In the elderly— whose thyroids are more active than average—there is a higher risk for depression, new research finds. Past research found a link between depression and over or under active thyroid glands; however, this is the first study to find an association between depression and thyroid activity variations within the normal range. Researchers determined […]
A new study suggests that new brain imaging technology may help people adjust and control their brain functioning by allowing them to “watch” their own brain activity as it happens. Published in NeuroImage, the study was conducted by Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro, McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre. It […]
Young people whose parents tend to fight with each other or are too involved in their kids’ lives are at increased risk of depression and anxiety, according to a new comprehensive review of past studies.
Kids tend to first experience depression or anxiety between ages 12 and 18, the authors write. They reviewed 181 papers published on potential links between how parents behave and which young people experience either disorder.
It’s impossible to say how important parenting is relative to other factors that might influence depression and anxiety, like bullying at school, study author Marie Yap said, but “it is clear from the wider body of research that by virtue of their role and presence in children’s lives . . . parents have an incredibly important role, both directly and indirectly.”
In the new analysis, stronger links were seen between parenting and depression, including sad moods and decreased interest in activities, as compared to anxiety.
Keeping constant track of kids’ whereabouts while giving them an autonomous say in family decisions were parent behaviors associated with lower levels of depression.
Parents who were harsher, fought more, were over-involved or generally “aversive” had kids who more often experienced both depression and anxiety, according to the review in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
“In our meta-analysis, (aversiveness) includes harshness, meanness, sarcasm, hostility, criticism, punishment and shaming or rejecting behaviors by the parent towards the teenager, as well as parent-teen conflict,” Yap said.
Identifying the exact parental factors linked to depression and anxiety could help prevention efforts, she said. However, the researchers noted that there are many factors involved in the development of anxiety and depression that can’t change.
Important messages from this study are that parents should try to be supportive, warm and open with their kids, give them clear guidelines and boundaries, but at the same time allow them freedom to learn from their own mistakes and not to over-control them.
“But the most important message for parents, perhaps by way of a caveat, is this: Don’t blame yourselves when things go wrong,” Yap said. “Such research evidence should be used to inform and empower parents in enhancing their children’s mental health, not to use for blaming them.”
Most people feel a sense of anticipation and joy as we approach the holidays. However, a considerable amount of people, including those in therapy, can feel depressed, frustrated, and anxious. What can these people do to make the holidays more enjoyable?
Try to schedule a theater or dance performance either the night before or the day of the holiday. In major cities, many shows are on or near Thanksgiving and Christmas. If there is no live theater go to a movie and invite someone so you don’t have to spend the day alone.
Go on a trip out of town. There are many cruises or day trips during this season. If you want to stay in a location where a Thanksgiving dinner was had before, do this. It can link an image of the holidays with a past experience and could boost the spirits quickly.
Join a community group like the YMCA, or take a photography or art class. You can take a class taking pictures of trees and turning those into holiday cards or presents.
Organize a hike into the countryside or a park tour with a group. In New York City and Los Angeles, there are tours every day of the week.
Go to a yoga retreat or a spa resort. Many hotels and spas have special weekend activities and rates at Thanksgiving and Christmastime.
Plan an intensive exercise routine. Exercise increases certain chemicals in the nervous system that fight depression and anxiety.
Help others who are less fortunate by volunteering at a soup kitchen. One of the best ways to forget your own loneliness is to help others at shelters or hospitals. Getting “outside of ourselves” and helping others in need helps take the focus off our own situations and feelings, and often delivers an emotional boost.
Try an AA meeting if you find yourself drinking too much. AA meetings on the holidays are immediate communities that help people deal with alcohol or drug abuse, which may be covering up negative feelings during the holidays.
A common treatment for depression is prescription antidepressant drugs, which are effective for many people; however, for some, the prescription drugs have little effect. Regardless, for people who are skeptical about taking medication or want to discover other options, the following five natural remedies are worth considering:
Vitamin D is said to be one of the most underrated nutrients. Deficiency of this vitamin is linked to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. In 2006, a study on 80 elderly people showed that those who lacked Vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression. Safe sun exposure may help raise Vitamin D levels.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Researchers have noted that depression is increasingly prevalent in people who consume less omega 3 fatty acids and more processed foods. A Columbus University study analyzed 59 patients diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, 18 of which also suffered from Cormobid Anxiety Disorder. Not only is depression affected by the amount of omega 3 fatty acids consumed, but also anxiety.
Sam-e is a naturally occurring compound found in almost every element of the body. It helps the immune system, maintains cell membranes, and supports chemicals in the brain.
Research indicates that Sam-e treatment is more effective than placebo in treating mild to moderate depression. It works more quickly and can be just as effective as prescription medications without the side effects. Unfortunately, Sam-e can only be prescribed if you consult with your healthcare provider.
