Month: October 2010

How to Beat Depression

Depression is a often a symptom of a very serious problem. Depression can stem from a chemical imbalance in the body, deep-seated guilt, anger and frustration, bitterness, regret, or mourning. Nearly any negative emotion or major life change can result in a lingering depression. While pharmacological management is often used and is suitable for many cases of depression, most health-care professionals now recommend adding other interventions as well to help manage depression. Here are a few you can try at home.

It’s important to note that if you are experiencing lasting or deep depression that includes thoughts of harming yourself or others, you should seek medical help immediately. Also, if you are already being treated for depression, you should consult your doctor or therapist before trying any of these interventions.

1. Develop a support system. Depression thrives when we are isolated from others. There is great power in living openly in community with others, and developing a support system to help you through the dark days is essential in beating depression. Seek out others who have overcome depression, those who love you, and those who are willing to walk alongside you during your struggle. You can check for community sponsored support groups, church mentoring programs, and your local counseling center to locate support persons if you don’t already have people in your life to help you through your depression. Just remember, help is available- you are not alone.

2. Enlist help. Enlist the help of three to four people who agree to be your emergency army in times of need. These are the people you can call on day or night when you’re in a crisis and need to talk. These are often people who understand that when you say, “I think I need help”, there’s a world full of meaning behind those words. They stand ready to support you and love you during the darkest days.

3. Know your limits. We all have days when we feel overwhelmed, but know your limits well enough to know when to call out for help. Know when you need to get out and be with other people, and when you need to refrain from intimate conversations and major life decisions. With the help of others and your doctor or therapist, you can overcome depression.

4. Deal with your emotions. Many times, depression’s root cause is deeply seated emotions. These emotions can carry over from a troubled childhood, a bitter divorce, the loss of a loved one, or any unresolved life experience. You don’t have  to rehash every negative emotion you’ve ever had, nor do you need provide intimate details of painful experiences to heal in every case. However, you do need to give validation and light to these emotions that continue to affect your mental well-being. A trained counselor or therapist can help you work through your emotions if you need help.

5. Help others. Helping others is a great way to help lift the fog of depression. When you focus on others, you learn to put your own problems aside, and perhaps gain a new perspective on the scope of your troubles. Helping others is very rewarding for most people and serves as an instant spirit lifter when depression lurks nearby.

6. Monitor your thinking. Carefully control the thoughts that you allow to run rampant through your mind. Stop any negative thoughts as soon as you notice them and replace them with a positive statement. Find something positive about each and every day, even if it’s just the sunrise and the birds singing outside your window. Each day has something wonderful to offer, but we must look for it and learn to treasure it.

You can beat depression. You can take back control of your life with the help of a strong support system, a positive attitude, professional counseling, and lots of love. If you decide to try medication for a time, just remember that there is no shame in seeking help for your condition. Medication has effectively helped countless individuals conquer depression and it could be the answer that finally lifts the fog enough to see the light. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by depression, seek help today. Waiting only makes it harder. There are people who are willing and able to help you through this dark time.

Read more

If you’re considering finishing a degree or staring a new educational path, you’ll soon discover that graduating as an adult learner is a great deal different from graduating as a young adult. A few time management tips gleaned from personal experience can help you adjust to college life as an adult a little more easily.

Going back to college as an adult learner presents more challenges than I originally anticipated. I did well while earning my Associate’s Degree just out of high school, earning my Bachelor’s Degree should be no different, right? I soon found out going back to school as an adult student was anything but easy.

This time around I was struggling to read through a chapter of easy text while dealing with constant interruptions from my kids, husband, and the constant reminder from the clock ticking toward the end of my allotted study time. I realized I was going to have to make some changes to manage my study time more effectively before my grades suffered.

Time Management Tips for Adult Students

1.  Outsource whatever you can. To make room for study time, I took a look at my finances and determined what I could spend on babysitters, housecleaners, takeout food, and extra trips to the library for some peace and quiet. By outsourcing as many of my usual tasks as I could, I carved out a significant portion of my week to devote to schoolwork (and part time work to fund my outsourcing).

2. Create a firm schedule. If I was going to stay on track and meet my educational goals, I needed to replace my flexible stay at home mom routine with a firm schedule. It was difficult to adjust at first, especially for my children, but the end result was a significant increase in my productivity.

3.  Naps rule. In order to carve out quiet study time, I gave up several hours of sleep a week to study while my family slept. To stave off the effects of sleep deprivation, I learned the value of a power nap. 15-20 minutes of rest in the afternoon was enough to keep me going for the rest of my day. I popped in a movie for my kids, created a nest behind my knees with blankets, and encouraged my baby birds to curl up in the nest for the duration of the cartoon. Sometimes they napped, sometimes they just cuddled, but I always got my power nap in and made it through the day.

