Archive for category Depression

[Images] 137 Artists Try To Show What Depression Looks Like And Some Results Will Make Your Skin Crawl

Living with depression is hard, but it is treatable, so if you think that you might be suffering from it or spot the first depression symptoms with your relative or a friend, don’t ignore it. Get help.

#1 Brain Sick

Brain Sick

Robert Carter, Final score: 156points

#2 Mind Devour

Mind Devour

The painting describes a person with psychological problems such as schizophrenia, insanity, depression or other mental problems. His endless screaming makes his own mind eat him up. I have periods in my life where I feel like this. I wanted to make an illustration of my thoughts and my pain within.

Sebmaestro, Final score:148points

MORE —-> 137 Artists Try To Show What Depression Looks Like And Some Results Will Make Your Skin Crawl | Bored Panda

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[ARTICLE] Effect of social support and health education on depression scale scores of chronic stroke patients – Full Text

Abstract

Post-stroke depression (PSD) constitutes an important complication of stroke, leading to great disability. After stroke, the prevalence rate of depression is about 30%. Depression also affects rehabilitation motivation, delays function recovery, and increases family and social burden. The objective of this study was to explore the effect of social support on depression in chronic stroke patients and the relationship between demographic and disease characteristics. Total samples were randomly divided into an intervention group (n = 31) and a control group (n = 31). Sixteen social support interventions were performed over 8 weeks. Social support programs were implemented 2 times a week. Depressive symptoms were assessed at the second week, 4th week, 8th week, and 4 weeks after the end of the study using the 10-item Center for the Epidemiological Studies of Depression Short Form (CES-D10). There was a significant correlation between depression and the economic status of the patients with chronic stroke, satisfaction in leisure, the presence or absence of caregivers, the duration of stroke, and with or without pain. A significant difference was found between two groups after social support for 8 weeks. Our findings suggest that remission of PSD needs at least 8 weeks of social support.

1 Introduction

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Taiwan. After an acute stage, stroke patients usually suffer from physical, mental, verbal and social function disorders in varying degrees; in particular, post-stroke depression (PSD) is not only an important sequela, but also an important factor to predict the quality of life. Epidemiological studies have shown that about 30% of stroke patients at early or late stages develop PSD, which affects rehabilitation motivation of the patients, reduce the rehabilitation effect, and increase the load of family care. Although PSD affects the quality of life and functional recovery, it is often overlooked.[1] According to statistical data, the prevalence of depression is about 29% within 10 years after stroke, and the 5-year cumulative incidence is about 39% to 52%.[2] In a study on PSD and post-stroke fatigue of 368 stroke patients hospitalized within 3 months, researchers found that brain damage could result in physiological and psychological impairments. To be able to live independently, patients should learn the skills of adaptation, including the ability to seek social resources.[3] Successful rehabilitation means patients are able to maintain original social relations and actively participate in social activities to return to community life. Community social interaction or participation in activities requires physical and psychological ability.[4] In addition to rehabilitation activities, functional therapists should also meet the psychological needs of stroke patients in order to achieve holistic health care. In this study, we have investigated the effects of routine rehabilitation activities and additional social support and health education by functional therapists on PSD, and proposed suggestions on home and rehabilitation-related activities.[5,6][…]

 

Continue —-> Effect of social support and health education on depression… : Medicine

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[WEB SITE] Depression Overview: Emotional Symptoms, Physical Signs, and More – WebMD

via Depression Overview: Emotional Symptoms, Physical Signs, and More

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[WEB PAGE] 15 Incredible Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Depression

At some point in our lives we all end up going through anxiety and depression. While these feelings are normal and affect a majority of people, it’s never fun to feel blue or anxious. Many times, people dealing with depression and anxiety will turn to prescription drugs to help them with these feelings, yet natural remedies for anxiety and depression can help too.

As an advocate for mental health and wellness, as well as natural remedies, I have researched thoroughly to share the natural and safe ways to help anxiety and depression.

 

Causes

Anxiety and depression are often seen hand in hand since many individuals with anxiety often have depression too. These feelings can be caused by a wide range of environmental and/or personal triggers. For some, there is no true cause to feeling anxious or depressed, yet for others there are more clear causes and sometimes a combination of causes will lead to anxiety and depression.

Depression and anxiety can be caused by the following:

  • Genetic makeup
  • Experiencing a traumatic event
  • Stress
  • Health conditions (including but not limited to cancer, chronic pain, etc.)
  • Greif
  • Changes in your personal like (divorce, loss of a job, moving,)
  • Substance abuse

While there are many different causes to anxiety and depression, you need to remember, having these feelings is not anyone’s fault or a flaw in your own character. Sometimes there does not have to be a ‘reason’ for feeling anxious or depressed. It just happens. But the good news is, if you can recognize the signs and symptoms, you can begin to use herbal remedies to help you improve.

Signs and Symptoms

Everyone who suffers from anxiety and depression will exhibit different signs and/or symptoms. It all depends on your chemical makeup in your brain. To give you an idea of how anxiety and depression can affect individuals, here is a list of the most common signs and symptoms of depression.

  • Excessive tiredness or sleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Sweating
  • Shallow and rapid breathing
  • Tension
  • Feeling nervous
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Feelings of despair or loneliness
  • Changes in your eating habits- either too much or too little
  • Inability to relax
  • Feeling cranky or moody
  • Constant feelings of worthlessness or sadness
  • Difficulty with decision making, memory, or concentration
  • Constant irrational fears or worryConstant irrational fears or worry
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hot flashes
  • Loss of interests, hobbies, or social life
  • Anti-social behavior

Although these are just a few symptoms of anxiety and depression, everyone experiences anxiety and depression in different ways. Signs and symptoms of depression in women and men will vary so it is important to speak to a professional if you are feeling anxiety and depression.

Treatments​

After discussing with a professional, they will be able to diagnose your anxiety and depression. From there the signs and symptoms of depression in men and women can be improved with the help of these herbal remedies.

If you are interested to treat your depression, anxiety and panic attacks with natural remedies, these 15 home remedies for anxiety and depression can surely help you beat the blues and find your calm.

