Category Archives: depression

Could No Sick Leave Cause Poor Health?

work, sick, paid leave, sick leave, health, wellnessIt’s about that time of year. Cold and flu season is greatly approaching.  Although some employees may have paid sick leave, they may be afraid to use it for risk of ruining their reputation. On the other hand, maybe there is no one to cover their shift. Employees do not have a choice in workplaces where there is no paid sick leave.  If these employees stayed home, they would risk losing pay, or in some cases, their job. A recent study has shown that workplaces without paid sick leave are at risk for harming the health of their employees.

Paid Sick Leave and Health Statistics

A 2013 report by the National Partnership for Women and Families looked at the effect of paid sick leave on health outcomes.  They found that four of ten private sector workers and eight of ten low-income workers do not have access to paid sick leave. Also, these workers were 1.5 times more likely to go to work with the flu or a viral infection.  In the fall of 2009, nearly eight million workers went to work with H1N1.  In turn, these people are thought to have infected seven million of their co-workers. This string of events was likely the cause of the peak of the pandemic.

Furthermore, parents who do not have paid sick leave are more likely to send their sick kids to school or daycare. This is because the parents have no other form of childcare and cannot afford to stay home unpaid. This situation puts care givers, teachers, and classmates of the child at risk. Therefore, paid sick leave is important for the health of not only the worker, but many others as well.

Recent Research

A study of nearly 18000 workers between the ages of 18 and 64 years of age looked at the effects of paid sick leave on overall health.  Those without paid sick leave were more likely to have mental distress than those who did. In fact, those without sick leave had nearly 150-percent more mental distress. This distress can disrupt the daily life and activities of those with no paid leave. Young, Hispanic, low-income, and poorly educated groups were at greatest risk. These results suggest that lack of paid sick leave is a social justice and health disparity issue.

Protect Yourself Against Cold and Flu Season

Access to paid sick leave may not be under your control. However,  you can take steps to prevent sickness.

  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of immune-friendly fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay active each day since exercising can boost heart health, keep weight at a healthy level, and in turn protect overall health.
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly, especially if you have contact with others in your daily life. Caregivers, healthcare workers, and teachers are just some examples of workers who may be at most risk for exposure to germs. Therefore, these workers will need to be even more diligent about washing hands often and perhaps keeping sanitizer close at hand.
  • Take immune-friendly supplements such as Biovia30 by Vita Sciences. Biovia30 is full of 30 million colony-producing units of probiotic strains to promote health digestive and immune health.

-written  by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Harvard Health Publishing (September 2014) “How to Boost Your Immune System” 

National Partnership for Women and Families (April 2013) “Paid Sick Days Improve Our Public Health” 

Preidt, R. (September 22, 2017) “Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Suffer Ill Effects” 

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Could Estrogen Help Depression?

Every once in a while, you may feel a bit gloomy, disappointed, or stressed. However, depression is much more than just having a bad day. Depression is a serious mood disorder that can make simple tasks such as eating, working, and sleeping much more sad, anxiety, depression, menopause, mental healthdifficult. A recent study has found that low estrogen levels in some women may be linked to depression.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), depression occurs when you have several of the following symptoms for more than two weeks.

  • persistent sad mood
  • hopelessness
  • loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable
  • decreased energy
  • trouble focusing or making decisions
  • appetite or weight changes
  • thoughts of taking one’s own life
  • aches or pains with no clear cause

Also, a person may be at higher risk for depression if they have a family history of the condition. Major life changes or chronic health problems may also increase their risk. Most recently, a study in Menopause showed that a lack of estrogen exposure may put women at higher risk for depression.

The study looked at 1300 women and their level of estradiol exposure related to their depression risk. It was found that those with higher levels of estradiol exposure from the onset of menstruation to menopause had lower levels of depression.  Also, those women who had longer term use of birth control had a lower risk of the condition.  It is important to know that the number of pregnancies and use of breastfeeding did not impact these results.

There is no cause and effect of low estrogen and depression, but these study results are still important.  This is because those with earlier menopause, more frequent hot flashes, and less frequent periods all were at higher risk for depression.  Hormone changes are likely to blame for this. During such times during and after menopause, women are at much higher risk for depression than others.

