Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Methods For Beating Depression

Depression can feel overpowering at times. Medication can help, but it certainly does not do everything. So what else can you do? I suggest the following interventions to many of my patients. Try adding one or two at a time to see what helps.


Most of us just feel better if we are in an environment that is clean, organized and pleasing to the eye. Try to keep your main living areas tidy. If you are like me and have a husband, children and pets, that is not always easy. At least designate the area that you spend the majority of your time as a safe zone. Nobody can clutter your area.

Colors are another issue. White is very bland. If you have to have white walls, use other colors for your furniture, curtains and accessories to brighten it up. Behr has a brief little primer (forgive the pun) on colors for decorating
http://www.behr.com/behrx/inspiration/emotional_8.jsp. Another discussion of color is http://www.thespiritualfengshui.com/feng-shui-color.php Regardless of what these sites say, think about the colors you like. What makes you feel relaxed? Cheerful? What colors feel “institutional?” What feeling do you want people to get when they walk into a room? Many of us ponder this question when designing our nurseries, but not when we decorate the rest of the house.

It is also important to have balance. Blue, green and purple are calming but can make you feel over sedated. Yellow, red and orange are bright and energetic, but can overstimulate you if used too much. Think about the purpose of the room. You probably do not want your bedroom to have bright yellow or orange walls.

A third issue is lines. If your house has mainly harsh lines and square corners, it is less relaxing than if it has softer corners. Think about webpages. Do you perceive the page differently if the corners are rounded and softer? Valances, draperies and cornices all soften the harsh corners of windows. Tablecoths can soften edges of a table. Add rounded elements such as an oval mirror, have the corners in your picture matting rounded or scalloped. Additionally, a variety of depths and heights adds interest and attracts the eye. Again, cornices and drapes add “depth” to the window by setting it out from the wall a bit. Good picture frames really jazz up a picture when they add depth and interest.

Smell has extremely strong ties to memories. Aromatherapy can help you increase smells associated with good times and get rid of the wet-dog odor at the same time. Experiment with candles, soaps and shampoos, cleaners, potpourris and fabric softeners. Put a dryer sheet under your pillow while you are awake, so when you go to sleep your pillow smells dryer-fresh.

Finally, sunlight. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. Sunlight does wonders to help set our body clock and improve our moods. Open your curtains, go outside (wear sunscreen of course). Bright lightbulbs just do not have the same effect.

If you pay attention to your environment and make it pleasing to be in, you will feel more relaxed.


We all talk about adjusting our internal “clock” each time the time changes. We often fail to recognize ways we can use that “clock” to our advantage. When my son was young I learned that schedules and routines really helped him (and me). We started a 6pm dinner, 6:30 bath, 7pm story and 7:30 bedtime. Before I knew it, his body “expected” this routine. If I let him skip bath, it threw him all out of whack. So what does that have to do with depression? When people get depressed, they feel tired. They stay in bed all day and feel more tired. Their body has not gotten the “wake up and do something” cue. Likewise, they are in bed so much during the day, they have difficulty sleeping at night. Their body does not realize the day has passed. People who are prone to depression usually find it helpful to have some sort of morning and evening routine. It does not have to be super involved.

A morning routine might look like: Get up by 8am. Eat breakfast. Get dressed. Go out. The reason I have people go out is because if they stay at home they often do not get exposed to real sunlight which helps wake the body. Additionally, if you do not leave the house, it is very tempting to lay down on the couch and be a blob. Going out can mean go out for a walk, go work in the yard, go shopping whatever. An evening schedule would start with a routine dinner time. For my mother, that would be 9pm. It really does not matter when your routine starts as long as it works for you. So, dinner followed by some winding-down activity such as reading a book, watching television, taking a bath whatever, then bed. Try to go to bed around the same time every night, give or take an hour.

Eliminate, delegate and simplify!

Many of us get stressed out and overwhelmed by all of the things we have to do. We get exhausted just thinking about it. Make a list of all of those things. Go back over the list and highlight all of the things that cannot wait (pay the gas bill etc.). Look over all of the things that cannot wait and delegate as many as possible. Finally, simplify what is left. Do you need to make a 5 course meal, or can you cook a frozen pizza? Reducing some of the demands on you will help reduce your level of exhaustion and your depression.


In reality, most of us are not really going to change our eating habits, especially when we are depressed. Let’s be practical.

Drink water. Dehydration leads to feelings of fatigue and depression. If you cannot stand water, then try lemonade or some other non-caffeinated, no-sodium, non-carbonated drink.

