Friday, June 30, 2006

Depression - Still A Lot To Learn - By Michael Russell

We accept that illness is part of our daily lives. Colds and flu, cuts and bruises.

All these are taken within our stride. Curative potions, prescribed and otherwise, are taken and within a few days we are all back to normal ready to face the world. We have this acceptance because it is something that is tangible. Life is nice and simple as we look at these minor ailments. Everyone has had them at one time or another so it's part of life.

What about depression? The word itself, particularly when used with regard to an illness, sends a shudder down the spines of most folk. Some would say that it is a disease of the 90s, something that television and the like, too much this, not enough of that and perhaps only confined to those in our community who have - what shall we say - some mental problem. It is so easy to dismiss this illness. We can then forget it and think of things a little more pleasant. What we don't understand can certainly make us feel that way.

It's all very easy to dismiss this very harrowing and distressing illness, for it is an illness, not a condition. Some of our community, although seeming physically fit, appear to be carrying the worries of the world on their shoulders. They find it impossible to cope with the normal pressures that the rest of us comfortably deal with in the course of our daily lives.

It is not meant to be patronising to call them poor people. It is merely gratitude for one not having the illness and pity, yes pity, that fellow human beings have to suffer such torment. Luckily nowadays there is some relief with medication that is available. It is however small compensation for the anguish that must be caused by this awful malady.

It is quite easy to remember the days when someone had an "off day" - due to what we now know as depression - to hear their close ones say "Buck yourself up - you'll be OK tomorrow". That was the diagnosis and cure for depression principally because not enough was known about the reason why it happens. We read of a blackness and inner torment that travels with it, unfortunately encouraging self harm in some cases.

Society now appears to be much more tolerant. It seems that a little knowledge does go a long way. People, who before seemed aloof and rude at times, with medical help and the correct medication, can now live a content and peaceful life, free from the demons that depression inevitably brings.

Depression hasn't just happened in the last 15 years though. It surely must have been around for an incredible number of years. Does that mean that it has increased in intensity because of the type of lifestyle we lead, or does it mean that we simply shunned our lesser fortunate acquaintances because we felt there was something "odd" about them?

It is more likely to be the latter. It was far easier to think of someone as not quite the same as everyone else and reject them accordingly, which is what we normally do with things or people we don't understand, than approach them and try to help them conquer their personal battles.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Depression

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Not So Scary Hospital - By Terry Coyier

Fear of the unknown is a very universal fear. Fear of the unknown hospital is a very universal fear among the mentally ill. Actually, many people have a fear of hospitals even if they are not mentally ill. Even without a harrowing experience, most people don't view the hospital as somewhere they want to visit, unless they're there to visit another patient. Add to that the horror stories of generations gone by and the imagination of Hollywood and it's amazing that the psychiatric hospitals have any voluntary patients at all to treat.

Fortunately, times have changed and so have most hospital environments. Sure, a few archaic practices still exist, as do a few unenlightened doctors, but the overall philosophy of confining patients to a hospital for years, or even a lifetime, has evolved into a philosophy of helping patients become productive members of society. The concept of transforming the mentally ill into productive, functioning members of society is not a new one but actual implementation really only began in the 1960’s. Today, with the limits most insurance companies impose, treatment is often limited to a few weeks of in-patient hospitalization per year. Hospital staff and the psychiatrists must medicate, educate and reintegrate patients back into the community in the quickest manner possible.

Now, the hospital itself is usually not the root of our fear. Who’s afraid of four walls, some worn out furniture, old magazines and games, maybe a television, a community phone and a counter that the staff gathers behind? For me, the fear was being confined to a place and not being allowed to leave when I was ready. The locked doors and windows can easily bring on a panic attack in even the calmest of sane folks, no less the mentally ill. For some, the fear of being away from family and friends makes the hair on the back of their necks stand up. For others it’s the reaction of family, friends or even co-workers that makes them nauseous. Some fear the loss of a job. Some fear the social stigma that still exists in the smallest of minds in cities and towns across the nation. Whatever the fear is, it will not subside until it is confronted head on and beaten into oblivion with the facts.

Each hospital has its own unique procedures and funny rules, but some guidelines seem to be consistent from place to place. Even though I’ve only been hospitalized three times, you hear all the stories about other places from the patients who are comparing notes. The following is a list of things that I have seen firsthand and have heard others mention as well.

* Absolutely no “Sharps” except the few things allowed which remain locked up and can be checked out during an appointed time. “Sharps” are: razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, comb, brush, blow dryer, curling iron (if allowed), soap, make up, lotion, glasses, contact solution, etc. Perfume, after-shave, scissors, tweezers, etc. are not allowed. If the substance abuse program is part of the unit, some facilities will not allow any products with alcohol.

* Clothing is a whole issue in itself. Some only allow a certain number of pairs of underwear and socks. They require that you wear a bra if you are a woman, but some will not allow the under wire type (unless you are like me and they don’t make my size without an under wire). You must have sleeping attire that consists of a top and bottoms. You are usually not allowed in the common areas in your sleeping attire. By the way, no shorts or sweats with a draw string. I’ve heard some places don’t allow shoelaces either. No ripped or holey clothing either.

* The first day and night you are usually on what is referred to as “SPs” (Suicide Precaution). This means that someone must check on your whereabouts every ten to fifteen minutes to make sure you aren’t trying to end your life prematurely. They do this while you are trying to sleep too, which usually wakes you since you are too scared to get any decent sleep the first night. As long as you remain on SPs, you cannot check out your sharps alone. One of the staff must be with you while you are brushing your teeth, taking your shower and doing your hair. Facilities that have a separate cafeteria area will keep you confined to the unit for meals as well. The psychiatrist takes you off SPs as soon as they are sure you won’t be stealing anyone’s shoelaces to inflict bodily harm on yourself.

* Smoking is a considerable issue for some patients. Some facilities do not allow smoking and some have a designated enclosed area. Even though I’m not a smoker, I enjoyed being able to go outside into the little enclosed courtyard and see the sunshine or the stars and hear the birds chirping. Plus, the smokers always had all the scuttlebutt from the unit. It was also interesting to hear the ravings of the patients who were experiencing psychosis and they always seemed to come outside and share their latest vision or message from God.

* The community phone is always an interesting situation. One unit I was on had two phones but that seems to be rare. Usually there is a time limit on phone calls and one person who always seems to abuse it. The phones usually allow calls in as well as out. During the day when there is therapy or classes being conducted the phone will most likely be taken off the hook. And just so you know, the staff does not take messages!

* Speaking of therapy and education…it seems to vary tremendously from unit to unit and from facility to facility. The first hospital I was in provided only the very basic information. It was so elementary that a 7-year-old would have been a capable instructor. The second hospital I was in about two years later was far more advanced with their program. They had numerous therapists, verses only one like the first facility. They taught useful things like coping skills and effective anger management. They promoted group discussion, unlike the first hospital that merely lectured to you until you nodded off from the drone of their voice.

* Eat, drink, eat some more and be merry! That seems to be an overall philosophy among the psychiatric community in general. If they’re mentally ill give them all the food they can eat and don’t be chintzy on the drinks (non-alcoholic, of course). The units I’ve been on have always had really good food as well, so you wanted to eat. One unit had a great salad bar. They both had a refrigerator that was stocked with juice, milk, chocolate milk, jello, pudding, fruit and some sandwiches. There was also a microwave and plenty of popcorn and instant soup. They also stocked those cereals that come in their own bowl. So, not only do most of the meds make you hungry, they supplied enough sustenance to outgrow your clothes while you were there. They also keep track of how much you eat, although you won’t see them doing it openly. I think it’s kept under wraps for the most part, although I cannot imagine why.

* On to the issue of medication. Most of your conflicts seem to be centered in this area. There are patients who refuse to take the prescribed meds. You have the right to do this, although I personally don’t suggest it if you want to get better and get out.

Overall, I felt like I was at camp. I’ve been somewhat lucky in the fact that all of my hospitalizations were positive experiences. I went in wacky and came out with a corrected medicine regime and a renewed attitude towards life. Of course, I’ve never gone in against my will and I’ve always been one to follow the rules. Each patient has a choice about the attitude they adopt when it comes to being hospitalized. You can choose to learn something during the course of treatment or you can close yourself off to anything positive, convinced that you won’t get better. I realize it’s tough to be positive sometimes, especially during an episode of depression, and some people are natural pessimists. The course of recovery is up to us as well. There isn’t a cure for mental illness yet.

