Single Dose Of Antidepressant Lexapro Can Change Brain’s Wiring In Just 3 Hours


shutterstock_118491940
A single dose of Lexapro, a commonly prescribed SSRI antidepressant, quickly produces dramatic changes in the architecture of the human brain. 

One out of every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, while one in every four women in their 40s and 50s do so. Now, a new study finds a single dose of a commonly prescribed SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) quickly produces dramatic changes in the architecture of the human brain. Specifically, brain scans taken of volunteers before and after one dose show a reduction of connectivity throughout the brain, with an increase of connectivity in two separate regions — all in just three hours.

What are SSRIs?

Worldwide, SSRIs are among the most widely prescribed form of antidepressants, often used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and personality disorders. Classified as third-generation antidepressants, they are known for having fewer side effects than older pills and work by increasing levels of serotonin, a brain chemical naturally produced by your body. While serotonin serves many roles within your brain, chiefly it balances mood.

For the current study, 22 medication-free participants let their minds wander for about 15 minutes while their brains were scanned with an fMRI, a technology capable of measuring oxygenation of blood flow. Meanwhile, the researchers analyzed the three-dimensional images of each participant’s brain and measured the number of connections between small blocks of neurons known as voxels. After giving each volunteer a single dose of Lexapro (escitalopram), the researchers carefully observed the changes in those connections.

Immediately, the researchers felt surprised to discover the speed with which one dose of the SSRI performed. Within a matter of hours, it had reduced the level of intrinsic connectivity in most parts of the brain, while increasing connectivity within two regions: the cerebellum and thalamus. The cerebellum is responsible for, among other tasks, controling motor skills and balance, while the thalamus regulates consciousness, sleep, and alertness.

“We were not expecting the SSRI to have such a prominent effect on such a short timescale or for the resulting signal to encompass the entire brain,” said Dr. Julia Sacher of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and an author of the study. Sacher believes better understanding of the differences in individual response to SSRIs “could help to better predict who will benefit from this kind of antidepressant versus some other form of therapy.”

Introduced in 2002, Lexapro is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Though headaches, nausea, and insomnia are among its most common side effects, the Food and Drug Administration also warns of suicidal thoughts and tendencies brought on by the drug.

Ayahuasca: This Amazonian Brew May Be the Most Powerful Antidepressant Ever Discovered


WIKI-Ayahuasca_

 

Recent studies show that this Amazonian healing elixir has the power to alleviate feelings of depression in just a few hours, with lasting positive changes.

After centuries of being labeled as primitive, traditional medicines are slowly making a comeback, especially in academia. The more research that’s conducted on traditional remedies, the more scientists must bow to the wisdom of our ancestors, as well as contemporary indigenous healers who are carrying these traditions forward. One of the most powerful traditional remedies isayahuasca.

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive healing elixir from the Amazon rainforest, a bitter tea consumed during healing ceremonies by native peoples of Peru, Brazil, Columbia and Ecuador. Ayahuasca is the only combinatory vision-inducing agent in the world. Like a tea, ayahuasca is made by brewing a combination of bark from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (aka “the vine of the soul”) and leaves from Psychotria viridus (aka chakruna).

Shamans describe it as a sacred plant medicine that “opens a portal to the spirit world.” Portal or not, the healing properties of ayahuasca are undeniable. There are thousands of anecdotal reports of people having been healed from physical and mental disorders by taking ayahuasca—including some for whom death seemed near. The cases of post-ayahuasca cancer remission are too numerous to ignore, and the psychological benefits seem equally impressive. However, quality clinical studies are scarce.[i]

In a 2015 study led by neuroscientists at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, even one dose of ayahuasca was found to have powerful and immediate antidepressant effects. The study involved six volunteers with depression that was unresponsive to at least one antidepressant drug. The volunteers were administered the tea, then monitored in a quiet room and evaluated with standard clinical questionnaires to track their depression symptoms. The treatment was well tolerated, except for half of the participants vomiting (a common side effect). The psychedelic effects of ayahuasca wear off in about five hours.

