Depression is frequently confused with natural and circumstantial feelings of grief or sadness. However, depression is not merely a weakness. It is not something to be taken lightly. Indeed, it is quite a serious issue and can last for long periods of time. Accordingly, there are different types of depression and they could present with more than a couple of symptoms.
In fact, depression does not merely involve feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. To summarize, it is much more terrible and has a negative effect on your day-to-day functioning.
Further, there are many different types of depression. These are:
Firstly, Major depression
Secondly, Bipolar depression
Thirdly, Psychotic depression
Fourthly, Chronic depression (even dysthymia)
Fifthly, Seasonal depression
Sixthly, Substance-induced depression
Seventhly, Postpartum depression
Eighthly, Double depression
Ninthly, Treatment-resistant depression
Tenthly, Secondary depression
Finally, Masked depression
First off, signs and symptoms of clinical depression vary. Secondly, they depend largely on how severe, how long lasting and how often they come into play. In addition, there are individual differences. Therefore, while some experience a few signs of depression, others experience more. Hereunder, is a list of symptoms that might indicate that you may be suffering from depression and that you might want to consult a psychiatrist:
Firstly, Being sad for most parts of the day, especially in the morning
Secondly, Feeling like blaming yourself unnecessarily or feeling worthless almost every day
Thirdly, More inclined towards being negative
Fourthly, Sleep Difficulties i.e. Loss of sleep or Excessive sleep
Fifthly, Regular contemplations of death or suicide
Sixthly, Significant weight gain or weight loss
Seventhly, Appetite loss or overeating
Eighthly, Feelings of high fatigue and low energy levels almost every day
Ninthly, Inability to make decisions or impaired focus and difficulty concentrating
Tenthly, Lack of interest in almost all daily activities or hobbies, including sexual activity
Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder, with its pathogenesis in neurodevelopmental anomalies. The 5 domains of schizophrenia include:
Positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations).
Ubiquitous cognitive deficits
Motor symptoms (dyskinesias).
Deficits in social cognition, or socio-occupational functioning.
Negative symptoms include blunted affect, alogia, avolition, asociality, amotivation, anhedonia, ideational constriction, apathy or inertia, and abulia.
Blunted affect: This refers to the decreased intensity and repertoire of emotional expressions.
Alogia: This refers to the paucity in the speech content that is evident in patients of schizophrenia.
Avolition: This refers to the deficits in initiation and maintenance of goal-directed behaviors.
Anhedonia: This is the decreased ability to experience and anticipate pleasure, or pleasurable emotions. Recent studies have pointed out that patients with schizophrenia have the ablility to enjoy the pleasurable experience. However, they display a lack of wanting to experience these pleasurable pursuits or enjoyable experiences. Consummatory hedonia is the ability to experience an emotion. Also, anticipatory hedonia is the want to experience a pleasurable pursuit. Patients with schizophrenia display anticipatory anhedonia. However, negative symptoms have not been unique to schizophrenia alone.
Classification of Negative Symptoms:
Deficits in the brain circuitry concerning reward (nucleus accumbens), motivation and pleasure are the reason for negative symptoms.
Negative symptoms are further classified into:
Enduring Primary Negative Symptoms: The enduring primary negative symptoms can consistently present over long periods of time, despite fluctuations in other aspects of the disease. These enduring primary negative symptoms constitute what is called the deficit syndrome in schizophrenia.
Transitory Secondary Negative Symptoms: Secondary negative symptoms can occur transitory in nature, fluctuate largely over the course of the illness, and abate with reduction in the other aspects of the disease.
What Causes Secondary Negative Symptoms?
These are secondary to positive symptoms. That is, if a patient hears voices commanding him not to venture out of his home, lest he is attacked by his arch nemesis, such an individual is bound to stay at home for the fear of being attacked. Such an individual will also limit his social interaction, and display paucity in his speech content. People mistake this for apathy and alogia. However, in fact it is a reflection of the aftermath of auditory hallucinations, a positive symptom.
Secondary negative symptoms are attributable to chronic social deprivation. This is evident in patients who are chronically institutionalized in asylums. Such long bouts of social isolation serve to remove all motivation in these individuals to interact with the outside world, especially at a time when they are overwhelmed by their illness, and are unable to integrate their inner perceptual experiences. Chronic institutionalization comes across as a severely under-stimulating environment.
Lastly secondary negative symptoms may be due to medications themselves. In medical terms, it is called neuroleptic-induced dysphoria. The medications which are used to treat a psychotic breakdown cause a reduction in the levels of the happy hormone serotonin, and this may produce a depression like picture. However, this is not to be confused with the post-psychotic depression that is commonly seen after a psychotic episode. Although the treatment does not differ in both these scenarios, recognition of the individual clinical scenario has important prognostic ramifications. In theory, risk of exacerbation of the psychotic symptoms exists, when the post-psychotic depression is treated with antidepressants.
Indeed, deficit syndrome or a clustering of these negative symptoms entails a poor quality of life, and impaired socio-occupational functioning.
Subsequently, individuals become unproductive, and lead a life of social isolation and deprivation.
The motivation to go out and do something beautiful, achieve a target, strive towards betterment of oneself diminishes and stops. Also, work towards a greater good of one’s community, all day to day goals in the lives of a regular individual, cease to exist.