Maybe someday soon there will be a cure or at least a more exact method of prescribing medications. Until then, if you have a mental illness you owe it to yourself to fight, to the best of your ability, to increase your control over your disability. This means finding a competent psychiatrist with knowledge of your illness to treat you and administer your medications. It means going to therapy and changing your flawed ideas of life and its many challenges. It means reading, investigating, asking questions, building a strong support network, making changes, taking courses, talking and yes, it means enduring a stay at the hospital, if that’s what it takes.

Terry J. Coyier is a 37-year-old college student studying for an Associates of Applied Sciences degree. She is also a freelance writer who writes about bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Terry was diagnosed with bipolar ten years ago. She lives with her son in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Terry is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers and her personal portfolio can be viewed here.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Creative Coping: What is Depression? - By John Duggan

Depression is a serious illness, not a harmless part of life. As a psychotherapist recovering from a past experience of major clinical depression, I bring unique experiences to this dis-ease. I explain to clients how my experience is informed by academic study ("head" knowledge) and personal experience (empathy and "heart" knowledge.)

There are many metaphors, poetic descriptions and analogies seeking to express the emotional content of a depressive experience. Perhaps one of the most vivid: "it is similar to an emotional toothache, with no hope for solace." Any form of depression is a complex disorder with a variety of causes, including genetic, chemical, physical, and sociological. It is also influenced by behavior patterns learned in the family and by cognitive distortions.

Technically, the words "depression" is inaccurate -- there are many forms of "depressions" (plural). Nonetheless, all types of depression are a "whole body" concern -- mood disorders impact our physiology, biochemistry, thoughts, behaviors and capacity to make clear decisions. Here's the key; there is no shame or weakness if one lives with a mental health concern. It is important (critical) to be certain that an appropriate assessment and treatment plan is established. Like any other disease, if left untreated ... it often becomes worse.

Depression affects thousands of people in the United States. It is always troubling, yet for some people it can be severely disabling. Depression is more than just sadness or the blues; it can impact nearly every aspect of a persons life. People who suffer from it may experience despair and worthlessness, feelings that can greatly influence both personal and professional relationships. In this handout, many of the factors which evoke depression are described, and strategies for preventing depression are explored.

When a person suffers from depression, it can affect every part of his/her life, including ones physical body, behavior, thought processes, mood, ability to relate to others, and general lifestyle. Many folks report body aches, insomnia, lack of interest and difficulty with decision (including ordinary issues, such as "What do I want for dinner?").


People diagnosed with clinical depression typically have a combination of symptoms, including:

- Feelings of hopelessness, even when there is reason to be hopeful
- Fatigue or low energy
- Greatly reduced interest or pleasure in most regular activities
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Lessened ability to think or concentrate
- Indecisiveness
- Distorted thoughts and having an unrealistic view of life
- Weight gain or loss
- Appetite changes
- Sleeping pattern changes
- Recurrent thoughts of death
- Suicidal thoughts
- Specific plan for committing suicide
- Suicide attempt
- Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down

When a person suffers from depression, his/her symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in family, social, and occupational relationships, as well as other important areas of life. Such symptoms are not the result of a chronic psychotic disorder, substance abuse, a general medical condition, or bereavement. Depression may include feelings of sadness but is not the same as sadness. Depression lasts much longer and involves a loss of self-esteem, which sadness does not. People who are depressed function less productivity; people who are sad or disappointed continue to function.


Any form of depression is a "full-body" issue. It impacts our mind, body, spirit and emotions. If you or someone you know experiences any of these feelings or behaviors, seek assistance of a qualified mental health professional. This is a medical condition which can be treated ... and it's not a sign of weakness, failure or a valid source for shame.

"Creative Coping" is a series of mental wellness articles written and distributed by This series is dedicated to our human capacity for resiliency, wellness and transformation. Learn about "Who Get's Depression," "Paths to Wellness," and discover how to "Create a Recovery Program" in future articles!

After a career in broadcast media, John Duggan, M.A., NCC, LCPC embraced a contemplative transformation and earned graduate degrees in Counseling Psychology and Theology. He taught at university, worked at mental health clinics and is now a full-time as a psychotherapist/mentor. John shares personal passion with folks seeking mind-body-spirit-emotional wellness, resiliency and integral psychology. Contact John (

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What Happens After A Trauma - By Terry Coyier

Imagine, if you will, that you are walking alone at night in an unfamiliar neighborhood. You think you hear footsteps behind you so you walk a little faster. Suddenly someone steps out from behind a bush. You turn around but someone is behind you as well. They are both bigger than you and you are scared to death. Possibly you are mugged or raped. Maybe you escape harm, but you've still had a harrowing experience. You could end up suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) if you have an experience like this or have exposure to any real or a perceived life-threatening trauma where you responded with intense fear.

PTSD is a medically recognized anxiety disorder that occurs in normal individuals under extremely stressful situations. Symptoms may appear immediately and then disappear after several months. At other times symptoms may take up to 6 months to emerge and may never completely go away. Half of those who meet the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD will still suffer from symptoms a year after diagnosis and 1/3 will still have weekly symptoms ten years after the trauma.


* Exposure to a traumatic event marked by intense fear, helplessness or horror

* Symptoms from each of the three symptom clusters:

* Intrusive recollections (evoke panic, fear, dread, nightmares, grief, despair, daytime fantasies, etc.)

* Avoidant/numbing symptoms (avoidance of trauma related stimuli, trouble leaving the house, cannot tolerate strong emotions, etc.)

* Hyperarousal symptoms (symptoms resemble panic attacks, generalized anxiety, insomnia, irritability, startle response, hypervigilance that may come across as paranoia)

You may also use the mnemonic "DREAMS"


Certain populations are more at risk than others. Here are just a few examples:

* 2% in post-partum women
* 18% in professional fire fighters
* 34% in adolescent survivors of car accidents
* 48% in female rape victims
* 67% in prisoners of war

Up to 80% of patients with PTSD will have a comorbid psychological or psychiatric disorder. The most common diseases that occur with PTSD are:

* major depression
* substance abuse
* dysthymia
* bipolar disorder
* generalized anxiety disorder
* panic disorder
* phobias
* dissociative disorders



Typical first line treatment is with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's) such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft or Lescol. Trazadone and nefazadone (Serzone) are being re-studied since the have SSRI properties and they also reduce or suppress REM sleep, thus reducing or eliminating nightmares. Tricyclic antidepressants and MAOI's have been tried but there is no proven efficacy for these types of medications.

Benzodiazepines were once the first line of treatment but the efficacy has not been proven in controlled studies. They can also cause dependency problems for people who must deal with substance abuse issues. These types of medications also come with a variety of discontinuation problems.


Once medications relieve the most distressing symptoms a patient can then concentrate on psychotherapy. A key element to success here is beginning the initial medication treatment within two weeks of the trauma. Then the goal of therapy, breaking the pattern of self-defeat by reexamining the traumatic event and the patient responses to it, can begin. Education about the disease and recognition of cues or situations that trigger symptoms are invaluable. Complete education and healing consists of:

* Exposure

Exposure to the event via imagery allows you to reexperience the event in a safe, controlled environment where your reactions can be monitored.

* Examining

Examining feelings such as anger, shame, guilt, etc. allows you to work on resolving these feelings.

* New Coping Skills

New coping skills teach you how to handle reminders, reactions and feelings without becoming overwhelmed or emotionally numb. This can help foster your relationships with others. Some of the techniques used are:

* Relaxation (i.e. breathing techniques, visualization)
* Biofeedback
* Cognitive restructuring
* Managing Anger
* Preparing for stress reactions
* Addressing urges to use alcohol or drugs
* Communications and relating effectively with people

Group treatment has also proven to be quite helpful for PTSD sufferers. This type of setting allows you to share with others who are more empathetic to your feelings. Being able to share instills more confidence and helps you to trust again. After being allowed to share your trauma you are freer to engage proactively in current relationships.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

This is a relatively new treatment that combines elements of exposure therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and then uses techniques (eye movements, hand taps, sounds, etc.), which creates an alteration of attention back and forth across the person's midline. Fourteen controlled studies have been done on EMDR. The last five done on trauma patients (abuse, rape, accident victims, etc.) have found that 84-90% of the individuals suffered no PTSD after only three sessions. In a study for combat veterans, 77% showed no PTSD symptoms after twelve sessions. Like all therapy the progress rate depends on the individual and the type of trauma. To administer EMDR, therapists must undergo special training.

Although PTSD manifests itself in a wide variety of symptoms there is a common factor. If you have lived through any type of experience that has caused you to feel threatened by death (either real or perceived) or threatened serious physical injury to yourself or to others, and you felt intense fear, horror or helplessness, you could be suffering from PTSD and may not even be aware of it. If you have experienced a traumatic event, lived an abused life, or cannot deal with something that you were confronted with, please seek the help of a professional. No one should have to live a life in constant fear or helplessness.