Statistically significant improvements in depression symptoms were seen in just two to three hours, which is particularly notable when you consider conventional antidepressants typically take weeks to work. Even more impressive was that the benefits were sustained over the next 21 days. Further trials are underway, including a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study about ayahuasca’s benefits for depression, involving 80 patients.

The way Ayahuasca[ii] promotes psychedelic insights has long perplexed Western scientists. Ayahuasca is said to “help put into order the body, mind and spirit with the past, present and future.”[iii] During healing ceremonies, ayahuasca users commonly report emotionally charged visions, memories, and revelations about themselves and their lives, personalities and behaviors. The visions are not random—they typically center on emotionally charged and traumatic experiences, providing users the opportunity to re-experience those events in a more insightful way. Shamans say the elixir will give you whatever answers you seek.

Ayahuasca’s psychoactive properties are generally believed to be related to its serotonergiceffects. Psychotria viridis is rich in DMT (N,N Dimethyl Tryptamine), the most potent vision-inducing agent known to man.  DMT is not only found in hundreds of plants around the world but is alsomanufactured by your own body. But thanks to the enzyme MAO (monoamine oxidase), you aren’t tripped out all day, every day. The other ingredient in ayahuasca, Banisteriopsis caapi, contains a group of compounds called harmala alkaloids, which are MAO inhibitors (MAOI). These allow the DMT to stimulate unbridled activity in your brain by preventing the breakdown of serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

Imaging studies reveal that ayahuasca hyperactivates frontal brain regions, specifically the medial frontal and anterior cingulate cortices responsible for somatic awareness and emotion. Ayahuasca triggers a large release of glutamate, which causes neural firing all along the frontal cortex. The elixir also activates parahippocampal areas involved in processing memory and emotion, including the amygdala. The insula is also activated, which is where feeling states are generated and is thought to act as a bridge between our emotional impulses and decision-making capacity. This may be what allows subjects to “travel” through their past experiences with an awareness of thoughts, emotions and memories that are difficult to access in ordinary mental states.

Your brain’s neocortex is also involved in anticipatory and planning behavior and abstract reasoning, so its activation may help explain the complex and meaningful cognitive experiences that take place during and after the consumption of ayahuasca.

Ayahuasca impacts dysfunctional cognitive-behavioral patterns. Powerful or traumatic events create imprints on the brain that are reinforced every time we encounter a similar situation. Repeated events reinforce these pathways, building up something like “emotional scar tissue,” which can lead to dysfunctional emotional responses and problematic behaviors throughout one’s lifetime. Ayahuasca appears to help users override these entrenched neurological patterns, allowing new connections to be made. Users report emerging with fresh perspectives on past experiences, which may explain many of ayahuasca’s healing benefits for depression, anxiety and PTSD, substance abuse and other problems. An interesting video about Ayahuasca research is available here.

Longer-term studies show ayahuasca positively impacts mood, reasoning and decision-making with minimal adverse effects. Ayahuasca has been shown to be non-addictive when used long-term by healthy individuals in supportive settings. There is no evidence of neurotoxicity—ritualized long-term users even scored better on certain cognitive tests than control groups.

Due to the intensity of the visions, ayahuasca should not be taken alone. Its therapeutic potential and safety are contingent upon how the experience is facilitated, monitored and integrated. However, with proper support, even a single dose of ayahuasca seems to offer potentially deep therapeutic benefits.

Antidepressant was misrepresented as safe for adolescents.


A new study has found that a psychiatric drug claimed to be a safe and effective treatment for depression in adolescents is actually ineffective and associated with serious side effects.

The widely used antidepressant paroxetine is neither safe nor effective for adolescents with depression, concludes a reanalysis of an influential study originally published in 2001.

