How to prevent holiday depression and stress

Marriage and Family Health, Mental Health
This last week, I saw three patients in the office all suffering from holiday depression. One was a grandmother who had suffered the tragic loss of her first grandchild this summer. Two others were people who had lost dear ones over the last few months. It was a good reminder to me to keep an eye out this season for those around me to whom Christmas may not be a joy, but an emotional roller coaster. (more…)
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30% of SAMe supplements fail to pass testing

Alternative Medicine, Joint Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health
Dietary supplements containing SAMe (S-adenosyl-methionine) can be effective in treating osteoarthritis as well as depression and mood disorders, but only 7 out of ten SAM-e supplements recently selected for testing by ConsumerLab.com met all quality criteria. Furthermore, the cost of SAMe varied almost 6-fold ... with the most expensive product failing! (more…)
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Overweight Children Are Affected More By Stress

Children's Health, Obesity, Parenting
American kids are really stressed out — not least of all overweight and obese kids, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association. The report found that children who are overweight or obese feel particularly stressed, more so than their normal-weighted peers. And such stress has a lasting impact on other lifestyle behaviors that negatively affect overweight kids' health. Below I have some of the details from a report in Time. If, however, your kids are overweight or obese, you may want to pick up a copy of my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat. The book is currently on sale in HARDCOVER for $4.99 here (save $18) and in SOFTCOVER for $1.99 here (save $11). The book is chock-full of ways you,…
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Holiday Depression And Stress

Mental Health
Yesterday, my last day in the medical office before Christmas, I saw three patients all suffering from holiday depression. One was a grandmother who had suffered the tragic loss of her first grandchild this summer. Two others were people who had lost dear ones over the last few months. It was a good reminder to me to keep an eye out this season for those around me to whom Christmas may not be a joy, but an emotional roller coaster. Indeed, the holiday season can be a time full of joy, cheer, parties, and family gatherings. But for many people, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures and anxiety about an uncertain future. So, here's some information on the holiday blues for you and yours from…
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Exercise Reduces Depression Risk

Mental Health
In past blogs I've told you about how exercise can help both prevent and treat depression. I also discuss this phenomena in my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. Now, along comes one of the largest studies ever published on the topic (of 40,000 Norwegians), which found that people who take regular exercise during their free time are less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety, a study of 40,000 Norwegians has found. However, physical activity which is part and parcel of the working day does NOT have the same effect. Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers said it was probably because there was not the same level of social interaction. Here are the details from the BBC: The mental health charity Mind…
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SAMe and Depression

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) is getting renewed attention as an option for patients with mild-to-moderate major depression. New guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association now suggest SAMe as an alternative to conventional antidepressants (e.g., paroxetine, venlafaxine, etc) for patients interested in alternative therapies. New research also shows that SAMe might be effective for treatment-resistant depression. Adding SAMe (SAMe Complete 400 mg, Nature Made) 400 mg twice daily to conventional treatment in nonresponders increased remission rates by about 14% after 6 weeks of treatment. About 7 patients need to be treated with SAMe for 6 weeks for one additional patient to have remission. The experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database tell physicians, "Explain to patients that SAMe is an option worth considering. Keep in mind that SAMe isn't covered by insurance.…
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Fish oil supplements do not boost babies’ cognitive development or prevent postpartum depression

Children's Health, Mental Health, Nutritional Health, Woman's Health
The New York Times reports, "Many women take fish oil supplements during pregnancy, encouraged by obstetricians, marketing campaigns, or the popular view that a key fish oil ingredient -- docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA -- is beneficial to a baby's cognitive development." However, a study published "in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the DHA supplements taken by pregnant women show no clear cognitive benefit to their babies." What's more, researchers "found no evidence that DHA can reduce postpartum depression, except perhaps for women already at high risk for it." "In the new study, 2,399 women at the midpoint of their pregnancies were divided into two groups," the Los Angeles Times reports. "One took a daily capsule of 800 mg of DHA derived from fish oil until giving birth;…
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Devotional for Men – Healthy Through and Through – Part 4 – The Emotional Wheel of Health

