February 1, 2017

Depression: The Most Common Illness in the World

The World Health Organization recognizes depression as the most common illness in the world and estimates that 350 million people are affected by depression globally [1].  Depression is a condition where the severity of the condition varies greatly from person to person.

Depression is a mental health disorder in which the patient faces sadness and loss of interest in various aspects of their life. These feelings often result in an unhealthy condition of the patient’s mood. It is common for people to confuse common fluctuations in the mood with depression. These fluctuations are part of a normal and healthy life; therefore depression cannot be classified by fluctuations in the mood over a very short period of time. The standard period of a depressive episode is usually 6-8 months to be classified as depression [2].

Since depression is a very complex disease, it is extremely difficult to narrow down a generalized cause. The condition varies patient to patient and a series of factors are observed in order to diagnose a patient. For instance, genetics and biological changes in neurotransmitter levels may cause depression. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain that affect chemical changes in the body which cause a change in mood. Also, a family history of depression elevates the chances for the condition, as it is a genetic condition. Looking into family history in cases of depression is a common procedure for family physicians. Furthermore, there are environmental and physiological factors that may contribute to depression. These factors are often determined by social and personal factors a person may face in everyday life.

These causes are often self-diagnosed, but it is vitally important that patients seek a medical professional’s attention in order to further classify the type of condition that they may be facing. Being in a bad mood doesn’t always signify depression, so it is best to get a professional opinion.

[1] Depression. World Health Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

[2] Depression: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. MacGill, Markus. Medical News Today. Retrieved from: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/kc/depression-causes-symptoms-treatments-8933

November 1, 2016

How Depression Medication Affects Your Body

Filed under: Depression,health,stress — Tags: , , , , , — drwatson @ 11:24 pm

Depression treatment and symptomsNeurotransmitters are chemicals in your brain that affect mood and emotions. If you suffer from depression, antidepressant pills are a common treatment option. These anti-depressants help with improving mood, sleeping better and increasing appetite. Improving these areas of a person’s life are all are helpful when coping with depression and to help construct a more positive outlook for the patient. It is important that patients are aware of the emotions and feelings they will exhibit when they are going through their depression treatment.

For each person who takes depression medication, the effects may take different amounts of time to manifest. It normally takes a minimum of three to four weeks before a person taking depression medication starts to notice a change in their mood [1].

Antidepressants, like many other medications, have noticeable side effects. These include headaches, drowsiness, weight gain and agitation. With a variety of antidepressants that can be prescribed, side effects will vary greatly and some side effects may be more common in some types of medication. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibiters (SSRIs) tend to have fewer side effects. It is important to seek a medical professional is sought before finding an appropriate anti-depressant.

Lastly, the length of these side effects vary from person to person.  In many cases, these effects only last for a few days whereas in others it may take up to a number of weeks. The effects of a certain medication is variable, each person will react differently to a medication and it is important to keep consulting a medical professional to see if an antidepressant is appropriate for a person’s condition. Sometimes the time of day or type of medication may not be suited to a patient and a doctor can help with that diagnosis.

[1] How Your Depression Medication Can Affect Your Life? Greenlaw, Ellen. WebMd. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/antidepressant-effects#1

July 15, 2015

What’s With Sleep That Our Body Loves?

Filed under: Depression,sleep,sleep hygiene — Tags: , , — drwatson @ 8:00 am

beautiful woman sleeping on the bed

There is no arguing the important role sleep plays in the proper functioning of our body. It’s gotten to be so important your body just won’t do much without it.  Health experts say, the average person should be getting about seven to eight (7-8) hours of sleep each night, which means you would be, or are spending about thirty percent (30%) of your life sleeping. That sounds like it’s a complete waste of time, right? Or, is it?

People in the know, especially those health buffs or those gurus in the medical field say getting those good hours of sleep can never be a waste and shouldn’t be viewed as unproductive time. The body loves sleep for a good reason. In truth, the body loves sleep for a lot of good reasons, several of which are:

1)    Sleep provides your body with fuel. Pretty much like your Ford Mustang, your whole being needs fuel to stay energetic and get going. If you drove for days without re-fueling, you’d get stuck someplace unable to move. And so will your body. If you went around chasing girls for days on end without any sleep, you’ll end up tired and eventually pass out. And those pretty girls would have gotten away.

