Friday November 29, 2013
Are you shopping for someone this year who is going through a hard time with depression? While you may have the urge to buy them something that will cheer them up it may be better to concentrate on what will provide them with stress relief and physical comfort. For example, are they dealing with financial problems because their illness makes it difficult for them to work? In this case, a gift of cash would provide welcome relief from the high stress levels that maybe exacerbating their depression. And, a good book and a warm pair of pajamas might be just the ticket for the physical comfort that they are craving.
To get further ideas, I polled our members to see what they thought would make a thoughtful and comforting gift for someone who wasn't feeling well during the holiday season. Here are some of the answers they gave. If you have ideas that you'd like to share, please leave them below in the comments section.
Friday November 22, 2013
While the holidays are commonly thought of as a time of joy and celebration, they may be a time of a time of sadness and isolation for the elderly, especially if they have lost loved ones or are experiencing health or financial difficulties.
According to the American Geriatrics Society, there are some things that seniors can do combat holiday depression.
- Get out and about. Ask friends and relatives for help in getting to parties and events or invite them to your home.
- Volunteer. Volunteer work can lift your mood by taking your mind off your own troubles. Contact local schools, religious organizations or charities to learn about opportunities.
- Don't drink too much alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel even worse.
- Accept and express your feelings. There's nothing wrong with feeling blue. Talking about it can help you understand why you feel like you do.
- Recognize the signs of depression. Symptoms of depression include sadness that doesn't pass; loss of interest or pleasure; changes in appetite or weight; sleeping more than normal; frequent crying; feeling restless or tired all the time; feeling worthless, helpless or guilty; slowed thinking and thoughts of death or suicide.
- See your healthcare provider. If you are depressed, see your physician. Depression is very treatable and you do not have to suffer.
Many older people do not realize that they are depressed, however, and it may be up to friends and family to recognized the signs and encourage them to seek assistance. If you suspect that someone you know is depressed, there are some things you can do to help.
- Invite them to do things with you. Invite them to go places with you and to holiday gatherings. Be aware that they may need help with transportation or special needs such as diet.
- Help with holiday tasks. Offer to help them with holiday shopping and preparation for get-togethers in their own home.
- Be a good listener. Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling and acknowledge that they may be going through a difficult time.
- Encourage them to talk with their healthcare provider. Let them know that you are concerned about their well-being and that depression is a medical illness and nothing to be ashamed of. Offer to make an appointment for them and take them there.
You can learn more about depression in the elderly by visiting the Web site of the American Geriatrics Society's Foundation for Health in Aging.
Friday November 22, 2013
According to Mark DeSilva, MD, medical director, Emergency Department, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, even though suicide rates go down around the holidays this does not mean that holiday depression is any less. In fact, emergency room visits often go up during this time of the year because those with depression feel lonely and left out of the festivities, exacerbating their depressed mood.
For those with no friends, family or support system the holidays can bring out deadly behavior such as alcohol and drug abuse as the individual attempts to cope with his feelings of alienation and sadness, DaSilva noted.
DaSilva offered the following 5 signs as opportunities to recognize holiday depression and intervene:
- Repeatedly avoiding social interaction
- Anger and pessimism about the holiday season
- Excessive alcohol and drug use
- Missing or being very late for work and social events
- Excessive sleeping
If you see these behaviors take action immediately, said DaSilva. Talk with them and offer to help. Make them aware of the programs and services in their community that can help.
"By recognizing when a person is in trouble, and speaking out, you may not only save them a trip to the ED, but also save a life," he said.
Tuesday November 12, 2013
According to a newly revealed study, scientists have located new areas of the brain which appear to be linked to depression and anxiety as well as new mechanisms involved in these conditions. These findings suggest possible new targets for understanding and treating mental illness, the researchers say.
Over 350 million people around the world suffer from depression and between 5 to 25 percent of adults deal with generalized anxiety, according to World Health Organization statistics. In many cases, antidepressants either do not give complete relief from symptoms or they come with severe side effects. Finding newer and better ways to treat depression would be of tremendous benefit to patients and their families.
The study, which was presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, revealed the following findings:
- A potential biomarker for depression, a molecule found in the immune system which may contribute to the illness, has been found
- When a chemical signal in the amygdala, an area of the brain connected with emotional processing, is decreased it appears to reduce depression symptoms in mice
- MicroRNAs, which are very small molecules which can change gene expression, appears to be linked to how mice respond to socially stressful situations with behavior similar to depression
- A pathway between the amygdala and the hippocampus appear to play a part in anxiety. When this connection is shut down, anxious behavior in mice becomes less pronounced
- When humans with anxiety disorders go through unpleasant experiences, especially severe ones, they tend to over-generalize and respond to future similar situation with stronger emotions
According Dr. Lisa Monteggia of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who moderated a press conference associated with the event, "These exciting discoveries represent the potential for significant changes in how we diagnose and treat these illnesses that touch millions." Whether these new targets for treating mental illness pan out remains to be seen, but it does shine a ray of hope for those who are currently struggling with depression and anxiety disorders.