The Best Diet for Depression

Depression presents a baffling evolutionary puzzle. Despite its negative effects, it remains common and heritable, meaning a large part of the risk is passed through our genes. Presumably, there must be some kind of adaptive benefit or it would have been naturally selected against. Could depression be an evolutionary strategy to provide a defense against infection? Infection has been the leading cause of mortality throughout human history, making it a critical force in natural selection. Indeed, because of infections, our average life expectancy before the industrial period was only 25 years, and it was not uncommon for half of our children to die without reaching adulthood.

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The 1 Thing Happy People Do Every Day

 wrote for POPSUGAR that growing up with a mother as a counselor definitely had its perks: she was incredibly patient, a supportive listener, and always gave the best advice. Even though my mom is retired, she continues to help others by sharing her years of wisdom on what it takes to be truly happy. She’s told me time and time again that while material goods might make me happy in the moment, that feeling is fleeting. I’ve learned people who are the happiest don’t have the most money or aren’t the most attractive, but they all share one thing in common:

Happy people practice gratitude every day.

While this may seem simple enough, our minds tend to focus on what we’re missing out on instead of being grateful for everything we already have. Our generation has it even harder because we are living in a social world where we are constantly connected. It’s easy to feel like you don’t have enough when everyone on your social feed appears to be doing cooler things than you.

Good news: there are ways to practice gratitude each day to live your best life. Here’s how. Read more

The health benefits of volunteering

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital shared that when you think about activities that help with stress, depression and even physical health, a variety of ideas may come to mind: yoga, meditation or even a trip to the gym. But recent studies show another activity is also associated with positive health benefits: volunteering.

Studies have long shown that people who volunteer feel more socially connected, less lonely and less depressed. In fact, one study out of the UK surveyed over 600 volunteers and found that almost half of study participants who had volunteered for more than two years said it made them feel less depressed. In addition, almost two-thirds of those surveyed said volunteering reduced their stress levels.

“I frequently suggest volunteering to my patients,” says Dr. Daniel Lazar, an internal medicine physician at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “Many of my retired patients become restless, and some even start getting depressed, as they feel like they are no longer contributing to society. Retiring can also adversely affect family dynamics and relationships, but volunteering can abate this in many ways.”

And the act of volunteering is not only gratifying for the mind, but also for the body.

A recent study from Carnegie Mellon University found that adults who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those who didn’t volunteer in the age group over 50.

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Why You Should Visit The Beach Regularly

MELISSA LOCKER wrote for Southern Living the following article that was recently published in Costal Living.  She writes  that when you’re on vacation on St. Simon’s Island, sitting by the water in Hilton Head, or Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have a care in the world. It’s not just the fact that you’re on vacation that is relaxing, though, but the ocean itself. According to several scientific studies, the beach is good for the brain as it makes happy, relaxed, and reenergized.

In a 2011 study, researchers at Washington University and UC Irvine asked over 1,000 beachgoers about their mental state before and after trips to the ocean. They found that beach trips reduce stress, increase creativity, and can reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and were overall restorative for our psychological well-being. Those who experienced more stress and fatigue in their daily life found the beach the most reinvigorating. As for conditions, they found that mild temperatures, low tides, and sparse crowds were the best conditions for restoration, which sounds like a great reason to visit the beach off-season. While the researchers focused on California beaches, there’s no reason the same theory wouldn’t apply to the Gulf Coast, the Outer Banks, or the Florida Keys.

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The Food That Helps Battle Depression

Elizabeth Bernstein wrote for the Wall Street Journal on April 2, 2018 that sychiatrists and therapists don’t often ask this question. But a growing body of research over the past decade shows that a healthy diet—high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and unprocessed lean red meat—can prevent depression. And an unhealthy diet—high in processed and refined foods—increases the risk for the disease in everyone, including children and teens.

Now recent studies show that a healthy diet may not only prevent depression, but could effectively treat it once it’s started.

