We all wake up in a bad mood once in a while. It’s part of life’s journey to experience ups and downs—but if you often feel anxious or depressed and can’t seem to shake it, there’s a chance your diet may have something to do with it. Food and mood are intimately linked, and there are a few key culprits that may be having a significant effect on your mental state. A diet high in processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals has been shown to have a significant impact on mental health. A 2013 study in Eating Behaviors Journal found a relationship between higher consumption of processed foods and anxiety, and another 2013 study in the International Journal of Yoga found that lower levels of refined and processed food consumption was linked to more positive attitudes. Annie B. Kay, Lead Nutritionist at Kripalu, clued us in on some of the dietary factors that can contribute to depression and anxiety, as well as some supplements and herbs that can be beneficial.
When it comes to anxiety and depression, what foods or substances are the most problematic?
Each individual suffering from these issues is unique, and addressing food intake and digestive issues is just one aspect of the solution. That said, processed foods, with their blend of sugar, unhealthy fats, and chemicals not found in nature, are often detrimental to those suffering from anxiety and depression. Inflammation, unregulated blood sugar levels, and food sensitivities, such as gluten sensitivity, can also contribute negatively.
Because these conditions tend to be so varied, we work with guests to set up a number of mindful experiments to address their symptoms, and work with them and their doctors to find a combination of diet, lifestyle, medication, and other medical management that works.
What foods or supplements can be helpful?
We always ask people with these conditions if they’ve gotten their vitamin D levels checked, as low vitamin D levels can be a significant contributor. Making sure there is a source of omega-3 fatty acid in the diet can be helpful (from oily fish, nuts and seeds, or a high-quality supplement). Coconut oil, another fat, can also help.
Turmeric, St. John’s Wort, green herbs like sage and oregano, and samE (a derivative of the amino acid methionine) have shown promise in studies of the diet-depression connection. As opposed to psychoactive medication, botanicals tend to be gentler and take a bit longer to help, but the side effects tend to be much milder, and generally they support healing at a deeper level.
New research is revealing that many cases of depression are caused by an allergic reaction to inflammation. Tim de Chant of NOVA writes: “Inflammation is our immune system’s natural response to injuries, infections, or foreign compounds. When triggered, the body pumps various cells and proteins to the site through the blood stream, including cytokines, a class of proteins that facilitate intercellular communication. It also happens that people suffering from depression are loaded with cytokines.” Inflammation is caused by obesity, high sugar diets, high quantities of trans fats, unhealthy diets in general, and other causes.
By treating the inflammatory symptoms of depression — rather than the neurological ones — researchers and doctors are opening up an exciting new dimension in the fight against what has become a global epidemic. Caroline Williams of The Guardian writes: “The good news is that the few clinical trials done so far have found that adding anti-inflammatory medicines to antidepressants not only improves symptoms, it also increases the proportion of people who respond to treatment, although more trials will be needed to confirm this. There is also some evidence that omega 3 and curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, might have similar effects. Both are available over the counter and might be worth a try, although as an add-on to any prescribed treatment – there’s definitely not enough evidence to use them as a replacement.”
Eleanor Morgan of VICE adds: “Cytokines skyrocket during depressive episodes and, in those with bipolar disorder, halt in remission. The fact that ‘normal,’ healthy people can become temporarily anxious or depressed after receiving an inflammatory vaccine — like typhoid — lends further credence to the theory. There are even those who think we should re-brand depression altogether as an infectious disease … Carmine Pariante, a Kings College psychiatrist who is quoted in The Guardian report, says that we’re between five and ten years away from a blood test that can measure levels of inflammation in depressed people. If both Pariante’s estimate and the inflammation-depression theory are correct, we could potentially be just five years from an adequate ‘cure’ for depression.”
You can read much more by visiting The Guardian, VICE, and NOVA. And to learn much more about how food and mood are powerfully connected, be sure to read this fascinating article on Kripalu.org. (Image courtesy of the American Heart Association).
It is no secret that depression is a worldwide epidemic, but did you know that a hidden cause of depression is the fear of self-expression? If you often sacrifice self-expression in exchange for acceptance, appreciation or approval – or to avoid negative consequences like rejection or conflict – you may become depressed.
Every time you shut down self-expression in order to get your emotional needs met by others, you are actually rejecting your Real Self – cutting yourself off from your intrinsic source of energy and power, and thereby diminishing your natural state of peace, joy and love. The result is often what we refer to as depression.
But, why would we ever do this to ourselves?
From birth we are taught to believe that in order to be accepted, appreciated, or to get any emotional needs met, it is necessary to follow a set of rules, regulations and limiting beliefs that were handed down to us from parents, teachers, religion, culture and society. If we fear that others will withhold love and approval if we don’t conform, we are likely to restrict our self-expression whenever it contradicts with the pre-existing ideals of those around us. We may even feel as if our survival is at risk – making us believe that self-suppression is a better choice than self-expression. Unfortunately, when you constantly repress your Real Self, there is a huge unseen price to pay.
Depression is the unavoidable by-product of not being who you really are and a direct result of repressing your Real Self.
When The Need For Peace Turns into Depression
Yes, it can be wonderful to choose peace over adversity, but if you are habitually choosing peace in order to avoid conflict, you may be sacrificing your Real Self. Negating yourself or your preferences, in order to avoid conflict with others, may sound evolved and selfless on the surface, but when we look deeper, we see that continuously closing yourself down in order to avoid conflict causes chronic depression.
Self-expression is a sign of spiritual evolution. Self-expression allows the Divine to shine through you like a priceless work of art. Choosing peace over expression just might mean repressing Divinity.
