Healthy Gut, Happy Life: How Our Microbes Affect Our Mood

We all know about eating well to improve our general health, and even to address specific issues like heart disease or diabetes. But did you know that tailoring your diet can also support your mental health as well? Making some easy changes to your daily menu can actually have a hugely beneficial impact to areas such as depression, anxiety, memory loss and a host of other mental functions too. This is due to the role our gut health plays in affecting our mental state. Just like the brain, your gut has its own nervous system, and this communicates with your grey matter via the vagus nerve. If you’ve ever experienced feeling queasy with nerves, that is the link in action. It means that what we eat can really have an effect on your mood and mental state. Keeping to a diet rich in the following foods can therefore be an extremely effective part of the management of conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety and keep your mind working at it’s best:

Maintain your microbes for a mood boost. Image licenced under Creative Commons.

Fish Oils

Most people have diets severely lacking in omega-3 fatty acids. This is a problem because our brains are largely made up of fat and these essential fatty acids are not made naturally in the body, we need to take them into our bodies through what we eat. Studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3, containing food such as oily fish like salmon, sardines and herring, flaxseed and walnuts can ease symptoms of schizophrenia, depression and ADHD. This is because they support the production of neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals regulate mood and low levels of them have also been linked to a propensity for addiction. Omega-3 can also boost learning and memory skills, so double up by altering your diet and adding in an Omega-3 supplement.

Whole Grains

Our brain energy is powered by glucose, which our bodies derive from carbohydrates. Yet many of us eat too many simple carbs like white bread and pasta. These create dramatic spikes in blood sugar levels and this exacerbates low moods and had been shown to have a similar effect on the brain to some drugs. At the other end of the scale, complex carbohydrates found in whole grains release glucose at a much slower rate, providing steady fuel for the brain a and body. A diet rich in oats, bulgar wheat, wild rice, beans and soy can help to support this beneficial effect.

Leafy Green Vegetables

While spinach might not make you super muscly in a flash like Popeye, it and other dark leafy greens have a hugely positive mental effect to offer. Romaine, collard greens, bok choi, kale and broccoli all offer essential folic acid to your body. Low levels of folate and other B vitamins have been linked with conditions such as insomnia, depression and chronic fatigue. Boost your levels with a daily green smoothie with the best green superfood powder, and pack your diet with stir fries and dishes featuring these amazing greens.

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Foods You Need to Eat if you Are Depressed or Down in the Dumps

If you are feeling low or if you know that your mental health could do with some support then your diet may be to blame. After all, if you have a very poor diet then this could really be limiting your motivation and it can also have a profound impact on your energy levels as well. If you want to try and make yourself feel better or if you know that you need to try and give yourself some additional support when it comes to your own nervous system then these foods can certainly help you to get to where you need to be.

Fatty Fish

Believe it or not, fatty fish is really rich in Omega-3. It is also very rich in docosahexaenoic acid as well. Studies show that foods which are higher in Omega-3 such as herring, salmon and even sardines are all great for your body and they can even reduce depression and hyperactivity disorders. The main reason for this is because it has a huge impact on the neurotransmitters that are in the brain and this includes dopamine and even serotonin. If you are able to support the synapses in the brain then this can help you with your mood, your learning ability and even your memory as well.

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Whole Grains

The main source of energy for the brain is glucose. This tends to come from carbohydrates. Of course, when you look at simple carbohydrates you will find that these can increase your low moods by creating a spike in the blood sugar. This can have very similar effects on the brain as drug abuse. Healthy sources of carbohydrates however can easily provide your brain with a steady fuel so that you can avoid those blood sugar spikes. This will also help you to avoid heartburn as well, as this normally comes from sugary or fatty foods. If you do find that you struggle with heartburn then you can consider taking products such as Zantac as this can really help.

Lean Protein

Lean protein is ideal if you want to boost the amount of serotonin in the body. The main reason for this is because most of your body is made up of protein, and some people even call it the Prozac of nature. Lean sources of protein can include egg, chicken, fish, turkey and even beans. They help to keep your serotonin levels balanced and they can also facilitate the tryptophan in the brain as well. This helps to reduce both anxiety and depression, not to mention that it also increases your own cognitive functioning. If you are finding it hard to battle the anxiety that you have then increasing the amount of lean protein in your diet can certainly help.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-slicing-raw-meat-with-pepper-on-chopping-board-beside-spices-1446270/

Leafy Greens

There’s a reason why Popeye is so keen on spinach! Mustard greens, broccoli, romaine and more are all very rich in Vitamin B. This has been proven, in the past to try and reduce depression and even insomnia as well. If you are suffering from chronic fatigue then this can also really help you. The main reason for this is because broccoli contains selenium and this is a mineral that plays a huge part in the immune system. It also plays a part in the thyroid metabolism and even in reproduction as well. Various studies have been done and they all show that low levels of selenium do contribute to things like anxiety, fatigue and more.

