Mental Health Issues, Technology, and Government

Mental Health Issues, Technology, and Government

As mental health problems rise globally, so does the technology to treat them. Technology helps people with mental illness and mental health care professionals in many ways. It has made available tons of specialized information and support for almost every

Mental Illness Puzzle

Mental Illness Puzzle

mental health issue in existence. Through the Internet, anyone wishing to find out more about mental health problems but wanting to remain private can do so. The rapidly-evolving medical industry is relying more on more on technology to assist in the diagnosis, treatment, management, prevention, and monitoring of mental illness. Governments and institutions recognize these facts and are now funding the latest technologies to treat mental health issues.

Why Technology is Important

Technology is influencing the way we view mental health problems. Through the Internet, it has allowed people suffering from mental illnesses to speak about their experiences and connect with others with similar conditions. Technology acts as a channel of communication that allows us to start a discussion and exchange ideas about mental health issues, thereby breaking down social stigmas and giving people the confidence to seek help. Through technology, information, and connectivity are made available to those who can’t leave their homes, those who can’t afford professional care, those who live in places where they have no access to mental health workers, and those who suffer from mental health issues that make them too anxious or stressed to interact with people face-to-face.

Using the Latest Technology in the Treatment of Mental Illness

Technology such as telephone and video conferencing are invaluable to mental health workers trying to reach patients in places without psychiatric services. The Internet provides information, facilitates community, and inspires patients to get further treatment. E-mail can act as an alternative to face-to-face encounters and enables mental health care providers to reach and help more patients.

Apart from e-mail, the Internet, video conferencing, and the telephone, there are a number of new tools emerging to help professionals provide better care for people with mental health issues.

Smartphones and apps allow people free and fast access to information and advice on mental illness anywhere and at any time of the day. Through a smartphone, people can look up the symptoms of certain mental health issues, track changes in their mental health, and even seek advice from apps that function as a therapist.

Mental Illness in a High Tec Era….

Mental health apps such as DepressionQuest, Mobilyze, and PTSD Coach help those struggling with mental health issues to stick to treatment regimens, sharpen their cognitive functions, experience good thought patterns, manage their stress levels, identify situations that can trigger depression, and reach crisis hotlines.

Virtual reality exposure therapy uses Virtual Reality to treat PTSD and phobias such as the fear of flying. This treatment method offers a sense of realism that allows patients to confront their issues in a safe environment. Virtual Reality has also been used in therapy for adolescents.

Assistive technology, digital reminders, mp3 players, electronic planners, and soothers (such as sound machines used to calm people down) are also beneficial to those suffering from mental health issues. Lastly, technology is revolutionizing the way we understand mental health and its treatment. Because of the rapid advancement of technology and the many discoveries made by scientists every day, the assessment and treatment of mental health issues is continually improving.

How Governments Fund the Latest Technology for Mental Health Issues

In the UK, the government spent £1.9 million in 2013 on new handheld computers to improve mental health services for children. The tablet computers are used to monitor treatment outcomes and to modify treatments to meet each child’s specific needs. It is believed that tracking treatment progress and allowing the patients to monitor how close they are to reaching their treatment goals will help improve recovery rates in young people with mental health issues.

In 2012, the US Department of Veterans Affairs provided 200,000 video conferencing consultations or telemental health to veterans all over the country. These remote visits were aimed at improving access to mental health care and lowering the suicide rate among veterans. The Veterans Affairs’ videoconferencing program is also used to manage medication and conduct suicide prevention evaluations.

The City of Philadelphia offers a web-based application to conduct behavioral therapy and provide assessment tools online. The website Healthy Minds Philly, which is funded by the City of Philadelphia and supported by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, provides Mental Health First Aid and behavioral health screenings, and offers community members free Mental Health First Aid training.

Why Technology Can’t Replace the Personal Touch of Psychologists

While there are many advantages to the use of technology in assessing, diagnosing, managing, and providing information and support on mental health issues, there are certain areas where technology is no match for traditional methods. For example, in most mental health cases, the most effective treatment is one-on-one counseling. For this important and irreplaceable method to work, developing a working relationship with the therapist is crucial.

Often, being able to build trust with a competent, professional therapist is the first step to a patient-doctor relationship. But building trust is hard to do when there is no actual face-to-face meeting. In this sense, digital cannot replace human interaction. It is hard to maintain a fulfilling, long-term treatment plan with apps or people you can only interact with through a screen.

