8 Ways To Persevere When Depression Persists

See PsychCentral Article Here
By 

Although I like to cling to the promise that my depression will get better — since it always has in the past — there are long, painful periods when it seems as though I’m going to have to live with these symptoms forever.

In the past, there was a time when I had been struggling with death thoughts for what seemed like forever. One afternoon, I panicked when I surmised that they might always be with me. I embraced the wisdom of Toni Bernhard, who wrote a brilliant handbook for all of us living with chronic illness, How to Be Sick. While reading her words, I mourned the life I once had and made room to live with symptoms of depression indefinitely.

The death thoughts did eventually disappear, but I’m always mindful of my depression. Every decision I make in a 24-hour period, from what I eat for breakfast to what time I go to bed, is driven by an effort to protect my mental health.

When I hit a painful stretch that feels like forever, I return to Bernhard’s insights and to my own strategies that have helped me persevere through rough patches along the way.

Here are some of them:

1. Revisit the Past

When we’re depressed, our perspective of the past is colored by melancholy, and we don’t see things accurately. For example, if I’m in a low mood, I look back on those years when I experienced death thoughts and think that I felt nothing but depression for more than 1,000 days. It’s helpful to peak at my mood journals from that period to see that I did have some good days and good times scattered throughout the painful stretches, which means I will have good hours and days in coming hard periods as well.

I also look at photo albums that bring me back to moments of joy sprinkled in amidst the sadness; these give me hope that even though I’m still struggling, it’s possible to contribute a nice memory to my album.

2. Remember that Pain Isn’t Solid

Going through mood journals is also a good way to remind myself that pain isn’t solid. I may start the morning with excruciating anxiety, but by lunch I might be able to enjoy a nice reprieve. At night I may even be capable of laughing at a movie with the kids.

Bernhard compares the painful symptoms of her illness to the weather. “Weather practice is a powerful reminder of the fleeting nature of experience: how each moment arises and passes as quickly as a weather pattern,” she writes.

I like to think of my panic and depression as labor pains. I breathe through the anguish, trusting that the intensity will eventually fade. Hanging on to the concept of impermanence gives me consolation and relief in the midst of distress — that the emotions and thoughts and feelings I’m experiencing aren’t solid.

3. Maximize Periods of Wellness

Most people who have lived with treatment-resistant depression or another chronic illness have learned how to maximize their good moments. During painful stretches, I consider these moments to be the rest periods I need between contractions. I soak them in as much as humanly possible and let them carry me through the difficult hours ahead.

4. Act As If

Author and artist Vivian Greene has written, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass … It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

That sums up living with a chronic illness. There’s a fine line between pushing yourself too hard and not challenging yourself enough, but most of the time, I find that I feel better by “acting as if” I’m feeling okay.

So I sign up for a paddle-boarding club even though I don’t want to; I have lunch with a friend even though I have no appetite; I show up to swim practice with tinted goggles in case I cry. I tell myself “do it anyway” and operate like I’m not depressed.

5. Embrace Uncertainty

Not until I read Bernhard’s book did I realize that much of my suffering comes from my desire for certainty and predictability. I want to know when my anxiety will abate, which medications will work, and when I’ll be able to sleep eight hours again. I’m wrestling for control over the steering wheel, and the fact that I don’t have it is killing me.

The flip side, though, is that if I can inch toward an acceptance of uncertainty and unpredictability, then I can lessen my suffering. Bernhard writes:

Just seeing the suffering in that desire loosens its hold on me, whether it’s wanting so badly to be at a family gathering or clinging to the hope for positive results from a medication or desiring for a doctor not to disappoint me. Once I see the [suffering] in the mind, I can begin to let go a little.

6. Stop Your Inner Meanie and Remember Self-Compassion

Like so many others who battle depression, I talk to myself in ways I wouldn’t even address an enemy. I call myself lazy, stupid, unmotivated, and deserving of suffering. The self-denigrating tapes are so automatic that I often don’t catch how harmful the dialogue is until I’m saying the words out loud to a friend or doctor.

We can relieve some of our suffering by addressing ourselves with the same compassion that we would offer a friend or a daughter. Lately, I’m trying to catch my inner meanie and instead offer myself kindness and gentleness.

7. Attach Yourself to a Purpose

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

When my depression gets to be unbearable, I picture my two kids and my husband, and I tell myself that I have to stick around for them. It’s fine if I never wear one of those “Life Is Good” T-shirts. I have a higher purpose that I must complete, like a soldier in a battle. I must see my mission through to the end. Dedicating your life to a cause can keep you alive and give you the much-needed fuel to keep going.

8. Stay in the Present

If we can manage to stay in the present moment and focus only on the thing that is right in front of us, we eliminate much of our angst because it’s almost always rooted in the past and in the future.

