Month: April 2018

How Stress Affects Your Health

How Stress Affects Your Health

Do you often feel stressed? Do you struggle to cope with your workload? Are you constantly rushing or struggling to get things done? If you answered yes to the above, you may be putting your health at serious risk. When an individual experiences stress, an area of the brain known as the hypothalamus releases stress hormones, in order to prepare the body for “fight or flight”. This is an evolutionary mechanism, and can be helpful in some cases where we may need to act quickly such as if there is an immediate threat, however if this is happening regularly this can be extremely detrimental to your health.
So, what are the potential health risks of chronic stress?
Increased Risk of Cardiac Problems:- Over time, the increased heart rate caused by stress hormone effects can cause high blood pressure, and heart problems such as heart attacks.Insomnia:- Stress hormones make you feel naturally more alert, which can be useful if you need energy to respond to a threat, however if an increased amount is released each day it can lead to sleep disturbances such as insomnia.High Blood Sugar:- Stress causes extra glucose to be released by your liver, which over time can lead to high blood sugar levels and even type 2 diabetes.Stomach Problems:- Stress affects your body’s digestive system, which can lead to stomach aches, nausea and diarrhoea.Low Sex Drive:- A combination of stress and the fatigue that accompanies it can affect your libido and performance in the bedroom (including problems such as erectile dysfunction).Muscle Pain:- Constant stress makes muscles tense up, and over time can lead to tension headaches and backaches.Fertility Problems:- An imbalance of hormones can not only reduce or even stop periods, but makes both men and women less fertile.Poor Mental Health:- While chronic stress itself can have detrimental effects, left unresolved it can lead to more severe mental health diagnoses, such as depression.
So, how can you reduce stress?
Seek professional advice and guidance regarding ways to deal with stress and addressing the route of these feelings.Reduce your workload by letting go of commitments that you cannot manage or asking for more time from your employer.Unload; let family and/or friends know you are struggling, and suggest ways that they may help you.

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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How To Know If You Have Depression; 5 Signs That Suggest You May Be Depressed

How To Know If You Have Depression; 5 Signs That Suggest You May Be Depressed

Depression affects millions of people every year in the UK, and can range from mild to very severe – but how do you know you are experiencing depression? Depression can appear at times much like being in a sad or low mood, however it differs from general sadness in a number of important ways. It is often difficult to determine exactly why an individual may experience depression, and it can happen to anyone at any time, however there may also be obvious events which trigger depressive episodes such as the death of a loved one, unemployment, or injury. However, depression can also appear to come out of nowhere and no one is immune, no matter how perfect their life may seem from the outside. So, how can you tell if what you are experiencing is depression? And where do you go from there?
The DSM-V criteria for depression goes into a lot of detail about the specific criteria for depression. However, symptoms can display themselves very differently in different individuals, therefore we suggest seeking guidance or advice if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms either a) consistently for 2 or more weeks, or b) over and over again for a few days at a time.
1. Loss of Interest/Pleasure
Have you lost interest in the things you normally enjoy? Are you experiencing a notable lack of pleasure in your daily life? Do you find tasks that you used to relish boring or tedious? If you answered yes to any of these you may be experiencing depression, especially if this lasts over several days or weeks. If your motivation is significantly reduced or you find yourself dropping out of plans you would usually look forward to this may be a sign that you are depressed. All of us experience a lack of motivation sometimes, and our interests can change over time, however there is a difference between this and losing interest in everything. Don’t ignore the signs – speak up about how you are feeling and consider that this may be a sign of depression.
2. Unexplained Lack of Energy
Although it is one of the most common symptoms of depression, many people tend to ignore or dismiss feelings of tiredness or lack of energy as unimportant. In reality, the opposite is true. If you are feeling continually tired despite getting enough sleep, or get home and feel exhausted after doing very little, this could be one of the first signs that you are experiencing depression. In fact, many of those who go to their doctors complaining of fatigue do not realise they are depressed, but after careful consideration end up receiving a diagnosis for depression. If this sounds like you, consider why you may be feeling this way.
3. Continuous Low Mood (Feeling Isolated, Lonely or Lost)
The most obvious sign of depression is a low mood, however it is also very often overlooked due to a lack of understanding. If you are feeling down every day, or almost every day, for a long period of time ask yourself; when was the last time I felt truly happy? This is an important thing to consider for everyone but if you realise that you can’t remember the last time this could be a huge warning sign. Depression may feel just like a low mood, but is often described as “un-escapable” and tends to be continuous with a general absence of happiness. Low mood can range from feeling down, isolated or lonely to more extreme feelings such as suicidal thoughts; however all may be considered symptoms of depression.
4. Problems Sleeping
When experiencing depression, many individuals note that they find it difficult to fall asleep or maintain sleep. Some common symptoms of depression are broken sleep patterns, insomnia, disruptive thoughts and sleep disturbances (e.g. night terrors). Combined with a lack of energy this may also indicate a purely sleep related disorder, however there is a huge amount of crossover with depression and sleep disorders are quite commonly thought to be caused by psychological distress.
5. Feelings of Worthlessness and/or Inappropriate Guilt
Feeling guilty when you have done something wrong is completely normal and healthy, however often when individuals are depressed they can become overly critical of themselves, assigning blame where it is not necessary. If you are consistently feeling worthless or guilty, consider if this is appropriate to the situation. If it were someone else would you treat them so harshly? If the answer is no, then perhaps you are experiencing a symptom of depression.
If you feel that any of the above may apply to you, here’s what you can do.
Talk to someone; be it your friend, neighbour, sister, brother, GP or one of the Dr Julian therapists. Online therapy and using video link therapy has been shown to be equally as effective at dealing with depression as in room therapy.Do some research; inform yourself on depression – the signs and symptoms and what to do if you’re feeling depressed.