Perhaps the role of technology in the treatment of mental illness is to encourage people to seek further knowledge and guidance by getting in contact with professionals. The Internet is a great tool for educating and updating people on mental health issues and for emboldening them to share their experiences and to work toward getting well.

People struggling with a mental illness, especially the elderly and those with severe mental issues, who otherwise might not seek the help of a professional, can read about the experiences of others like them and find the courage to get help as well. It also allows them to easily find qualified mental health professionals in their area, as well as research supplementary or alternative healing methods if mental health services are not available.

Read More

The 10 Most Common Mental Health Issues Today

The 10 Most Common Mental Health Issues Today

Believe it or not, the most prevalent disease in developed countries isn’t cancer or heart disease – it is mental illness. Though not everyone is aware of the fact, mental health issues are genuine medical conditions that require treatment – sometimes with medication, but often with psycho-social therapies and significant lifestyle adjustments. Mental illnesses affect people of all ages, ethnicity, and economic status. Disorders range from mild to severe, and it is not always known what can trigger a mental illness. Just like any other person dealing with a disease, a person suffering from a mental health issue needs support and understanding.

These are the 10 most common mental health issues today.

1. Personality disorders

There are numerous recognized personality disorders, ranging from odd disorders to dramatic/emotional/erratic disorders, and from anxious/fearful disorders to personality disorders resulting from other medical conditions. Among the most common of these disorders are antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and avoidant personality disorder.

Those with antisocial personality disorders have little regard for others and may be prone to criminal behavior. Those with borderline personality disorders can be impulsive and mentally unstable, have difficulty maintaining relationships, and may be prone to attempting suicide. People with avoidance personality disorders avoid interactions with others because they fear criticism and often suffer from severe anxiety.

Personality disorders have numerous causes, from genetics to life experiences to traumatic experiences. These disorders are managed through individual psychotherapy, family therapy, psychiatric medications, and psychological education. The US government have more information about depression which is very insightful and worth reading on their website.

2. Mood disorders

Mood disorders are diagnosed in people whose moods go beyond just feeling “blue”. In the case of a person with a mood disorder, extreme moods such as depression are persistent and accompanied by fatigue, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, thoughts of suicide, and lack of focus. Mood disorders can be depressive, bipolar, substance-induced, alcohol-induced, benzodiazepine-induced, and may arise from a medical condition. Treatments for mood disorders include therapy, mood stabilizers, and anti-psychotics.

3. Autism spectrum disorders

Autism spectrum disorders include autism, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Rett syndrome. Also included in this classification of pervasive developmental disorders is what is referred to as PDD-NOS or pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified. Of these, autism is the most debilitating. The rest of the disorders, such as Aperger’s, produce milder symptoms.

These mental health issues are characterized by cognitive delays, social deficits, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. Treatments for autism spectrum disorders vary, but the main goals are to diminish associated defects, improve the quality of life, develop functional independence, and reduce family distress. Treatments are tailored to each patient’s particular needs.

Experts have yet to pinpoint a specific cause for autism spectrum disorders; however, risk factors have been identified. These include genetics, environmental factors, prenatal and perinatal conditions, and neuro-anatomical abnormalities.

4. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is a common childhood disorder usually diagnosed in extremely active children who experience difficulty controlling their behavior and focusing. Genetics appears to play a part, but ADHD can also be caused by low birth weight, premature delivery, and the use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy. ADHD is managed through stimulant medications and a combination of psycho-social therapies such as behavior therapy, psycho-educational input, and family therapy.

5. Schizophrenia

This is a serious mental disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, catatonic or disorganized behavior, disorganized speech, poor emotional responses, and lack of motivation. Schizophrenia affects men and women equally and often first appears sometime between the late teen years and the early thirties. Those who suffer from schizophrenia often experience significant difficulties in social settings and at work.

There is no established cause for schizophrenia, but known contributory factors include genetics, social and psychological processes, and early environment. Schizophrenia is managed through the use of anti-psychotic drugs, psycho-social therapies, and coping mechanisms.

6. Bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness experience major mood swings from extremely high (manic) to extremely low (depressive). These are unlike mood swings experienced by people without bipolar disorder. Bipolar mood swings can be so severe that relationships with others are damaged, work and academics are affected, and the patient can end up contemplating suicide.

Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose. There is no single cause. To diagnose bipolar disorder, experts rely on evaluations and on the patient’s mental health history. Bipolar disorder can be managed using mood-stabilizing drugs and psychotherapy. With proper management, those suffering from bipolar disorder can lead relatively normal lives.

7. Anxiety disorders

The most common anxiety disorders are general anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). OCD is characterized by recurring thoughts or obsessions and repeated actions or compulsions that give a person the illusion of control. PTSD is a mental disorder resulting from a traumatic experience. Its symptoms include anxiety, anger, hyper-vigilance, avoidance behaviors, and depression. GAD is diagnosed when a person suffers from a long-lasting anxiety with no apparent cause.

Anxiety disorders can be genetic but may also result from stress, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. Treatments for anxiety disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, and alternative medicine.

8. Phobias

A phobia is an extreme fear of an object or situation wherein the person goes to great lengths to avoid that which he or she is afraid of. When the phobia cannot be avoided, the person suffers from severe anxiety, his or her daily life is interrupted, and physical symptoms may emerge. Phobias are treated through cognitive behavioral therapy, antidepressant medications, and hypnotherapy.

9. Eating disorders

The three most-diagnosed eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. These mental health disorders have various causes, including genetics, brain tumors, obstetric complications, parental influence, peer pressure, child abuse, social isolation, and cultural pressure. Treatments for eating disorders vary and depend on the severity of the case. Currently, doctors use a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, medication, nutritional counseling, and creative therapies to manage eating disorders.

10. Panic disorder

Panic attacks are fairly common; but when they are recurring and are so severe that they render the patient disabled, they can be classified as a disorder. Symptoms of a panic attack include rapid heartbeat, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, excessive perspiration, weakness, chest pains, loss of control, a feeling of being smothered, and an uncontrollable fear of dying or going crazy.

Panic disorders are more common in women than in men. Most cases begin in adolescence or early adulthood. Genetics appears to be a big factor in whether or not a person will be susceptible to severe panic attacks. Panic disorders are treated or managed with a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and psycho-pharmacological interventions.

I have certainly found that mindfulness meditation can really help in relaxing the body and mind and there is no better video than this one for an introduction:

Read More

Natural Supplements That Work for Mental Illnesses

Natural Supplements That Work for Mental Illnesses

No matter how the medical community advances, there is still a space for natural supplements. They can be administered to patients with different diseases, especially to the ones that have very little success with modern medications and treatments. Among these are patients with mental illnesses.

Natural Banana Supplements

Banana – Healthy Eating

The mental health, state and its disorders are still largely vague even with the advent of successful discoveries and developments. The brain has proven itself to be very complex. Because of this, researchers and the rest of the medical community are keen on their mission to treat, manage, control and to totally eradicate the mental disorders. In the meantime, patients who are suffering from deteriorating mental state are left to manage their diseases with the treatments and medications that are available; whether conventional medicines or natural supplements.

Natural Supplementation

You might be thinking about the use of natural supplements amidst the easily available and critically studied conventional medications. Natural supplements are there, as their name indicate, to supplement the benefits brought about by modern medicines and treatment. There are also some observations that patients are sometimes more responsive to natural supplements and traditional medicines rather than the conventional ones, thus they will always have a spot in treating patients with mental disorders.

The Most Common and Most Effective Natural Supplements for Mental Health

As it has been reported, four out of ten Americans who suffer from mental illnesses are taking natural supplements or other complementary and alternative medicines in concurrence to their modern medications. The list below states the most common and some of the most effective natural supplements known to manage mental health issues.

Folic Acid for Depression

  • Folic acid is a form of folate. Folate can also be described as the Vitamin B that can be found from green leafy vegetables, tart fruits, beans, legumes, breads fortified with it and cereals. You can also take it in a form of vitamin supplements bought from pharmacies and general stores. Although commonly used as a natural supplement for depression, Folic acid is not to be taken as the only cure for it. It is only complementary to the ones prescribed by the physician.

SAMe for Depression

  • SAMe stands for S-adenosyl-L-methionine. It is naturally produced by the body and it acts upon neurotransmitters to boost their production. These neurotransmitters are necessary to lighten up one’s moods. It is to be strictly used with depressed patients only and not with the ones who are diagnosed with bipolar disease. They were observed to cause mania with bipolar patients.

Gingko Biloba

  • Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement that was derived from the Asian tree called ginkgo. It has been used to a myriad of diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression and certain sexual problems. If to be taken alone, it can cause cognitive improvement with patients with mild Alzheimer’s. However, for all disease management by the plant, you are to wait at least 8 weeks for the effects to manifest.

