Category Archives: depression

Winter is coming. Are you ready for it?

I would like to add a personal word here. When I first started taking care of my aunt with Alzheimer’s some years ago I was concerned about her handling winter. We had always been close and I remember that winter’s short and dark days got her down. The doctor had told me that she would be able to live at home if she didn’t become aggressive. I had no idea how to keep her mood up but I stumbled upon an article about these full spectrum lights that mimic the sun’s rays.

So, I thought I would get her a couple of these lamps to fool her body and brain away from dark thoughts and moods. Long story short: it worked. She was able to live out her life in her own house. By the way, this was the house she moved into when she married my uncle more than 60 years earlier.


Tony

Our Better Health

Well with the forecast in mind, snow, wind, and all the things associated with it, I have to ask: Are you ready for winter?

The ten foot snow banks, the blizzards, the -38 C wind chills, the bad roads and everything else that I’d rather not even think about right now?

Hold on a second.

You might have assumed I was talking about the physical requirements to get through yet another Winnipeg winter, but I wasn’t. We all go through it every year right? Winter clothes are in good shape? Check. The furnace is in good working order? Check. Got the winter tires on? Check.

Sure all those things are necessary to get by in the six month Manitoba deep freeze, but what about mental preparation?

I never used to think about that very much because you just dealt with it, you handled it. You knew what to expect and…

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's disease, depression, full spectrum lights, winter

One Hour of Exercise a Week Can Prevent Depression

Herewith more positive reinforcement for our mantra of eat less; move more; live longer. Neuroscience News reports that a  landmark study led by the Black Dog Institute has revealed that regular exercise of any intensity can prevent future depression – and just one hour can help.

Published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the results show even small amounts of exercise can protect against depression, with mental health benefits seen regardless of age or gender.

Results showed that people who reported doing no exercise at all at baseline had a 44% increased chance of developing depression compared to those who were exercising one to two hours a week. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

In the largest and most extensive study of its kind, the analysis involved 33,908 Norwegian adults who had their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety monitored over 11 years.

The international research team found that 12 percent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just one hour of physical activity each week.

“We’ve known for some time that exercise has a role to play in treating symptoms of depression, but this is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression,” said lead author Associate Professor Samuel Harvey from Black Dog Institute and UNSW.

“These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise – from one hour per week – can deliver significant protection against depression.

“We are still trying to determine exactly why exercise can have this protective effect, but we believe it is from the combined impact of the various physical and social benefits of physical activity.

“These results highlight the great potential to integrate exercise into individual mental health plans and broader public health campaigns. If we can find ways to increase the population’s level of physical activity even by a small amount, then this is likely to bring substantial physical and mental health benefits.” Continue reading

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Filed under cardio exercise, depression, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits

This Social Media Behavior Triples Depression Risk

As a 77 year old, I am mostly confused by the social media. I have been on Facebook for years, because a friend of mine invited me to be his ‘friend.’ When I accepted, I found myself with an account. I use it mainly for posts from this blog. I do like Google Plus a lot. I hope you younger readers aren’t overdoing it and increasing your risks of depression.

Tony

Our Better Health

Depression and anxiety risk much higher in some people using social media.

Using over seven different social media platforms is linked to a tripling in depression risk, psychological research finds.

The study asked about the 11 most popular social media platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn.

Those who used between 7 and 11 of these, had 3.1 times the depression risk.

They also had 3.3 times the risk of having high levels of anxiety symptoms.

Professor Brian A. Primack, who led the study, said:

“This association is strong enough that clinicians could consider asking their patients with depression and anxiety about multiple platform use and counseling them that this use may be related to their symptoms.
While we can’t tell from this study whether depressed and anxious people seek out multiple platforms or whether something about using multiple platforms can lead to…

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6 ways your pet can boost your health and well being – Medical News Today

As regular readers know, I am a dog lover . I have posted about my poodle, Gabi, a number of times. She accompanies me on about 5000 miles of bikes rides every year. So, I was very pleased to run across this item by Honor Whiteman on Medical News Today.

On arriving home after a long, stressful day at work, you are greeted at the door by an overexcited four-legged friend. It can’t fail to put a smile on your face. Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life, providing companionship and giggles galore. But the benefits do not end there; your pet could be doing wonders for your health and well-being.
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My intrepid little partner, Gabi, in her basket wearing her hat ready to ride.

The United States is a nation of animal lovers; more than 65 percent of households own a pet, with dogs and cats being the most popular choice.

It is no surprise that so many of us have a pet in our lives; not only are animals fantastic company, but they also teach us compassion and offer unconditional love.

