What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)? How Well Does it Work to Treat Depression and Anxiety?

speaking with mental health professional about treatment

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Depression and anxiety have a new treatment option, and it is becoming more widely used all across the United States. What is transcranial magnetic stimulation, otherwise known as TMS?

How well does TMS work?
Does it sound too “science fiction-ey”?

More than 16 million adults in the United States experienced a major depressive episode between 2017 and 2018, and with medical science advancing as rapidly as it is, it’s no wonder that new technologies and therapies are beginning to take the stage as options to conventional mental health treatment plans.

What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

TMS is a magnetic stimulation technique intended to target nerves in your brain that affect your mental health. More specifically, the magnetic field, delivered through a special device you wear on or over your head, stimulates the brain cells known to affect mood. The levels of magnetic energy used are in low amounts, at an individual’s unique brain frequency.

Most TMS sessions take 20 to 60 minutes, and don’t require any time to recover afterward. About four to six weeks into treatment (daily, five days a week) is when most patients start noticing significant results, and after that initial treatment, patients only need to go on an “as needed” basis. Regardless of the fact that it’s not meant to be a permanent cure, patients who undergo TMS therapy feel much better overall for several months up to a full year afterward.

Many lifelong depression and anxiety patients who have undergone TMS treatments for at least a month to six weeks will tell you that they begin seeing positive results immediately after each treatment.

TMS was approved in 2008 to treat depression and in 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved TMS therapy to treat some migraine conditions. In the fall of 2018 the FDA went on to approve TMS to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and studies are currently underway to see if it can be a viable treatment for other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Some aspects of TMS appear to simulate what some medications do, e.g., the release of dopamine that happens after a TMS session is similar (but not exactly the same) to what a medication can do.

But TMS can restore functionality, and that’s the important thing. Patients who undergo TMS treatment report “feeling normal” again, compared to patients on psychotropic medications who feel “different” than they do normally, because of some of the medication’s side effects.

What’s so Great About TMS?

TMS is part of a newer generation of developing technologies informed by neuroscience and easier to use than current technologies. It could very well be a look at the future of mental health care: it’s non-invasive, immediately effective after the first month to six weeks of treatment for long periods of time, and it’s especially effective for those with more severe depression and anxiety.

After the brief treatment, patients can get back to being engaged with their lives immediately, with a more positive outlook, and all the energy they need to do all the things they normally do. Further research shows that even just a few minutes of TMS daily can make a significant improvement in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

TMS side effects are few and they are mild. Common side effects include minor headaches, lightheadedness, and some scalp discomfort during treatment sessions. Some facial muscle spasms, and tingling or twitching of these muscles has also been reported during treatment sessions

What’s the Difference Between TMS and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)?

TMS has shown itself to be a viable alternative to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for patients who are resistant to conventional mental illness treatments.

There are some key differences between TMS and ECT treatments:

  • ECT requires anesthesia and typically a hospital stay while TMS does not.
  • ECT brings with it the risk of memory loss and cognitive confusion. Patients undergoing TMS have not manifested these side effects.
  • ECT is designed to create a brief seizure in the patient as a part of the treatment session. TMS does not utilize seizures as a way to treat patients.

TMS Accessibility?

If you’ve tried several types of antidepressants or other standard depression treatment, and have not received relief from your symptoms, you may want to discuss TMS with your mental health care professional. Ask him or her about the benefits and risks, and if TMS could be a good addition to your treatment.

TMS currently has one downside: the cost. It costs up to $10,000 to 15,000 for the initial four-to-six-week treatment. Though TMS has been approved by the FDA to treat depression and anxiety after trying one antidepressant medication that proved unsuccessful at controlling depressive/anxiety symptoms, many insurance companies won’t cover the treatment until after a patient has tried at least four different antidepressants. Double check with your insurance company to see if your coverage will cover TMS treatments if you are considering. It is still less expensive than ECT.

As always, maintain your sleep, exercise, nutrition, and stress management techniques as you normally would, even if you do undergo TMS treatment, as it will not be effective if you are not taking care of yourself.

Have you heard about TMS? Post a comment below. . .We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Are you struggling with mental health issues? Mental health is very manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Who Will Save Our Mental Health from Technology?

Saving our mental health

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

A Former Google Manager is Spearheading Efforts to Limit the Negative Effects of Technology and Social Media

What are the negative effects of technology and social media on us? We’re aware of its influences on our mental health, with studies linking excessive social media use to depression and anxiety. What other grips does cyber-reality have on us?

In 2012, a young manager at Google named Tristan Harris made an impassioned plea in a presentation for his bosses to attend to “[our] moral responsibility to create an attention economy that doesn’t weaken people’s relationships or distract people to death.”

His ideas for a more ethical digital world gained some traction for a time, and it even got him tapped to be the company’s design ethicist. The company lost focus, however, and shifted its attention to other priorities.

Harris left Google in 2015, and three years later, Google produced a screentime tracker known as Digital Wellbeing, so that Android users could see how much time they were spending each day on each application they tapped into. Apple followed suit with a counterpart app for iPhones.