Active Cultured Yoghurt

If you are struggling with anxiety or even depression then active-cultured yoghurts can really help you. You should also look out for fermented foods, such as pickled vegetables. The main reason for this is because they contain probiotics. This is healthy bacteria and this has shown in the past that it can reduce anxiety and stress hormones. It can also have a huge impact on the neurotransmitter GABA as well. If you find that you eat a lot of junk food then there is a chance that the healthy bacteria in your gut has been compromised and you may even find that you struggle with your energy levels. By eating foods that are higher in active cultures, you can help to nurse yourself and your body back to health while also putting an end to your own anxiety and depression.

Of course, if you are struggling with anxiety or even depression then there are things that you can do to help. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference your diet can make to your mood.

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After Addiction: Getting Back to Feeling Like ‘You’ Again

When addiction has its grasp on you, you truly do lose a part of yourself. The addiction becomes the most important thing in your life- it comes ahead of family, friends and everything you value and hold dear to you. When addiction has had its hold on you for a while, you begin to lose a sense of who and what you once were. Many people find they become a shell of their former selves, as the only thing they care about in that time is where their next fix is coming from.

Sourced from this website

When addiction has its grasp on you, you truly do lose a part of yourself. The addiction becomes the most important thing in your life- it comes ahead of family, friends and everything you value and hold dear to you. When addiction has had its hold on you for a while, you begin to lose a sense of who and what you once were. Many people find they become a shell of their former selves, as the only thing they care about in that time is where their next fix is coming from.

Restore your looks

Addiction can be hard on a person’s looks. If you’ve been addicted to a substance for some time then your appearance will have probably suffered. One way you can get back to feeling like yourself is to restore your looks. Look into things like all on 4 dental implants to have missing teeth replaced. Go to a salon and have a facial, have them recommend some products that will bring a healthy glow back to your skin. Have your hair cut and coloured and buy some new clothes that you feel good in. Wanting to feel good isn’t being shallow. When you’re happy with the way you look you have confidence, and you’ll feel happier on the inside.

Make new friends

When you break your addiction, it also means breaking away from friends, relationships and acquaintances who were associated with that kind of life. Unfortunately if you want to stay clean in the long run, you need to keep away from anyone who is involved with your past habits. Be social, and meet new people who are suited to the new sober you. Enjoy activities and try new things which will make you feel fulfilled and keep you on the straight and narrow. New hobbies can give your life purpose and make it easier to resist the temptation of returning back to your old ways. There are lots of apps which schedule groups and meetups for people with different interests, go along and meet some new friendly faces. Go out there and live life to the fullest, making up for the time you missed out on when you were caught up in addiction.

Learn to forgive yourself

As an ex addict, chances are you’re harbouring a lot of guilt and blame yourself. One of the healthiest things you can do is to let this go. Instead of looking back, move forward- acknowledge the mistakes you made but use these to learn and become a better person. There are lots of complex reasons that people can become addicted to things, it’s something that affects all genders, races, wealth classes and more- you’re certainly not the first or last person it will get a hold of. When you can truly forgive yourself and let go, you’re able to put the past behind you and move on to something better.

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5 Mental Health Benefits of Cycling

It goes without saying that cycling is a rewarding, fun and invigorating activity for men and women of all ages. It’s one of the best forms of exercise if you intend to lose weight, gain strength among other benefits. But, did you know that cycling benefits your mental health?

Humanity is constantly affected by depression, anxiety, stroke and other stress-related illnesses. This is a result of daily pressures of life. They range from financial needs, work issues, to relationships and family issues.

No wonder, the substance abuse rate is high. Additionally, mental hospitals and the streets have new mental illnesses brought in every day.

Lack of a balanced mental health may have adverse effects on humans. In the recent years, most people have understood the essence of daily exercise. You not only maintain a physically fit body but also mental health.

This article will help you identify the benefits of cycling for mental health.

5 Mental Health Benefits Of Cycling

Cycling relieves stress

Like most exercises, cycling relieves stress. Cycling and other aerobic exercises reduce the formation of cortisol and adrenaline. In the process, your body produces the endorphins which are your happy hormones.

