Archive for Depression

Sep
19

Top 25 Free E-Books about Depression

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Educating yourself about your illness, issue or difficulty is very useful and very empowering.  One of the benefits of being human is that we have the ability to communicate ideas to each other through language.  Others have dealt with similar issues as you may be facing now, and still others have devoted years to studying those issues.  You don’t have to find out what they know through your own trial and error.  You can just read about it!  Even if their information doesn’t match your situation perfectly, it can help you to understand what you’re going through, and to cope more effectively.

Therefore, I’m glad to pass along a great resource.  Below is an excerpt from an article listing 25 free e-books about depression, with a link to the entire article:

While it is normal to occasionally feel sad, when a person has major depressive disorder, they experience a severely depressed mood that can remain for years at a time. This is often referred to as depression, which can interfere with daily functioning and cause distress for both the person with the disorder and their family. With an estimated 16 percent of adults suffering from depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, cases of depression are by no means isolated.

With everyone from doctors to therapists to herbal specialists chiming on the subject, reading more about depression can help both patients and caregivers make better decisions. If you are high in desire to learn but low on the wallet, there are options. To help out, we have gathered the below top 25 free and useful eBooks about depression. They are authored by everyone from licensed therapists to those who have suffered some type of depression.  (Click to read the entire article listing the Top 25 Free and Useful eBooks About Depression.)

 

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Nov
09

Postpartum depression – MayoClinic.com

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DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staffThe birth of a baby can trigger a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression.Many new moms experience the baby blues after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings and crying spells and fade quickly. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.

via Postpartum depression – MayoClinic.com.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Jun
06

Causes of Fatigue and Sleepiness and How to Fight Them

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Here’s another good slideshow from WebMD:

Fatigue Cause No. 1: Not Enough Sleep

It may seem obvious but you could be getting too little sleep. That can negatively affect your concentration and health. Adults should get seven to eight hours every night.

Fix: Make sleep a priority and keep a regular schedule. Ban laptops, cell phones, and PDAs from your bedroom…

Fatigue Cause No. 2: Sleep Apnea

Some people think they’re sleeping enough, but sleep apnea gets in the way. It briefly stops your breathing throughout the night. Each interruption wakes you for a moment, but you may not be aware of it…

Click here for more on causes of fatigue and how to fight them.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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As a therapist working with depression, I hear many descriptions of depression, and many stories of coping.  It plays out uniquely in each person’s life.  I’d like to share with you one writer’s description for a couple of reasons.

First, those with depression sometimes feel better knowing that there are others out there who can relate to what they’re going through, are encouraged to see a story of recovery, and can get ideas from each other on how to cope.  Second, family and friends of those with depression can get a glimpse of how difficult it can be, and thus be more empathetic.

And who better to describe this experience than a writer?  The following excerpt is from “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert:

…during the last few years of my life, there was no question that I was in grave trouble and that this trouble was not lifting quickly.  As my marriage dissolved and my drama with David evolved, I’d come to have all the symptoms of a major depression – loss of sleep, appetite and libido, uncontrollable weeping, chronic backaches and stomachaches, alienation and despair, trouble concentrating at work… it went on and on.

When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost.  For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wondered a few feet off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now.  Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises any more…

…I tried so hard to fight the endless sobbing.  I remember asking myself one night, while I was curled up in the same old corner of my same old couch in tears yet again over the same old repetition of sorrowful thoughts, “Is there anything about this scene you can change, Liz?“…

…The last thing I tried after about two years of fighting this sorrow, was medication… For me the decision to go the route of “Vitamin P” happened after a night when I’d sat on the floor of my bedroom for many hours, trying very hard to talk myself out of cutting into my arm with a kitchen knife.  I won the argument against the knife that night, but barely…

…And I will never forget Susan’s face when she rushed into my apartment about an hour after my emergency phone call and saw me in a heap on the couch.  The image of my pain mirrored back at me through her visible fear for my life is still one of the scariest memories for me out of all those scary years.  I huddled in a ball while Susan made the phone calls…