Indeed, sometimes being our Real Selves causes others to feel uncomfortable and maybe even to judge us for being different – and on occasion there could be conflict. This is all true, but what is also true is that when you have the courage to express your Real Self, you call forth a higher version of reality where you can truly be your Real Self. Yes, this might mean overcoming the opinions of others on the way to this vibrant new land of expression but it is nothing you can’t handle. When you get there, you will discover that there is nothing easier than just being yourself. The people in your life will learn your new song and the steps to your new dance, and many of them will sing and dance along with you, and those who don’t will simply go on their merry way.
Your only job is to be You. If you are not going to be You, then who will? Being You requires that you follow your joy, listen to your heart, and express yourself in all ways that feel like YOU.
Get Plugged In!
When we express our Real Selves, we are tapped into the source of who we really are and, as a result, we are plugged into unlimited life force energy. When we hide our Real Selves and suppress expression, we disconnect from this immense source of energy and power, and if we do this for a prolonged period of time, eventually we become depressed, and it seems as if the whole world is against us. This means that in order to fit in, be accepted or to keep the peace, we often sacrifice the very life force that gives us the vision to create extraordinary lives and the energy and enthusiasm to follow through.
Depression is a result of being disconnected from the Supreme Energy of the Universe, but at any moment, you can get plugged back in, by choosing to be who you really are.
Certainly, seek professional help for depression when needed, but don’t depend on pills or doctors to save you. You can only save yourself by finding your Real Self and getting plugged into a Universe that loves you.
Listen To Your Heart
You cannot live your life according to anyone else’s ideals, values or expectations; you must choose to live life for yourself. Every time you suppress a desire to try something new, connect with other people, laugh, have fun or create, you repress the life force energy within you – shutting down the source of a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Depression is the long term consequence of not living your life the way “something inside you” really wants to live it.
The way to live a “life worth living” is to live it from your heart. You must throw out the concept of right and wrong, good and bad, sinful and saintly and begin to discover your own personal truth that is not influenced by anyone or anything (as long as it does not physically hurt you or others, the sky is the limit).
Impossible you might think – but it is what you have unknowingly been seeking. You will not find the answer to your happiness in anyone else’s diary or vision board. You can only find the answer for yourself – perhaps independent of everything you have ever learned. If you want peace, bliss and a “life worth living,” there is no other way.
How far down the rabbit hole of self-suppression must you sink before you begin to question the illusions you have been living?
If you were to know me now, you would never imagine that I once suffered from chronic depression. It began when I was just a child and it lasted for decades. Living with depression was very much like having an invisible disability that affected every aspect of my life. I tried everything to overcome it, and I sometimes had success that would last for weeks or months but that dark cloud always returned. More than anything I wanted to experience joy and I wanted to be at peace with myself, but it would take me years and years to find this permanent cure.
People who lovingly express their Real Selves are simply not depressed. They are the people who go through life singing and dancing. They have made the choice to live their lives from the inside out and not care one bit about what other’s might think. Joyful people know that, in the end, what they think and feel about themselves and their lives is all that matters. They are the people who die with smiles on their faces and feel the deepest sense of gratitude for having lived the best possible lives they could have imagined. You have the very same choices right now.
You might be depressed because you have a history of oppression but as long as you blame the outside world, you will remain powerless to heal yourself. Instead of trying to overcome oppression, turn your attention toward expression. The way to climb out of the pits of depression is by the ladder of self-expression. It is true, that when you are depressed, it is often difficult to get in touch with self-expression, but if you can take small steps consistently, you will make progress. The journey from depression to expression is one day at a time. Every time you express yourself you are one step closer to emotional freedom.
The only thing that is required for an extraordinary life is bringing your Real Self to the table.
What Is Required To Be Your Real Self?
Meet Your Own Emotional Needs
Until we wake up and become conscious, our emotional needs dictate our behavior. The need for approval, appreciation, understanding and acceptance often rule our lives, causing us to sacrifice ourselves in order to get these, and other, emotional needs met. But, it never works, because if you have to hide your Real Self in order to gain approval, for example, it is only your false-self being approved of, so you never really experience approval. Instead you may even feel like a fraud.
As long as you expect others to meet your emotional needs, you will stay locked in a prison of your own making. You unlock the doors of your prison when you stop looking to others, and you meet your own emotional needs. How can you expect anyone to appreciate you, if you don’t appreciate yourself? Ironically, as soon as you practice self-appreciation, the world will reflect it back to you. If you are no longer needing others to meet your emotional needs, you won’t have to change or hide yourself for any reason, or for anyone. You will be free to be yourself – your real, true, authentic, beautiful self! This is the whole point.
Re-evaluate Your Life
When you finally decide that the cost of not being yourself is too much to pay, the first step to take is a non-judgmental assessment of your current life. In order to determine where you are out of alignment with your Real Self, a willingness to be honest is required in all areas of your life. It is important to approach this evaluation with curiosity rather than judgement. Judgment will lock you into negativity, while a sense of curiosity will begin to loosen your past reality and allow you to start thinking about what is possible.
Listen to Your Inner Voice
Deep inside you is a voice that is whispering divine instructions to you. This still small voice speaks through your secret desires, your creative drive and your greatest fantasies of a life well-lived. You may think, “I don’t know what my inner-self is saying,” but this is only because you have been suppressing your deepest desires for so long. When you don’t listen to that inner voice, it becomes almost impossible to hear, but once you begin to listen and take inspired actions, your divine voice will become louder and clearer.
Apply Unconditional Self-Allowance
It is time to release that inner critic that focuses continuously on everything that is wrong. It is time to embrace yourself from a loving space of self-allowance. You don’t have to accept anything. It is not about acceptance. But, if you can begin to allow yourself to be where you are right now, you will likely experience a sense of peace which will allow you access to your inner-self. From a space of unconditional self-allowance, you can find your truth, and ultimately manifest that truth in ways that support your greatest and most extraordinary self.
