mental health

What is The Link Between Depression and Multiple Sclerosis?

When you have a condition like multiple sclerosis, it’s vital to pay close attention to the physical symptoms and limitations of the condition. Things like difficulty walking, changes in vision, and increasing fatigue all have a significant impact on daily life and can provide signals of disease progress. Because patients and doctors alike can be so focused on the physical symptoms, it’s easy to forget about the mental and emotional implications of multiple sclerosis. Mood changes, like depression and anxiety, are just as important as physical changes. Depression has been found to be more common in patients with MS compared to the general population. As a result, it can make other symptoms feel worse, impact relationships, and increase the risk of suicide.  What is Depression? When dealing with symptoms of multiple sclerosis, it’s normal to feel extremely sad from time to time. You may feel especially down or even hopeless after experiencing an exacerbation or relapse. While it is normal to have these moments, there is a difference between feeling extremely sad and being depressed.  Depression is much more than being sad. It’s a serious mental illness marked by commons symptoms like: Depressed mood Loss of interested in activities Changes in appetite and weight Changes …

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What Happens to Your Mental Health If You Don’t Get Adequate Sleep?

You’ve probably noticed that after a rough night of sleep, you don’t quite feel yourself. You may be a little slower to get out of bed in the morning, go for an extra cup of coffee, or even opt for a mid-afternoon nap. The physical effects of sleep deprivation are usually pretty clear, but the mental repercussions may not be as obvious.   What is Mental Health?  The term mental health is commonly used in our society and can refer to a variety of aspects that fall under the umbrella of psychological health. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines mental health as emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It’s not simply the absence of mental illness, but rather the ability to live a life filled with joy, peace and happiness while managing the inevitable ups and downs you may face.   Emotional well-being is the first pillar of mental health. It is described as the ability to successfully handle life’s stressors, adapt to change, and generate positive emotions. When you’re emotionally healthy, you are better equipped to manage life’s challenges and the array of emotions that come with it, without feeling like you are out of control. Research suggests that people …

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10 Ways to Get Through Tough Times

Life is like a roller coaster. There are a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Sometimes you’re on a flat track, moving along at an even pace, and other times you feel like things have come to a screeching halt.  It’s the downhill moments when we feel the ride of life coming to a stop where we all need a little extra support and guidance. Maybe that moment is a loss of a job, a new diagnosis, a family member who’s become ill, or maybe the weight of life just feels heavy. While some of these obstacles we face are far out of control, we can control how we respond to different situations. By improving our ability to navigate the tough times, we learn how to live a more joyful life and grow as people. 10 Ways to Help Get Through the Tough Times Here are a few ways to get through the tough times and come out stronger. Feel Your Feelings Feeling your feelings is one of the most important and helpful things you can do to help you get through the tough times. All too often, our first reaction is to push away our feelings or …

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8 Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Have you ever noticed your heart starting to race for seemingly no reason, started sweating before an important meeting, or maybe had an ongoing digestive issue during a time of change? Because anxiety is a mental health condition, we tend to focus more on psychological symptoms and less on physical ones. It’s easy to forget about or chalk up physical symptoms to be something else. But physical symptoms of anxiety are not something to be forgotten about. What is anxiety? Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes. People who experience anxiety tend to have reoccurring and intrusive thoughts. While it’s normal to experience anxiety from time to time, especially if it’s situational, anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, anxiety doesn’t dissipate once the triggering has passed, rather it lingers and tends to worsen over time. Symptoms can be debilitating, and interfere with day-to-day activities like work, school, relationships, and maintaining physical health. Persistent feelings of anxiety that interfere with daily life may be a sign of a diagnosable anxiety disorder. There are five main types of anxiety. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Generalized Anxiety …

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Health Benefits of Being In Nature

The pandemic forced many people to spend more time indoors and engaged in technology. Since the start of the pandemic, the average American spent 90 percent of their time indoors. With all this time indoors, Americans spent 7 hours and 50 minutes per day consuming media alone. Now think about how much time you spend on your computer working from home, taking classes, or paying the bills online. With more time spent indoors and increased time spent in front of a screen, it’s no wonder there’s been a significant increase in reports of mental health issues. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. That’s up 30% from 2019. In addition to negative impacts on mental health, many reported difficulty sleeping or eating, increased consumption of alcohol or other substances, and worsening of chronic conditions due to stress. Now that restrictions have loosened, it’s time to put down the phone, close the laptop screen, and take a step outside for a low-cost and effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, regulate metabolism and improve overall health. A study of 20,000 people found that those who spent at least 120 minutes per week outside …

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signs of medical gaslighting

Is Your Doctor Gaslighting You?