Stop caffeine after 12pm. Caffeine stays in your system for 12 hours. Even though you don’t feel it as much anymore, it will still impair your sleep quality. Don’t do this cold-turkey. Wean down your after-lunch buzz over a period of a few weeks, so you don’t make yourself feel worse.

Eat carbohydrates. Ahhhh, music to my ears. Quality carbohydrates found in whole grains are theorized to be necessary for the production of serotonin (happy chemicals). People who are depressed do not have enough serotonin in their brain. This does not mean that gorging on carbs will make your feel better…at least not for long. It does mean however, that restricting yourself to less than 125grams of quality carbs a day will probably have a bad affect on your mood after a while. On the other hand, refined carbs (sugar) will goof around with your blood sugar leading to a “crash” and a sense of depression. The moral to the story, eat healthy, reduce sugar…everything you have heard a dozen times.


Yes, I could not write this article without talking about the “E” word. Exercise means movement. For most people, any movement is more that what they are currently doing. If you are just starting our, make exercise something you enjoy: playing with your kids or dog, going on a walk, gardening, rock climbing, bike riding, playing basketball…If you make it something you look forward to, you will be more likely to do it.

Exercise helps burn off the extra fatty acids released by your stress hormones, it helps get oxygen throughout your body and, when done with enough intensity and duration, can release endorphins---your body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

Finally, Change Your Thinking

A saying in AA is “Fake it until you make it.” If you walk around all gloomy, you will feel gloomy. If you walk with your head held high, try to find the good in things, smile and look happy, you will probably start to feel happy.

Nix the negativity. Try going for an entire day without being negative. Every time you start to have a negative thought, stop yourself and replace it with a positive one. Ask yourself, what is the silver lining to this?

Write a gratitude journal. Add to it every day. When you are feeling blue, review your journal

Commit random acts of kindness. Send a card for no reason. Make cookies for a neighbor. Whatever. If you give away kindness, kindness usually comes back (Oh, and you feel better too.)

Make a plan. If there is something in your life that you are depressed about, make a plan to change it. Ask yourself, if this problem was gone, what would be different? Once you have the answer, identify all of the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be.

Some people have biologically based depression and truly do need medication, but medication can only do so much. I have worked with many patients whose lifestyle and habits kept them depressed despite their medication. Once we started making small changes, they started feeling better.

About the Author: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes graduated from the University of Florida with a PhD in counseling, is a Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist and Children's Early Intervention Specialist. She worked for 10 years as a clinician/supervisor at a large mental health agency. She now runs an online practice
Doctor Is In and provides online training at All CEUs Both sites are managed by Data Triangle Webhosting and Data Recovery

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Friday, February 23, 2007

A Better Sleep Environment Can Help You Sleep

Whether you are aware of this or given it any thought or not, but your sleep environment can have a profound effect on the quality of your sleep.

Let’s take a look at some helpful tips that will help you get the most out of your sleeping time.

The Room Temperature –

Not only can the temperature of your room affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep but so can the humidity of the room as well. Ideally, your room should feel slightly cool when you first enter it. This will ultimately match more closely to that of your body when you are in the deep midst of your sleep.

This is not too difficult of a task if you are the only sleeper in the room. Needless to say adjusting the temperature is a different matter when another opinion in the ideal temperature is involved. If this is case, some testing and compromising will usually bring an equitable solution to all parties. In fact, sometimes just using a small fan on the side of the bed that likes a cooler temperature can work very well.

Noise Level –

Needless to say that a quiet environment is much more conducive to restful sleep than that of one that is not. It doesn’t matter what the source of the noise, any inconsistent or irregular noise can lead to inconsistency in your sleeping patterns.

There are adjustments that you can make to reduce the amount of noise in your sleeping environment. Many times a fan in the room makes for a great noise reducer. A fan (or anything that will produce a constant monotone noise) will many times offer enough insulation from erratic noise such as a dog barking or traffic that you’ll be able to get a good night’s rest.

Other techniques you can use would be to put heavier curtains on your windows, replace your windows with double or triple paned glass, or invest in some ear plugs.

Your Bedside Clock –

Don’t be a clock watcher and keep worrying about the fact that if you don’t fall asleep soon you’re going to be soooo tired. Set your alarm and then turn the clock away from you so you can’t crack an eye open and see the time… trust your body and your alarm to wake you at the proper time.

