If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Our mission is to create an atmosphere that is both supportive and informative in a caring, safe environment for our members to talk to their peers about depression, anxiety, mood disorders, medications, therapy and recovery.
Our vision is to advance the public awareness of mental health issues so as to eliminate the stigma that surrounds depression and mood disorders through education and advocacy, as well as striving to obtain quality medical care for mental health patients, as it is no different from any other medical illness.
For many people, weight is depressing. Whether consequent to society's hateful weight biases, which expose individuals with obesity to mood-killing bullying, scorn and discrimination, or to personally held beliefs and attitudes, there's little doubt that weight is often a huge psychological burden.
There's little doubt, too, that those who struggle with both weight and depression often feel a tight relationship between them, that their depression would lift were they to lose weight. And for some it does.
A recent meta-analysis of the impact of intentional non-pharmacologic weight-loss programs on depression revealed that indeed weight loss is associated with an improvement in mood. But that's not the whole story. And so, before you rush out and join a weight-loss program, you need to know that the mood benefits shown occurred in folks enrolled in behavioral weight-loss programs, regardless of whether or not they lost weight. In other words, it wasn't the losing that was helping mood, it was something else.
The researchers believe that most likely mood was shown to improve due to either exercise or the social support offered by the programs themselves.
I learned about cognitive distortions in the 1990s from a book by David Burns called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. I’d just moved from the faculty wing at U.C. Davis’ law school to serve as the dean of students. I knew how to teach law…but I didn’t feel competent to help students who were struggling emotionally.
When I shared my concerns with a friend who was a therapist, she recommended Feeling Good. She said it would help me recognize when a student was engaged in distorted thinking patterns that were increasing his or her stress and anxiety. I don’t know who benefitted more from the book: the students I was trying to help or me personally!
Many years later, after I became chronically ill, I found the notes I’d taken on ten cognitive distortions that Burns discusses in Feeling Good. I immediately realized that I had a new life challenge to apply them to. I’m indebted to him for this piece. I’ll describe each cognitive distortion and then include a suggestion or two for how to counter it.
Of course, before you can counter distorted thinking, you have to become aware that you’re engaging in it. To this end, it might be beneficial to make a list of the ten distortions and then look it over every few days. Or, you could write down some of your stressful and anxious thoughts and then look to see which of the ten distortions they fall under.
In my examples, I’ll focus on distortions that the chronically ill are prone to, but those of you who are in good health can substitute a word or two and I’m confident you’ll recognize yourself in these examples.
It’s no surprise when someone adopts healthier eating habits when they’re trying to slim down and look their best for summer. However, rarely do we hear about someone eating healthier in an effort to improve their cognitive skills. A recent study published in the American Academy of Neurology’s journal Neurology has found that adhering to a healthy diet can lower a person’s risk for suffering a decline in memory and thinking as they get older.
It’s time to dump the excuses For a Healthier Lifesyle
By Cindy Brauer
Sore knees keeping you from a brisk walk through Valley Forge? Waiting out an aching back before hitting the Y? Ironically, lack of exercise is likely the reason your body is inflamed. Waiting for it to magically heal itself is not only dangerous but could be making it worse. It’s time to dump the excuses and start cycling, hiking and even singing your way back to a healthier and happier lifestyle. You would be surprised at how quickly and favorably your body will respond to even a moderate, low-impact workout.
Did you know that every one pound gained puts approximately three to 10 pounds more pressure on your knees when walking, running or climbing stairs? Wincing through a barre class may seem overwhelming at first, but keeping your weight healthy, your muscles flexible and your bones strong are essential to pain relief. The endorphin high after a romp on the Radnor Trail can help ease depression; a weekly dance class can work wonders, increasing memory skills and warding off dementia.
No one knows the magical healing benefits of exercise better than the staff at Bryn Mawr Rehab. Domenica Hottenstein of Paoli is a rehab nurse for patients with brain or joint injuries. “Daily exercise is paramount in the rehabilitation process. We get each patient on his or her feet every day no matter what current condition. Even if they are unable to move themselves, our specialists will physically move them until they can.” Domenica says she still marvels at how quickly the human body can recover as long as it keeps pushing its limits every day.