15 Incredible Natural Remedies for Anxiety and Depression

1. Drinking Chamomile Tea

Depression and anxiety will go hand in hand with sleeping problems. Yet drinking a cup of hot chamomile tea can help you relax and get to sleep when you need it. This is due to the flavonoids that are present in the tea. It is a naturally occurring chemical in the plants that induce relaxation. Richard from InsideBedroom Blog has written about the tips to get better sleep which also has mention about drinking tea.

Chamomile Tea

Required Ingredients:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tbsp of dried chamomile or just 1 teabag
  • Dash of honey

Process:

  • Boil the water and pour it over the tea.
  • Steep for 5 minutes if loose tea. Steep for 15 minutes if using a teabag.
  • Strain the tea or remove the teabag.
  • Add the honey.
  • Drink 30 minutes before bed or when you need to relax.

2. Practice Meditation

meditation

Practicing daily meditation will help to improve the signs of depression in women and men. Taking even just 15 minutes to calm your mind and simply breathe will do wonders to help you cope, prevent, and calm your anxiety and depression.

Required Ingredients:

  • A calm, quiet space
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Time

 

Process:

  • Put on some comfortable clothing and find a calm, quiet place.
  • Turn off your phone, close your blinds, and take other measures as needed to prevent interruptions.
  • Regulate your breathing and attempt to release your thoughts.
  • Breathe deeply with a clear mind for at least 15 minutes.
  • Repeat daily.

3. Get Back to Nature

walking in countryside

Getting yourself back to nature is a great way to ground yourself and release your feelings of anxiety and depression. Spending time outside and breathing the fresh air and taking in the sunlight will certainly improve your mood and help you release your anxious feelings.

Required Ingredients:

  • Natural park, forest, or path
  • Time

 

Process:

  • Go to a place where you can experience nature.
  • Spend at least 30 minutes walking around, or just being outside in the open.
  • Repeat as often as needed.

4. Eat Your Breakfast

breakfast

Starting your day right by eating a well-balanced meal will help you through the entire day. Not only will you be giving your mind and body energy to face the day, eating a healthy breakfast will improve your mood.

Required Ingredients:

  • A variety of healthy foods

Process:

  • Set your alarm and wake up at a scheduled time each day.
  • Make yourself a breakfast of healthy and wholesome foods.
  • Eat breakfast daily.

5. Inhaling Lavender

lavender-products

Lavender is well-known for its calming and soothing effects. The aroma of lavender is actually considered an emotional ant-inflammatory. Inhaling fresh lavender or lavender oil will give you a sense of calm and relaxation which will help improve anxiety and panic attacks.

Required Ingredients:

  • Essential oil of lavender or fresh lavender

Process:

  • Place a few drops of essential oil of lavender on your wrists and behind your ears and inhale deeply.
  • If you are using fresh lavender, fill your home with a few bouquets so you can continuously breathe in their calming scent.
  • Breathe in fresh lavender whenever you begin to feel anxiety and depression.

6. Avoid Coffee

a cup of cofee

While coffee is a great kick start to your day, it is not so great for those with anxiety and depression. The stimulation from coffee can enhance your feelings of anxiety and depression and even trigger them.

Required Ingredients:

Process:

  • Avoid drinking coffee (and other caffeinated drinks) for a couple of days.
  • If you truly need a coffee, switch to decaf.
  • Avoid coffee and caffeine for as long as you need to prevent triggers of anxiety and depression.

7. Supplement St. John’s Wart

Credit: WebMD

A very popular home remedy for anxiety and depression is the herb St. John’s Wart. This is because of the hypercin that is one of its main components. The hypercin will affect the various neurotransmitters in a similar manner to prescription drugs for depression and anxiety.

Required Ingredients:

  • A high quality capsule of St. John’s Wart

Process:

  • Take 300 milligrams of the St. John’s Wart 3 times each day.
  • Repeat for at least one week.

Notes:

The hypercin in the St. John’s Wart can sometimes interact with other drugs. Be sure to speak to your doctor before you start this home remedy for anxiety and depression.


8. Increase Your B Vitamin Intake

Vitamin B

Increasing your B Vitamins will help your brain produce more serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine, thus resulting in an improved mood.

Required Ingredients:

  • Vitamin B capsules
  • Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin B (fish, shellfish, cheese, spinach, turkey, and bell peppers to name a few)

Process:

  • Eat more foods that contain Vitamin B naturally.
  • Take 300 milligrams of vitamin B capsules each day if you do not eat the foods that naturally contain Vitamin B.
  • Make this a part of your regular diet.

9. Increase Your Magnesium Intake

Magnesium

Magnesium is a very important part of a balanced diet. Without a proper level of magnesium, we cannot keep the chemicals within our brain stable, regulate our heartbeats, or synthesize our RNA and DNA.

Required Ingredients:

  • Incorporate foods such as spinach, bananas, dry almonds, and/or soy milk.
  • If you do not enjoy these foods, magnesium capsules will suffice.

Process:

  • Intake magnesium rich foods or a magnesium capsule each day for a highly functioning body and mind.
  • Make magnesium a part of your daily diet.

10. Get Some Exercise

Exercise

Exercise is a fundamental part of maintaining a good mood and a relaxed mind. Exercise will release endorphins which will make you feel good and feel happy.

Required Ingredients:

Process:

  • Take a minimum of 15 minutes each day to exercise.
  • Repeat daily and make it a part of your regular schedule. Not only will you feel better mentally, you will feel better physically.

 


11. Utilize Light Therapy

light therapy

Light therapy is great to do if you happen to have seasonal affective disorder. Your mood drops in the winter months due to the limited sunlight, but light therapy can also help with depression. This is because the light will help activate the circadian pacemaker in the brain which will help to regulate your sleep cycles.

Required Ingredients:

  • Bright light made for SAD and depression
  • timer

Process:

  • Turn on the light and shine it on you (not directly in your face though)
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  • Repeat a few times per day after the sun has set.

 


12. Intake Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds will contain healthy fats as well as magnesium- both will help to lighten your mood. In addition, pumpkin seeds contain L-tryptophan which is an amino acid that helps your brain produce serotonin.