Continuing the Crusade

Were the new screentime tracker apps enough of a leash? Not according to Harris. In Harris’ estimation, the “free” busines model is the most expensive business model ever invented.

More recently, Harris started the Center for Humane Technology, and has expanded his thinking to bring more awareness to the negative impacts of the internet on our lives. From misinformation/disinformation being proliferated on various social media platforms (e.g., Facebook and YouTube (owned by Google)), to election tampering and invaded privacy, and finally to political divisiveness in our country, the internet gets blamed for a lot. And probably with good reason. Just think about how much control we give our cyberlives over our actual lives.

Harris continues to grow his audience with various national media appearances, conferences, and additional presentations of his own. The biggest takeaway he wants his listeners to remember is the mistake it is to treat mobile technology drawbacks as mutually exclusive from those inflicted by social media. It’s all part of what he refers to as the “extractive attention economy (EAE).”

Our Private Information Used as a Currency

It’s been said that “money talks.” Well, so does information in the EAE. Its business model is driven by gathering and leveraging data about its users and what they like. In order to keep them engaged online, more and more of what users want to see is constantly being fed to them, faster and faster, by automated platforms. This may sound great and convenient, but it actually gives them more extreme, sensationalized content, which only feeds upon their frailties.

Without any thought, judgment, or intent, people dealing with mental health issues might be looking on YouTube for ways to improve their mental health, while being unwittingly steered via “recommendations” toward videos about suicide and death. The only thing the platforms care about is how the relationships between what users are searching for and what the algorithms calculate they like will keep users online, engaged and clicking.

The Unbearable Lightness of Technology

What happened to “fun” social media? Harris warns that our addiction to retweets, likes, comments, and reshares, is only keeping us distracted and depressed.

Steve Jobs spoke of technology as an “exercise bicycle for the mind.” Harris has responded that the exercise bike is taking us down dark, unfamiliar roads where we might not ever want to find ourselves.

Harris believes that language can help shape reality, but he had to work through a growing fear that the language we were using to define the real impact of cyber-reality on our lives was very much lacking. It wasn’t enough to describe what he warns as a coming hellstorm.

One of his epiphanies was the realization that the real danger we’re in isn’t technology overpowering our strengths (like the cliche science fiction bit when computers take over the world). The real danger is when technology learns to overwhelm and leverage our emotional weaknesses against us… for profit.

Harris and his cohorts brainstormed themselves to a point where they thought that what might be going on was a process of diminishing, of degrading human lives and humanity as a whole. Technology, as we give it more and more of our time and attention, is causing the the downgrading of human relationships, of human attention, of our common sense of decency, of democracy itself.

How Social Media Negatively Affects Us

Harris has commented specifically about how various social media platforms negatively affect us:

  • Snapchat turns conversations into “streaks,” redefining how children value real friendship.
  • Instagram glamorizes the picture-perfect life, eroding our sense of gratitude for our real lives, along with diminishing our sense of self-worth.
  • Facebook puts us into separate echo chambers, dissolving our real communities.
  • YouTube autoplays the one video after the next, within seconds, regardless of what it does to our sleep.

Four Ways Technology is Hurting Us

Harris shares the four main ways he sees our subservience to technology is taking its toll:

Mental Health

The rat race to keep us on screen 24/7 makes it harder to disconnect, increasing stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.

Children

The rat race to keep children’s attention trains them to replace their sense of self-worth with the number of likes they get, encourages them to compare themselves with others, and creates a non-stop illusion of missing out…which can lead to coping problems and mental health challenges.

Relationships

The competition for attention forces social media users to prefer virtual interactions and rewards (likes, shares, etc.) on their screens vs. interaction in a real face-to-face community.

Democracy

Social media unwittingly rewards faux rage, sensational facts, while reducing the role of factual information. It’s dividing us and making it increasingly difficult to agree on what is “real.”

So, where does this leave us? Possibly with additional challenges for those coping with mental health issues brought on by extensive technology use.

The good news is that you can take back control of your life by better managing your social media use.

Curious to hear more?

Do you suspect that excessive technology use and social networking are having a negative effect on your mental health or on that of a loved one? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about mental illness or feelings of being overwhelmed, we want to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Which Mental Health Concerns do Americans Worry About Most?

Which mental health concerns do Americans worry about most?

Which mental health concerns do you worry about?

Which mental health concerns do people worry about most in the United States? Why do we stress, and what do we stress about?

According to a recent study, more fellow Americans consistently suffer from mental and emotional distress. Unfortunately, many of them are unable to access adequate treatment, in spite of governmental efforts over the last 10 years to reduce such gaps in coverage.

The journal Psychiatric Services has analyzed interview data from census interviews and in 2017 estimated more than 3 percent of the U.S. population (in excess of 8 million Americans), suffer from what’s known as serious psychological distress (SPD). The term has been used to define feelings of worthlessness, despondency, and sadness dangerous enough to interfere with someone’s overall well being. Before the Psychiatric Services study, surveys have gauged SPD at around less than 3 percent.