A University of Adelaide led study has found that a psychiatric drug claimed to be a safe and effective treatment for depression in adolescents is actually ineffective and associated with serious side effects.

Professor Jon Jureidini, from the University of Adelaide’s newly created Critical and Ethical Mental Health Research Group (CEMH) at the Robinson Research Institute, led a team of international researchers who re-examined Study 329, a randomised controlled trial which evaluated the efficacy and safety of paroxetine (Aropax, Paxil, Seroxat) compared with a placebo for adolescents diagnosed with major depression.

Study 329, which was funded by SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline), was reported in 2001 as having found that paroxetine was effective and safe for depression in adolescents. However, Professor Jureidini’s reanalysis showed no advantages associated with taking paroxetine and demonstrated worrying adverse effects.

“Although concerns had already been raised about Study 329, and the way it was reported, the data was not previously made available so researchers and clinicians weren’t able to identify all of the errors in the published report,” says Professor Jureidini.

“It wasn’t until the data was made available for re-examination that it became apparent that paroxetine was linked to serious adverse reactions, with 11 of the patients taking paroxetine engaging in suicidal or self-harming behaviours compared to only one person in the group of patients who took the placebo,” he says. “Our study also revealed that paroxetine was no more effective at relieving the symptoms of depression than a placebo.”

“This is highly concerning because prescribing this drug may have put young patients at unnecessary risk from a treatment that was supposed to help them,” he says.

Professor Jureidini says it is important that research data and protocols are accessible so they can be reviewed and scrutinised.

“In 2013, an international researcher consortium called for undisclosed outcomes of trials to be published and for misleading publications to be corrected. This initiative was called restoring invisible and abandoned trials (RIAT),” says Professor Jureidini.

“Study 329 was one of the trials identified as in need of restoration, and because the original funder was not interested in revisiting the trial, our research group took on the task.

“Our reanalysis of Study 329 came to very different conclusions to those in the original paper,” he says. “We also learnt a lot about incorrect reporting and the considerable fall out that can be associated with distorted data.”

“Regulatory research authorities should mandate that all data and protocols are accessible,” he says. “Although concerns about patient confidentiality and ‘commercial in confidence’ issues are important, the reanalysis of Study 329 illustrates the necessity of making primary trial data available to increase the rigour of evidence-based research,” he says.

Professor Jureidini’s study was published in the medical journal BMJ today.

CEMH is committed to undertaking and promoting critical and ethical appraisal of evidence, to help improve decision-making in mental health policy and practice.

 

Is America addicted to antidepressants?


In a recent appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Sue Varma discussed overuse of antidepressants, also referred to as the “new drug moms are hooked on,” and “mommy’s little helper” because of their growing prevalence for use by mothers and women in general. During the show, one mother stated that taking antidepressants has made her a more functional person and a better mom, while another said that antidepressants took away the highs and lows of life and turned her into a zombie. Neither woman underwent a psychiatric evaluation or comprehensive health screening to check for underlying causes prior to being prescribed antidepressants by their primary care physicians (PCPs).

Antidepressant

Antidepressants are currently the third most commonly prescribed drug in America, and women are two times more likely to take them than men. However, this trend is not limited to antidepressants. CBS News reported that women and the elderly are more likely to be prescribed medication during a doctor’s visit than any other population.

The concern is that 50% of all patients who are prescribed antidepressants do not have a mental illness and have never had an appropriate mental or physical health evaluation to determine the cause of their symptoms. Misdiagnosis and inadequate evaluation has contributed to a 400% increase in antidepressant prescriptions over the past 20 years. Even more alarming is that, out of 500 million prescriptions written each year, only 13% are prescribed by psychiatrists, leaving the majority (59%) to primary care doctors and other practitioners (18%).