Valerian for Anxiety

  • Like ginkgo, valerian is an herbal medicine taken from the flowers of valerian officinalis. It is used to treat sleeping disorders and anxiety. 

Read More

Common Mental Health Issues of Children

Common Mental Health Issues of Children

Tragically, in this day and age, more and more children are afflicted with serious mental health issues. In the United States alone, nearly 5 million children are suffering from a mental health disease. It is also expected in the near future that almost 20% of children in the US will have one form of mental disease. The seriousness of this situation becomes even more severe when one realizes that mental health issues can come at any place at any time. This is the reason why it is absolutely important to diagnose whether or not one’s child has a mental disease, since this will make it easier for the doctors and psychotherapists to find effective treatments for the sickness. On the other hand, diagnosing mental health illnesses can be difficult, which is why it is crucial that one knows the many symptoms of the most common mental health issues of children. WebMD, a very well respected online community and authority on health related issues, have a great article that you should check out.

Mental Illness in Children

The most widespread mental illness for children is attention deficit hyper-activity disorder or ADHD for short. One Child Playing with Toy Carsof the more visible symptoms of this mental health issue is the child’s lack of focus. ADHD is characterized by an inability to pay attention, follow directions, or concentrate. The child’s mental capacity is thus severely compromised. One usually sees children afflicted with ADHD staring at nothing for hours on end, usually succumbing to boredom. There are prescribed medications to battle ADHD. However doctors still believe that the best treatment is for parents to force the child to engage in more mental activities in order to increase and optimize their mental capacity.

 Observe Your Children Closely

One of the many ways parents can check if their child has a mental illness is to see how the child functions in their environment. Whether at home, in school, with family or friends, if there is something particularly strange and damaging about a child’s behavior in those situations, then there is a chance that the child has a mental illness. This is one of the surefire ways to identify if a child has a Disruptive Behavior Disorder. This disorder is characterized by the child’s insistence on defying rules and regulations set by authorities. This makes the child extremely hard to discipline, since the child’s disobedience is not willed but caused by a sickness. Doctors say that psychotherapy sessions are still the best way to treat Disruptive Behavior Disorder.

Remember to look up online about all the kinds of issues and behaviours that you are noticing. One article, which can be found here, is a good place to also read up about what you are seeing and what the behaviour means.

If a child is usually afraid in whatever kind of situation, then there is a big possibility that the child is afflicted with an Anxiety Disorder. This happens whenever a child internalizes so much fear and dread that he/she is unable to perform any specific action. One of the symptoms of Anxiety Disorder that can easily be spotted is the child’s unwillingness to leave his/her own room or home. In order to combat the fear caused by Anxiety Disorder, doctors have prescribed a variety of medications and treatments. But, like Disruptive Behavior Disorder, psychotherapy is a surefire solution. As long as these mental health illnesses are diagnosed early in the child’s life, then there is a better chance that these mental health issues will be gone when the child is grown up. 

Read More

How To Improve Your Mood

How To Improve Your Mood

For many people around the globe, the way to improving overall mood is two-fold. One part is to physically make changes, and the other part involves trying to change some thinking patterns. Instead of looking for short term fixes such as sugary snacks or alcohol, these people understand that quite a battle may ensue, as changes are made- not all of which are easy to keep- which are aimed to help make improvements contributing to an overall better state of well being. Starting at the very start, let us look at some of the first things which should be done.

State Of Mind

One of the first things to do, if not the very first, is to identify the problems with your mood (be it stress, anxiety, or negativity and mood swings) which you wish to change. Think about the things which stress you to remind yourself why you want to change, and get up enough of an impulse to commit to making the change. It may be the case that you have thought about this for a while – which most people tend to do – this should make it a little easier. Remind yourself of your overall aim, and all the benefits it will bring. The single most important thing in this stage is to be positive. This attitude will work its way into all that you do, benefiting you enormously. Other ways to think to help this way of thinking include:

  • Looking on the bright side of things, and trying to find humor in normally stressful situations can have a big impact on your levels of stress. Next time something happens that would normally cause stress, try it; look on the bright side, and crack a joke. Monitor your stress levels soon after and you should feel a difference.
  • Don’t blame yourself. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy can lead to depressive thoughts. Be positive. Managing your thoughts and putting on a positive spin will help a great deal.
  • Get a good night’s sleep to help you through the following day without feeling tired or irritable.