As British novelist George Eliot once said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”

Adding to pets’ indisputable charm is the wealth of benefits they offer for human health and well-being. We take a closer look at what these are.

1. Lower risk of allergies

Around 50 million people in the U.S. have nasal allergies, and pet dander is one of the most common triggers.With this in mind, it may come as a surprise that pets could actually lower the risk of developing allergies.

One study reported by Medical News Today in 2015 associated exposure to dogs and farm animals in early life with a lower risk of asthma development by school age.

More recent research published in the journal Microbiome found that children who were exposed to household pets prior to birth and up to 3 months after experienced changes in gut bacteria associated with childhood allergies. Continue reading

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Filed under allergies, biking, depression, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, mental health, pets and well being, sleep

Use exercise to help depression – WebMD

I have done a number of posts on depression – a mood disorder very common and often misunderstood. One of the first things you need to know about depression is that it is a disorder of cognition not just mood, according to Robert D. Edger, M.D. speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® . You don’t just buck  up or keep smiling to get rid of it. You usually need a medical intervention. Statistics show that possibly 75 percent of sufferers do not get medical help.

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Here are my pup and me riding in Chicago’s annual Bike the Drive up Lake Shore Drive. A bike is a super tool for fighting depression.

Here are a few suggestions from WebMD that at least offer some relief from depression. Needless to say, I was happy to see that, once more, exercise casts some light into the darkness of this situation.  Click on the link to read them all. Continue reading

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The link between depression and smoking – Infographic

You all know how strongly I feel about the dangers of smoking. I have a Page with what I consider to be chapter-and-verse on why you shouldn’t smoke – How many ways does smoking harm you?

Here is a fascinating infographic linking depression and smoking.

Since it seems smoking follows depression, you might want to check out these posts:

How bad is depression?

Vigorous exercise may help restore mental health

Can the holiday season bring on depression?

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Tony

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R.I.P., Robin Williams

I have been a fan of Robin Williams since he exploded on the public consciousness with his antics as Mork, the alien from Ork in 1978. For more than three decades he never failed to bring me to outright laughter in his manic public appearances. His humor was so powerful that I often had tears running down my face and couldn’t catch my breath from laughing so violently. It is so tragically ironic that the battle with depression, of all things, cost him his life. I feel like I have lost a wonderful, funny, crazy friend.

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I posted on depression just over a year ago – How Bad is Depression?. You can read the entire item by clicking the link.

Here are some highlights:

One of the first things you need to know about depression is that it is a disorder of cognition not just mood, according to Robert D. Edger, M.D. speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program®.

Depression is significantly more than feeling down or feeling sad.

Dr. Edger said that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world according to the World Health Organization. Women outnumber men by a factor of two-to-one. Only a quarter of the people who suffer from depression ever get treated. (Emphasis mine.)

The Mayo Clinic said, “More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply ‘snap out’ of. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment.

WebMD wrote today, “One of the most urgent signs, which calls for immediate action, is talking about death or suicide.

“Other warning signs, according to Schneider, Krakower, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, may include:

“Talking about hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness
Feelings of being trapped, desperate, or anxious
Having persistent sadness or depression
Becoming more angry or irritable
Losing interest in life or loved ones
Having sleep problems
Contacting people and seeming to say goodbye”

Williams was only 63 years old, a young man by modern standards. Certainly, he could have counted on another decade or two if he hadn’t gotten derailed by the depression.

If any good can come from this tragic loss, perhaps it will be to awaken us to the dangers of depression and raise our level of consciousness on the subject. Maybe someone, or someone’s family, will address the problem instead of taking the easy way out and ignoring it. As funnyman Robin Williams has demonstrated, depression is no laughing matter.

Tony

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Music From iPods Helps Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients

To clarify: Dementia is not a disease but a group of different diseases characterized by the gradual worsening of cognitive abilities. Dementia is seen across all ethnic groups and increasingly so with advancing age. Among 65–69-year-olds, about 2 percent are afflicted, with this figure doubling for every five years of age. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

Regular readers know that I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia late in her life, so all aspects of these aberrations are important to me.

I ran across a fascinating article in Agingcare.com about a project started by a social worker who was also a music fan. Dan Cohen “asked his local nursing home if he could come in and bring some digital music players with custom-made playlists to patients. Through trial and error, he learned what songs each patient liked and the ones they didn’t, then he remixed the play list accordingly. Every two weeks for 18 months, the patients Cohen worked with received updated songs. And he taught caregivers how to create playlists too.”

Cohen found immediate success. “Patients who used to be easily agitated soon seemed docile when a caregiver put headphones on them and encouraged them to listen. Others who were unresponsive suddenly lit up with awareness, and the ones who barely spoke suddenly wanted to converse.“

Now, after six years, Cohen’s small experiment has become a non-profit called Music and Memory. It has introduced iPods to over 50 nursing homes and assisted living centers in the U.S. and Canada. A documentary on it has become a viral sensation.