Required Ingredients:

  • One cup of cooked or raw pumpkin seeds

 

Process:

  • Eat one cup of the raw or cooked pumpkin seeds once per day.
  • Repeat daily while you are struggling with depression.

 


13. Face the Fear

face the fear

If something is making you feel afraid, face the fear. This can help you understand your anxiety since most anxiety stems from the uncertain. Exposure therapy or facing your fears will help you learn how to live your life with uncertainty and risk.

Required Ingredients:

  • Time
  • Exposure to your fears and uncertainties

Process:

  • Take it slow and set aside some time to face the fears or what is causing your anxiety.
  • Repeat as often as needed until the fears or causes of anxiety are no longer there.

Notes:

Speaking to a therapist or friends and family for support will help you through this process.


14. Partake in Laughter

laughter

They always say, laughter is the best medicine. And it’s true! Cultivating a good sense of humor, even if you do a fake laugh, will boost your mood and your dopamine production.

Required Ingredients:

  • Humorous movie
  • Funny jokes or people

 

Process:

  • Spend time indulging in something humorous and laugh.
  • Take time each week to find laughter.

 


15. Administer Lemon Balm

lemonpalm

Lemon balm is an herbal remedy that can help reduce your stress and anxiety, as well as help you with your sleep. Lemon balm extract can be found in a tincture, capsule, or tea form. No matter which form you choose to use, start with the smallest dosing schedule and be sure to follow the directions and soon you will be feeling less anxious and more calm.

Required Ingredients:

  • Lemon balm extract

 

Process:

  • Take the smallest dose of lemon balm extract and follow the directions closely.
  • Repeat daily as needed.

 

Notes:

It is important to follow the directions accordingly because taking too much can actually make you feel much more anxious.


How to Prevent Anxiety and Depression

Battling anxiety and depression is not easy. However, if you make effort to take certain measures in your day to day life, you will certainly notice an improvement in these conditions. Along with the help of natural remedies for anxiety and depression, the following methods can be used to help you manage and cope with these issues.

  • Exercise daily, for at least 20-30 minutes.
  • Keep a journal and write in it each day.
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep. ​SleepAdvisor.org got some advice for ​​reducing anxiety before bed.
  • The Quality of sleep matters as much as the quantity.” Check out this article on how to get a higher quality of sleep.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine.
  • Learn and understand what triggers your anxiety and depression.
  • Get support from friends and family.
  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Get involved with a volunteer organization.
  • Accept and understand that you cannot control everything.
  • Get your daily dose of sunshine.
  • Learn more about anxiety and depression by reading articles.
  • Do things that will make you feel good- even if you don’t feel like doing them.

As an advocate for mental health and wellness, I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you found something in this article useful for signs of depression in men and women, or anxiety and panic attacks, please comment to let me know! Or if you would like to share the 15 incredible home remedies for anxiety and depression, please do!

 

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[WEB SITE] AI helps identify patients in need of advanced care for depression

Depression is a worldwide health predicament, affecting more than 300 million adults. It is considered the leading cause of disability and contributor to the overall global burden of disease. Detecting people in need of advanced depression care is crucial.

Now, a team of researchers at the Regenstrief Institute found a way to help clinicians detect and identify patients in need of advanced care for depression. The new method, which uses machine learning or artificial intelligence (AI), can help reduce the number of people who experience depressive symptoms that could potentially lead to suicide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that close to 800,000 people die due to suicide each year, making it the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 29 years old.

Major depression is one of the most common mental illness worldwide. In the United States, an estimated 17.3 million adults had at least one major depressive episode, accounting to about 7.1 percent of all adults in the country.

Image Credit: Zapp2Photo / Shutterstock

Image Credit: Zapp2Photo / Shutterstock

Predicting patients who need treatment

The study, which was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, unveils a new way to determine patients who might need advanced care for depression. The decision model can predict who might need more treatment than what the primary care provider can offer.

Since some forms of depression are far more severe and need advanced care by certified medical health providers, knowing who is at risk is essential. But identifying these patients is very challenging. In line with this, the researchers formulated a method that scrutinizes a comprehensive range of patient-level diagnostic, behavioral, and demographic data, including past clinic visit history from a statewide health information.

Using the data, health care providers can now build a technique on properly predicting patients in need of advanced care. The machine learning algorithm combined both behavioral and clinical data from the statewide health information exchange, called the Indiana Network for Patient Care.

“Our goal was to build reproducible models that fit into clinical workflows,” Dr. Suranga N. Kasthurirathne, a research scientist at Regenstrief Institute, and study author said.

“This algorithm is unique because it provides actionable information to clinicians, helping them to identify which patients may be more at risk for adverse events from depression,” he added.

The researchers used the new model to train random forest decision models that can predict if there’s a need for advanced care among the overall patient population and those at higher risk of depression-related adverse events.

It’s important to consider making models that can fit different patient populations. This way, the health care provider has the option to choose the best screening approach he or she needs.

“We demonstrated the ability to predict the need for advanced care for depression across various patient populations with considerable predictive performance. These efforts can easily be integrated into existing hospital workflows,” the investigators wrote in the paper.

Identifying patients in need of advanced care is important

With the high number of people who have depression, one of the most important things to do is determine who are at a higher risk of potential adverse effects, including suicide.

Depression has different types, depending on the level of risk involved. For instance, people with mild depression forms may not need assistance and can recover faster. On the other hand, those who have severe depression may require advanced care aside from what primary care providers can offer.

They may need to undergo treatment such as medications and therapies to improve their condition. Hence, the new method can act like a preventive measure to reduce the incidence of adverse events related to the condition such as suicide.

More importantly, training health care teams to successfully identify patients with severe depression can help resolve the problem. With the proper application of the novel technique, many people with depression can be treated accordingly, reducing serious complications.

Depression signs and symptoms

Health care providers need to properly identify patients with depression. The common signs and symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, loss of interest in daily activities, sleep changes, irritability, anger, appetite changes, weight changes, self-loathing, loss of energy, problems in concentrating, reckless behavior, memory problems, and unexplained pains and aches.


