer. Since your body is not sweating as much as it did in those hot and humid summer months, it’s easy to overlook the signs of dehydration. A dehydrated body can lead to exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination and even stroke.  Dehydration can also leave your body more susceptible to common colds and flu, which are both more prevalent in the winter.

- Tip: Coffee can dehydrate you big time, and although it’s tempting on a chilly day, try tea instead.  The health benefits of tea are immense. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) suggests many teas increase immunity, fight free radicals, reduce cancer risks, heart disease, and other ailments.  Tea also contains flavonoids that may help with blood vessel functionality and buildup of cholesterol. If you’re not into tea, try hot tea, sparkling water, or flavored water if regular water isn’t hitting the spot. For kiddos, cut their juice with water, and decaffeinated flavored tea such as spiced apple or honey lemon can make a great warm treat (plus many feel mature drinking tea- huge selling
point!). Read more: Howto Stay Hydrated During Winter | eHow.com

Head Injuries.  Winter sports can bring on many physical risks.  For our skiers and snowboarders out there helmet use is strongly recommended.  Long term mental issues are often systemic of childhood head injuries.  Dr. Daniel Amen’s work on traumatic brain injury has more verified this. Helmet use is associated with a 22 percent to 60 percent reduction in head injury risk, but helmets are not being used by the majority of those on the slopes. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that half of head injuries on the slopes could be prevented by helmets, but a survey of several United States ski resorts found that helmets were worn by just one in eight skiers and snowboarders. Notably, the most-skilled athletes were most likely to wear a helmet.

-Tip:  If your renting ski supplies make sure that you ask for helmets, many rental facilities do not reserve these for you unless you ask in advance.

-Tip: If your child protests, find a picture of a famous Olympic athlete cruising down the slope in their cool helmets, it will help them make a positive association with staying safe.  Also be a good role model, if you’re telling them to wear aone, and your helmet-less they are less likely to comply.

So drink up, stay safe, and be healthy this season.  You’ll enjoy hitting the slopes and building those snowmen much more with an optimal immune system- and your kids will too!

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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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