Anxiety

The high stressed, overworked, perfectionistic lifestyle many of us are attempting to live is causing our US society a lot of anxiety.  There are many anxiety symptoms but despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America give the following statistics about anxiety disorders in the US on their website:

  • “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
  • People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.”

Another interesting point about anxiety is the role it plays in conjunction with depression.  Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression often creates anxiety symptoms (and vice versa), it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions. In fact, nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Seeking help, treatment, and support can lessen anxiety along with finding techniques to avoid or prevent anxiety before it becomes problematic in one’s life.

Suicide Rates on Rise in U.S.

In a new report by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) they indicate that suicide rates are on the rise in the United States and have been increasing in number since the year 2000.

In fact, from 1999 to 2015, approximately 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide, with 2015 being the deadliest year. Interestingly, the groups that are ranked highest are not those from the big cities, instead they are from the rural areas.  Further, the ethnic groups dealing with the increase in suicides the most is the Native Americans and those who are white.

Of note is that the report shows a steady climb with a spike around the year 2008.  In speculating why this spike occurred, one thought is that it may have been due to the pressures of the financial recession that occurred in our country at that same time.  Many individuals felt hopeless and stressed in their financial predicaments when businesses were closing their doors and the stock market plummeted.  In more detail is the fact that the rural communities suffered more in the recession due to poverty and social isolation along with less mental health treatment facilities and that may explain why the rates of suicide there are higher.

Further, since the year 2000, the CDC points out that men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women and the rate worsened in almost all categories assessed after 2008.

The findings of the CDC indicate that more mental health institutions need to be available in rural areas to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.  The opioid crisis doesn’t help either along with other drug issues and the rural communities have been especially hard hit by that as well.  Finding solutions and having more preventative help in place for these ethnic groups, and in rural locations would be helpful in combating the increasing rate of suicides in the United States.

source: vocavtiv.com

What are Benzos?

Benzodiazepines, known to many as “benzos,” are man-made medications that cause mild to severe depression of the nerves within the brain (central nervous system) and sedation (drowsiness).  Seizures, anxiety, and other diseases that require benzodiazepine treatment may be caused by excessive activity of nerves in the brain. These drugs may work by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another. Gamma-aminobutyric acid reduces the activity of nerves in the brain and increasing the effect of GABA with a benzodiazepine, reduces brain activity.

According to medicine.net, benzos are used to treat: “anxiety, nervousness, panic disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, sleeplessness, alcohol withdrawal, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and PMS.”

Benz use, when not closely monitored, can lead to addiction and are most often abused to get “high: due toothier effects on the brain.  In fact, in 2017, benzos were ranked 8th in the top 10 drugs most abused in the United States.

The website drugabuse.org gives 5 shocking facts about benzo addiction:

  1. Becoming Addicted is Shockingly Easy
  2. Quitting is Devastatingly Difficult
  3. Using Often Creates Cognitive Impairment
  4. Developing Alzheimer’s Disease Is Far More Likely
  5. Dying Early Is a Tragic Possibility

medicine.net also lists the effects of benzos which include: lightheadedness, confusion, memory impairment, improper body balance, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, fatigue, respiratory depression, withdrawal symptoms, seizures, slow heart rate, sever low blood pressure, fainting, suicide, jaundice, dependence and abuse, reduced libido, weight gain, vomiting, increase or decrease in appetite, sedation, and/or drowsiness.

Overall, there is a defining need and place for benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, but their usage must be monitored for signs of addiction, dependence, and withdrawal to avoid some of the dangerous side effects of the drugs.  Being aware of the dangers can prevent addiction and help others through recovery from benzo abuse.

sources: medicine.net, drugabuse.org

Statistics about Depression and Suicide

It has been shown time and time again that depression and suicide are linked and intertwined in many ways Often, depression goes undiagnosed when prevention of suicide was possible. The most effective way to prevent suicide is through early awareness, detection, diagnosis, and effective treatment of depression as well as other mental health conditions (including alcoholism). Some staggering statistics are below. They are cited from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Understanding Suicide: Fact Sheet for 2015.