SPD is more of a colloquial term than a medical diagnosis, though it overlaps significantly with clinical conditions like depression and anxiety. The survey consists of six questions, posed to participants in conjunction with an annual general health survey that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conduct. Every year the survey reaches over 35,000 households nationwide, and over 200,000 adults from several socioeconomic backgrounds.

Let’s discuss the implications.

Mental Illness in the U.S.

Research continues to indicate that reliable mental illness predictors remain difficult to pinpoint, even for common disorders such as depression. One factor that seems to lead many Americans into feeling depressed and anxious is an excess of free time with relatively few pressing demands. Interestingly, people  in less-developed countries are generally less depressed overall than we are in the U.S. For people in different parts of the world who are frequently in “survival mode,” dwelling on depressive feelings seems to take a back burner to more urgent demands. Based on this finding, one might argue that we’re “too comfortable”!

Over any given year, as many as 27 percent of American adults will go through some sort of mental health issue, making the U.S. the country with the highest prevalence of mental illness. Such disorders include anxiety disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, and substance abuse.

During a typical lifetime, the average American has a 47.4 percent chance (nearly one in two people) of having any kind of mental health disorder. For projected lifetime prevalence, the odds are stacked even higher: for those who reach age 75, chances can go as high as 55 percent.

What are the Most Common Mental Illnesses in the U.S.?

Mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, dysthymic (persistent depressive) disorder, and major depression are the most prevalent mental illnesses in the U.S.:

  • 7 percent of adults will experience one of these disorders during a given year, and over 21 percent will experience one of them during a lifetime.
  • Women are 50 percent more likely to suffer from mood disorders than men.
  • About 19 percent of all American adults will go through some sort of anxiety disorder this year, but this number jumps to around 31 percent during a lifetime.

Mental Illness Continues to be a Problem

What mental health issues are people in your state most concerned about? That depends upon where you live.

The modern “American” lifestyle involves “burning the candle at both ends” : constant stimulation, working overtime, and “keeping up with the Joneses: all continue to be formidable challenges for those struggling with mental health issues. As awareness increases, we turn to the one source of information we feel we can rely upon: Google.

There is an abundance of information available online, and it continues to be important to review as information from as many perspectives as possible. It’s also helpful to seek expert opinion when necessary.

What Credible Mental Health Sites Indicate

Life insurance provider TermLife2Go accessed mental health-related sites such as MentalHealth.gov and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  to compile a list of the most common mental health conditions researched on Google, along with corresponding symptoms and stressors. The results were later run through Google Trends to pinpoint mental health concerns by state around the country between 2018 and 2019.

What are our mental health concerns?
Image courtesy of TermLife2Go

 

Some Discoveries

Right off the bat, major depressive disorder, internet addiction, and memory loss tied for the most Googled mental health concerns in America.

Other findings include:

  • Arizona, Maryland, and South Carolina were concerned about “stress at work,” while those in Georgia and Pennsylvanians researched “stress headaches.”
  • “Seasonal affective disorder” was the most Googled concern in Alaska, where days at a time can pass in the wintertime without even a glimpse of the sun.
  • Utah and Louisiana were wanting to know more about postpartum depression. As for Utah, the CDC typically ranks the state in the top ten for highest birth rates.
  • Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington worried about possible internet addiction, while Missouri was concerned about social media habits.
  • Alcoholism is the top mental health concern for those in Minnesota, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Moving Forward With Your Mental Health Management

Do your research and find out what you can about managing mental illness if you need to. Individuals can manage many mental health issues, but often they become overwhelming and seemingly unmanageable. This is when you might seriously consider seeking out a mental health professional.

What are your biggest mental health concerns? Leave us a comment below!

What is the latest regarding your mental health? Always remember that it is very treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

 

 

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Celebrating 70 Years of Mental Health Awareness Month: “Seizing the Awkward,” 2019

may is mental health awareness month

Awareness

How is Mental Health Awareness Month celebrated? Since 1949, May has been deemed “Mental Health Awareness Month,” raising awareness among millions of people through media, screenings, and local events. Whether you deal with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or whatever else might be challenging you, this is your month, and in a good way!

This year, Mental Health America (MHA) is doubling down on last year’s Mental Health Awareness Month of #4Mind4Body, and taking it to the next level. They plan on showcasing such topics as spirituality, humor, work-life balance, social connections, recreation, and animal companionship, all as ways to raise interest and awareness around mental health and overall wellness for individuals.

Each year millions of Americans (about one in five) live with mental illness, as do their families, and everything mental illness brings with it. Through fighting stigma, providing support, educating the public, and advocating for public policies that in support of those with mental illness, a significant impact can be made for better.