Terry J. Coyier is a 37-year-old college student studying for an Associates of Applied Sciences degree. She is also a freelance writer who writes about bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Terry was diagnosed with bipolar ten years ago. She lives with her son in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Terry is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers and her personal portfolio can be viewed here.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Andropause and Erectille Dysfunction - by CATHY TAYLOR

One of the signature symptoms of Andropause is erectile dysfunction (ED).

An embarrassing, nerve-wrecking experience, ED is when a male cannot perform for his female partner. In layman's terms, it is the inability to have an erect penis during sexual activity.

It is the primary issue amongst men in regards to their sex lives. Let's become acquainted with how a full erection works and why this condition exists. Men under the influence of Andropause have erectile dysfunction no matter what's on their mind. Thinking of a nude Playboy centerfold model would likely induce pleasant and sexual thoughts into a man.

Sexual thoughts, however detailed or brief they may be, are produced in the brain. After all, the brain is responsible for thinking. These sexual thoughts directly spark nerve signals down through the spinal cord and into the muscles of the penis. These nerves send a flow of blood running through the arteries in the penis while it is in a relaxed state, building pressure.

A man without Andropause can have a constant, steady flow of blood flowing to his penis arteries in a good amount. The more blood that flows down there, the harder and longer your erection will be! When sexual thoughts creep out of your mind and you're focused on another activity, your penis returns to its relaxed state. We can guess Andropause sufferers are going to have to do something else rather than think about that nude Playboy model to obtain an erection!

Erectile dysfunction can attribute to psychological causes. Psychological causes can include having fear of our female partners (especially when it is a specific person with whom we feel shy with), depression, lack of self esteem, and cluelessness as to what to do with certain parts of the female anatomy. Our bodies are exposed ¡§to the air¡§ and we often times feel ashamed of what we look like to our partners. Mind thoughts and emotions that are pessimistic in nature not only affect your mental state, but the performance of your penis as well.

As with other medical conditions, the effects of impotence can be magnified if we do not follow a proper health regimen. The top dog in promoting erectile dysfunction is the use of drugs, particularly the cancer sticks you find over the counter ¨C we all know which one that is. Cigarettes reduce the amount of blood flow to the penis. Undergoing surgery and prescription drugs also contribute to the problem, like tranquilizers, medications for seizures, beta blockers, and diuretics. Even a simple over the counter drug like NyQuil Cold & Sinus (a decongestant) can reduce blood flow to the penis, at least temporarily.

We've probably all seen those commercials before. You know, the one with Rafael Palmeiro (major league baseball player in his late 30?s) promoting the use of a special pill known throughout the globe as Viagra. Viagra is a staple of American culture ¨C the subject of endless tonight show monologue jokes and a popular conversation topic anywhere. At a cursory glance, Viagra may seem like a sideshow attraction, but its been proven to be one of the most effective drugs you can take for erectile dysfunction.

Using Viagra requires a doctors prescription, but it is so readily available you can get away without one. Before considering going on this pill, maintain a healthy lifestyle and build up those testosterone levels naturally. Make a visit to your doctor to discuss a proper dosage and see if Viagra is right for you. Remember, there are many erectile dysfunction pills out there ¨C the goal is to see which best suits your condition. Don't fret over this condition ¨C with the plethora of solutions and medications combating this problem, you'll be sure to be fine in no time.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Overcoming Depression with a Child's Heart - By Foras Aje

“With a child's heart
Go face the worries of the day
With a child's heart
Turn each problem into play
No need to worry no need to fear
Just being alive makes it all so very clear”

Although this is no way is a pro-Jackson article, this is actually an excerpt from a personal Jackson 5 favorite entitled ‘With a Child’s Heart’

Sung by a pre-adolescent Michael Jackson, the words of this song made such an impact on me most recently when I played the CD a few days back.

The lyrics of the song reminded me of what the renowned psychologist: Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, once stated in his book- that children are indeed the group of humans who ironically are most gifted in the art of faith and positive thinking.

These are two essentials for overcoming depression, and it is no co-incidence that they are abundant in a child’s heart.

Children are more expert in happiness and faith than adults and indeed the adult who can carry the spirit of a child into middle and old age is truly a genius. Why? Well this is quite simply because such an adult will preserve the happy and carefree spirit that only the young seem to be endowed with and this of course will be vital and necessary for dealing with depression and problems and keeping their effects on us minimized.

The subtlety and wisdom of Jesus Christ is truly remarkable. When it comes to dealing with depression (or dealing with life, period-the good and the bad of it), He suggests that one should have a childlike heart and mind.

In other words, have you ever noticed how a kid believes mom’s kiss actually made the pain of a bicycle fall go away, well that same childlike faith is actually what God requires of us in believing that what He says He’ll do for us will come to pass.

Now, in regards to overcoming depression, it is clear to see that approaching our problems with a childlike yet powerful faith that things will be better would make a huge difference in our situations and circumstances.

This doesn’t mean that no work will be required of us on our part, remember “faith without works is dead," (James 2:26). However, it is the believing that what we are doing to make things better in addition to trusting what God says about our situations and challenges that would make the difference.

Just like a child will ask a parent for help on how to do something and totally rely on the parent’s instruction to get it done, it is very much the same way that we have to accept and follow God’s advice and help in order to deal with our problems and challenges in life.

A young Jackson ends the song above soulfully stating that “With a child’s heart, nothing is gonna get me down!” Indeed with the childlike faith in God and His promises and a childlike obedience to do as instructed by a wiser Being, nothing: not depression, not life’s problems can get us down.

Foras Aje is an independent health researcher and founder of For more information on Depression Treatment stop by his website today.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Depression - It Can Affect Everyone - By Michael Russell

About 21 million people suffer from depression. Depression affects the way one feels about themselves. It involves the body, mood and thoughts. If a person is depressed it can affect the way they sleep and eat. Having depression is not the same as feeling blue temporarily. Despite of what some people think it is not a sign of weakness either. If a person with depression doesn't get any treatment then it can last for weeks, months or even years. Treatment can help most people overcome depression.

There are different types of depression. The three most common types are major depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder. Major depression is a combination of symptoms. Having major depression will affect your everyday life such as working, sleeping and eating. Dysthymia is a less severe form of depression. It involve long-term chromic symptoms, however they are not disabling like major depression. It will keep them from feeling good. People with dysthymia can suffer from an episode of major depression.

Bipolar disorder is sometimes called manic-depressive disorder. Bipolar is characterized by cycling mood changes. Severe highs are called mania or manic. And lows are depression. Sometimes the cycle changes are dramatic and rapid. Most of the time the cycle is gradual. When in the depression cycle, a person can get most symptoms of major depression. When they cycle to mania, they will often have lots of energy, be very talkative and overactive. Mania can affect judgment and social behavior. This may cause serious problems and lead to embarrassment. If the mania is untreated it can worsen to a psychotic state.

Depression can be inherited. It often runs in families. The question is, is it inherited genetically or learned behavior. Depression can occur in somebody who has no family. Bipolar studies have shown that families, whose members of each generation develop bipolar, that those with illness have a different genetic makeup than those who do not become ill with the disorder. Whether the depression disorder is inherited or not, depression is associated with the changes in the brain structure and or brain function.

Women have been known to experience depression more often that men. For women many hormonal factors contribute to the higher rate of depression. Especially during menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, post partum and menopause. Also environmental stress factors such as single parenthood, caring for children and aging parents.

Men are less likely to develop depression, however men are more likely to deny that they are depressed and unfortunately doctors are less likely to suspect it. The rate of suicide is higher in men, but more women attempt suicide. The rate of suicide increases in men around the age of 70 and peaks after the age of 85. Depression in men may often be masked by the use of alcohol or drugs. They may work extremely long hours. If a man realizes he is in depression he is more unlikely to seek help for treatment.

Some symptoms of depression are sad, anxious, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism, loss of interest in pleasurable hobbies, fatigue, hard time concentrating, insomnia or oversleeping, weight gain or loss, thoughts of suicide and persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, like headaches, chronic pain, and digestive disorders.

Here are some examples of mania; excessive happiness, unusual irritability, lack of need for sleep, increased talking, racing thoughts, increased sexual desire, a big increase in energy, poor judgment and inappropriate behavior.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Depression

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Anxiety And Depression – The Long Wait For Therapy - By Jim Brackin

With a number of effective, low-cost solutions available for issues like anxiety, depression, insomnia, phobia and stress, why do they still affect so many people?