Understanding which negative thinking patterns you have is a critical part to modifying them. If you can’t see them, you can’t change them. Make a note of how you feel in certain stressful situations to help to identify patterns in your thinking. From there you should be able to identify the negative ones, and start to replace them with a more positive way of reacting to the situation if it arises again in the future. Remember to be positive, and congratulate yourself on finding any traits that need changed. A real feeling of understanding and expectation may now set in, as you start to see and make real changes and some degree of progress.

State Of Body

While you are dealing with the ‘inner self’ aspect of this lifestyle change to improve your mood, the other essential part is more physical. Incorporating a regular exercise regime couple with an improved diet and intake of foods combine to fully balance your body by providing it with enough of the right foods to manufacture and synthesize all the chemicals and substances it needs, while at the same time doing enough physical work to keep everything in good shape and sound working order.

Thousands of people join a gym or something similar to do just that. Others choose to get their exercise through walking a pet and going for example, swimming, a couple of times a week. The important part is actually doing it, as exercise is known to reduce stress, and also to promote feelings of well being. Making small changes at first should still bring noticeable results, and make a note to remind yourself at times when you are lacking motivation. Once a routine is built up, and there is an acceptance and on-going commitment to keep doing do so, it can become a thing to look forward to, a reassuring occurrence in your life. It becomes less of a chore, and all the time your body is benefiting.

Foods To Eat To Improve Moods

Along with the added exercise, making sure you are eating correctly will give you the fuel and energy to stay in a positive frame of mind and keep continuing with the lifestyle changes. Food’s effects on the body should be researched and understood, then applied in small changes to your existing diet. Also knowing what foods to avoid is equally important, so spend some time reading about the effects of things like sugar and saturated fats. Make notes to remind you of their ill effects and remind yourself when you want to reach for them the next time. Instead, consider incorporating some of these foods into your diet:

  • Whole grain food is known for its abilities to reduce and control stress, try adding wholegrain cereal, bread and pasta to your diet.
  • Almond and Brazil nuts. A handful of these to munch on in between meals will boost the levels of production of brain chemicals, ones which are connected to mood. These nuts also contain essential and healthy fats.
  • Plain or dark chocolate has properties which have been observed to increase moods in consumers and the actual smell and look makes us happy. Can be enjoyed without feelings of guilt, as it will be burned off during your new exercise routine.
  • Blueberries contain a mixture of antioxidants that are beneficial to good health as well as good mental health, and should be enjoyed along-side a mix of fresh vegetables and fruit which can be snacked on if hungry.
  • Adding fish to your diet is an excellent way of getting essential fats and acids associated with the brain. Your brain requires a substantial part of your input of food to operate properly, so choosing food rich in these sources is a great idea.

Other foods can be enjoyed in moderation, but keep an eye on sugar and saturated fat contents, and choose a substitute without all the added bits to it. Remember, as you continue to exercise, your body will use up all of these energy sources. Doing the exercises allows you to treat yourself once in a while, a little thing that can be looked forward to.

End Result

When some of these ways of choosing to eat, along with a better quality food and a regular exercise routine and a positive attitude and mind set are put together, it can be enough to change your mood and along with reductions in the feelings of stress and anxiety to much more manageable levels. Giving your body the best platform to work off will help to create a much more stable base best for combating mood changes. Some positive thinking and making changes to negative thinking patterns can help you to achieve this in a slightly easier way, as understanding what is going on will often bring insights from those studying them. All these single elements combine to give you real changes you can make notes of, and help you as you effect change in your lifestyles for the better.

Read More

Suicides and Schizophrenia

Suicides and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is one of the most incapacitating types of mental disorders. It is chronic and can be characterized by a wide range of symptoms like delusions, illogical judgments, hallucinations, loss of contact with reality. In addition to this, there are also high numbers of report that link suicides in schizophrenia, whether attempted or completed.

Schizophrenia Medication

It has been estimated that there have been 20% to 40% attempts of suicides with patients who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. With these statistics, 5% to 13% were completed. If you are to compare these numbers to that of the general public, schizophrenic patients are 8 times more likely to commit acts of suicides.

What’s more difficult is the prevention of such acts. Suicides in schizophrenic patients are impulsively and uncontrollably done as opposed to other people who are sometimes deliberately leave clues to family members and kin.