During Mental Health Month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will be running its own awareness campaign, known as WhyCare?.  What is the WhyCare campaign about? NAMI states that it is an “opportunity to share the importance of care in our relationships to others, in mental health treatment and services, and in support and education to millions of people, families, caregivers, and loved ones affected by mental illness.” According to NAMI, demonstration of how and why we care helps bring more awareness to pertinent issues by showing participant actions and connections to others. Furthermore, NAMI submits that caring has the power to make a significant impact on all those affected by mental health conditions.

 

Highlights from MHA’s upcoming Mental Health Awareness Month Celebration

Celebrate mental health awareness month by loving those who need love

Let’s walk through just a few highlights of what MHA will be showcasing during May 2019, from their downloadable toolkit.

Download the full MHA Toolkit here.

Spirituality & Religion

 Don’t let anyone convince you that religion is always a taboo subject for discussion. Whether you meditate, practice yoga, or attend church, being mindful of the health of your soul is critical aspect of caring for yourself. It can even improve physical and mental health while you’re at it.

  • 29 percent of individuals polled are both spiritual and religious.
  • 18 percent are spiritual but not religious.
  • 31 percent are neither spiritual or religious.
  • 22 percent are religious, but not spiritual.
  • In people born with heart diseases, being religious or spiritual led to healthier behaviors, better quality of life, and higher life satisfaction.
  • Having a sense of meaning, purpose, or connection to something larger than oneself is associated with positive mental health outcomes in people receiving cancer treatment.
  • One study found that people who attended religious services monthly showed a 22 percent lower risk of depression.
  • Spiritual and religious beliefs related to meaning, peace, and faith were associated with reduced suicide risk and better mental health in people getting dialysis treatments.

    May is a month to take care of you and others with mental health struggles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor

Having a healthy sense of humor in regard to day-to-day life can lift your mood and help people to better cope with and overcome di­fficult times. Don’t be afraid to learn to laugh about your difficulties and struggles; just because you can learn to lighten a situation by laughing about it doesn’t mean you’re not handling it seriously, nor does it make it any less real or valid.

Eight interesting facts about laughter:

  • It stimulates your muscles, heart, and lungs.
  • It decreases the levels of stress hormones.
  • It increases activity in your brain’s “reward system” areas.
  • It releases endorphins (your body’s natural pain blockers).
  • It promotes anxiety relief and a better overall mood.
  • It strengthens your immune system.
  • It reduces burnout in all areas of life.
  • It helps you interact better with others.

Work-life balance is important in managing your mental healthWork-life Balance

 Work teaches you values like patience, persistence, and character. It allows you to provide for yourself and your family as you serve a purpose in your community. When it takes over your life, however, it can be detrimental to your health. Better work-life balance is in order.

Eight facts about work in the United States:

  • People surveyed who feel they have good work-life balance are more satisfied with their jobs and their lives, and experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Working overtime increases the likelihood of having symptoms of depression, especially in men.
  • Of adults employed full time in the U.S., nearly 40 percent reported working at least 50 hours per week, and 18% work 60 hours or more.
  • Over 75 percent of Americans surveyed are afraid of getting punished for taking a day off­ to attend to their mental health.
  • More than two-thirds of those surveyed have had their sleep negatively aff­ected by workplace issues.
  • Those who work in manufacturing, retail, and food/beverage jobs were most likely to report that work stress “always or often” impacts their personal relationships.
  • More than half of those surveyed say that they do unhealthy things (e.g. drinking, overworking, drug use, lashing out at others) to cope with workplace stress.
  • Poor work-life balance increases the risk for health conditions like sleep problems, digestive disorders, and mental health problems. This is especially true for people who work longer shifts or on nights and weekends.

Whatever you do for Mental Health Awareness Month, remember that it’s a time to both show and receive emotional support in regard to coping with mental health challenges.

DO YOU DO ANYTHING UNIQUE FOR MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH? WE’D LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT! LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!

Are you struggling with depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable, and their treatment usually leads to an improved sense of overall wellness and better sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

 

7 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Boost Your Mental Health… Naturally

what can i do to feel better right now

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“What can I do right now to improve my mental health?” You may have asked yourself this more than once. Life comes at you fast, and some days can feel like a real uphill battle.

Sometimes external things like traffic, a difficult coworker, your significant other, finances can leave you feeling run ragged. Other things become internal stressors, like anxiety, depression, and excessive stress itself.

Internal battles can be stressful and scary, and sometimes they can leave us drained and feeling flat.

Why does feeling happy feel like so much work sometimes?

Happy and fun feelings aren’t always spontaneous. One thing you should always remember: Keep on doing things you enjoy, even if they feel like hard work. Keep in touch with friends. Meet them for dinner. Keep up with all your favorite movies and shows.

Mental illness often robs you of your “enjoying life” skills. But the good news is, it never has to be permanent. You have to relearn how to do it from time to time. Eventually, things will normalize and you can go back to feeling like yourself again.

There are no magic bullets to immediately relieve depression, stress, or anxiety. But, Mental Health Awareness month is just around the corner, so what better time to pick up some powerful new habits? Let’s walk through some things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your positive outlook and boost your state of mind:

  1. Get your body movin’. Exercise boosts your endorphins (feel-good chemicals), and over time, it can sustain your good moods longer. It helps you reprogram your brain into positive patterns.