…When I went to see the psychiatrist that afternoon, he asked me what had taken me so long to get help… “If you had a kidney disease, you wouldn’t hesitate to take medication for it – why are you hesitating with this?“… He put me on a few different drugs… in less than a week, I could feel an extra inch of daylight opening in my mind.  Also, I could finally sleep…

…Still, I never relaxed into taking those drugs… I always felt conflicted about it.  Those drugs were part of my bridge to the other side, there’s no question about it, but I wanted to be off of them as soon as possible… Those pills might have saved my life, but they did so only in conjunction with about twenty other efforts I was making simultaneously during that same period to rescue myself, and I hope to never have to take such drugs again…

…But… here I am.  I am in Rome, and I am in trouble.  The goons of Depression and Loneliness have barged into my life again… I don’t know what to do, and I’m spiraling in a panic, like I always spiral when I don’t know what to do.  So what I do for tonight is reach for my most private notebook, which I keep next to my bed in case I’m ever in emergency trouble.  I open it up.  I find the first blank page.  I write:

I need your help.”  Then I wait.  After a little while, a response comes, in my own handwriting:

I’m right here.  What can I do for you?

And here recommences my strangest and most secret conversation.  Here, in this most private notebook, is where I talk to myself.  I talk to that same voice I met that night on my bathroom floor when I first prayed to God in tears for help, when something (or somebody) had said, “Go back to bed, Liz.”  In the years since the, I’ve found that voice again in times of code-orange distress, and have learned that the best way for me to reach it is written conversation.  I’ve been surprised to find that I can almost always access that voice, too, no matter how black my anguish may be.  Even during the worst suffering, that calm, compassionate, affectionate and infinitely wise voice (who is maybe me, or maybe not exactly me) is always available for a conversation on paper at any time of day or night…

…So tonight I reach for that voice again… What I write in my journal tonight is that I am weak and full of fear.  I explain that Depression and Loneliness have shown up, and I’m scared they will never leave.  I say that I don’t want to take the drugs any more, but I’m frightened I will have to.  I’m terrified that I will never really pull my life together.

In response, somewhere from within me, rises a now-familiar presence, offering me all the certainties I have always wished another person would say to me when I was troubled.  This is what I find myself writing to myself on the page:

“I’m here.  I love you.  I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long, I will stay with you.  If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it – I will love you through that, as well.  If you don’t need the medication, I will love you too.  There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love.  I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you.  I am stronger than Depression and I am braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me…”

…I fall asleep holding my notebook pressed against my chest, open to this most recent assurance.

Ms. Gilbert has crafted a beautiful, often funny book in “Eat Pray Love,” and goes on to describe many other challenges as well as successes, joys, and unique experiences in her one year of travels that this book tells about.  She has a wonderful receptiveness and openness to the various people and cultures she encounters along the way, and an honesty about herself that is clearly informed by much self-reflection and contemplation.

As you can tell, the excerpts above leave a lot out.  Her book isn’t just about depression, but rather about her journey to recover after a particularly difficult transition in her life, and not just about traveling, but also about her spiritual journey and discoveries.  I for one enjoyed the book, and I hope that you find the above sections not only illustrative but heartening.

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Mar
05

Fish Oil for Mental Health

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We often think of medication and therapy as the two main approaches to treating mental health symptoms, but I’m a strong believer in the wellness approach that also recognizes the influence of lifestyle factors such as diet, supplements, social support, spirituality and other factors.

I’ve happened across more information about the benefits of fish oil recently, this time not just about mood benefits, but also its effects of psychotic disorders.  It appears that Omega 3 Fatty Acids are important for neuron cell structure and are highly concentrated in the brain.  Here are a few of interesting articles on the topic.

Fish Oil to Treat Depression?

Omega-3’s may have an affect on serotonin levels.
WebMD Feature

Dave thinks a lot about fish these days. Study after study has suggested benefits for omega-3 fatty acids, which are plentiful in certain fish oils. But what intrigues Dave isn’t that omega-3’s might reduce his risk of heart attack, or ease the pain of arthritis. He’s hoping to lubricate his mind.