When I’m in a painful stretch, one day at a time is too long. I have to break it down into 15-minute periods. I tell myself that for the next 15 minutes, my only job is to do the thing in front of me, whether that’s helping my daughter with homework, doing the dishes, or writing a column. When 15 minutes are up, I commit to another 15 minutes. That way, I patch several days together, and before long, one of those days contains some joy.

 

9 Thoughts That Can Prevent You From Confronting Depression

See Author Article Here
One of the many difficult things about mental illnesses is that an illness can construct a narrative in your head that isn’t necessarily true. With depression, a combination of stigma and difficult-to-pinpoint symptoms may make diagnosis difficult. But the symptoms of depression are well-documented, and the first step is paying attention.

Since depression can alter your thoughts, it can be hard to differentiate when the illness is talking, versus when you are “When we are depressed we are viewing the world through a lens that isn’t congruent with our external reality, but during a depressive episode, our internal reality changes so it seems like things can be hopeless which often leads us to feel helpless,” Travis McNulty, LMHC, GAL, of McNulty Counseling & Wellness, tells Bustle. “ […] Usually depression manifests its form in a cycle of negative thoughts, negative emotions, and negative behaviors that further perpetuate one another.” These negative influences can actually start to convince you that you aren’t dealing with depression.

Some of these self-doubting thoughts may begin to dissipate when you acknowledge that depression is a serious diagnosis, and that you deserve help for the things you’re struggling with. Finding a mental health professional you can trust may help get you there even sooner.

Here are nine thoughts that can mask depression for what it is, according to experts.

1. That It’s Not “That Bad”

Aleksandr and Lidia/Shutterstock

If you’ve been noticing yourself feeling worse and worse for a while, but have a narrative of “I’m fine” running through your head — you may want to examine that thought further.

“One of the biggest lies that depression tells us is that we are OK,” licensed clinical social worker Melissa Ifill, tells Bustle. ” […] Unfortunately, we are often slow to give credibility to [any changes] or are truly unaware of how the depression is impacting us.” So if you find yourself minimizing your feelings, remind yourself that you don’t have to be at absolute rock bottom to deserve help.

2. “I Can Deal With This On My Own”

Ksenia Lucenko/Shutterstock

Depression is a serious illness, not a burden you have to bare alone. Even if you have been through blue spells before, you deserve help this time around.

“One of the major thoughts people often have when experiencing depressive symptoms is that they do not need help,” Ifill says. “They believe that the mood, feelings or thoughts will go away by themselves or if they keep behaving as if things are OK, they will be eventually.” While some wounds may heal with time alone, it’s OK to admit that you may need the support of friends, family, or a professional, for what you’re dealing with.

3. That Everything Is Bad

Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

While it’s harmful to downplay your symptoms, it can also be harmful to catastrophize what you’re feeling as well.

“Black and white thinking is a classic thought pattern for those who are experiencing depressive symptoms,” Ifill says. “[…] Having a good supportive network (which should include a helping professional) can assist you in challenging some of these thought patterns and help you to see the more varied perspectives that life has to offer.” Many people have felt like there’s no way out before, and there are a plethora of resources to help.

4. That It Doesn’t Matter Anyways

Creativa Images/Shutterstock

Another harmful way depression can try to trick you into thinking you’re not depressed is by telling you that it doesn’t matter either way.

“Depression causes helplessness and hopelessness,” Lara Schuster Effland, regional managing director of clinical operations for Eating Recovery Center’s Insight Behavioral Health Center, tells Bustle. “One may believe they are the problem and [that they are the reason] why they feel lonely and lost.” Blaming yourself for causing the consequences of your depression is hurtful. Finding a therapist or psychiatrist may help you break out of this thought pattern.

5. That You “Just Need A Vacation”

Creative Family/Shutterstock

Minimizing your symptoms does not always take the form of self-blame. Even telling yourself that you “just need a vacation” can be a way that the depression can get ahead.

“Feeling overworked, under-rested, and overwhelmed when depressed [is common],” Effland says. If you have a sense that you’re unable to get ahead, reaching out for support on that level is likely more helpful than a few days off could be.

6. That You’re Fine Because You’re In A Relationship

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Depression doesn’t discriminate. Having depression doesn’t make you ungrateful, either. So if you’re equivocating by telling yourself that you’re fine because you’re in a relationship, have a good job, or have great friends, you may actually be minimizing a serious illness.

“People who have the ‘perfect’ situation aren’t immune to depression, and often depression can come when everything is going well, because it often can’t be explained,” LGBT-affirming therapist Katie Leikam, LCSW, LISW-CP, tells Bustle. It’s important not to discredit your need for support just because things seem good on the outside.

7. That You Don’t Cry Much, So It Doesn’t Count

LightField Studios/Shutterstock

While depression can cause symptoms like excessive or easily-triggered crying, that doesn’t mean you should discount all of your other signs of the illness just because you haven’t been experiencing this.

“Depression can present itself in a lot of ways and only one of those ways is tears,” Leikam says. “Depression can also present itself in feeling lonely or numb of emotions and often people who feel numb, aren’t always able to cry.” If you’ve noticed that you’re feeling more apathetic than usual, then it’s a good first step to talk to your doctor.