Pedalling increases the production and circulation of oxygen and consequently the production of endorphins. When your body has a high rate of endorphins, stress has no place. It also makes you focus on beneficial things for a short while.

Sometimes all your body needs is that distraction from your mental negative thoughts and pictures. Furthermore, if you live in a city that has uncontrollable traffic jam during high peak, cycling will help you save the time while relieving you of the financial stress.

The 21st century has seen the rise of work that requires people to sit in front of a computer for hours. This may result in body fatigue, eyes strain and general mental stress. Since cycling engages all your body parts, it’s the best exercise to combat the body and mental strain.

Cycling alleviates an individual’s mood, release the body tension and overall stabilizes their mental structure. As you can see, you have every reason to buy the best bike for women or men and begin cycling.

Freedom cycling

It changes your mental well being

The brain will receive a normal and enhanced blood flow which generally improves your mood, memory and shields you from the effects of aging. In fact, if you are elderly, cycling makes you active and happy thereby reducing the aging cells.

A high self-esteem is vital for every human being. You see, riding will make you set goals and work towards achieving them. You boost your self-esteem in achieving a set goal. You have something to look forward to and you feel worthy.

This activity aides in the production of serotonin and dopamine chemicals which make you feel good and happy. With these chemicals, you will sleep better thus have enough rest for your physical body to handle a new day.

The human hormonal imbalances lead to stress. Taking the right nutrition and the best form of exercise will strengthen you physically and emotionally.

It improves your creative thinking and thus productivity

Everyone in different profession suffers from a mental block at one point in time. Going for a ride makes you bond with nature which then helps you release the mental block. Take time to ride where tall trees are or at the beach among other forms of nature.

As the wind hits your face and there is an exchange of fresh air while increasing your heart rate. In the process, your mind clears of most unnecessary information stored in. this makes you feel good and creative then new ideas begin to flow.

Refocusing your brain power to daily cycling means you have diverted your attention to a positive place. This will help boost your energy levels. Its said that those who ride to their places of work are more productive.

Most people can’t understand how cycling like any other exercise boosts your energy. Here is how this happens; when you use your physical energy, the increased heart rate helps to produce chemicals that boost your energy.

Cycling outing

It combats anxiety and depression

Every other individual experience stress and anxiety at one point or another. However consistent anxiety is detrimental to your health. You begin to develop panic attacks among other related illnesses. When you cycle your cortisol and adrenaline levels balances thus maintaining a good mental health.

Besides, outdoor exercise slowly helps you move from ‘your distractive mind’. Depressed people think and create damaging mental images. In the process, they may either become sick or others decide to abuse drugs.

The mentally ill people often abuse drugs to forget their woes and experience some elation. But, this joy makes you dependent on the drug. That’s why cycling or other forms of exercise is more effective. In fact, if you can find a riding team the better. Developing a social relationship will help you out of mental illnesses.

Instead of fully depending on psychotherapy and anti-depressants, go for engaging exercise like cycling. Commit to the activity everyday and watch the difference.

Makes you happy while boosting your confidence

You don’t need to exercise for hours to boost your moods. Even a 15 minutes cycle every day is great. Various studies have indicated that those with an active lifestyle are happier. You see there are many people who ride as a form of transport, for fitness while others do it for fun.

We achieve happiness by finding out what brings you joy and doing it. Aside from that, riding produces endorphins hormones which are joy boosters. Observing yourself become fit and hearing compliments is a definite confidence booster.

When you see yourself achieving certain set goals, you will believe in yourself more.

Conclusion

Cycling is not only one of the cheapest mode of transportation but also an easy and fun mode of exercise. You don’t need massive preparation in terms of finances especially if you already have the bike. All you need is your motivation and a suitable place to ride for as little as 20 minutes a day.

As you can see, the benefits of riding abound. So, go out and join the world of riders to maintain a healthy mind, spirit and body.


About The Author

Sophie Elise is a passionate cyclist, author, and blogger. She is very passionate about writing on different types of women’s bikes, accessories, health, fitness and more. She regularly writes on sportsly.net


 

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Substance Use Disorder: Is it a Mental Illness?

Addiction is a common disease that impacts millions of people across the United States, but the lens through which we see addiction can change significantly. Many of us are familiar with the stereotype of an underachiever suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. It’s easy to see addiction when its effects have created visible marks throughout a person’s life, such as financial difficulties or a criminal record. However, addiction also has a hidden side.

Substance Abuse Disorder - Is It A Mental Illness?

