Depression: What to do Before Resorting to Prozac

Many people who do not suffer from depression do not really understand the gravity of the illness. They think that people can just “snap out of it,” or that it can be treated with some ice cream and a sympathetic ear. Unfortunately though, it’s not that easy. Depression can be due to a chemical or hormonal imbalance in the body and is even thought to be hereditary in most cases. Depression plagues almost 20 million adults in the United States alone and, believe it or not, most of them do not seek any treatment. They either lack the motivation to get better or they simply do not think there is anything out there that could help. However, the truth is that depression is a serious mental illness and should not be left untreated because it could only get worse.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the symptoms of depression may include difficulty concentrating, decreased energy, feeling sad/guilty/worthless/hopeless, insomnia, irritability, loss of interest, loss of appetite, indecisiveness and having thoughts of suicide. If you have 3 or more of these symptoms for a period of 2 or more weeks, you may be suffering from depression. The first step to recovery is recognizing the symptoms because only then can you seek the appropriate treatment.

If you are against resorting to prescription medications, there are natural remedies out there that you can try first. There are mood-enhancing supplements such as 5-HTP, SAMe, L-theanine and St. John’s Wort that increase the “feel good” neurotransmitters in our brain known as serotonin and dopamine. However, do not take more than one of these supplements at a time and try to consult with a physician to find out which one is best for you. B-vitamins, especially B6, help normalize nerve and brain function and fight fatigue so that you feel more focused, energetic and motivated to carry out your daily tasks. Fish oil is also essential for normal brain function and is a potent mood stabilizer that has been clinically proven to have a negative correlation with depression.

Aside from taking supplements, there are also other natural treatments that could help. Make sure your hormone levels (i.e. thyroid, cortisol, estrogen) are within normal range because any imbalance may cause anxiety and depression. Exercise at least half an hour a day because it helps lower stress hormone levels and also releases natural endorphins within our body, making us feel happy and relaxed. Eat a well balanced diet high in fiber and low in saturated oil/fat and refined sugar to keep your mind and body in top shape. Do not abuse alcohol/drugs because they can act as depressants and can cause your mood to change overtime. Get about 6-8 hours of sleep a night to make sure you are well rested so that you feel energetic and less irritable throughout the day. Last but not least, try to get some sunshine each day if possible because it has been shown that serotonin levels increase when you’re exposed to bright light.

Depression is a serious matter and should not be overlooked. Unfortunately, 1 in 10 people who suffer from depression commit suicide. If you suspect a friend or family member is suffering from depression, talk to them and let them know there are effective treatments out there and that they can get better. Mental illnesses are not as easily identified as chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, but that doesn’t mean that they should not be taken as seriously. I hope these tips help and thanks for reading! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

 

Having Fish Oil Everyday Will Keep the Doctor Away!

Fish oil is another one of my favorites that I have been promoting to my friends and family for as long as I can remember. Whenever someone asks me what basic supplements are best to take everyday to maintain optimal health, fish oil is always at the tip of my tongue. It comes with a multitude of health benefits and is recommended for anyone at any age. Studies on fish oil are continuously being published as scientific research unveils more and more of its benefits on a daily basis. So, if you are one of the few I haven’t previously preached to about fish oil, please read on to find out more about this wonderful supplement.

First off, picking the right fish oil is very important and there are a few specific things you need to look for. Fish oil supplements that only contain omega-3 are the ones that have been proven to be most beneficial because the other omegas (such as omega-6 and omega-9) have actually been shown to induce more inflammation in the body rather than quelling it. Also, look for fish oil that is extracted from wild Alaskan salmon because it is one of the purest forms of fish oil that does not have to be processed in order to get rid of any impurities and is naturally mercury free. Now that you know which fish oil to pick, let’s talk about why you need to include it in your dietary regimen.