When you base your self-worth on possessions, accomplishments or how you think others see you, your worth is transient – and it remains inaccessible, as long as it depends on external things. This type of artificial worth invokes fear and anxiety, even when you are experiencing what you consider success. But how can you be your Real Self if your worth is contingent on things you cannot control?
The greatest healing is to own your worth. Stop giving it away and stop looking for proof outside of yourself. Look deep inside. Your worth is guaranteed and unconditional. You have worth just for being. This is Soul-Worth! When you remember that worth is intrinsic and unconditional, you gain access to personal freedom, where it doesn’t matter what the world thinks or says. Imagine having the freedom to discover yourself and ultimately the freedom of glorious expression.
When you make the conscious choice to be the Real You, you may disrupt the dynamics of current relationships where you have not been your Real Self. Some of your relationships will begin to improve, while others will naturally fall away. It is normal to focus on what you might lose but there is so much more to gain when you align with who you really are. The relationships that remain and the new ones that will ultimately show up will be more satisfying than you ever imagined. It is only by being who you really are that you can truly connect with others. The most essential aspect of any connection is the Real You. When you have the courage to be the Real You, positive energy infiltrates everyone around you. As you express your Real Self, you invite others to do the same. If you want to be the change you want to see in the world, this is it!
When we are depressed, it is easy to go further and further into seclusion, but that only makes us feel worse. Chances are, if you are going into seclusion, you are excluding more and more things, people and opportunities from your life – this adds up to deeper depression. When our lives are not an expression of our Real Selves, it is easy to shut down to everything, but in order to rise above depression, it is important to include things in your life that might make you feel better. You don’t have to expect huge changes in yourself overnight – you just have to move step-by-step in the direction of self-expression.
If you practice even small acts of self-expression every day, you will naturally gravitate toward emotional freedom. Dance, sing, paint, draw, write, make a video, dress in ways that make you feel more like you, or express your hidden gifts and talents. Any expression of you will do!
Speak Your Truth
An essential aspect of self-expression is speaking one’s truth. It is not that you have to tell everyone everything – that is not the point, nor is it helpful. The point is being willing and able to verbally express yourself, without fear of consequence. The greatest consequence is to sacrifice the beautiful gift of your life because you are too afraid to stand in your truth, and be seen. What truth do you need to express to the people in your life? Remember, speaking your truth can more powerfully come from a space of love. Love for yourself, love for another and love for your truth.
Mind Your Own Business
It’s none of your business what other people think about you. Every time you alter your behavior because you are worried about what others might think, you stop yourself from being the Real You. As long as the opinions of others matter, you will never be free to be yourself. You already know that you cannot please everybody, no matter how much you monitor your behavior, so why not just please yourself? Yes, you can still care about others without caring about what they think about you. As you are committed to being your Real Authentic Self, you give others permission, and space, to do the same. This is a priceless gift to those you love.
Take Chances and Make Changes
If you have not lived as your Real Self, your life and relationships are based on a false image. Being your Real Self means taking chances and making choices that support you regardless of whether others approve or not. It means that sometimes you go against the grain and do what is right for you, simply because it feels right. The people in your life might negatively react but it is your life we are talking about and your life is far more important than any reaction you will get from anyone else. As you begin to re-create your life around your most authentic self, a new freedom emerges that will carry you forth to an amazing new life.
Believe it or not, boundaries allow you to be more of who you really are. When you set and enforce boundaries, it allows others to understand what is acceptable and not acceptable to you and what they can expect from you. When you say “no” and mean it, you free up time and energy to say “yes” to all those things that are an expression of who you really are. What boundaries do you need in order to be your Real Self? Keep in mind that some of the most important boundaries are the boundaries that you will set with yourself, for example, I will not judge, criticize or limit myself in any way.
Talk Nice to Yourself
You cannot overcome depression if you continue to think or speak negatively about yourself. Every word you think or say is recorded in your subconscious mind and later played back through the manifestation of reality. Carefully choose thoughts and words that support self-expression.
Activate Your Senses
Our five senses are the way in which we connect with the world, and the way in which the world expresses itself to us. But, often when we are depressed, we close down our senses and refuse to participate in receiving life’s expression. Intentionally re-activating your sense of hearing, taste, touch, sight and smell will assist you in moving out of depression, and back into a receptive and loving world.
In order to get reconnected with your Real Self, you need to go inside. Meditation is one of the most direct routes to get there, and, as a by-product, it will allow you to connect with your sixth sense as well.
Be In Nature
One of the reasons that it is so powerful to be in nature is that it is believed that the natural DMT in your body communicates with the DMT in nature and this helps to rebalance your body, mind and spirit.
When we are depressed, our breath tends to be shallow. Breathing deeply for even ten minutes a day can bring life back into your body. You can even imagine breathing in golden light energy to all the cells of your being.
Move Your Body
I know that it is difficult to get moving when you feel depressed and lethargic but do your best to do it anyway. Any kind of movement will do – dance, yoga, walking. All movement is expression.
When we repress emotions, over a long period of time, we become depressed. In order to heal from depression, it is usually necessary to express your emotions. Often, beneath depression is repressed anger that needs to rise and clear. You don’t need to be afraid of anger, as it is a step up from despair. There are no good or bad emotions. They are all beautiful gifts of expression.
You cannot be depressed and ‘awake’ at the same time, no matter how much you know about being awake. You can only wake up by getting plugged into the source of who you really are – and fully expressing that source.
When you make a commitment to being your Real Self, you access the power to naturally transmute depression through the power of self-expression.
At first, you may not be able to discern between the Real You and the false you, but this is only because you have grown accustomed to acting in ways that perpetuate the false you. Being the Real You requires a daily analysis of what supports and empowers you and what doesn’t. It’s like using an internal navigational device to set, and re-set, your course over and over again – until you finally know your destination in life. As the Real You naturally surfaces over time, your path will become clear and your choices will seamlessly align with who you really are.