A handful of small studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can help smooth out the mood swings of bipolar disorder. There are few effective treatments against the disease, so the news is a hot topic now at support groups for manic-depressives, like the Berkeley, CA, group in which Dave participates.

Continue reading on Web MD – Fish Oil to Treat Depression

Fish Oil for Psychotic Disorders

This report says that fish oil can help with psychotic disorders as well.

Taking a daily fish oil capsule can stave off mental illness in those at highest risk, trial findings suggest.  A three-month course of the supplement appeared to be as effective as drugs, cutting the rate of psychotic illness like schizophrenia by a quarter.The researchers believe it is the omega-3 in fish oil – already hailed for promoting healthy hearts – that has beneficial effects in the brain.  A “natural” remedy would be welcomed, Archives of General Psychiatry says.  “The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent, or at least delay, the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic drugs,” the study authors said.

Continue reading on BBC News – Fish oil supplements ‘beat psychotic mental illness’.

More Links

Here are a few more links you might like to check out to read more about the mental health benefits of fish oil.

Fish Oil Helps Treat Depression – ABC News

Fish Oil Depression — Omega-3 Fatty acids – Real Depression Help

Omega-3 Fatty Acids –PsychEducation.org

Why Not?

And all this is in addition to the multiple physical benefits of fish oil… heart health, skin, joints.  So why not take it?  I personally take and recommend Nature Made odorless liquid softgels (1200mg per day).

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Pain is one of the most common symptoms people with depression complain about, and people who are depressed experience more impairment from their pain than those who are not depressed. Often, the depression-pain scenario plays out in a vicious cycle, and to find relief from one, you must treat the other.

Although we like to think of ourselves as stoic, physical pain can wear down even the most robust of spirits and eventually lead to depression or anxiety. For those who have a family history of mood disorders or have had prior episodes, the stress of pain can trigger… (click to continue reading via Johns Hopkins: Healthy Living on pain, depression, anxiety connection.)

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Jan
18

Feeling Blue? Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Getting Those Chicago Winter Blues?

The Southtown Star interviewed me about Seasonal Affective Disorder. The article was published this last weekend.

There was however one paragraph in which Ms. Sharwarko paraphrased me that did not make sense.  I left a comment at the end of their article to clarify what I had actually meant.

Also, here are a couple links to resources for light therapy.  One is from Philips and the other from Northern Light Technologies.

Feeling Blue?  You’re Not Alone

January is a tough month for some people to tackle.

As they pack away holiday stress, the joy of the season fades too. Holiday shopping bills stack up. And people face the start of a new year, a time when they examine their lives, for better or worse.

All this, combined with the physical effects of a season without significant sun, creates a framework for people to find themselves depressed.

“There is a common experience of having finished the business and running around that the holidays require,” said Anda Jines, a licensed clinical professional counselor for Hoover and Associates in Tinley Park. “It can be an adjustment to switch gears back to the daily grind.” (Click to continue reading about Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Jan
17

Johns Hopkins: Depression|Anxiety on exercise|mood

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I have run across several such reports, which indicate that exercise is good for managing mood and anxiety.  I recently read another article that claimed that a 1/2 hour of aerobic exercise per day can have a similar effect as an antidepressant medication (I wish I could remember where I read that).

This article proposes several mechanisms for how exercise helps.  I believe they left out an important one with regards to anxiety.  Exercise can be cathartic and serve as a positive channel for excess tension and restlessness.

However, I do see one flaw in this article.  The study it cites appears to be a correlation study.  They administered questionnaires and saw that there is a correlation between exercise and improved mood and reduced anxiety.  They appear to make the classic mistake of reading causality into correlation.  I did not read the original research article, so I could be wrong, but this is a common mistake.  It is possible, for example, that it is easier to exercise when your mood is good (rather than vice versa).  Personally, I believe that the causation flows in both directions in this scenario.  Of course it is easier to exercise if you feel great… but you can also help yourself feel good by exercising.