Anxiety combined with depression is the most common form of mental health problem. Research by the Mental Health Foundation suggests that one in four of the adult population of the UK will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of the next year. The National Office of Statistics show that 7.7% of the population suffer from the combined effects of depression and anxiety at any one time. Additionally 3.1% suffer from anxiety and 2.1% from depression. That’s a total nearing 14%. Not surprising then that Richard Layard, chair of the Mental Health Policy Group reports that “Crippling depression and chronic anxiety are the biggest causes of misery in Britain today. They are the great submerged problems, which shame keeps out of sight.”

The total cost of depression was estimated at £3 billion per year costing the NHS £420 million whilst only 2% of NHS expenditure was spent on tacking these problems. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) believe that people with anxiety and depression should be offered the choice of psychological therapy. This view is also backed by Richard Layard because in a study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation it was demonstrated that therapy is, in the short term, at least as effective as drugs and, in the long term, better at preventing relapse. No surprise then that the NICE guidelines recommend that everyone should have the therapy option made available.

But that’s simply not an option for those that need it most, as there are simply too few therapists available. Those people choosing the therapist option would have to wait at least nine months or more before getting an appointment. So if they want to avoid taking prescribed medicines, their options are limited to either private treatment which can be very expensive or ‘remote therapy’ from an online therapy site.

Perhaps this is why there has been a dramatic rise in the private or self-help alternatives available. The last couple of years have seen a dramatic growth of remote therapy sites providing for psychological issues ranging from anxiety, depression, insomnia, phobia and stress.

Try it for yourself, just google ‘psychotherapy, online, self help, UK’ and you’ll find sites like which have become very popular in the last few years. Produced by recognised therapists, the sessions are recorded onto mp3 of pdf format and can be downloaded for immediate private use. Although not having the benefit of face-to-face interaction with a therapist, they do have the advantage of being able to be used over and over again whenever needed. For example, imagine a nervous person having the benefit an Anxiety Therapy that has been downloaded onto their mp3 player that’s instantly available for whenever an anxious moment surfaces. And it’s not just about convenience these therapies are available for a fraction of the typical £750 fee charged for a course of treatment by a private behavioural therapist.

Other reasons why these remote therapies may have become increasingly mainstream is that they are anonymous, instantly available and surprisingly effective. Whatever the reason there is no denying that they very popular. Over the last year many of the self-help therapy sites have reported a 300% increase in download traffic. It’s clear that self help therapy is fulfilling a need because even by NICE’s own estimates it would take at least seven years to train all of the 10,000 therapists needed to fulfil the current demand.

It seems that for many that suffer with issues like anxiety or depression, this wait is just too long.

Jim Brackin contributes tips, help and advice on behaviour and psychology to variety of magazines like Cosmopolitan, Real and Women's Own. He is the body language expert for Sky News (UK) and created which provides free online psychometric tests and personality profiling.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why Psychological Treatment Methods for Depression Can Work Better Than Antidepressants - By Tess Thompson

Millions of people who are suffering from depression are currently taking antidepressant medication in an attempt to battle the condition. Oftentimes, doctors are quick to prescribe the medication -- in fact, many times, it's the first thing they do after diagnosing a patient.

One of the keys to understanding and treating depression is understanding what antidepressants really do: they tackle the symptoms of depression, not the roots. In many cases, psychotherapy and behavioral therapy are much more effective in treating depression and preventing relapse than medication is. Antidepressants can be useful, especially in cases where the symptoms are so intense that it prevents the patient from receiving any other kind of treatment. But even in those cases where major depression treatment is needed, antidepressants alone are rarely enough to permanently battle the condition -- they are just an effective way to temporarily relieve the patient's symptoms enough to allow him/her to receive proper treatment.

Antidepressants are used to treat chemical imbalance in the brain, but what many do not realize is that the chemical imbalance is usually a symptom of depression and not the cause. Even when treating the symptoms, antidepressants can be highly unpredictable. In one third of the cases, the medication is effective; in one third, it is partially effective, and in the remaining third, it is not effective at all. In many cases, even when the medication is working, the side effects are so unpleasant that the patient elects to stop using it. Also, antidepressants are not meant to be taken permanently. When a patient stops taking them, he/she is likely to relapse.

Depression is often better combated without any medication at all. Psychological treatment methods for depression -- especially certain kinds of psychotherapy -- have proven highly effective in treating the condition permanently. Good counseling will break down each patient's cycle of depression and help the patient identify unhealthy behaviors or thinking patterns and teach him/her how to change them. If there is a particular event that triggered the depression, counseling can help the patient work through that as well.

Some herbal remedies can be a good complement to therapy by helping to naturally relieve some of the symptoms of depression. St. John's Wort is generally considered to be one of the most potent natural remedies for depression, and is so effective that it outsells prescription medications in some markets. Other popular choices for treating depression naturally include ginko biloba and passion flower.

In all cases, depression should be treated with the help of a professional. However, the more responsibility you take for learning about your condition, the better you'll understand your options, and the more participation you'll have in deciding which treatment is best for you. Remember to allow time for whichever treatment option you choose to take effect, and to speak up if you are uncomfortable. Eventually, you will find your path to better health.

Tess Thompson is a Homeopathic Practitioner, Reflexologist, Certified Aromatherapist, and Herbalist who contributes regularly to Native Remedies - where you can find All Natural Homeopathic and Herbal Remedies for treating depression naturally and natural remedies for depression.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Depression Diet — Feel Better Naturally Without Gaining Weight! - By Christine Silva

Depression is a serious illness that affects millions of Americans. Although many patients must manage their depression with medication and therapy, a good percentage of individuals with mild and moderate depression can successfully manage their symptoms with diet and exercise. This does not mean that their depression is “imaginary”. It just means that some individuals can manage their depression naturally, without the unpleasant side-effects of anti-depressant drugs. If you have depressive symptoms, check with your doctor and then try the depression diet and see if it lightens your mood!

The Depression Diet

Step 1

See your doctor first! I cannot stress this enough. Many serious medical conditions cause serious depressive symptoms. Here are some common illnesses that cause depression in many individuals. If you have an underlying medical disorder, like diabetes, it is imperative that you alert your doctor, so he/she can manage both illnesses together.

This is not an exhaustive list. A medical evaluation is always an important part of your diagnosis. Ask for a complete blood panel and a thyroid test. People with chronic disease have a much higher risk of developing depressive symptoms, so it is important to rule out other physical disease. Many medications have depressive side effects. Birth control pills, sleeping pills, and high blood pressure medication have all been shown to cause depression in some individuals. Alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use can also generate depressive symptoms.

• Thyroid disorders
• Epilepsy
• Diabetes
• Multiple sclerosis
• Stroke or Brain trauma
• Lyme disease
• Syphilis
• Huntington's disease
• Parkinson's disease
• Cancer of the pancreas
• Chemical Exposure
• Physical Trauma
• Childbirth/Pregnancy (post-partum depression)

Step 2

Start taking depression-targeted vitamins. Take a multi-vitamin every day, and invest in a good B-vitamin supplement. B vitamins have been clinically proven to help alleviate mild depressive symptoms, and those who are B vitamin deficient often show symptoms of depression as a side effect. Vitamin B9 (folic acid) may be the most important of all these vitamins. Up to 38% of people with depression have low folate levels and those with very low levels are usually the most depressed. Clinical research has shown that depressed individulas are usually deficient in nutrients essential for general health. Some good natural supplements for depression include:

•St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herbal supplement that has shown great promise in relieving depression. European studies have shown success with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and nerve pain. This herb is widely prescribed in Europe, and is available as a dietary supplement in the United States. St John’s Wort can interfere with the action of some prescription medications, so check with your doctor before taking this supplement.
•Omega-3 fatty acids, are naturally present in fish, nuts, whole grains, beans and other seeds. They are also readily available in supplement form. These fatty acids play a crucial role in the function of serotonin and dopamine, two of the most important “mood” chemicals in the brain.

•Vitamin C has been shown to help the body metabolize other nutrients essential for boosting immune function and fighting depression. It has also been shown to alleviate the dry mouth associated with prescription anti-depression medication.!

•All B vitamins, including folic acid, are absolutely essential for the treatment and management of depression. Eat your leafy greens, and take a B supplement!

Step 3

Switch to depression-fighting foods, avoid caffeine, sweets, and all white flour. All of these boost insulin blood levels, and caffeine suppresses serotonin; an essential brain chemical for the treatment of depression. Do not purchase ice cream, cakes, or other sugary treats. If you have to force yourself to go out and get them, you’ll eat these ‘bad’ foods less often. Here are some foods that can help you fight depression and feel better!

