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Category Archives: Mental Health
Living a healthy lifestyle requires making smart choices throughout the day. For example, choosing fruit over chocolate for a snack, taking the stairs instead of an escalator, planning out meals ahead of time and setting aside time for exercise are all little things that will have a positive impact. However, one element of health that could get overlooked among all these decisions is sleep. There’s no doubt that Americans don’t get enough – the CDC reported in 2012 that one-third of the population is sleep deprived. Also, it’s well-known that a lack of sleep weakens your immune system and raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Not to mention, if you’re trying to lose weight, sleep deprivation could make the process much more difficult. But the problem isn’t always just your amount of sleep – quality of sleep is important too. If you feel like your sleep quality is poor, you may want to limit your use of electronic screens before going to bed.
We’re now at the height of winter – temperatures are staying low, the days are at their shortest and the sky is most often just a sea of grey clouds. If this time of year tends to make you feel depressed, you’re not alone. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, around 14 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from seasonal mood changes or “winter blues.” Six percent are thought to suffer from full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In addition to typical depression symptoms such as low energy, feelings of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating and irritability, seasonal affective disorder patients can suffer from weight gain, oversleeping and a feeling of heavy or “leaden” extremities. People who live farther north in the country are much more likely to suffer from SAD. Unfortunately, the causes of seasonal effective disorder aren’t widely understood.
The commonly accepted benefits of yoga are numerous. It’s thought to improve flexibility, reduce stress, improve posture, build muscle strength, increase focus, enhance mood, improve balance – the list goes on and on. Yoga is often also associated with an overall healthy lifestyle that involves eating nutritious foods in smaller portions. In addition, some practitioners adopt the more spiritual and meditative elements of yoga, which allow them to experience stress relief, relaxation and an overall piece of mind. Despite all these benefits, however, yoga does have its naysayers. People who criticize yoga often state that its effects are exaggerated and that it’s not exactly “exercise.” Indeed, yoga programs don’t always have the aerobic elements that are essential for achieving certain health goals such as weight loss. Now, however, a new study suggests that yoga could be just as effective as aerobic exercise when it comes to heart health.
Some health conditions are difficult to diagnose simply because it’s hard for a doctor to truly understand what a patient is going through. Conditions that involve pain often fall into this trap. For example, despite all the amazing advances in modern medicine, patients and doctors still often rely on a somewhat archaic pain chart in order to communicate pain severity. Because pain is so personal and subjective, the legitimacy of a person’s condition can often be called into question. Sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) fall victim to this confusion as well, often being labeled as hypochondriacs. The CDC defines chronic fatigue as “profound fatigue that is not improved by bed rest and that may be worsened by physical or mental activity.” However, many believe that the syndrome simply doesn’t exist or that it’s being overly misdiagnosed. Indeed, nobody knows what causes CFS. A new discovery may curb some skepticism, however.
October is an important month in the world of health and fitness. It’s breast cancer awareness month, as well as AIDS awareness month, Rett Syndrome awareness month, dental hygiene awareness month and vegetarian awareness month. While all of these causes are worthwhile and important, there’s one topic that definitely shouldn’t slip through the cracks: mental health. Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 5 – 11, and it’s a great time for Americans to get educated about depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 40 million adults suffer from anxiety disorders in the U.S. This means that you probably know someone suffering with mental illness. Aside from simply “raising awareness,” Mental Illness Awareness Week is a great time to actually take action, possibly in the form of exercise or screenings.
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