Journal reference:

Suranga N Kasthurirathne, Paul G Biondich, Shaun J Grannis, Saptarshi Purkayastha, Joshua R Vest, Josette F Jones. (2019). Identification of Patients in Need of Advanced Care for Depression Using Data Extracted From a Statewide Health Information Exchange: A Machine Learning Approach. Journal of Medical Internet Research. https://www.jmir.org/2019/7/e13809/


via AI helps identify patients in need of advanced care for depression

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[WEB PAGE] 10 ways to cope with depression after brain injury

10 ways to cope with depression after brain injury

We’ve put together some top tips to help cope with depression

Depression is common among brain injury survivors, with half of all survivors experiencing it in the first year following their injury.

It can also develop as the person starts to understand the full impact of their injury, and can lead to feelings of hopelessness and altered self-esteem and identity as the survivor reflects over the changes that they are facing, and may continue to face in the future.

With expert support from Dr Elizabeth Kent and Dr Cliodhna Carroll, from Kent Clinical Neuropsychology Service, and with feedback from brain injury survivors, we’ve put together some top tips to help cope with depression.

More detailed information can be found on our factsheet Depression after brain injury.

The information provided here is not intended to replace medical advice, so if you are experiencing symptoms of depression always speak to your GP or other healthcare professional.

Top tips

man with head in hands

Talk

Try to talk to your family or friends about how you’re feeling and why you may appear to be distant. If you find it difficult to speak about how you feel, try to find other ways of communicating such as writing a letter. Consider talking to your employer about depression if you feel that it’s affecting your work performance.

Avoid isolation

Try to avoid becoming socially isolated. It’s important to spend at least some time socialising with people on a face-to-face basis. If you struggle in crowds, try to arrange meeting a friend at a quiet location. Alternatively, consider finding a local support or activity group that you can attend, such as a local Headway group or branch.

Engage

Engage in activities that you enjoy doing, such as listening to uplifting music, creating art or reading a book. Research indicates that these activities can be useful ways of coping with depression. And don’t be afraid to try something new!

Educate yourself

Educate yourself on the effects of brain injury. Understanding your injury may be the first step towards accepting it, which might help with managing depression. The Headway website is a good place to start.

Exercise

Try to exercise for a few minutes every day. This may be difficult if you experience fatigue or have limited mobility. However, exercise is a proven method of improving low mood. Try to set yourself a routine, for example taking a short walk around the neighbourhood in the morning, or doing some gentle stretches for five minutes every afternoon.

balls with emotion faces

Seek support

Seek support from other services such as the Headway helpline or your local Headway support group or branch. There are also depression-specific support groups, where people can get peer support from others who are also affected by depression, although these tend to be non-brain injury specific.

Identify causes

Identify and seek help for specific issues in your life that may be causing or contributing to the depression, for example financial or relationship problems.

Speak to your doctor about your general health, including any potential hormonal imbalances that can arise after brain injury.

Make a ‘soothe box’

Consider putting together a ‘soothe box’. This is a box that contains personal items that may make you feel better and help you to cope when you are feeling depressed. You could put things in it such as photos or letters, or things that soothe your senses such as perfumes or soft fabrics.

Use wellbeing techniques

Consider wellbeing techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation or other relaxation methods. Although there is limited research to prove their effectiveness, brain injury survivors often report benefiting from them. Speak to a therapist if you are considering trying any of these, as they may be able to guide you through learning how to effectively use them.

Be healthy

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. This involves enjoying a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, avoiding alcohol and trying to ensure that you have a good night’s sleep.

Suicidal thoughts

Severe depression can cause some people to feel suicidal. This is characterised by extremely negative thoughts about oneself or the future, which can lead to the person thinking about or attempting to end their own life.

It is vital that anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts seeks help – however infrequently the thoughts occur and regardless of whether they intend to act on them.

Please, do not ignore these thoughts in the hope that they will go away.

Be honest and talk to your family or friends about how you’re feeling. Alternatively, you can speak confidentially to your GP.

You can also contact the Headway helpline on 0808 800 2244, or speak to Samaritans on its 24-hour support line 116 123.

If you are having recurring thoughts of suicide, ring NHS 111 or make an emergency appointment with your GP.

Further information

Explore the links below to access our resources on the psychological effects of brain injury.

If you would like to discuss this issue in more detail, please contact our national helpline on 0808 800 2244 or helpline@headway.org.uk.

 

via 10 ways to cope with depression after brain injury | Headway

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[WEB PAGE] Chemical imbalance in the brain: Myths and facts

Everything you need to know about chemical imbalances in the brain

Last reviewed 

A chemical imbalance in the brain occurs when a person has either too little or too much of certain neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that pass information between nerve cells. Examples of neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

People sometimes call serotonin and dopamine the “happy hormones” because of the roles that they play in regulating mood and emotions.

A popular hypothesis is that mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, develop as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain.

While this theory may hold some truth, it runs the risk of oversimplifying mental illnesses. In reality, mood disorders and mental health illnesses are highly complex conditions that affect 46.6 million adults living in the United States alone.

In this article, we discuss conditions with links to chemical imbalances in the brain, myths surrounding this theory, possible treatment options, and when to see a doctor.

Myths

a man looking sad because he is experiencing a Chemical imbalance in the brain

Many factors may contribute to a person’s risk of mental illness.

Although chemical imbalances in the brain seem to have an association with mood disorders and mental health conditions, researchers have not proven that chemical imbalances are the initial cause of these conditions.

Other factors that contribute to mental health conditions include:

  • genetics and family history
  • life experiences, such as a history of physical, psychological, or emotional abuse
  • having a history of alcohol or illicit drug use
  • taking certain medications
  • psychosocial factors, such as external circumstances that lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness

While some studies have identified links between distinct chemical imbalances and specific mental health conditions, researchers do not know how people develop chemical imbalances in the first place.

Current biological testing also cannot reliably verify a mental health condition. Doctors do not, therefore, diagnose mental health conditions by testing for chemical imbalances in the brain. Instead, they make a diagnosis based on a person’s symptoms and the findings of a physical examination.

What conditions are linked to chemical imbalances?