•Eat protein three times a day (sausage, eggs, chicken, tofu, beef, cheese, lamb, cottage cheese, nuts)

•Eat only complex carbohydrates and fruit (beans, fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread)

•Drink lots and LOTS of water! This seems like the easiest thing to do, but so few Americans get enough water every day. If you drink soda, coffee, and other diuretics, you must increase your water intake. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, depression, irritability, and muscle pain.

Step 4

Exercise! Simple exercise, even just walking outside 30 minutes a day, has been shown to have a tremendous impact on depressive symptoms. Some people can manage mild and moderate depression with exercise and diet alone. Syd Baumel, the author of ‘Dealing With Depression Naturally’, has said that, “Basically… being physically active and being depressed are very largely mutually incompatible.”

In 2005, the journal of Biological Psychiatry published a study that showed certain foods and supplements treat depression even better than some prescription medications. Even if you are already on prescription medication, healthy eating and adding anti-depression supplements may greatly enhance your mood, and help stabilize mood swings and depression.

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, News Target

Christine P Silva, BA, CRTP, lives in California with her husband, two children, and three spoiled cats. She earned her undergraduate degree from San Jose State University, and her advanced accounting certificate and California tax registration from Cosumnes River College. She is the founder of the Sacramento Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinic, a free service offering tax assistance to low income and Spanish-speaking taxpayers.

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Do Mental Health Experts Suffer from Depression? - by: Friedrich Asen

This article is about depression from an unusual perspective. It is about the powerlessness and hopelessness of modern psychological science and research. The importance of an holistic approach to mental and physical health will be explained.

Do you know, what really startled me since I was a child?

It is actually very simple but profound at the same time. I could see that there were problems in the adults' lifes. That was one thing. The other was that they never seemed to really get beyond them. My first assumption about grown ups was that they are really smart people. I mean, they were grown up and I was a kid. You admire them. Anytime they want they can turn on the TV or take the car for a ride, just for fun. They can go to sleep whenever they want or they can stay awake till the morning dawn. They are gods...

My father used to comment on the radio news. From what I could hear I realized that adult people are not what they seem to be. They lacked knowledge, although they heavily pretended to have some. Adults build huge hospitals, but the number of diseased people is increasing. They do a lot of research, but things get worse. They are holding big conferences, but there is no solution to poverty, hunger and pollution. The destruction of the planet continues, unhampered. They scientifically study the human mind for years, but still they are fighting over minor issues and killing each other. Depression is rampant.

The experts are wearing white coats of authority and they look really impressive. But the picture is deceiving. They are as helpless as the rest. They have been told that depression is caused by some material disfunction in the body. They wouldn't admit it, but this theory is the cause of their own latent or acute depression.

There is one important saying: "Doctor, heal thyself". So, obviously, an expert treating depression in a person should be free of that mental condition himself. But is this really the case? Are our experts examples in their own lives? Have they achieved the peace of mind and the happiness that we are looking for?

To be quite frank: Our mental health experts are haunted by depression themselves.

Of course, their job is demanding and it is hard to stay untouched from all these unfortunate human destinies. But that is no excuse. For a health practitioner it is of prime necessity to become a strong, positive and loving personality. It is not enough to just "know" one's field of "expertise". Life operates on rules that cannot be managed properly just by some theoretical knowledge. A doctor abusing nicotine and alcohol is as unbelievable as a psychologist suffering from a minority complex, being arrogant and insensitive.

People tell me about their experience with mental and physical health practitioners. They feel ignored, misunderstood and treated like an innate object. That's how modern science looks at it's objects: things, which have to be manipulated into proper function.

People feel that the experts lack self esteem and hide behind academic degrees and honors. They rightly perceive all this as symptoms of personal weakness. How to develop real trust in such a person?

The formal training in any given area was much less in former times. But that does not mean that we have become advanced. Modern education has created highly trained specialists in their respective fields, but being too much focused on a tiny segment of reality they seem to have lost the whole big picture. At the same time they have lost themselves.

A person is not just ears or heart or mind. A person is an individual being. And what does that mean? A person cannot be divided. A person is one. Treating a depressed person without this consideration will only lead to frustration and more depression.

Depression spreads like wildfire. People seem to get lost in the rat race and the competition. Survival of the fittest. They drown in the struggle for existence. The one and only thing a depressed person needs is unalloyed love and compassion. No one will learn this at university. The students will learn about material processes in the body, in the brain. But they will learn little or nothing about the person possessing the body or brain. In this way they will not learn anything about themselves, too. They will look at depression with the arrogance and helplessness of a lost soul. How should they be able to help?

A psychologist, a coach, a trainer, a priest, a doctor: they all have to understand what life really is. They have to thoroughly understand themselves first. They have to get rid of their own depression and hopelessness deeply buried in themselves. They actually have to become free and independent loving persons. That is the real challenge: How to transform oneself into a great personality. Theoretical knowledge alone is useless.

Friedrich Asen is a spiritual counsellor, coach and author since 20 years. He lives in Austria near Vienna. If you are looking for more quality information about the subject of depression, visit his website

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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Just Say "No" To Depression! - By: Dr. Isaac Schumann

Depression is believed by the medical profession to be the most prevalent disease of our time. The fear of developing heart problems or cancer alone is enough to cause tremendous stress and accompanying depression. There is a tremendous malaise circulating our world today. Both the medical profession and the media are constantly "warning" us of the dangers and probabilities of different diseases, some of which seem more than likely to shorten our life span. For instance, if there is cancer in your family, you're most likely going to get it! And of course, if cancer is not threat enough there is always the West Nile virus, Bird flu, AIDs and a host of other diseases to frighten us...

One thing is for sure, we will never hear the end of calamities that are likely to beset us, whether from disease or some other form of challenge we may face. It seems inevitable that there will always be “something” that will get our blood pressure soaring.

So, what is the answer to this problem? How can we carry-on with our lives without being constantly afraid of what lies around the next corner? Here are several suggestions about how to effectively deal with life’s challenging situations:

1) Seek interpersonal support

People need other people, and there are many good and practical ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Exercise, good nutrition and positive thinking are great antidotes. These not only help relieve the angst; they actually give us a sense of empowerment over our lives.

2) Seek spiritual guidance about spoken words

The Bible tells us that the power of life and death are in the tongue. Words can both bless and curse (James 3). Negative words can evoke fear, anxiety and actually produce negative effects in a person’s life.

Whenever a word is heard - any word - the mind paints a picture of it. For instance, when someone says "black cow" immediately you will see that cow in your mind's eye. Although words are not tangible, they have the power to bring about emotional and physical change! Remember - The Bible teaches that the earth was created by the Word of God! Now that's real word power!

We all have a choice when it comes to listening and what we hear. We can choose to empower ourselves by listening to positive words and encouraging thoughts or we can do otherwise. Think about the last time you listening to some of your favorite music…Did your feet start tapping? Did you start to hum the melody? Didn’t your mood lighten-up a bit as a result of hearing the melody and the words? Negative words almost always produce negative results, whether seen or unseen. On the other hand, positive words instill a sense of well-being. A mere smile and a quick, happy-sounding, "Have a great day!" can instantly produce good feelings and joy.

3) Develop a “thankful” attitude.

Thankfulness is one of the greatest virtues. A wise man once said that if we divided a page in two and wrote all our setbacks on one side and all our blessings on the other, we would find that the blessings far outweigh the negatives. The Bible teaches us to give thanks with a grateful heart for all things. Don't look back on past hurts, nor fret about tomorrow. Live “today” to the fullest…choose joy and thankfulness.

In conclusion, remember that our thoughts respond to what we feed the mind through our senses. Therefore, it naturally follows that happiness is a choice. This may be a foreign concept to many of us at first, but when applied, the results can be truly amazing! Break the habit of feeling trapped in a world of negative thoughts and decide to switch-on the power of positive thoughts, today.

About the Author:

Dr. Isaac Schumann brings to you a life time of experience in the mental health field http://www.depressionhelpguides.comRead more articles by: Dr. Isaac Schumann

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fighting with Depression - Tania Jain

Depression is a medical condition, which cannot be ignored, and it has to be considered seriously.