8. That Excelling At Work Discounts Your Feelings

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Depression doesn’t always take away your ability to function. Many people with depression are still able to go about their daily lives. Just because you’re excelling at work doesn’t mean you don’t have depression.

“You can be on top of your game at work and still have clinical depression,” Leikam says. “Successful people can still have depression. Depression can be a chemical imbalance so it doesn’t discriminate against who has it and who doesn’t have it.” You deserve help even if you’ve been noticing symptoms, but are ignoring them because you think being high-functioning disqualifies you from the support you need.

9. That You’re Just Not “Normal”

Aaron Amat/Shutterstock

Mental health stigma can be incredibly powerful, especially if you’ve internalized it to the point that you believe something is wrong with you for feeling this way.

“Without an understanding of mental illness individuals often believe that depression is an indication that they’re not normal anymore, and that they are somehow different,” Dr. Neeraj Gandotra, MD, chief medical officer at Delphi Behavioral Health Group, tells Bustle. Reminding yourself that you’re still you, and that any changes to your health are worth taking care of, may help you get the boost you need to seek help.

Separating yourself from the symptoms of your depression can help you from being tricked by negative self-talk. “I like to help my clients refer to their depressive symptoms as ‘the depression,'” Ifill says. This way, you may be able to externalize the symptoms and emotions associated with depression, potentially making it easier to find a professional to support you.

If You’re Having Suicidal Thoughts, Please Read This

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Nikki Zarrella

I’ve now known, and I mean genuinely knew in person, spoke with, or was friends with, four people who have committed suicide. Attending those funerals, seeing all of the people who truly loved and cared for that person… How could they leave all of these people behind? I thought to myself. Even though, deep down, I knew how. Because I’ve been on both ends of this. I know how you can contemplate it, I know how the thought can cross your mind when you feel like you’ve been pushed so far, you’ve been hurt so much, suffered for so long. I have mourned for those individuals who have committed suicide, but I have also had dark moments when those thoughts have seeped into my mind too.

But why? Many people may wonder. Why would the thought of taking your own life ever cross your mind? Well, there are a million reasons why. And it could include anything from life trauma, to chemical imbalances in the brain, to overpowering stress, anxiety, or depression, or just trying to live in a world where you constantly feel like you don’t belong or like you’re always being knocked down. Or sometimes. We just don’t know why we feel the way we do, and we may never know.

In this life, people can be viciously cruel and extremely selfish. Even sometimes the people we love most can hurt us more than anything, or can let us down over and over again. People will hurt others without thinking about the repercussions of their actions, or even stopping to reflect on how they may have impacted another person in a negative, toxic way. Or sometimes, the pain is not caused by anyone else at all. Sometimes, we just feel alone. Like no one could ever possibly imagine or understand what’s going on inside our heads because we don’t even understand it. We feel crazy, dissociated from the world like a lost soul wandering deserted streets.

Suicide does not discriminate. Look at some of the most famous role models, the individuals who were idolized by millions of people, but it still wasn’t enough to keep them here. It wasn’t enough to fight off the demons or suppress the harmful thoughts. Kurt CobainChris CornellChester Bennington…the list goes on. I recently went to a Disturbed concert where lead singer David Draiman took the time to talk to us about suicide awareness and the “demons all of us are fighting,” each and every day. He told us that we must all be advocates not only for ourselves, but for those who are struggling mentally.

“Intervene. Be an advocate. Don’t wait until you’re at their funerals standing in front of their casket”

David urged. Friends, family, whomever that person is who is coming to you, reaching out to you at their darkest hour, be an advocate for them. Help them. In any way you possibly can. Suicide is never ever the answer, it is not a solution, eliminate it as an option. It is something that is permanent. There is no going back, no rewinding time. It is something that inflicts pain upon those who love you…even if you don’t always feel their love, it’s there. I promise. And you leaving this world will only hurt them, more than a thousand knives through the heart, more than you could ever imagine. You would leave a void in their lives that could never be filled. You will be gone, and you will be leaving them behind to hurt, to mourn, and to try and live an impossibly normal life afterwards.

The world we live in right now is all kinds of messed up. Men are taught to be strong, women are often seen as fragile, but everyone has demons, burdens to carry, weight on their shoulders. Everyone feels pain. We just all handle those demons and burdens in different ways. Distorted self-image, body shaming, bullying, traumatic events, the internal and external scars many of us carry with us…it is not an easy time to be navigating through this crazy world. But no matter what, you always have to remember that you are not alone. You have the power to change your life for the better. Regardless of how shitty other people can be or how heavy that weight on your shoulders may feel at times, the power is within you and the choices you make to change things, get the help you need and deserve, and to make a life for yourself.