This lesson became very real for Domenica, 49, last winter when she slipped on black ice and severely injured her ankle, requiring surgery, bed rest and a long recovery process. An active runner, Mojo friend and busy mother of three teenagers, she was devastated but she didn’t sit still for long. “I knew it would get better if I did the time,” Domenica says, “and if I didn’t try to stay in shape, it would take twice as long for me to recover.” With the assistance of her doctor and physical therapist, Domenica developed a workout regimen with high-intensity upper-body movements and lots of loud music. It worked. Less than a year later, she is as fit, trim and youthful as she was before her injury.
High intensity/Low-impact tips
As they say, if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. It’s up to you to be creative and persistent in finding enjoyable activities that push you physically. Even moderate exercise can do wonders to ease pain and keep your weight in check. Consult your doctor and/or physical therapist to learn your limitations, but don’t let them become a “reason” to sit on the sidelines.
It’s a myth that a good cardiovascular workout needs to be high impact – with feet leaving the ground – in order to get results. Not true! As long as your heart rate has been elevated for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes, you’re getting a great workout and you can certainly get there with low impact exercises. To add intensity, try accessing the upper body with more power and strength. The more muscle groups used simultaneously, the more calories burned and the bigger the metabolic boost. For instance, if walking is your activity of choice, walk briskly. Consciously engage your core by walking tall with your shoulders down and back. It makes me crazy to see people “power walking” with their arms flaccidly at their sides! Increase intensity by treating your arms like they are weights. Bringing them up higher with more force brings more muscles to life and gives you more bang for your efforts.
Are you someone who stops moving just when your breath gets a little choppy? If so, you are cheating yourself. Keep moving until you reach a level of fatigue and then reach beyond it – regularly and frequently. If your muscles are sore the next day, congrats! It’s a desirable sign that your body is repairing itself and getting stronger for its next play date. Please note that pain is not good. Lay off that movement until you consult a professional.
Raising alcohol taxes may help reduce the binge drinking rate, according to researchers at Boston University.
They found a one percent increase in alcohol prices due to taxes was associated with a 1.4 percent decrease in binge drinking.
The more alcohol taxes increase, the more binge drinking rates decrease, the researchers report in Addiction.
Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in one sitting for men, or four or more drinks for women and causes more than half of the almost 90,000 alcohol-related deaths in the United States annually, HealthDay reports.
Tennessee, the state with the highest taxes on beer, had the lowest binge drinking rate (6.6 percent) in 2010. In contrast, the states with the lowest alcohol taxes (Delaware, Montana and Wisconsin), had the highest binge drinking rates.
In 2010, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent panel of public health and prevention experts, recommended increasing taxes on the sale of alcoholic beverages, "on the basis of strong evidence of the effectiveness of this policy in reducing excessive consumption and related harms."
Study finds it might be safer alternative to standard antipsychotics
TUESDAY, Feb. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The antidepressant Celexa shows promise in easing the agitation people with Alzheimer's disease often suffer, and may offer a safer alternative to antipsychotic drugs, a new study finds.
"Agitation is one of the worst symptoms for patients and their families: it puts the Alzheimer's patient at risk for other system overloads (cardiac, infection), wears them out physically, and exhausts caregivers and families," noted one expert, Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
He said that while antipsychotic drugs are typically used to help ease the agitation, they are also associated with a higher risk of death for Alzheimer's patients, so safer alternatives would be welcome.
The new study was led by Dr. Constantine Lyketsos, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer's Treatment Center in Baltimore. It included 186 Alzheimer's patients with agitation symptoms such as emotional distress, aggression, irritability, and excessive movem
If you, or someone you know is struggling, please seek help.
Curtis Vanderloo asked SooToday to publish the following letter about his mother's death last year in the hope that by sharing her story, it might help someone else suffering from the stigma of mental illness.
On March 31, it will be the one year anniversary of my mother’s death.
She passed suddenly and unexpectedly, only she didn’t pass suddenly.
She died by suicide. She killed herself. She took her own life. She died by her own will.
Only it wasn’t unexpected, she was depressed.
She was suffering deep grief related to her own parents passing.
