10 posts tagged “MDD”

Getting out of bed: The “One hour rule” and other tips

Posted March 12th, 2018 by

Does getting out of bed in the morning ever seem like an overwhelming task? You’re not alone. PatientsLikeMe members are talking about it a lot in the mental health forum. Read on to learn what’s worked for others on difficult mornings.

Give yourself no more than an hour

Elyse Raffery, contributor to The Mighty, shared her strategy for the “One Hour Rule” to get out of bed on the days she’d rather not move from beneath the covers:

“Within one hour of waking up, I have to be out of my bed. If I look at the clock when I wake up and it is 9 a.m., by 10 a.m., I cannot still be lying in bed. I am a competitive person, and even some gentle competition with my own brain helps me sometimes.”

Louder alarms, brighter lights and more tips from PatientsLikeMe members

Check out these practical morning tips from other members in the forum:

“I got a much louder alarm. I went back to the classic two bell analog alarm clock… so loud that my cat bolts from the room.”

“Now I have a routine where I get up, turn the light on, and listen to the radio for ten minutes. Then I get out of bed. The ‘light’ is a full-spectrum, really bright light. You might find that turning on bright lights when you get up helps. You can put them on timers, too, so that they light up when your alarm goes off.”

“Write down or think about something you are looking forward to on the next morning/day. Motivate yourself to want to get up by planning a special item for breakfast (cinnamon toast) or wearing a certain shirt you like or planning a half hour of your favorite music with headphones for the first ten minutes. Something that will keep your head on straight.”

Some shared wisdom from around the web:

  • Make small goals: “If you can’t do one thing a day, try one thing every two days, or even one thing every week. A slowly fought battle is still one you can win in the end.”
  • Ask for help: “We’re all human, there are times we can all benefit from support.”
  • If you have a pet: “Pets are also something great to turn to, as they rely on you to care for them, which gives you a sense of responsibility each day.”

Try to get enough sleep the night before

Chronic sleep problems — common in many mental health conditions — can often be part of the issue. According to the Harvard Health Newsletter,

  • Sleep problems affect more than 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression
  • In bipolar depression, 23% to 78% of patients report that they have trouble getting out of bed
  • Sleep problems are also common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Here are some strategies for sleeping better (and potentially getting up more easily.) Talk to your doctor about what might work best for you:

  • Exercise can improve sleep, and can help regulate your mood to make mornings easier
  • Maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, or “sleep training” — staying awake longer so that your sleep is more restful
  • Keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and banishing electronics from the bedroom
  • Meditation and guided imagery, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation ─ alternately tensing and relaxing muscles ─ can reduce anxiety that can ruin sleep and make mornings so hard

Have you tried the “One Hour Rule” or something else to help you get out of bed? Log in or join PatientsLikeMe and jump in the conversation.

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From tomatoes to turmeric: Can foods fight inflammation?

Posted October 26th, 2017 by

Inflammation is a hot topic. What’s it all about? And what’s the scoop on certain diets, foods and supplements, such as turmeric, when it comes to fighting inflammation?

What is inflammation?

Not all inflammation is “bad.” Acute inflammation is part of the body’s natural way of defending itself from foreign substances like viruses, bacteria, cuts and splinters. It may cause redness, swelling, heat and/or pain. The upside is, these symptoms are a sign that the body is responding after an injury or infection by triggering white blood cells and disease-fighting chemicals.

But some “other” kinds of inflammation — like chronic inflammation (which may include constant low-grade or systemic inflammation) and inflammation from autoimmune disorders (where the body attacks its own healthy cells as if they’re foreign) — doesn’t always show visible or obvious symptoms and can play a more long-term and complex role, according to Mayo Clinic.

Which diseases or conditions does it affect?

Mounting research shows that inflammation is a common underlying factor (and possibly a cause) in many — perhaps even all — diseases.

You’ve probably heard about the role of inflammation in arthritis or heart health. But researchers and doctors have also studied inflammation’s link to a wide range of other diseases and conditions, including cancerdiabetesAlzheimer’s diseasemultiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease (PD), major depressive disorder (MDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ALS (note: in the case of ALS and some other conditions, researchers are still determining whether some inflammation may be protective rather than harmful, so more research is needed).

Over the past decade, scientists have also started to identify certain genes associated with inflammation, and research on that front continues.

What can food do?

Some people follow an “anti-inflammatory diet,” but the science behind these particular diets does not clearly support the theory that they thwart inflammation, and doctors advise being wary of the health claims they make.

That said, taking steps to maintain a healthy weight and eat a variety of foods with anti-inflammatory properties (rather than follow a certain “Diet” with a capital “D”) may benefit your health.

“Many experimental studies have shown that components of foods or beverages may have anti-inflammatory effects,” says Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The team at Harvard says these foods have anti-inflammatory properties:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and collards
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges

On the flip side, they say, some foods promote inflammation — so try to avoid or limit these (hint: they’re already foods with a pretty bad rap):

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • French fries and other fried foods
  • Soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • Margarine, shortening and lard

Talk with your doctor or a registered dietician about a healthy eating plan with your health condition(s) in mind.

What’s the deal with turmeric?

There’s currently a lot of buzz around turmeric and some other supplements believed to help fight inflammation. Turmeric, a plant related to ginger, is a common spice known for its gold color and use in curry powder.

On top of being used as spice, it can be taken as a supplement. The main anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which is available as a supplement on its own (the content of curcumin in turmeric spice is only around 3%, so curcumin supplements may pack more of an anti-inflammatory punch). One study found that curcumin may have the same anti-inflammatory effects as NSAID pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofin, (Advil/Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

Preliminary studies have shown promise for curcumin’s use in people with ulcerative colitismultiple myelomalupus and depression. However, there’s still a lack of conclusive research on the effects of turmeric or curcumin in people with many other conditions, so these supplements typically aren’t recommended as part of a treatment plan at this point. Additional studies on curcumin are currently underway for people with some forms of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, MS and PD.

Talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new vitamin, supplement or treatment.

What about other supplements?

Overall, the potential role of dietary supplements is “largely uncharted when it comes to carefully done clinical trials for safety and effectiveness,” according to Brent Bauer, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness. Keeping that in mind, here are some other supplements with possible anti-inflammatory effects that researchers have studied to some extent, the Mayo Clinic says:

  • Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) — This could ease rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and osteoarthritis knee pain during activity, but more research is needed.
  • Devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) — It’s commonly used in Europe and may be effective in the short-term treatment of osteoarthritic pain.
  • Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) — Made from the mangosteen fruit, this supplement may have anti-allergy, antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory qualities, but more research in humans is needed.
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) — This may help improve organ function in people with cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease. It may also be helpful in treating chronic hepatitis. But more research is needed before it can be recommended.

“My best advice concerning chronic inflammation is to stay tuned,” says Dr. Bauer. “This is a huge area of interest in the medical world and there are bound to be discoveries down the road that can improve well-being and the quality of health.”

On PatientsLikeMe

Hundreds of patients report using turmeric for a wide variety of health reasons — see what they have to say. Join the community for even more details on the treatments patients have tried and to learn and share about nutrition with your condition.

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