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 […]
With social media increasing in users, researchers are beginning to use it as a tool in solving public health problems. Twitter has 230 million users and is growing every day, and even though your twitter followers might not care about the traffic you hit on the freeway, a scientists out there might. “Our attitude is […]
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.
The band Blink 182 said it best: Nobody likes you when you’re 23.
The period between ages 18 and 29 is the best ever: Many of us are developing a sense of independence in college, starting new jobs, scouting out the dating scene, or heading off to form new communities in new cities. On the other hand, this period is often characterized by financial woes, romantic misadventures, loneliness, and a sense of uncertainty about who we are and why we’re here. So it’s little surprise that people in their 20s and late teens are especially vulnerable to feelings of depression.
At one time, most people didn’t experience their first depressive episode until their late 40s or 50s; today, depression typically first appears around age 25.
Today’s 20-somethings are going through a number of psychosocial and biological experiences that make them especially vulnerable to depression. Depression is often triggered by loss and the period between 18 and 29 is filled with many potential losses: break ups with a significant other, losing friends, losing a job, failing school or not getting into an academic program.
Biological factors also come into play. Scientists have noted that the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for planning and reasoning, doesn’t fully develop until mid-20s. This means 20-somethings are faced with making some huge decisions when their brains haven’t reached full cognitive capacity.
In some cases, 20-somethings might not realize certain lifestyle factors that may contribute to depressive symptoms. Binge drinking tends to be most common and intense in people ages 18 to 24.
Your action plan
There’s a range of practical ways to alleviate feelings of depression. This list certainly doesn’t include every way, but it does highlight some of the most effective strategies for people of any age.
- Phone a friend or family member
- Get a move on with exercise
- Hit the hay
- Zen out with some yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, or Qigong
- Try some herbal supplements
- Chow down on a number of nutrients and food groups
- Talk it out and try psychotherapy
- Take antidepressants if the situation is appropriate
Despite the pain it may cause, depression can actually be a useful signal that something in our lives needs to change; whether it’s a relationship, job, or some other aspect. Though it may be difficult to admit that we’re depressed, there are plenty of people, resources, and actions that we can take in order to help us live healthy, happy lives long after our 20s are over.
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.
After being asked, “How was your day?” you might be tempted in the moment, to unload all of your workday woes onto the inquirer. This kind of reaction is a product of stress, the toll of a long day of ups and downs and your mindless response to these fluctuations. However, as Ellen Langer, a Harvard professor of Psychology says, “Stress isn’t an event. Stress is the view you take of events.”
There are several things you can do to reframe the inevitable twists and turns of a day:
Start the day with a realistic (and positive) frame of mind.
Your day is bound to fluctuate from good and bad. The way you feel at the end of the day is going to largely depend on how you frame your day from the moment you wake up. You need to start framing your day as something where some things will fall your way and some not. This means having realistic level-headed expectations.
More than likely, there’s been a moment at your desk today when you’ve forgotten to breathe. An alarming email came through your inbox, and in a moment of panic, you neglected to exhale. Practicing some conscious, deep breathing can lower your stress levels, blood pressure, and keep anxiety at bay. In turn, you’ll come home less anxious.
Ritualize your transition from work to off-duty.
This might not work for everyone, but some people benefit from more consciously recognizing they’re not working. For some, it might be changing from dress shoes to sneakers. For others, it might be loosening hair ties and throwing on a baseball cap. These action-based rituals make coming home and letting go of work stress more manageable.
Make a conscious decision about what you do bring home.
As much as we’d like our work and work day to have a synchronistic end, this isn’t often the case. In these instances, it’s best to make a decision about how to manage your overflow. Ask yourself if it is smarter to take the work home or spend some time at the office finishing up. If you’ll be more productive with an extra hour under your belt at the office, maybe that’s the best decision for you.
Be responsive, not reactive.
Once you see other peoples’ behavior from their perspective, don’t attach negative labels to the person. Being mindful means not judging the actions of others as one intentionally aimed to affect you. This enlightened perspective will better equip you to handle those ups and downs of the day.
Don’t just keep a tally of your disappointments.
While more positive than negative events may occur throughout the day, the negative ones are the ones we grasp to. Make a point to document your wins. This might mean writing down the good and the bad, which could stand as perspective-actualizing reminders. For everything that you tell your loved one about what bugged you, you should include one thing you’re happy about.
Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, theorizes that while 60 percent of happiness is determined by our genetics and environment, the remaining 40 percent is up to us.
After exploring what accounts for ultimate happiness, Seligman says he was surprised. The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to a lasting fulfillment. Instead, pleasure is “the whipped cream and the cherry” that adds a certain sweetness to satisfactory lives founded by the pursuit of meaning and engagement. Joyful people have certain tendencies that add to their pursuit of meaning and motivate them along the way.
- They surround themselves with other happy people
- They smile when they mean it
- They cultivate resilience
- They try to be happy
- They are mindful of the good
- They appreciate simple pleasures
- They devote some of their time to giving
- They let themselves lose track of time (sometimes they can’t help it)
- They nix the small talk for deeper conversation
- They spend money on other people
- They make a point to listen
- They uphold in-person connections
- They look on the Brightside
- They value a good mixtape
- They unplug
- They get spiritual
- They make exercise a priority
- They go outside
- They spend some time on the pillow
- They LOL
- They Walk the Walk
Read the following article on what more you can do to find happiness.