I will be honest with you, there is a mountain ahead, and you must climb that mountain to escape the valley of depression. It will take concentrated effort and energy that you probably don’t have right now, but if you decide to step into your power as the creator of your life, you will begin to access unlimited energy that will take you anywhere you want to go. From the high peak on the mountain, life takes on an effortless flow that brings joy, peace and fulfillment in every moment.
If I could speak to my past “depressed self,” I would tell her, “There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel and you must do whatever it takes to get there. Listen to your heart, discover who you really are, and find the courage to truly express your Real Self.”
You are meant to be happy and you are meant to create a brilliant and extraordinary life, and no matter how it might seem, you can get there from here.
Is humanity programmed to be depressed through education, religion, culture and more?
Did the Great Depression cause our ancestors to be depressed, and have we inherited depression in our DNA?
Could depression be a survival mechanism for habitual Negative Thinking?
Is depression the result of suppressing our real selves?
You will learn how to overcome depression by learning how to turn off the four Disempowering Programs that cause depression.
Recognize, and stop, Negative Thinking
Self-Expression as a key for healing.
The importance of Self-Permission.
How Beliefs set the stage for depression.
Trusting Yourself and how to do it.
Depression and the Vibrational Parasite.
Also, included, is a chapter on Teen Depression, and how to help your teen.
The content of this article is from an in-depth interview with Dr. Steve Hoffman. These are Dr. Hoffman’s words.
#1 Physical Stress: Damaging Movement
Damaging movement occurs when you use your body inefficiently and cause unnecessary stress and strain on your musculoskeletal system. Simply reaching to get a glass out of a cabinet incorrectly eventually causes overload in your neck and shoulder muscles that lead to pain, headaches, and more. Pain is stress and the stress message equals body breakdown. The stress response related to pain is well documented and even affects your ability to think clearly.
But interestingly, you don’t have to have pain to have physical stress. A blocked or stuck joint can do the same thing, as well as any joint that is not in good alignment with its neighbour.
The central nervous system (CNS) likes it when your joints are in their most balanced and congruent positions. And as a bonus when you have good alignment, you experience much less damage if an unexpected load hits your system (like a fender bender or a trip and fall).
With good alignment and muscle balance, you can more easily dissipate that force so you don’t get injured, or at least not as severely.
“Become As A Child” Posture Exercises To Erase and Replace Damaging Movement Patterns
When it comes to the nutritional stress piece, probably the biggest source is too much sugar and refined carbs. These “fast carbs” cause your blood sugar to spike and fall. And when it falls hard and fast, your adrenal glands kick into action to release the stress hormone cortisol to get your sugar levels back up.
And if the sugar falls after you’ve gone to bed and your adrenals fire up at 3am, there you sit… wide awake and wondering why.
As a side note, if you find yourself heading to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal when this happens, you’re in carbohydrate hell and you must break the cycle.
The other 800 pound gorilla for nutritional stress is too much omega 6 fatty acid intake, usually from grains. These get easily converted into arachidonic acid (AA) in your body and too much AA tells your brain to tell your adrenals to release more cortisol. That’s another example of nutrition induced stress.
(Real Case Study Lessons) Nutrition for better sleep, posture for heart rate problems, relaxation strategies at the gym and beyond
#3 Psychological Stress: The Physiology Of Breakdown
Stress physiology is the physiology of breakdown. It’s when your brain senses danger (or any type of potentially damaging situation) and, as a result, it “flips the switch” and changes your metabolism over to a state where energy is diverted to making bullets for the war instead of attending to repair and rejuvenation.
The stress response is great for saving your life in survival situations but when you experience chronic stress and live in “protection mode” all the time, you get sick. You get tired. And life is no longer any fun.
So your main goal has to be to reduce stress from all angles. With our coaching programs we empower you to adopt a new thought system that creates the belief that you’re “breaking down” and “getting old,” like you’re often told by your doctors. “It’s just your age, Mrs. Jones!” Instead, you are constantly reminded that your body is renewing every moment and your cells are paying very close attention to what you’re saying to yourself! Thoughts of stress and replaying painful experiences of the past put you in breakdown mode, remember! We offer self-talk affirmations to help you “write over” some of the stressful self talk. It makes a HUGE difference when you become aware of the power of belief and how self talk influences it.
Your “diagnosis” or “condition” doesn’t matter? (Plus emotional healing lessons from Neil Young)
The Effects Of Stress On Posture
Any kind of stress creates a very predictable pattern of muscle imbalance. Dr. Vladimir Janda, of the Czech Republic, who I had the unique experience of working with before he died, was the first person to recognize these patterns in people with neurological lesions like cerebral palsy and stroke. He also had polio as a child so these neurological issues were near and dear to him.
If you look at a child with cerebral palsy, you’ll notice classic spasticity patterns in the muscular system. The thing is, these muscles are the exact same muscles that become tight and tense when your brain and central nervous system perceives any kind of stress!
Dr. Janda identified the “upper crossed posture” and the “lower crossed posture” as classic conditions that occur as a result of these patterns. I simply combined the two together and called it “Crossed Posture Syndrome” or CPS for short.
Crossed Posture Syndrome (CPS)
The upper cross syndrome is associated with tightness in the short muscles at the base of your skull (the ones you use to poke your head at the computer screen) and tightness in the pectoral or chest muscles in the front. When those muscles tighten, their opposite muscles (the shoulder blade depressors and the deep neck flexors) have no choice but to weaken.
This creates the unattractive, slouched forward, head forward posture that lies at the root of most headaches, neck pain, back pain, and even carpal tunnel (along with other arm and hand problems).
The lower crossed syndrome creates a forward tilted pelvis and jams the low back joints together because the hip flexors (the muscles in front of your hip) shorten along with the big muscles in your low back called the erector spinae. This massive compression and tightness pattern then causes a weakness in your abdominals and the gluteals.