Many high-achieving individuals use drugs and alcohol in ways that cause harm, but the effects of this abuse isn’t visible to the outside observer. There isn’t a typical drug or alcohol addict. This disease impacts people from all walks of life equally. However, people who are able to effectively hide their addiction are less likely to receive treatment than those who wear their addiction on their sleeve.

For high-achieving individuals, addiction is a deeply personal issue. Many professionals facing substance abuse issues may view their addiction as a sign of personal weakness or as a moral defect in their personalities. However, it’s important to remember that addiction is simply a misapplication of the brain’s natural reward circuitry. At its core, addiction is an issue where the brain has trained its reward circuitry to respond to harmful, artificial stimuli (such as drugs and alcohol) instead of natural, beneficial ones.

The reward circuitry in the human brain is driven by a complex chemical cascade. At the core of most reward pathways in the brain is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. It’s also used by the brain as part of its reward system. When the human body does something that is considered beneficial (in terms of evolutionary survival and reproduction), the brain releases a burst of dopamine.

Lonely woman on pier

Human reward circuitry is designed to respond to activities and environments that improve the odds of passing on genes to the next generation. When we eat a delicious meal, our brains are flooded with dopamine. This is the way that our body tells us what we’re doing is a ‘good thing’ in terms of survival of the human species. When we engage in sexual activity, our brains are also flooded with dopamine, since reproduction is one of our core purposes in life (in evolutionary terms).

Unfortunately, this reward circuitry often backfires in the modern world. In the past, humans were primarily a hunter-gatherer society. To get that hit of dopamine from food, our early ancestors may have had to march dozens of miles across the savannah before they could capture game to eat. Their desire to hunt was driven by a combination of hunger and an unconscious desire to trigger the reward circuitry in their brain. The same applied to gatherers: Each sweet berry that a forager managed to find might trigger a small release of dopamine. Likewise, each time an early human copulated, their brain rewarded them with a hit of dopamine, helping to make sure that we, as humans, would still be around today.

Empty street with benches in autumn

While our brain’s reward circuitry helped humanity survive and flourish in a harsh environment, our modern world has caused problems for many of these systems. Instead of dopamine serving as a reward for behavior that benefitted ourselves (both on an individual and species-level), we can get that same hit of dopamine through many activities that are harmful or detrimental to our health.

Many of us know the dangers of consuming too much fat, sugar or salt. Overconsumption of this trifecta can cause Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and the many health problems associated with obesity. However, our brains are primed to love foods with these ingredients. For early humans, fruits like berries contained natural sugars, which served as a valuable energy source. This sweet tooth led early humans to forage for hours for these small tastes of sweetness nestled among bushes and trees.
Things have changed. Now, we can now go to the grocery store and buy a two-liter bottle of concentrated sugar water for only a few dollars. A single glass of a soft drink may contain the sugar equivalent of several pounds of berries or natural fruit. The same applies for fat and salt.

While fat and salt are essential for human health, our modern lifestyles allows us to consume these substances in amounts that can leave our arteries riddled with plaque and our heart valves crusted with cholesterol.

Drugs and alcohol hijack this reward circuitry in even more insidious ways. While fat, sugar and salt are now available to us in quantities that are harmful to health, they trigger our reward circuitry in the same way as our early ancestors. Drugs and alcohol, on the other hand, hijack this reward circuitry, causing a massive release of dopamine for little or no effort.

Young girls out at night

Just like a computer hacker gaining illegal access to a network, drugs and alcohol cross the blood-brain barrier to trigger specific clusters of neurons in the brain. The reason that drugs and alcohol feel good is because they activate our reward circuitry for an extended period of time. Instead of this reward circuitry being activated for brief moments throughout the day, drugs and alcohol allow us to open the dopamine floodgates in our brains, triggering euphoria in ways that aren’t naturally possible.

Not all drugs are the same. Some milder drugs, such as nicotine, may only trigger a small release of dopamine in the brain. Very addictive drugs, like methamphetamine and heroin, can trigger a release of dopamine that is greater than anything an individual has experienced in his or her life.

One of the reasons that drugs are so addictive is because our reward systems aren’t designed to be continually activated. When we hijack the reward pathways of our brains with addictive substances, we’re literally rewiring the way we pursue pleasure. Instead of getting enjoyment from a nice meal and a romantic evening with a loved one, addiction unconsciously teaches us that we can get an even better substance from a chemical.

Drug or alcohol addiction isn’t a moral failing, nor does it represent a weakness in character. Addiction is a learned behavior that has embedded itself so deep in our psyche that it can drive every decision we make. When the reward circuitry of the brain has been completely hijacked, an individual suffering from addiction will do whatever he or she can to achieve another cascade of dopamine. Addiction completely rewires an individual’s motivations from healthy ones to malicious ones.