Again, start simple… just walking for 45-60 minutes or so a few times a week will be enough to help you feel accomplished and good about yourself.

  1. Be good to yourself. Speaking of your body, make sure you are:
  • Getting adequate sleep every night (6-8 hours). To help with this, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and avoid naps. Get your computer and TV out of your room. Before long you’ll notice your sleep improving.
  • Avoiding smoking and drinking
  • Eating a balanced diet and minding portion sizes (stay away from junk food, and go for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, as well as foods rich in folic acid like avocado and spinach). If you binge eat or overeat when you’re feeling anxious or depressed, getting a better handle on your eating will help you feel better about yourself.
  1. Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals. Depression leaves you feeling like you’re worthless and can’t do anything right. Prove that negative self-talk wrong. Start with small S.M.A.R.T. goals like cleaning and organizing your desk, cleaning out your car, fixing or building something as a hobby.

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound. (e.g., “I will clean out my car (or organize my desk), and vacuum it this Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.”)

As you get better and gain momentum, you can start tackling more challenging things. Make a game out of it.

  1. Say “No!” to negative thinking. In your struggles with anxiety and/or depression, much of the battle is mental, and you’ll learn that to win, you need to reprogram the way you think about yourself. Whenever you immediately jump to the worst case scenario in your head, or keep thinking what a failure you are… You’re a fighter, right? Learn to recognize and logically challenge each one of those thoughts for what they are: just passing thoughts. You’re under no obligation to believe every single thought that passes through your mind.

What evidence do any of these thoughts have, anyway? Over time and with practice, you’ll get in a more consistent habit of sending those negative thoughts off running. And you’ll be in better control of your self image.

  1. Get yourself into a routine. Depression is often described as the result of feelings of helplessness and despair. You don’t know what to do, and what’s worse, you don’t even know if you care enough to keep on trying. You feel a lack of meaning, purpose, and structure. You feel out of control. If you’re feeling depressed, nothing will help you get more of a grip on your day than getting into a gentle routine to help you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.
  2. Take on new responsibilities. When you are feeling anxious or depressed, your first inclination might be to turn and hide inward, avoiding other people, the outside world, and life in general. Resist this temptation. Get engaged with life by involving yourself with daily responsibilities.

You can:

  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Get a new job, even if it’s just part time.
  • Sign up for some online classes.

New responsibilities will give you a sustained sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, and worth.

  1. Try something new.Get yourself out of the rut you feel you’re stuck in when feeling anxiety or depression, even if you have to push yourself a bit. Check out an art exhibit. Go to the library and find some interesting books to read. Take an online class to learn a new language.  You’ll start seeing how interesting life really is.

You will want to touch base with your doctor if you’re thinking of taking some new dietary supplements like magnesium, Vitamin C, St. John’s Wort, or Vitamin B12. This goes double if you’re already taking medications.

Keep in mind that these things can help you right away, and over time, can develop into healthy habits. They will not cure serious depression and anxiety by themselves. For help with severe depression and/or anxiety, be sure to consult with a mental health professional.

What is the latest regarding your mental health? Always remember that it is very treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

The Best Reasons to Let Jasmine Plants and Their Essential Oils Help with Your Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Attacks

jasmine flowers can help you with your depression, anxiety, and overall mental health

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Scientists have concluded that the scent of jasmine has such therapeutic benefits that it could possibly end up being used as a medication alternative for depression, stress, anxiety, sleep, and other disorders. 

Is jasmine (or any other plant) really capable of helping boost your mood and relieve anxiety?

It’s common knowledge that one benefit of having plants indoors is that they help improve air quality by circulating oxygen freely. Less well known is the fact that, as simple as it seems, there are several plants that can actually alleviate several mental illness symptoms of anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

Your brain needs a sufficient supply of oxygen to function properly. Scientific research has already shown direct relationships between stress and tainted oxygen levels. When toxins exist in the indoor air spike, so do levels of stress/anxiety, which can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness, otherwise known as depression.

Has anyone ever told you that when you start feeling stressed, or feel a panic attack coming on, to take a break and walk around the block for a few minutes to “clear your head”? By the way, it really does work!

It should come as a “no-brainer,” then, that one of your first lines of defense against stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression is to keep the air clean in your environment.

And if you’ve never smelled jasmine, know that the scent rising off of the petals is delightfully sweet and inviting. No wonder that jasmine’s scent is found in more than 83 percent of all women’s fragrances and in about one-third of all men’s.

JASMINE FOR ANXIETY, PANIC ATTACKS AND DEPRESSION

Jasmine oil is derived from the white/yellow jasmine flower (often listed as Jasminum officinale), and therefore sports a pleasant, flowery scent. It has been used for centuries in Asia as a natural remedy for depression, anxiety, emotional distress, low libido, and insomnia. The word Jasmine has evolved from the Persian yasmin, meaning “a gift from God” due to the patently strong aroma created by the jasmine flower.

