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Stress Management: Achieve The Impossible!

We tend to think of stress as being something bad. However, it is in fact, a normal and even vital part of our human make-up. Stress can motivate us to make changes, to advance and to develop. It has been vital in the evolution of mankind and has made us what we are today.

What is Stress?

Stress is a survival mechanism. When we experience a stressful situation our bodies release stress hormones and chemicals in our brains which get us ready to take action. This is sometimes called the fight or flight response. However, if we fail to act, the stress build-up can cause both physical and psychological problems.

Good Stress vs Bad Stress

Good stress can be thought of as that which motivates and inspires us. It is the kind of stress that you feel before starting a new job or taking an exam. After we have completed the task, the stress naturally goes away.

Bad stress happens when we are unable to stop it and the effects build up. This can occur when an external situation is on-going and cannot be resolved. Also, when it is related to an internal situation such as a health or relationship problem. Long-term stress that continues over a long period without interruption is the most damaging. When chronic stress becomes unmanageable it can affect our day to day life.

Signs and Symptoms of Unhealthy Stress Levels

People who have unhealthy stress levels often suffer from headaches, muscle tension, an elevated heart rate, and pain. They frequently feel tired, fatigued and without motivation. Many people have sleep disturbances; either sleeping more or less than normal. Some people suffer from digestive problems and many change their eating habits. Unhealthy stress levels can make people irritable, have mood changes and it can lead to depression.

Often, people seek to escape from their stress by turning to alcohol, street drugs or the misuse of prescribed drugs. These things may make you feel better for a short while; but in the long run, they will worsen the problem.

Prescription Medication for Stress Management

If your stress is overwhelming, you should visit your doctor who may decide that a prescription medicine would help you. While these medicines will not solve the problem provoking your stress, they can help to reduce the symptoms caused by it.

Benzodiazepines

These sedatives include Valium (diazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide) and Ativan (lorazepam), among others. They work by stimulating a chemical found naturally in the brain called GABA. This slows down mental activity and, therefore, calms the body. As they can cause addiction, these drugs are usually only prescribed for a short period.

Beta-Blockers

These include Tenormin (atenolol) and Inderal (propranolol). While usually used for heart conditions and high blood pressure they can also reduce some of the symptoms associated with stress.

Antidepressants

A group of antidepressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are most commonly prescribed for anxiety and stress. These include Prozac, Paxil and Lexapro. They increase the level of Serotonin in the brain which can decrease feelings of anxiety and improve mood.

Stress Management

Risks of Using Stress Medication

Like all prescribed medicines, stress medications can cause side effects in some people. The most common ones are a dry mouth, nausea and dizziness. If you experience side effects, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Some stress medicines can also be mildly addictive, so always take care to only take the prescribed dose at the correct time. It is also important that you never stop taking your medication abruptly without consulting your doctor.

Stress Management Strategies

Many people have been able to reduce their stress levels by using these stress management strategies and stress management techniques.

Lifestyle Changes

Eating healthily, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are all ways in which you can reduce your stress levels.

A varied diet including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables can help to ensure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals needed to help your body deal with stress. Try to make mealtimes a calm, enjoyable time and avoid eating on the run.

Exercise improves both your physical and mental state. A morning jog or a late evening walk around the block can help you to unwind. Practicing team sports or signing up for a Pilates, dance, or yoga class, can really help reduce your stress levels.

Enough quality sleep is essential for stress management. Avoid using all electronic devices at least an hour before retiring for the evening. Do something you enjoy, to relax you before going to bed. Try reading a book or taking a hot bath. Go to bed at the same time every night and make sure that your bedroom is as dark as possible and has fresh air entering.

Meditation and spiritual practices can help with anxiety and stress and having family or peer support is also very important. Furthermore, having hobbies and getting out into the countryside can also be of help.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Most of the time we don’t pay much attention to our breathing. Becoming conscious of how we breathe can instill a feeling of deep relaxation and peace within us. Try lying on the floor and place your hands on your lower belly. Breathe naturally and become aware of the rise and fall of your belly. Gradually lengthen your breaths. As you breathe in feel yourself filling with light, positive energy. Hold this inside you for a few seconds and then (as you exhale) envision the stale, negative energy flowing out of you.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is one of the most effective relaxation techniques for stress reduction. Lie flat on your back on the floor and concentrate on your feet and lower legs. Tighten the muscles in them for a couple of seconds. Be aware of the tension you feel and then relax the muscles and enjoy the feeling. Do this throughout your body; working slowly up your legs, arms, and body until you reach your head. Clench the muscles and feel the tension and then experience the lovely feeling of relaxation as you release.

Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness-based stress reduction involves putting your entire attention and energy into what is happening within and around you at the present time. It can help to reduce stress by not allowing you to dwell on the past or worry about the future. Concentrating on the present can help you to find real solutions to stressful situations.

Herbal Supplements for Anxiety and Stress

Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) is one of the most common herbs used to combat stress. Try a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep. Other herbs that can help to reduce anxiety include Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Hops (Humulus Lupulus) and Oats. Nutritional supplements like Valerian, 5-HTP, Passion Flower and Kava can also help. A drop of lavender essential oil can calm you in moments of severe anxiety.

Stress Management That Works!

As everybody reacts differently to stress, you may need to try different techniques to find which one can help you best. Making some simple lifestyle changes for coping with stress can sometimes be really effective. If you do not find that this helps or if you continue to feel unable to cope, you should see your health practitioner as medication could be the best way to relieve your symptoms. This also counts when you are experiencing other signs of stress that interfere with your life. Remember, however, that the medications only treat the symptoms and not the problem; so talk to your doctor about other kinds of therapies or counseling which may be available.

Don’t let anything get in your way of doing the things that you’ve set your heart on. Start working on managing your stress levels to achieve the impossible!

Resources

  1. https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/medication-strategies-for-stress-relief/
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/anti-anxiety-medications-2330663
  3. https://www.medicinenet.com/stress/article.htm
  4. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

Ketamine Therapy for Treating Depression 

Depression is the most common mental illness. Over 300 million people worldwide and over 6% of the adult population in the US, have suffered from depression over the past year. Treatment rates of this mental health problem have gone up but, nonetheless, there is no one universal treatment. Different treatments work for different patients while a small minority of patients don’t seem to respond to treatment at all. That is why people are searching for alternative treatments like ketamine therapy.

For decades, antidepressants have been used to treat the chemical aspect of depression. Even though great strides have been made in the development of antidepressant medications, it is still somewhat “hit-and-miss.” Doctors cannot be certain which antidepressants, if any, each individual will respond to. What makes this even more difficult is that it takes two to four weeks before the effects of an antidepressant can be assessed.

It is in this context that ketamine therapy has been trialed. Ketamine therapy is one of the most promising developments in chemical depression treatment in decades, especially for patients for whom no other treatment has worked.

This is everything you need to know about ketamine therapy.

Ketamine Therapy: What Is It?

Ketamine therapy is a treatment that uses the substance ketamine to eliminate depressive thoughts. While ketamine has traditionally been used as an anesthetic and to treat chronic pain, recent research has earmarked it as a remarkably effective and fast-acting treatment for major depression and suicidal ideation.

Ketamine is administered via IV drips in doses that are much smaller than those used for anesthesia and it only stays in the body for a limited period of time.

Some may recognize ketamine as a party drug, known by some as “Special K”, which is used to simulate an out-of-body experience. Some have even used it to commit “date-rape.” Nonetheless, it was used in a medical context long before it became popular in illegal settings.

Clinical Depression Explained

Clinical depression refers to a mental illness in which patients feel persistent sadness and numbness. They may also have difficulty feeling pleasure. These feelings are accompanied by thoughts about death and suicide as well as meaninglessness and isolation. It is a state of mind and not just an emotion or even a severe form of sadness.

Symptoms of Severe Depression

Symptoms of severe depression include:

  • Low affect
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Being unable to feel pleasure
  • Absence of motivation
  • Hopelessness and despair
  • Extreme emotional pain

While individuals suffering from mild or moderate depression may, nonetheless, continue to function normally; patients with severe depression are generally unable to continue taking care of themselves. The intensity of the emotional pain along with the sense of hopelessness and absence of motivation, preclude the potential to carry on as normal.

Ketamine Therapy

Traditional Treatments For Depression

Traditionally, depression has been treated in a number of ways. Talk therapy has been the most popular starting point for patients suffering from depression. This involves discussing your feelings and thoughts with a therapist. In an effort to come to a deeper understanding of the underlying cause of the depression as well as finding a way to move forward.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an increasingly common form of therapy that focuses on challenging distorted thinking. By rationally analyzing disturbing thoughts, individuals can become better equipped to manage their emotions without getting caught up in them.

Antidepressants are prescribed by a psychiatrist for those who may be suffering from a chemical imbalance. These medications are generally used in conjunction with other forms of therapy although they can have a major impact when taken in isolation.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic imaging to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. It is rarely used as a primary intervention. Rather, patients who have treatment-resistant depression may find it helpful.