2)    Sleep helps the brain to communicate better with the body. Waking up in the morning, stretching and checking out your phone messages is actually a function of communication that happens between your brain and your body. Your whole day is really a process of continuing communication between your brain and your brawn. So why shouldn’t the body say thank you for a perky brain that helps it function better?

3)    Sleep enhances the beauty and tone of your skin. You may not be as vain as most women, but knowing that little or poor sleep quality can negatively affect the aging of your skin should be enough reason to rethink your sleeping hours. Yes. Studies have shown that not having enough sleep results in intrinsic ageing, diminished function of the skin barrier and some dissatisfaction with how your skin looks. So, you’ve heard of beauty sleep? You’ve got to have that too.

4)    Sleep helps prevent and reduce diseases. The body just loves staying fit and healthy. Over time, when it doesn’t get enough sleep, it acts up and shows some signs of long term health consequences which may include chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart disease. Sure, mild health issues like the common cold or Flu come and go but you’ve got a responsibility to nurture your body and make sure it’s able to fight off the big, serious ones.

5)    Sleep lends a hand in keeping your weight healthy. One of the key benefits of sleep is to help keep your metabolism working in top shape, thus, aiding to keep your poundage at a healthy, manageable level.

Sleep has mostly been underestimated, but it’s an incredibly helpful necessity for a healthy life. So, while it’s great to be pursuing a very active social life, the breaks you take to grab some decent hours of sleep will do wonders for your body.


July 21, 2010

Here Comes the Sun – Vitamin D Treatment For Depression

Filed under: Depression — Tags: , , , — drwatson @ 8:49 pm

Vitamin D3, Depression SymptomsIt’s called the sunshine vitamin for a reason, and not just because it comes from the sun. If you’ve ever noticed that your mood has been drastically improved by the bright sunshine of the morning, studies have shown that it probably had something to do with the production of vitamin D in your skin, which occurs naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Recent studies have concluded that there is a link between a lack of vitamin D and symptoms of depression. Although vitamin D deficiency has not been confirmed as a definite cause for depression, this new link opens up many new and inexpensive treatment options for patients with depression.

Vitamin D is not a naturally occurring vitamin in food, but it can easily be obtained through sun exposure and vitamin D3 supplements. Vitamin D rich foods include sweet potatoes, sprouts, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, salmon and other seafood products, as well as fortified milk and juice. For many patients with depression, an increased intake of vitamin D works as an effective bonus treatment, which comes free with a fresh walk outdoors. Those who enjoy a high intake of vitamin D will also experience a decreased risk of diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cancer and heart disease.

While depression isn’t likely to be caused or cured by the subtraction or addition of just one factor, the link of low levels of vitamin D to depression is a great reason to spend more time outdoors in the sunshine. If you find that you continually experience burning in the mouth or throat, constipation, dental cavities, insomnia, joint pains, muscle cramps, or frequent colds or flu; you may have a vitamin D deficiency that could increase your risk of depression along with many conditions. If you find that you aren’t able to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure and food supplement, talk to your doctor about taking a multivitamin or vitamin D3 supplement.

May 27, 2010

Dreaming Links to Depression

Filed under: coping with depression,Depression,sleep — Tags: , — drwatson @ 12:08 am

Dreaming and DepressionDepression has become a relatively common condition in the modern society. In North America alone, it is estimated that over nine million people struggle with depression on a day to day basis. For some people, dealing with depression will involve fighting what is usually described as a “black curtain” of despair, while others experience constant irritation or find that they have no energy to complete their daily tasks. Although depression is not caused by one single factor, sleep patterns and dreaming have been directly linked to those who suffer from depression.

The dreaming component of sleep is called REM sleep (short for rapid eye movement sleep), and usually occurs after a couple hours have passed since the time when you fell asleep. During REM sleep, only the chemicals that are responsible for the emotions and visual imagery of your brain are activated, while the other chemicals in your brain that are associated with rational thought and reasoning remain turned off. Because of the “emotional overflow” which occurs as a result of depression, many people who are struggling with depression will often dream more – causing the symptoms of exhaustion that are associated with depression to occur, and effectively creating a twenty-four hour cycle of depression.