It is caused due to chemical changes and imbalances in the brain. These changes may be caused due to several factors. Many people may not know the actual reason for depression. Depression can be debilitating but now treatment is available to cope up with this condition. It has to be diagnosed properly in the initial stages. These treatments help to stabilize the chemical imbalances in the brain and makes sure that the brain functions normally. In order to fight against depression you need to find out the reason for it and understand how it affects your normal life. Then you can go for the different treatment methods that are available nowadays and select the one, which suits and treats the condition, the best. There are different approaches for treatment of depression like medications, psychotherapy, talk therapy, meditation, Aromatherapy etc. The common symptom seen in a person suffering from depression are feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, loss of appetite, weight loss, feelings of sadness, extreme pessimism, lack of sleep, loss of interest in activities, feelings of loneliness and sadness etc. Depression can also cause severe mood disorders. Some women suffer from depression during the post partum period. They will not be able to bond with the new born baby. They have to be treated with the help of the doctor. They need support and medical attention to overcome this phase. Another type of depression is the bipolar disorder where the patient suffers from extreme mood swings such as intense highs and crippling lows. For them life seems to be a roller coaster ride. There are several medications available to treat such conditions.

Depression can be managed just like any other medical disorder of the body like diabetes, high blood pressure etc. All that you need is the positive attitude and the will power and determination to fight it. Besides medications you can also choose different holistic approaches to fight depression. You can join some activities such as a laughter club, where you can divert your mind and get your mind involved in some soothing activities. Sometimes you may have to change your entire life style or move to a different place in order to fight out depression. You cannot expect a change overnight but with course of time, and the right type of treatment you can fight depression and get it out of your life. Symptoms of depression may be aggravated due to teenage problems such as acne, use of drugs, loss of job, loss of loved ones, etc.In order to fight depression, you need to understand the basic cause or reason, which has triggered such a condition. Once you find out the reason, then find out effective options for solving this problem.

You must always keep in mind that will power or the power of mind is very important to fight out depression. Positive thinking can help you to fight out depression without any medical support. You can fight out depression by clearing your mind and empowering it with positive thought or affirmations. Tania recommends you to see depression symptoms and medication -, ayurvedic treatment of insomnia - and vitamins for depression- .

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Teen Depression - By Rick Kelly

Teen depression happens for many reasons. A lot of teen depression occurs when a teenager needs more help fitting in during their high school years. Teen depression can be triggered by something as simple as not making the football team or the cheerleading squad. Many teens are even depressed because they may not have the money to buy the right kind of clothes. Some teenagers cannot even get an appointment with a school counselor because the counselor is over burdened with administrative work. Some teenagers even turn to self medication to make themselves feel better. They do this because they feel they cannot even turn to their parents for help.

When a teenager self medicates it usually comes in the form of drugs, alcohol, or sexual activity. Really, what they need is counseling or treatment for depression. Teen depression can be prevented. When a teenager becomes despondent and isolated, those are usually signs of teen depression. Teen depression can manifest itself in other ways as well. If a teenager is sleeping until twelve or one in the afternoon, they are probably suffering from teen depression. As well, if a teenager is overeating or not eating at all, this may be symptoms of teen depression.

If you think your child is suffering from teen depression, get help. There are many new drugs and counseling methods to help your teen get through the adolescent years and look ahead to the future. There are even herbal treatments, like St. John’s Wort, that can alleviate teen depression. Many parents who can’t get help from counselors at school or therapists, have started to look around the internet. There are many different solutions for teen depression. Treating depression isn’t as hard as it use to be. Some parents even home school their children and work at home so they can be closer to them. This is a great way to prevent teen depression.

Some parents are even going to counseling with their children to create an open forum where a teenager feels like they can open up and share their feelings. This lets a therapist know that there is a teen depression problem for a child and they can often prescribe different treatments and therapy for the child. Adolescent years are difficult for more teenagers and increasing peer pressure drives some children to the edge. You can make a difference. Talking to a therapist or a psychiatrist or even going on the internet can give you more information on teen depression and make your child safe and happy. A teenager who is well adjusted is less likely to get into trouble and more likely to succeed in life. A successful life is important for the future of your child and important for a parent as well.

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About the Author:

Rick Kelly has been a well respected magazine and newspaper columnist in the fields of consumer advice, civic matters and business development for the past twenty years.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Depression and Erectile function - Psychology of Sexuality - by PETERSON MARKY

A recent research showed that the brain activity is totally different during peak sexual activity.

That is why men with depression have difficulty in having satisfactory sex life. The serotonin level in depressed patients is lower than normal adults.

If the depression is treated with right medicines, their erectile function will also improve significantly. But the class of medications known as SSRI antidepressants are used to treat depression in men. But unfortunately these drugs also cause erectile dysfunction in 65% of men taking SSRI for depression.

Depression and ED are highly inter related. If a man is mentally depressed, he will have erectile dysfunction and similarly a man who has erectile dysfunction because of some other medical condition may have depression. So if a depressed man taking drugs for that will eventually have ED.

The recent research shows that in men undergoing treatment for depression, the new class of drugs called PDE5 has improved their erectile function. So in turn it paves a way to decrease their depression too. So with PDE5 class drugs both erectile function and symptoms of depression improved. Viagra, levitra, cialis belongs to the PDE5 class of drugs.

Another study reveals that underlying cardiovascular disease may also lead to erectile dysfunction. Since the cardiac output is low in such patients, the penile blood flow will be a bit lower than normal even though they are sexually aroused. The usage of PDE5 class drugs had significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate, improvement in measures of oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production.

This study confirms the successful treatment of ED wit PDE5 class drugs in CHF could not only improve sexual relationships but overall quality and success of CHF treatment.

PDE5 class drugs blocks the activity of the enzyme phospodiesterase type 5 which is active in multiple tissues and cells. So the effects of PDE5 class drugs are increased production of nitric oxide, which is directly responsible for smooth muscle relaxation. This improves the functioning of heart and blood vessels.

Reasons for erectile dysfunction are psychologic and organic in nature.

Harmonal problems or psychologically induced impotence, stable heart disease, controlled diabetes, controlled hypertension, chronic dialysis and kidney transplantation, Parkinson's disease, mild to moderate conjestive heart failure, taking antidepressants like SSRI inhibitors like prozac are organic in nature.

Psychological factors for erectile dysfunction are many but most often it is related to depression, performance anxiety, marital relation or stress etc. Organic factors include vascular, harmonal, drug induced. Some medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, obesity, neurological disorders also lead to erectile dysfunction. Drinking too much alcohol and smoking are also contributing factors in organic ED.

Exercising the pelvic floor muscles, i.e kegel exercise improved blood supply to pelvic area and strengthens pelvic muscles. After doing kegel exercise for 3 months many men reported increase in erectile function. Life style changes from sedentary nature also contribute to satisfactory sex life as well as to combat mental depression.

Some herbal products like Ashwagandha, tribulus terestris are found to increase libido, muscle strength, stamina and also reduce stress thus increase sex drive.

Peterson Marky regularly contributes articles to various ezines about health, fitness, internet marketing. See his generic cialas cealis blog for more information on cheap generic pde5 inhibitors.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Depression During Menopause - By Andrew Bicknell

As women approach midlife and menopause one of the things to be on the lookout for is depression. While menopause is not thought to be a cause of depression the two can occur at the same time. What is believed to be a cause of depression is changes in estrogen levels which occur during menopause. It is known that women are affected by depression over twice as much as men and that a family history of depression can factor into this as well.

The symptoms of depression and menopause are very similar and include sleep disorders, hot flashes, fatigue, anxiety, and irritability. Many women associate these symptoms with the changes that menopause brings, but they may be a sign of depression that needs to be understood and dealt with. There is no reason women need to suffer from depression during menopause. It is important that they accept the physical changes happening to their bodies during this time and work with their doctor to mitigate the symptoms of menopause, but it is also important that they realize that depression and menopause can be mutually exclusive and both can be dealt with.

As women approach menopause their menstrual cycles begin to change and start to become unpredictable. This unpredictability of their monthly cycle is a sign of erratic ovulation. Erratic ovulation causes unpredictable releases of the hormones estrogen and progesterone leading to mood swings, forgetfulness, hot flashes and all the other symptoms associated with menopause.

Most women going through menopause feel that they are loosing control of their bodies when in fact it is just their natural reaction to the aging process. This feeling of loss of control can lead to symptoms of depression. As the symptoms of both menopause and depression worsen they start to feel that there is nothing they can do and a feeling of hopelessness falls over them. This feeling of hopelessness is a major part of depression and left untreated can lead to severe depression.

Untreated depression is a major health risk. Researchers have found that depression is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and in some cases it can lead to bone deterioration increasing the likely hood of osteoporosis and broken bones.

The treatment for depression and menopause can follow a two pronged approach. It is important to treat not only the depression with antidepressant medications and counseling but also to treat the symptoms of menopause as well. Menopause can be treated with hormone replacement therapy where synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone are used to even out the woman's hormone levels.