It won’t be easy, and there will be days when it’s overwhelmingly difficult. There will be days much darker than others, but that means there will be brighter days too. I still have days where I feel like I’m drowning. Like every time I come up for air it is only to be knocked down again by a crashing wave. But in that darkness, in that web of anxiety, fear, and pain I often find myself tangled in, I remind myself of the people who love me. I remind myself of the years I have not yet lived. The places I want to travel to. The parts of the world I have not seen. My future filled with mystery, excitement, hopes, and dreams. The endless possibilities of where I could go, who I could meet, who I could become, what I could accomplish.

Life is a long and winding road, but you must stay strong. Don’t ever give up on yourself. There are millions of people out there who are struggling, who fight every single day to put on a brave face, even when deep down inside they feel broken, like they’re falling apart and are unable to keep picking up the pieces. But they keep on fighting because it’s worth it. Life is worth it. It will bring joyous moments, unforgettable memories…often at times when you least expect it. It is worth it to be here for the people you love, and who love you more than you know. You just need to hold on for the ride and stick around to witness all that will come, all that’s in store for you.

But in the meantime, go to therapy – any kind, don’t stop looking until you find one that works for you. There are endless amounts of options out there today. There are so many ways to find guidance, support, and someone who will truly listen and want to help you. Talk about your feelings, find a support group, look into appropriate medicines if you need to, confide in friends and family, begin a healthy hobby, adopt a pet, join a club, listen to music that soothes your soul, start traveling the world, focus on yourself. Do whatever it takes. Just don’t leave this earth. Do not shatter someone else’s world by leaving your own behind. Someone out there needs you, someone out there loves you. Live your life and stay alive to see your future come to fruition. And remember, there’s always a reason to keep on fighting for your life. Just don’t ever give up on yourself. Keep fighting. Keep staying strong. And keep living.

We Looked Into The Real Benefits of Acupuncture

See Vice Article Here
By Markham Heid

In 1991, on a trail high in the Austrian-Italian Alps, two hikers stumbled onto a man’s 5,000-year-old corpse. Now known as “Ötzi” the Iceman, the corpse bore more than a dozen clusters of skin tattoos.

Experts first assumed the tattoos were ornamental. But researchers have since noted that many of Ötzi’s inkings are located in places along his back and spine that correspond with traditional Chinese acupuncture points—points targeted for the treatment of digestive disorders. An analysis of Ötzi’s gut turned up the remnants of parasitic worms, and Ötzi’s pack contained a fruit known to help treat GI problems.

Experts broadly agree that acupuncture has been around since at least 100 B.C. While controversial, the Ötzi tattoo researchers say their findings suggest that a “treatment modality similar to acupuncture” may have existed more than 5,000 years ago.

If nothing else, acupuncture qualifies as a “time-tested” form of therapy. And while many conventional doctors and scientists dismiss it as pseudo-medicine, it’s hard to believe acupuncture could have persisted for millennia if there weren’t something to it. The research to date, while incomplete, suggests acupuncture may provide real therapeutic benefits.

What is acupuncture?

Traditional Chinese medicine holds that a sort of vital energy or life force—known as a person’s qi (pronounced or also known as “chi”)—flows through the body along defined pathways or “meridians.” Diseases are believed to cause (or be caused by) disruptions or “disharmonies” in the flow of a person’s qi. The needle pokes we all associate with acupuncture are meant to correct or influence these disharmonies.

Some contemporary acupuncture practitioners play down the stuff about qi and meridians. Also, acupuncture comes in many shapes and sizes: for example, some acupuncturists incorporate electrical stimulation. But needle insertions in specific points are a universal trait of the therapy.


More from Tonic:

 


From the perspective of conventional medicine, a therapy doesn’t “work” unless it both outperforms a placebo and does so via an identifiable “mechanism of action.” Like a high schooler taking a math exam, it’s not enough to for acupuncture to come up with the right answer—it also has to show its work.

A lot of researchers have gone looking for evidence that acupuncture “works,” but experts disagree in their interpretations of the study results. “There have been several recent meta-analyses [on specific conditions] that concluded acupuncture had a statistically significant benefit,” says Vitaly Napadow, an acupuncture researcher and director of the Center for Integrative Pain Neuroimaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “But depending on who you talk to, you’ll get different answers about whether they believe in specific acupuncture effects or if they think the role of placebo effect or expectancy made the difference.”

Napadow’s take: It’s not a panacea that will cure all ills, but there are some areas where acupuncture is promising and, given its safety profile, should be recommended. “I think its mechanisms depend on the disease it’s trying to treat,” he says.

For nausea- or pain-related conditions, acupuncture may activate nerve receptors in the skin that modulate levels of nervous system chemicals or signals involved in these ailments, he explains. Meanwhile, for conditions like arthritis or tendonitis, the micro-injuries caused by acupuncture pin pricks may draw blood and its healing elements to the affronted area—causing a temporary reduction in symptoms, he says.

