Mental Health

Clinical depression is a mood disorder that causes people to lose interest in things they once loved. People with depression often feel hopeless and anxious. And make no mistake – depression can happen to anyone, regardless of their age or gender.

Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Poor concentration
  • Sadness
  • Loss of energy
  • Problems sleeping
  • Loss of interest
  • Feel helpless or hopeless
  • Decreased self-worth
  • Poor or increased appetite
  • Avoiding people, even family or close friends
  • Difficulty functioning at school or work
  • Increased guilt
  • Physical pains
  • Decreased libido
  • Thoughts of suicide or death
  • Self-harming

If you experience four or more of these symptoms throughout most of the day for two weeks in a row, it’s time to talk to your doctor about whether you are suffering from depression.

The Types of Depression

Depression can manifest itself in many different forms.

Mild depression

While symptoms may be less intense, those with mild depression may still experience a negative impact on their daily life. You may find it difficult to sleep, or have trouble concentrating at work.

Major depression

Those with major depression experience intense symptoms that affect most aspects of their daily lives. While some people may only experience one episode of major depression, many with the disorder will experience several episodes over the course of their life.

Bipolar disorder

This mood disorder is characterized by extreme highs, where a person may feel intensely happy and indestructible, with periods of extreme lows, in which a person may feel worthless, hopeless or suicidal.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Sometimes referred to as the ‘winter blues’, symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder usually start during the winter months and can last until spring. This form of depression can affect not only mood, but also eating and sleeping habits.

Postpartum depression

While many new mothers may feel anxious and overwhelmed at some point after giving birth, some women experience severe and almost debilitating depression that begins after giving birth.

Depression can be complex and debilitating, but taking action is the first step to getting better. Talk to your general practitioner about treatment options and ways to cope. There are many medical and non-medical options to help control your depressive symptoms.

Chronic Disease

According to the Center of Disease Control, chronic diseases cause 7 out of 10 deaths each year and are responsible for 86 percent of America’s health care costs. Some of the most common chronic diseases include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis

Other types of chronic conditions include:

  • Asthma
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Gum disease

As of 2012, about half of all American adults had at least one chronic health problem. About one in four adults had two or more chronic diseases.

Unfortunately, these conditions can also cause other long-term complications, including kidney failure, disability and limb amputation. Your doctor, however, can often help prevent these diseases altogether, or find the best ways to treat your condition and manage your symptoms. Through routine medical visits, we can pinpoint issues while they are manageable – sometimes even when still reversible.

Causes of Chronic Disease

So, what causes chronic diseases in the first place? While there are many factors, one of the main issues is unhealthy behaviors such as:

  • Inactivity
  • Poor nutrition
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Using tobacco

By changing these habits, you can greatly decrease your chances of developing some of these chronic illnesses.

It can be a challenge to know exactly what constitutes a healthy diet or what exercise plan is right for you. Your doctor can discuss foods you should eat, as well as foods you should avoid. They can also recommend exercise regimes that are right for your needs and abilities. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of chronic diseases. They can even help you find programs that will aid you in quitting bad habits, like smoking and heavy drinking.

Turn to your doctor to have your chronic disease diagnosed and treated, and you can see your quality of life drastically improve. Don’t hesitate – if you think you may be suffering the symptoms of a chronic disease, schedule an appointment today.

Intro to “Sleep: A Health Imperative”

If you didn’t think sleep was all that important, this editorial will change your mind. Written by well-recognized experts in sleep physiology and sleep disorders, it presents scientific evidence supporting the importance of adequate sleep time, and the breakdown of immune defenses that occur without it. The increase in blood levels of inflammatory markers helps explain the symptoms of lethargy and overall physical discomfort that accompanies sleep deprivation, as well as reflecting the underlying damage to our vascular system that is manifested in the increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and overall mortality seen in many sleep disorders. Although this editorial does contain a lot of detailed information, the main point is well-made: we are cheating ourselves when we short-change our sleep.