If you are a woman approaching midlife and menopause be aware that depression can be a very real side affect of the changes that will happen to you. If start to see the symptoms of depression it is best to talk to your doctor about what treatment options may work best for you.

Andrew Bicknell is a writer and owner of Visit his website for more information about depression during menopause and depression itself.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Alcohol Depression: The Bottle May Be Increasing The Depression - By: Foras Aje

Alcohol depression is very grave and should not be one’s state of living, however just how one can overcome this form of depression could be quite challenging as two factors are being addressed here: a substance abuse and an emotional disturbance.

Dealing with depression means at the moment you may not be feeling too good. What with low energy, poor sleep and a general feeling of helplessness, naturally finding a solution out of being depressed is a much expected step. Sadly, most people turn to either legal (e.g. Zoloft) and illegal (e.g. marijuana) drugs or the use of drinking alcoholic beverages in a quest to ease the pain, however, research has shown that both illegal drugs and alcohol are marked depressants. (in spite of the buzz they may temporarily give) and speaking of depression drugs from recent studies, these substances just may not be worth the side-effects.

Now on the subject of alcohol use and depressive illnesses; this is actually the worst possible strategy for dealing with depression. Depressed moods can be a direct outcome of substance abuse. Conversely, use of alcohol by people with a depressive disorder may increase the severity of their depression symptoms and thus should be avoided.

Alcohol depression is quite rampant these days as up to 40 per cent of people who drink alcohol heavily have symptoms that resemble depression. However, when these same people are not drinking heavily, only 5 per cent of men and 10 per cent of woman have symptoms meeting the need to be diagnosed for depression.

Even though when used sparingly, alcohol may briefly produce a pleasant and relaxed state of the mind, depression resulting from alcohol is not uncommon. This starts off like anything else, slowly but picking up intensity with time. When alcohol is used sparingly, it may for a while lift the moods; however, when used to treat a depressive illness, tolerance to the effects of it may lead a patient of depression to drink more alcohol in search for a positive effect. This is where the problems begin, one drinks more and more and before you know it, alcohol- being a noted depressant-starts to cause depressive tendencies in the mind.

Alcohol Depression: Effects and Consequences

Now we all know alcohol confuses judgment and makes one more impulsive to take risks, moreover it causes a loss of inhibition and increases aggressive behavior and violent acts even towards one own self. Consequently, when used as a means to curb depression, this should be a particular concern as studies have shown depression can lead to suicide. Generally, a much higher incidence of suicide, both completed and attempted, is associated with alcohol depression.

Moreover, alcohol depression leads to complicated social disorders such as absenteeism, sickness and under-performance. Inevitably, marital problems often arise because of an alcohol problem, add this to the depression problems at hand, it is not surprising that many marriages have suffered due to this particular depressive illness.

In regards to health, alcohol depression can cause a lot of physical problems. These may arise in the liver in the form of hepatitis, cirrhosis or liver failure. Stomach Ulcers, sexual dysfunction and irregular heartbeat are other factors as well. Now these are just symptoms that result from excessive alcohol use, add to this the effects of depression on the body…needless to say, this particular form of depressive illness is a very serious and grave one. Here are the symptoms of this particular kind of emotional disorder.

Alcohol Depression: Symptoms indicating its presence

There are a number of pointers that should lead one to consider if one has an alcohol depression problem. In no particular order, they include:

1. Using alcohol to try to escape from one’s worries and trouble.

2. Drinking too much alcohol everyday.

3. Using alcohol to induce sleep.

4. Drinking this excessive alcohol alone.

5. Feeling an immense guilt about one’s excessive drinking

Thankfully, as with all things there is hope, however one has to have the desire to change. Enumerated are some helpful tips for this emotional disorder resulting from excessive drinking.

Alcohol Depression: Helpful solutions.

Depressive symptoms resulting from alcohol might indeed be quite difficult to curb, However, as with anything, the more one works at it, the better the chances of success.It always helps to know the cause of one’s reckless desire to drink in the first place. These may be marital, financial or even spiritual problems. Therefore these issues should be addressed by competent counseling, reading self-help books and even a good old talk with one’s creator.

Moreover, a simple fast or restricted diet on a seasonal juicy fruit can aid to detoxify the body of alcoholic tendencies. Now this may sound very unconventional, but according to Professor Arnold Ehret, this method has been used successfully to aiding many an alcoholic to give up excessive drinking. Dr. Stanley Burroughs also attested to this in his writings known as the Master Cleanser. Of course 60% of the battle may perhaps be the patient’s desire for change in the first place.

In addition, physical exercise, besides occupying one’s time, also goes a long way to first aiding in detoxifying the body and helping with alcohol depression as this method exercises the motor centers of the brain, making the blood flow away from the emotional activity center; consequently one becomes more receptive to positive thoughts. Yoga is highly recommended as a choice for exercise here as several benefits lay in its use as an alternative depression treatment. From the intense relaxation and stress relief that arises from its use, to the increase of alpha and theta waves in the right portion of the brain ( a noted characteristic of optimistic people), yoga as a means of coping with alcohol depression, though admittedly may be unconventional, is indeed a wise choice.

One major step in overcoming alcohol depression is the desire for change. Consequently if a relative or loved one expresses the need for help, it is advised to immediately lend a helping hand and walk them through the steps to redemption. If however one is alone in these struggles, well, the internet in constantly making the world a smaller place or help may just be a phone call away…as long as one makes the move, the spiritual forces that are ever inherent in our own minds will guide one to the right path for success. The tips provided thus far can definitely help as well.

Alcohol depression need not be one’s state of living, with the drug-free methods of a positive thinking, and even diet and proper exercise, its symptoms, causes and effects can definitely be overcome.

About the Author:

Foras Aje is an independent researcher and author of Fitness: Inside and out, a book on improving physical and mental health naturally. For additional information on depression treatment go to: more articles by: Foras Aje

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Family Advocacy - Part One - By Terry Coyier

Who Was Jean Piaget?

Jean Piaget was to cognitive development as Albert Einstein was to physics. In fact Einstein was afan of Piaget's work. Jean Piaget was born in Switzerland on Aug. 9, 1896. He published his first scientific paper at the age of 10. By the age of 22 he already had a doctorate in zoology. He became interested in psychoanalysis after WWII and attended lectures given by Carl Jung. He then studied in Paris working in Alfred Binet's child psychology lab. It was there that he first began to notice that children of the same ages answered true/false questions similarly.

He returned to Switzerland and spent many years studying and conversing with children. He realized through his conversations that when asked a question a child did not necessarily give an incorrect answer just because the answer wasn't an adult response. They instead gave logical answers based on the knowledge that they had within them. He concluded that if adults try to teach children to quickly that it prevents them from reinventing it themselves, thus making it their own.

His career spanned nearly 75 years and he is credited with developing several new fields of science including developmental psychology, cognitive theory and what later became genetic epistemology. Without him, some of today's modern methods would have never come about. Many of his theories are still the basis for modern child development including the "Theory of Knowledge Construction." This theory is based upon the principle that when a child comes into contact with a new piece of information, his mind must understand it in a way that fits his current view of the world. If it doesn't fit the mold then the child will re-construct their knowledge so they can assimilate the new information. It is much like constructing a building - you cannot start with the top, you must build the foundation first and then develop up from the base.

Four Stages of Cognitive Development in Children

Let's take a minute to get a feel for Piaget's 4 stages of cognitive development in children. Remember, he spent most of his life studying and interacting with children and I think his theory makes a lot of sense.

Stage I: Sensorimotor (Infancy)

Infants learn about the world around them through sensation and movement. The focus at this stage is on motor and reflex actions. They take a great interest in the faces and voices of caretakers. Parents can aid in their development by making faces, talking and singing to their little ones.

Stage II: Preoperation (Toddler & Early Childhood)

This stage's main focus on the child's intellectual development is language and using symbols (e.g. words and pictures). The child will act intuitively at this stage. They have active imaginations and vivid fantasies. It is not uncommon for the child to personify objects, thus giving toys and dolls human like qualities. Parents should take the time to help them learn language and promote their imaginations ,as well as pay attention to how they play with objects.

Stage III: Concrete Operation(Elementary & Early Adolescence

During this stage children start to process abstract concepts such as numbers and relationships. Before a child could only manipulate things physically. Now they begin to be able to manipulate them mentally as well. To do this they need concrete examples or they will not understand the concept. A child's development should focus on giving concrete examples of ideas.