Researchers have shown that jasmine essential oil and plant aromas can sedate lab mice quite quickly. When exposed to the fragrance of jasmine, normally active mice will cease all movement and activity and “just chill” in a corner of their cages.

Jasmine’s scent directly impacts a brain/central nervous system chemical known as GABA, which results in the calming of the nerves, a soothing of anxiety/mild depression, and the facilitating of rest. This GABA effect was bolstered by more than five times when exposed to jasmine fragrance, to be more precise, overshadowing the same effect caused by other scents. Jasmine was also shown to be more effective than anti-anxiety meds and sleeping pills in promoting quality sleep. One study indicated that the disbursement of jasmine fragrance into a roomful of sleeping test subjects noticeably led to less tossing and turning and heightened sleep efficiency, even without additional sleep time.

Scientists went on to say that this demonstrated link between jasmine aroma and relaxed mood may be among the strongest arguments in support of the viability of aromatherapy as a mental health treatment method.

JASMINE ESSENTIAL OIL FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Scientific studies show some other benefits of indulging in the scent of jasmine:

  • Almost instantaneous soothing of nervous tension; alleviates spasms
  • Promotes feelings of contentment and happiness
  • Boosts cognitive performance, concentration, and alertness, even in the late afternoon hours when most people are beginning to slow down and “fade out” for the day
  • Balance of mood swings, blood pressure, PMS symptoms, hormones, menopause/hot flashes, and libido
  • Defuses aggression
  • Boosts vigor/vitality
  • Can lower blood pressure
  • Long-term treatment for insomnia
  • Relieves fatigue
  • Combats bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Alleviates coughing
  • Skin care; including reduction of visibility of scarring/scar tissue

How do you use jasmine oil?

What are the best ways to apply and enjoy the benefits of jasmine oil/plants? Here are a few:

  • You can inhale the jasmine fragrance through your nose or apply it directly to the skin. Even just a few drops will have a noticeable effect before long. How soothing is it? Some research has referred to the jasmine scent as being “as good as valium at calming the nerves without the side effects.”
  • Don’t worry about combining it with a carrier oil. Use it undiluted for the best results.
  • You can, however combine it with other essential oils, as well as with lotions, coconut oil, and for a variety of other household/personal uses. Try it as a massage oil or in candles/soaps.
  • Combine with other essential oils (e.g., citrus oil, vanilla, lavender, rose, sandalwood, frankincense, and others).
  • Apply a few drops to a washcloth (with or without lavender oil) and toss in the dryer with your clothes. Voila! Your own homemade dryer sheets that will soften your clothes, make them smell great, and boost your mood!

Keep in mind that while jasmine plants/oils can help alleviate depressive/anxiety-driven symptoms, they are no substitute for proper therapy with someone properly trained and licensed to help you with any serious cases of mental disorder. Consult with a mental health professional.

WHAT DO YOU USE FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION ALLEVIATION?? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!

Are you struggling with depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable, and their treatment usually leads to an improved sense of overall wellness and better sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

CBD Oil and Anxiety (Is it Legal? Are There Side Effects? And is it Safe?)

CBD Oil and Anxiety
(Is it Legal? Are There Side Effects? And is it Safe?)

With all the increasing public discussion of the topic, you may have wondered: Does CBD oil help with anxiety disorders and panic attacks? Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a natural cannabis plant extract rich in cannabinoids (a.k.a. plant-specific chemicals), that bind to certain receptors in the human brain when consumed. The most commonly known cannabinoid is, of course, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is only one of many cannabinoids and is famous for causing people to feel “high” after smoking marijuana.

Cannabidiol, on the other hand, binds to brain receptors like other cannabinoids, but without causing a “high,” and there are many who argue in favor of more mainstream use of CBD oil, arguing that it features many health benefits, that it can improve mental health, and even slow the spread of cancer in the body.

CBD oil is an oil like any other, that can be used for cooking, for adding just a few drops to a beverage, or even for direct consumption. Anyone who tells you it is healthy to smoke CBD oil may be high themselves, as there is no research to back that claim up.

About 20 percent of the population in the United States (that’s one in five) suffers from some form of anxiety or other. If this includes you, you may already be on the lookout for the best ways to calm down and relax.

How does CBD oil work?

Cannabinoids are the “feelin’ good” molecules released by your body when you are relaxed, feeling secure, or in the middle of something that causes you to be happy (e.g. going to bed the night before a long weekend, feeling validated by the positive comments from co-workers about a project you worked hard on and take pride in, etc.). Other times your body releases cannabinoids (the main cannabinoid molecule is known as anandamide) include times when you get enough sleep and awake feeling rested, or when you exercise.

This dynamic of your body releasing cannabinoids helps keep your body and mind in optimal balance. The release of cannabinoids helps your stomach and gastrointestinal system run well, reduces inflammation, and helps you maintain a good mood. There is research that shows that cannabinoids from CBD can stop the deterioration of anandamide in your body, and this means more ongoing “feel goods.”