If you look back at my previous post on aloe vera, you will see I talked a bit about the dangers of chronic inflammation and how it is the root of most common health problems that people face. Fish oil is a key player in combating chronic inflammation and in turn reduces the risk of diseases and ailments associated with it such as heart disease, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, acne and even cancer. Fish oil also helps lower triglycerides (the building blocks of fat) thus helping reduce the risk of obesity. Also, for people with hypertension or high cholesterol, fish oil is a natural blood thinner, which helps prevent strokes and heart attacks. Fish oil also helps improve blood circulation and the delivery of oxygen and vital nutrients to cells all around the body as well. Something that most people may find hard to believe is that fish oil also helps with many cognitive disorders. For example, fish oil has been proven to protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease and even Parkinson’s disease. Also, fish oil acts as a potent mood stabilizer. For people with signs of bipolar disorder or depression, fish oil has been shown to help tremendously in restoring normalcy in mood and behavior. For pregnant woman, fish oil helps build fetal and infant brain health and the development of psycho motor skills. Fish oil also has many aesthetic purposes as well including maintaining beautiful and strong hair, skin and nails. For people with dark cirles under their eyes, since fish oil helps thin the blood, it also promotes proper blood circulation to help those dark circles vanish. Last but not least, along with getting rid of your dark cirlces, fish oil also helps significantly improve eye health and vision.

The proper daily dose of fish oil is 1000mg a day. Some of you who are already familiar with fish oil may also, unfortunately, be familiar with the “fish burp.” For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about, that is the fish taste you get after consuming fish oil. However, have no fear. That problem can easily be solved with a shot of lemon juice, and in all honesty, it’s really not as bad as it sounds. I have also seen capsules that gaurantee the absence of this aftertaste so if it truly is something that you cannot handle, just know there are other alternatives out there. Don’t let this last bit deter you from going out and getting these magical pills. I promise you, you will be a believer. Thanks for reading! This has been your dose of vitamin Jas.

Music is Medicinal

The power of music is quickly pioneering a new approach to therapy. Recently, music has been proven through numerous studies to benefit the body both mentally and physically. Songs that make us happy, energetic, or even reminiscent of good times can bring on a multitude of medicinal effects unmatched by any other form of treatment that exists today. I guess you could say Lady Gaga is the new Prozac.

Music therapy has been practiced as a way to treat many neurological conditions including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and even depression. It has been shown that music can help with improving impaired movement in people with Parkinson’s by giving them rhythm and coordination. For people with speech problems, since the area of the brain that processes music overlaps with speech networks, music therapy can help improve the flow of words and enhance vocabulary. Anxiety and blood pressure are reduced when listening to music because music stimulates the hypothalamus, which is the part of our brain that controls heart rate and blood flow. Alzheimer’s is improved by music since certain songs can help trigger old memories. It has also been shown that endorphins are released by the brain when listening to upbeat music, which can help treat depression. Most importantly, studies have proven a 50% spike in pituitary growth hormone levels, which is a hormone that promotes healing, in people that listen to music.

Listening to music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. That fact alone was enough to instigate studies to determine how music could be incorporated into the health field as a form of therapy. I recently watched a video about a man who was physically alive, but mentally and emotionally dead. He had been living in a retirement home for years and had not been showing any signs of interest or engagement in any activity until he was given an iPod filled with songs his daughter knew that he loved. He instantly perked up and felt alive again as soon as he put his headphones on. Please watch this clip to see for yourselves what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKDXuCE7LeQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player. Now go put on your favorite song and dance like nobody’s watching! Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

How to Improve your Memory and Focus without Adderall

Many of us struggle when it comes to remembering important information at crucial moments. Whether it is trying to remember where you last left your keys or what the answer is to question #23 on your history exam, it can be very frustrating when you cannot remember! However, there are ways to help improve your attention span, focus and memory naturally so that you can retrieve information more easily at any given moment.