Risk Factors

Generally, schizophrenic patients are at risk with attempts of suicides, however, further characterizations have also pointed out more defined risk factors. A classic suicidal schizophrenic is:

  • Male

  • Not more than 30 years of age

  • With high IQ percentage

  • Have achieved many accomplishments during childhood and adolescence

  • With painful awareness of his deteriorating mental condition

Other than these, suicides are also linked to schizophrenic patients with the following factors:

  • A feeling of hopelessness

  • A series or incidence of hospitalization

  • A general deterioration of health

  • An experience with recent rejection from somebody he cared about or a recent loss of a loved one

  • Feelings of limited support from his family and friends

  • Unstable family or an incidence of family crisis

  • A feeling of further mental illness progression

  • Treatment dependence or loss of faith in it

Furthermore, suicides and schizophrenia are linked when patients are experiencing other things like the ones listed below:

  • Unrelated chronic disease

  • Family members who have also attempted or completed an act of suicide

  • Experiences with bouts of depression

  • Substance abuse whether alcohol or drugs

  • Feelings of being agitated or impulsive

  • Recurring suicidal thoughts

  • An abuse of schizophrenia medications and anti-depressants

  • Non-adherence to treatment

  • Dependence or incapacity to work normally

In addition, if we are to compare the rest of the population with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, suicides are not likely induced with alcohol abuse with schizophrenics as opposed to the general public’s statistics. However, drug usage and abuse are highly linked to suicides whether to a schizophrenic patient or somebody without the said mental condition.

Prevention of Suicides in Schizophrenic Patients

As it has been previously stated, prevention of suicides with relation to schizophrenia is more difficult. One must be extra vigilant in order to see the signs and symptoms.

There are different factors that can trigger the thoughts and decisions of suicides. If a patient is aware of his deterioration, some can see it as an improvement but it can also be a cause of alarm. Doctors and family members must be aware of how much the patient perceives his loss.

The sense of loss to a schizophrenic patient is sometimes the most crucial aspect of suicides. Intervention during these times of perception can greatly help the prevention of suicides in schizophrenic patients.

Read More

Mental Health and Diet

Mental Health and Diet

I’m sure that we have all read or heard about it before, that diet is associated with mental health and well being. This is not something new to be discovered but certainly requires more attention to be paid towards it in today’s World. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • Modern food is much less nutritious than previous years due to over farming
  • Junk food is very common and cheap so a lot of people eat this instead of a healthy alternative
  • Manufacturers of food are using sub-standard and artificially made substances in their foods

Importance of Diet

As the famous saying goes “You are what you eat”, there is a reason for it being so famous and popular; because it’s true…By eating only processed foods which are very low in quality and nutrients yet high in calories we are becoming very overweight and having poorer health as we progress. The population is becoming very poorly fed.

With a poor diet comes disease. Things like diabetes are becoming increasingly common, which is one disease which is known as a modern disease because people didn’t used to contract it many years ago. Heart disease, cancers and many other ailments are also a result of poor diet and almost zero exercise.

Our bodies have evolved over millions of years and require a certain level of activity and maintenance to ensure they run optimally. Vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds are all part of that for sure and arguably meat too, but this is not essential as it is possible to get all of the required amino acids from plant based sources.

Good Diet

When you are eating your meal at home you should hopefully have a plate in front of you which consists of around 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fats. A well balanced diet like this will ensure that you stay fit and strong, both mentally and physically, for many years to come.

Remember that a diet is not something that you go on to lose weight or look better, your diet is what you eat all of the time. Whatever food you are putting in your body is your diet. You need to take responsibility for yourself and your diet. Simple changes can make a huge difference. For example, adding a juice to your daily eating plan that contains lots of essentials nutrients and vitamins will help boost your immune system and provide your body with lots of beneficial minerals that it requires to function properly.

Supplementation

Nowadays many people are turning to supplements in order to make sure they are getting their required dose of vitamins and minerals each day. I think that supplementation does play a role in a balanced diet but it should not be used as an alternative way of eating healthily. Your body works best when it gets what it needs from natural sources, not only because they are natural but because the combination of nutrients found in those vegetables work in a way which is sometimes not possible to replicate when taking the same nutrients via pill form.

Using pills and powders should be something that you use to top up your vitamin levels, not rely on for optimum health. If you are thinking about supplementing, check out this site for protein powders and this one for a range of vitamins that should help you get what you need.