“The evidence isn’t just observational. Brain scans show that when people listen to music that’s autobiographical, music that evokes an important place, time or emotion for the listener, regions of the brain become stimulated, particularly the brain’s memory maker, the medial prefrontal cortex. That’s an important factor for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Concetta Tomaino, D.A., executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Functions in New York says that it isn’t just Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who can benefit from this kind of music therapy.

She says, “ … when the auditory system is stimulated it can even override pain signals, providing relief in a way medicine sometimes cannot. Chemical changes occur, too, when patients hear music. Scientific evidence shows that listening to music you enjoy increases serotonin in the brain and decreases the stress hormone cortisol.”

Tony

I was not able to find a link for Cohen’s Music and Memory group. The film was done several years ago.

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Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, iPods, mental health, music

How Bad is Depression?

The focus of this blog – living  a long healthy life – has more to it than just keeping your weight down, eating right and exercising regularly. We need to be aware of our mental well-being as well as our physical health. So I thought you could use this introduction to the scourge that is depression. It is a killer of a disease.

One of the first things you need to know about depression is that it is a disorder of cognition not just mood, according to Robert D. Edger, M.D. speaking before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program® .

Depression is significantly more than feeling down or feeling sad.

depression-2

Dr. Edger said that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world according to the World Health Organization. Women outnumber men by a factor of two-to-one. Only a quarter of the people who suffer from depression ever get treated. Continue reading

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Filed under cognitive decline, depression, mental health

What is Nature-Deficit Disorder?

What are we talking about here? Wikipedia says Nature-Deficit Disorder refers to a hypothesis by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems. This disorder is not recognized in any of the medical manuals for mental disorders.

I confess that on first blush this term sounded kind of tree-hugging and politically-correct to me. Don’t we have enough important things to concern us without worrying about being out in nature?

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While this being nature deprived is usually applied to children, it doesn’t have to be. I am indebted to Kelly, The Spunky Caregiver, for introducing me to the concept in the first place.

Kelly mentioned it regarding care giving for seniors. She wrote, “Getting outside alleviates our stress and can literally change the mental state we are in. I have personally seen this in caring for seniors with moderate to advanced dementia. Having trees, gardens, horses and walking trails around, is like heaven after being inside. They begin to remember stories, smile more and connect. I have also seen it in rehab patients, how it inspires and elevates their optimism for recovery. For me personally, I need to get outside to feel alive in my body and the thought of being inside for days is painful. I love the sun and the trees and the air. Taking the seniors outside is a serious paid benefit!” Continue reading

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Filed under aging, appreciation, biking, blood pressure, brain, calories, cardio exercise, cold weather, dementia, depression, Exercise, fat kids, healthy living, men's health, walking, Weight

What Can You Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s?

Regular readers know that Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are two of my major considerations in aging. To clarify: Dementia is not a disease but a group of different diseases characterized by the gradual worsening of cognitive abilities. Dementia is seen across all ethnic groups and increasingly so with advancing age. Among 65–69-year-olds, about 2 percent are afflicted, with this figure doubling for every five years of age. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

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I had a aunt who died of Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her later years. I have posted previously, How To Reduce Your Chances of Alzheimer’s and How to Reduce Your Risks of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, baby boomers, blood pressure, brain, cardio exercise, cholesterol, depression, diabetes, Exercise, smoking, Weight

Can the Holiday Season Bring on Depression – Harvard Healthbeat

“The gloom of winter seems to get inside some people, the dark affecting their moods as well as their days.” So says the latest issue of Harvard Healthbeat.

Known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this form of depression affects a small percentage of the population. Although it strikes all genders and ages, women are more likely to develop SAD than men, and young people are more likely to develop it than older people.

“SAD seems to be triggered by decreased exposure to daylight. Typically, it arrives during the fall or winter months and subsides in the spring. Symptoms are similar to general depression and include lethargy, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, interpersonal problems, irritability, inability to concentrate, and changes in sleeping patterns, appetite, or both,” Healthbeat continued.

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I have mentioned a number of times my aunt who died from Alzheimer’s. She lived just over six years with it and died at the age of 93. But, I had known her my entire life and before getting sick, she had been a major character in my life. For years I called her daily and chatted about everything under the sun. She had often told me how she hated the winter because it always depressed her and she didn’t really ‘feel good’ until spring.
Continue reading

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Filed under aging, Alzheimer's, depression, full spectrum lighting, general well-being, life challenges, light box, relaxation, winter