You’ve noticed symptoms for a few weeks, maybe months or even since childhood. You visited doctor after doctor with no answer. Over time, the symptoms progress and may start to interfere with daily living. So you go to your doctor again, seeking some answers and solutions. But again, you don’t get a diagnosis or are misdiagnosed. Every year, over 12 million adults who seek medical care receive a misdiagnosis. Of these misdiagnoses, about 15% are patients with serious conditions and 28% are life threatening. Unable to provide answers, the doctor tells you “it’s all in your head” or “these symptoms don’t add up, have you considered a psychologist?” You leave feeling more confused, frustrated, even anxious and depressed. You may even start thinking it really is all in your head. Medical gaslighting happens to millions of people every year. What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that hangs on creating self-doubt and makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. Someone who experiences gaslighting often leaves a conversation or situation feeling confused, anxious and even a little ‘crazy’. Because gaslighting involves an imbalance of power between the abuser and victim, it can happen in personal, …

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women feeling depressed

8 Celebrities Who Struggle With Depression

Celebrities have it all – status, wealth, power, resources, luck – or so we think. From the outside, they don’t appear to struggle with mental or emotional health and seemingly have it all together. But looks can be deceiving. Celebrities have real feelings and mental health issues that interfere with daily living. On the inside, celebrities are just like everyone else.  Until recently, it was taboo for anyone to speak up about personal mental health issues for fear of judgement and ridicule. But the stigma of depression has slowly lifted as celebrities have bravely opened up about their stories and use their platform as a means to advocate for mental health.  The truth is depression doesn’t discriminate. More than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide, ranking it as the leading cause of disability in the world.  Major depressive disorder is described as experiencing a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities, coupled with problems sleeping, change in appetite, poor concentration, altered energy levels, isolation, and feelings of low self-worth for at least two weeks.  While there isn’t a simple cure-all for depression, the healing journey begins when we start to honestly and openly share about our battles …

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caffeine and anxiety

Is Caffeine Causing Your Anxiety?

Most people look forward to their first cup of coffee every morning. In fact, 62% of U.S adults drink coffee regularly. The routine of having that first cup; the strong aroma, taste, and the feeling you get when you take the first sip is a moment of peace, celebration and energy all at once.  But after you’ve finished the first cup, and maybe a second, or third, you may start to feel a little jittery, nervous or even irritable.  Caffeine is the psychoactive compound in coffee that affects how we think and feel, physically and emotionally. It’s the most commonly used stimulant that, when consumed in large doses, elevates heart rate and blood pressure, speeds up breathing, and increases feelings of nervousness and irritability.  This fight-or-flight response, also known as an acute stress response, can make anxiety worse and in some cases may even trigger an anxiety attack. What is anxiety? Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18.1% of adults every year. While most people experience anxiety at some point in time, like speaking in front of a crowd, the first day at a new job, or driving, not everyone has an anxiety …

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It’s Self-Care Day! 7 “pillars” for taking care of you

Today is International Self-Care Day. There’s even a Senate resolution designating July 24 as a day to recognize the importance of self-care in the U.S. (it’s on 7/24 because, ideally, it should be a focus 24/7 for everyone). Has your self-care — from diet and hydration to hygiene and hobbies — been slipping because of competing priorities? Bring it back into focus with these “seven pillars” recommended by health care experts – plus some easy TLC ideas from your fellow member, Laura. What are the “7 pillars”? The International Self-Care Foundation has developed what it considers The Seven Pillars of Self-Care: Pillar 1 – Knowledge and health literacy: Finding health information and ways to understand it so you can make appropriate health decisions Pillar 2 – Mental well-being, self-awareness and agency: Getting health care screenings; “knowing your numbers” for important stats like body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood pressure; and keeping tabs on your mental health Pillar 3 – Physical activity: Staying as fit as possible (talk with your doctor about a healthy exercise plan that works with your condition) Pillar 4 – Health eating: Keeping a nutritious, balanced diet Pillar 5 – Risk avoidance or mitigation: Quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated, practicing safe sex and …

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Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night. Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals. Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help: Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later). Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime. If you can it might be a good idea trying to make sure that none of these devices are in your bedroom. If you’ve just brought yourself something like a new corner TV …

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