Degree of Future Negative Symptoms:
Firstly, Among the strongest predictors of the degree of future negative symptoms is Duration of Untreated Psychosis, or DUP.
Thus, DUP refers to the time lag between the appearance of the first psychotic symptoms, and the treatment sought for these symptoms.
However, greater the duration of the untreated psychosis, greater is the future occurence of negative symptoms and cognitive deficits.
Indeed, an individual with a substantial cognitive reserve offers some protection against the cognitive deficits in schizophrenia, and dementia.
Since the nature of these cognitive deficits is ubiquitous, these may be evident as early as the prodromal phase of schizophrenia.
Indeed, greater the volume of grey matter loss, greater is the cognitive deficit syndrome. Also, greater the duration of untreated psychosis, greater is the grey matter volume loss.
Psychosocial interventions: Indeed, this is as important as psychopharmacological interventions. Thus, forming support groups, and meeting at regular intervals of these groups is important. Nevertheless, these group meetings give voice to individual experiences and problems. So, thereapists give encouragement to client participation. Assessment is done of the progress so far. Therapists also ascertain the goals for the future.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Therapists aid the clients in recognizing cognitive distortions. Subsequently, they help in unlearning older maladaptive behaviors, and focusing on learning newer adaptive ones. Individualized therapy is suitable. Because, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Studies consistently show that individual therapy is better than group therapy in the treatment of negative symptoms.
Cognitive remediation therapy for cognitive deficits: This includes pencil-paper tasks, sudoku, crossword, computer exercises. Therapists tailor some of the exercises to focus on deficits in individual domains like attention, speed of thought processing, verbal working memory, reasoning, and social cognition.
Others: Thus, aerobic exercises help in neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, and modulate neuroplasticity.
In fact, Amisulpiride and Fluoxetine treat the negative symptoms. Amisulpride increases levels of the hormone prolactin in the long run. Hyperprolactinaemia can set the precedent for osteoporosis.
However, recent studies have shown that Clozapine has the highest level of evidence in the management of negative symptoms. With Clozapine, the improvements can be visible even after 6 months of initiation of treatment.
Moreover, Clozapine trial requires regular monitoring of the White Blood Cell counts, and causes constipation, weight gain, salivation, postural hypotension, and palpitations as common side effects.
Brain Stimulation Techniques:
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Firstly, TMS of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has proven to be very effective in the treatment of negative symptoms.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). However, it is not as effective for negative symptoms, as it is for depression and positive symptoms.
Novel Treatment Approaches:
Emerging molecular targets – These include GABAergic modulation, targeting oxytocin receptors (implicated in the social cognition deficits in schizophrenia, along with mirror neurons). Also, countering neuroinflammation by using cyclo-oxygenase inhibitors like Rofecoxib. Others include – NMDA (N-Methyl-D-Aspartate) antagonists like Memantine, Glycine-reuptake inhibitors like Bitopetrin, and Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 2/3 agonists like Pomaglumetad. Memantine, Bitopetrin and Pomaglumetad come under the purview of glutamatergic modulation.
There is definitely hope for those afflicted with the deficit syndrome, with researchers identifying a plethora of molecular targets.
Fits, Seizures, Epilepsy is a form of chronic disorder and it is characterized by recurrent seizures and importantly does have treatment options. The episodes of epileptic seizures may differ from person to person. These seizures could be a result of genetic disorder or a result of trauma or stroke. During a seizure, a patient may also experience symptoms of neurological disorders and sometimes lose consciousness. However, treatment is available.
Medical help for fits seizures or epilepsy i.e. treatment
Medications cannot cure seizures entirely. However, proper medicines help in eliminating recurrent seizures. These medicines stabilize the electrical activity within the brain preventing seizures.
How effective is the medication treatment for fits seizures or epilepsy?
The success of controlling seizures using medicines depends on the type and severity of the epilepsy. Medicines for epilepsy are usually very effective and may fully keep seizures under control. However, brain problems can cause seizures. In such cases treatment may be more difficult. Usually, epilepsy medicines can control seizures for a long period of time when they are taken regularly.
Need for medical help
The decision about when to start medicines for epilepsy is a tricky one. This is because a first seizure cannot confirm whether a person has an on-going epilepsy problem. A second seizure may occur after many years or may not happen at all. Prediction of seizures is also quite difficult.
The severity of seizures also indicates when to start medicines for treatment. In case a first seizure is quite severe, medication should be started at once. Some people have very mild seizures even though they may be recurring in nature, and medication can be avoided in this situation.
All the pros and cons must be thought over before starting medications for the treatment of fits or epilepsy. It is advisable to wait for a second seizure and then start medications for treatment. You should always consult a doctor to know when you need to start taking medicines to treat the condition.
For making the most out of the medicines to control seizures, you should follow certain steps:
You must take medications exactly as your doctor has prescribed.
Before switching to generic versions of your medicines or before taking other prescribed medicines, you must consult your doctor.
You should never stop taking the medicines.
In case you experience enhanced depression, mood swings and suicidal thoughts, you should talk to your doctor immediately.
In case you have migraine, you should let your doctor know so that he can prescribe you anti-epileptic medicines, which also prevent migraines.
