Herbal Remedies and Dietary Supplements

Some people find herbal remedies and dietary supplements useful in relieving the symptoms of depression. Herbs and supplements commonly used for this purpose include:

  • amino acids and their precursors
  • DHEA
  • folate or folic acid
  • SAMe
  • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of at least one herbal remedy (St. John’s wort) and two dietary supplements (DHEA and SAMe) for reduction of depressive symptoms. However, herbal remedies and dietary supplements do not help all people and in some cases, the effectiveness of these treatments has not been completely established.

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15 Simple Ways to De-stress

Hypnotize Yourself

Brow furrowed? Pulse galloping? Barely able to breathe? It’s time to relax. We’ve gathered easy strategies to keep tension from taking over.

Forget swaying pocket watches and deep trances. “Hypnosis is a state of highly focused attention,” says David Spiegel, the director of Stanford School of Medicine’s Center on Stress and Health. If done properly, hypnosis can clear your mind, lower your heart rate, and decrease muscle tension. Close your eyes and picture a movie screen with something stressful, like rush-hour traffic, on the left side. Now, visualize a solution playing out on the right, like discovering a new route with no traffic. Eventually, you’ll feel a moment of intense absorption, he explains, like when you’re so caught up in a good movie that you forget where you are. Try doing this for five minutes, three or four times a day.

(Really) Forgive Someone

Although it may be tempting to rehash the details of how your sister’s boyfriend snubbed you, letting go of negative feelings really does lower stress. “When our minds keep rehearsing troubling interactions, the body’s calming system becomes impaired,” says Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, a psychologist at Hope College in Holland, Mich. A cursory hug won’t do, though. You have to sincerely replace your anger toward the wrongdoer with an attempt to understand the reasons behind his actions. “Forgiveness helps you see more of the truth, not less. When we are upset, our vision is limited in scope,” says Witvliet.

Open the Window

Just looking out your window can have a relaxing effect. In a study led by Peter Kahn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, participants in an office were shown one of three views: a natural setting, a digital display of the same scene, and no view. When stress levels were artificially increased, those looking at the real natural scene returned to their normal heart rate more quickly. Those who looked at the digital display did no better than those looking at a blank wall, suggesting the brain is not easily fooled. “We do best mentally and physically when we’re connected to nature,” says Kahn.

Send Yourself Flowers

“Without question, stress is mitigated by nature,” says Mehmet C. Oz, coauthor of “You: Stress Less” (Simon & Schuster). Scientists at Harvard University delivered flowers to one group of women and gave candles to a second group. Within a week, the first group felt less anxious and depressed, perhaps because humans are comforted by vegetation—a means of survival in caveman days. Oz suggests keeping a plant on your desk and cut flowers at the dinner table.

Pucker Up

A kiss (or two) a day can keep the stress away. You’ll feel less isolated, which is a common source of anxiety. According to Laura Berman, a professor of obstetrics-gynecology and psychiatry at Northwestern University, women in particular respond to locking lips by releasing endorphins. She recommends at least one ten-second kiss a day — deep and emotional, but not necessarily sexually arousing. “Just enjoy the physical connection,” she says.

Take a Time-Out

You don’t need to slip into bed to get the benefits of a good rest. Kate Hanley, author of “The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide: 77 Simple Strategies for Serenity” (Skirt!), suggests a simple exercise you can do at your desk that is just as refreshing as a nap:

  • Keeping both feet on the floor, stack your forearms on the edge of the table.
  • Scoot back in your chair so your spine is extended.
  • Rest your forehead on your arms for a minute or two.

This opens the neck and shoulders, where physical tension commonly builds up, and creates space in your rib cage for deep breathing. Visualize your next task going well, or simply focus on your heartbeat. Either way, this exercise gives you a break.

Take it Easy

Working out is a great way to take a bite out of tension—but think twice before you sign up for a boot camp. “When you are mentally tired, intense exercise adds to the stress you are feeling,” says Samuele M. Marcora, a physiologist at the University of Kent in England. After a draining day, he suggests a moderate-intensity workout, like walking or light running. “It won’t improve your fitness level, but it is good for the mood.”

