Saturday, December 6, 2008

Meditation and Controlling Anxiety/Depression

A fantastic technique that has been getting increasingly more attention as of late in Western culture and psychology is meditation. Meditation, when done properly, can help to alleviate stress, anxiety, and even depression.

Medition helps you become aware of your thoughts and realize that you can control them for your benefit. Realizing that you are the "awareness" of your mind and thoughts, and not your thoughts themselves, is a major step in removing negativity in your life and getting rid of negative thought patterns that lead to depression and anxiety. It takes practice, and at first is incredibly difficult to perform correctly, but the more you practice it, the more in tune with your thoughts and mind you become, and you become ever increasingly better at controlling depression and anxiety symptoms.

Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference. It is recognized as a component of almost all religions, and has been practiced for over 5,000 years. It is also practiced outside religious traditions. Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and/or psychophysical practices which may emphasize different goals -- from achievement of a higher state of consciousness, to greater focus, creativity or self-awareness, or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.



Even a simple ten or fifteen minute breathing meditation can help you to overcome your stress and find some inner peace and balance.

To start, one should begin with basic breathing meditation and work your way up to more advanced techniques over time.

The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practising a simple breathing meditation. We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit in a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy.

The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid.

We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.

At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier; but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath. We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.
Benefits of Meditation

If we practice patiently in this way, gradually our distracting thoughts will subside and we will experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Our mind will feel lucid and spacious and we will feel refreshed. When the sea is rough, sediment is churned up and the water becomes murky, but when the wind dies down the mud gradually settles and the water becomes clear. In a similar way, when the otherwise incessant flow of our distracting thoughts is calmed through concentrating on the breath, our mind becomes unusually lucid and clear. We should stay with this state of mental calm for a while.

Even though breathing meditation is only a preliminary stage of meditation, it can be quite powerful. We can see from this practice that it is possible to experience inner peace and contentment just by controlling the mind, without having to depend at all upon external conditions.

When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises from within. This feeling of contentment and well-being helps us to cope with the busyness and difficulties of daily life. So much of the stress and tension we normally experience comes from our mind, and many of the problems we experience, including ill health, are caused or aggravated by this stress. Just by doing breathing meditation for ten or fifteen minutes each day, we will be able to reduce this stress. We will experience a calm, spacious feeling in the mind, and many of our usual problems will fall away. Difficult situations will become easier to deal with, we will naturally feel warm and well disposed towards other people, and our relationships with others will gradually improve.

I will post more on this topic soon. Remember, this is not a religious oriented practice. You can be of any faith and practice meditation, and it will allow you to lead a more fulfilling life, spiritual or otherwise.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Top 5 Natural Depression Fighters


After getting a lot of positive feedback about the "working out depression" article, I decided to create a list of the top 5 best depression-fighting supplements. While there's no cure yet, we can still the fight the beast pretty damn hard. Keep that attitude in mind and stick in there! I'll try to go through these quickly.

Before I st
art - Let it be known that I have clinical depression with general anxiety disorder and have personally tried all of these.


5.)
Acetyl-l-Carnitine
I placed this one in last place not because it doesn't work, but because it doesn't work as well as some of the others on the list. Acetyl-l-Carnitine can lift mood and enhance mental acuity. It can also raise your metabolism (very slightly). The acetyl group is also used to produce acetylcholine, an important brain chemical.

Kick-Ass Rating: 5/10

Take 300mgs at least once daily.


4.)
B-Vitamins
B-Vitamin
s work very well for some people, and not so much for others. Specifically, B6, Folate, and B-12 are the key B-Vitamins that can produce positive results towards fighting depression. Many people suffering from depression are severely deficient in these vitamins and their addition to your diet may give you a mild mood boost.

Kick-Ass Rating: 6/10

Take at least 200% Daily Value of B6,B12, and Folic Acid (Folate) via food or supplement form.



3.)
5-HTP/Tryptophan
These are some of the big-boys of the depression fighters. They have proven their effectiveness in study after study. I group these two together because they are basically the same supplement; regardless of which one you take, it is converted into serotonin in your body.