SUICIDE

  • In 2015, 44,193 suicide deaths were reported.
  • Currently, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • A person dies due to suicide approximately every 11.9 minutes in the United States.
  • Each day, about 121 Americans take their own life.
  • Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • There are 3.5 male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.
  • In 2014, 469,096 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm behavior, suggesting that approximately 11 people harm themselves (not necessarily intending to take their lives) for every reported death by suicide.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 10 and 34 years in the United States.

DEPRESSION

  • Over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.
  • 25 million Americans suffer from depression each year.
  • Depression affects nearly 5-8 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year.
  • More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression respond positively to treatment, and almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms. But first, depression has to be detected.

ExerciseHelpsAnxietyandDepressionExercise Helps Anxiety & Depression

If you suffer from depression and/or anxiety and are looking for a solution, consistent exercise may be key. Research shows that our physical, emotional, and mental parts are intertwined very intimately and can strengthen and support one another. Specifically, evidence points to three types of exercise that target alleviating anxiety and depression: running, hiking, and yoga.

Running has a reputation for improving mood. It also burns calories, reduces food cravings, and lowers your risk of heart disease. Further, running has been shown to mend troubled dispositions while increasing serotonin and norepinephrine output during and after exercise. These powerful neurotransmitters aid in lessoning depression, lowering stress, and alleviating anxiety.

Hiking has also been shown to have many health benefits. Not only does nature calm our minds, but hiking gets the heart pumping as well. Studies show that when immersing oneself in nature, around plants, trees, streams, etc., participants felt less anxious and had increased memory function.

Not surprisingly, yoga has shown to alleviate depression and anxiety symptoms. Some research recommends yoga be a complementary treatment for depression in fact. The focus on breathing while doing yoga really helps with anxiety because it is difficult to feel stressed or anxious when you are focused on breathing.

More and more research points to exercise to lessen the difficult symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although it may not be surprising, sometimes getting up and participating in yoga, running, and/or hiking may seem daunting to those dealing with depression and anxiety. However, if individuals can find someone to go with and encourage them to get out and exercise, or can find the drive to do it themselves, the benefits are enormous.

 

Teen Boys and DepressionTeen Depression Becoming More Common in Boys

Sad but true, statistics show that more and more teen boys are living with depression. What was once thought to be more of a teen girl issue, has noticeably been seen in many teen boys. With rates of anxiety disorders and depression up among teen boys, depression among males is nearly as it is among females in this age group.

Teen boys are learning and trying to become men. They get ideas about how to do this through television, movies, books, friends, and from older men. Many of these examples portray individuals who don’t have emotional problems that look like depression. Because of that, teen boys don’t feel like confronting their depression because it doesn’t seem “manly” or sometimes even allowed. This can make detecting and treating teen depression difficult.

Further, unlike female teens who may cry or express emotions outwardly, teen boys generally hold their feelings inside. Their depression may be expressed as anger or outbursts. Sometimes teen boys detach or can’t concentrate but more often, they hide their feelings or ignore them when they are feeling depressed. Also, most may not realize they are dealing with depression. Instead, because of what has been portrayed to them by society of what is “manly,” they may just feel weak and attempt to hide the feelings of frailty they are dealing with.

According to rightstep.com, “Boys ignore depression by zoning out in TV or video games. They ignore it by spending hour upon hour in their room listening to music. Rarely will adolescent boys verbalize their struggles. Instead (they adopts a mask to cover the pain (they are) feeling.”

Today’s teen boys are facing unprecedented stresses from many directions. Not only do many of them live in homes with divorced parents, step-siblings, and back and forth visitation, there is also less certainty about the careers and future jobs than there once was. Some teens may feel depressed about what lies ahead in their future.

Although there is a rise in depression among teen boys, there is much that can be done to solve the problem and help these boys regain confidence and happiness in their lives. Awareness and prevention are important; being open with your teen boy and having conversations about what depression entails can help him identify and seek help if it is needed.

 

 

talkingaboutdepressionTalking About Depression

Unfortunately, depression seems to be lurking everywhere. It’s become more common among teens and the elderly and remains a problem for many adults. Talking to those you love about their depression can be difficult. Individuals may become defensive, angry, or even more depressed. The website helpguide.org gives guidelines concerning the discussion about depression. Most individuals want to help those they love to overcome or lessen their depression and the following ideas and suggestions can be very helpful. However, it is key to remember that giving advice won’t go as far as simply being a compassionate listener. Usually, individuals with depression need someone to listen to their concerns and feelings without judgment. As a good friend or loved one, the simple act of listening, maybe over and over, can really help those who are struggling with depression.