But as of today, all these mechanisms are speculative and need to be confirmed by more research. There’s also debate over whether the stuff about qi or meridians is useful. Some studies that have compared sham acupuncture—basically, needles stuck in at random—to true acupuncture have failed to find a difference in patient outcomes, while others have concluded that legit acupuncture outperformed the sham procedure.

To sum all this up, everything to do with acupuncture is controversial. But for some conditions, the existing research suggests the practice may confer real and meaningful benefits.

Does acupuncture work for pain?

“This is the area where we have the most data,” Napadow says. And the results are encouraging.

A comprehensive 2018 review found that, for patients managing chronic pain, acupuncture outperformed a sham procedure and “standard” care, which usually meant pain pills. “If our study had been on a drug, we’d say the drug works—there’s a statistically significant effect there,” says Andrew Vickers, first author of that study and a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Vickers’ study focused on patients suffering from pain associated with four common ailments: back and neck pain, arthritis, shoulder pain, and headaches. Acupuncture was similarly effective for each of these conditions, his study found. Also, acupuncture’s benefits were durable: After a year of treatment, the average patient reported only a minor drop it its efficacy.

“It could be that acupuncture is just a very effective placebo,” Vickers says. But when you consider the lack of good treatment options for long-term pain—and the risks associated with prescription pain pills or surgeries—acupuncture is “a reasonable referral option” for patients with chronic pain, he says.

Can acupuncture treat gut disorders?

The evidence on acupuncture for gut problems is mixed. A 2017 study inAnnals of Internal Medicine found that, for patients suffering from severe constipation, acupuncture significantly outperformed a sham procedure when it came to improving the frequency of bowel movements. But more research is needed to assess the long-term effects of acupuncture, that study’s authors write.

Meanwhile, a 2013 review from a group of Chinese researchers found evidence that acupuncture may beat out some common prescription drugs for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). But the authors of that review say the studies they turned up were generally of “low” quality. A 2007 review from a German team linked acupuncture with significant improvements in quality of life and “disease activity scores” (a measure that determines whether symptoms have reduced) among patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis—the two most common forms of IBD. But the authors of that review say the studies they turned up were generally of “low” quality—meaning the design or execution of the studies was poor, and so the results are shaky.

Long story short, the jury’s still out.

Does acupuncture work for fertility?

Proponents of acupuncture have long recommended it for female menstrual health and fertility. And a 2014 research review from Australia found “preliminary” evidence that acupuncture could help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and “assist” healthy ovulation.

How (in the hell) could it do that? Some research has hypothesized that acupuncture may help stimulate and also regulate uterine and ovarian blood flow, which could help thicken the lining of a woman’s uterus, which in turn could facilitate embryo implantation and successful pregnancy. But all this is theoretical.

2018 study, also from Australia, tracked more than 800 women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). It found no significant uptick in successful births among those who underwent acupuncture versus those who didn’t.

Can acupuncture treat depression?

Again, the research is all over the map. A 2010 review found “insufficient” evidence backing acupuncture for the treatment of depression. But, more recently, a team of UK academics determined that there was “promising” clinical evidence showing acupuncture could help treat depression—enough to warrant further research.

It’s probably worth noting that, even when it comes to prescription antidepressants (namely, SSRIs), there’s considerable expert disagreement about whether these pills outperform placebos. While the data on acupuncture for the treatment of depression is inconsistent, some studies suggest it’s “at least” as effective as prescription drugs.

Does it work for anything else?

Pick a medical condition or mental health disorder, and there’s probably some evidence suggesting acupuncture may help treat it. But the reality is that, as of today, experts are still trying to wrap their heads around acupuncture and its role in medicine.

There are two things that can be said for acupuncture: It’s relatively inexpensive, and it comes with very few side effects, Napadow says. If the alternative is an expensive procedure or pills—especially opioids or other medications with serious side effects—you lose very little by giving acupuncture a try first, he adds.

Is Pursuing Happiness the Smart Thing to Do?

See Psychology Today Article
By Alexei Orlov

Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels
Source: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi/Pexels

In the quest for happiness, I have come to understand it as a fleeting emotion, as fluid as tidal waters. Rather than looking outward for nirvana, I should instead seek a better sense of self. In the end, I know for sure that the only measurement that matters is my own. I do not give myself permission to measure my worth against the earthly achievements of others; that is as superfluous as it is harmful.

I have walked through many passages of life and never have I met anyone who is completely and absolutely in a constant state of euphoria or happiness. That being said, I am blessed for having met a rare few who despite the noise of the world and the scars and blooms of their own experiences, are truly at one with themselves. It is they who find the closest state to pure bliss.

Every time I have met such a person, they seemed to have the same traits:

  • they were remarkable listeners
  • they read a great deal and reflected even more
  • they walked away from the chatter of every day regularly, sometimes for an hour, other times much longer
  • they were always thankful for something even when their plight seemed unbearable to an outsider
  • they admired simplicity;
  • they gave space and time to others;
  • and most importantly, they sought honesty from within before searching for it in others.

I hope I shall find this balance of the wisdoms one day.

