Of Course Happy Is Healthy: What You should Know about Mood and Health

wellness-bannerAngela Metcalf, College of DuPage Nursing Student, shares that we have known for some time that dark moods like depression and anxiety may contribute to conditions like heart disease or cancer. However, research has recently identified a connection between a positive mood and wellness and this information was published in the January edition of the journal Emotion. Recently the positive reaction of awe was found to have the most resounding effect based on the research.

The research was conducted at the University of California- Berkeley where researchers included 94 students and collected a substance known of as IL-6 by using swabs to obtain saliva samples. IL-6 is a chemical that is produced in the body when dark or bad moods are present; when an individual has a positive mood, the chemical is at lower level. The researchers believe it is possible that IL-6 may be a contributing factor to conditions like heart disease and cancers.

So, the message from the researchers is, ‘Get Happy!’ The more positive emotions in your life the less IL-6 that released which is linked to bad moods.

Researchers recommend engaging in activities that will promote positive emotions such as:

  • Take a walk/run outside
  • Reminisce with a family member or friend
  • Spend more time with spouse/children/family/friends
  • Spend a night out with family/friends
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising often
  • Spend time with individual who facilitate positive emotions and limit time spent with persons who bring about negativity when possible

 

Dopamine

John Hawthorne, john@connex.digital,  shared that Dopamine is natures good feeling drug that is naturally released as a chemical and it is neurally transmitted. It does not just produce a moment of euphoria as it also helps to increase focus along with motivation. If your body is not correctly producing the right amount it can be seriously damaging. There are many different causes of Dopamine deficiency which I will explain in this article along with ways that you can naturally increase levels so you enjoy all the benefits.

The effects of having low dopamine levels can cause many major problems such as poor moods, sleeping disorder, low focus, attention span and many other problematic issues. If these are not dealt with then it can cause serious mental health problems such as depression which is why you need to make sure you have the optimum amount. With the correct amounts, you will become more content and happier. You will be able to focus for longer and think clearer at the same time which will greatly benefit your chosen career.

Symptoms Of Dopamine Deficiency
The symptoms of low dopamine levels are what you need to look out for as it may be the cause of serious health problems which you did not know the connection. For instance, if you have problems sleeping, low focus along with motivation, are constantly fatigued, gain weight easily, have restless legs and are addicted to sugar or caffeine, these could be the cause for you to have a dopamine deficiency which is causing all of these ailments.

Naturally Boosting Dopamine Levels
The best way of boosting your dopamine levels is by avoiding products which send them through the roof with a huge crash afterward. That means staying away from sugar and caffeine along with eating the right healthy foods to maintain a balanced level. Below are the top four ways of maintaining a healthy dopamine level along with the best ways to naturally boost levels.

#1: Stay Away From Sugar
The most common reason for dopamine deficiency is the addiction to sugar products such as Coca-Cola. These types of drinks are packed with sugar and dramatically boost your levels of Dopamine but this is only for a short space of time. Once the effects wear off you will suffer from a major crash that will make you very tired, unable to concentrate and make you moodier.

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SOCIAL MEDIA DRUG

College of DuPage Nursing Student Monika Buch poses the question, “Are you addicted to the internet?”

Social media addiction can be stronger than addiction to cigarettes and booze according to researchers at Chicago University after following an experiment in which they recorded the cravings of several hundred people for several weeks. In fact, Facebook addiction shows up in brain scans of those who can’t stay off the site, affecting grey matter in a similar way that cocaine does. Social media addiction is commonly referred to someone who spends way too much time than needed on their phones. Whether its facebook, instagram, google or twitter… they all fall into the internet/social media category.  Sometimes excessive use of these platforms affect someone so much they actually interfere with daily aspects of life. Even though there is not real diagnosis yet of internet addiction, it really is just the compulsion of having to go on the internet for whatever reason, even when it interferes with school or work.

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Place of birth may be related to your risk of dementia mortality

team group of happy child outdoor in nature have fun

College of DuPage Nursing Student Sadie Baker found that a study published in the journal, Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders in 2011, demonstrated a pattern between Americans aged 65-89 who were born in the ‘stroke belt’ states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama) with an increased rate of dementia-related mortality. The study’s findings were compared with individuals of similar age, sex, and race born outside of ‘stroke belt’ states. The geographic patterns of dementia related mortalities were in the same direction of, and comparable in magnitude, to the geographic patterns of stroke; the pattern of stroke earned these states the nickname, “stroke belt”. The authors note the increased diagnosis of dementia and Alzheimer Disease in the stroke belt compared with other states contributing to Alzheimer Disease that may affect the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer Disease, in addition to a contributing nutritional factor. Individuals who were born in this region may have experienced a higher incidence of poverty as children, thereby affecting nutritional adequacy.