Heavy Metal Detox
Heavy metal toxicity can disturb brain chemistry, which may cause anxiety and depression and can also weaken your immunity. Heavy metals, like mercury, lead, arsenic, and aluminum interfere with various chemicals in your brain that are associated with depression.
Ridding the body of excess heavy metals that harm vital brain chemistry involves balancing mineral antagonists. It is best to work with an experienced health practitioner on a detox plan.
Amino Acid Therapy
Depression and anxiety can occur when there is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Amino acids are the building blocks for neurotransmitters. In amino acid therapy, amino acids are used in place of antidepressants. They don’t have as many harsh side effects, and with a doctor’s supervision, it can be a powerful method for overcoming depression.
We can create health and happiness by choice. Those choices are made in how we think and respond to the things we cannot control. The decisions outlined below can lead to a happier and healthier life, no matter what may come our way.
- I am going to be nicer to myself. Negative, self-blaming thoughts bring us down. Stop trying to label yourself and simply accept who you are. Always treat yourself with the same kindness, respect and compassion you would show a friend.
- I am going to find out what I love to do and do it. We spend time in jobs and other situations that we just do not like. It is important to find the things that bring us joy and spend our time doing them. Think about what you wanted to be when you were young, about your perfect job and about the skills and talents you want to utilize.
- I can be strong on my own and leave a bad relationship. Many people stay in a relationship in order to be happy, complete and whole. Being happy on your own first and then having a relationship is a much better alternative. When we turn to another person for our sole source of security, we are not in love, we are addicted. When you are strong and whole, you always have the freedom to leave.
- I am willing to give up the belief I can control what happens and will let go of the outcome. Don’t waste your energy on trying to control everything. Let things go and become unattached to the outcome. We have little control over what others think, how they feel or how they act. We have no idea what will happen in the next month or week or day.
- I will identify and face my fears. The biggest reason we don’t change is due to fear. It stops us from doing what we want. Whatever the fear may be, own it, replace it with positive self-talk and move forward despite it.
- I am going to see failures, mistakes, traumatic events and shortcomings as an opportunity to learn and grow. There is a saying that there is no such thing as failure, only opportunities to learn. Failure can be a message, a signal that you’re off track and heading in a wrong direction. It is in our weaknesses that we become creative, innovative problem solvers.
- I will live my un-lived life and do something bold. It is never too late to do anything in your life. Sometimes you just have to go for it and stop making excuses. No matter the age you can accomplish activities that you always dreamed about.
- I am going to give up the need to be perfect and define success differently. There is no way we can be perfect. We need to define our worth and our success differently by giving things our best shot, having an impact on the world, or being able to use our skills and talents.
With Mental Health Awareness Week just passing, it is crucial to understand depression, one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Learn the answers to these pressing depression questions from everydayhealth.com:
What are some signs that I may be depressed?
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and/or making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
When should I talk to my doctor?
When the symptoms hinder everyday life, you should seek help. A person who suffers from a major depressive episode has a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities consistently for at least two weeks and experiences five or more of the symptoms listed above. It is important to see a doctor sooner rather than later because depression can get worse without treatment.
Can diet impact mental health?
Absolutely. What you put into your body can give you a boost in mood or worsen it. Brain foods contain omega 2 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and amino acids. Fatty fish or walnuts are a great source of the fatty acids, which affect brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. You can acquire the recommended daily dose of B vitamins by eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and legumes. Eating the right carbohydrates and staying away from refined sugar and processed foods will keep your blood glucose levels from spiking which should aid in relief from depression. Try eating complex carbohydrates such as those in whole grains and fruits and vegetables.
How can depression affect other aspects of my overall health?
Depression can have numerous physical symptoms: joint aches, backache, digestive problems, chest pain, and/or headaches. Left unaddressed, these symptoms may worsen the depression, complicate treatment, and lead to chronic pain.
What tips do you have for feeling better on a day-to-day basis with depression?
Exercise is crucial. Additionally, practicing mindfulness and staying in the present moment are the most beneficial forms of meditation to address depression. Everyone should get adequate sleep. If you have mood patterns you should take note of it in a journal.
What lifestyle adjustments can be made to help better manage depression?
Avoid alcohol as much as possible and limit caffeine. Having a daily routine and bed time can greatly improve your mood. Surround yourself with other people and make sure you reach out for support if you’re ever feeling down whether that be through a friendship, support group, therapy, or an online forum.
I have a loved one with depression. How can I help?
Educate yourself. Try not to judge nor preach. Put away your own health philosophies. Contribute resources that might help your loved one: books, websites, articles, support groups or forums. Listen and simply be there. As much as you can, offer hope. That’s the most powerful tool in combatting depression.