Sleep In A Good Bed –

The size of your bed and the type of mattress you are trying to sleep on does make a difference. Take the time to pick out a bed and a mattress that fits you and feels comfortable. A high quality mattress will certainly require a larger investment on your behalf, but in the long run, your sleep and your health is by far worth the up front investment… and don’t stop with your mattress either make sure you pick some new soft and comfortable pillows that you like as well… trust me… the sleep difference can be dramatic.

Train Your Body –

Sleep and sleep only in your bed. Don’t use your bed for paying the bills, or even constantly watching the television. Teach and train your body the bed is for sleeping not conducting other life’s tasks.

Lighting –

The darker the better for the body to sleep peacefully. If you work nights and have to get your sleep during the day take measures to darken your bedroom as much as you possibly can by using heavier window coverings.

Your sleep and subsequently you health is a very important matter. If you are having trouble sleeping at night; don’t just keep doing the same thing your doing with your sleep habits and your sleep environment. Make some of the aforementioned adjustments and tweaks and perfect your sleeping environment… you’ll be glad you did.

About the Author: Jeff Foster, for more important information on
sleeping be sure to visit www.sleep-good.com where you will helpful find advice and tips on sleep, sleep apnea, sleep insomnia and how you can start getting a good night's sleep.

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6 Steps To Stress Avoidance

I certainly agree with the author that a little stress can help us to function better while too much of it will do harm to us; both physically and mentally. Prevention is always better than cure. Wishing everyone great health.

Anything taken too much is bad for the health, and the long term effects of stress are well documented, which is why it is such an important area. As with everything in life prevention is always better than cure so I have provided 6 steps to help you avoid becoming stressful.

A little stress is actually good, as it could serve to help you function at your best. However, stress that seems a little too much could take a physical, as well as mental, toll to your body. Stress should be managed in order for depression or anxiety to be prevented.

I recommend you see a stress counselor if you think you may be suffering from stress but there are a few preventative things you can do for yourself:

Write it out, schedule it out.

Overwhelm is a result of having too much in your head to deal with so write it down, get it out of your head and down on paper.

You will find a things-to-do-list much easier to manage than having errands all crumpled up in your head. Writing down the tasks, and putting a specific schedule and time to do them, helps anyone manage activities one chunk at a time. Crossing out an activity that has already been accomplished is very rewarding and could actually help you feel more relaxed when doing the other tasks at hand.

One at a time works.

Focus and put all your attention specifically on one task at one time. It does not help to feel panicky about the other undone or to-do tasks. Thinking about them only adds unnecessary stress and could even hamper in doing the task you are attempting to accomplish at present. Just focus in on your one task, whether that task is spending time with the kids, or writing the next chapter of your book. Block time in your schedule for your most important tasks to ensure you experience balance.

Relax and take it slow.

At least, try not to expend too much energy on activities that are currently not priorities. This is in order for your energy to be not easily expended on the tasks that are not that important, at least for now.

Also spend time relaxing in between your work, just 2 minutes with your eyes closed standing out in the fresh air is enough to bring back mental alertness and to help you feel calmer. I recommend 10 minutes away from your desk every few hours. Taking this time for yourself will mean that you come back stronger and more focused. The longer you spend working without a break the more your effectiveness diminishes.

Delegate, delegate, delegate.

You really don’t have to do everything all at once and you definitely don’t have to do everything on your own. Get into the habit of asking for help, or paying for help. When there is a feeling of being overwhelmed that is cropping up, hire someone to mow the lawn or get a sitter for your children. The feeling of being pressed to finish something on time will somehow be eliminated if tasks are delegated. It takes a load off unnecessary worry and anxiety. Moreover, it is easier checking up on how things are, than worrying yourself sick doing everything on your own, all at once. Remember that delegating does not mean leaving someone to get on with it and forgetting about it, because if that person makes an error you end up feeling even more stressful. Make sure you check up on progress and let them know that they should ask you if they are unsure about anything.

Give yourself a reward.

You deserve it. Acknowledging your accomplishments, no matter how big or small, is an effort that is necessary before getting on to the next tasks and activities. It reduces stress and could even make you happier in doing the next task. Also, it is really easy to spend your time in the future, thinking about how wonderful life will be when you finally complete your task or goal. However, usually when we get there, there are no celebrations because we are on to the next “thing to do.” By giving yourself a reward (something that doesn’t cost anything is the best reward!) you acknowledge where you are at, that you have completed another step. And when you get to your final destination success tastes sweet!

Give yourself a break.