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Teen Stress

College of DuPage Nursing Student Heather Bhatia shared that a recent study in Psychology Today reports an estimated 8% of adolescents have an anxiety disorder. This alarming statistic cited by the study author, Raychelle Cassada Lohman MS, LPCS attributes the higher than normal levels stress levels as compared to adults due primarily to academic expectations and activities.

From a teenager, high schooler perspective, the current fast-paced, competitive world can quickly become overwhelming. Teens face pressures at school from teachers and coaches, and at home from parents and family members, in addition to the social pressures from friends and peers. Most of all, teens have a tendency to expect a lot from themselves, contributing to their stress. It is easy for teens to compare themselves to their peers, especially given the easily accessible information such as honor roll status, grade point average, and the extensive use of social media and advertised accomplishments. Comparing oneself to others increase the negative self-perception in a teen who is lacking self-confidence, even if untrue.

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How to manage sibling rivalry

Advocate Children’s Hospital shared that for parents, there is no way around it. Having more than one child likely means one thing in your household; rivalry. And while all the bickering and competition may be irritating and stressful, rivalry is not such a bad thing when handled properly.

In fact, it can actually help build necessary lifelong skills and lead your kids to a healthier life.

No matter what the age difference, tension and conflicts tend to arise between siblings over a variety of things, ranging in severity.

“The way siblings handle these conflicts depends on several factors, but the most important is how they are taught by their parents to manage them,” says Dr. Joanna Lindell, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “If you can remember the acronym PEACE, these five tips may bring peace to your home, at least most of the time.”

P: Pick and choose which rivalries to leave alone and which ones to intervene on.

Typically, small squabbles should be left for siblings to try to resolve on their own. However, the second it starts to get emotionally abusive, like insulting remarks, and/or physically abusive, parents must quickly jump in and address the conflict.

E: Eliminate equality. While children think in terms of “fair” a lot, the world mostly does not. So the earlier kids are taught this concept, the more adaptable they can become.

Example: “Just because your older sister got a new back pack does not mean you have to have one.”

Explain reasons for things.

“She had hers for a long time and it is worn out, you just got a new one last year. But we can look at some new tennis shoes next week for you, since you’ve had yours for a while and they have holes in them.”

A: Alone one-on-one time with a parent is essential.

This “special” time (a lot of sources highly recommend using the word “special” a lot) will help build each parent-child relationship and decrease resentments.

The one thing every child wants more than anything is the attention of his/her parents and will tend to fight their sibling for it, unless it is given enough.

C: Comparisons; just don’t go there, especially in front of the other sibling.

This will only make one child feel worse about him or herself and the other one gloat. It’s not the best lesson to teach.

Additionally, if possible and appropriate, separate each sibling when intervening in these situations. This will allow you to listen to each child’s side, let them cool off, and deal with each at their developmental level.

E: Expectations; set them!

Kids do thrive on structure and rules, as much as they resist it. The clearer you can be on what is and is not appropriate, the better.

Practice the “hands-to-self” rule, encourage empathic behavior and responses and schedule family meetings to resolve disagreements, if necessary.

“Teaching your children PEACE is actually a good way to prepare them for life and for building relationships with others along the way,” adds Dr. Lindell.

• Children’s health is a continuing series. This week’s article is courtesy of Advocate Children’s Hospital. For more information, visit www. advocatechildrenshospital.com.

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Cyberbullying: Know the signs and how to keep your teen cyber-safe

Healthy Driven on line suggests that it may be a common scene at your house: your teen has her head buried in her phone. Gone are the days when a teens’ social life existed only in school hallways , the mall and friends’ houses. But as their social lives have moved online, so did a new kind of bully.Cyberbullies use the internet, cell phones, video game systems, or other technology to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. They so this by threatening, excluding, spreading rumors or tricking their victims.According to data from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), 43 percent of teens have been victims of cyberbullying in the last year.In some ways, cyberbullying can be more damaging than physical bullying. It can be harsher. People tend to be crueler online than they are face-to-face. It can be far reaching. With a few clicks, a bully’s message can reach the whole internet. What worse, cyberbullying has invaded the comfort and safety of our homes. And, your teen may not even know who the bully is.

How do you know if your teen is being cyberbullied? The biggest red flag is a withdrawal from technology. If you notice a sudden change in your teen’s computer or phone usage, talk to her. Kids who are being cyberbullied often feel too embarrassed to speak up.

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Shining the Spotlight on Surging Elderly Mental Illness

ShieldMySenior.com is a new resource for senior citizens and their caregivers. They realized there was no central resource for aging adults who were seeking to stay independent as long as possible. Their goal is to fill that void by offers some helpful suggestions.  One of them is that  elderly mental health is extremely important to a senior’s overall well-being. Unfortunately, many of today’s seniors are struggling to get adequate help and support. Physicians, caregivers, and family members should have concern for geriatric mental health issues

Mental illness in the elderly often gets confused with symptoms of aging. But, there are important differences that can signal a more serious mental health condition. Caregivers should understand the symptoms of mental illness and learn how best to support senior mental health.