Therefore, if you feel you may be dealing with depression, there are many resources for help.  There is no one treatment that will help everyone. First of all, let your doctor know if you are feeling depressed. Your doctor may be able to provide medicines that may make dealing with your depression easier to deal with. Also, they could test your hormone levels and provide hormone supplements that may reduce symptoms. Other resources for depression are listed below.

  • Talk therapy with a licensed health care provider can help you talk about your feelings. Such counseling can help you manage your stress better and cope with life issues in a healthy way.
  • Being more active through walking, running, gardening, or other exercises. The fresh air from nature and the “feel good” hormones released during exercise can help improve mood.
  • Spending time with other people such as family, friends, or support groups can improve your mood. Talking with others that care about you and your health can help you see that you are not alone in dealing with life’s issues.
  • Setting realistic goals for yourself can make life easier to deal with. Taking small steps towards your goals can make life seem less overwhelming. You should celebrate each small victory and don’t be afraid to ask others for help along the way.
  • Ask your doctor about trying certain supplements such as Estrosa by Vitasciences.  Estrosa contains compounds such as Black Cohosh that have been found to help relieve the hot flashes, weight gain, bloating, and mood swings related to menopause. For both women and men, Elevia by Vitasciences helps boost serotonin levels which can improve mood and calm the mind.

Also, foundations such as Hope for Depression provide valuable resources to help those depression, foundationwith depression learn more about the condition. Also,  this foundation helps support research efforts to find better treatments for those with depression.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Medline Plus (July 21, 2017) “Estrogen May Influence Women’s Depression Risk” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167353.html

National Institute of Mental Health (October 2016) “Depression” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

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Can Meditation Help Those With Anxiety Focus?

Even after thousands of years since its development, meditation is still used as a way to develop the mind and evolve spiritually.  However, even though the term “meditation” may provoke thoughts of religious context, the exercise itself simply involves a specific, comfortable posture, a focus of attention, and an open attitude. Specifically, this may involve repetition of affirmations, relaxation breathing, and clearing your mind of extraneous thought.  According to the National Institutes of Health, meditation holds significant health benefits.  In particular, research has shown the exercise tomeditation anxiety focus mental health benefit those with anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, in those with anxiety, meditation helps diffuse worries by improving focus on the present-day.

A recent study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition looked at a group of 82 people with anxiety. Subjects were asked to perform a computer task and were interrupted frequently to test their focus.  Next, subjects were divided into a meditation group and an audio story group.  Results show that those who meditated had greater focus in the second half of the study then those who listened to the audio story.

Therefore, it is safe to say that meditation exercises show promise for helping those with anxiety.  Researchers of the study state that mind wandering account for nearly half of a person’s consciousness. Furthermore, when those with anxiety wander off into repetitive off-focus thought, they may have trouble learning, completing tasks, or functioning safely. However, the National Institutes of Health want to remind you that meditation should not replace primary conventional care of health conditions.

What Are Other Ways to Help Reduce Anxiety?

Besides meditation, there are various ways you can help reduce anxiety:

  • Visit your healthcare provider for counseling or medication treatment
  • Exercise on a regular basis for at least 30 minutes a day; low impact exercises such as walking will do the job.
  • Schedule “me-time” every day engaging in an activity yo love to do such as reading, painting, watching a movie, or cooking; do something that relaxes your mind.
  • Delegate tasks on your to-do list; get others to help with some tasks or schedule some things for another day.
  • Stay connected with a support system through family, friends, coworkers, or community and religious organizations.
  • Use essential oils such as frankincense and lavender to provide a calming scent when practicing relaxation breathing. You can either place oils in a diffuser, or dab on wrists and neck for a more concentrated scent.
  • Drink herbal teas such as peppermint to calm digestion or chamomile to help soothe the mind and promote sleep.
  • Try a supplement such as Sereneo by Vita Sciences. Sereneo contains natural ingredients such as magnesium, chamomile, and valerian that have been shown to promote a boost in “feel-good” serotonin, relieve anxiety, and calm mind and body.