Serotonin deficiency is widely regarded to be the cause of depression, as studies have shown that clinically depressed patients have severely low levels of this neurotransmitter. Almost all pharmaceutical antidepressants work by inhibiting the re-uptake of serotonin in the brain, allowing more free floating serotonin to circulate-thereby relieving depression. They do not introduce new serotonin to the brain, however, so taking 5-HTP in supplemental form will add the much needed serotonin to your brain and can alleviate the symptoms of depression without taking the prescription medications. I take 5-HTP every night before bed not only for the anti-depressive effects, but because it also doubles as a great sleep aid. I highly recommend it.

Kick-Ass Rating: 8/10

Start off taking 50mg a day and work your way up to a dose that works for you.


2.)
SAMe
SAMe is an excellent depression-fighter and has so many great health benefits that you should be taking it regardless of whether or not you even have the condition. I'm just going
to list out its benefits to make this simper.
-Promotes cartilage proteoglycans - Great for joints and even arthritis.
-Improves liver health by detoxing the body through a process called enzymatic transmethylation
-Increases levels of serotonin, dopamine, and phosphatides - Fighting depression
-Improves dopamine and serotonin receptor site binding - Further fighting depression
-It can even reduce disease activity, pain, and morning stiffness!

Clearly you can see how great of a supplement this is to have in your arsenal against depression.

Kick-Ass Rating: 9/10

Take 200mg/day and adjust dosage if you see fit.

1.)
Exercise!
You guessed it- exercise is a fantastic way to maintain normal hormone and neurotran
smitter levels to keep you feeling good. Working out often increases the levels of endorphins (feel-good chemicals) in your brain, which in turn keeps you feeling happier. Exercise can improve the symptoms of several mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, and may also help prevent a relapse after treatment for either of the two. Research suggests that it takes AT LEAST 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least 3-5 days a week to improve depression symptoms. Smaller amounts of exercise such as 10-15 minutes at a time can improve mood in the short term. Exercise has been a godsend for me, as working out has really improved my mental (and physical) health in the long run.

Exercise can also help give you the motivation and discipline you need to get in shape and press on through depression. Just stick to it, and you'll see results.


Runners-Up: St. Johns Wort, Fish Oil, Multivitamin

Last but not least, always remember to eat healthy and get all your vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet can go a LONG way to alleviate depression. Its always a good idea to throw in a multivitamin into your diet as sometimes its hard to get all the nutrients you need every day.

All of the supplements listed can be purchased off of bodybuilding.com with a bonus $10.00 off your $200 order using my coupon code 10off200.


Now get out there and kick some ass!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Working Out Depression

Depression seems to have turned into an epidemic. New federal studies indicate that teenage depression is on the rise now more than ever. According to Reuters,

More than 2 million U.S. teenagers have suffered a serious bout of depression in the past year, including nearly 13 percent of girls, according to a federal government survey released on Tuesday. On average, 8.5 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 described having had a major depressive episode in the previous year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported.

Depression is the leading cause of suicide, which in turn is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds in the United States.


Clearly this is a major problem in our country. There are many treatments for depression available, but I'm going to discuss options that can be used in addition to doctor-prescribed pharmaceuticals.
Here are some of the best natural treatments available:
(in no particular order)



1.)Fish Oil


In 1996, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study comparing the prevalence of depression across ten nations. The survey yielded eye-opening results in showing how the lifetime and annual rates for depression vary widely from country to country (eg 1.5 in every 100 adults in Taiwan experience depression in their lifetimes while the figure is 19 for every 100 adults in Beirut). A 1998 study published in The Lancet compared this data with fish consumption, finding the higher consuming populations experienced less depression.

A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry compared similar cross-national epidemiological data - this time involving bipolar disorder - and seafood consumption, again finding a strong correlation.