 

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13 Safe Ways To Deal With Paranoia

Can a person be their own enemy? Even though we should feel safe in our own company, for a paranoid person, they may never feel at ease with themselves. We all experience insecurities a paranoid person experiences constant feeling that never goes away. Though there are different kinds of paranoia, most people perceive the world as a dangerous place to be. There is no known cause of paranoia and individuals experience it differently.

Anxiety and paranoia may be related, but they are not the same condition. Paranoia is an extreme case of anxiety. A paranoid person sees danger surrounding them and may have delusions that are not easy to break. With paranoia, you are likely to perceive conspiracy around your relations with others and attack others for the feelings. You may become offended easily and find it hard to cope with criticism. How can you deal with this condition? 

13 Safe Ways To Deal With Paranoia

Find a jury

Your friends can help you determine the degree of your delusions. Talking about your feelings to them can help you know if you are clinically paranoid. Since most people develop such symptoms depending on various situations, your friends can tell you if you need help or it is a normal condition that is temporary. Don’t conclude before getting a second opinion from those who know you.

Evaluate yourself

Other people may not know the cause of your paranoia, but only you can find out through examining yourself. Studies reveal that this condition can be brought about by past painful life experiences that you may not have gotten over. Write down your feelings as you assess the intensity of what you feel.  

Practice dialetic thinking

Being in public can make you judge things inaccurately if you are paranoid. With the help of a friend, they can help you practice dialetic thinking by asking them their views on something before reacting negatively towards others. This will help you think again about your perception so that you don’t jump into conclusions.

Woman watching railway

Develop a sense of self

Instead of attacking others based on your thoughts, start developing a sense of self to help you control your reactions. Don’t always assume that people are planning to harm you or are talking about you. Most of the times, all these thoughts are false but just a delusion in the head.

See the good in situations

In most cases, a paranoid person may not realize that they are mentally ill. They tend to believe that their thoughts are a reality without finding facts in situations. Instead of focusing on your negative thoughts, try to see the good in situations before confronting others. 

Get support

You may be experiencing delusions due to substance abuse. Heaver drinkers sometimes get hallucinations. Statistics state that about 80% of cocaine users face paranoia. TN drug and alcohol treatment will help you fight drug addictions and get rid of symptoms of hallucinations.

People also assume that prescription drugs are safe to use. Taking high dosages of these pills can also make you paranoid. Stimulants such as caffeine are not healthy when taken in large quantities since they affect your sleeping patterns and can cause paranoia. Change your lifestyle and get assistance from a professional who can help you with such addictions.

Friends support

Find an exit tactic

In a situation where you are in public and feel you can’t control your feelings, find a strategy to leave. You can excuse yourself or ask a friend to take you home. This will prevent the symptoms from getting out of hand and causing a scene in the midst of strangers.

Plan on how to handle triggers

It may not be possible to skip classes or work because of paranoia. You can, however, identify the common triggers so that you can know how to deal with them as you go on with your life. For instance, to feel at peace, if a particular area makes you feel in danger, start by avoiding it.

Distract your mind from paranoid thoughts

Not dwelling on things that make you feel paranoid can help you feel better. Hang out with friends and avoid being alone so that you can stop perceiving threats around you. Go out for walks or entertain yourself with music or a movie. 

Avoid self-judgment

Sometimes, you may be too hard on yourself due to uncontrollable emotions. Instead of judging yourself, examine your thoughts to find out why you react the way you do in different situations. Self-judgment can cause depression and low self-esteem.

Watch out for symptoms of paranoid personality disorder

Check if your symptoms range from suspicion, bearing grudges, withdrawal from others, rage as well as hostility. Understanding your symptoms can help you determine the severity of your condition. This is because mental states differ and some people confuse anxiety with paranoia.

Take prescribed medication

A doctor can prescribe long-term medicines that can help you reduce the symptoms of paranoia. Ensure that you take the medication as prescribed as you go for medical check-ups regularly.  A doctor can recommend a change in dosage according to your symptoms.

Talking with friend coffee

Attend therapy

With the help of a therapist, you can determine if you are experiencing mild or severe paranoia. Therapy can help you comprehend your feelings as a journey to recovery. The wide range of treatment gives you the liberty to switch therapists if you feel you are not getting help from one. Your therapy session should make you feel comfortable so that you can open up to them. Being paranoid can make you develop trust issues, but a therapist is a confidential professional that you will not share your problems with others.