Say ‘Om’

Yoga is a proven stress buster, but not all poses give the same relief. Inverted stances, such as back bends and headstands, may have a greater effect on your mood and anxiety, say researchers. The part of the nervous system that relaxes the body and mind may be stimulated when the spine is bent, explains Chris Streeter, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Go Into the Light

“Stress can be triggered when our bodies don’t know what time it is,” says Julie Holland, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine. “Exposing your retina to sunlight resets your circadian rhythm so your brain is on a schedule.” Take a walk outside without sunglasses for 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Phototherapy lamps and vitamin-D supplements also help.

Watch a Tearjerker

If you’re still crying your contacts out on your 100th viewing of “Blue Valentine,” try watching it a 101st time with a new outlook: A recent study suggests that thinking positively while watching a sad movie may help you cope with setbacks in the real world. Women who had experienced stress were shown sad scenes from movies such “I Am Sam” and “Fatal Attraction” and asked to come up with happy endings and good advice for the characters. Test subjects who were best at this showed fewer signs of depression than women who watched the movies passively, says Allison S. Troy, a researcher at the University of Denver. Solving other people’s problems is always easier, she says. Practicing as you make your way through your Netflix queue may sharpen your skills.

Treat Your Allergies

Itchy eyes and a runny nose aren’t the only plagues of allergy season: Stress may rise with the pollen count. Alvaro Guzman, a psychiatrist at the National Center for the Treatment of Phobias, Anxiety and Depression in Washington, D.C., says research shows that patients with seasonal allergies often report stress, mood dips, and depression when symptoms flare. “When we have an allergic reaction, chemicals are produced in our blood that can aggravate mood changes,” he says. If you notice your stress levels peaking when the weather is changing, Guzman suggests getting tested for allergies.

Drop an F-Bomb

Saying what you really think about the boss over a couple of martinis has its advantages. After observing groups in various workplaces, Yehuda Baruch, a professor of management at Rouen Business School in France, found that people swear as a coping mechanism to release stress. When upset with a difficult customer, one test subject pretended to carry on a conversation as if the client were still on the phone, but with profanity to describe exactly how she felt. In the real world, Baruch warns to use common sense. “Stay professional and never swear in front of someone who would be offended.”

Get Busy

You’re sitting on the couch watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reruns — just like last weekend. And instead of becoming absorbed, part of your brain stays focused on the looming deadlines that have been nagging at you at work. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a professor of psychology at Yale University and the author of “Women Who Think Too Much” (Henry Holt), says, “Overthinking without being able to resolve anything draws us deeper into a feeling of being overwhelmed.” A pastime that requires you to pay attention or engage with other people—like tackling a new recipe, taking a foreign-language class, or playing tennis—lets you escape from your own spinning head and break the cycle.

Surround Yourself With Beauty

Admiring a photo of a model or a movie star just as you would a work of art could relieve tension. Half a group of people who viewed photos of females wearing makeup said they were less stressed afterward, according to a study at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. The other half did not report the same benefit, but they didn’t feel any worse, says Patrick Pössel, a professor of psychology who conducted the study.

Be a Pescatarian

Battling stress can be as simple as ordering fish at a restaurant. On “The Truth About Food,” a program on the Discovery Health Channel, researchers measured hormone levels in London cabdrivers, who have highly stressful jobs. When put on a diet of four portions a week of oily fish like mackerel, a source of omega-3 fatty acids, the drivers produced less of the stress hormone cortisol and more of DHEA, a hormone the body cranks out to combat stress. “When the body sees omega-3 fatty acids, it feels calm,” says Oz. Walnuts, flaxseeds, and tofu are other excellent sources.

Happiness Secrets: Feel-Good Tricks for Blah Days

I think it was the Cosmopolitan where I came across the following article.  Since I had found the article some tips have proven benefitial to me maybe you find some benefit was well.

1. Take an iPod time-out. Put in your ear buds, and lose yourself in your favorite tunes. A slower tempo will relax you, but music that’s heavy and throbbing will let you work through anger or annoyance so you can get those negative emotions out of your system quickly, explains Los Angeles psychologist Yvonne Thomas, PhD.
2. Slick on red lip gloss. Red lips exude confidence and sex appeal. The reaction you get from others will help replace your bad mood with sexy self-assuredness.
3. Crack up in front of your computer. It’s impossible to feel bad when you’re laughing, so download a video from funnyordie.com or collegehumor.com.
4. Switch on your desk lamp. Harsh overhead lighting can amplify stress and irritation, while a softer glow can help soothe you.
5. Surround yourself with yellow and orange. Studies show that people become more joyful in these warm, bright colors, explains Leatrice Eiseman, author of More Alive With Color, possibly because they remind us of the sun. If you don’t have a yellow or orange garment to wear, pick up flowers in these hues.
6. Visualize your happy place. Maybe it’s a tropical beach or your childhood bedroom. Whatever the location, close your eyes and conjure up the image. Changing your mind’s wallpaper to a place you adore will make you happy, says Thomas.
7. Have a quickie. If sex isn’t possible, reveling in the memory of a sack session also will flood your system with blissful sensations, says life coach Martha Beck, PhD, author of Finding Your Own North Star.