Researchers, led by epidemiologist Felice Jacka of Australia’s Deakin University, looked at whether improving the diets of people with major depression would help improve their mood. They chose 67 people with depression for the study, some of whom were already being treated with antidepressants, some with psychotherapy, and some with both. Half of these people were given nutritional counseling from a dietitian, who helped them eat healthier. Half were given one-on-one social support—they were paired with someone to chat or play cards with—which is known to help people with depression.

After 12 weeks, the people who improved their diets showed significantly happier moods than those who received social support. And the people who improved their diets the most improved the most. The study was published in January 2017 in BMC Medicine. A second, larger study drew similar conclusions and showed that the boost in mood lasted six months. It was led by researchers at the University of South Australia and published in December 2017 in Nutritional Neuroscience.

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See Something, Say Something

Sometimes so much emphasis is given to eating right and working out that we forget that Mental Health is equally important to wellness as physical health and perhaps even more so when considering the health of a community.

I share this thought as a reaction to what appears to be an increase in acts of bullying. We live in a land where everyone is allowed to express their opinion on every topic imaginable from politics, to religion, to race, to weight. But many are forgetting that this should not be done in harsh and hurtful ways using aggressive behavior and intimidation.

These types of negative actions affect the targeted individual’s mental health and this is especially so in children. Research by stopbullying.gov indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior.

So as we approach spring, a time for rebirth and renewal, now is a good time to make a personal commitment to take a stand and stop bullying. Have the courage to use the simple “See something, Say Something” approach. When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time.

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Building a Community of Support for New Moms

Here’s the problem: Not every mom has the opportunity to receive treatment.

Mothers of color are more likely to develop depression and anxiety than white mothers. This is because stress is a proven contributor, and minority communities often face more racial and socioeconomic stressors. They are also less likely to receive postpartum mental health treatment. The largest gaps exist in three areas: access, diagnosis, and community support.

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Effects of Food Bullying

Ingrid Donato, Chief, Mental Health Promotion Branch, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Jillian Lampert, The Emily Program and the Eating Disorders Coalition shared in womenshealth.gov that weight-based teasing and bullying have been identified as common experiences for youth, particularly for those who may be heavier. Children whose peers tease them about their weight are more likely to engage in disordered eating. Help raise awareness about weight-based bullying. Learn what signs to look for in a child or young person who may have an eating disorder and what can be done to help adolescents who are bullied and at risk of developing an eating disorder.

What is an eating disorder?

 

Eating disorders are complex mental disorders that cause a person to have excessive fear and anxiety about eating, body image, and weight gain that lead to unhealthy behaviors.

Three of the most commonly diagnosed eating disorders include binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa.

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Stay social and active in your community for healthy aging!

The National Institute on Aging suggests Engaging in social and productive activities you enjoy, like taking an art class or becoming a volunteer in your community or at your place of worship, may help to maintain your well-being as you get older.

Research tells us that older people with an active lifestyle:

  • Are less likely to develop certain diseases. Participating in hobbies and other social and leisure pursuits may lower risk for developing some health problems, including dementia.
  • Have a longer lifespan. One study showed that older adults who reported taking part in social activities (such as playing games, belonging to social groups, or traveling) or meaningful, productive activities (such as having a paid or unpaid job, or gardening) lived longer than people who did not. Researchers are further exploring this connection.

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Food allergy bullying is no laughing matter

Dr. Sai Nimmagadda shared with Advocate Children’s Hospital that there is a new trend that is endangering children with allergies called food allergy bullying.

Researchers estimate that 5.9 million children under age 18 in the United States have a food allergy. That’s 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom. And more than 40 percent of them have experienced a severe or life-threatening reaction. That’s why food allergy bullying is so dangerous.

It is happening in schools all over the country. In a recent case near Pittsburgh, three teenagers were charged with intentionally exposing a classmate to pineapple despite knowing she had an allergy to the fruit. The student had to receive immediate treatment. And a 7-year-old Utah boy came home in tears after his classmates threatened to make him eat peanuts — knowing he was severely allergic. Others report having food thrown at them.

These incidents are not rare. A recent study by Mount Sinai Medical Center found that nearly a third of kids with a food allergy have experienced similar bullying. Read more