4.  If you can’t beat ‘em, enlist ‘em. On days when I absolutely could not get away from my kids to study, I made flash cards and let them quiz me on terms and study questions. The kids enjoyed helping and they learned a few facts along the way. My five year old became an expert in labeling the parts of the brain, and would quiz me every night while taking his bath.

5.  Create a buffer. One of the most valuable time management lessons I learned was to provide a time buffer in my schedule every week. I allotted time for schoolwork early in the week and set a goal to turn in assignments early rather than at the last minute. This gave me enough flexibility to allow for all those unexpected things in life that happen when you have a family (like the stomach flu at 3 AM, trips to the Emergency Room for stitches, and in-laws dropping in for an unexpected visit).

Higher learning can be an enjoyable experience for the adult learner, and the entire family, but your approach to the changes you’ll need to make will help determine how your family views and adjusts to those changes. Keep a positive attitude, de-stress often, and set achievable time management and educational goals that fit your lifestyle. Managing your time effectively when taking classes as an adult student requires a good deal of preparation, juggling of responsibilities, and setting a strict schedule.

Jamie Simmerman is a registered nurse and freelance writerFollow her on Twitter

Become a fan of Health Compare on Facebook to get more tips on leading a healthy, happy life.

Read more

Vitamin D: Are you deficient? Do you need supplementation?

Vitamin D deficiency and supplementation has been in the news a lot recently and for good reason. Studies are now showing that Vitamin D deficiency is more serious than we thought and that Vitamin D supplementation can help people avoid or mitigate many diseases and chronic conditions.

Why is Vitamin D important?

Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a failure of the bones to properly develop in children and osteomalacia, that causes weak bones and muscles.

Scientists are studying the link between insufficient levels of Vitamin D in other diseases and conditions including:

  • Depression
  • Chronic  pain
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • And an increase in death rates for any cause.

Where can you get Vitamin D?

Our bodies can naturally produce Vitamin D from the sun’s UV-B rays, however there are several factors that prevent many people from getting adequate D from sun exposure.

People are more likely to use sunscreen and to be indoors during the middle of the day when the sun’s rays are strongest. Additionally, those with darker skin tones have more difficulty producing D from sunshine. Those who live in climates where the sun is very limited during the winter months might also find themselves Vitamin D deficient.

Many doctors now recommend that you expose your arms and legs to the sun for 15-20 minutes a day to help your body make the Vitamin D that it needs. You  can still protect your face with sunscreen and a hat.

There are many food sources of Vitamin D, including milk and dairy products that have been enriched, however most fall short of the 2,000 IU daily that many experts are now recommending for adults.  However, many are still nutritious and provide other nutrients that support good health and may aid Vitamin D’s work in your body, so including them in your diet is a good idea.

Foods that contain Vitamin D

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Fortified Milk, Orange Juice, Yogurt and Cereals
  • Sardines
  • Eggs

Vitamin D Supplements

If you have low Vitamin D levels and can’t bring them up with sun exposure and diet, Vitamin D supplementation is available. Talk to your doctor to find out the recommended dose and brands that are reliable.

It is possible to overdose on Vitamin D as it accumulates in the fat cells over time. Daily doses of up to 10,000 IU are known to be free of side effects that produce toxicity, however it is always wise to consult with your physician before taking mega doses of any supplement.

Who is at risk for Vitamin D deficiency?

While nobody is immune from D deficiency, certain people are at higher risk, to include:

  • Breastfed infants. Talk to your pediatrician about supplementation especially if your child has darker skin.
  • People with dark skin. Darker skin tones are less able to absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Older people. As the skin ages, it is less able to convert sunlight into Vitamin D.
  • People living in climates with limited sunlight or whose occupations keep them out of the sun or the homebound
  • People with certain fat malabsorbtion disorders.
  • The obese and those who have undergone gastric bypass.

How can I tell if I have a Vitamin D Deficiency?

Your physician can give you a blood test called the 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D. This test can measure the amount of Vitamin D circulating in your blood and let you know if supplementation is warranted.

This test is not routinely given so ask your doctor about it at your next visit especially if you have any risk factors for either D deficiency or the diseases and conditions that have been linked to low levels of Vitamin D.

Other Benefits of Vitamin D

Much research is being done on the role of Vitamin D in helping our bodies avoid disease.  It is possible that high levels of Vitamin D can:

  • Reduce the risk of cancer
  • Improve cancer survival rates
  • Reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Provide greater resistance to viruses including those that cause the flu and common cold.

We are only beginning to learn of how Vitamin D works in our bodies and the role it plays in our long term health and wellness. Follow the tips in the article to make sure that you are getting plenty of D and be sure to ask your doctor about having your blood levels tested and if supplementation is right for you.

Read more