Depressed Woman Vaginismus comes to mind. It is not only the cyclical changes in physiological and psychological terms that women have to endure and become resilient. Women also need to change to external circumstances. Hence, they are probably designed to be flexible enough for change. However, depression can get the better of even the so called toughest woman. Good news is that it is something that can be treated to the fullest degree. Among the various symptoms of depression that are easily modified with medications sexual symptoms are rarely discussed. However, one symptom rarely discussed is that of sexual problems or disinterest due especially to physical causes resulting in depression.
A specific sexual disturbance especially during the initiation of first sexual contact or encounter is that of dyspareunia. The female version of which is vaginismus, which could possible be more common in depressed women. There are various successful vaginismus treatments that do not require interventions. These include medications, surgical operations, psychotherapeutic measures, nor any other complex interventional procedures.
Vaginismus is treatable and the success rates are quite high.
Among the most effective treatment approaches are a combination of pelvic floor control exercises very commonly known as kegel exercises. This along with insertion or dilation training using objects that are specific to the sexual treatment procedures is helpful. Resulting in pain elimination techniques using psychotherapeutic measures like exposure and response prevention are helpful. Likewise, transition steps with incremental tolerance to pain and enjoyment of the act are taught. Also, exercises designed to help women identify, express and resolve any contributing emotional components are helpful. They either are from the past experiences or from ill-informed sexual learning experiences which are mostly hearsay.
Women can do their treatments at the comfort of their homes. Thus, allowing a woman to work at her own pace in privacy, or in cooperation with her health care provider. The sexual pain, tightness and penetration difficulties that are due to vaginismus in depressed women are completely treatable. In addition, they fully overcome any remaining pain or discomfort, over the course of time.
Women experiencing pain or tightness during sexual activities can expect great benefit. However, if pain is associated with penile penetration problems including unconsummated relationships, they can expect high degree of resolution of vaginismus. This is true even in depressed women. This would allow for full pain free and adequate intercourse to the satisfaction of both partners.
Vaginismus treatment in depressed women and exercises follow a manageable, step-by-step process ~
Step 1 –
Understanding Vaginismus. Step 1 provides an overview of vaginismus and how symptoms can arise from it. Symptoms include sexual pain, tightness, burning sensations or penetration difficulties may result from it. Women start their sexual endeavor with this approach. The women become proactive about their sexual health. This is because an understanding vaginismus is fundamental to the process of overcoming it. Topics also include how to obtain a solid diagnosis, treatment methods, relationship issues, pelvic/relaxation techniques, conditioned responses and muscle memories.
Step 2 –
Sexual History Review & Treatment Strategies. A balanced approach helps women review and analyze their history. Exercises help identify and evaluate any events, emotions, or triggers contributing to vaginismus sexual pain or penetration problems. Checklists and detailed exercises map out a woman’s sexual history and pelvic pain events, working toward appropriate treatment strategies. Emotional reviews help detail any negative events, feelings, or memories that may collectively contribute to involuntary pelvic responses. Topics also include blocked or hidden memories. In addition, how to move forward when there have been traumatic events in a woman’s past.
Step 3 –
Sexual Pain Anatomy. Women often lack complete information about their body’s sexual anatomy, function, and the causes of pelvic pain and penetration problems. Confusion regarding problems with inner vaginal areas and vaginal muscles frequently lead to misdiagnosis and frustration. Step 3 educates about these sexual body parts with emphasis on their role in sexual pain and penetration issues. Topics include how to distinguish what kind of pain or discomfort is normal with first-time or ongoing sex. Also, what physical changes take place during arousal to orgasm cycles in the context of sexual pain or penetration problems. In this step, explanations about the Anatomy areas such as the hymen and inner vulva. These areas are demystified (for example there are six diagrams of hymen varieties to help distinguish hymen problems).
Step 4 –
Vaginal Tightness & The Role Of Pelvic Floor Muscles.Female sexual pain and penetration difficulties typically involve some degree of involuntary tightening of the pelvic floor. This step focuses on the role of pelvic floor muscles, especially the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle group. This explains in great detail how triggering the PC once continues their involuntary tightness. This continues with increasing attempts at intercourse. Effective vaginismus treatment focuses on retraining the pelvic floor to eliminate involuntary muscle reactions that produce tightness or pain. Learning how to identify, selectively control, exercise and retrain the pelvic muscles is a trick. This is to reduce pain and alleviate penetration tightness and difficulties is an important step in vaginismus treatment.
Step 5 –
Insertion Techniques. Allowing initial entry without pain, for women with painful penetration is the purpose of this technique. In this step, women practice pubococcygeus (PC) muscle control techniques. Women allow the entry of a small object (cotton swab, tampon, or finger) into their vagina. Thus, gradually working completely under their control and pace. The step helps in any previous closure of the entrance to the vagina and prevention of penetration by involuntary muscle contractions. Women begin to take full control over their pelvic floor. They subsequently learn how to flex and relax the pelvic floor at will, eliminating unwanted tightness and allowing entry.