From where I stand, those that deny the varied degrees of darkness that molest their minds and sometimes their very souls—always seeking a distant light, always measuring always desiring—make victims of themselves. There is that terrible saying that goes: “the happier my friends the more I die.” Trying to measure one’s happiness by the rule of others can be dangerous.

Most times the best of things are right there with us, if only we did less reaching out and more listening to the voice within.

I have come to believe that it is important to see happiness not as something that is an additional benefit but an inextricable part of existence; what we value and our values are often not the same thing. There is no constant state of mind.

Another’s perceived success should not be allowed to serve as the ultimate measure of our own worth or happiness! How would one really know what history remains in their quest? Do you know where the bones may lie, or what tears have fallen?

Victor Freitas/Pexels
Source: Victor Freitas/Pexels

To my mind, any sense of enduring happiness is much more about benevolent values, things that don’t disarm or harm. A person’s fame or another’s wealth does not make him special, just different. I am different and unique and so are all others. Whether one is very public or considers themselves an unknown is of no real consequence.

Only you—and you alone—know who you really are. You have the power of self. Social measures are a man-made delusion. Social strata are pretty much medieval. Human knowledge: a knowledge of self and one’s effects upon others is what truly matters.

It is incredible how often we can watch without seeing, hear without listening, speak without reflection and judge without understanding. Blind assumption is the mother of all disaster. Space, reflection, and listening to the whispers of those who care as much as your own inner voice are your true and important companions.

The pursuit of happiness is like trying to catch feathers in the wind; it’s a whimsical folly and will not last forever. We will have many spikes and many valleys.

George Desipris/Pexels
Source: George Desipris/Pexels

From the moment we have basic cognitive power we are taught how to react to and assimilate things. I have more chance to stay balanced, with less teetering—even in this world of uncontrollable wonders—if I listen to myself and am open to constant discovery. If I have the courage to reshape and to retreat, I can then spring forward with an open mind and spirit.

In the search to belong we are all too often lost while surrounded by many. Being part of the madding crowd is, I guess, a part of most of our lives and we have to deal with it. One can’t just simply get off the proverbial bus while it speeds along the motorway.

But that does not mean for one moment that you can’t step away from the invading noise. You’re only good to others when first you take care of yourself.

Search for the right thing—a sense of self and of things that you value that will keep you appeased even when outside conditions are rough. Perfection is best found in embracing our imperfections: We are none of us perfect but like an aged oak table: gnarled and blemished but still standing as something utterly specific.

Your sense of worth and your sense of self belong entirely to you. The only place to look for them is within. To search for these essential feelings is the most important work many of us will do, and a continual state of being. This is in and of itself a happy state.

10 Common Signs And Symptoms Of Depression—And When To Get Help

See Author Article Here
By Hallie Gould

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 18.5% of adults in the United States experience mental illness every year. That’s a significant portion of our population—one in five people—yet the stigma and misunderstanding that surround mental health remain. If you are feeling symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor to learn more about treatment options.

1/11

PHOTO:

STOCKSY

 

We throw around the phrase “I’m depressed” to describe a stressful situation at work or the end of a relationship. But just like the word “crazy,” for which the etymology has shifted over time, depression can often be mistaken for a way to characterize an emotion rather than a mental health issue. It trivializes those who suffer from the disorder, a real chemical imbalance that creates negative and difficult circumstances beyond our control.

Because it all can seem convoluted, the definitions melting into each other, it’s often challenging to know when to seek help. “Treatment should be sought for depression when the symptoms are interfering with the quality of your life,” says therapist and mental health expert Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C. “Depression is treatable, and there is no reason to suffer in silence.”

To get a better understanding of the hallmark symptoms of depression, I reached out to two experts for their opinions and advice. Below, they detail 10 different, common warning signs to look out for. Keep reading for their thoughts.

Next Steps: 

“Any of these symptoms can occur with any of us at any given time, and that can be completely normal,” notes Lindsay Henderson, Psy.D., a psychologist who treats patients virtually via the telehealth app LiveHealth Online. “But if you are experiencing more and more of these symptoms, or they are growing in severity, start paying a bit more attention to how you are feeling overall. If you notice that these symptoms are impacting your overall functioning, it may be time to seek professional help. The good news is that help can come in many forms and individuals have options for how they address their mental health.”

We know that things like social activity, healthy eating, good sleep, and regular exercise all directly contribute to a healthier mood. If you notice yourself experiencing symptoms of depression, take a look at your daily routines and overall physical health to identify areas that can improve. “It can be beneficial to engage in therapy and talk with a mental health professional about what you are experiencing,” says Henderson. “Not only can a therapist help assess and diagnose the experiences you may be having, but they can also offer tips and tools to better understand, manage, and cope with the many complex emotions you feel.”