This syndrome is classic for back pain, knee pain, hip pain, and even plantar fascitis.
Reverse Crossed Posture Syndrom Now
Why Preventing CPS Is Extremely Important
You prevent it to keep from curling up into a little old shriveled heap when you’re 70 or 80 years old! The longer you have your youthful, efficient, pain free posture, the more you can evolve mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to serve your greatest purpose to humankind!
You prevent it so you can have more FUN in you life! To PLAY with more enthusiasm and share joy! That’s why we’re here. At least that’s what I believe.
The great thing about the free “Reverse CPS Now!” series is that you can have immediate changes in the way you feel. You should immediately feel taller, more centered, and less stressed.
The “reprogramming” of your nervous system can take place fairly quickly. It can take as little as 3 weeks to “rewire” a posture program in your brain but it usually takes longer because inevitably, you tend to slip into old patterns as life “triggers” you here and there. The getting “on and off track” means it may take a few months to actually change the neural circuits between your ears.
But as far as actually “remodelling” your tissues to make permanent changes in the architecture of your fascia, muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bones it can take up to a year or more. And the thing is, it’s not like you can ever just quit paying attention to your posture.
You ALWAYS have to keep the intention of growth, renewal, and expansion or else “the matrix” of the world will suck you back in to its stress and protection agenda!
IMPORTANT: Know The Difference Between Active Care Vs. Passive Care
Passive care is what most people think about when they hear or talk about chiropractic. In the passive care model of chiropractic, you come in, get adjusted, maybe get some ultrasound and an ice pack. You really had no “active” participation in that experience. You had something done TO you instead of you doing something for yourself.
It’s the same model as the current conventional medical system. If you hurt your back, you get a pain reliever and a muscle relaxer. That’s passive. (Of course the natural methods of adjusting and therapies are leaps and bounds better than putting toxic drugs into your system!)
BUT… with ACTIVE care, you are taught what you can do for yourself so you don’t become dependent on passive care! It’s interesting that not everybody wants this responsibility. Some would rather just get the adjustment and go on their way without learning a thing. And that’s fine. That’s their choice. We usually refer them out if that’s the case.
Like what you just learned and feeling empowered to restore your mind and body to its natural, stress-free state? Check out this awesome video introducing Dr. Hoffman’s
There is good news! Kids who have a dog to cuddle up with at night, talk to, and play with by day are less likely to suffer from anxiety, a new study suggests. Then you should buy a dog for your kid.
Researchers from Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York, asked parents of children between the ages of four and 10 who came in for well-child visits to answer a questionnaire on an iPad before the checkup. It asked about nutrition and injury prevention, among other health-related topics, and also about pets in the home.
The researchers formed two study groups based on the answers, one with children who had a pet dog at home and the other with kids who did not have pups.
“We studied children with because that was the most common pet and allowed us to collect a large sample of children,” said study author Dr. Anne Gadomski, a research scientist and attending pediatrician at Bassett Healthcare Network.
The study included 370 kids with dogs and 273 kids who didn’t have one. Among the 58 percent of children with a dog, 12 percent tested positive on a screening test for anxiety, compared with 21 percent of children who did not have a pet dog.
“What we actually found was children from homes with had lower anxiety scores than children in homes with no pet dog,” Gadomski told CBS News.
She noted that the study is one of associations and more research is needed to look at cause and effect.
Anxiety disorders affect one in eight children, according the National Institute of Mental Health. Research shows that when it goes untreated, kids with anxiety are at a higher risk for poor school performance, they’re more likely to miss out on key social experiences, and at an increased risk for substance abuse. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults 18 and older — 18 percent of the population.
” is a huge mental health problem in the U.S. and anything we can do to mitigate anxiety or prevent its development would have a huge impact on the mental health system in the United States,” Gadomski said.
The idea for the research came about in part by Gadomski’s observations as a practicing pediatrician for the past three decades. “I’ve always been impressed with how a baby’s first words are often a pet’s name,” she said. “Or when a pet dies, we see there’s this incredible attachment there with children.”
Gadomski, who is a dog owner herself, said she is interested in looking at pets and childhood mental health from a preventive health angle.
“I see a lot of kids in practice who have anxiety disorders and my heart goes out to them and their families and I’d do anything to try to nip that in the bud,” she said.
Some is normal in childhood, including being afraid of the dark, monsters, thunder and lightning, or bugs and spiders, for example, said Dr. Adiaha Spinks-Franklin, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician with Texas Children’s Hospital.
“Young children between the ages of three and seven, that is the most common age to have childhood fears. It goes with magical thinking at that age. They don’t know the difference between fantasy and reality, especially at night. Those are normal fears and don’t really interfere with the functioning of a child,” Spinks-Franklin said.
More serious , anxiety disorders, interfere with the day-to-day functioning of a child, she said. A youngster may have separation anxiety and have trouble getting up out of bed in the morning and difficulty leaving parents, for example.
“Generalized anxiety disorder interferes with sleep and learning. A worried brain can’t learn,” Spinks-Franklin explained.
She said some parents are reluctant to get a pet because of the amount of responsibility it involves, but there are perks.
“I have patients who don’t want to sleep alone, who want to sleep with a parent. But then they get a dog and the dog sleeps with them and that alleviates their anxiety,” Spinks-Franklin told CBS News.
She said for children with social anxiety, a pet really can be a “best friend.”
“Cats or a rabbit or a gerbil. Kids have told me they absolutely talk with their pets when something’s bothering them. The pet won’t judge them and loves them unconditionally,” she said.
Spinks-Franklin added, “They have a living being that reciprocates their love and who they can trust no matter what. I think that there are more benefits to having a pet than there are to not having a pet.”
If a parent has a concern about an allergy, talk with a pediatrician about the best kinds of pets to buy or adopt, Spinks-Franklin advised.