Step 6 –
Graduated Vaginal Insertions However, when used properly, vaginal dilators are effective tools to further help eliminate pelvic tightness due to vaginismus. Also, dilators provide a substitute means to trigger pelvic muscle reactions. Thus, the effective dilator exercises in Step 6 teach women certain techniques. However, these include how to override involuntary contractions, relaxing the pelvic floor so it responds correctly to sexual penetration. Subsequently, graduated vaginal insertion exercises allow women to comfortably transition. Hence,this is to set the stage where they are ready for intercourse without pain or discomfort.
Step 7 –
Sensate Focus & Techniques For Couples To Reduce Pelvic Floor Tension. Helping with the transition to pain-free intercourse, this step explains sensate focus techniques. This is for couples to use to reduce pelvic floor tension and increase intimacy. Couples begin to work together during this step as exercises teach how to successfully practice sensate focus (controlled sensual touch). In addition, they prepare for pain-free intercourse using techniques from earlier steps. The exercises build trust and understanding. In addition, they assist in the process to adjust to controlled intercourse without pain.
Step 8 –
Pre-Intercourse Readiness Exercises Finalizing preparations for couples to transition to fully pain-free intercourse, this step completes pre-intercourse readiness. Couples review and practice techniques that eliminate pelvic floor tension and prepare to transition to full intercourse. Preparing ahead of time is the key to this step. This is to manage, control and eliminate pain or penetration difficulties. Hence, the exercises assist with the final transition to pain-free intercourse.
Step 9 –
Making The Transition To Intercourse. Step 9 explains the techniques used to eliminate pain and penetration difficulties while transitioning to normal intercourse. This section includes many troubleshooting topics of great use. Examples include, such as positions to use to maximize control and minimize pain, tips to ensure more comfortable intercourse, etc.
Step 10 –
Full Pain-Free Intercourse & Pleasure Restoration. The final step toward overcoming vaginismus includes penis entry with movement and freedom from any pain or tightness. To educate, build sexual trust and intimacy are the goals of Step 10. They help complete the transition to full sexual intercourse free of pain. Couples can begin to enjoy pleasure with intercourse, initiate family planning, and move forward to live life free from vaginismus.
Worry fear anxiety are all a normal part of life, and can even be helpful in some instances. We often worry about things that are present in our lives, such as finances, work, and family, and this worry has the potential to help us make good decisions in these areas. This is normal and is not a cause of concern as this kind of worry leads to solutions to problems.
It is possible, however, for worry to become more confronting, emotionally, than these everyday worries. If you are experiencing worries that are excessive, uncontrollable, or irrational, and have been experiencing these worries for an extended period of time, you may be suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD.
If you feel that your worrying is out of your control and that you need some help understanding and dealing with it, this information on worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder will help
While most people worry about everyday things such as family, work pressures, health, or money, worrying about these kinds of things do not typically get in the way of everyday functioning. However, people with GAD find that their worry is excessive (they worry more about a situation or scenario than others do or “blow things out of proportion”), difficult to control, and pervasive (they worry fear or anxiety begins about a specific event but then extends to all similar or related events). GAD often results in an occupational social and physical impairment, as well as emotional distress.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
There is a 10% chance of a person developing Generalized Anxiety Disorder at some point in their life, and 3% of the population will be diagnosed with GAD in a given year. This disorder is one of the most common diagnoses at the primary care level. The age of onset of GAD is quite variable, ranging from twenty to forty years of age, but most report that they have always been worriers and that worrying is only now becoming a handicap. Females are more likely to develop GAD than males.
GAD tends to develop gradually and fluctuate in severity over time. Although most people appear to be symptomatic for the majority of the time since the onset of the disorder, about one-quarter of people with GAD exhibit periods of remission (three months or longer without symptoms).
Research has identified various core issues in the development and maintenance of GAD. For example, intolerance of uncertainty about the future has been identified as one of the core issues in GAD. The role of “worry about worry, in which people believe that worry is uncontrollable or inherently dangerous, is also central. Excessive worry can also be a way of avoiding emotional processing related to fear, and the role of emotion dysregulation and experiential avoidance may also be central to GAD.
Signs and Symptoms
So what are the signs of Anxiety which result in GAD that requires you to consult a psychiatrist to find the right solution in terms of therapy with medications or counseling or both:
1. Excessive worrying that lasts for months, plus some or all of the following 2. Feeling restless, keyed up, or on edge most of the time 3. Being easily tired 4. Having difficulty concentrating, or having your mind go blank. 5. Being irritable. 6. Having tense or sore muscles. 7. Having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having restless, unsatisfying sleep. 8. Over-planning 9. Excessive list making 10. Seeking reassurance from others
Firstly, there is a distinct relationship between sleeping disorders and your emotional health. In fact, both influence each other. However, insomnia and sleep difficulties, are common sleeping disorders, is generally caused due to stress and tension.
In fact, depression and anxiety also account for insomnia. Indeed, it has been proven by research. In fact, people who experience sleeplessness or cases of insomnia are at a higher risk of depression and similar psychiatric disorders.
In fact, insomnia and sleep difficulties are an important factor which cause depression, and many people affected by it commit suicide. However, researchers have found dysfunctional activity in the area of the brain where emotions are processed and regulated. In fact, among people with insomnia, their study explains the mechanism by which insomnia affects and influences emotions. In addition, in people, this leads to depression and other disorders.