The working ingredient of fish oil is omega-3, a polyunsaturated fatty acid which is also found in certain plants such as flaxseed, pumpkin seed, and walnuts. According to Joseph Hibbeln MD of the NIH, who authored the two fish-consumption studies: "In the last century, [Western] diets have radically changed and we eat grossly fewer omega-3 fatty acids now. We also know that rates of depression have radically increased by perhaps a hundred-fold."

One study of 20 people with persistent depression reported that taking 1 gram of EPA twice a day improved response to standard antidepressant medication.

We eat far greater amounts of other damaging fatty acids. A healthy diet should provide for at least five grams daily of essential fatty acids, divided between omega-3 and omega-6.

A good option would be to eat salmon (which has the most omega-3s of all fish) several times a week, or purchase a fish oil supplement off of a site like bodybuilding.com to take daily.


2.) Folate (Vitamin B9)

Studies suggest that folate may be associated with depression more than any other nutrient. Between 15% and 38% of people with depression have low folate levels in their bodies and those with very low levels tend to be the most depressed. Having low levels of folate may also affect treatment; some studies report that people with folate deficiencies tend to respond less effectively to the SSRI, fluoxetine, than those with normal amounts of folate. Therefore, folate supplementation (typically between 400 and 800 mg) may be useful in both treating depression and assuring the appropriate effects of some antidepressant medications.


3.) S-Adenosinemethionine (SAMe)

Some studies suggest that the dietary supplement SAMe may be just as effective as tricyclic antidepressants for treating depression, but with fewer side effects. SAMe appears to boost serotonin levels in the brain - the same effect pharmaceuticals give you


4.) Exercise!

Exercise has long been touted as a way to maintain physical fitness and help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. A growing volume of research shows that exercise can also help improve symptoms of certain mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Exercise may also help prevent a relapse after treatment for depression or anxiety.

Research suggests that it may take at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least three to five days a week to significantly improve depression symptoms. But smaller amounts of activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — can improve mood in the short term.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

E-Cigarettes




As an ex-smoker, when I first heard about electronic cigarettes I was intrigued. Mabye it was the nicotine cravings that persuaded my conscious, but regardless, I gave in and ordered a "Gamucci" e-cigarette system.

Now this IS a health and finance blog, and I'm going to explain to you why buying one of these electronic cigarette systems makes perfect sense for both your body and your wallet. But first, lets take a look at how they work.

The E-Cig that I ordered is called the Gamucci. Gamucci is an e-cigarette that looks, feels and tastes like a real cigarette but doesn’t hurt you, the ones around you or the environment. It’s a rechargeable device that uses sophisticated micro-electronic technology to deliver a true smoking experience, only without the tobacco smoke and tar that contain over 4.000 toxins. It contains water, propylene glycol, nicotine and tobacco scent and, instead of exhaling smoke, you exhale harmless vapors. So your body receives all the nicotine it craves but without all the other nasty stuff, it’s a dream come true and best of all you can legally smoke it indoors.

One rechargeable Gamucci cartridge is the equivalent of 20 cigarettes and the device’s battery lasts a whole day, when used with normal use (whatever that means).

So there's no lung cancer risk, no tobacco, no tar. Sounds pretty good for all the smokers out there who don't want to die a painful death from lung cancer. This better be all of you.

I found a video on youtube created by the Gamucci company to explain how the E-Cig works. You can watch it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E18jmMNUBdM



Well obviously you should be able to see by now how this benefits your health, but how does this help me financially?

The answer is simple. It's actually cheaper in the long run to smoke E-Cigarettes than the real thing!

The average smoker spends a lot of cash of cigarettes every week, and when you compare the prices for the cartridges to cigarette packs, the cartridges (which contain 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine) come out less expensive. Check it out for yourself at http://www.gamucci.com



Not even to mention the fact that you now will no longer have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for chemotherapy and hospitalization for lung cancer.

Up and Running

I just added 12 ebooks you can check out regarding various topics in health and finance. I'll be adding more on a consistent basis from here on out. These will serve as an added bonus to my articles. If you have any requests for ebooks or information on a certain topic, feel free to email me at akiriluk@gmail.com

I'm working on a couple posts at the moment, so check back soon for more updates.