The following is taken directly from helpguide.org and can significantly benefit the process of opening up a conversation with someone dealing with depression:

Ways to start the conversation:

  • “I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”
  • “Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”
  • “I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately.”
  • Questions you can ask:
  • “When did you begin feeling like this?”
  • “Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?”
  • “How can I best support you right now?”
  • “Have you thought about getting help?”
  • “You are not alone in this. I am here for you.”
  • “You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”
  • “You are important to me.”

Being supportive of a loved one with depression will go a long way. This can take patience and extra compassion, but allowing that person to feel loved is key to them overcoming depression.

Source: helpguide.org

 

5SimpleThingstoFightDepression5 Simple Things to Fight Depression

When individuals feel depressed, they feel hopeless or as if nothing they do seems to lighten the load or lift their spirits. But there are some simple things they can do each day to bring more light into their dark world of depression. Just taking charge and doing something about depression can boost confidence and help the depression lighten in addition to getting help from a doctor or therapist when needed. Below are 5 things to fight depression:

1-Exercise. Take a short, quick walk each day — or bike, jog, or Zumba if you prefer. Often, people who feel depressed may not want to be active, but getting going will make a difference. Ask a friend to join you! Yoga has also been shown to help relieve feelings of depression. Certain poses, such as a downward-facing dog or legs-up-the-wall pose have been shown to be effective. Yoga breathing exercises and meditation have also been proven to help with depression.

2-Eat well. Depression can often affect eating habits. Some individuals overeat and gain weight while others forget to eat because they lack an appetite. Being extra aware of getting the right nourishment influences a person’s mood and energy. So eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and regular meals will help depressed individuals feel better.

3-Don’t dwell on the negative. It’s important to be able to identify things that are troubling, talking about your blues with a caring friend can release dark feelings and help to receive some understanding.
After expressing thoughts and feelings, turning one’s attention to something positive and taking action to solve problems goes a long way. Feeling connected to friends and family can also help relieve depression. When loved ones feel connected they may also feel there’s something they can do to help.

4-Express oneself though creativity and emotions. With depression, a person’s creativity and sense of fun may seem blocked. Exercising the imagination through art, sewing, writing, dancing, composing music, athletics, hobbies, singing, will help to increase positive emotions. Doing something fun for and finding things to laugh about will help to lighten one’s mood.

5-Notice the positive. Depression can affects one’s thoughts, making everything seem dark, awful, sad, dismal, negative, and/or hopeless. Making an effort to notice the good things in life can lift spirits and help shake off darkness. Counting blessings, or considering strengths, realizing talents and gifts will encourage positive thinking. And in the process, being patient is important because depression takes time to heal and recover from.

BloodTestForDepressionUsing a blood test to screen for depression

A new study published it the Journal Translational Psychiatry with Eva Redei, Ph.D. as lead investigator, indicates that screening for depression might soon be as easy as a blood test. The huffingtonpost.com reported on this study and said that the new test that identifies particular molecules in the blood could help doctors diagnose patients with clinical depression. Further, it was found that the blood test could also predict which therapies would be most successful for patients, and lays the groundwork for identifying people who are especially vulnerable to depression — even before they’ve gone through a depressive episode (huffingtonpost.com).

Lead investigator Eva Redei indicated perhaps the most exciting news to come out of the study when she said, “but perhaps just as important (as finding the link between molecules in the blood and depression) is the potential the test has for taking some of the stigma out of a depression diagnosis. When depression can be confirmed with a blood test like any other physical ailment,” she said, “there’s less stigma about having the disease and getting treatment.”

Redei feels adamantly that having an objective diagnosis will help to decrease the stigma surrounding depression. That is to say, that the fact that depression is an actual illness can be identified instead of the common belief that depression is a matter of will.

Also exciting, is that the blood tests Redei is formulating can lead to earlier and more accurate diagnoses of depression. Currently, depression often takes from 2 to 40 months to diagnose and sometimes diagnoses get missed altogether. The blood test could lead to quicker diagnoses and then onto quicker treatment of and relief from depression.   The blood test can also indicate that individuals are prone to depression even if they have not yet experienced the symptoms.