Ketamine For Clinical Depression

Ketamine therapy is a more recent, non-traditional treatment option for clinical depression. While it has shown incredible promise, it is still not widely available. Therefore, is not yet used as a primary treatment.

How Does It Work?

It is not entirely clear how ketamine infusion therapy works. Researchers have hypothesized that ketamine changes the way brain cells communicate with each other. This is in contrast to traditional antidepressants, which change the balance of chemicals in the brain. It also blocks the NMDA receptor which is thought to play a role in depression, among other functions.

Is Ketamine Therapy Effective?

Research, thus far, has been very promising. Some clinicians report that 60% to 75% of their treatment-resistant patients have responded to ketamine therapy. Individuals receiving this treatment report that the effect is almost immediate. Suicidal thoughts fade and they start to feel better as soon as the treatment is administered, rather than two weeks later.

The treatment itself is effective for around one week, after which further treatments need to be administered.

Recipients of ketamine generally report feeling more connected to others and to the universe itself. This is in strong contrast to the common symptom of isolation that individuals with depression experience.

Ketamine Side-Effects

Directly after being administered infusion treatments, patients may experience dissociation which wears off after an hour or so. Ketamine briefly causes spikes in blood pressure and heart rate, but not nearly enough to be dangerous to anyone who doesn’t already suffer from heart disease.

Since ketamine therapy is still relatively new, the long-term effects have not been studied. Individuals using ketamine as a party drug have experienced an adverse event like memory issues. However, researchers believe that this is unlikely in the much smaller doses used to treat depression. Neither does it seem likely that these doses will lead patients towards using the drug recreationally.

Which Other Kinds of Concerns is Ketamine Therapy Best For?

Ketamine therapy may also be useful for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and as an option for pain relief in chronic pain syndromes. Researchers are conducting clinical trials to assess its efficacy in treating these illnesses in addition to depression.

Ketamine Therapy Critique

Ketamine therapy is incredibly promising as far as major depressive disorder is concerned. Unfortunately, not enough research has been done to conclusively prove its efficacy. Most trials so far have administered ketamine to small sample sizes. However; the FDA is fast-tracking further research, considering it’s promising effects and the huge number of people it could possibly benefit.

Ketamine therapy is not a practical option for most patients at the moment, as it is only available in certain states and there are only around two dozen clinics throughout the whole country. It is also very expensive (around $400 to $800 per treatment) and insurance is unlikely to cover it, as it is not yet FDA-approved as a treatment for depression.

Also, while it is fast-acting, its effects do not last all that long and it needs to be administered repeatedly. Which few people can afford.

Ketamine for Depression: A Promising Development

Ketamine therapy is one of the most promising developments in the treatment of clinical depression. It is an entirely new class of depression medication and, in addition to making an immediate difference, it may also be more effective for treating major depression.

More research is necessary before it becomes FDA-approved. For now, it is an excellent option if nothing else has worked and you can afford to cover the costs.

Medical Marijuana: The Nitty-Gritty

The use of medicinal marijuana for treating various physical and psychological conditions has always been a controversial topic among healthcare professionals. While some argue that marijuana-based treatments are great alternatives to ‘traditional’ therapies, others believe more research is needed before medical professionals can recognize marijuana as a viable treatment option.

The strict regulations regarding marijuana use, both in clinical and non-clinical settings, has made it difficult for researchers to conduct relevant studies in this emerging field.

Fortunately, with the legalization of marijuana use in many U.S. states, many researchers and healthcare professionals have begun to explore the potentially beneficial effects of this plant.

Although there’s still plenty of controversy around this subject, things are beginning to take shape. Let’s take a closer look at what we do (and don’t) know about medicinal marijuana.

Medical Marijuana: What is it?

The term “medical marijuana” refers to the use of cannabis, or its extracts, in the treatment of various medical and psychological diseases and conditions.

Because the marijuana plant contains different compounds (cannabinoids) that can help treat a whole range of symptoms and illnesses, many believe it should be legal for medicinal purposes.

But what exactly are the main chemical compounds of marijuana?

CBD vs THC

Two of the main cannabinoids found in marijuana are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

THC represents the psychoactive compound of marijuana. In other words, it’s the chemical that gets you “high”. It’s also the reason why the recreational use of marijuana is banned by law in many states.

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that can be found in both marijuana and agricultural hemp. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high. It’s also the basis for all sorts of products ranging from balms and oils to sweets and other edibles.

Marijuana as Medicine

Since many people claim that marijuana has helped them to manage various conditions, experts have begun to study its effects intensely. However, recent findings indicate that there’s still much to be learned about this plant.

What Is It Used For?