Research has linked chemical imbalances to some mental health conditions, including:

Depression

Depression, also called clinical depression, is a mood disorder that affects many aspects of a person’s life, from their thoughts and feelings to their sleeping and eating habits.

Although some research links chemical imbalances in the brain to depression symptoms, scientists argue that this is not the whole picture.

For example, researchers point out that if depression were solely due to chemical imbalances, treatments that target neurotransmitters, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), should work faster.

The symptoms of depression vary widely among individuals, but they can include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, or apathy
  • persistent feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or pessimism
  • loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities or hobbies
  • difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • irritability
  • restlessness or hyperactivity
  • insomnia or sleeping too much
  • changes in appetite and weight
  • physical aches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • thoughts of suicide

It is possible to develop depression at any age, but symptoms usually begin when a person is in their teenage years or early 20s and 30s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression.

Many different types of depression exist. These include:

The dramatic hormonal changes that take place after giving birth are among the factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing postpartum depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 10–15% of women experience postpartum depression.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes alternating periods of mania and depression. These periods can last anywhere from a few days to a few years.

Mania refers to a state of having abnormally high energy. A person experiencing a manic episode may exhibit the following characteristics:

  • feeling elated or euphoric
  • having unusually high levels of energy
  • participating in several activities at once
  • leaving tasks unfinished
  • talking extremely fast
  • being agitated or irritable
  • frequently coming into conflict with others
  • engaging in risky behavior, such as gambling or drinking excessive quantities of alcohol
  • a tendency to experience physical injuries

Severe episodes of mania or depression can cause psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations.

People who have bipolar disorder can experience distinct changes in their mood and energy levels. They may have an increased risk of substance abuse and a higher incidence of certain medical conditions, such as:

The exact cause of bipolar disorder remains unknown. Researchers believe that changes in the dopamine receptors — resulting in altered dopamine levels in the brain — may contribute to the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Anxiety

pensive woman

A person with an anxiety disorder may experience excessive worry.

However, people who have an anxiety disorder often experience persistent anxiety or excessive worry that worsens in response to stressful situations.

According to the authors of a 2015 review article, evidence from neuroscience research suggests that the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter may play a crucial role in anxiety disorders.

The GABA neurotransmitter reduces neuronal activity in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that stores and processes emotional information.

GABA is not the only neurotransmitter that anxiety disorders involve. Other neurotransmitters that may contribute to these disorders include:

  • serotonin
  • endocannabinoids
  • oxytocin
  • corticotropin-releasing hormone
  • opioid peptides
  • neuropeptide Y

Treatment

Doctors can prescribe a class of medications called psychotropics to rebalance the concentration of particular neurochemicals in the brain.

Doctors use these medications to treat a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Examples of psychotropics include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), including venlafaxine (Effexor XR), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), and nortriptyline (Pamelor).
  • Benzodiazepines, including clonazepam (Klonopin) and lorazepam (Ativan).

According to 2017 researchantidepressants improved symptoms in an estimated 40–60% of individuals with moderate-to-severe depression within 6–8 weeks.

While some people experience reduced symptoms within a few weeks, it can sometimes take months for others to feel the effects.

Different psychotropics have varying side effects. People can discuss the benefits and risks of these medications with their doctor.

The side effects of psychotropic medications can include:

Suicide prevention

  • If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

When to see a doctor

man talking to doctor in her office both smiling

If a person experiences anxiety and mood changes every day for longer than 2 weeks, they should consider speaking to their doctor.

These symptoms should not cause alarm if they are mild and resolve within a few days.

However, people may wish to consider speaking with a doctor or trained mental health professional if they experience emotional, cognitive, or physical symptoms every day for more than 2 weeks.

Summary

Mental health is complex and multifaceted, and numerous factors can affect a person’s mental well-being.

Although chemical imbalances in the brain may not directly cause mental health disorders, medications that influence the concentration of neurotransmitters can sometimes provide symptom relief.

People who experience signs and symptoms of a mental health problem for more than 2 weeks may wish to speak to a doctor.

 

via Chemical imbalance in the brain: Myths and facts

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[WEB PAGE] How New Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression

Yale psychiatrists, pioneers of ketamine research, shed light on new FDA approval

An illustration of a woman suffering from depression who might be helped by esketamine

The FDA approval of esketamine gives doctors another valuable tool in their arsenal against depression—and offers new hope for patients no one had been able to help before. “This is a game changer,” says John Krystal, MD, chief psychiatrist at Yale Medicine and one of the pioneers of ketamine research in the country.

On March 5, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first truly new medication for major depression in decades. The drug is a nasal spray called esketamine, derived from ketamine—an anesthetic that has made waves for its surprising antidepressant effect.

Because treatment with esketamine might be so helpful to patients with treatment-resistant depression (meaning standard treatments had not helped them), the FDA expedited the approval process to make it more quickly available. In one study, 70 percent of patients with treatment-resistant depression who were started on an oral antidepressant and intranasal esketamine improved, compared to just over half in the group that did not receive the medication (called the placebo group).

“This is a game changer,” says John Krystal, MD, chief psychiatrist at Yale Medicine and one of the pioneers of ketamine research in the country. The drug works differently than those used previously, he notes, calling ketamine “the anti-medication” medication. “With most medications, like valium, the anti-anxiety effect you get only lasts when it is in your system. When the valium goes away, you can get rebound anxiety. When you take ketamine, it triggers reactions in your cortex that enable brain connections to regrow. It’s the reaction to ketamine, not the presence of ketamine in the body that constitutes its effects,” he says.

And this is exactly what makes ketamine unique as an antidepressant, says Dr. Krystal.

However, as the nasal spray becomes available via prescription, patients have questions: How does it work? Is it safe? And who should get it? Read on for answers.

How do antidepressants work?

Research into ketamine as an antidepressant began in the 1990s with Dr. Krystal and his colleagues Dennis Charney, MD, and Ronald Duman, PhD, at the Yale School of Medicine. At the time (as is still mostly true today) depression was considered a “black box” disease, meaning that little was known about its cause.