Also,  visit websites such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America for more information on anxiety, treatment options, and ways you can support anxiety research.  anxiety depression treatment research

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Dallas, M.E. (May 5, 2017) “Meditation Can Help Improve Focus in People With Anxiety” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165274.html

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (updated March 17, 2017) “Meditation: In Depth” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm

National Institute of Mental Health (accessed May 10, 2017) “5 Things You Should Know About Stress” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml

Puff, Ph.D., R. (July 7, 2013) “An Overview of Meditation: Its Origins and Traditions” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meditation-modern-life/201307/overview-meditation-its-origins-and-traditions

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Could Unemployment Increase Stroke Risk?

In unstable financial times, losing a job can be a very stressful time in one’s life.  Anxiety and depression could develop as a result of such a big life event. In turn, a person’s health may start to worsen after losing a job if they do not have effective measures in place to help manage their stress.  Emotional eating, loss of sleep, and engaging in unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking may develop as a result of stress. In fact, a study from Japan has recently found that those who are unemployed have a greater risk of stroke than those who are employed.

unemployment, health, stroke, heart disease

Unemployment and Stroke Risk Study

A recent study of about 42,000 men found that those men who were unemployed had a 60-percent higher risk of stroke than those who were steadily employed. In addition, those unemployed men who suffered a stroke were about 120-percent more likely to die from it than those employed men who had a stroke. For women, those who were unemployed had a 50-percent greater chance of having a stroke. Of those women who had a stroke, those who were unemployed had a 150-percent greater chance of death.

It is suggested that these alarming rates of stroke and stroke-related death in the unemployed may be due to unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, being inactive, and having a poor diet.  In addition, it is suggested that even once re-employed, individuals may feel afraid that they will lose their job again, and therefore may be afraid to take leave when they are sick.  In turn, this could affect their long-term physical health.

Although this study is based on the Japanese culture, it may not be completely applicable to Americans, so further studies must be done. However, studies like the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System reported by the Centers for Disease Control suggest risk of depression is significantly increased for those Americans out of work.

How Can I Lower My Risk For Stroke?

Staying heart healthy involves a holisitic approach of eating balanced meals, staying active, and managing stress. Follow the tips below to help you keep your heart healthy for many years to come.

  • Consume minimally processed foods.  There are many foods that have to go through some processing to create such as yogurt or cottage cheese.  However, these types of products are only minimally processed. When trying to eat heart healthy, just be sure to limit highly processed foods such as neon-colored salty snacks, canned foods, pre-packaged meals, and deli meats like hot dogs or luncheon meat.  Just keep in mind that if it is an unnatural color, or has a confusing list of ingredients, then it is likely to be a highly processed product.
  • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods. Fruits, veggies, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as nuts and seeds are all great natural sources of fiber.  Fiber is important for helping stabilize blood glucose levels, slow down digestion to help with absorption of nutrients from foods, and to bulk stool to help with elimination of wastes from the body. Furthermore, fiber is also great for helping you to stay more satisfied after meals, so it can help with weight management.
  • Stay active.  Staying active each day for at least 30 minutes can be a great way to blow off some steam and keep your heart healthy.  This doesn’t mean you have to go to boot camp classes or run a marathon. Simple moderate activity such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming can help keep your heart  healthy.  Exercise not only works to strengthen your heart, but can also act as an outlet for stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep. When you are feeling stressed, it can be hard to sleep. However, lack of sleep can actually make you more prone to anxiety and depression. This is because your body uses sleeping time to regulate hormones, fluids, and blood glucose levels in the body.  If you have trouble sleeping, try natural essential oils such as lavender or frankincense to help relax your mind. Other sleeping aids may include:
    • Relaxation breathing
    • Listening to relaxing music
    • Eliminating screen time before bed
    • Avoiding fluid consumption 2 hours before bed to avoid interrupted sleep
    • Supplements like Somnova from Vitasciences.

Somnova includes natural ingredients like melatonin and magnesium that work together to help produce restful sleep. Melatonin is also natural, so it is unlikely to have any interactions with other medicines you may be taking. However, be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any supplement regimen.

  • Develop healthy stress management techniques.  Find 15 minutes a day to engage in an activity that you enjoy. Reading a book,  taking a relaxing bath, or going to an acupuncturist or massage therapist, are some ways to relax. Also, visiting a counselor may help you better deal with stress and anxiety. Consistent self-care is essential to overall health and well-being. You can also try supplements like TheraCALM from Vitasciences to help with stress relief and restful sleep.