What you eat can affect how well your brain functions. Your brain gets its fuel from glucose, which can be obtained from carbohydrates. So, eating foods free of carbohydrates would not be ideal prior to an important exam or presentation at work. However, make sure the carbs you eat are complex carbs, which can be found in such foods as whole grain bread and oatmeal. Complex carbs will give you longer lasting energy than simple carbs such as white bread or candy. Blueberries, pomegranate, and dark chocolate are all potent antioxidants that help protect the brain from oxidative damage, which naturally increases as we age. Salmon is a great source of omega-3, a major component in brain cell membranes, which helps with the transmission of signals and communication between brain cells. Nuts and avocado are high in vitamin E, which is known to increase blood flow. Increased blood flow causes an increase in the delivery of oxygen to the brain, which is needed for optimal brain function. Most importantly, keeping your brain hydrated is crucial, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Food substances to avoid, since they are known to impair brain function, include MSG, caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and aspartame
Other factors that affect one’s memory and ability to focus include anxiety, exercise, sleep and practice. When someone is experiencing anxiety, their cortisol levels are high. High cortisol levels have been known to cause degradation of certain areas of the brain including the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain in charge of memory. Exercise is very helpful when trying to enhance memory and focus since it increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. Exercise also helps by reducing anxiety and elevated cortisol levels, thus protecting the brain from degradation. Reading on a regular basis, whether it is a newspaper, book, or even a magazine, can also aid in improving memory and focus because it increases one’s attention span. When you pay attention to something, the chances of remembering it down the line is greater than if you were to not really concentrate on it at all. Getting an adequate amount of sleep is also very important. The temporal lobe, which is a brain region involved in language processing, is harder to activate in people who are sleep deprived. Also, cortisol levels are higher than normal in people who do not sleep at least 6 to 8 hours a night. When all else fails, try turning words into visual cues. Some people are visual learners rather than audio learners, so turning what you are reading into a mental picture, if possible, could help you remember it later.
There are also supplements that are available over the counter that have been proven safe and very effective. Ginko biloba extract has been proven to increase attention span and memory in healthy individuals as well as people with dementia. It works by significantly increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. As mentioned earlier, vitamin E also helps increase blood flow, but make sure not to take more than the daily recommended dose because too much vitamin E can potentially be toxic. Fish oil is a great source of omega-3, which helps protect brain cells by maintaining their structure. Antioxidants, such as the ones mentioned earlier, are also helpful because they protect the brain from oxidative damage that can naturally occur as we age. Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant found in wine and is available as a supplement over the counter as well. 
A lot of people quickly turn to adderall to help them focus and prepare for school exams or even work projects, however, the side effects can be severe and may not be worth it down the line. Adderall is commonly reported to cause heart palpitations, chest pain, tingling sensations in the left arm (which is a sign of a potential heart attack) and even possible growth stunts in children. When there are natural and healthy alternatives out there, why resort to prescription drugs that have so many potential side effects? Hope these tips help! Thanks for reading. This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.

The Dangers of Stress

Unless you are an orthodox monk living atop Mount Athos, chances are that you will be stressed at one point or another in your lifetime. Stress is an inevitable part of our daily lives and can take on many forms, such as forgetting where you left your keys, being stuck in traffic, or even getting your order mixed up at the coffee shop. Contrary to what most people think, stress affects your body both physically and mentally. Stress makes your body feel as though it is under attack, causing it to wear out over time. Finding ways to cope with or resolve your stress is more important than you may think and should not be overlooked.

Acute, or short term stress, is different than chronic, or long term stress. If you are stressed out here and there and do not let it affect you for long, you are not in as much danger as those who feel stressed more often than not on a daily basis. Chronic stress can compromise your immune system, which is what controls your body’s defense mechanisms. When you undergo long periods of stress, your immune system becomes weak and your body becomes more susceptible to illness. The bacteria and viruses you are exposed to everyday have a better chance of infecting your body because your defense mechanisms are not as strong as they normally would be when you are calm and relaxed. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick when you are studying for a big exam or preparing for a major presentation at work? That is not just a coincidence. Constantly being nervous, not sleeping enough and over-exerting yourself are all forms of stress that increase your chances of getting sick. Over time, stress will not only suppress your immune system, but may even compromise your body’s circulatory system, blood sugar regulation and even cell growth. All this may lead to more serious health problems down the line such as hypertension, diabetes and possibly even cancer.

Learning to control your anger and anxiety when encountering a stressful situation is crucial. Take deep breaths to increase oxygenation and blood flow in your body. Try to think realistically about the situation instead of jumping to over-exaggerated conclusions before they even happen. Think about if what you’re getting mad or anxious about is really worth damaging your health over. Take 10 seconds to calm yourself before reacting to the situation. Find an enjoyable activity to release your anger and frustration through, such as exercise, so you do not repress it and let it build up within you. Last but not least, try to smile or laugh because it sends a signal to your brain to release endorphins, which have a calming effect on the body. Hope these tips help! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.