Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

The Surprising Role of Nutrition in Mental Health

If you’ve been reading my blog for a month or more, you know that I have found nutrition to be a powerful force in my recovery from depression. Since 2008, I haven’t responded to medications or have had only a minimal, partial response, so I have been on a mission -- for myself and for the millions of other people with treatment-resistant depression -- to find other, drug-free ways to lift debilitating depression.

Recently I have been following the research of
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

How the Media Affects Body Image

Body image is the way we perceive ourselves when we look in the mirror. We imagine ourselves to look and act a certain way, even though we may look and act differently to those around us.

Someone has a positive body image if he or she is attuned to the reality of his or her physical shape and size. This person fully understands his or her weight, the form of his or her body (from curves to wrinkles), and the way his or her body moves and functions.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

A Recipe for Recovery: Ingredients for Good Mental Health


I believe mental health self-care starts with the right medication. The right medications are crucial for recovery. Personally, I have realized finding the right combination of drugs really makes the difference between being well or unwell.

Medications, while imperfect, are the leading treatment for mental illness and could make the difference between being high-functioning or going through a lot of pain. There are a few principles that help when choosing to take medication. Do not go off prescribed medication without consulting your doctor. Psychotropic medications are powerful, with serious side effects. Withdrawal can cause, at the very least, a flare in mental health symptoms.

Secondly, when making medication changes, work with a doctor, do it slowly and pay attention to the warning signs of relapse. Third of all, do research on medications. Know the side effects, in particular how to detect them and how to reduce them. 
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Know What to Expect When You Love Someone with Bipolar Disorder


It's no one's fault.

I was 18 years old, pregnant, scared, and lonely when I met my now-husband. We became best friends, and two years later he married another woman and had a baby. Fast forward six years: we were madly in love and engaged, then married.

One year after that, my husband came home after work, sat down at the kitchen table, and told me he wanted a divorce. I refused, and not very nicely. A few months after that, he was diagnosed with 
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Healing with Nature

If you have ever tried tending a garden or plant, you probably have experienced both joy and frustration, as in life. Nature offers many examples of our human spirit, and how to navigate ourselves, relationships and change. Many great writers and philosophers have echoed nature's wisdom and ability to heal. Tuning into nature allows us to cultivate the following:

Patience.
We are so hard on ourselves about where and who we should be in life. We often forget that we have our own seasons of development and change throughout our life cycle. Do we expect newborns to dress or feed themselves? Of course not; we know they are not there yet in their growth and development. If a loved one became disabled due to disease or accident, we would appropriately adjust our expectations of their growth and development. Start with what you know and meet yourself where you are, just as nature does.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Aromatherapy: Can Essential Oils Relieve Depression?

For nearly 6,000 years essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes. A number of ancient civilizations including the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them for cosmetics and perfumes as well as for rituals and spiritual reasons. Oils are documented by the Greek physician and botanist Pedanius Dioscorides in the first century in his five-volume encyclopedia about herbal medicine, De Materia Medica.

Fast forward to the early 1900s, when French chemist
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Could Depression Be an Allergic Reaction?

Most people are still locked into the theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain -- a shortage of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin that deliver messages from one neuron to another. That explanation works well for public consumption because it’s simple and it makes for great pharmaceutical commercials.

But depression is a whole lot more complicated than that.

For starters, there’s faulty brain wiring. On functional MRIs, depressed brains display lower activity levels in the frontal lobes, responsible for cognitive processes, and higher levels of activity in the amygdala region of the brain (fear central).
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Does Crying Make You More Depressed?

“Live to the point of tears,” said Camus.

That’s not so hard if you have treatment-resistant depression or any kind of chronic mood disorder. You learn to take tissues with you wherever you go. In the middle of a depressive episode, especially, crying happens as naturally as sneezing or blowing your nose.

Two or three days of every month are tearful ones for me. Sometimes the crying is triggered by hormonal changes. Sometimes it is a release of stress. And sometimes I don’t really know why I’m crying. I just do.
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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Natural Remedies for Rapid Relief of Anxiety

Excerpted and adapted from Anxiety: Top Tips For Rapid Relief Of Anxiety, Panic, Nervousness, and Worry by Lance Levan
Some forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have proven to ease the stress of anxiety, based on research studies. Complementary medicine includes strategies that are not routinely used in Western medicine, although some doctors are favorable towards these methods.

Here are examples of several types of CAM that are used frequently to treat people with anxiety:

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Is Your Microbiome Making You Crazy?

Anxiety, depression, brain fog, mood disorders, mood swings or just feeling out of sorts? It’s possible that the answers may lie in the health of the trillions of bacteria living in the intestine called the gut microbiome.

There is a profound connection between gut flora composition and mood. Depending on the different types and quantities that are prevalent, these bacteria can influence everything from the immune system, digestion, DNA expression, inflammation and brain function -- for better or worse. Bacteria are even known to play a role in serious conditions like autism and schizophrenia. Put simply, a balanced microbiome equals good health, but the opposite is true as well.

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Alternative and Nutritional Supplements

Top 5 Hidden Causes of Depression

Last year, I was seeing four different doctors: a psychiatrist for my mood disorder; an endocrinologist for my pituitary tumor and thyroid issues; a cardiologist for my aortic valve regurgitation; and a primary care physician for some digestive problems and fungus growth.

I suspected that all of my health problems were connected, but each doctor refused to look beyond her specialty to achieve a systemic, balanced perspective of how the conditions were related. I searched for an integrative doctor who could piece together all of my broken parts and help me determine underlying causes for all of the ailments.
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