The findings of Redei’s study are significant because of the stigma that can be changed, the speed of diagnosis being increased, and the treatment being fast as well. However, many critics indicate that more studies on different test groups of individuals are needed before the FDA will allow the blood test in a routine lab setting.

The huffingtonpost.com reports that, “Zachary Kaminsky, Ph.D., of the Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine, wasn’t involved with the study but is excited about its potential implications for depression treatment. Kaminsky is a pioneer in blood tests to predict suicide risk, and although he and Redei measure very different things in their tests, he sees that both researchers have similar goals when it comes to creating biological tests for mental illnesses.”

Kaminsky also indicated that finding a blood test that would indicate depression and predisposition to depression is an exciting thing that is very interesting and worth following up on.

Mother's abusing Ritalin to keep up.Moms taking their kid’s Ritalin to keep up

Most moms are overloaded with tasks, many work full or part time, some are still struggling to lose the weight they gained during pregnancies years ago, most are stressed out, tired, some are depressed…the list goes on and on. Some moms have much – maybe too much- on their plates and are turning to prescription drug to cope with the stress of their overburdened lives. In the 60’s and 70’s, drugs like valium became popular coping mechanisms for mom’s stress; in the 80’s and 90’s antidepressants like Prozac were often prescribed followed by a wide range of sleeping pills around the turn of the century. The new drug of choice (“mommy’s little helper”) by many of these overachieving, over stressed moms is Ritalin.

Ritalin is most commonly known for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. This disorder is characterized by a, “continual behavior pattern consisting of hyperactivity and/or inattention with episodes of impulsiveness” (emaxhealth.com). Stimulants treat ADHD well by increasing dopamine in the brain since those with ADHD are low in dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with attention, movement, and pleasure. Ritalin has a calming and focusing effect on those diagnosed with ADHD.

Interestingly, although Ritalin is prescribed for children with ADHD, emaxhealth reports that, “an inordinate number of female adults are increasingly receiving prescriptions for ADHD drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, over the past decade the number of prescriptions written each year for Adderall has surged among women over 26, rising from a total of roughly 800,000 in 2002 to some 5.4 million in 2010. A particularly significant increase has been for women aged 26-39, for whom prescriptions soared by 750%. One of the reasons for this surge is attributed to an increased use of Adderall as a popular drug that will not only help women cope with stress, feel energized and become more focused, but lose weight as well.”

People magazine recent published an article regarding moms taking Ritalin. The women they highlighted discussed how much they were able to accomplish and how well they performed tasks and stayed focused. They told People that they felt like Ritalin was a miracle drug. However, the women interviewed also discussed the addictive nature of Ritalin and how they had been hiding their consumption from spouses and visiting multiple doctors to get more Ritalin.

Physicians and psycho-behavioral experts agree that many moms are taking Ritalin in an effort to be overachievers and do it all. These moms may face competition in the workplace from their male counterparts, feel pressure to be thin because of social stigma society places on women, and feel pressure to be a supermom for their kids at home. Ritalin can provide relief from this pressure, help these moms focus and accomplish more than they ever could before, and help them lose weight at the same time.

Curious though, is where these moms are getting their Ritalin pills. Reports have surfaced that indicate that women are faking ADHD to get Ritalin prescriptions. And, even more worrisome, some mothers are tapping into their children’s supply or their friend’s children’s supplies of Ritalin. The National Institute of drug abuse reports that, “stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall are among the top 10 prescription drugs stolen from pharmacies.”

Ritalin is safe to treat ADHD and while a doctor is supervising use of the drug, but abuse and addiction are high possibilities with Ritalin when not taken properly. Side effects of abusing stimulants such as Ritalin can include: hypertension, increased heart rate, anorexia, weight loss, headaches, and mood changes. More serious long term complications can include: Parkinson’s disease and damaged brain cells.

Ritalin may seem like a cure-all for those moms trying to balance so much in their over-stressed, busy lives. But they must know that taking Ritalin may rob them of all of the things they are working so hard to accomplish and achieve it they become addicted or abuse the drug.

 

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