Varma explained that the average mental health evaluation lasts at least 90 minutes with watchful monitoring should treatment ensue and that antidepressants should be considered a small portion in the toolkit for mental health. This same amount of care is not taken in the few minutes patients will have to discuss mental health during a visit to their primary care doctor. Very rarely do patients undergo the type of physical screening that would be needed to eliminate other possible causes of depression with their PCPs. Often, patients are experiencing symptoms of depression as a side effect of another health issue, and because doctors are hasty to prescribe antidepressants, the underlying cause may go unfound and continue to wreak havoc in the body. Hypothyroidism, chronic dehydration, copper toxicity, B12 deficiency and other nutritional deficiencies are just a few health issues that may cause symptoms of depression to manifest.

Do antidepressants provide a plausible solution?

Varma noted that antidepressants may be effective in some cases, but that exercise, social support, talk therapy and other methods are just as effective as, if not more than, medications in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Furthermore, discussions about coping skills and other treatment approaches should be considered because antidepressants often lose their effectiveness over time in what has been coined the “poop out effect” or tachyphylaxis. This effect alludes to the fact that antidepressants do not provide a true solution to the problem they are meant to solve.

According to homeopathy advocate and author Dana Ullman, “meta-analysis of antidepressant medications found only modest benefits over placebo treatment in published research, but when unpublished trial data is included, the benefit falls below accepted criteria for clinical significance. … These researchers did find benefits from the use of antidepressants in the treatment of severe depression, but because the majority of people taking antidepressants today do not have ‘severe depression,’ it is prudent for many people with depression to talk to their doctors about safer and more effective alternatives.” The first step is to undergo an adequate evaluation to determine if you are dealing with depression or another health issue.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/049777_antidepressants_pharmaceutical_addiction_mental_illness.html#ixzz3amvAqXEN

Antidepressants Aren’t Taken By The Depressed; Majority Of Users Have No Disorder


antidepressants
Flaws in access to reliable psychotherapy may lead people with mental burdens to pop pills instead.

A new study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports some 69 percent of people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the primary type of antidepressants, have never suffered from major depressive disorder (MDD). Perhaps worse, 38 percent have never in their lifetime met the criteria for MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder, yet still take the pills that accompany them.

In a society that is increasingly self-medicating itself, capsules, tablets, and pills are turning from last resorts to easily obtained quick fixes. Between 1988 and 2008, antidepressant use increased nearly 400 percent. Today, 11 percent of the American population takes a regular antidepressant, which, by the latest study’s measure, may be a severe inflation of what’s actually necessary.

“I think while psychotherapy is another option to helping people obtain better mental health, there are roadblocks,” said Dr. Howard Forman, medical director of the Addiction Consultation Service at Montefiore Medical Center. Forman, who wasn’t involved with the study, points toward cost, availability of experts, and time demands as the main reasons people may decide to pursue alternatives.

Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and his colleagues relied on data from four samples, the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study Wave 1, which began in 1981, all the way through Wave 4, which ended in 2005. In total, they used data on 1,071 participants, including four interviews and an assessment on current antidepressant use. Similar to the national average, 13 percent of people reported using antidepressants.

Medications to offset perceived, yet undiagnosed, chemical imbalances don’t just include those targeted to mood. Amphetamines like Adderall help people find focus, and benzodiazepines like Xanax quell anxiety — or so their users claim. But when the bottom falls out on casual use, quick fixes may turn into heavy dependence. “I have no concerns about the prescription of SSRIs leading to dependence,” Forman said. Prescriptions are generally accompanied by a doctor’s oversight. “I think that any medications that are taken without the oversight of a physician, especially drugs with abuse potential, such as Xanax, are very concerning for the development of dependence.”

Solving this problem of antidepressant overuse may be partly systemic as well as personal. Mental health care is improving in the U.S., particularly as the stigma fades and people no longer feel embarrassed to seek treatment. But more can be done to give patients peace of mind, Forman says. This may help reduce their urge to unnecessarily self-medicate, as the people who don’t need medication take solace in the reassurance of their health, while those in need find the same comfort in the confirmation of an illness. The main priority is removing the element of uncertainty.