If you find that you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, especially over-exhaustion, vivid dreaming and what may feel like an “emotional overload”, you can talk to your doctor about treatment methods to help treat your condition. These methods may include anything from relaxation techniques and practices such as yoga or taking naps to compensate for lack of restful sleep due to over-dreaming, to speaking to a therapist in order to relieve what you may perceive as an “emotional overflow”, to taking anti-depressant medications. Your doctor will choose the method that will treat your depression most effectively.


February 27, 2010

5 Alternative Methods for Coping with Depression

Depression is primarily treated by a series of prescription antidepressant drugs, including Celexa, Bupropion and Zoloft. However, with these drugs come side effects, causing anything from slight inco-ordination to hallucinations. Because depression can be caused by several different factors, including lack of vitamins and minerals in the body and exercise habits, there are several other methods, apart from taking antidepressant medications that can help with coping with depression.

5 Alternative Methods for Coping with Depression:

  • Eat Healthy – Incorporating foods like brown rice, fish, whole grain oats and cabbage into your diet will improve depression symptoms. Fish, for example, contains omega 3 fatty acids, which are proven to help reduce symptoms of depression, while brown rice and whole grain oats contain folic acid, a crucial component in reducing the stress and anxiety associated with depression. Although cabbage exhibits an extremely distinguishing taste, it too contains folic acid as well as vitamin C, which will additionally help to reduce symptoms of depression and also reduces the risk of cancers, heart disease and infection.
  • Exercise – If you aren’t currently active, start slow with exercise, by setting simple exercise goals and finding an activity that you enjoy that promotes physical exercise. You can talk to your doctor about incorporating exercise into your treatment plan, in a way that fits into your personal lifestyle. Exercise is an important component in combating symptoms of depression because it not only provides a distraction from your worries, but also is clinically proven to increase your energy and self-esteem.
  • Dietary Supplements – If you can’t possibly stand the sight of fish or cabbage, or are unable to incorporate them into your lifestyle, taking dietary supplements of folic acid and or omega 3 fatty acids can help to treat any symptoms of depression. Be sure to talk to your doctor before including any dietary supplements into your treatment plan, as they may interfere with other medications.
  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves inserting needles into specific parts of the body to relieve pain or in this case, depression. A recent study demonstrated that acupuncture is an effect form of treating symptoms of depression, especially in pregnant women.
  • Video Games – It may seem a little hard to believe, but video games can be beneficial to one’s health. Video games that involve exercise, such as those played on the Nintendo Wii console, are clinically proven to decrease symptoms of depression.
Depression can be difficult to cope with, however, these methods all provide an alternative to taking medication for your depression, and may just be what you need to get back on track.

February 18, 2010

Links Between Accutane and Severe Skin Conditions

Acne medication
Accutane may be dangerous to some users. Although Accutane has been helping many people deal with severe acne problems, the medication has also been linked to a series of extreme skin reactions. These are rare, but they can result in hospitalization, disability, or death.

Officials are warning those using Accutane to discontinue their use if they experience a rash, often accompanied by a fever, malaise, or irritated eyes, blisters or sores on the legs, arms or face, sores in the mouth, throat, nose or eyes, or skin peeling. Contact your doctor immediately after you notice any of these signs.

Some that have reported severe side effects have experienced rather gruesome skin conditions. Stevens-Johnson syndrome has been caused by Accutane, which results in the outer layer of skin separating from the dermis.

This isn’t the first time Accutane has been criticized for its side effects. In the early 80’s, women were reported to be having miscarriages or having children with birth defects as a result of the medication. Additionally, the medication has also been linked to causing depression and suicide; however there is no completely proven link.

January 5, 2010

Top 5 Strange Cases in Medicine

There are many different medical disorders and diseases out there, more than most people could ever learn in their lifetime. New conditions are being discovered all the time, while some of the older ones are being prevented through new research into cures. However, while there are many, MANY, different medical conditions, there are a few that are very interesting, and make everyone ask if the condition is real, or if it’s just some internet hoax. Let me tell you that there are very weird and seemingly impossible conditions that are still out in the world today, I’d like to share my top 5 strange cases in medicine.

5. Progeria (Hutchinson – Gilford syndrome)

Progeria is an extremely rare disorder that causes rapid aging normally starting during childhood. When a person with Progeria is born, there appears to be no difference between a baby without Progeria and a baby with the disorder. However, when childhood begins the disorder become very apparent, causing the child to experience rapid aging, which manifests in the loss of hair, wrinkles, and severe damage on the arteries that will result in death within the first years of adolescence.