General Health, Men's Health, Mental Health
Here’s the fourth of an eight-part devotional for men based upon my chapter on health in Coach Joe Gibbs best-selling book, Gameplan for Life. The devotional was featured by the Men of Integrity ministry of Christianity Today. I hope you enjoy the series. Here’s Part 4 of 8: THE SERIES’ THEME: Healthy Through and Through. What does it mean to be a truly healthy man of God? THE EMOTIONAL WHEEL KEY BIBLE VERSE: A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. (Proverbs 17:22, The Message) Dig Deeper: Proverbs 14:30, 15:13 My friend Ben is a model of emotional health. For years, I've watched him handle whatever life throws at him. He doesn't pretend things are better than they are, nor does he treat the inevitable letdowns…
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Positive Brain Changes Seen After Meditation (What is Christian meditation?)

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
A number of Christian scriptures recommend meditation as a spiritual discipline: Psalm 77:12: I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Psalm 119:15:  meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:27: Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. Psalm 19:14: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 104:34: May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD. Now, comes a study showing that positive brain changes take hold after just 11 hours of practicing a form of meditation. Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News: The study included 45 University…
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Too much chocolate may be connected to depression

Mental Health, Nutritional Health
The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who consume larger amounts of chocolate may be more depressed than those who eat lesser amounts of it. "Researchers at UC San Diego and UC Davis examined chocolate consumption and other dietary intake patterns among 931 men and women who were not using antidepressants," then screened them for depression, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Those who screened positive for possible depression consumed an average of 8.4 servings of chocolate – defined as one ounce of chocolate candy – per month," compared "with 5.4 servings per month among people who were not depressed." Bloomberg News reports that "the scientists didn't find any evidence of a benefit from chocolate, as it didn't seem to help people overcome…
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Most St. John’s Wort Supplements Fail Quality Tests

Alternative Medicine, Mental Health
As I report in my best-selling book, Alternative Medicine: The claims, the options, the evidence, how to choose wisely, St. John's wort can be a safe and effective antidepressant herb for mild to moderate depression. But, as I warned in my book, and as yet another independent quality testing lab reports, heavy metal contamination and low potency are still concerns. ConsumerLab reports, "St. John's wort has been shown to be effective in treating mild to moderate forms of major depression." But, the independent quality testing lab's newest report found that only a few of the herbal supplement brands recently tested met quality standards. Among the ten St. John's wort supplements selected for testing, only four (40%) met ConsumerLab.com’s quality standards. In other words, 60% of the brands tested FAILED quality…
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Belief in God Relieves Depression

Bioethics, Mental Health
I wanted you to read an excerpted from, "Belief in God Relieves Depression," an interesting article in the The Washington Times by Jennifer Harper: The "Big Man Upstairs" is getting accolades from mental health specialists who say they are finding that a belief in God plays a positive role in the treatment of anxiety and depression. University of Toronto psychologists reported last year that "believing in God can help block anxiety and minimize stress," their research showcasing "distinct brain differences" between believers and nonbelievers. In patients diagnosed with clinical depression, "belief in a concerned God can improve response to medical treatment," said the new research, which has been published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. The operative term here is "caring," the researchers said. "The study found that those with…
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If you take St. John’s wort, here’s another potential side effect you need to know about

Alternative Medicine, General Health
My favorite natural medicines website is the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database and the NMCD has a new warning about St. John's wort (SJW) and your eyesight: St. John’s wort  has now been linked to an increased risk of cataracts in new research. There have been concerns for years, based upon animal studies, that SJW might increase cataract risk. Why? The hypericin constituent of SJW is known to be photoactive. In the presence of light, hypericin might damage lens proteins and precipitate cataracts. However, this risk has never been studied in humans -- until now. A new population study shows that taking St. John's wort is associated with risk of developing cataracts. The researchers used self-reported data on SJW use in the past 12 months and cataracts that were obtained from the 2002 National…
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St. John’s wort may cool the hot flashes of menopause