One popular theory was the serotonin hypothesis, which asserted that people with depression had low levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. This hypothesis came about by accident—certain drugs given to treat other diseases like high blood pressure and tuberculosis seemed to drastically affect people’s moods. Those that lowered serotonin levels caused depression-like symptoms; others that raised serotonin levels created euphoric-like feelings in depressed patients. This discovery ushered in a new class of drugs meant to treat depression, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The first one developed for the mass market was Prozac.

But eventually it became clear that the serotonin hypothesis didn’t fully explain depression. Not only were SSRIs of limited help to more than one-third of people given them for depression, but growing research showed that the neurotransmitters these drugs target (like serotonin) account for less than 20 percent of the neurotransmitters in a person’s brain. The other 80 percent are neurotransmitters called GABA and glutamate.

GABA and glutamate were known to play a role in seizure disorders and schizophrenia. Together, the two neurotransmitters form a complex push-and-pull response, sparking and stopping electrical activity in the brain. Researchers believe they may be responsible for regulating the majority of brain activity, including mood.

What’s more, intense stress can alter glutamate signaling in the brain and have effects on the neurons that make them less adaptable and less able to communicate with other neurons.

This means stress and depression themselves make it harder to deal with negative events, a cycle that can make matters even worse for people struggling with difficult life events.

Ketamine—from anesthetic to depression “miracle drug”

Interestingly, studies from Yale research labs showed that the drug ketamine, which was widely used as anesthesia during surgeries, triggers glutamate production, which, in a complex, cascading series of events, prompts the brain to form new neural connections. This makes the brain more adaptable and able to create new pathways, and gives patients the opportunity to develop more positive thoughts and behaviors. This was an effect that had not been seen before, even with traditional antidepressants.

“I think the interesting and exciting part of this discovery is that it came largely out of basic neuroscience research, instead of by chance,” says Gerard Sanacora, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at Yale Medicine who was also involved in many of the ketamine studies. “It wasn’t just, ‘let’s try this drug and see what happens.’ There was increasing evidence suggesting that there was some abnormality within the glutamatergic system in the brains of people suffering from depression, and this prompted the idea of using a drug that targets this system.”

For the last two decades, researchers at Yale have led ketamine research by experimenting with using subanesthetic doses of ketamine delivered intravenously in controlled clinic settings for patients with severe depression who have not improved with standard antidepressant treatments. The results have been dramatic: In several studies, more than half of participants show a significant decrease in depression symptoms after just 24 hours. These are patients who felt no meaningful improvement on other antidepressant medications.

Most important for people to know, however, is that ketamine needs to be part of a more comprehensive treatment plan for depression. “Patients will call me up and say they don’t want any other medication or psychotherapy, they just want ketamine, and I have to explain to them that it is very unlikely that a single dose, or even several doses of ketamine alone, will cure their depression,” says Dr. Sanacora. Instead, he explains, “I tell them it may provide rapid benefits that can be sustained with comprehensive treatment plans that could include ongoing treatments with ketamine.  Additionally, it appears to help facilitate the creation new neural pathways that can help them develop resiliency and protect against the return of the depression.”

This is why Dr. Sanacora believes that ketamine may be most effective when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps patients learn more productive attitudes and behaviors. Ongoing research, including clinical trials, addressing this idea are currently underway here at Yale.

A more patient-friendly version

The FDA-approved drug esketamine is one version of the ketamine molecule, and makes up half of what is found in the commonly used anesthetic form of the drug. It works similarly, but its chemical makeup allows it to bind more tightly to the NMDA glutamate receptors, making it two to five times more potent. This means that patients need a lower dose of esketamine than they do ketamine. The nasal spray allows the drug to be taken more easily in an outpatient treatment setting (under the supervision of a doctor), making it more accessible for patients than the IV treatments currently required to deliver ketamine.

But like any new drug, this one comes with its cautions. Side effects, including dizziness, a rise in blood pressure, and feelings of detachment or disconnection from reality may arise. In addition, the research is still relatively new. Studies have only followed patients for one year, which means doctors don’t yet know how it might affect patients over longer periods of time. Others worry that since ketamine is sometimes abused (as a club drug called Special K), there may be a downside to making it more readily available—it might increase the likelihood that it will end up in the wrong hands.

Also, esketamine is only part of the treatment for a person with depression. To date, it has only been shown to be effective when taken in combination with an oral antidepressant. For these reasons, esketamine is not considered a first-line treatment option for depression. It’s only prescribed for people with moderate to severe major depressive disorder who haven’t been helped by at least two other depression medications.

In the end, though, the FDA approval of esketamine gives doctors another valuable tool in their arsenal against depression—and offers new hope for patients no one had been able to help before.

To learn more, visit yalemedicine.org.

 

via How New Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression > Stories at Yale Medicine

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[WEB PAGE] Identification and management of depression in people with epilepsy to save lives

Depression is the most common psychiatric comorbidity in people with epilepsy. Clinical studies have found that 20% to 30% of people with epilepsy have depression; the incidence may be as high as 50% to 55% in people visiting hospital epilepsy centers.

Untreated depression is associated with lower quality of life, poor treatment adherence, higher health care utilization and a risk for suicide up to 30 times higher than average.

Yet in most people with epilepsy, depression goes undetected. As an example, a Texas study conducted depression screening on 192 consecutive people visiting a high-volume epilepsy clinic. More than 1 in 4 people-;26%-;screened positive for depression and were subsequently diagnosed with depression. Of them, 65% had no previous history of the condition.

At the 33rd International Epilepsy Congress in Bangkok in June 2019, several sessions focused on psychiatric comorbidities in people with epilepsy and the crucial role of epileptologists in their identification and management.

Sometimes we think too much about the epileptology and not enough about comorbidities. There is individual clinician variation in this area. We must each recognize our own competency and know what we don’t know. Those are strongly influenced by our training, coworkers, culture, country and interests. But in the end, all clinicians must meet a minimum standard.”

Mike Kerr (UK), co-chair of a session on neuropsychiatric issues in epilepsy

This minimum standard was established by ILAE as part of its new epileptology curriculum. Domain 6 includes competencies and learning objectives about comorbidities, including the following:

6.1.1 Recognize psychiatric comorbidities, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, psychosis and autism spectrum disorder

6.1.2 Appropriately manage or advise regarding psychiatric comorbidities

6.1.3 Adjust anti-seizure treatment as required by psychiatric comorbidities

However, the gap between knowledge and practice remains relatively wide. In a Bangkok session on psychological and psychiatric learning objectives in the ILAE curriculum, an informal survey found that most audience members did not conduct depression or suicidality screening in their clinics.