Here’s the thing: We know the idea of finding a therapist and getting to appointments can be overwhelming. Online therapy can be a wonderful way to break down many of the barriers that can get in the way of accessing therapy, as the appointment can take place wherever you feel most comfortable. Talk to your doctor to make the best plan for you and seek out an appointment with a psychiatrist. Your doctor may talk with you about the pros and cons of taking medication, which can be particularly helpful with depression and anxiety, but not for everyone. It’s best to talk first with a professional about your options before making any decisions.

Why People With A History Of Bad Relationships Don’t Sleep Well

See Author Article Here
By Kelly Gonsalvez

Anyone who has ever slept next to a partner knows being part of a unit can affect how well you sleep—from dealing with the other person’s weird tossing and turning all night to battling for your fair share of the blanket to trying to get some shut-eye when you’re still halfway through a fight with the person lying next to you and you can’t stop thinking about it.

Past research has shown your relationship can affect your sleep, but a new study published in the Personal Relationships journal has now found an even deeper connection between your love life and sleep: Apparently having a history of stressful relationships may make you more likely to have poorer sleep quality.

Researchers analyzed existing data that had been collected on over 260 people born in the mid-1970s regularly from the time they were born until mid-adulthood. These participants were asked questions about their lives periodically, including being surveyed and interviewed about their recent romantic relationships, experiences with stress, and sleep quality. Analyzing these people’s responses between ages 23 and 37, the researchers discovered a trend: People who’d had better relationships during their early adult years dealt with fewer and less disruptive stressful life experiences at age 32, and that led to having better sleep quality at age 37. That was true regardless of depression status, gender, ethnicity, income, education, and even how much stress people currently had at age 37.

In other words, having a history of good relationships as a young adult—that is, stable long-term relationships where there’s mutual care, trust, emotional closeness, and sensitivity to each other’s needs and where conflicts are resolved in a healthy and satisfying way—tended to lead to less stressful experiences throughout adulthood, which in turn led to better sleep over time.

It’s understandable why stressful life experiences (like job changes, health issues, legal battles, and interpersonal conflicts) would take their toll on a person’s sleep quality; a lot of past research has shown that having a lot of stress can seriously disrupt your sleep. But why might having a better love life lead to having fewer of these types of seemingly unrelated tough life events, or at least having them be less stressful?

“One explanation is that people who possess the interpersonal competencies necessary to maintain relationships marked by mutual caring, trust, conflict resolution, and other positive characteristics are also more likely to have other traits that may mitigate their exposure to and reduce the severity of those stressors when they occur,” the researchers write in the paper. “For instance, people who score high in romantic relationship effectiveness may be more likely to demonstrate caring and responsiveness in other types of relationships (e.g., with family or co-workers), which might reduce exposure to conflict. Moreover, when stressful events due to uncontrollable sources are encountered (e.g., unemployment, death of a family member), people high in relationship effectiveness may also be more likely to possess intrapersonal and interpersonal resources, allowing them to cope better with the stressful life event and reduce its severity.”

So people who are good at romantic love are probably good at dealing with people in other parts of their life, and those skills and emotional experiences set them up to either avoid stressful occasions or deal with them well when they occur.

“Cues of social belongingness and emotional security can facilitate a sense of protection that down-regulates stress reactivity and promotes better sleep,” the researchers explain. “Given that romantic relationships are an especially potent source of social belongingness and emotional security in adulthood, one’s experiences, tendencies, and engagement in his or her romantic relationships should have a particularly strong impact on sleep patterns.”

This is all pretty hard news to hear for anyone who feels like they’ve had a pretty unlucky love life thus far. But don’t worry: The point here isn’t that if romance isn’t the easiest for you, you’re doomed to a life of stress and bad sleep. Rather, this study simply reinforces one of the most important benefits of being in a relationship: being able to learn about how to communicate better, navigate conflicts, take care of another person, and take care of yourself. Relationships are far less about validating your worth as much as they are about learning how to become a better human being.

The good news? You can totally do that without a partner, too. Romantic relationships happen to be a great place to learn those lessons, but so are so many other parts of our social lives—our family relationships, our friendships, our professional connections, and more.

If your sleep and mental health are important to you, then your social relationships should be too. Interfacing with other people is pivotal not only to learning how to deal with stress and conflict but also to having a support system in place during all those bad times. That stability seems to be the real key to being able to have a secure, peaceful night’s sleep over time.

This App Matches Aspiring Dog Owners With Their Dream Rescue Pup

See Author Article Here

A Tinder-inspired dog adoption app, which aims to pair potential owners with their perfect rescue dog through their smartphones, has launched.

GetPet follows a similar format to human dating apps. Once downloaded, users can scroll through photos of dogs looking for new homes at local shelters, and find out essential info such as their temperament and age, before swiping right for a ‘like’ or left to see another profile. Once matched, you can then arrange a ‘date’ with your preferred pup.

The app was the brainchild of developers in Lithuania, after reportedly spotting a stray dog wandering the streets and feeling compelled to act.