UPDATE Oct ’14: Since writing this post I have been keeping up-to-date with what the guys over at http://bestproteinpowderonline.co.uk have been doing and I discovered that they also have a blog over at http://bestproteinpowderonlineblog.wordpress.com/ . It’s a more informal way to keep up with what’s going on in terms of health, nutrition and what supplements are good to take. I’d highly recommend you head over there and subscribe to their blog so you get notified of new posts via their feed.

Read More

Latest News: Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Schizophrenia

Latest News: Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Schizophrenia

The researchers from the University of Liverpool teamed with Netherland’s Maastricht University to study the effects of childhood trauma to schizophrenia. Results from their study have been published stating that the children who have experienced severe trauma are three times more likely to develop schizophrenia and other mental health problems when they get older.

The Mayo clinic have published some very useful information in an article on their website which should also be looked at and read in order to improve your knowledge about schizophrenia.

Progress has been achieved by the team in recent years. For so long, the studies have only focused on the biological factors of schizophrenia. But because of this extensive research, the life experiences of the patient are also being tackled.

The Liverpool and Netherlands team analyzed data from almost 30 years of studies. They focused on three types of studies:

  1. Studies that deal with the development of children who have dealt with adversities

  2. Studies from randomly selected participants

  3. Researches that interview psychotic patients about their childhood experiences

All of the three researches have shown conclusive results: children aged below 16 years who have experienced severe trauma are three times more likely to develop some mental problems, like schizophrenia, when they get older.

Aside from this, the team has also found out that different types of traumatic experience have also yield different psychotic symptoms. For example, they have associated hallucinations with childhood sexual abuse while paranoia is associated with children who have been raised in an orphanage.

Professor Richard Bentall of University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, is acknowledging the fact that there is still a long way to go if we are to fully understand the mechanism of the brain and how it functions. Understanding the different mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, still needs further look.

However, the findings of the recent study can help them greatly to understand the development of schizophrenia to people who have not born with it in the first place. It points them to look for the experiences of the patients as well.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is considered to be a very serious mental disorder that is associated with the perception of distorted reality. Understanding of the disease is still very immature and is believed to be the most disabling among all the mental illnesses known to man.

A type of psychosis, schizophrenia is a person who just can’t tell the difference between his imagined perceptions to the real thing. Most often and quite understandably, schizophrenic patients have a hard time to function normally in a society. Often, their psychotic episodes are surprising, shocking and even dangerous to others and to him as well.

It is also a general term because schizophrenia has different types that are basically categorized by symptoms. Some of the most known types of the mental disease are:

  • Paranoid schizophrenics who are associated with delusions

  • Disorganized type of schizophrenia renders patients to be confused, incoherent and hardly understandable

  • Catatonics are physically immobile and oblivious to his environment. They can also do one movement repeatedly. Patients suffering from this kind of schizophrenia are in risk of developing malnutrition, exhaustion or injury that is self-inflicted

  • Undifferentiated types are schizophrenics that can neither be described with the characteristics of the three previously mentioned types.

For more information on schizophrenia in children please check out the brilliant information that you can find over on the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry website.

 http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Schizophrenia_In_Children_49.aspx

 

Read More

Dealing with Mental Health – A Traditional Approach

Dealing with Mental Health – A Traditional Approach

With advances in technology and medicine today you would think that we’d have come up with a way to treat and cure most ailments. It might be true that we are very capable of treating many physical conditions which affect the human body but we are very much in the dark when it comes to psychological conditions which adversely effect us.

Problems in Society

As we have “developed” our ways of living have changed dramatically but our bodies have not had a chance to keep up with this constantly changing environment. Our minds are still in the same place they were thousands of years ago but now we have to deal with multi-tasking, reading emails, checking our phones, sitting at a desk all day, going to the gym, cooking, eating and finally sleeping.

With all the technology that we have things are supposed to be getting easier and more manageable but instead they are getting more complex, stressful and with more things to check. We are constantly switched on and stimulated by machines, computers and phones. The work email is now read at home last thing before bed and first thing in the morning before we’ve even got out of bed.

It’s these stresses which are not acute like we are used to dealing with, such as an attack from an animal or trying to swim across a raging river, but they are constant. This leaves the body in a constant state of stress, raising cortisol levels and releasing hormones which prepare the body for the fight or flight response to situations.