The ways in which insomnia and sleep difficulties affect your emotions:
In fact, there is a clear difference in the brain activities of people with insomnia. However, this is when compared with normal people who get good sleep. In fact, there is usually a great difference between the activities of the amygdala. Indeed, these are neurons in the temporal lobe of the brain. Thus, the amygdala is very important in regulation and processing of emotions.
Signs and symptoms
Insomnia disrupts the ability of the brain to process negative emotions.
Nevertheless, insomnia causes neural change and problems with regulating emotions.
Insomnia disables the ability of judging or sensing any kind of emotion by looking at the face of a person. However, it is difficult to judge emotions such as anger and sadness in people suffering from insomnia. This impairment occurs more in women.
Insomnia and similar sleeping disorders affect our inhibition and disrupt our impulse control mechanism. An insomniac person is likely to develop increased impulsiveness to negative stimulus.
People suffering from insomnia develop a perception towards negative stuff and perceive most things in a negative way. However, rather than looking at the bright side which a normal person tends to do. Insomniacs are characterises by a negative mood and are pessimism.
A sleep deprived or insomniac patient shows greater activity around the limbic area of the brain. Emotional regulation and processing undertakes in the limbic area.
A person suffering from insomnia develops a cranky personality. The patient is in an irritable mood. The slightest and pettiest of circumstances triggers him. However, insomnia characterizes other symptoms.Examples include, swinging moods, high temper and general fatigue, which result due to lack of sleep.
Insomnia is a sleeping disorder which directly affects a person’s emotions and the processing and regulation of emotions. There is a direct and important link between insomnia and emotional disorders. Indeed, if you believe you have insomnia or sleep difficulties then it may be best to contact our psychiatrist. Click HERE for the best advice that we can offer for you.
Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.
Why is it important to practice good sleep hygiene?
Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from practicing good sleep habits.
How can I improve my sleep hygiene?
One of the most important sleep hygiene practices is to spend an appropriate amount of time asleep in bed, not too little or too excessive. Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. However, there are recommendations that can provide guidance on how much sleep you need generally. Other good sleep hygiene practices include:
LIMITING DAYTIME NAPS
Limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes . Napping does not make up for inadequate nighttime sleep. However, a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.
Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. And when it comes to alcohol, moderation is key 4. While alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.
Exercising to promote good quality sleep. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality. For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. However, the effect of intense nighttime exercise on sleep differs from person to person, so find out what works best for you.
Steering clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep. Heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks can trigger indigestion for some people. When this occurs close to bedtime, it can lead to painful heartburn that disrupts sleep.
THE SLEEP-WAKE CYCLE
Ensuring adequate exposure to natural light. This is particularly important for individuals who may not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle .
A BEDTIME ROUTINE
Establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine. A regular nightly routine helps the body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, or light stretches. When possible, try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before attempting to sleep.
Making sure that the sleep environment is pleasant. Mattress and pillows should be comfortable. The bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees – for optimal sleep. Bright light from lamps, cell phone and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, so turn those light off or adjust them when possible. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.
What are signs of poor sleep hygiene?
Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if you’re taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revising your bedtime habits. Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning.
Contact your psychiatrist to find the right kind of therapy for YOU either counseling or medications or a combination or both for good sleep hygiene.
Natural Sleep Secrets Tailored to Your Nightly Needs
Natural Secrets for a refreshing sleep sounds elusive. Sound slumber results in increased energy and productivity, improved heart and immune system health, a better mood, even a longer life. And hey, you just feel so much better after a satisfying 8 hours of rest. But chances are, you’re not getting it. Sleep issues are epidemic among women today,
Not surprisingly, women tend to get less sleep than men do overall. Even if you don’t have children, levels of sleep-promoting estrogen sink regularly during menstruation and then permanently in menopause. And symptoms related to both—cramps, headaches, hot flashes, and night sweats—also disrupt slumber.
But experts agree that these biological facts don’t mean that sleep deprivation has to be your destiny. Feeling tired should never be considered normal. Yet there are no stock sleep solutions, either: Finding out what works for you takes some trial and error, but it’s well worth it. Sleep is a basic biological necessity—just like eating—and it has an impact on every aspect of your health and your life. Here are the natural secrets for a refreshing sleep.
Try these 20 ideas to find the sleep formula that works best for you.
Set a Sleep Schedule
If you do only one thing to improve your sleep, this is it: Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning—even on weekends. A regular sleep routine keeps your biological clock steady so you rest better. Exposure to a regular pattern of light and dark helps, so stay in sync by opening the blinds or going outside right after you wake up.
Keep a Sleep Diary
To help you understand how your habits affect your rest, track your sleep every day for at least 2 weeks. Write down not only what’s obviously sleep related—what time you go to bed, how long it takes you to fall asleep, how many times you wake up during the night, how you feel in the morning—but also factors like what you ate close to bedtime and what exercise you got. Comparing your daily activities with your nightly sleep patterns can show you where you need to make changes.
Reason number 1,001: Nicotine is a stimulant, so it prevents you from falling asleep. Plus, many smokers experience withdrawal pangs at night. Smokers are 4 times more likely not to feel as well rested after a night’s sleep than nonsmokers, studies show, and smoking exacerbates sleep apnea and other breathing disorders, which can also stop you from getting a good night’s rest. Don’t worry that quitting will keep you up nights too: That effect passes in about 3 nights.