A new brain scan just might have the answer! According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburg, a new type of brain scan that measures blood flow in the brain might be able to help better diagnose bipolar disorder at an early stage and further distinguish the disorder from depression. Researchers evaluated 44 females, with 18 of the participants having bipolar disorder, 18 with clinical depression and 18 who were healthy individuals who acted as the control group. The participants were all experiencing a depressive episode as they were being assessed for the study. The new imaging method that was used is known as arterial spin labeling, which was designed to non-invasively measure blood flow in brain regions associated with depression. The researchers also used a novel analytical method known as pattern recognition analysis that allowed them to individualize brain differences.
The researchers found that they could identify with over 80% accuracy which of the participants were depressed and which of them had bipolar depression. Finding a correct diagnosis can often be difficult for a variety of reasons, including miscommunication between the patient and the doctor. Such as, patients with bipolar disorder sometimes interpret their manic phases as normal and will not discuss them with their doctors. Their findings also suggest that researchers may be able to predict future bipolar behavior in younger adults who are still symptom free, allowing for earlier and more accurate treatment.
Earlier and more accurate diagnosis can make a major difference for patients and their families. It may even save lives. These promising findings reveal the importance of neuro-imaging and its ability to help identify biological markers that are associated with mental health disorders. More testing of these new technologies in a larger sample and in a multi-center study are underway to gather more information.
Depression traps can vary from person to person, but what they do have in common is that they can serve to worsen your mood, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Here are some behavioral pitfalls that can often accompany depression and how you can steer clear of them as you work on getting back on track.
- Social Withdraw: It is the most common telltale sign of depression. “When we’re clinically depressed, there’s a very strong urge to pull away from others and to shut down,” says Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of books including The Depression Cure. Pulling away from others is the exact opposite of what you really need. “In depression, social isolation typically serves to worsen the illness and how we feel,” Ilardi says. “Social withdrawal amplifies the brain’s stress response. Social contact helps put the brakes on it.”
The Fix: Counteract social withdrawal by reaching out to your friends and family. Make a list of all the people in your life, who you want to reconnect with.
- Rumination: This involves dwelling and brooding about themes like loss and failure that cause you to feel worse about yourself. It is a toxic progress that leads to negative self-talk. It can also cause you to interpret neutral events in a negative fashion.
The Fix: Redirect your attention to a more absorbing activity, like a social engagement or reading book.
- Self-Medicating with Alcohol: Turning to alcohol or drugs to escape your woes is a pattern that can accompany depression and it usually causes your depression to get worse.
The Fix: Talk with your doctor if you notice that you drinking habits are making you feel. Alcohol can also interfere with antidepressants and anxiety
- Negative thinking: When you are depressed, you’re prone to negative thinking and taking yourself out of trying new things. “That’s a huge trap,” says Goulston, psychiatrist . “If you race ahead and anticipate a negative result, which then causes you to stop trying at all, that is something that will rapidly accelerate your depression and deepen it.”
The Fix: Don’t get too attached to grim expectations. “You have more control over doing and not doing, than you have over what the result of actions will be,” Goulston says psychiatrist . “But there is a much greater chance that if you do, then those results will be positive.”
More than 5 million men in the U.S. experience depression each year. While the symptoms used to diagnose depression are the same regardless of gender, often the leading complaints can be different among men and women.
Here are 10 signs of depression in men.
1. Fatigue: People who are depressed experience fatigue, as well as a slowing down of physical movements, speech, and thought processes. Men are more likely than women to report fatigue and other physical symptoms of depression as their chief complaints.
2. Sleeping too much or too little: Sleep problems, like insomnia or excessive sleeping, are common depression symptoms.
3. Stomach or backache: Health problems like constipation or diarrhea, as well as headaches and back pain, are common in people who are depressed. Many men often don’t realize that chronic pain and digestive disorders are connected to depression.
4. Irritability: Instead of seeming down, men often show signs of irritability. Negative thoughts are a common aspect of depression, but men report feeling irritable because they are having negative thoughts constantly.
5. Difficulty concentrating: Psychomotor retardation can slow down a man’s ability to process information, thereby impairing concentration on work or other tasks.
6. Anger or hostility: Some men manifest depression by being hostile or aggressive. A man who realizes something is wrong may need to compensate by showing that he is strong or capable.
7. Stress: Men might be more likely to report symptoms of depression as stress. It’s not necessarily that they have more stress; it’s just more socially acceptable to report. Research has shown that prolonged exposure to stress can change the body and brain, which can in turn lead to depression.
8. Anxiety: Men may be more likely to experience anxiety because it’s often easier for men to talk about feeling anxious rather than sad.
9. Substance abuse: It can happen for both men and women, but using drugs or alcohol to mask uncomfortable feelings is a strategy men will employ instead of seeking health care.
10. Sexual dysfunction: Depression is a common reason for loss of desire and erectile dysfunction, and this is one symptom that men are prone to not reporting. However, ED can be the result of other medical conditions or medications, and ED by itself does not signal depression.
If you or any man you know suffers from these symptoms. It may be time to talk to a medical professional.