Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Depression is a mental illness that affects many different people, but is common among the aging population. Feelings of hopelessness, physical discomfort and a loss of energy often accompany depression and may be a sign that something is not right. Recognizing symptoms of depression may help a person to seek professional treatment for their illness and regain the healthy mind and life they once had. It can be easy for an older adult to miss the signs that they may be experiencing depression; some people may think the emotional and physical problems they are going through are just part of aging.
Depression can not only disrupt a person’s emotional state, it can hinder their physical health as well. Seniors that suffer from depression are not able to enjoy life and may notice difficulty with their sleep, having enough energy to get through the day and lack a good appetite.
Some of the symptoms that seniors may experience if they are suffering from depression are:
• Obvious lack of energy and easy fatigue
• Body and muscle aches
• Loss of memory
• No longer interested in activities that once brought joy
• Hygiene neglected
• Social withdrawal and not wanting to leave home
• Moves and speaks slower than normal
• Inability to maintain healthy sleep pattern
• Feelings of worthlessness
• Alcohol or drug abuse
• Suicidal or fantasizes about death
Although it is common to have feelings of sadness or despair when suffering from depression, it is not a regular symptom seen in seniors or elderly that are depressed. The two major signs of depression are increasingly bad headaches and physical pains.
A person can experience depression at any age and during any time in their life. Often certain experiences or triggers may place a person at risk for developing depression. Many seniors are experiencing the loss of friends and loved ones, decreasing health and memory an a whole new set of fears they have never considered. Increased isolation and feelings of loneliness or limited abilities can also contribute to the onset of depression in aging adults.
Some people may choose to use certain supplements to help prevent and treat depression symptoms. St Johns Wort, omega 3 fatty acids and folic acid may be beneficial for the elderly who suspect they are suffering from depression and do not want to use anti depressant medications.
If a person suspects they (or a loved one) may be suffering from depression, they should seek medical care and speak to a trusted healthcare provider about their concerns.
Thursday, July 17th, 2014
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disorder that can cause a person to experience impairment in social, behavioral and mental functioning. Many who suffer from ASD may have difficulty communicating or interacting with other people and shows a significant amount of symptoms. Because these symptoms can vary (sometimes greatly) between people, the disorder is diagnosed on a ‘spectrum’. Regardless of severity a child with ASD will have repetitive behaviors and will show signs of difficulty communicating and interacting socially. Odd behaviors or impairment may become more apparent as the child is around other children the same age.
This could look like:
• The inability to make eye contact
• Hyper focusing on a certain toy or activity
• Obsession with certain subjects or objects
• Angry or erratic when independent activity is interrupted
• Cannot interact with others
• Being withdrawn and indifferent around others
• Difficulty listening or responding to others
• A lack of reaction
• Repetitive motions with hands or feet and walking patterns
• Desire for exact schedule pattern every day
• Easily over stimulated
This could be because ASD makes it difficult for a child to pick up on social cues that other children are able to easily understand. Often times facial gestures and sarcasm are not discernable to a child who suffers from autism. This can contribute to their inability to properly respond or mimic social interactions. Sometimes a child with ASD may have a very monotone way of speaking and may not have very many facial expressions.
Autism if often first noticed in early childhood, during the time a child is developing. The inability to reach pediatrician described milestones and communicate as other children do may be a sign of ASD.
Although it is still unknown what exactly causes a person to develop autism, many professionals agree it may have a something to do with a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Research has found that certain genes may be present in those that have ASD; an autistic child may have a greater chance of having an autistic sibling. Boys may also have a higher risk of being diagnosed with ASD. When a child is screened for Autism Spectrum Disorder they are first reviewed by a health care provider to determine the severity of their symptoms. If the lack of development is suspected to be effected by ASD, the doctor will be evaluated by a special group of physicians who specialize in the disorder. Many children can be diagnosed during the first two years of their life, though some parents may not be aware of the symptoms until the child is older. If a parent suspects their child may be struggling developmentally, it may be beneficial to seek professional guidance.
Thursday, July 10th, 2014
PMS stands for premenstrual symptoms and describes the discomfort many women experience leading up to and during the first day or two of their monthly menstruation period. Some professionals believe PMS is caused by hormone changes that naturally occur in the female body or from chemical changes in the brain. (Or a combination of both!) A person that suffers from a depression or anxiety disorder may experience heightened symptoms. A bad diet and sedentary lifestyle can also aggravate the body, creating less manageable symptoms. Not all women will experience the same symptoms and the severity may differ as well. Research has found that almost 75% of all women will experience PMS, though only a fraction will suffer severe symptoms that cause difficulties with their every day life. Symptoms can include:
• Mood swings (anger, anxiety, crying, withdrawl)
• Emotional sadness and irritability
• Breast pains and sensitivity
• Food cravings for carbohydrates or loss of appetite
• Inability to concentrate
• Bloating and fluid retention
• Sleep disturbances
• Joint and muscle soreness
• Diarrhea or constipation
Natural herbal supplements and remedies may help to alleviate PMS symptoms. These should be used in conjunction with regular exercise and an increase in calcium consumption while maintaining a diet low in refined sugar and sodium. Limiting alcohol and caffeine can also help some women with their physical symptoms. Sometimes the consumption of certain meats and dairy can offset a woman’s hormone levels.
The supplements include:
• Evening Primrose oil (helps with breast sensitivity)
• Black Cohosh
• Chaste Tree extract or Chasteberry (may limit prolactin production and help with breast sensitivity, cramping and bloating)
• Ginko Biloba (helps with mood swings and breast sensitivity)
• St. John’s Wort (helps with depressing feelings)
• Dandelion Leaf (helps with bloating)
• Vitamin B6
• Raspberry Leaf
Some people may require a more intense for of treatment for their PMS symptoms, and may turn to modern medicine for help. Certain drugs are available to help with overwhelming symptoms. These may include:
• Anti depressants (SSRIs) to adjust chemical secretions in the brain and change serotonin levels.
• Nonsteroidal anti inflammatories
• Birth control pills
• Hormone Therapy
• Depo Provera injection to halt ovulation
Herbal supplements may affect a person’s hormones and chemical balance and interfere with certain medications. A trusted medical provider should be contacted before any supplementation is used or if you feel your symptoms are out of control and cannot be managed independently.