sad woman beside wall

Debunking Myths About Depression

What is depression? There are no outward physical symptoms, there; isn’t even a biological test to properly diagnose it. Is it just an excuse to get a license to use medical marijuana or a support pet? Is it an excuse to collect disability? Depression may be hard to prove, but its effects certainly seem quite evident. Suicides and attempted suicides are the most commonly discussed, but depression can also play a big part in quality of life and forming relationships. For those who are still unsure about the reality of depression, here are a few common myths about the condition, and the reality behind them.

Depression is a Sign of Mental Weakness
In order to fully understand depression, we need to accept that no one wants to be depressed. It is a result of a mental disorder and, if anything, it takes great mental strength to work through daily.

Depression is Brought On My Traumatic Events
While certain circumstances can trigger episodes of depression, the events do not cause depression. While it is true that upsetting experiences can make a person sad, a negative emotional reaction is normal, and does not necessarily point to any abnormality. However, when symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, and reoccur frequently, it may be cause for a depression diagnosis.

Depression is Not a Real Illness
While there are no outward physical signs of depression, it is very real and does have a scientific explanation. According to the Mayo clinic, depressed people have differences in their brains and hormone and neurotransmitter imbalance that determine both their condition and its severity.

sad woman on outdoor steps

Depression is a Figment of Your Imagination.
Even though depression is a condition widely associated with a person’s mental state, it may go deeper than that. The National Institute of Health points to severe cases in which sufferers may experience insomnia, fatigue, muscle aches, and chest pain. Promoting the idea that depressions only a mental illness is simply downgrading its severity.

Men Don’t Suffer Depression
According to statistics, women are two times as likely to develop depressive symptoms than their male counterparts. However, this does not in any way exclude men from the illness. Middle aged white men have shown the greatest increase in numbers of suicides committed annually. The reason for the misconception is the tendency for men to express their depression differently from females, which make it easier to overlook. Male stereotypes about strength and stability cause men to feel less comfortable about calling attention to their depressive states.Depression can actually be more dangerous for men, because they tend to engage in substance abuse as a form of self-medication and avoid seeking treatment.

Antidepressants Will Cure Depression
Depression is not a “one size fits all” condition, and does not have a “one size fits all” cure. Antidepressants may be a common treatment option prescribed by doctors, but not every depressed person responds the same way to the same pills. Some people opt for psychotherapy, in combination with or independent of medication to alleviate depression. Many people have to try different methods of treatment before arriving at the one which works best for them.

Do you or a loved one struggle with depression? If so, tell us what challenges you face and how you overcome them.

Your Diet May Help Regulate Your Mood

Normally, eating when stressed is ill advised. The term usually brings to mind the image of someone who has just had some shocking news running frantically to their freezer in search of the curative pint of ice cream. He/she gorges greedily, only to awaken the next day not only to find their troubles still very much present, but an additional five pounds added to their body weight.

However, what if you learned that eating actually can relieve stress? You just need to make sure that when you open that freezer, you reach for the frozen grapes instead of the vanilla swirl.

The Anti-Stress Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
You may know that fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients, but did you know that they might also help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression. A recent study examined diet of 60,000 Australians aged 45 and up, only to reveal that those who had 3-4 servings of fruits and begins a day had 12% less psychological stress than those who had just one. Those who got five to seven servings had an even bigger reduction in stress, showing a 14% reduction as compared to the single serving percentage.

Ladies Only?
However, the researchers found that in a study based on a 10 question comparative survey focusing on anxiety and depression between the years of 2006 -2008 and 2010, males subjects did not show the same results. Says study co-author and University of Sidney PhD student, Binh Nguyen, “We found the fruit and vegetables were more protective for women than men, suggesting that women may benefit more from fruit and vegetables.” The questionnaire revealed that women who consumed 5 to 7 portions of vegetables and fruits experienced a 23% reaction in stress levels in comparison to ladies who only ate 0-1 portion. Two portions produced a reduction in stress of 16%.

Happy woman

More Work To Be Done
While you may not want to wait to start consuming more fruits and veggies, the authors of the studies do stipulate that there is more work to be done before any definite conclusions can be reached. They state that while the intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce the stress levels in middle-aged and older adults, the link between the diet and psychological distress requires further investigation.

Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables
But while we wait for the final verdict, keep eating those veggies and fruits. The mental health charity “Mind” says, “Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients-several portions of the same type of food won’t be so good for you.”

As for choosing the best fruits and veggies: tomatoes, bananas and mushrooms top the list for their high potassium levels which are “essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain. they also advise keeping fruits and veggies raw for the highest number of nutrients.

What do you think? Do fruits and veggies make you feel a little less stressed? Let us know the results of your private research.

Woman jogging

Will A Healthy Attitude Help You Lose Weight?