Review Your Medications
Beta-blockers (prescribed for high blood pressure) may cause insomnia; so can SSRIs (a class of antidepressants that includes Prozac and Zoloft). And that’s just the beginning. Write down every drug and supplement you take, and have your doctor evaluate how they may be affecting your sleep.
Exercise, But Not Right Before Bedtime
Working out—especially cardio—improves the length and quality of your sleep. That said, 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise keeps your body temperature elevated for about 4 hours, inhibiting sleep. When your body begins to cool down, however, it signals your brain to release sleep-inducing melatonin, so then you’ll get drowsy.
Cut Caffeine After 2 p.m.
That means coffee, tea, and cola. Caffeine is a stimulant that stays in your system for about 8 hours, so if you have a cappuccino after dinner, come bedtime, it’ll either prevent your brain from entering deep sleep or stop you from falling asleep altogether.
Write Down Your Woes
“The number one sleep complaint I hear? ‘I can’t turn off my mind,'” – To quiet that wakeful worrying, every night jot down your top concerns—say, I have to call my insurer to dispute that denied claim, which will take forever, and how can I spend all that time on the phone when work is so busy? Then write down the steps you can take to solve the problem—I’m going to look up the numbers before breakfast, refuse to stay on hold for more than three minutes, and send e-mails tomorrow night if I can’t get through—or even I can’t do anything about this tonight, so I’ll worry about it tomorrow. Once your concerns are converted into some kind of action plan, you’ll rest easier. Are You Nice To You?
Take Time to Wind Down
“Sleep is not an on-off switch,”. “It’s more like slowly easing your foot off the gas.” Give your body time to transition from your active day to bedtime drowsiness by setting a timer for an hour before bed and divvying up the time as follows:
First 20 minutes: Prep for tomorrow (pack your bag, set out your clothes).
Next 20: Take care of personal hygiene (brush your teeth, moisturize your face).
Last 20: Relax in bed, reading with a small, low-wattage book light or practicing deep breathing.
Sip Milk, Not a Martini
A few hours after drinking, alcohol levels in your blood start to drop, which signals your body to wake up. It takes an average person about an hour to metabolize one drink, so if you have two glasses of wine with dinner, finish your last sip at least 2 hours before bed.
Snack on Cheese and Crackers
The ideal nighttime nosh combines carbohydrates and either calcium or a protein that contains the amino acid tryptophan—studies show that both of these combos boost serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical that helps you feel calm. Enjoy your snack about an hour before bedtime so that the amino acids have time to reach your brain.
Some good choices:
One piece of whole grain toast with a slice of low-fat cheese or turkey
A banana with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
Whole grain cereal and fat-free milk
Fruit and low-fat yogurt
Listen to a Bedtime Story
Load a familiar audiobook on your iPod—one that you know well, so it doesn’t engage you but distracts your attention until you drift off to sleep. Relaxing music works well, too.
Experts usually recommend setting your bedroom thermostat between 65° and 75°F—a good guideline, but pay attention to how you actually feel under the covers. Slipping between cool sheets helps trigger a drop in your body temperature. That shift signals the body to produce melatonin, which induces sleep. That’s why it’s also a good idea to take a warm bath or hot shower before going to bed: Both temporarily raise your body temperature, after which it gradually lowers in the cooler air, cueing your body to feel sleepy. But for optimal rest, once you’ve settled in to bed, you shouldn’t feel cold or hot—but just right.
…Especially if You’re Menopausal
During menopause, 75 percent of women suffer from hot flashes, and just over 20% have night sweats or hot flashes that trouble their sleep. Consider turning on a fan or the AC to cool and circulate the air. Just go low gradually: Your body loses some ability to regulate its temperature during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, so overchilling your environment—down to 60°F, for instance—will backfire.
Spray a Sleep-Inducing Scent
Certain smells, such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang, activate the alpha wave activity in the back of your brain, which leads to relaxation and helps you sleep more soundly. Mix a few drops of essential oil and water in a spray bottle and give your pillowcase a spritz.
Turn on the White Noise
Sound machines designed to help you sleep produce a low-level soothing noise. These can help you tune out barking dogs, the TV downstairs, or any other disturbances so you can fall asleep and stay asleep.
Eliminate Sneaky Light Sources
“Light is a powerful signal to your brain to be awake:. Even the glow from your laptop, iPad, smart phone, or any other electronics on your nightstand may pass through your closed eyelids and retinas into your hypothalamus—the part of your brain that controls sleep. This delays your brain’s release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Thus, the darker your room is, the more soundly you’ll sleep.
Consider Kicking Out Furry Bedmates
Cats can be active in the late-night and early morning hours, and dogs may scratch, sniff, and snore you awake. More than half of people who sleep with their pets say the animals disturb their slumber, according to a survey from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center.
Check Your Pillow Position
The perfect prop for your head will keep your spine and neck in a straight line to avoid tension or cramps that can prevent you from falling asleep. Ask your spouse to check the alignment of your head and neck when you’re in your starting sleep position. If your neck is flexed back or raised, get a pillow that lets you sleep in a better-aligned position. And if you’re a stomach sleeper, consider using either no pillow or a very flat one to help keep your neck and spine straight.