Final thoughts

Even though it is normal to feel insecure, constant fear of the unknown is a sign of paranoia. Identifying the mental condition in its early stages can help you prevent it from worsening. Our mechanisms above will help you find your peace again as you address the issues making you feel paranoid. Do not face the problem on your own but raise it with others as you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

 

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7 Ways Dogs ‘the Mood Boosters’ Can Help You Fight Depression

Dogs have a life-changing impact on you and your family. Dogs not only have an ‘immune-boosting’ impact on your newly-born babies but also they have an impressive ‘mood-boosting’ power to cheer you up in the toughest situation. Whether it’s your mental health or physical health, your dog unconsciously endeavors to keep that in check and get you back on track. Your pooch can help you with your anxiety, stress and depression. Studies have shown that therapy dogs have helped children with autism and people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Did you know that there are two types of mental health issues we are mostly likely prone to due to our family history? We are either prone to anxiety or depression. My family has depression-prone history which makes it easier for me to get upset and depressed on little stuff. I always seek natural ways to cure medical issues rather than depending entirely on medicines for life. My friend, Martin, suggested me to bring home a dog, Leo. Leo had a huge impact on my life and helped me stay engaged with the cute furball during free time at home.

7 Ways Dogs Can Help Your Fight Depression

How Dogs Help us?

Among all the pets, dogs are most attuned to human emotions and behaviors. They have the ability to understand our commands, interpret the tone of our voice, gestures and body language. The man’s best friend looks into the eyes of his owner to understand the emotional state of the person. A person in similar room may not notice the change in your emotions and expressions, but a dog will always be the first one to notice. He is no less than a mind-reader who can understand what you must be thinking and feeling after the dog has acted in a certain way.

Ways in Which Mood-Busters Help Us:

Most of the pet-owners know what joy and happiness a pet brings in their life, but they are not really aware of the mental and physical health benefits they are reaping due to the pet. Various studies have been conducted on dogs and their owner’s mental and physical health which have shown that dogs are literally ‘man’s best friend’. American Heart Association conducted studies to prove the fact that dog ownership, in specific, lowers the risk of heart problems and ensures longevity.

Labrador sniffing hand

Below are the seven reasons why you should bring home these ‘mood-boosting’ Fidos to fight depression:

  1. Improved Mood:

Increase in physical activity with a companion pet doubles the production of serotonin, one of the ‘happiness hormones’. It is a neurotransmitter that assists in the transmission of nerve impulses within the brain. Research has shown that reduced level of serotonin causes depression. Therefore, a pet dog is a necessary addition to your family to enjoy happiness and overall well-being.

  1. Unconditional Love and Acceptance:

We all can be selfish one way or the other, but dogs are different. They teach us to be selfless, be open and share more laughter with the world. People suffering from depression need someone patient enough to listen to them and still continue to love them unconditionally. Your Fido will never leave your side and they will make your life simpler and easier to live. Why? Dogs don’t really complicate anything in spite of your drastic mood swings. Teri Wright, PhD from WebMD, says that the stability of human-animal bond benefits the people suffering from anxiety or depression.

  1. Reduce Blood Pressure:

Petting a dog itself is one of the most relaxing act one can do while sitting on a couch. The contact with pet during hugs, licks, and kisses increases the release of happy hormones in the blood stream. The level of endorphins increases and the stress hormones ‘cortisol’ drops down to a great extent. Study conducted at Harvard Medical School has proved that petting a dog reduces heart rate and, therefore, blood pressure.

Dogs make daily physical activity an essential part of our routine no matter how gloomy we may be feeling. We have to follow active routines to keep the pooch happy and well-behaved. Studies have shown an increased physical activity reduces blood pressure. In consequence, improved heart and mental health are enjoyed by dog owners.

  1. Disciplined Routine:

Dogs only follow routines. They can easily get upset or anxious if the schedule is not followed. It is due to anxiety that many behavioral problems such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, etc develop in pooches. You will have to serve food on time to keep the Fido relaxed. Have you tried following raw diet trends for the pooch? Serve natural and raw if you prefer natural treatments for yourself.

Following routines for the pooch will help you set a daily schedule for yourself. Did you know that timetables have great ability to drive us through the day? The patterns will keep you engaged and disciplined.

Cute puppy

  1. Build Responsibility:

Dogs are a huge responsibility as they have a mind equal to that of a toddler. They provide meaning to our life. You will be encouraged to wake up early in the morning for the sake of your pet. Providing comfort and happiness to the pooch will give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction. It will keep you away from destructive feelings due to depression. Your dog will become the true meaning of your life again.