Pet Dogs May Help Lower Anxiety Risk In Children
Carried out by research teams from Basset Medical Center in NY, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Dartmouth Medical School, the study was done on children aged 6 and 7 and indicates that children with dogs at home were less likely to have anxiety than those without. They discovered that 12% among them had the potential of suffering from childhood anxiety.
Prior to each childs’ annual pediatric visit, their parents were given a comprehensive health risk screener to fill out.
The report, published online Wednesday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, showed that in a group of 643 children studied over 18 months, 21 percent of children with no dog in their homes tested positive when screened for anxiety.
Gadomski goes on to say, “What we actually found was children from homes with pet dogs had lower anxiety scores than children in homes with no pet dog”, noting that “Childhood anxiety is a huge mental health problem in the USA and anything we can do to mitigate anxiety or prevent its development would have a huge impact on the mental health system in the United States”.
Dogs are an important part of many families. So the researchers hope this study can be a jumping off point for future studies into helpful childhood therapies.
The study authors said that the interpretation of the findings can be done in two ways: either less anxious children own pooches, or pooches make the little ones less anxious.
According to NBC News, Gadomski also noted her team looked at dogs because there’s so much research about them.
“Significant differences between groups were found for the separation anxiety component (‘My child is afraid to be alone in the house’) and social anxiety component (‘My child is shy’) favoring pet ownership”, Dr. Anne Gadomski and her colleagues wrote. Out of the 276,000 kids, only about 11,600 of them experienced an asthmatic episode during their seventh year of life. With the latter, researchers said that a pet dog can help children by stimulating conversation. “Because we had access to such a large and detailed data set, we could account for confounding factors such as asthma in parents, area of residence and socioeconomic status”.
Children with pets have less stress
Childhood mental illness and obesity are significant public health concerns in the US. Since they start in childhood, preventive and early intervention approaches are needed.
Pet dogs have been linked with health benefits for adults, as promoted by the US Public Health Service (USPHS).
In Australia and the UK, dog ownership has been linked with increased physical activity among children aged 5-12 years and healthier body mass index (BMI) in those aged 5-6 years, due to walking and active play.
Such data is lacking in the US, so more evidence is needed to support pet ownership as a health strategy.
How can pets help mental health?
Pets can stimulate conversation, creating an ice-breaking effect that alleviates social anxiety. Dogs also tend to follow human communicative cues, which could help in emotional development.
Children aged 7-8 years have previously ranked pets higher than humans as providers of comfort and self-esteem, and as confidants.
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) with dogs reduces anxiety and arousal, alleviates separation anxiety and enhances attachment in children, thereby improving mental health and reducing developmental disorders.
Promoting children’s behavioral and emotional competence can help prevent mental, emotional and behavioral disorders during adulthood.
If exposure to pet dogs during childhood can help achieve these goals, positive child-dog interactions could prevent potential problems from developing during adolescence or later life.
However, there is little evidence for primary care providers to use when counseling parents regarding the benefits of pet dogs for young children.
Can a dog help improve BMI and anxiety?
In the current study, researchers from Bassett Medical Center in New York investigated the hypothesis that pet dogs are positively associated with healthy weight and mental health among children.
The study looked at 643 children aged 4-10 years, with an average age of 6.7 years, over an 18-month period in a pediatric primary care setting. Of these, 45% were female, 56% were privately insured and 58% had pet dogs in the home.
Before an annual visit, parents completed a health risk screener online, focusing on child BMI, physical activity, screen time, mental health and pet ownership.
Confounders included the fact that pet-owning families may differ from those without pets, for example in socioeconomic environment, a known social determinant of health; family income has been significantly associated with adolescent mental health, so the researchers adjusted for this factor.
Less stress for children with dogs
No difference was found between children with and without a pet dog regarding BMI, screen time or physical activity.
But among the 58% of children with a dog in the home, 12% tested positive on a screening test for anxiety, compared with 21% of children who did not have a pet dog.
A strength of the study is that it was carried out in a real-world setting and was based on children in preventive care, a far larger and more inclusive group than in previous studies, which focused on children with mental and developmental disorders.
Parental reporting could be a limitation, although statistics have shown high concordance between actual mental health issues and what parents say. Also, the population was 96% white, suggesting a need for further study in more racially and ethnically diverse populations.
In Part 1 of Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, I introduced Jane, a pregnant woman suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety, whose story is similar to that of many women who visit me professionally. Although in pain and tortured by symptoms, Jane delayed asking for help due to fear of how she would be perceived as a mother. Her symptoms are overlaid by guilt at not being able to experience the joys of pregnancy or feel a connection to her future child.
Mom must be healthy for baby to be healthy, so I applaud every woman who takes the difficult step of asking for help.
Let’s look back at Jane’s story and pull apart some key issues that relate specifically to mental health and pregnancy in order to further explore the idea that mom and baby’s health and welfare are inextricably bound together.
Jane has experienced significant anxiety throughout her pregnancy, along with frequent nausea and fatigue. She just hasn’t felt good, which is common for women in her situation. When women don’t feel physically well, they are more likely to takeover-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, which have been associated with possible long term developmental risks for baby.
Jane was health conscious before her pregnancy, but as she advanced through her second trimester and became more depressed and anxious, her husband noticed she was not caring for herself as she normally would. She no longer exercised regularly, frequently forgot to take prenatal vitamins, and was not eating well. As a woman who formerly planned her week around her OBGYN visits, Jane insteadmissed two doctors appointments in a row. Poor self care is common for women suffering from antenatal mood disorders and poses risks for mom and baby.
Let’s Talk About Mom First
On average women visit their OB 20 times during pregnancy, so missing an appointment here and there may not seem like a big deal. But, for women like Jane, with antenatal mood disorders, every appointment is important so as to keep tabs on potentially serious health risks. Depression causes cortisol levels to go up, which in turn increases inflammation throughout the body, leading to many issues for mom and baby.