4. Jumping Frenchmen of Maine

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a much exaggerated form of startle reflex called hyperexplexia. Suffers were reported to react strangely to loud sudden noises, and obeying the commands of another. When asked by a loud authoritative voice to do something like hit someone they would obey and go hit someone.

Walking Corpse Syndrome

Walking corpse syndrome is a very unusual syndrome, in that the sufferer believes that they are dead, decaying, or have lost a body part or internal organ. Those suffering with the disease sometimes do not even think they exist.

The Girl That Collapses Every Time She Laughs

Have you ever laughed so hard that you’ve almost fallen over in tears, well a young women living in the UK feels something like that every time she laughs. The young lady suffers from cataplexy, which means that any strong emotion triggers a weakening of her muscles. This weakening of muscles means whenever she laughs, or is afraid, embarrassed or just about any other sort of emotion, she collapses right on the spot. It’s almost like being allergic response to your emotions.

The Girl Who is Allergic to Water

The majority of our beautiful planet Earth is water, but what happens when you can’t go near the stuff. A teen from Australia, suffers from a very rare skin disorder called Aquagenic Urticaria. This condition means that whenever any water makes contact with her skin, she breaks out in a painful rash. If you think that this just means she can’t go swimming think about all the things you do every day that requires water. Showering/taking a bath, washing your hands, and sweating are all painful things for her to do. I would probably be pretty depressed if I had an allergic reaction to water.

January 4, 2010

Lack of Sleep in Teens Could Lead to Depression

Dark and Lonely Teenager
There’s no denying that each and every one of us need proper amounts of sleep to function properly every day, but not all of us get the necessary amount of sleep every night and this is particularly true among teenagers.

Teenagers experience a change in their internal clocks and this tends to cause them to go to bed at later hours and wake up later as well. However because of school in the morning most students find that they do not get enough sleep and often feel tired throughout the day. Some high schools have adjusted to this and set their start times later to allow students to sleep longer in the mornings. However, those students that must wake up early need to be aware that getting little sleep can result in more than just a cranky attitude.

Along with a nasty attitude throughout the day, inadequate sleep can result in many harmful effects. Some things caused by lack of sleep are impaired memory and physical performance, increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, problems with insomnia, impairment to the ability to stay alert, inability to stay focused, troubles solving problems, difficulty retaining information, and a lack of ability to deal with stress. Additionally, teenagers who find they’re lacking sleep on a consistent basis are more at risk for fall-asleep car accident, tobacco and alcohol use, poor impulse control and violence, and lower performance in academics and athletics. Now, a new study has found that teens that lack sleep are much more likely to suffer from depression and have thoughts of suicide.

Generally, teens require about 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep every night, but most are getting less than 7 hours. These teens need to try to go to bed a little earlier to give their bodies some much needed rest. The lower the amount of sleep a teen gets results in a higher risk of depression and other very harmful effects. If you are a parent try anything you can to get your child to bed at an appropriate time. This doesn’t have to mean sending them to bed before 8 at night, but try getting them to sleep at maybe 10 or 11 at the latest. Teens really need the extra sleep and without it they will definitely know something is wrong, even if they never admit it.

November 19, 2009

Seasonal Affective Disorder, And What Your Should Look Out For

Depression is a very serious condition that many people worldwide are affected by. However, there are some people that experience these depressed states of being during specific times of the year. Most commonly, late fall and all winter are the seasons many people experience symptoms that are part of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The acronym is very fitting considering the symptoms and the effects the disorder has on a person.

Seasonal affective disorder is very often thought to be caused by the decreased amount of sunlight and the cold, dark weather that is common during the winter months. I’m sure the stress of buying presents during the holidays also has something to do with it. Although SAD occurs during specific times of the year, it can lead to serious cases of depression, that can often persist year long, even when the weather is warm.

Because depression is very serious, and can lead to suicidal thoughts, and actions, you should talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms. The primary symptom of SAD is the same depressed feeling at around the same time every year.

Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder

1.Recurring annual symptoms

3.Increase in amount of sleep

4.Decreased energy


6.Difficulty concentrating

7.Decreased sex drive

8.Body aches and pains

9.Loss of interest in usual/favorite activities
10.Difficulty processing information

11.Weight Gain

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