The continual engagement with the dog will not let your thoughts stray away on the negative side. Moreover, caring for the dog will help you take care of yourself.

  1. Good Company:

Leo’s company is what I adore about him the most! Dogs are your faithful companions who will never leave your side. No matter how much angry you have been the moment before, he will forget it immediately if you fulfill his basic needs and wishes.

Depression forces you to avoid people as you desire a silent companionship. Dogs can quietly listen to you for hours without being critical, judgmental or opinionated.

  1. Improved Social Skills:

Bringing dogs home is equal to opening yourself up to many people around. Dogs wouldn’t enjoy staying at home all day long. Ultimately, you will be advised to take them out for a walk or to dog parks daily to exhaust their extra energies. Moreover, you may have to visit the vet, dog behaviorist, pet sitter and so on for your dog’s sake. It will bring you thousands of opportunities to meet new people and socialize more often.

You will not have to fight depression alone rather you may find like-minded people who are fighting the challenge of depression as well. Wouldn’t it be amazing to do it together?


James ShoreAbout The Author

James is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant with years of experience in dog training and the man behind LabradorTrainingHQ.com. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times.


 

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Top 5 Tech Products for Managing Mental Health

When it comes to managing your mental health, you usually don’t think of technology as the number one solution. Therapy and medication are much more common. But the truth is, there is some great technology out there that can help you manage your mental health in accordance with the medication and treatment plan that your provider has given you. Let’s take a look at five technologies

Apps Mental Health

Reveal

Reveal is targeted towards a very specific segment of people with mental health problems – those with autism. It monitors the mood and behavior of an autistic person, giving the caregiver a great deal more information about what is going on in their head. Reveal can help to prevent meltdowns which can sometimes happen with autism, as well as help parents and other caregivers to be able to respond when a child or autistic person want something but cannot communicate exactly what that is.




ELF Emmit

ELF Emmit is an all-around system for improving your mind and body. This tool helps you with learning how to focus better, sleep deeper, meditate and even improve your ability to learn. It might seem a little strange at first, but the technology works with the digital metronome that is very stylish. You wear this metronome around your head and it is able to affect your brain waves to adjust your mind and body to what sort of mood you want to be in. Although it is not necessarily considered a medical device, it does use an accepted scientific principle called PEMT, which stands for pulsed electromagnetic therapy – an FDA approved treatment technique

Feel/Spire

Both Feel and Spire are devices that help you determine what your mood currently is in change it if necessary. Some people wear their emotions openly, but others are more difficult to understand which makes social interaction difficult as well. It is also difficult sometimes to get into your own headspace and be able to make adjustments. But applications like Feel and Spire track your emotions throughout the day and give you personalized coaching that will make it easier to recognize your emotions and deal with them in a healthy way. These applications can detect sadness, happiness, anger, stress and much more. They use bio-signals in order to measure these things.

Mobile showing apps

Fisher-Wallace Stimulator

Another tool that is changing the mental health landscape is called the Fisher Wallace stimulator. This is an FDA approved device that helps to treat depression, anxiety and even more mental health issues. Experts are even hoping that illnesses such as bipolar disorder might benefit from devices like these. The Fisher-Wallace stimulator is not available to the public without the recommendation and supervision of your provider, but neural stimulation therapy is going to be one of the technologies that help to eradicate mental health problems in the coming future.




Pacifica

Finally, there is a mobile app called Pacifica that is an extremely valuable resource when it comes to mental health treatment. Apps like Pacifica can help people learn how to manage their anxiety better; get out of depressive episodes when they have them and in general, live healthier happier lives. Pacifica uses cognitive behavioral therapy as well as techniques for relaxation and cycle breaking in order to treat a variety of mental health symptoms.

One final tech product that has been very useful in managing mental health is the medical alert bracelet. The technology on medical alert bracelets has advanced so much now that they are being used for more than just emergencies. You should find the best one and make sure that you have it on you.

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Helping Your Mental Health Survive The Holidays

When you’re already suffering from mental health issues, every day can be a fight. Add in the pressure of the festive season, and you could soon find yourself struggling to make it through the holidays. Whether you’re coping with addiction or you suffer from stress and anxiety, the holidays can be one of the toughest times of the year.

Image: Pexels

The good news is that there is help out there to get you through this tricky time. Use the following advice as a starting point for helping your mental health survive the holidays.

Keep up your regular routine

It can be tough to stay in control during the holidays, but having a set routine can help. Make sure you go to bed at the same time, eat healthily and try to exercise as well. Even when you’ve got time off work, try to keep things as normal as possible and avoid the temptation to stay in bed and hide under the covers. Keeping your schedule full will help take your mind off the season so that you can just focus on you and your mental health.