You need it to be more productive. A ten to fifteen minute break during your work is necessary. Go visit a café nearby, take a quick brisk walk, or do anything to put your mind off work, at least for a while. This is necessary to refresh and recharge. Believe it or not, you can also stay in your work and sit with your eyes closed as you visualize a peaceful landscape or a relaxing scene. This frees the stress from your muscles and your mind.

I recommend everyone take a full hour away from their desk, many people find this difficult to do but it is really essential if you want to avoid stress. Invite a work colleague to go with you or spend the time in quiet contemplation. If you need to set outlook to signal when you need to take an hour, or set your cell phone alarm to go off, then no matter what you are doing stop, get up, and walk away. I promise you that you will return with more energy and creativity than you left with!

I hope you enjoyed reading these six steps and that you will choose to take one and use today, taking action is the prime step towards stress avoidance, or if you are already feeling the effects of stress.

While a little of everything is good for us, too much of anything isn’t and it is always better to learn how to relax and avoid stress than it is to have to learn how to deal with overcoming it. Doing so makes you healthier, happier, and a lot more productive.

About the Author: Diane Corriette runs the Personal Growth Podcast Directory. Listen to inspirational and motivational podcasts. If you create podcasts in the self-improvement area why not submit them to

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

11 Symptoms Of Depression and How To Recognize Them

As what the author said, depression is a medical illness and it is important to recognize that and seek help. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It is like having a flu or cold. However, left untreated, depression can lead to suicide. Recently I watched a true life account on TV of a man who killed his son and committed suicide after that because of depression. It is sad to know such a thing happened as it was not only a tragedy to the person suffering from depression but also to people close to the person. I will like to wish everyone great health always.

Everyone feels "blue" at times. Life is full of highs and lows. But people with depression feel sad all of the time. Depression is a real medical illness. Left untreated, it can lead to other mental illnesses or even suicide. Real clinical depression is not something you can just shake off. You can't talk yourself into feeling better. It can interfere with your daily activities and can hurt the ones close to you. The first step in getting better is to recognize the symptoms and admit that you might have depression. Some people may have only a few of the following symptoms while some may have many.

Persistent sad mood or feeling empty.
Feelings of hopelessness.
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Loss of interest in favorite hobbies or things you once enjoyed
Loss of interest in sex.
Decreased energy.
Sleep disturbances, either sleeping too much or too little.
Inability to concentrate.
Overeating or not being able to eat.
Restlessness or irritability.
Thoughts of suicide.

Depression may also cause a wide variety of physical symptoms. People with depression often experience digestive disorders such as constipation, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Depressed people may also get frequent headaches and experience back pain. Anxiety attacks may also coincide with depression.

Women experience depression twice as often as men. Hormones can play a huge role in depression. Menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, post-partum period, miscarriage and menopause all can be contributing factors to depression. Women have additional responsibilities at work and at home and are usually the care giver for the children and sometimes aging parents. These stressors can lead to depression.

Men that are depressed often try to mask it with alcohol or drugs. They rarely admit to being depressed. Often times they will work excessively long hours to hide it. The rate of suicide in depressed men is four times that of women. Men often become angry, irritable and discouraged. They are less likely to seek help and are often harder to diagnose.

There are three major types of depression:

Major Depression.

This is a disabling depression that has a combination of the symptoms listed above. It interferes with one's ability to eat, sleep, work or enjoy pleasurable activities.


This is a less severe type of depression. It is not disabling, but generally keeps one from functioning well or feeling good. People with dysthymia will probably have a least one major depressive episode in their lives.

Bi-Polar Disorder.

It is sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder. It is characterized by severe high and severe lows. The cycles may happen rapidly or come on gradually. Left untreated it can worsen to a psychotic state.

If you experience any of the above symptoms and they last for longer than a couple of weeks you should seek medical treatment. There is no shame in admitting that you may have depression. It doesn't mean you are crazy or weak. People of all ages, race and gender can suffer from depression. With the right interventions, you can enjoy your life once again.

About the Author: Jean Morgan is the publisher of Beat Depression Today an informative ebook and self help package for anyone suffering from this illness. It is available from
Beat Depression Today Jean also has a blog at How I Beat Depression

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

5 Common Questions About Sleep Apnea

If you think you might be suffering from sleep apnea, the first step you take should be to consult with your doctor to get their informed opinion. If they feel it's necessary, they can send you for further testing to help determine what form of sleep apnea you may suffer from, and how severe it is.