Dealing with Stress

The most common ways to deal with modern day stresses are to exercise or meditate. It’s believed that these are very beneficial for the body and the mind, releasing endorphins which help to calm, repair and sooth both body and mind. Have a watch of this video to learn the most fatal factors in dealing with stress:

http://vimeo.com/85525634

The Traditional Approach

Many experiences have positive impacts on our stress levels, helping to balance out our minds. Achieving goals we set out for ourselves, for example, will help you feel a sense of accomplishment. Small challenges such as making it to the gym 4 times per week are great goals to start with, but also having a much larger goal which the smaller goals build up to will amplify the effectiveness of the stress reliever. A great example is that of a challenge such as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa which a guy named Lee Baines did for charity or running the London Marathon.

It’s these more outdoor focused, return to nature type of challenges which many believe help us to reconnect with ourselves and the World around us when most of the time we are living in a truly surreal, computerised and fake World. Not only do they help us in this way but they are great ways to raise money for charities, meet new people and see different parts of the World that we would never otherwise see and experience.

Perhaps it’s time that we started looking back in history to the lack of psychological afflictions that people suffered in order to help us with the future and making our lives more wholesome and natural. The added benefit is that we will appreciate the natural beauty of the World in which we live and hopefully start to take a little more responsibility for our actions on planet Earth in order to help preserve it for future generations.

Read More

Complementary and Alternative Medicines for Anxiety & Sleep Problems

Complementary and Alternative Medicines for Anxiety & Sleep Problems

Complementary and alternative medicines are medications or ways of treatment that are considered to be out of the norm of modern medicine. They can either be taken from herbs or plants; or using the therapeutic characteristics of foods; or they can be ingested as vitamin or mineral supplements.

There are plenty of known complementary and alternative medicines for mental health problems. However, just like in any other alternative medications, there are very little formal studies which can show that they are truly effective against such diseases like depression, anxiety and sleep problems. For an more in-depth look at anxiety issues, please check out the Wikipedia information, as we will not be discussing the finer details relating to anxiety in this post because it warrants a large post of its own.

Fortunately, complementary and alternative medicines have been used for quite a long time now. This has led to some observations and recommendations for the use of these medications. However, it is still best to talk to your physician if you decide to take such therapy.

As stated, two of the mental illnesses that are being managed by complementary and alternative medicines are anxiety and sleep disorders. Listed below are the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicines.

  1. Valerian

Valerian, like most of the plants listed here, works on the gamma-amino-butyric acid. This GABA is a brain chemical that has been found to be associated with anxiety and any other mental health diseases. Caution should be practiced however because some variants of Valerian can cause liver problems if taken abusively. Read more about Valerian, here.

  1. Passion Flower

Passion flower has been known all along to treat anxiety. Studies have shown that there are instances when it can be as effective as a tranquiliser. The usage should be monitored because there are reports of toxicity even with minimal dosages. Find out more details about passion flower.

  1. German Chamomile

This flower is one of the plants that act on GABA. It is a mild sedative and has been traditionally used to manage upset stomachs. Its actions can be used for mild anxiety as well.

Chamomile

Chamomile is very therapeutic

  1. Hops

Dried hops if mixed with Valerian can be a good sleep inducer.

  1. Oats

Oats, as a complementary and alternative medicine, have been used my people to manage their cholesterol levels and to treat mild stomach problems. It was also used for people with anxiety and malaise. However, little is known with its action and drug interactions.

  1. Starflower

The oil extracted from starflower or borage is used for rheumatoid arthritis, PMS and as a mild sedative. However, there are some reported instances when excessive dosages can lead to cancer, liver problems and increased epileptic fits

  1. Lemon Balm

As a tea and extract, lemon balm has many usages. It can be for anxiety, sleep problems, pain (especially for PMS) and it can even calm the patients with dementia.

  1. Lavender

Lavender

Lavender used for its medicinal qualities

Lavender is one of the most commonly used sedatives that have mild effects on patients. It can be used as oil in aromatherapy and can induce sleep once inhaled.

  1. Bach flower remedies

Very little is known with the actions of Bach flowers. However, it has been used for anxiety, trauma and as a sedative for panic attacks.

  1. Melatonin

Unlike the previous mentioned complementary and alternative medicines, melatonin doesn’t come from plants. It is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. It can regulate the human body clock and is often prescribed to patients over 55 years of age. Melatonin information can be found by looking at this informative website.

I’d recommend having a quick watch of this YouTube video to help you out with dealing with anxiety.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ArtxNt606U

Read More

Categories