“Up to half of your patients will have depression and up to half will have anxiety,” said W. Curt LaFrance, Jr. (USA). “But almost no one in this session is using a depression screening tool.”

Generally, neurologists cite several reasons for not using screening tools or asking their patients about depression, including time constraints and the perception that screening is not their role. But physicians who manage the care of people with epilepsy are uniquely positioned to identify depression and initiate treatment that can improve quality of life and seizure control.

“It is part of our clinical responsibility as neurologists and epileptologists to take action in response to the high depression rates in people with epilepsy,” said Rosa Michaelis (Germany), co-chair of one of the sessions. “We should not expect other physicians to take over this task.”

Depression assessment: Individual variation

There’s no single “right” way for epileptologists to handle depression assessment and management, said Kerr. “Some people are multitaskers and will take on psychiatric management,” he said. “At the other end will be people who feel that none of it is their job. In the middle are the guiders, who keep epilepsy as a focus but also address the psychiatric issues.

Michaelis suggested that standardized screening is the most realistic strategy to increase detection rates. “We cannot rely on self-reported symptoms,” she said. Patients may not volunteer information about how they are feeling unless they are asked directly-;and even then, they may deny or downplay their symptoms, or physicians may misinterpret their complaints. Screening tools provide valuable information in only a few minutes; they also can be a gateway to conversations about depression and suicidality.

If the idea of establishing a formal screening program is overwhelming, Kerr suggested being alert to the possibility of depression in every patient and merely asking one question: “During the last month, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless, or had little interest or pleasure in doing things?”

If the answer sounds at all like “Yes,” refer the patient to a mental health professional. Alternatively, he said, “If you feel competent in mental health assessment, consider using a validated measure” to get a better idea of the extent and severity of the patient’s issue.

For screening, Kerr and others in Bangkok recommended the Neurological Disorders and Depression Inventory in Epilepsy (NDDI-E), which is free for public use and available in more than a dozen languages. The NDDI-E consists of six short “feeling” statements:

  • Everything is a struggle
  • Nothing I do is right
  • Feel guilty
  • I’d be better off dead
  • Frustrated
  • Difficulty finding pleasure

For each statement, the person indicates how often they felt that way over the past two weeks. Points are given for each answer: always or often (4 points); sometimes (3); rarely (2); never (1).

A cutoff of 15 points is generally used to suggest depression, though cutoffs of 11 to 16 have been reported. According to Kerr, a cutoff score of 15 has 81% sensitivity and 90% specificity.

The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) or a shorter form, the PHQ-2, also can be administered.

The ILAE Commission on Psychiatry recommends annual screening, but many of the experts urged more frequent screening. They noted that because depression can be episodic, more frequent screening will better identify those patients in need of treatment. It also may improve patient-physician communication and trust.

Though the ILAE consensus statement does not include a recommendation for anxiety screening, Kerr urged clinicians to screen for anxiety as well. The NDDI-E screens for both depression and anxiety; Kerr also recommended the GAD-2 or the ET7, short questionnaires that have been tested in people with epilepsy. Patients with positive screens can be referred to a mental health specialist or assessed further.

“All clinicians should aim to identify depression and anxiety,” Kerr said. “To be a level-2 epileptologist by ILAE standards, you will have to know how to do this.”

Antidepressants: Myth and reality

Psychotherapy and medication are common treatments for depression. Though few studies have focused on the effectiveness of psychotherapy for depression specifically in people with epilepsy, dozens of trials and several meta-analyses support the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Some medical professionals may avoid prescribing antidepressants to people with epilepsy because they believe these drugs decrease the seizure threshold. There is little scientific basis for this, say experts.

A 2017 study followed adults with epilepsy six months before and after the initiation of antidepressant therapy with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norephinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Though the study was relatively small (N=84), the findings showed that antidepressants did not increase seizure frequency. In fact, among patients having more than one seizure per month at baseline, 27.5% went on to have less than 1 per month, and 48% had at least a 50% reduction in frequency. Of the patients, 73% had a therapeutic response to the antidepressant; changes in seizure frequency were independent of therapeutic response.

Pediatric screening

Janelle Wagner (USA) and Avani Modi (USA) addressed the issue of screening for depression and anxiety in the pediatric epilepsy population as it relates to two learning objectives in the ILAE curriculum:

  • 2.5.1 – Recognize when to refer patients for a higher level of care (as it relates to psychiatric comorbidities)
  • 2.9.1 – Provide counseling specific to children with epilepsy and their parents, according to the epilepsy types

Children with epilepsy are at higher risk than other children for depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder, said Kette Valente (Brazil). Among children with epilepsy, 1 in 4 has depression, 1 in 4 has anxiety, and between 15% and 27% consider committing suicide.

A 2015 ILAE survey found that 55% of pediatric neurologists screened for these comorbidities, compared with only 7% in 2005. However, 50% of clinicians did not feel comfortable with their knowledge of anxiety, and only 40% said that screening for and managing comorbidities were priorities.

Depressive symptoms in children can look different than in adults, said Modi. Low self-esteem, cognitive symptoms, and negative thinking are common. Irritability and disruptive behavior also may be concerns, she said. “What may be seen as a conduct problem is actually depression.”

Valente, Wagner, and Modi described multiple screening instruments that take between 10 and 30 minutes to complete. Valente noted, however, that the instruments are often completed by parents, who do not always reflect their child’s behavior accurately.

The NDDI-E-Y, the pediatric version of the NDDI-E, had a sensitivity of 79% and a specificity of 92% in a 2016 validation study. Like the NDDI-E, the youth version can alert providers to suicidal ideation and provide a platform to discuss it.

Valente suggested screening children at their first visit, and then at certain time points:

  • Every 6 months
  • When seizures worsen
  • After medication changes
  • After any type of complaint about mood or behavior, whether it comes from the child or a parent or teacher

“Screening is not perfect, but it must be done,” she said. “There is no reason not to do it.”