“We all experience periods of stress, periods of sadness, and periods of self-doubt,” he said. “These don’t make us mentally ill, they define us as human.”

Source: Takayanagi Y, Spira A, Bienvenu O, et al. Antidepressant Use and Lifetime History of Mental Disorders in a Community Sample: Results From the Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2015.

Single Dose Of Antidepressant Lexapro Can Change Brain’s Wiring In Just 3 Hours


shutterstock_118491940

A single dose of Lexapro, a commonly prescribed SSRI antidepressant, quickly produces dramatic changes in the architecture of the human brain.Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

One out of every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, while one in every four women in their 40s and 50s do so. Now, a new study finds a single dose of a commonly prescribed SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) quickly produces dramatic changes in the architecture of the human brain. Specifically, brain scans taken of volunteers before and after one dose show a reduction of connectivity throughout the brain, with an increase of connectivity in two separate regions — all in just three hours.

What are SSRIs?

Worldwide, SSRIs are among the most widely prescribed form of antidepressants, often used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and personality disorders. Classified as third-generation antidepressants, they are known for having fewer side effects than older pills and work by increasing levels of serotonin, a brain chemical naturally produced by your body. While serotonin serves many roles within your brain, chiefly it balances mood.

For the current study, 22 medication-free participants let their minds wander for about 15 minutes while their brains were scanned with an fMRI, a technology capable of measuring oxygenation of blood flow. Meanwhile, the researchers analyzed the three-dimensional images of each participant’s brain and measured the number of connections between small blocks of neurons known as voxels. After giving each volunteer a single dose of Lexapro (escitalopram), the researchers carefully observed the changes in those connections.

Immediately, the researchers felt surprised to discover the speed with which one dose of the SSRI performed. Within a matter of hours, it had reduced the level of intrinsic connectivity in most parts of the brain, while increasing connectivity within two regions: the cerebellum and thalamus. The cerebellum is responsible for, among other tasks, controling motor skills and balance, while the thalamus regulates consciousness, sleep, and alertness.

“We were not expecting the SSRI to have such a prominent effect on such a short timescale or for the resulting signal to encompass the entire brain,” said Dr. Julia Sacher of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and an author of the study. Sacher believes better understanding of the differences in individual response to SSRIs “could help to better predict who will benefit from this kind of antidepressant versus some other form of therapy.

Antidepressant medicines change brain architecture


A single dose of drugs used to treat depression can alter brain’s structure only within hours, German researchers have uncovered.

The study conducted by the scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig found that the most popular class of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) could impact brain can change connectivity.

Researchers used a magnetic resonance imaging machine to track brain connectivity in medication, according to the study report published the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

First they took data in free individuals whose minds wander for about 15 minutes in a brain scanner that measures the oxygenation of blood flow in the brain.

Next they gave the group a single dose of escitalopram, the SSRI antidepressant under the brand-name Lexapro, and then scanned the connections in the barin.

Comparing the brain connection 3-D maps indicated prominent changes in brain’s  architecture caused by taking the drug.

“A single dose reduced connectivity in most parts of the brain, but increased connectivity within the cerebellum and thalamus — the parts of the brain associated with motor control and signal regulation only within hours.”

“We were not expecting the SSRI to have such a prominent effect on such a short timescale or for the resulting signal to encompass the entire brain,” said the co author of the study Julia Sacher.

“The findings could be a first step toward figuring out whether a relatively simple brain scan might one day help psychiatrists distinguish between those who respond to such drugs and those who don’t, an area of mystery and controversy in depression treatment,” researchers say.

Are Your Medications Causing or Increasing Incontinence?


If you are struggling with urinary incontinence or your existing incontinence is getting worse, take a look at the medications you are taking. They may contribute to the problem.