Moms with serious untreated antenatal depression and/or anxiety face an increased risk for diabetes, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, serious medical problems that at worst can lead to fetal demise (eek). Women with these medical issues are often urged by their OBGYN’s to come in even more frequently, something that is hard to do when your inclination to go anywhere is hindered by depression, anxiety, low energy, and apathy.
The Importance of Bonding
Let’s return to Jane. Despite wanting to be pregnant and hoping for a girl, Jane feels disconnected and disengaged from her pregnancy, is unable to enjoy the wonder and magic going on inside her body, and cannot bond with her babybecause of her mood symptoms. Depression can impede a woman’s ability to anticipate the positive, plan for the future, and become emotional and excited about the new life to come.
Every woman deserves the opportunity to appreciate her pregnancy, to fall in love with her baby and connect in the quiet moments alone. There is something uniquely magical about feeling your baby kicking and the deep bond that no one but you can and will ever have with your baby — no mom should be robbed of that opportunity due to active symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Risks Don’t End With Delivery: Postpartum Effects
What will happen to Jane after her baby is born? Most women expect that since they felt anywhere from pretty decent to completely fine before their delivery that they will return to that state afterwards, but unfortunately untreated mood symptoms in pregnancy seldom, if ever, resolve with delivery. Returning home with a new baby poses challenges even for the most well-adjusted parents; for women in the throes of untreated postpartum depression/anxiety, it can be overwhelming and impossibly difficult.
Women with significant postpartum depression/anxiety may have more difficulty successfully nursing and bonding with their new babies. In the most severe cases of postpartum depression, women can become suicidal and in the most heartbreaking cases, end their lives. This awful outcome is unfortunately one of the most common cause of death for women during the first year postpartum. Terrifying.
What About After Baby Is Born?
When women like Jane come to see me, they often ask more about the risks of treatment to their future child than about themselves. After discussing potential risks, we then cover at length the potential risks of failing to treat. If Jane remains untreated, as noted above, her baby may face an increased risk of several intra-uterine complications as well as long-term issues after birth. Baby’s sleep andtemperament may be negatively affected for years to come, along with the risk of delayed milestones, behavioral and attentional issues and adolescent depression.
Exposure to mom’s nearly inevitable postpartum depression and/or anxiety further puts baby at risk for attachment problems, emotional issues, language delays and behavioral problems. If mom’s suffering continues, her children have an increased chance of similarly experiencing psychological distress in childhood. However, if mom is treated, her children benefit and the likelihood of childhood psychiatric diagnosis is reduced.
Oh My! What’s a Mom to Do?
GET HELP! Mom does not have to face the painful symptoms of depression and/or anxiety alone. There are many ways to improve and become well again. If mom is not well, her body cannot be in the optimal state for her future child; the sooner mom is treated, the better for her and for her baby. It is never too late for treatment.
If you or someone you love is suffering, please let them know help is available and can make what is otherwise a dark world light again.
Part 3 will review treatment options for mom in pregnancy and postpartum, so check back soon!
Because regular pain killers are purchased from places like the supermarket, many people assume that they are, for the most part, harmless. Only have a mild headache? Only take one. Bad period pain? Three must be better than two.
Although this way of thinking is not only irresponsible, it’s likely ineffective.
“For the average 70kg person I would suggest that it’s almost a placebo to take one 500mg tablet of paracetamol,” Dr Desmond Williams, Program Director, Pharmaceutical Science at the University of South Australia told The Huffington Post Australia.
Dr Williams’ point about a person of average body weight is key here. For someone smaller, a half dose may be effective.
“If someone is older, frail, and weighs less, it may be different. Say, an older lady who is not big in stature, they probably don’t need anywhere near 1 gram [two tablets] of paracetamol per dose.”
And on the flip side, if you’re in a decent amount of pain don’t assume that you can just up the recommended dose to handle it.
“Thinking ‘I am in a lot of pain so I will take three or four’ is certainly not the way to go about pain management. Paracetamol is a very well tolerated drug, but that is if no more than 4 grams is taken per day. So by taking 1.5 the recommended dose, (or 1500mg in a single dose) in a day, that’s going up to 6 grams per day. That’s classified as an overdose. Chronic dosing at that level would not be a good idea,” Dr Williams said.
If you are not sure, check with your local chemist.
“Certainly a pharmacist is qualified to go through the process with you. There’s always the potential for some underlying condition, and in that case a medical practitioner would be better served to go through and do a history/physical examination to determine what the underlying pathology is,” Dr Williams said.
Another word of warning — always check if your pain killers are the regular variety, or a special variant.
“You need to take into account tablets such as Panadol Osteo, and other brands. These are 650 milligrams per tablet, and are a sustained or extended release product. With these, instead of taking two tablets four times a day, the aim is to take two tablets three times a day. The total dose is still no more than four grams per day. Check the packaging to ensure you know what you’re talking and when.”
Lastly, but very importantly, it’s worth noting that crushing (which if often done with elderly patients or those who can’t swallow) some of these specialty pain killers can affect their efficacy.
“Crushing the extended release tablets would convert them from a sustain release to a rapid release product. So, rather than getting 650 milligrams over an extend time, intended to last up to eight hours, the patient would be getting 1.3 grams [two tablets] that will all be released in one lot, so will definitely not last anywhere near the intention,” Dr Williams said.
“This is only for extended release products. This, at times, can be a problem in nursing homes if no notice is taken of the ‘XR’ on packaging which means extended release, or ‘SR’ which means sustained release. Crushing is okay, the dose just needs to be reduced accordingly and given more often.”
The take home advice is to always follow the instructions.
“Certainly never take any more than the recommended dose per day. If it states not to take any more that 4 grams total dose per day, stick to that advice.”