Coping with Shift Work

A main reason that shift work can be challenging to your health and lifestyle is the fact that your body is so sensitive to changes in circadian rhythms. ”What are circadian rhythms?” you ask. Circadian rhythms are like “messages” that tell various body functions when to kick in. ‘Things like temperature, alertness, sleepiness, hunger, and most hormones operate at different times during a 24-hour day. In healthy adults, sleepiness tends to occur during a specific phase of the circadian rhythm, with the strongest sleep urges between 2:00 A.M. and 5:00 A.M. if you work at night, you must fight your body’s natural rhythms by staying awake when you would normally be sleepy and by trying to sleep when you would normally be awake.

Some researchers believe that complete adjustment to permanent irregular shift work may take as long as three years to achieve. Others believe that a person never fully adjusts to an unusual sleep/wake schedule.

Whichever is true, shift workers tend to be continually sleep-deprived (not getting enough sleep). If you are a night shift worker who sleeps during the day, your average sleep cycle may be two to four hours shorter than that of a day worker who sleeps at night. Your day sleep is probably light, interrupted, and less likely to make you feel well rested. You may even be experiencing sleep deprivation and insomnia (inability to fall asleep).

The sleep problems you face as a shift worker can be made worse if you already have some kind of sleep disorder (such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea) and/or a schedule that does not allow for you to get enough sleep each day. If you suspect that you have a sleep problem, even if it existed before you started shift work, see your healthcare professional for advice and treatment.


Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep (usually called insomnia) is a problem for one out of every three American adults. If you have ever suffered from insomnia, you know how it can disturb your day and your night. It can make you feel fatigued during the day. It may cause you to have trouble focusing on tasks.


Approximately one in 2,000 people have this condition. Its impact on a person’s life can be significant, even disabling. These are facts you might not know about narcolepsy, but your friends and neighbors who suffer from this sleep disorder know how serious an issue it is.

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder defined by constant sleepiness and a tendency to sleep at inappropriate times. Typically, a person with narcolepsy suffers sleep attacks as well as continual sleepiness and a feeling of tiredness that is not completely relieved by any amount of sleep. If not recognized and appropriately managed, narcolepsy can drastically and negatively affect the quality of a person’s life. It can be misdiagnosed as depression, and often has other associated sleep disorders present.

Recent advances in medicine, technology, and pharmacology (the study of the effects of drugs) are helping healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat this condition. Although a cure for narcolepsy has not yet been found, most people with this disorder can lead nearly normal lives under the proper treatment.


The term “parasomnia” is used in reference to a wide range of disruptive sleep-related events. These behaviors and experiences generally occur during sleep, and in most cases are infrequent and mild. At times, however, they may occur often enough or become so bothersome that medical attention in indicated.

Short & Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation

The main effect of sleep deprivation is excessive daytime sleepiness, which can lead to traffic accidents and workplace injuries. Sleep deprivation also has both short and long-term impacts on your health.

Short-Term Effects:

  • Drowsiness, leading to drowsy driving
  • Forgetfulness
  • Distractibility
  • Decreased performance and alertness
  • Memory and cognitive impairment
  • Stressed relationships
  • Occupational and/or motor vehicle injury

Long-Term Effects:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety and other mood disorders
  • Poor quality of life

Sleep & The Heart

There are two distinct types of sleep: rapid- eye-movement (REM) sleep (when most dreaming occurs), and non-REM sleep.

Typically, when you fall asleep you begin in non-REM sleep. Most people spend about 80% of the night in this type of sleep.

During non-REM sleep your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure all drop to levels below those that occur while you are awake. During REM sleep – approximately 20% of your time asleep – both your blood pressure and heart rate can go up and down. Any time you wake up from sleep (even briefly), your heart rate and blood pressure climb, and your heart must work harder. When you wake up in the morning, your blood pressure and heart rate both go up and then stay at a higher level throughout the day.

Sleep Hygiene

For most people, falling asleep and staying asleep are parts of a natural process. Good sleepers are likely to have developed certain lifestyle and dietary habits that promote sound sleep. These habits or behaviors, known as sleep hygiene, can have positive effects on sleep before, during, and after time spent in bed. Sleep hygiene is mostly a matter of common sense, but the techniques suggested in this booklet may help you sleep better on a regular basis.

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