PREVALENCE OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN TODAY’S SENIORS

All ages can suffer from mental health issues. But, those 55 or older are more at risk for mental health concerns than the younger population. In fact, 20% of people in this age range suffer from some type of mental health concern. Anxiety or depression are among the most common.

Men over 85 are most at risk for suicide than younger generations or women. Additionally, about 45 out of every 100,000 elders commit suicide, which is most often the result of an elderly mental health issue.

The facts are scary, and it gets more concerning as our population ages. By 2050, it’s estimated that the world’s elderly population will double its current size. This leaves more seniors susceptible to mental health issues.

THE BIG PROBLEM

The biggest problem with mental illness in the elderly is, perhaps, the things we don’t understand about it. There are often stigmas associated with mental health. For example, portrayals we see on television or in movies make those with mental illness seem frightening. This leads to a lack of desire to talk about mental illness, and instead, it gets swept under the rug.

Seniors, additionally, have to confront ageism. People often dismiss concerning behaviors in seniors as effects of aging. In reality, there are important differences between aging and elderly mental health concerns. Not knowing the differences can seriously affect a senior’s well-being.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MENTAL ILLNESS AND AGING

It’s true that some symptoms of mental illness and aging can overlap. But, it’s important to be aware of differences between age and an elderly mental illness. If symptoms aren’t caught early enough, a senior is at high risk for severe anxiety, depression, or even suicide.

Many seniors don’t feel comfortable speaking with their primary care physicians about their concerns. Instead, they fear their doctors downplaying their symptoms. Of those who do speak up, about 50% of mental health disorders in the elderly still go diagnosed.

Anxiety and depression are common in seniors. But, doctors frequently pass symptoms off as nothing more than normal aging. Early detection of mental health issues in seniors is vital to receiving proper care and treatment. Read more

Promoting Mental Health at Home

Molly Anderson has seen how important it is to address mental health issues before they take control. She truly believes it’s lifesaving to nurture our innermost selves before mental health conditions become debilitating, whether it’s something as common as stress and anger or something as complex as depression or suicidal thoughts.

As part of her work with Recovery Hope, she sent this article in order to offer insight and support for those who may be struggling.

There are all kinds of benefits to meditation, both physical and psychological. From reduced chronic pain to better cognitive function, meditating every day or even a few times a week is a wonderful way to boost your overall well-being and happiness. Creating the ideal space for your quiet reflection isn’t difficult, but there are specific elements you’ll want to include and others you’ll want to avoid. Let this be your guide to designing the perfect meditation room in your own home, and reap the most benefits from your meditation time.

Pick the right location

Naturally the first step is to choose a room. Make sure it’s a space where you feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment you walk in. Avoid using a home office or workspace so that no worries of unpaid bills, lingering deadlines, or upcoming projects can invade your peaceful state. If possible, you should also avoid rooms that are sleep-focused, like your bedroom or even in the living room near your favorite napping couch.

Your meditation room should be somewhere away from the house’s general traffic flow so that no matter when you’re meditating, you won’t be disturbed by passersby. Make it somewhere as isolated as possible, and be sure your family or roommates know it will be a special, quiet place where you shouldn’t be disturbed. If you live in an urban setting and just about every room carries noise from the outside world, pick the one that’s most quiet — ways to drown out external distractions will be discussed later on.

If possible, choose a room that offers a view of nature, whether it’s your backyard, the lake just beyond your neighborhood, or mountains in the distance. If you find water particularly soothing, you could pick a place that has an unobscured view of your pool. It could even be a small window that overlooks the giant oak tree in your neighbor’s yard. Just be sure that your perspective won’t be invaded by traffic — be it automobiles or people — that could be distracting and prevent you from finding the focus and tranquility you’ll need to meditate. Read more

The Lasting Effects of Bullying

College of Dupage Nursing Student Joyce Koenig reports that recent research indicates that the effects from bullying during childhood or adolescence may have detrimental effects lasting into adulthood. The effects from bullying extend beyond issues of self-esteem and include self-harm and academic failure, lasting, oftentimes long after the bullying has stopped.

Reports from three longitudinal studies; the Epidemiologic Multicenter Child Psychiatric Study in Finland, the Great Smoky Mountains Study in the US, and the National Child Development Study in the UK, demonstrated that adults who were bullied during childhood have higher rates of agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, panic disorder and suicide in their 20’s, and these effects may last into the 50’s. In addition, individuals experienced an increased risk for psychiatric hospitalization and the use of psychiatric medications, at rates comparable to those in foster care or victims of childhood trauma. According to the World Psychiatric Association, these conclusions, cannot be ignored. The findings do not allow causal inferences, however, the population involved separate cohorts from three countries, thus, the consistency of the results is compelling. Childhood IQ, parental socio-economic status and gender were accounted for in the studies. The cohorts were controlled for mental health problems during childhood, indicating bullying contributed to the mental health problems in adulthood. Read more