If you think you might be dealing with it, it's wise to know a little about it before you visit the doctor so you better understand what they tell you. Here are 5 of the most common questions about sleep apnea.

1. What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing for between 10 and 60 seconds during sleep. These "apnea events" take place as many as 300 to 400 times a night. Some people wake up when this happens while others don't.

Those sufferers who wake up many times over the course of a night end up tired during the day and can suffer from other side effects like irritability, headaches and lack of concentration.

2. What Are the Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

There are 3 types of sleep apnea - central, obstructive and mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea - or OSA - is the most common, affecting about 90% of the people who suffer from the condition.

In OSA, something blocks the trachea (the windpipe) and doesn't allow air to flow to and from the lungs. The blockage can be due to excess weight or excessive muscle relaxation in the throat and neck.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is related to the brain and its control of the central nervous system. With this type, the brain doesn't send the proper signals to the muscles that are used to breathe. CSA is a rare form of the disorder.

The third type - mixed sleep apnea - is actually a combination of the other two forms but has more in common with OSA.

3. How Common Is Sleep Apnea?

It's estimated that between 18 and 20 million Americans suffer from one form or another of sleep apnea. It's more common in men than women and is most common in people over 40 years old.

4. How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea are loud snoring, extreme tiredness and/or lack of concentration during the day and stoppage of breathing in the night. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, your doctor can send you for a test called a polysomnograph which will help determine whether you are dealing with sleep apnea.

5. Is Sleep Apnea A Dangerous Condition?

If it isn't properly treated, sleep apnea can ultimately lead to other, more serious conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

Because of the increased drowsiness and lack of concentration brought on by lack of rest, sleep apnea sufferers are also at a higher risk for car accidents and/or workplace accidents.

About the Author: Rudy Watkins offers information about effective
sleep apnea cures on the Apnea Guide website. For more information and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit http://www.apneaguide.com

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Getting Back To Sleep... Again! By Jeff Foster

It’s 2:00 AM in the morning and you are wide wake wondering if getting back to sleep again will ever happen! You lay in the bed, aimlessly starring at the ceiling. You close your eyes. Nothing. You can’t sleep. You roll over, punch your pillow, and take a deep breath. You close your eyes again. Nothing; what now?

If this scenario seems to match your nightly routine then you need these tips. First off, get up! Get up, get out, and get moving.

Of course this seems like it would be doing the opposite of what you’re actually trying to accomplish but in reality, it’s getting your mind moving. By turning your mind back on it’s like you’re awake again. Once awake, your mind will begin to slow down until eventually you’re tired again and you can softly drift off to sleep... again.

When you get up, it’s also important that you don’t turn on bright lights or do anything which would need too much brain power (school or work related things). Instead turn on a dim lamp and read an uneventful book (one you’ve previously read or even a manual).

Don’t turn on the TV either. It could over-stimulate your brain and wake you up too much. Try turning on the radio instead. Definitely don’t get on the computer…the blue light from the screen can definitely jazz up your brain and there goes another sleep-filled night.

Other tips for insomnia are to practice meditation or visualization. Imagine something repetitive, like sheep jumping over a fence again and again and again. This keeps your brain from wandering and eventually you’ll be back asleep.

If that doesn’t work then another tip for insomnia is to have a light snack. Sometimes if you’re hungry, your stomach will keep waking you up until you give into its desire for food. Are there foods that can help reduce insomnia?


It will help if you eat something with the natural reactant serotonin in it; such as milk, fruit, crackers, turkey, peanuts, or other type of nuts. It’s much easier to fall asleep with something in your stomach.

If that still doesn’t do the trick then try going to bed later. There is nothing worse than forcing yourself to be tired, when it is clear that you’re not. So go ahead, stay up a little later, but do something to “wind down” like yoga or light reading.

If none of these suggestions for getting back to sleep work then your final hope would be to adjust the temperature of your room. If you’re body is too hot you’ll wake up to kick off blankets or something but at the same time, if it’s too cold then you could wake up being chilled; enough to even keep you up for many hours. So go get a blanket, turn on a fan, or readjust your thermostat.

Take a deep breath. Relax.

Getting back to sleep doesn’t have to be hard; it’s as easy as closing your eyes.

Read also Plan for Better Sleep, Advice on Natural Sleep and Natural Sleep Products, Stress-Less Sleep: Mind-Body Medicine You Can Use Tonight

About the Author: For more important information on getting a good night's
sleep be sure to visit www.sleep-good.com where you will find advice and tips on sleep habits insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, and more.

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