Alternative Medicine, Woman's Health
Reuters Health has a nice report on the popular herbal remedy, St. John's wort, and some news from a small study that says it may help ease menopausal hot flashes. St. John's wort is probably best known as an herbal antidepressant, with some clinical trials suggesting that it can help relieve mild to moderate depression symptoms. A few studies have also investigated the herb's effects on menopausal symptoms, but have focused on its impact on mood -- and not the so-called vasomotor symptoms of menopause, which include hot flashes and night sweats. Here's the Reuter's report: "(The) findings of our study suggest that this herbal medicine can be used to treat hot flashes due to menopause, and it is a new finding about the usage of St. John's wort," Marjan Khajehei, of…
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Could being bored be bad for your health?

Men's Health
Can you really be bored to death? According to a report in USA Today, in a commentary to be published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in April, experts will write that there's a possibility that the more bored you are, the more likely you are to die early. After reading this report, if you feel you suffer from more boredom than you'd like, you might want to check out my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. You can see the Table of Contents here, and read the first chapter here. In the USA Today article, Annie Britton and Martin Shipley of University College London caution that boredom alone isn't likely to kill you — but it could be a symptom of other risky behavior like drinking, smoking, taking…
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New Study Shows 85% of Women Say Abortions Cause Mental Health Issues

Bioethics, Mental Health, Woman's Health
LifeNews.com is reporting on a new study from researchers at a university in New Zealand which found that 85 percent of women who had abortions report negative mental health issues as a result. The report is the latest from professor David Fergusson and his team showing abortions cause problems for women. According to the LifeNews report, the University of Otago team examined the medical history of over 500 women and concluded having an abortion generally “leads to significant distress" in women who have them. It noted women reporting adverse reactions to their abortions were up to 80 percent more likely to have mental health problems and risk of mental illness was “proportional to the degree of distress” associated with the abortion. The study, which appears in the latest issue of…
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Loneliness is increasing and it can harm your health

Mental Health
In my new book (to be released in a couple of weeks), 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, I have a chapter on "Avoid Loneliness Like the Plague." Now, another expert and author on loneliness told a session Thursday on the opening day of the American Psychological Association annual meeting in Toronto that "being lonely isn't bad for you, but staying lonely is!" More Information: (more…)
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Study: Abortion Has More Negative Parenting Impact Than Other Pregnancy Loss

Bioethics, Children's Health, Marriage and Family Health, Mental Health, Parenting, Woman's Health
Amy Sobie is the editor of The Post-Abortion Review, a quarterly publication of the Elliot Institute. The organization is a widely respected leader in research and analysis of medical, mental health, and other complications resulting from abortions. This very informative article of hers was carried in Life News. More Information: (more…)
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Gardening Not Only Saves Money, It’s Highly Healthy

Children's Health, General Health, Heart Health, Men's Health, Mental Health, Obesity, Woman's Health
I don’t know about your part of the world, but here in Colorado, the weather was downright balmy last week. And on Friday spring was sprung! These facts turned my and Barb’s minds toward preparing for this year’s gardening. So, I wanted to remind myself, and you, of why gardening can be highly healthy to you and those you love. More Information: (more…)
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HEADLINE: “Abortion not seen linked with depression.” Don’t believe it for a second.

Bioethics, Mental Health, Woman's Health
Reuters is reporting today that “No high-quality study done to date can document that having an abortion causes psychological distress, or a "post-abortion syndrome," and “efforts to show it does occur appear to be politically motivated.” They base this upon a new report by U.S. researchers. Should you believe this? Not for a New York second. More Information: (more…)
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Study Agrees with Dr. Walt – St. John’s Wort effective for depression – with caveats!

Alternative Medicine, Health Headlines, Men's Health, Mental Health, Woman's Health
The herbal remedy St. John's Wort effectively treats symptoms of major depression, an analysis of previous studies found on Wednesday. St. John's Wort extracts tested in the different trials were better than placebos and as effective as standard antidepressants with fewer side effects, the researchers reported in the Cochrane review, a journal that analyses medical and scientific studies. My Take: (more…)
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