Is CBD oil legal? 

CBD oil, extracted from hemp, is legal all over the U.S., so it can be consumed without the accompanying legal concerns that come with marijuana use.

Does CBD oil make you high?

CBD oil will not give you a high. Supplemental CBD oil comes from the cannabis plant known as hemp, which is closely related to marijuana. But CBD oil is virtually devoid of THC (which WILL get you high). There are trace amounts of THC in CBD oil, but not nearly enough to cause any psychoactive effects. CBD oil has actually been shown to offset the effects of THC use, including the reduction of paranoia, reduction in appetite spike, and mitigating weight gain.  CBD oil relaxes the body, relieves pain, and does not suppress breathing centers the way opioids do, which eliminates any concerns regarding overdose.

The main thing CBD oil does is help you relax, reduce anxiety, and it can even help you sleep better.

Can the use of CBD oil make you test positive in a drug test?

As previously mentioned, CBD has hardly any THC worth noting, so there is slim to no chance it will make you test positive for THC in a drug test. When in doubt, it’s better to consult with your employer regarding CBD oil use before taking any drug tests.

Is CBD effective to treat anxiety?

Research on animals and humans has shown that CBD may help lower feelings of isolation, reduce effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), relieve symptoms of autism, panic attacks, and even depression. CBD oil also seems capable of calming the brain and supporting the hippocampus (area of the brain that affects memory and healthy emotion processing).

Conditions that CBD oil has been shown in research to ease include social anxiety, psychosis, negative effects of antipsychotic medications, all without more serious side effects such as paranoia, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and spike in appetite. It is also being studied to see if it can help with childhood epilepsy.

Is CBD oil safe?

CBD seems to be safe to use*. In fact, the director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has asserted that CBD oil is safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of CBD oil to treat children for epilepsy. It is worth noting that caution should be taken when approaching CBD use, as it is not regulated, nor has extensive research been done.

Keep in mind that, because of the way your liver works, CBD oil may affect the way other drugs affect your body. Be sure to check with your physician or mental health professional before you use CBD. This is NOT a substance you want to self-medicate on, especially if you have sensitive health conditions or if you’re taking other prescription medications.

How much CBD oil should I take?

It’s recommended to start with about 15mg of CBD oil once or twice daily with food.  CBD gummies and beverages may have already started flooding the shelves in the area where you live, but it’s likely that they are made with lower grade CBD. It is important to purchase CBD oil produced by reputable companies.

It’s never a good idea to take supplements for anxiety without making appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes, including stress relief practices like meditation, to get the full benefit out of them.

*Note: Solara Mental Health makes no official endorsement of CBD oil.

What do you use to relax? Leave a comment below!

Have you considered trying out CBD oil to help treat depression and/or anxiety? If so, do so responsibly by consulting with a professional, rather than self-medicate. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

 

Water, Depression, and Anxiety

Can drinking water help my depression and anxiety

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Can drinking plenty of water help alleviate depression and anxiety?

Several approaches can be taken to help manage mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Common approaches to managing mental health include: counseling, medications, removing stressors from your life, exercising consistently, getting enough sleep, proper diet, meditation, yoga, etc. The list goes on.

There is one simple remedy that’s been right in front of you all along, that you may not have picked up on yet: Helping your depression and/or anxiety by staying adequately hydrated throughout the day.

Every system in the human body counts on water to function, and the brain is no exception. In fact, about 75 percent of brain tissue is water. Research has linked dehydration to depression and anxiety, because mental health is driven primarily by your brain’s activity. Long story short, dehydration causes brain functioning to slow down and not function properly. It is important to think of water as a nutrient your brain needs.

How dehydration contributes to depression

Depression is a complex mental illness that has many moving parts in the inter-functionalities between your brain and body. Though it would be overly simplistic to say that dehydration is a direct cause for all types of depression, dehydration and depression are causally connected in many ways; in fact, one resulting symptom of chronic dehydration actually turns out to be depression.

Dehydration causes depression in at least three ways:

Dehydration Saps Your Brain’s Energy. Dehydration impedes energy production in your brain. Many of your brain’s functions require this type of energy become inefficient and can even shut down. The resulting mood disorders that result from this type of dysfunction can be categorized with depression.

Social stresses such as anxiety, fear, insecurity, ongoing emotional problems, etc., including depression can be tied to not consuming enough water to the point that your brain’s tissue is affected.

Dehydration impedes your brain’s serotonin production. Depression is frequently related to subpar levels of serotonin, which is a critical neurotransmitter that heavily affects your mood. Serotonin is created from the amino acid tryptophan, but sufficient water is needed.

Dehydration can also negatively impact other amino acids, resulting in feelings of dejection, inadequacy, anxiety, and irritability.

Dehydration increases stress in your body. Stress is one of the most prominent contributing factors to depression, along with a sense of powerlessness and inability to cope with stressors.

Dehydration is the number one cause of stress in your body. In fact, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle: dehydration can cause stress, and stress can cause dehydration. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce extra cortisol, the stress hormone, and under chronic stress, your adrenal glands can become exhausted, and resulting in lower electrolyte levels.