This technique helps reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, releases endorphins, and relaxes your body, priming you for sleep. Inhale for 5 seconds, pause for 3, then exhale to a count of 5. Start with 8 repetitions; gradually increase to 15. To see if you’re doing it right, buy a bottle of children’s bubbles, breathe in through your belly, and blow through the wand. The smooth and steady breath that you use to blow a bubble successfully should be what you strive for when you’re trying to get to sleep.
Stay Put If You Wake Up
“The textbook advice is that if you can’t fall back asleep in fifteen minutes, get out of bed,” “But I ask my patients, ‘How do you feel in bed?’ If they’re not fretting or anxious, I tell them to stay there, in the dark, and do some deep breathing or visualization.” But if lying in bed pushes your stress buttons, get up and do something quiet and relaxing (in dim light), such as gentle yoga or massaging your feet until you feel sleepy again.
Good sleep habits or good sleep hygiene, are mostly common sense. However life is very busy and we often don’t think about them. So, here are some tips for a magical sleep which may help.
Value your bedtime and have the same getting up time during the work week, regardless of sleep. The body has an internal clock and hormones that control sleepiness and wakefulness. This clock works best if there is a regular sleep routine. When you feel sleepy at bedtime try not to ignore this by staying up, as this is a window of opportunity for sleep. Some tips for a magical sleep.
Going to bed too early can also disturb your sleep. In the hour before going to bed, it is important that you have a relaxing sleep routine to allow you to wind down. This may include any form of “time out” compared with your day e.g. a warm bath, reading quietly or a warm milk drink.
Falling asleep on the couch during the evening reduces your sleep drive and makes it harder to fall asleep when you go to bed.
Caffeine needs to be avoided for at least four hours before going to bed. This includes colas, soft drinks, coffee and tea.
Smoking makes it difficult to go to sleep, so there should be no cigarettes before going to bed or during the night.
Alcohol might help you get to sleep in small amounts but may make it harder to stay asleep. Too much alcohol will make snoring and sleep apnoea worse as well. Stimulating activities should be avoided in the hour before bed.
Mealtime – Your body slows down at night, and eating too close to bedtime i.e. less than two hours, makes it difficult to sleep. Eating too late may impact your glucose metabolism.
Bed – A Place to look forward to – Your bed must be comfortable, warm and restful. Both the temperature of the room and having enough blankets is important – warm hands and feet are essential. Remove distractions from the bedroom e.g. television, computer, radio and telephone. Any clocks in the bedroom should be covered to avoid clock-watching. If possible, do not allow children and pets to disturb you.
Daytime – Exercise is good for sleep, but not just before going to bed. The best times are in the morning and before dinner. It is best to be outside in the early part of the day. Avoid lying in bed during the day.
Using the bedroom to study, watch television, make phone calls and read books makes it harder to sleep as the brain will no longer link the bed with sleep. The bedroom is for sleeping and intimacy only.
Some more tips:
Can’t Sleep, won’t sleep, what shall I do? – Sleep is not something you can force to happen. If you are not asleep within 20-30 minutes of going to bed, get up, go to another darkened room and sit quietly. Boredom can promote sleep!
Do not watch television, use a computer, eat, drink or do household chores. When you feel tired again go back to bed. This helps your mind link bed with sleep – not with being unhappy and not sleeping. Do not look at the clock. No matter what time it is you will have an emotional reaction.
REST IS GOOD – IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SLEEP
My brain won’t switch off – If you lie awake in bed at night and cannot switch off your thoughts, set aside a “worry time” during the evening. Use this time to think about the day’s event, make plans and possible solutions. Then acknowledge any thoughts and learn to “let them go”. Keep the hour before bed as your wind down time – develop a routine that prepares your body and mind for sleep. Listen to quiet music or do relaxation. Our thoughts continue all the time, so try to make them calmer by creating a favorite fantasy place or daydreaming of your favorite holiday spot. If other thoughts come in, consider them for a moment and then try to gently replace them with calm thoughts.
How much sleep do I need?
Most adults need seven to nine hours sleep each day. Younger people have different sleep needs. If you are a poorer sleeper it is important you learn to match time in bed with perceived sleep time to improve sleep quality. If you spend more time in bed, you will be telling your body that it is OK to drift in and out of sleep all night. Going to bed later at night may be the best thing to reduce your time lying awake in bed at night.
If you are taking short afternoon naps (10-20 minutes maximum) without any problems, then you might want to keep doing this. However, naps in the evening or dozing in front of the television can make it harder to get to sleep at night.
Your doctor and medications – If you are struggling with your sleep, seek advice from your doctor who may refer you to a sleep specialist or psychologist. Some medications make it easier to get to sleep but others will keep you awake. It is best to take them only when your doctor or pharmacist says so. Sleeping pills can be good when a specific event in your life is making it hard to sleep but they are only a short term fix. These are some tips for a magical sleep.
Always consult a psychiatrist if your problems interfere with daily normal functioning.
The exam season has arrived. And so has Exam Anxiety and Phobia.
Students can be seen immersed in their books and notes.
Excitement is in the air and so is anxiety.
While the former is a good thing to see, the latter raises concerns in the minds of parents and teachers. However, the fact is that anxiety before exams is a normal thing.