There are four groups of medications doctors commonly recommend that can cause or increase incontinence. If you are taking any of these, you should let your doctor know about your incontinence and discuss your medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) to see if there is another approach to control or eliminate the problem.
The most common incontinence problems arise from medications in the following four categories:

1. Diuretics to reduce excess fluid

Diuretics, also known as “water pills,” stimulate the kidneys to expel unneeded water and salt from your tissues and bloodstream into the urine. Getting rid of excess fluid makes it easier for your heart to pump. There are a number of diuretic drugs, but one of the most common is furosemide (Lasix®).

According to urologist Raymond Rackley, MD, approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population suffers from overactive bladder symptoms.

“Many of those patients also have high blood pressure or vascular conditions, such as swelling of the feet or ankles,” he says. “These conditions are often treated with diuretic therapies that make their bladder condition worse in terms of urgency and frequency.”

A first step is to make sure you are following your doctor’s prescription instructions exactly. As an alternative to water pills, Dr. Rackley recommends restricting salt in your diet and exercising for weight loss. Both of these can reduce salt retention and hypertension naturally.

2. Alpha blockers for hypertension

Another class of drugs used to reduce high blood pressure or hypertension by dilating your blood vessels can also cause problems. These medicines are known as alpha blockers. Some of the most common are Cardura®, Minipress® and Hytrin®.

These are usually more of an issue for women. Again, discuss this with your physician, because there are alternative drugs you may be able to take.

Men typically take these to treat an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) which can restrict urination by putting pressure on the urethra. By relaxing the muscles in the bladder neck, they allow smoother urine flow for those patients.

3. Antidepressants and narcotic pain relievers

Some antidepressants and pain medications can prevent the bladder from contracting completely so that it does not empty. That gives rise to urgency or frequency or voiding dysfunction. They can also decrease your awareness of the need to void.

“Some of these drugs can also cause constipation,” Dr. Rackley says. “Constipation, in turn, can cause indirect bladder incontinence because being constipated takes up more room in the pelvis that the bladder needs to expand.”

4. Sedatives and sleeping pills

Using sedatives and sleeping pills can present a problem, especially if you already have incontinence. They can decrease your awareness of the need to void while you are sleeping.

The best way to address this situation, Dr. Rackley says, is to take other steps to relax and improve your sleep. Getting more exercise to make you tired, for example, can help. It’s also important to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule. Dr. Rackley says finding other ways to relax before bed — meditation, reading a book or listening to soothing music or sound effects (e.g., rain or waves) — can also help you sleep better.

 

5 Ways To Boost Happiness Naturally Without Antidepressants.


A few years back, Harvard conducted a study to reiterate what many in the psych professionals already know – Americans are addicted to anti-depression meds. We (though not myself) pop Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, Paxil, and Zoloft pills like they are candy in an attempt to boost mood and feel better. The increase in sales of anti-depressants is up a startling 400%This pill-popping became the norm, even though clinical studies suggest there are numerous natural remedies that can help us feel better, without the pricey and life altering side-effects that many of these drugs can cause.

http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/5-ways.jpeg

Indeed, many individuals can find relief from depression with simple lifestyle changes, even just dietary changes. Even the spice turmeric has been shown to treat depression better than Prozac, one of the best selling, yet least effective anti-depressants of all time. Phytotherapy Research said that not only is turmeric effective at treating depression, but it is likely more effective than some of the most common anti-depressant drugs currently on the market.

Additionally, there are several things people can do to boost their happiness levels without ever popping a pharmaceutical pill. Here are 5 potential solutions:

5 Ways to Boost Happiness Naturally

1. The Easiest Way to Feel Better, by Far, is to Exercise. In study after study, scientists have proven that just moving your body makes you feel better. Exercise boosts dopamine levels and oxytocin levels – two hormones responsible for happiness and love; one dampens pain, the other makes you feel ‘bliss.’ Why take a pharmaceutical drug that might cause you to have migraines or become suicidal when you can just spend 10 minutes throwing a Frisbee with your dog, or walking along a path in nature? (Spending time with your dog and being in nature also happen to boost your happiness hormones, so you can get two for the price of one!)