8. Put on clothes you look hot in. Every chick has something in her closet that nets her positive feedback from friends, coworkers, and random strangers. Change into it — even if it’s just a pair of sex-kittenish heels — and enjoy the ego boost.
9. Snack on citrus fruits. They can improve your mood, says psychologist Dale Atkins, PhD, author of Sanity Savers. And because they take time to peel, you’ll likely eat slowly and not end up pigging out.

10. Breathe away bad vibes. Inhale slowly and deeply for five seconds, then exhale for five. You’ll breathe yourself into a more affirmative mind-set, says Atkins.
11. Be a nature girl. Eat lunch in a park. Lie on the grass in your backyard and watch birds fly overhead. Exposure to the outdoors will lower your heart rate and defuse a pessimistic outlook, says Atkins.

95 Questions to Help You Find Meaning and Happiness

post written by: Marc

95 Questions to Help You Find Meaning and Happiness

Questions to Help You Find Meaning and Happiness

At the cusp of a new day, week, month or year, most of us take a little time to reflect on our lives by looking back over the past and ahead into the future.  We ponder the successes, failures and standout events that are slowly scripting our life’s story.  This process of self-reflection helps us maintain a conscious awareness of where we’ve been and where we intend to go.  It is pertinent to the organization and preservation of our long-term goals and happiness.

The questions below will help you with this process.  Because when it comes to finding meaning in life, asking the right questions is the answer.

  1. In one sentence, who are you?
  2. Why do you matter?
  3. What is your life motto?
  4. What’s something you have that everyone wants?
  5. What is missing in your life?
  6. What’s been on your mind most lately?
  7. Happiness is a ________?
  8. What stands between you and happiness?
  9. What do you need most right now?
  10. What does the child inside you long for?
  11. What is one thing right now that you are totally sure of?
  12. What’s been bothering you lately?
  13. What are you scared of?
  14. What has fear of failure stopped you from doing?
  15. What will you never give up on?
  16. What do you want to remember forever?
  17. What makes you feel secure?
  18. Which activities make you lose track of time?
  19. What’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever made?
  20. What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
  21. What are you most grateful for?
  22. What is worth the pain?
  23. In order of importance, how would you rank: happiness, money, love, health, fame?
  24. What is something you’ve always wanted, but don’t yet have?
  25. What was the most defining moment in your life during this past year?
  26. What’s the number one change you need to make in your life in the next twelve months?
  27. What’s the number one thing you want to achieve in the next five years?
  28. What is the biggest motivator in your life right now?
  29. What will you never do?
  30. What’s something you said you’d never do, but have since done?
  31. What’s something new you recently learned about yourself?
  32. What do you sometimes pretend to understand that you really do not?
  33. In one sentence, what do you wish for your future self?
  34. What worries you most about the future?
  35. When you look into the past, what do you miss most?
  36. What’s something from the past that you don’t miss at all?
  37. What recently reminded you of how fast time flies?
  38. What is the biggest challenge you face right now?
  39. In one word, how would you describe your personality?
  40. What never fails to frustrate you?
  41. What are you known for by your friends and family?
  42. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
  43. What’s a common misconception people have about you?
  44. What’s something a lot of people do that you disagree with?
  45. What’s a belief you hold with which many people disagree?
  46. What’s something that’s harder for you than it is for most people?
  47. What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend?
  48. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?
  49. When you think of ‘home,’ what, specifically, do you think of?
  50. What’s the most valuable thing you own?
  51. If you had to move 3000 miles away, what would you miss most?
  52. What would make you smile right now?
  53. What do you do when nothing else seems to make you happy?
  54. What do you wish did not exist in your life?
  55. What should you avoid to improve your life?
  56. What is something you would hate to go without for a day?
  57. What’s the biggest lie you once believed was true?
  58. What’s something bad that happened to you that made you stronger?
  59. What’s something nobody could ever steal from you?
  60. What’s something you disliked when you were younger that you truly enjoy today?
  61. What are you glad you quit?
  62. What do you need to spend more time doing?
  63. What are you naturally good at?
  64. What have you been counting or keeping track of recently?
  65. What has the little voice inside your head been saying lately?
  66. What’s something you should always be careful with?
  67. What should always be taken seriously?
  68. What should never be taken seriously?
  69. What are three things you can’t get enough of?
  70. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  71. What fascinates you?
  72. What’s the difference between being alive and truly living?
  73. What’s something you would do every day if you could?
  74. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
  75. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
  76. What makes you feel incomplete?
  77. When did you experience a major turning point in your life?
  78. What or who do you wish you lived closer to?
  79. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
  80. What’s something you know you can count on?
  81. What makes you feel comfortable?
  82. What’s something about you that has never changed?
  83. What will be different about your life in exactly one year?
  84. What mistakes do you make over and over again?
  85. What do you have a hard time saying “no” to?
  86. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
  87. What’s something that used to scare you, but no longer does?
  88. What promise to yourself do you still need to fulfill?
  89. What do you appreciate most about your current situation?
  90. What’s something simple that makes you smile?
  91. So far, what has been the primary focus of your life?
  92. How do you know when it’s time to move on?
  93. What’s something you wish you could do one more time?
  94. When you’re 90-years-old, what will matter to you the most?
  95. What would you regret not fully doing, being, or having in your life?

Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.  And of course, check out our sister site, Thought Questions, for more thought-provoking questions like these.

Photo by: Hartwig HKD

Risk Factors for Major Depression

Major depression (also called clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or MDD) doesn’t discriminate between different types of people. Anyone — men, women, and all age groups — can become depressed, but several factors can increase your personal risk of major depression:

  • You’re female. Women are about 70% more likely than men to have depression during their lifetime, and for women between the ages of 25 and 44, the risk is even higher. Experts believe this is due to a combination of hormonal changes, social and cultural problems that affect women, and added stress from work, parenthood, and caregiving.
  • You have a family history of depression. Major depression can affect you even if you don’t have a family history of it, but you’re more likely to become depressed if you have a relative (especially a parent, sibling, or child) with depression. Current research shows that the risk for clinical depression is most likely a result of both genetics and other life factors.
  • You’ve had major depression in the past. More than 50% of people who experience major depression become clinically depressed again. That’s because depression is a disease that often returns. The right treatment can reduce the chance of a relapse and keep repeat episodes of major depression as short as possible.
  • You’ve experienced a lot of stress. The stress of divorce, the death of a loved one, or other painful experience can raise your risk of clinical depression. The same is true for traumatic childhood events, which can trigger major depression in adults. If you’ve ever been depressed or have a family history of depression, your risk of getting depressed due to grief or stress may be even higher.
  • You abuse alcohol, drugs, or nicotine. People with depression often use drugs and alcohol to feel better, but do you know that substance abuse may actually raise your risk of depression? Experts think drug abuse may lower the brain’s ability to deal with stress, making you more vulnerable to depression and making episodes of depression more severe.
  • You don’t have strong social support. When it comes to your health — mental and physical — there’s something to be said for having good friends and family around when you need them. Not having enough support is a risk factor for major depression. In turn, if your depression isn’t treated, it can get in the way of good relationships.
  • You have a chronic illness or take certain medications. About 10% to 15% of depression cases are caused by a medical condition, such as heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis. Some medications can also raise your risk of major depression.

Experts don’t know exactly why some people get major depression and others don’t, but they do know that some risk factors can make you more vulnerable to experiencing it. Depression can affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. If you feel depressed or have key risk factors, talk to your doctor. With the right treatment, you can take control of major depression.

How do you deal with your Lunar Days?

So, how do you deal with your lunar days?  We all get them. With “we”, I mean the ones who are blessed with the female gender.

Our beloved lunar days, they come once every four weeks.  For some of us they come with the physical clues.  We wake up and feel somewhat not as usual, we go to the bathroom and then there is the ahhhh it’s that time again.  The physical clues bring the realization and the “home free card”. We walk through life (at least some of my friends do) saying “I’m PMSing what is your problem.  In today’s world, PMS give us girls the license to do anything and everything. We turn into the raging lunatics and believe we have every right to do so. In the old days women probably weren’t as compelled to draw attention to it out of fear for being burned at the stake.