Visit Vitasciences for all of your supplement needs to help enhance your healthy lifestyle. Also, be sure to visit the National Stroke Association for more information on stroke facts, prevention, and research.

written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (August 2015) “The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WPUehMuQx9A

Centers for Disease Control (March 19, 2015). “Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010” https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0451.htm

Medline Plus (2017 April 13). “Another Downside to Unemployment: Stroke Risk?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164623.html

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Can Exercise Improve Brain Health?

Staying active is well-known for helping to maintain heart health.  However, did you know that regular exercise may also benefit brain health?  A recent study has found that exercising 2.5 hours a week, or 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week, may help slow progression of Parkinson’s disease.walking, exercise, Parkinson's, brain health

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that may worsen over time. Therefore, medication and surgery have currently been used to treat and manage the symptoms of the condition.  This condition involves the progressive death of brain cells, which leads to a decrease in dopamine levels in the blood. Lower dopamine levels result in a lessened ability to move.  Therefore, since those with Parkinson’s disease lose dopamine over time, they may subsequently experience tremors, stiffness, and trouble with walking.

Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease 

A recent study in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease looked at the effects of exercise on the progression of Parkinson’s disease. After observing 3400 patients for over two years, those people with Parkinson’s disease who maintained exercise 150 minutes per week had a smaller decline in quality of life and mobility as compared to those who exercised less. The type of exercise that was of most benefit was not apparent. However, it is suggested that finding a type of exercise an individual enjoys will help them to maintain a regular exercise regimen and in turn will benefit them. Furthermore, by empowering those with Parkinson’s disease to engage in more exercise they enjoy, it may improve overall quality of life for these individuals.

Joint Pain and Quality of Life

Even if you do not have Parkinson’s disease, you may experience joint pain that limits your movement.  Limited movement may in turn reduce quality of life by:

  • affecting heart health
  • making an individual more dependent on others for daily activities
  • reducing the amount of serotonin”feel good” hormone produced

Therefore, it is important to find effective treatments for joint pain that will help make movement more comfortable.  When movement is more comfortable, you will be more likely to engage in more activity, and in turn will gain the most health benefits. Also, the American Psychological Association has reported that regular exercise may help reduce panic in those with anxiety and improve mood in those with depression. Furthermore, regular exercise has been found to normalize sleep patterns, which in turn can make it easier for the body and mind to handle stress.

Some effective treatments for joint pain include:

  • CDC Self-management programs
  • Acupuncture
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Water-based exercises such as swimming
  • Supplements such as glucosamine or Flexova

Furthermore, Flexova contains a blend of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, as well as glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate that helps to reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility.  Therefore, for more information on Flexova and other high quality supplements that can help improve your quality of life, visit Vita Sciences.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources :

Arthritis Foundation (accessed 2017 April 2) “25 Treatments for Hip and Arthritis Pain” http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/tips/25-treatments-for-hip-knee-oa.php

Centers for Disease Control (2017 March 7) “Living with Severe Joint Pain” https://www.cdc.gov/features/arthritis-quality-life/

Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (accessed 2017 April 2) “What is Parkinson’s Disease?” http://www.pdf.org/about_pd

Preidt, R. (2017 March 29) “Exercising 2.5 Hours a Week May Slow Parkinson’s Progress” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164357.html

Weir, K. (2011 December) “The Exercise Effect” American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx

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Can Ashwagandha Support Hypothyroidism Treatment?

Hypothyroidism occurs when the body is not producing enough thyroid hormone.  As a result of this, an individual with hypothyroidism can experience fatigue, feeling cold often, weight gain, constipation, depression, and in some cases numbness and tingling of the hands and feet.  These symptoms can not only cause discomfort physically, but can also cause stress in the patient mentally due to the neurological effects it can have on the body.

Hypothyroidism and Inflammation

According to the American Thyroid Association, thyroiditis, or an inflammation of the thyroid, can lead to thyroid disorders.  While rapid thyroid cell damage leads to hyperthyroidism, the opposite is true for hypothyroidism.  A slow, chronic damage and destruction of thyroid cells can lead to a fall in thyroid levels in the blood.