Suicidality – what to do?

Jakob Christensen (Denmark) warned congress attendees that suicide risk overall is increasing worldwide, and that people with epilepsy have triple the risk of a suicide attempt and at least double the risk of death by suicide, compared with the general population. People with psychiatric comorbidities, and those recently diagnosed with epilepsy, are at even greater risk.

A recent meta-analysis found a prevalence of suicidal ideation of 23.2% among people with epilepsy-;more than 7 times the prevalence in the general population. The pooled event rate of completed suicide in the meta-analysis was 0.5%, more than 30 times higher than the global estimated suicide rate (0.016%).

Screening can reveal suicidal thoughts or plans; on the NDDI-E, this can be seen on item 4, “I’d be better off dead”. A score of 3 or 4 on this item has been shown to identify suicidality with 84% sensitivity and 91% specificity.

Christensen recommended asking every patient about suicidal thoughts. “It can be as simple as saying, ‘Do you ever feel like life isn’t worth living?’ he said. Asking the question will not increase the risk of suicidality, he said. “People who have these thoughts are actually quite happy to have you ask the question. They often don’t realize that suicidality can be associated with epilepsy.”

If NDDI-E results indicate suicidality, Milena Gandy (Australia) outlined next steps:

  • Ask the patient if they’ve thought about harming themselves in the past week. If they say yes, ask for details. Ask if they’ve ever tried to kill themselves and if so, how and when.
  • If you feel they may be in imminent danger of harming themselves, ask if they can guarantee their safety until you see them again.
  • If they ask for immediate help or can’t guarantee their safety, you can call a suicide hotline for them, refer them to the emergency room (or escort them there yourself), or refer them to a crisis service.
  • If they are not in immediate crisis, refer them for mental health support if they don’t already have it. If they do have it, talk with them about making an urgent appointment.

The clock is ticking

Screening and conversations do take time. And while all physicians are pressed for time, “We need to think creatively about how we can do what’s possible” with screening, said Markus Reuber (UK). For example, ensure that any patient information (brochures, videos, other handouts) includes mention of mood disorders and anxiety as common comorbidities.

Reuber also noted that some offices and centers have epilepsy nurses or community health advocates who can talk about mental health, and mental health services, with patients. Providers must find creative ways to make time for these issues, he said, as they are a crucial part of epilepsy treatment.

“We can draw on experiences from other health conditions,” said Modi. “In cancer care, chronic pain and heart disease, referring to a psychologist is common practice. Yet there are still some perceptions in neurological disorders that psychological care isn’t as important. But improving mental health can improve medical care.”

 

via Identification and management of depression in people with epilepsy to save lives

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[WEB PAGE] How to Naturally Stimulate Vagus Nerve to Stop Migraines, Inflammation and Depression!

Naturally Stimulate Vagus Nerve

You may have already heard of the vagus nerve in one of your school biology lessons.

It’s the longest nerve in your body and is found right behind where you feel for your pulse.

One of 12 cranial nerves, this super nerve starts in the brainstem and runs all the way to your abdomen, cutting through your heart, esophagus and your lungs.

Known as “cranial nerve X”, the nerve is part of your involuntary nervous system, the system that directs your unconscious body activity, such as keeping your heart rate stable and ensuring you digest food properly. It tells the body to heal itself, essentially.

The nerve moves around your body (like a vagabone, hence the name) sending out tiny fibres to your organs, such as your heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines. The vagus nerve is essentially controlling your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for stimulating your “rest and digest” activities.

But the most interesting thing about the vagus nerve is the new research that has revealed its link with treating chronic inflammation, which can lead to high blood pressure, digestive issues, and migraines. Known as the missing link, the nerve may be able to treat these issues without medication! Here’s how:

Vagal Tone

Vagal tone is the control the vagus nerve has over your heart rate. Recent studies have revealed that vagal tone is important in order to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. By tracking your heart rate in addition to your breathing rate your vagal tone can be measured in a person.

When you breathe in your heart usually speeds up slightly, and when you breathe out your heart rate slows down a little. To determine your vagal tone, you need to establish the difference between your inhalation heart rate and your exhalation heart rate. The bigger the difference, the higher your vagal tone will be.

High or low?

Having a higher vagal tone is a good thing. It means you are more likely to be able to relax your body after suffering from stress more quickly, and your internal systems probably function better, such as:

  • Sugar regulations
  • Reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better digestion
  • Fewer migraines
  • Lower depression
  • Less stress and anxiety

Scientists have discovered that the vagus nerve is monitoring and responding to your body. It initiates responses to any inflammation, all of which affects your mood and your ability to cope with your body’s reactions.

vagus nerve

Low vagal tone

If you have a low vagal tone you are more susceptible to heart problems, strokes, diabetes, depression, and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and endometriosis.

However, a number of researchers have discovered that by stimulating the nerve using electrical current you can increase your vagal tone, and improve your resilience to these problems.

However, there are ways you can improve your vagal tone yourself:

1. Hum. It may sound bizarre, but humming stimulates the nerve because it is connected to your vocal chords. Try it!

2. Speak. Speak more and you will raise your vagal tone through your vocal chords.

3. Coldwater. While there is more research to be done on this technique, there has been evidence to suggest that by splashing cold water on your face you stimulate the vagus nerve.

4. Breathe Deeply. Take long, deep breaths and use your diaphragm to stimulate your vagus nerve.

5. Yoga. The relaxed, concentrated breathing practices of yoga can increase to your vagal tone levels.

6. MeditateA study in 2013 reported that meditation and thinking positive thoughts can have a positive effect on your vagus nerve.

7. Improve gut health. One of the many positives of having a healthy gut is that it increases your vagal tone levels. It works by creating a loop of health from your gut, through the nerve and back. Try probiotics as a healthy bacteria supplement.

Adjust your daily routine to improve your vagal tone and stimulate your vagus nerve, it’s so simple but so effective. It’s time to take control of your nerves!

 

via How to Naturally Stimulate Vagus Nerve to Stop Migraines, Inflammation and Depression!

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