For others lunar days come without physical evidence.  Either due to stress, being underweight or due to some lovely implant.  For me, I rarely get them but when I do, they come with vengeance. The problem is when there is no physical evidence you realize you are a total lunatic and it takes time to figure out why.

I have been a raging lunatic all weekend.  This time it took me a total of two days to figure out what the bloody hell was wrong with me and by that time I did, I was totally of the rockers.  In a span of 15 minutes I went through every human emotion possible.  That is from flaming mad with lighting blots shooting out of my eyeballs to the sobbing petty me.

I made through Saturday and Sunday without doing anything majorly stupid.  Well, I resigned to buying cigarettes and smoked like there was no tomorrow.  I made the mistake of not locking my cell phone away but other than that I did OK.  I kept myself busy with studying, doing endless mind numbing tests and added three more painting to my collection.

However, this morning I couldn’t get up.  I had no reason to get up.  I didn’t have anything on my schedule to sustain my life so to speak.  I didn’t have a job to go to.  True I have a number of projects but with these projects may become fruitful in months or years so why bother. We want instant return.  Going back to the emerging neurosciences post, this morning the status was missing to get me out of bed and be functional.  Will power isn’t there if you have the monster lurking underneath.

My cell phone was ringing non-stop and finally at around noon I picked up one of the calls.  The person at the other end said “Hi how are you” and at that moment I lost it.  All the emotions, everything I tried to keep in check during the weekend became unraveled and I let go “How I am? You want to know how I am.  I’m telling you one thing, this whole thing about Garden of Even. This whole thing about women being punished with child labor pains is a bunch of BS.  If G-d is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent then he would have known that we are going to come up with painkillers and epidural anesthetic. Hence this concludes that if there is a G-d and that G-d is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent he/she/it gave women PMS as the punishment”.

The person on the other end answer “well I actually was just calling to wish you Happy Hanukkah and wanted to know if I could borrow the CD we talked about, however it appears you are no having a good day. What to talk about it”

No, not really there was nothing to talk about it.  I was just a raging lunatic.  I ended up getting up and kept myself busy still the monster was trying to push through.

Depression is an interesting thing.  Today I realized for the first time how closely related depression and anger really is. I’m also starting to believe that PMS isn’t really that big of a problem unless you have other issues going on.  During your lunar days you are more prone to lose control.  I’m not really sure why. Looking at it biologically our body is gearing up to its most fertile days.  So is it possible that men are more attracted to raging lunatics?

The “WHY”

 

My friend, Doctor Genius, I have referenced him in previous posts, responded to my last post asking, what is your “WHY”.

Interesting question

Freud believed life is primarily a quest for pleasure.  Alfred Adler believed life is a quest for power.

I guess the greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life.  Finding meaning has been a quest of humankind since the dawn of consciousness. Entire social and belief structures are built around this pursuit of meaning.  The more one individual submerges him or herself in such a structure the easier it becomes for him or herself to derive meaning and purpose for existence. Lack of meaning and purpose can and will have devastating effects on a person.  According to my father, the lack of meaning and purpose is often at the root of drug addiction and alcoholism, since it is easier to numb your consciousness then to find meaning and purpose.

Our parents, maybe but certainly for our grandparents and their forefathers, the meaning for their existence was given to them.  Their purpose and their reason for existence, was hammed into their heads from their time of infancy. In addition, they lived their lives in such a tightly knit social structure that meaning and purpose was inevitable. Everyone had to contribute to the whole.

Freedom

Freedom for individualism

Freedom always comes with a price.  We now have to freedom to pick our destiny.  One can even go so far and say, we now have the freedom for individualism. Is this freedom a blessing or a curse? We often forget the overwhelming responsibility which comes with freedom. What does this freedom do to the whole?  Is individualism and selfishness not closely related?

So far I have come up with three possible sources for the meaning of my WHY

Work – Doing something significant, significance which can’t be measured with dollar signs.

Love – Caring for other people.

Courage – Making it through the difficult times.

This is what I have for now.  I just order five more books on the topic so maybe I have a better understanding on the topic after I finished reading these books.