Tayla Holman

What is Seasonal Depression?

As the weather gets colder and days become shorter, you may notice you have less energy, feel a little less optimistic and spend more time alone. While this may not be a cause for concern, about 5% of the U.S population experience seasonal depression during the fall and winter months.   Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a subtype of depression that begins and ends around the same time every year. This recurrent pattern generally begins in the fall or early winter months and ends around springtime, lasting about four to five months per year. This is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression. For people in the United States, the most difficult months tend to be January and February.  Many people get a mild version of SAD known as the “winter blues.” As much as 20% of the population may get the winter blues, which is usually linked to something specific, such as holiday stress or grief over missing loved ones. The winter blues isn’t a medical diagnosis and usually goes away on its own after a few weeks or months.  Some people might have depressive episodes during the spring and summer. This is known as summer-pattern SAD or summer depression, which affects about 10% of the population.   What causes seasonal depression?  Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, it has been linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and …

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What Causes Multiple Sclerosis?

If you’re living with multiple sclerosis, you probably have a lot of questions about your diagnosis. You might be wondering how you developed the disease and what your outlook is. While the course of the disease will vary from person to person, an exact cause has yet to be identified. Scientists have found a combination of factors that can trigger MS.  What happens when you have MS?  Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition, which means the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells rather than protecting them. It unclear why the immune system does this or what prevents it from being able to identify healthy cells versus invaders. Because the cause is unknown, there are no cures for autoimmune disorders.   With MS, the immune system attacks cells in the myelin, the protective sheath that surrounds nerves in the brain and spinal cord. When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerve signals from the brain to other parts of the body are interrupted. This damage can cause symptoms such as muscle spasms, stiffness, and weakness, or lack of coordination.  What are some of the causes of MS?  There are several factors that researchers believe contribute to the development of the disease.  Genetics  Although multiple sclerosis is not an inherited disease, meaning it is not passed down from parent to child, the chance of developing MS increases if …

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Medication-Free Ways To Feel Better With Parkinson’s Disease

Getting a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis can be overwhelming. This neurodegenerative disorder affects movement and doesn’t have a cure, but with the right medications and complementary or alternative therapies, symptoms can be managed.  Incorporating medication-free ways into Parkinson’s treatment can help people living with the condition improve their health and well-being, along with preserving physical function and enhancing quality of life.  Music therapy   A 2015 study published in Frontiers in Neurology found that playing and listening music can be beneficial for managing the movement and emotional aspects of Parkinson’s disease. Rhythm enhances connections between the motor and auditory systems, and areas that involve rhythm perception are closely related to those that regulate movement. A regular rhythmic pulse stimulates activity in the putamen, a part of the brain that is involved in learning and motor control. Rhythm also influences the kinetic system and facilitates movement synchronization, coordination, and regularization.  Another study that is being conducted by the University of Colorado School of Medicine is examining the effects of therapeutic instrumental music performance (TIMP) on Parkinson’s patients. TIMP uses specific movement and rhythm combinations to “reprogram” certain brain frequencies.   According to one of the study conductors, Parkinson’s most likely affects beta frequencies, which are generated when the brain is actively engaged in mental activities. The concept behind the study is to use external rhythms to target beta frequencies and restore them …

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MS and Stress: Managing the Holidays

Stress is a normal part of life for many people. For some, holidays can be especially stressful because of gift buying, traveling, and making holiday dinners. If you have multiple sclerosis, the stress of the holidays can be compounded by managing your illness on top of everything else.  Living with MS is not only a physical hurdle, but the effort it takes to manage the illness can increase your stress levels. During the holidays, you might feel like you need to explain your condition and request certain accommodations for traveling, dinner parties, or other holiday events. This can get emotionally exhausting, and you might feel yourself getting anxious whenever you have to socialize. There is also the stress of adapting to new symptoms as the disease progresses and the unpredictable nature of MS.   Studies have shown that stressful life events are associated with a significant increase in the risk of MS exacerbations. The impact can last weeks or months after the onset of the stressor. For example, if you have MS and you lose your job or have concerns about paying hospital bills, you may notice that your flare-ups are more frequent or worse months after the event has passed.   Long-term or continuous …

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Navigating the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

The holidays are a wonderful time of the year, and it can be hard to get into the spirit when you’re living with a chronic illness. While there are a lot of joyful parts about the holidays, there are also some stressful parts. That’s why it’s important to recognize what aspects of the holiday seasons trigger your symptoms and to have a plan in place to reduce them.  Do the holidays make chronic illness worse?  Navigating the holidays with a chronic illness can be difficult, especially when it comes to adhering to your diet, routine, and leaning on your support system.   With holiday events and get-togethers, there can be temptation to abandon the routines that help manage chronic illness symptoms. This can be anything from indulging in foods you wouldn’t normally eat to staying up past your usual bedtime.   The holidays can bring a lot of pressure, too. If you usually host family and friends, you want to do everything possible to make their experience memorable and enjoyable. If you’re used to doing these things yourself but have found your symptoms are worse this year, you might have trouble asking for help or saying no when you need to.  There is often stigma around chronic illness, especially “invisible” diseases like diabetes, depression, or fibromyalgia. You may not feel comfortable discussing your illness with family and friends, and so you keep your symptoms to yourself and isolate.  Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy the holidays despite having a chronic illness by prioritizing self-care and making time for the things that matter most to …

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Unexpected Warning Signs of MS

Multiple sclerosis can be one of the most difficult conditions to diagnose because of the variety of symptoms it causes and the ways they present. Most people with MS experience their first symptoms between the ages of 20 and 40. Sometimes, symptoms can come on suddenly and go away just as quickly. Other times, symptoms will start minimally and progressively get worse. Because MS effects everyone differently, the early warning signs for one person may not be the same as they are for someone else.  Many people with MS experience common symptoms like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, or changes in gait. Other common symptoms of MS include fatigue, bladder problems, and “MS hug.” Although there are other warning signs to look out for, it’s important to recognize that having one or all of them doesn’t mean you have MS. If your body attacks your nervous system just once, and the symptoms last for at least 24 hours, but other conditions have been ruled, your doctor will likely diagnose you with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). While CIS can develop into multiple sclerosis, that isn’t always the case.  Here are some early warning signs of multiple sclerosis to look out for.   Tremor   Tremor is commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease, but some people with multiple sclerosis may experience tremors too. Both diseases affect the central nervous system, but they have different causes. MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath that forms around nerve fibers, while Parkinson’s is caused by nerve damage to nerve cells in …

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10 Early Warning Signs of CKD

How often do you think about your kidneys? Probably not very often. When your kidneys are functioning properly, it’s easy to forget what a key role they play in your health. But when your kidneys aren’t working as well as they should, your body will send you warning signals to let you know something is wrong. These warnings can be early indicators of chronic kidney disease.   What is chronic kidney disease?  Chronic kidney disease is the gradual loss of kidney function over time. The kidneys’ main job is to filter waste and extra water out of the blood to make urine. When the kidneys are functioning properly, they help maintain a balance of salt and minerals in the blood. They also release a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure.  More than 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. However, many people with CKD aren’t aware they have it. That’s because the symptoms can often be attributed to other conditions. Sometimes, people may not experience any symptoms at all until later stages. Because symptoms usually go undetected, chronic kidney disease is often known as a silent disease.  Since there is currently no cure for chronic kidney disease, it’s important to recognize and act upon any warning signs as soon as possible. Here are some early warning signs of chronic kidney disease to look out for.  Changes in urination Although urine …

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