Stage IV: Formal Operation (Adolescence & Early Adulthood)

This is the stage where children begin to reason logically and analytically without needing concrete examples as before. Children are now capable of hypothetical and deductive reasoning. Encouraging young people to consider multiple possibilities will help their development at this stage.

All of these stages represent areas of opportunity or risk of failure when it comes to helping your child get through the world. This task is tough enough for two parents who are normal by societies standards. Throw in a parent who suffers from a mental illness and you face a much greater challenge. This is the reason I started with the 4 stages of development - so that parents could see areas that they could reach out to their children in an appropriate way and affect them in a positive manner.

Some General Statistics

~*~Almost 1/3 of American women and 1/5 of American men provide evidence of psychiatric disorder in the past 12 months. Of these women, 65% are mothers; 52% are fathers.

~*~Women and men with mental illness are at least as likely, if not more likely, than those without psychiatric disorder to become parents.

~*~The majority of adults falling into psychiatric diagnostic categories (affective disorders,anxiety disorders, PTSD, psychotic disorders, etc.) are parents.

~*~1 in 4 American families are affected by parental mental illness.

Why Parents Don't Seek Help

One of the biggest reasons that adults don't seek assistance for their mental problems is due to the stigma that is still attached to having a mental illness. Unfortunately many people still do not view mental illnesses as a medical problem but as a personal flaw or weakness in the person. You still hear the mentally ill referred to as "crazy," "loony," "nuts," "psycho," or even worse terms.

One of the other reasons for not seeking treatment is that mental illness is the primary reason for custodial challenge. Some studies have reported as many as 70-80% of parents with a mental illness have lost custody of their children due to their illness (Burton, 1990). There remains a strong misconception that mentally ill parents are violent and are therefore at an increased risk for abusing their children. While this may be true for alcohol and drug abusers, it is not true for parents with psychiatric disorders getting treatment.

Still, for these reasons many people are afraid of getting the help that they need. They are afraid their symptoms may give the impression that they would be an unfit parent. If they are seen as unfit they could lose their children. Therefore families may not receive the services they need to raise healthy children. Thus a vicious cycle begins.

Warning Signs

The following is a list of symptoms that could indicate that children are not dealing well with a parent's mental illness. Mind you, these are also signs for other causes such as trouble in school, peer pressure, sexual problems, abuse, relationship problems, substance abuse, a change in circumstances at home and a host of other issues. Still, I felt they were worth mentioning. If you notice any of these things in your children over a continual period for 3-4 weeks, please seek help for them. Never turn a blind eye and think that the problem will solve itself.


*bad temper or irritability

*crying a lot

*sleeping problems


*not talking to people or going out with friends

*eating more or less than usual or skipping meals

*giving up hobbies


*feeling lazy, bored or tired

*stealing or getting into trouble

*not looking after themselves (hygiene)

*low self-esteem

*acting recklessly

*drinking alcohol or using drugs

*skipping school

*preferring to be alone

How Children are Affected - Risk or Resilience?

As seen above in Jean Piaget's "Theory of Knowledge Construction," children are only capable of understanding things if they have the knowledge from the preceding level of development. At each level they can be affected either adversely or positively by their interactions with their parents - regardless if the parent has a mental illness or not. The challenge here is the capability of mentally ill parents to provide what is needed at each stage. (This is where you want to go back and re-read the section on the 4 stages of cognitive development.) It is up to us as parents to provide them what is needed and as a mentally ill parent that becomes quite a challenge.

Now, research clearly indicates that parental mental illness increases the risk of the child developing emotional or behavior problems. (I'm leaving out genetics here since it is a different issue.) Children with the most serious emotional disturbances, served by systems of care across the U.S., report high rates of parental mental illness, psychiatric hospitalizations and substance abuse (Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families Program, Annual Report to Congress, 1998). This report shows nothing of the relationship between the age of a child and their exposure to parental mental illness. Some feel that if children are exposed repeatedly at a young age their risk is higher. However, some studies have failed to find conclusive results regarding age or developmental stages in regards to their level of risk (Oyserman et al.; Weissman, 1989).

Stressors outside of the family detrimentally affect children of parents with a mental illness. Stressful issues that increase the likelihood of emotional or behavioral problems are minority status, low levels of education, stigma, single parenthood, social isolation and poverty (Biedel & Turner, 1997; Hammen et al., 1987; Harnish et al., 1995; Sameroff & Seifer, 1983). These types of issues are difficult at best for a child to cope with but when you add in a mentally ill parent the problem is simply compounded massively.

The gender of the child also appears to play a roll in how they react to a parent's illness, although there is conflicting evidence in how exactly. Some studies show that girls are more adversely affected and some feel that it is boys who have a worse time coping. Studies have shown, however, that girls are more prone to develop depression and boys are more likely to exhibit conduct problems (Cummings & Davies, 1994).

It is well documented that children with greater intelligence, better social skills and stronger cognitive processes have been shown to be more resilient to their parental mental illness (Beardslee & Podorefsky, 1988; Radke-Yarrow & Sherman, 1990.) Cognitive skills such as a positive and coherent self-concept, a positive attribution style, effective coping and problem solving abilities have been associated with positive outcomes among children in general and specifically among children with depressed mothers (Beardslee & Podorefsky, 1988; Downey & Walker, 1989; Radke-Yarrow et al., 1995)

Terry J. Coyier is a 37-year-old college student studying for an Associates of Applied Sciences degree. She is also a freelance writer who writes about bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Terry was diagnosed with bipolar ten years ago. She lives with her son in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Terry is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers and her personal portfolio can be viewed here.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

What is Manic Depression? - By Kitty Barker

Manic depression is that state of depression in which the patient suffers from mood swings which go between extreme elation and depression. So while one minute the patient may feel on top of the world the other minute there will be feelings of despair and helplessness. Although there are many factors that cause this kind of depression genetic reasons are the most prominent ones. This means that two thirds of the people suffering from manic depression have someone in their family also suffering from the same. It is not only the moods of the person that get affected by this but there are also physiological changes, there will be heightened activity at some time, sleeplessness at another and it also impacts once social rhythms and thinking abilities.

Varying forms of Manic Depression

Bipolar Depression

There are varying degrees of manic depression which means in some cases the ratio of a person being depressed may be 3:1 while in other cases it could be as great as 37:1. What this means is that a person who has a ration of 3:1 will spend three times as much time depressed than elated.

Researchers are also if the opinion that the condition of depression that the patients of Manic depression feel is quite more than that of normal depression and indeed the chances of a person committing suicide is twice as much as someone who is suffering from only depression or unipolar depression as it is called.

Mixed Mania

Manic depression is also known to manifest itself in a Mixed state, this means that the people suffering from it will experience mania and depression at the same time. So they may experience agitation, anxiety, fatigue, guilt, impulsiveness, insomnia, irritability, morbid and/or suicidal ideation, panic, paranoia, pressured speech and rage all at the same time. A typical example would be someone tearful or even crying even when seemingly appearing very cheerful or excited. Such states are the most dangerous and are prone to induce the maximum chances of drug abuse and even suicides.

Rapid and utltradian cycles

Rapid cycling means that the individual tends to swing between one mood and the other quite frequently so while you may find them to be in a euphoric state at 10 in the morning as if the world belonged to them you can see them at 11 and feel that they are the most helpless people in this world, although such type of hour cycling is not known to afflict a lot of people there are fairly large number of cases who have greater cycles of a day or a month.

Famous people having manic depression

Although manic depression is a mental disorder and one must take all steps to ensure that one is treated of this condition there are several famous people who have had this kind of illness. And at the same time these people also attribute the reason for their creativity to having some sort of mania which helped them in the creative work they did. Indeed this is not to mean that you should not get yourself treated. If you were suffering from this disorder as it is a dangerous situation and many people like Kurt Cobain who was the lead singer of the rock band Nirvana have ended up committing suicide because they could not control it.

While most such celebrities have had turbulent life they were able to control it and live a more or less normal life. It would surprise most to know that it is thought that a large number of artists, writers and other celebrities like Vincent Van Gogh, Mark Twain, Axl Rose of Guns n Roses, Ozzy Ozbourne, Edgar Allen Poe, Isaac Newton, Florence Nightingale, Jimmi Hendrix, Ralph Waldo Emerson and even Winston Churchill were suffering from it.

In the end with proper treatment this illness can be controlled and taken care of and the list of successful people who have gone through their lives with this disorder should give the patients comfort that not only are they alone, people suffering from similar disease have lived happy and successful lives as well.

Author: Kitty Barker

Kitty often writes for and with Depression-Assistance. You can also see more information on this subject at Manic Depression - should this link be inactive, you can paste this link to your browser -

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