She had Seasonal Affective Disorder, she was manic.
The woman described the sensation as a delicate flicker, like a moth
trapped in a small gauze bag. She ran her slender fingers repeatedly
over the spot in her slightly distended abdomen and said, “Doctor, right here.”
Sometimes, she told me, the flicker gave way to a more forceful kick
that rippled beneath her hand and then spread like a warm tide over her
body. She felt contented and soothed as she imagined the baby growing
I was tempted to smile, but I kept still. An actual pregnancy would have been international news: the woman was 83 years old, recovering from a hip fracture and pneumonia. But her delusion was not unique. Indeed, our nursing home was having something of a baby boom.
Just the day before, another woman who had recently suffered a stroke
insisted that she had given birth to twin boys, who were now crying in
the adjacent nursery. I reminded her that she was 90, but my words were
no match for the force of her belief. She looked at me blankly and
called again for her babies.
Her husband, distraught, begged me to consider some pharmacologic
remedy. But I was struck not by any mental suffering on the woman’s
part, but by the opposite.
In the face of terrible losses and confusion, her mind had found refuge
in imaginary children. Their coos and cries brought comfort and hope.
as delusional pregnancy is called, is neither common late in life nor
a normal response to aging or illness. It is a form of psychosis, and it can lead to severe anxiety or disruptive behavior that must be treated.
But it is too easy to see pathology in what may actually be a protective
mechanism in the aging brain. What a psychiatrist might call a symptom
held deep meaning for each woman, and prompted them to focus on
recovering from severe illness.
In each case, I had to act in the opposite direction of my instinct as a
doctor. Medication might have only sedated them and even taken away a
protective cocoon. Instead I let time do its work: the delusions faded,
and physical and mental recovery took hold.
Such examples are relatively rare and, one might argue, easily
romanticized. But they hold a larger lesson about the aging brain.
What we perceive as a brain in flight or decline, disengaging from the
world or tumbling into a netherworld of oldness, might actually be a
more selective, creative and wiser brain.
The paradox is that even as the normal aging brain loses capacity across
numerous discrete skills — memory-processing speed, verbal reasoning
and visuospatial ability, to name a few — it is simultaneously growing
in knowledge, emotional maturity, adaptability to change and even levels
of well-being and happiness.
I witnessed this common phenomenon in a couple I know well. The woman is
a sharp and active 82-year-old who only recently retired as a social
worker. Her new husband, now 92, was a World War II bomber pilot and
retired marketing genius who always prided himself on his mental
discipline and physical stamina.
Recently he began to complain bitterly of creeping short-term memory
impairment and a general slowing of his motor functions. Both factors
can bring him great unhappiness. During a recent meeting, however, I
pressed him on his complaints, asking, “Is that all there is to growing
old — decline, slowing and loss?”
His bride interrupted and told how their relationship was unique because
of old age, in many ways deeper and more intimate than either had
experienced as younger people.
Even as his memory declined, she said, his emotional maturity and wisdom
had increased, opening perspectives and relationships he had never had
before. Here was old age — and an aging brain — acting as a force that
added even as it took away.
In telling this tale as a relatively young doctor who works primarily
with older individuals, I could easily be accused of painting an overly
rosy picture of what I want growing old to be.
If so, I plead guilty. But I do so in the spirit of the gerontologist
Thomas Cole, who suggests that the ways in which we look at old age
begin to constitute its reality.
We will all grow old, and despite the inevitable changes we do have
choices. Indeed, growing evidence suggests that the aging brain retains
and even increases the potential for resilience, growth and well-being.
I have seen this lesson lived in my friends, loved ones and older
patients, whether free of illness or fettered by it. I saw it in the two
older women whose imagined pregnancies brought needed hope at a time of
threatened despair. Their fervent wishes, though unattainable, allowed
them to achieve something better.
Similarly, we can all hope for a vital and meaningful old age — for our
elders, ourselves and our children. In the end, we may actually get what
we wish for.
Dr. Marc E. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist at the Miami
Jewish Health Systems in Florida, is the author of the new book “How We
Dr. Marc E. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist at the Miami
Jewish Health Systems in Florida, is the author of the new book “How We