Don’t give up! Remember, depression is very common and most people recover with the appropriate help – you’re not alone.www.dr-julian.com

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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Your Brain On Chocolate

Your Brain On Chocolate

As the long weekend comes to a close, most of us will admit that we have overindulged in sweet treats, but there’s no need to fear just yet – recent research suggests that chocolate may actually have some amazing benefits for your mood and cognitive health. As if you needed another reason to indulge in one more chocolate egg…
A recent review by Socci and colleagues from the University of L’Aquila, Italy, found that cocoa and cocoa-derived products had many health benefits, including reducing the risk of cognitive decline and improving and retaining areas such as memory, attention and processing speed. This is thought to be because chocolate and other cocoa-products provide a rich source of flavanoids, a group of metabolites which appear to have positive effects on brain functioning. Foods such as dark chocolate, blueberries and lettuce are high in flavanoids, as well as antioxidants which can reduce ageing.
Although it is unclear how and why flavanoids have such an effect, research suggests at consistent improvements in cognitive performance and cardiovascular function in those who were given a cocoa supplement compared with those who were given a placebo. These findings suggest that cocoa may in future be used as a protective tool for individuals at risk of cognitive decline, as it appears to be a low-risk treatment, which is cheap and relatively accessible.
So, before you beat yourself up about eating too much this Easter, consider that you may have actually done your brain a favour (even if your waistband isn’t thanking you right now)

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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Mental Health & Seniors Living In Care Facilities

Mental Health & Seniors Living In Care Facilities

There’s a common misconception that mental health isn’t something that impacts older people when the truth is that it can and does. When an older person ends up in a care home because they can no longer cope alone, their mental health and wellbeing can take a huge hit. That’s why it’s so essential that care facilities take the mental health of their residents seriously because otherwise, they can struggle when it comes to their wellness.
Studies have shown that nearly 6.5 million US seniors suffer from depression, with seniors who live independently having the lowest risk of depression. Whereas, four out of five seniors with depression live in care facilities. Despite these statistics, depression and other mental health problems in seniors are often overlooked.
To better understand what causes mental health problems in seniors and steps that can be taken to prevent them, have a read of the guide below. If you’ve got a parent or loved one in a care facility, this kind of advice can be incredibly useful.

What impacts mental health in seniors?
Research has suggested that like in younger people with depression, if older people stay physically active, socialize and are kept mentally engaged, their mental health tends to improve. The issue comes when a care facility does not care for a senior in the way that they deserve, failing to look after them with the dignity that they require. When this kind of mistreatment occurs, it can have a serious impact on the person’s mental health and wellbeing, in addition to their physical health. For this reason, many families of older people who receive poor quality care choose to contact an elder care attorney, to protect their loved one’s rights.
What can be done to prevent mental health problems in seniors?
While we commonly don’t think of food being linked to mental health, the truth is that various studies have, in fact, found that food does link to mental health. Not eating enough of the right foods, such as fruits and vegetables can increase Alzheimer’s risk, for instance. While not eating enough omega-3 rich foods is linked to mood swings and schizophrenia. Processed foods have been found to negatively impact mental health due to the trans fats that they contain, having an impact on hormones within the brain that create happiness.
Another way that mental health in seniors can be improved is by ensuring that they get plenty of time to socialize. This not only includes socializing with people their own age but also with the whole family, especially with younger relatives such as grandchildren or great-grandchildren. According to experts in senior mental health, socialization is the key to being happier in later life, which is why it’s so vital that seniors have plenty of chances to socialize, even when living in care facilities.
Pet therapy is a form of therapy that studies have shown has the potential to be highly effective when it comes to preventing and managing mental health problems. Due to the amazing results seen in pet therapy studies, various care facilities have begun using pet therapy as a regular part of their schedule, to help prevent mental health problems and make life more enjoyable for the seniors in their care.
Mental health problems are far more common in seniors living in care facilities than in seniors living independently, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the case. When a senior is given the opportunity to take steps to look after their mental health, it becomes easier to prevent these problems from occurring.

Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed

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