2. Spend Time with Friends and Family – Spending time with friends and family or even interacting with social media friends across cyber space can boost levels of seratonin and oxytocin, and even help you to live longer. We are social creatures. If you’ve been hiding in your house and not interacting with other people, consider volunteering, attending a social gathering, or even going on a date. Your better mood is waiting on this action.

3. Get Outside – New York-based naturopathic doctor Alan Logan, co-author (with Dr. Eva Selhub, an internal medicine physician) of Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitalitybelieves that the energy from mountains, trees, plants and water can improve your sleep and mental outlook. You don’t have to abandon city life, but try to find trees, natural reservoirs of water, birds, flowers – anything that is natural. Your health and happiness depends on it.

4. Sleep More – Our circadian rhythms are absolutely vital to good mental health. Circadian cycles are our bodies’ way of regulating a host of hormones that are responsible for everything from keeping us alert when we should be to helping us to relax in stressful situations. Lost sleep can even age your brain significantly over time, while more sleep will improve mood just about every single time. Try it. You look tired.

5. Improve Your Diet – Foods for depression can be much more effective than a bottle of junk made by Big Pharma. That saying – you are what you eat – is true. If you eat tons of refined sugar, unhealthy fats, and no ‘living foods’ like organic fruits and vegetables, you will look and feel…not so great! You need high levels of B12, found in fish and eggs, to increase neuronal communication between ‘good’ brain pathways, fiber to avoid spikes in blood sugar and insulin which can lead to depression, folate to keep your brain bathed in cerebrospinal fluid, iron to make sure your blood can transport oxygen, iodine to lower depression and increase memory, calcium to lower anxiety and curb depression, and much more. Try leafy greens, nuts, and foods high in Omega 3s to get an immediate happiness boost.

Antidepressant Eases Menopause-Related Symptoms, Study Finds .


Estrogen therapy and the non-hormonal drug venlafaxine (Effexor) are nearly equally effective in reducing menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats, according to a new study.

“Our new findings provide critical data for physicians and women making treatment decisions for hot flashes/night sweats. Our data show that first-line hormonal and non-hormonal pharmacological treatments are well-tolerated and effective options for alleviating symptoms,” the study’s lead author Dr. Hadine Joffe, director of the Women’s Hormone and Aging Research Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said in a hospital news release.

“Hot flashes and night sweats … affect up to 80 percent of women in midlife and are the primary menopause-related symptoms leading menopausal women to seek medical attention,” Joffe noted.

Estrogen therapy is considered the “gold standard” treatment for hot flashes and night sweats, but is used at the lowest possible doses due to potential risks associated with the treatment, according to the researchers. These risks include blood clots and an increased risk of certain cancers.

Venlafaxine, also known by the brand name Effexor, is more commonly prescribed to treat depression or anxiety, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The study included almost 350 women who were either entering menopause or had been through menopause. All of the women had hot flashes and night sweats. They were randomly assigned to receive either low-dose oral estrogen estradiol, low-dose venlafaxine hydrochloride extended release, or an inactive placebo.

After eight weeks, hot flashes and night sweats decreased by nearly 53 percent among women on estrogen therapy. In women taking venlafaxine, those symptoms dropped by nearly 48 percent. Almost 29 percent of those taking a placebo also had improvement in their symptoms.

Compared to the placebo, estradiol reduced the number of hot flashes or night sweats by an average of 2.3 more per day. Venlafaxine reduced the number of these symptoms by 1.8 more per day, according to the study published online May 26 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is the first to compare estrogen therapy and a non-hormonal treatment, and shows that venlafaxine offers an effective alternative to hormone therapy.

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