But some dog-lovers have questioned the ethics behind the app, querying how rigorous the screening process is likely to be and how fair the technology is for the dogs featured. After all, they don’t get to swipe right on their preferred owner, do they.

Despite this, GetPet’s creators say hundreds of users have signed up, and they’ve already helped re-home several dogs in Lithuania. They plan to add cats and other animals to the app in the near future.

Marijuana Access Is Associated With Decreased Use Of Alcohol, Tobacco And Other Prescription Drugs

See Author Article Here
By Paul Armentano

A significant amount of data has been generated in recent years showing that cannabis access is associated with reduced levels of opioid use and abuse. But emerging data also indicates that many patients similarly substitute marijuana for a variety of other substances, including alcohol, tobacco and benzodiazepines.

Last month, a team of researchers from Canada and the United States surveyed over 2,000 federally registered medical cannabis patients with regard to their use of cannabis and other substances. (Medical cannabis access has been legal across Canada for nearly two decades).

Investigators reported that nearly 70 percent of respondents said that they substituted cannabis for prescription medications, primarily opioids. Forty-five percent of those surveyed acknowledged substituting cannabis for alcohol and 31 percent of respondents said that they used marijuana in place of tobacco.

Among those who reported replacing alcohol with cannabis, 31 percent said they stopped using booze altogether, while 37 percent reported reducing their intake by at least 75 percent. Fifty-one percent of those who reported substituting cannabis for tobacco said that they eventually ceased their tobacco use completely.

 

This documentation of cannabis substitution is not unique. A 2017 study of medical cannabis patients similarly reported that 25 percent of the cohort reported substituting cannabis for alcohol, while 12 percent substituted it for tobacco. A 2015 paper published in the journal, “Drug and Alcohol Review” also reported that over half of patients surveyed substituted marijuana in lieu of alcohol. A placebo-controlled clinical trialperformed by researchers at London’s University College reported that the inhalation of CBD — a primary component in cannabis — is associated with a 40 percent reduction in cigarette consumption.

Numerous studies also indicate that legal cannabis access is associated with reductions in overall prescription drug spending. While much of this reduction is the result of the reduced use of opioids, studies also report decreases in patients’ consumption of other prescription drugs, such as sleep aids, anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. A 2019 study by a team of Canadian researchers reported that the use of marijuana is associated with the discontinuation of benzodiazepines. (The popular anti-anxiety medication was responsible for over 11,500 overdose deathsin the United States in 2017, according to the US Centers for Disease Control). In their study of 146 subjects, the initiation of medical cannabis resulted in significant and sustained reductions in patients’ use of the drug.

By the trial’s conclusion, 45 percent of participants had ceased their use of benzodiazepines. In a separate study, also published this year, of over 1,300 US medical cannabis patients suffering from chronic pain conditions, 22 percent reported substituting marijuana for benzodiazepines.

These scientific findings run contrary to the so-called “gateway theory” – the long-alleged notion that marijuana exposure primes users to ultimately engage in the use of far more intoxicating and addictive substances. By contrast, for many people cannabis appears to act as an “exit drug” away from potentially deadly pharmaceuticals, booze, cigarettes and even other illicit substances such as cocaine.

As more jurisdictions move away from cannabis prohibition and toward a system of regulated access it will important to monitor the degree to which these trends continue and to assess their long-term impacts on public health and safety.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML — the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. He is the co-author of the book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? and the author of the book, The Citizen’s Guide to State-By-State Marijuana.  Laws.

Beer Yoga Lets You Tap Your Inner Power (And Favorite Brew)

See Author Article Here
By Brian Bull

If you’re a beer aficionado who likes developing strength, flexibility, and a sense of well-being, you’ll want to roll out a mat at the annual KLCC Brewfest this weekend.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports on the trend of “beer yoga.”

Benjamin Wilkinson, principal partner and lead instructor of Stop, Drop & Yoga LLC, atop KLCC’s RV, “Elsie”.

The event is being coordinated by Stop, Drop, and Yoga, which already holds beer-yoga classes at the Public House in Springfield. Its lead instructor, Benjamin Wilkinson, says the concept is simple.

Wilkinson leads a beer yoga session at the Public House in Springfield.
CREDIT STOP, DROP & YOGA LLC

“It’s yoga plus beer,” he says, chuckling.  “And traditionally we do the yoga first, then we drink the beer afterwards.

“However, the idea is to combine some of your favorite things. Adding yoga to a beer festival is just one more way to enjoy that festival.”

Wilkinson says there’s two beer-yoga sessions Saturday afternoon, and all are welcome regardless of experience.

“Come for the ‘ohm’, stay for the ale.  But if you’re a lager fan, we don’t discriminate.”

CREDIT JULIE 0_0 / FLICKR.COM

As to what Wilkinson likes to drink after yoga?

“I’m a big fan of open fermented sours,” he tells KLCC.

“There’s nothing like a little mindfulness to put you in the place to drink and enjoy a complex and interesting beer.”

The sessions are free to all Brewfest participants.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.