Natural Thyroid Support

Ashwagandha is a popular herb know  for its anti-inflammatory properties.  Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwangandha has been found to relax the central nervous system. A 2014 study in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine suggests that ashwagandha may also help to increase thyroxine levels. Therefore, the herb may be helpful in supporting
treatment of hypothyroidism.

Thyradol is a supplement developed by Vitasciences that contains ashwagandha along with other thyroid supportive compounds such as B12 and selenium.   Therefore, instead of taking a handful of supplements, thyradol can make taking care of your thyroid simple.

Visit the American Thyroid Association at thyroid.org to show your support for thyroid awareness and research.

-by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

 

Sources:

American Thyroid Association (accessed 2017 Jan 21) “Thyroiditis” http://www.thyroid.org/thyroiditis/

Gannon, J.M., et al. (2014 Oct-Dec). “Subtle Changes in Thyroid Indices During a Placebo-Controlled Study of an Extract of Withania somnifera in Persons With Bipolar Disorder.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4): 241-245.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2015 Dec 29) “Ashwangandha.” https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/ashwagandha

University of Maryland Medical Center (2016 April 27) “Hypothyroidism.” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/hypothyroidism

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Your depression could be a vitamin deficiency

You may feel depressed if you have a bad day or an upsetting situation. However, depression is more than just an isolated feeling. For those with depression, daily living can be difficult or nearly impossible.  Depression causes disruption in daily living such as with working, sleeping, eating, and the way you think and feel for at least two weeks. These symptoms include:

  • persistent sad, anxious, or feelings of emptiness
  • decreased energy, loss of appetite or weight changes
  • loss of interest in things you once enjoyed doing
  • irritability
  • thoughts of death or suicide
  • difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • aches, pains, or digestive problems with no clear physical cause

What causes depression?

Family history of the condition, major life changes, and stress or trauma can all lead to depression. Also, certain medicines and illnesses may also lead to depressive symptoms.  Furthermore, vitamin deficiencies can also contribute to some cases of depression.

Depression has been linked with certain vitamin deficiencies according to a 2013 review in Current Psychiatry.  Depression, irritability, and agitation has been found to develop as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency.  Geriatric patients with low B6 levels had increased risk and severity of depression. Furthermore, marginal levels of vitamin B2 were found more frequently in depressed patients than non-depressed patients.

What does the research say?

First of all, a 2016 study in the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience looked at the effects of vitamin intake on mild cognitive impairment. The study reported decreased risk of mild cognitive impairment in the Chinese elderly due to intake of carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Another 2016 study in the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS care looked at vitamin intake effects on mental health outcomes.  HIV patients had decreased risk of anxiety and depression due to daily dietary intake of zinc, selenium, and vitamin C.   Finally, a 2015 study in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences looked at anxiety and vitamin C intake.  Students had decreased anxiety levels due to increased intake of vitamin C.

Sereneo can provide all of the vitamins and compounds you need to boost your mood.  As a result of vitamin C and B vitamins, Sereneo works to support anxiety relief and calm your mind.

Finally, a special thank you to the Hope for Depression Research Foundation.  They work hard every day to raise mental health awareness and to fund related research. Because of this, be sure to visit their site at hopefordepression.org on how you can support their cause.


-by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

de Oliveira, IJ, et al. (2015 Jan) “Effects of Oral Vitamin C Supplementation on Anxiety in Students: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 18(1):11-8.

Jamali, F., et al (2016 Nov-Dec) “Correlation Between Daily Dietary Micronutrients Intake and Mental Health Outcomes in Iranians Living With HIV infection, ” Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS care, 27(6): 817-825.

Lu, Y, et al (2016 Nov 29) “Dietary Intake of Nutrients and Lifestyle Affect the Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment in the Chinese Elderly Population: A Cross-Sectional Study,” Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10:229. eCollection 2016.

National Institute of Mental Health (accessed 2017 Jan) “Depression” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Ramsey, MD, Drew. (2013 January) “Vitamin Deficiencies and Mental Health: How are they linked?” Current Psychiatry, 12(1):37-44.

 

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