Just 20 minutes a week of physical activity can make a difference in your mood. No one seems able to agree on how much exercise, or what type, is best for mental health. But a Scottish study, reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, has found that just 20 minutes of any physical activity, including housework, in a week is enough to boost mental health.

Almost 20,000 men and women participated in the study, which involved taking a quiz for the Scottish Health Survey about their state of mind and how much weekly physical activity they engaged in. Using a standard scale to measure distress levels, over 3,000 participants were classified as suffering from distress and anxiety.

After controlling for factors such as age, gender, and long-term health conditions, the findings revealed that… (click to read more Johns Hopkins: Depression|Anxiety on exercise|mood.)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Nov
20

Web MD’s Depression Health Check – A Review

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A New Depression Screening Tool

You may have seen commercials on TV recently, for Web MD’s depression health check.  They usually show an individual telling their story or describing how they feel, and then direct one to do a screening on WebMD.

Let’s Give It a Test Drive

So I decided to try it out.  I found that Web MD’s screening is very user friendly and easy to use.  It asks you one question at a time, at first, then gives some checklists, and then a few question series; and there’s a progress bar at the bottom, letting you know how much you have completed and how much further there is to go.  It took me less than five minutes to complete.

What Does It Assess?

The screening not only assesses for the emotional criteria of depression, but also checks how much your symptoms have impacted your life, and clearly and concisely assesses for possible medical causes of similar symptoms.  Additionally, it briefly checks how familiar you are with basic coping skills and information about depression, and how motivated you are to do what is recommended to get better.

Any Drawbacks?

The only drawback I noticed was that some of the questions assume that you are in treatment or taking medication, and don’t allow a “not applicable” option for those questions.

Options Once You’re Done

At the end of the screening, Web MD gives you the option of choosing a follow up screening which would be sent to your e-mail at a later time.  Additionally, you have the option of choosing to receive news and information about depression in your e-mail.  However, you do not have to enter your e-mail or any other identifying information if you don’t want to.

You get your results right away, including a section about your health, your well-being, and your knowledge related to depression.  You can print a report for yourself, or you can print a report specially formatted and intended for you to give to your doctor.

I Give It a Thumbs Up

All in all, this looks like a quality screening instrument, and I recommend it if you would like some quick feedback about your symptoms.  It can help you decide whether or not you need to speak with a counselor, and it can offer you useful information about depression.

Take the Screening

To complete this screening go to Web MD’s Depression Health Check.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Sleep is Fundamental

If you’ve ever gone without sleep for several nights in a row, you know how necessary and fundamental it is.  But the problem is more complicated than just going without sleep.  Some people can’t fall asleep, others can’t stay asleep, others have an irregular sleep schedule, and for various reasons.  Here is an article that gives tips for nine different sleep problems:

Most of us have experienced those maddening midnight moments when, no matter how tired we are, we either can’t fall asleep, can’t stay asleep or our sleep is of such poor quality it feels as if we were awake. For anyone who has tossed and turned at night, here’s some expert advice for solving nine sleep problems.

The Night Waker

Her challenge: After a stressful breakup two years ago, Meredith Crowell, 40, a single real estate property manager and yoga instructor from Boulder, Colorado, would wake up in the middle of the night filled with sadness and anxiety. But even after she felt better emotionally, the sleep troubles continued. Although she typically falls asleep easily around 10:30 p.m., she is wide awake three or four hours later. She falls back into a fitful sleep, then gets up around 6 a.m. to begin her day. “I never wake feeling well rested, because it feels like I don’t get more than about four hours of truly deep sleep,” she says. To no avail, Meredith has tried myriad remedies — warm baths, hot milk, a glass of wine before bed, no food before bed, relaxation techniques, and prescription and homeopathic medicines. She took a prescription medication, but that didn’t give her more than four hours of sleep. She even tried taking the medication when she woke in the middle of the night, but that left her too groggy in the morning.  Expert advice: “The good news is that Meredith’s insomnia seems to…(click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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