Out of sight, out of mind

The holidays can be a tough time for a recovering addict. With social invitations landing in your inbox regularly, the temptation to relapse can be especially great at this time of year. The saying goes ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ which is something you can use to help you stay on track during the party season. If you know that a social occasion is going to revolve around drinking, you might want to stay away this time. Instead, plan other activities with friends and colleagues that don’t involve drinking, like movie nights and dinners that will help you enjoy the holiday season in a healthier way. Try not to turn your attention to eating instead – there are ways you avoid the temptation of holiday treats at Christmas to help keep your health and waistline on track.

Don’t be alone

When you’re feeling down around the holidays, or indeed any other time of year, it can be tempting to just cut yourself off from everyone. Even if you are spending the holidays alone – find ways to be around people. Volunteer at shelters or hospitals or speak to others about spending the holidays with them – there are places you can go where you’ll benefit from some company rather than cutting yourself off completely.

If you do find the holidays difficult, you should speak to someone about the things that you’re feeling. Get advice from friends or family or talk to professional counselling services like BlueskyPsychology – it’s much easier to deal with a problem if you talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and reach out to someone over the holidays, the person on the other end will want to help.

Keeping busy and active during the holidays can help you to embrace it, and perhaps even enjoy yourself. Stay on track with your goals and meditate daily for the best way to keep your focus and not fall behind. Think about how you can make the best of the holidays; they’ll be over before you know it!

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Understanding Anxiety Disorders in Canada

The term “anxiety” is becoming more commonly used, but is often misunderstood. Individuals will use the term when referring to feelings of nervousness, stress, or anxiousness, but anxiety is much more than that.

Anxiety is an intense worry about future events that can even result in physical symptoms. There are various anxiety disorders, each characterized by different causes and resulting symptoms.

Even though you may not neatly fit into one of these ‘boxes’, Some types of anxiety disorders include: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder.

Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Causes

GAD is believed to have a few risk factors that increase one’s chances of having the disorder. These risk factors are: genetics (it runs in the family), being female (substantially more common amongst women) and having a timid or negative personality.

 Symptoms

General symptoms include:

  • Obsession over small concerns
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty

Physical symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension and tension headaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Treatments

The first type of treatment available is psychotherapy (psychological counseling). Aside from this, the other treatment options are various medications, typically anti-depressants.

Lifestyle changes can also make a difference. Try eating healthier, exercising, making sleep a priority, and quitting smoking and drinking.




Social Anxiety Disorder

Causes

Some factors that may play a role in causing social anxiety are: inherited traits (if it runs in the family), one’s brain structure (the portion responsible for fear may be overactive), and one’s environment (it may arise after an embarrassing or unpleasant social situation).

Symptoms

Emotional symptoms include:

  • Fear of being judged
  • Fear of interacting with strangers
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may be noticeable or embarrassing
  • Expecting the worst possible outcomes during a social situation
  • Avoiding common social situations all together (work, school, gatherings, outings)

Physical Symptoms include:

  • Blushing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Treatments

Similarly to GAD, psychotherapy is a popular treatment option. Medication-wise, Paxil and Zoloft are the most common prescriptions.

The same lifestyle changes listed for GAD can also aid in reducing the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder.

Social anxiety disorder

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Causes

Separation Anxiety Disorder is most common amongst children. The causes can include: a new child-care situation (day-care, preschool, etc.), a new sibling, a new home, or family stress/tension.

Symptoms

Your child may display these symptoms:

  • Recurrent excessive distress about being away from home or from their parents.
  • Constant worry that something bad will happen
  • Refusing to be away from home
  • Repeated nightmares about separation
  • Excessive worry about losing a parent (IE: to illness)

Treatments

Some practices you can implement in your home to reduce the symptoms of separation anxiety in your child include:

  • Practicing saying good-byes
  • Refraining from prolonging good-byes
  • Timing good-byes appropriately (IE: not when your child is hungry, tired, or upset already).
  • Give your child something to look forward to while you’re gone.

Summing up

Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Separation Anxiety Disorder each embody unique causes, triggers, emotions, and symptoms.

Regardless whether it’s one time occurrence or a lifelong disorder, 1 in 4 Canadians will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime. With those statistics, it is important that society has an understanding of what anxiety disorders are, what they encompass, and how to deal with them.

This can refer to handling your own anxiety, or providing support for someone in your life who is suffering from anxiety in one form or another.

References

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