A detoxification is important for us, especially if we want to remove all the toxic build up from the processed foods we have ingested. A gentle 1-3 day cleanse will help reduce your cravings, and ensure you start eating healthy at the same time!
1. It is important the dairy products are removed from your body before the 3-day cleanse. Stop eating any dairy products 2 days prior to the cleanse, as they will interfere with the detoxification process of the body.
2. Ingest 340 mls of pure cranberry juice before you go to sleep. It will eliminate bacteria in the lungs, preventing infections. Cranberries promote healthy urine and blood, and are potent antioxidants.
3. Potassium can act as a cleansing agent when taken in its juice form. Juice carrots, spinach, celery, sea greens, and parsley or mix 50 ml of Noni Juice with 1 cup of spring water. Make sure that the Noni Juice is in its pure form, and you can get it from the Tree of Life market. Drink at least 1.5 cups of potassium juice with lunch.
4. Mucus cleansing tea is abundant with ginger, peppermint, and rose hips, which alleviate the buildup of mucus, congestion and stuffy noses. These cleansing teas are easily found in health-food outlets or supermarkets. Take one cup of the tea 1 hour prior to dinner.
5. Black Forest Tea is an example of an herbal laxative tea you can take, before Day 1 of the 3-day cleanse. It rids the system of toxins in your intestines which usually causes constipation.
6. Take 1 – 1.5 cups of pure carrot juice between breakfast and lunch. It has beta-carotene, which is turned into Vitamin A, and assists in cleaning and maintaining the respiratory system. Carrot juice makes the blood alkaline during the detox.
7. For breakfast, take 1.5 cups of pure grapefruit juice. It can be diluted with spring water, or changed with pineapple juice. Grapefruit and pineapple have antioxidants with maintains the respiratory system’s health.
8. You can also squeeze two whole lemons into ½ a cup of water before breakfast. Lemon juice helps in the digestion of powerful alkalizing foods.
It doesn’t seem like it when they’re playing on their $500 tech gadgets, but they do. Twenty-first century living is taking its toll, and many kids are finding it hard to cope.
The number of children dealing with anxiety has been increasing steadily for decades, with up to 25 percent of teenagers now suffering from diagnosable anxiety disorders.
I know as a parent I can be part of the problem or part of the solution. And more often than I care to admit, I’m in the wrong camp.
Your child’s anxiety is not your fault, but it’s possible that some of the parenting practices you’re most proud of are actually making things worse.
Caring Too Much. When your child comes home from school with tales of mean girls, aggressive boys and insensitive teachers, you feel for her, and often you let it show, but maybe you shouldn’t. Our kids feed off our emotions and get more distressed when we’re distressed. When my daughter communicates her worries to me, only to have me start worrying too, it definitely makes things worse. She needs me to be strong, but instead I inadvertently send the message that anxiety is the ‘right’ reaction to her problems. Difficult though it is, we need to keep our own anxiety in check while sympathizing with theirs. We have to be the emotional rock: the person who understands, supports and (if asked) advises, without ever showing that their problems make us feel anxious too.
Advocating Too Hard. We all want to stand up for our kids, but our eagerness to advocate can sometimes actually raise anxiety levels. If your child shares a school problem with you, your first instinct is often to march into the school and try and resolve it. This tells your child two things. Firstly he can’t tell you something in confidence, and secondly you don’t have faith in him to fix his own problems. Make sure your children know you will only advocate on their behalf with their full knowledge and consent. Your first priority should be to help them find a solution they can implement without your help, every time.
CompensatingFor Weaknesses. We all want to help our children with the things they struggle with. One bad grade in math and we engage a tutor. One issue with a bully and we buy them a book about dealing with bullies. Unintentionally, though, we’re encouraging them to focus on the negative. Most of us get our confidence not from compensating for weaknesses, but on playing to our strengths. Those of us who are truly happy with our adult lives have learned to do the things we’re good at and not stress about the rest. We probably delegate or outsource the things we’re really bad at. Children can’t always avoid their weak areas, but by focusing on strengths we build self-efficacy and confidence. Next time you’re tempted to spend the weekend researching math tutors because your child is doing poorly in math, consider instead spending all weekend doing things he’s good at. His sense of confidence and competence will return. It may even carry over to his next math class.
Overplaying Strengths. Yes, I know I just said focus on strengths, and we totally should. Just not to the point that our expectations cause more anxiety. When you constantly tell people your son is on track for a top college, or your daughter is going to be an Olympic gymnast, you feel like you’re building them up, but eventually the positive affirmation turns to pressure. Compliment your kids when they excel, but don’t make their excellence a reason to expect even more from them. Overly high expectations can create performance anxiety where there used to be joy and personal fulfillment.
Having Great Values. You’ve probably worked hard to encourage good values in your children, but values get challenged and being too attached to yours could mean your child obsesses over them. There’s been more than onetragic case of young people committing suicide over incidents that should never have led to a loss of life. From posting nude photos to watching pornography, sometimes kids make poor choices, and the thought of family finding out can seem like a fate worse than death. Let your children know that while values are important, you understand the realities and temptations they face. Don’t create a culture where your child is too anxious to come to you and admit they messed up, or are under pressure to mess up, because they fear you’ll judge them or their friends.
Hiding Your Troubles. We all like to protect our children from anxiety by not worrying them with our own issues. If we’re struggling financially or fighting with our spouse, we think our children are better off not knowing. But they do know. They’re super perceptive. They just don’t know the whole story, so they blow it out of all proportion, especially if they’re already suffering from anxiety. Should we pile our own troubles on our child’s shoulders? No, but it doesn’t hurt to be honest about what our concerns are and, more importantly, what we’re doing about it. By sharing what makes us anxious and how we deal with it, we’re modelling practical ways to resolve anxiety.