The pressure to perform will make students experience nervousness. Indeed, this is alright, but only if it is up to a limit. If it reaches an unhealthy level, it needs to be managed.
If a student experiences the following symptoms before exams, then the anxiety is unhealthy. and it is time for a session with a psychiatrist.
Difficulty in breathing
These symptoms are an indication of the student being in the grip of panic and fear.
Nevertheless, it can be managed and controlled with the following tips.
Make a study plan for preparation: In some cases, students get anxious because they are not ready with the preparation. However, just days before the exam, they feel at a loss. They become anxious as to how they will answer the questions in the exam. To avoid this, students should make a plan for preparation. Indeed, devoting adequate time to each topic so that the entire syllabus is covered and their preparation is complete.
Meditate and try breathing techniques: Meditation is a great relaxation technique that soothes the mind and body. Also, taking deep breaths (inhaling and exhaling). Example for 15 to 20 minutes can go a long way in controlling the symptoms of anxiety. In addition, meditation gives you confidence, removes negative thoughts and also improves your concentration and memory.
Exercise regularly: Getting involved in physical activity before an exam seems like a waste of time to many. However, it is necessary to avoid tension and stay healthy. So, if sports cannot be indulged into, one should go for exercises such as stretching and aerobics. Indeed, they relax the tensed muscles and keep fatigue at bay.
Eat green vegetables and light food: Eating healthy is also important during exam preparation. If one skips meals or takes recourse to fast foods, it makes anxiety worse. In fact, junk food makes one drowsy. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables are light and easy to digest. They also provide complete nutrition and ensure the sustained release of energy during the study sessions.
Sleep well: Many students compromise on sleep. They think that it would help in studies. However, lack of sleep leads to poor focus and concentration which further affects the studies. It also makes one irritable and drowsy. So, one should make sure that one is getting 6 hours of sleep every day.
Exam anxiety and phobia, is not an uncommon phenomenon. In fact, a small amount of anxiety is a good thing. Indeed, it acts as it motivates one to perform better. It leads to nervous energy which keeps one alert. However, the moment it gets out of hand, it is a cause for concern. So, one must seek help if one is experiencing the anxiety symptoms and follow the above-mentioned tips. It will surely help a student. Call your counselor or child psychiatrist to learn more.
Try to exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day. Daily exercise often helps people sleep, although a workout soon before bedtime may interfere with sleep. For maximum benefit, try to get your exercise about 6 to 8 hours before going to bed. Do not exercise within two hours of bedtime.
2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
Avoid drinks that contain caffeine, which acts as a stimulant and keeps people awake. Sources of caffeine include coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas and some pain relievers. Smokers tend to sleep very lightly and often wake up in the early morning due to nicotine withdrawal.
Alcohol robs people of deep sleep and keeps them in the lighter stages of sleep. Avoid all of these things at least 6 to 8 hours before sleeping if you want a good night’s sleep. Also, try to avoid eating any kind of large meal within two hours of bedtime.
3. Darken your bedroom — completely
Recent research has shown that a dark bedroom helps us to sleep better and completely every night. Studies have found that even small things – like the brightness of your watch or the LED of any other device in your bedroom, can reduce the overall quality of sleep.
4. Decrease blue light your Smartphone at night
Sunlight is the largest source of blue light. Blue light regulates our circadian rhythms, which tell us when to sleep, and boosts alertness. Blue light from sunlight can benefit sleep. One of the Tips for better sleep. It is no secret that most of us have snuggled up with our Smartphone or digital tablet, or watched television from the comfort of our beds at some point. These habits that we have so quickly developed could be heavily contributing to our inability to sleep properly. Research has indicated that blue light emitted from digital devices could increase the risk of sleep complications. Actually, it is unlikely that any of us will stop using our equipment in the evening, but there are steps we can take to reduce our risk:-
limit screen time
apply screen filters
use the night mode settings on your devices
download blue light-reducing apps
5. Sleep up to the sunlight.
If possible, get up with the sun in the morning, or use very bright lights in the morning. Sunlight helps the body’s internal biological clock reset itself every day. Sleep experts advised people to contact one hour of morning sunlight for problems sleeping.
6. Don’t be a nighttime watchman
Sticking to a clock in your bedroom, either when you are asleep or when you wake up at midnight, the tension can really increase, making it harder to fall asleep. Keep your watch face away from yourself. And if you wake up in the middle of the night and do not sleep in about 20 minutes, then get up and listen to a quiet, comfortable activity such as reading or listening to music. And keep the lights down; Bright lighting can stimulate your inner clock. When your eyelids are fluttering and you’re ready to sleep, return to bed. One of the Tips for better sleep.
7. If you do not have sleep problems then meet doctor
If you have trouble sleeping at night after night, or if you feel tired the next day, then you may have a sleep problem and a doctor should look. Your primary care physician may be able to help you; If not, you might meet a sleep specialist in a nearby hospital nearby. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively, so you can finally get a good night’s sleep that you need.
8. Go to Sleep when you’re tired
It is just frustrating to struggle to fall asleep. If you are not sleeping after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and relax, like reading or listening to music until you get tired enough to sleep.
For more read a related blog. And, do not forget to consult your psychiatrist.