If you’ve ever tried losing weight before, you already know how difficult it can be to make the necessary lifestyle changes. What you may not realize, though, is that your attitude toward your weight loss journey could be what’s hindering your efforts. Most weight-loss programs fail to consider the psychological aspect of weight loss and therefore fail. We’re told it’s simple, just eat less and move more, yet we all know it’s seldom so easy to reach our goals. Perhaps the missing piece of the puzzle isn’t in the form of a pill or the latest workout video but in our attitude.

There are several schools of thought on the power of positive thinking and its relation to weight loss. From ancient Ayurveda to modern psychology, the consensus is clear: our thoughts have real power and those thoughts can become actions. If you think to yourself that you are always going to be overweight and that you’re not strong enough for exercise, you’re likely to become depressed and sabotage your own efforts for weight loss. On the contrary, if you tell yourself you are strong, capable, and that you will reach your goals, you will be motivated to take the necessary action to indeed make it happen.

It may sound overly simple, just change your attitude, but the truth is, this does require some effort. Some of us have spent years, maybe even our whole lives thinking negatively about ourselves. Our society treats this negative self-talk as normal. Men and women are expected to dislike their bodies and to always be striving for something more. In order to change our attitude, it’s going to take practice. In the beginning, it may seem silly or strange to compliment yourself after a workout, but changing your inner voice to one of love and support is just what you need in order to succeed.

If you struggle with where to start, it can be helpful to think of something not related to weight-loss to get you started. Think of an area of your life that you excel in. Perhaps you’re wonderful at your job or you are an excellent parent. Congratulate yourself for that! Next time you receive a compliment from someone, accept it without making excuses for why you don’t deserve it. Eventually, this new healthy attitude will become second nature and along with helping you in your weight loss endeavors, it will trickle into all areas of your life, making you healthier all around.

The weight loss industry is full of gimmicks and diets that don’t work and you can easily spend hundreds of dollars seeking advice from so-called experts who only want to sell you something. But you have the power to change your attitude and change your life. Be your own weight-loss coach and get started on your new lifestyle today. By focusing your energies toward the positive, you can create the healthy attitude that will lead to healthy and lasting weight loss.

Friends shaking hands

Live Well: Links Between Gratitude and Depression

The holiday season has begun and while this is a festive and joyous time, many people still experience anxiety, depression and stress during this time of year. If you find yourself struggling with depression in the midst of all the holiday cheer, you might be interested to know that perhaps the most important aspect of Thanksgiving actually can lift your mood. The links between gratitude and depression are backed by studies and scientific research that tell you that giving thanks can make you a healthier, happier individual.

What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is derived from the Latin word, gratia, which can mean several things depending upon the context. Gratia means thanks, being grateful, graciousness and gracefulness. Harvard Health states “[i]n some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.” To practice gratitude, you must acknowledge that your life is full of great things, even if you don’t always feel that way. In doing so, you will usually realize that there are many things outside of yourself that you are appreciative of and that give your life meaning and pleasure. Harvard notes that “…gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature or a higher power.”

It is important to note that realizing how much better off you are than others does not equal gratitude. You can certainly appreciate that you have a car that drives you where you need to go, that you don’t have to worry about where you’re next meal is coming from or that you have clothes that fit and are clean, but gratitude is not about making comparisons. Gratitude is all about you taking the time to truly acknowledge and appreciate what you have in your life.

Gratitude and Depression: The Science Behind it
In an article published on Psychology Today, author Alex Korb, Ph.D., several studies on gratitude and your health and happiness are summarized with the links being clear. A 2003 study lead by American researchers recruited young adults to see what effect gratitude has on happiness. One group of young adults was asked to keep a daily gratitude journal and to write in it every day. Other groups of young adults was also asked to keep a daily journal, and one group was told to write about things that annoyed them while the other was told to journal about ways in which they realized they were better off than others. “The young adults assigned to keep gratitude journals showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups.” The same researchers then conducted a separate study on adults and the findings were consistent with those of the young adult study findings. In the adult study, the links between gratitude and happiness were observed even if the adults did not write in the journal daily, and the researchers also noticed that exercise patterns approved in adults who were mindful of things to be thankful for.

How to Cultivate Gratitude
“Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can cultivate further,” according to Harvard Health. Your daily life is filled with so many stresses and obligations that it can be all too easy to forget how so many amazing things happen each and every day. It doesn’t have to take a natural disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, for you to realize that the simplest of things are sources of gratitude: running water, electricity and shelter. Practicing gratitude requires commitment and consistency in order to truly live a grateful life. One quick and easy way to practice gratitude daily is to keep a small notebook beside or near your bed. At night, before you tuck yourself into bed, write down at least one thing for which you were grateful that day.

Anxiety, stress and depression are incredibly common occurrences and taking proactive steps to combat these feelings can help empower you and significantly improve your mental health. A gratitude journal is an excellent way to decrease feelings of depression. Investing just a small amount of money for a notebook and pen (both of which you probably already have in your home) and a small amount of time each night can help significantly reduce depression.