For centuries, people have been using marijuana to treat medical and psychological conditions. But what do scientists have to say?

One study indicates that cannabis may be a viable treatment option for conditions such as pain, insomnia and even anxiety. Furthermore, some researchers believe there’s strong evidence supporting the use of marijuana for chronic pain, neuropathic pain and spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

But since many of the supposed health benefits of marijuana are not backed by scientific evidence, specialists are somewhat reluctant to use this treatment option. In fact, one study revealed that only 36% of physicians believe that prescribed marijuana should be legal.

How Does It Help?

To understand why medical marijuana can be useful for various conditions, we need to look at one crucial aspect of the human body: the endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system (named after the plant that led to its discovery) is perhaps one of the most important systems involved in establishing and maintaining health and well-being. Endocannabinoid receptors can be found in many places throughout the entire body. From the brain, the nervous system and other organs to immune cells, glands and connective tissues.

The primary purpose of the endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis and keep a stable internal environment. Despite various fluctuations that may occur in the external environment.

Medical Marijuana

Risks and Benefits of Medical Marijuana

As mentioned earlier, studies indicate that medical marijuana products may be useful in treating various conditions ranging from chronic pain to insomnia to anxiety and depression.

If you were to ask a legal weed advocate, he or she will probably give you a much bigger list of conditions that can be cured by marijuana use. In fact, there are numerous groups and communities made up of weed enthusiasts who describe cannabis as a miracle cure.

On the other hand; experts believe that, just like in the case of any other substances we put into our bodies, there are some side effects that we should be mindful of. For example, the THC in marijuana can cause disorientation, dizziness, dry mouth, sedation and confusion. In other words, you should avoid using it while at work or if you simply wish to be productive in any way.

Furthermore, patients with heart disease may develop all sorts of complications as marijuana causes an increase in heart rate. Breathing problems and addiction issues, that result from marijuana use, may also affect your personal and professional life.

Medical Marijuana Laws

Throughout the years, marijuana and cannabis-based products have gained massive popularity. Not just for recreational purposes but also for their potentially curative effects.

As a result, many U.S. states have passed several medical marijuana laws (or MML’s). Hoping to reduce drug-related crimes and create an environment where people can use this product responsibly. However; according to a recent study, states that adopted MML’s haven’t witnessed a significant change concerning marijuana use among adolescents.

In the end, the purpose of MML’s is to regulate the distribution and consumption of marijuana and cannabis-based products; to ensure “safe use” for people who need it for medical purposes.

States Where Marijuana is Legal for Medicinal Purposes

States with legal recreational marijuana:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Washington

States with legal medical marijuana:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Is Medical Marijuana FDA Approved?

Although the effects of marijuana have been studied intensely over the last two decades; when it comes to officially recognizing cannabis as a treatment option for medical conditions, the FDA will always have the final say.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s website, the FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication.

Where Can I Find Medical Marijuana Near Me?

The easiest way to find medical marijuana is online. Most brands, shops, and dispensaries have a robust online presence which makes it easier to find one in your area. However, if you live in a state where only medical marijuana is legal; you will need a prescription to purchase marijuana or other cannabis-based products.

If we look at how the cannabis market has evolved over the years; it’s clear that medical marijuana, regardless of the effects it may or may not have, is here to stay.

References

  1. C. W. Webb and S. M. Webb, “Therapeutic Benefits of Cannabis: A Patient Survey,” Hawai’i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, vol. 73, no. 4, pp. 109-111, 2014.
  2. K. P. Hill, “Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems,” JAMA Network, vol. 313, no. 24, pp. 2474-2483, 2015.
  3. A. Charuvastra, P. D. Friedmann and M. D. Stein, “Physician Attitudes Regarding the Prescription of Medical Marijuana,” Journal of Addictive Diseases, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 87-93, 2005.
  4. A. E. Thompson, “Medical Marijuana,” JAMA Network, vol. 313, no. 24, 2015.
  5. S. D. Lyenne-Landsman, M. D. Livingston and A. C. Wagenaar, “Effects of State Medical Marijuana Laws on Adolescent Marijuana Use,” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 103, no. 8, pp. 1500-1506, 2013.

What You Need to Know About Propranolol for Anxiety

Anxiety impacts millions of people across the world every day. It comes in different forms and impacts each person to a different degree. For some, anxiety can be overwhelming and prevent them from doing things they love to do. Fortunately, there are a variety of medications available to help those who suffer from anxiety. Depending on the diagnosis and symptoms each person experiences, medications may benefit them to different degrees. Working closely with your mental health provider and primary care provider, you can find a medication regimen that will work best for you to manage your anxiety symptoms.

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