Drinking sufficient water can help reduce the negative psychological and physiological impacts of stress.

Dehydration and anxiety

As with depression, dehydration rarely causes anxiety as a cause by itself, but not drinking adequate water puts you at risk for increased anxiety symptoms now, and possibly the development of higher anxiety levels in the future. In short, dehydration causes stress, and when your body is stressed, you experience depression and anxiety as a result. Therefore, you want to ensure you are properly hydrated daily, especially if you are naturally anxiety-prone.

Water has been shown to have natural calming properties, likely as a result of addressing dehydration’s effects on the body and brain. Drinking enough water is an important step in managing your anxiety. Even if you’re not experiencing anxiety, drinking sufficient water can create feelings of relaxation.

Dehydration and panic attacks

Panic attacks are common results of high anxiety caused by dehydration. Panic attacks typically have physical triggers, and one of those triggers is dehydration. When dehydration occurs, if you’re prone to panic attacks, you can easily begin to panic, even to the point of feeling like you’re dying.

When dehydrated, you expose yourself to many of the symptoms that trigger panic attacks, such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Muscle fatigue and weakness
  • Feeling faint/lightheaded

While keeping yourself hydrated may not stop the panic attacks, they may become less frequent, or at least some of the triggers may be diminished.

How can you tell if you’re dehydrated?

Some dehydration signals are pretty obvious, but not all. Signs of dehydration you may or may not have been aware of include:

  • Increased hunger. Hunger and thirst signals come from the same part of the brain, so it’s no surprise that they might be confused. Hunger, even when you know you’ve eaten enough, probably means you need to drink some water, not eat more.
  • Dryness. Dehydration is reflected in common signs of dryness, including dry, itchy skin, dry mouth, chapped lips, etc.
  • Headache. Lack of water facilitates a shortage of oxygen supply to the brain, resulting in a headache.
  • Fatigue and weak/cramped muscles. Muscle weakness, spasms, cramping, etc., are common signs of dehydration.
  • Bad breath. Bad breath usually means you need some water to refresh yourself. Dehydration induces dry mouth, which means you’re not producing enough saliva to help your mouth fight off odorous bacteria.
  • Rapid heartbeat, rapid/shallow breathing, fever, cloudy thinking. These can be signals of severe dehydration, and you may need to seek medical attention.

How much water should you be drinking every day?

Your ideal daily water intake depends on your gender, stress levels, weight, climate, exercise levels, whether or not you’re sick, etc. But a rule of thumb is 11.5 cups (92 oz.) of water per day for women, and 15.5 cups (124 oz.) for men. If you have a hard time stomaching plain water, try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Avoid beverages as much as possible that contain sodium, as sodium dehydrates you: soda/diet soda, energy drinks, etc.

You should ramp up your fluid intake accordingly if one or more of the following apply to your situation:

  • Engaging in long, intense workout sessions
  • Illnesses with fever, diarrhea, vomiting
  • Hot or humid climate
  • Pregnant/breastfeeding mothers
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Dieting

You can verify how hydrated you are based on the color of your urine. If you’re adequately hydrated, your urine will be a very clear/pale yellow color. If you’re dehydrated, your urine will be a dark yellow or tan color.  If it’s a dark yellow color and of a thick/syrupy consistency, that means you’re very dehydrated. Drink some water!

Conclusion

Keeping yourself adequately hydrated is not a cure-all for depression or anxiety. You will definitely want to seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

But getting in the habit of drinking enough water daily will definitely help alleviate many of the causes and symptoms of mood volatility. Think of it as a viable part of the foundation of your long-term mental health management plan.

Are you struggling with depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable, and their treatment usually leads to an improved sense of overall wellness and better sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

7 Foods You Need to Avoid to Help Your Depression or Anxiety

7 foods you need to avoid to help with your depression or anxiety

Image courtesy of USAF

What foods and beverages will make your depression and/or anxiety worse? Perhaps a better question would be, “What doesn’t make us more depressed or anxious these days?” Right?

But perhaps taking a less cynical and more rational approach is best. To further explore how your diet affects your mood and functionality, consider the fact that the food you eat nourishes and strengthens your body. It must therefore have a direct impact on your body, including your brain.  And as your brain regulates your body’s functions, including your mood, part of your mental health management would necessarily have to involve dietary considerations.

There is much research indicating that individuals who maintain a diet with less inflammatory foods and beverages also maintain lower risks of depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, many, if not most of the foods in the Standard American Diet (SAD) will cause inflammation. Healthier eating regimens include vitamins, antioxidants, high-grade proteins, and healthy fats.

The most common offenders include:

  • Sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Genetically-Modified Organisms (GMOs)
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Vegetable oils

That’s a list given in broad terms, but let’s go through a more specific list of foods and drinks that cause depression and why.

As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to avoid processed foods as much as possible. If you frequently consume fried foods, processed meats, refined cereals, pastries, high-fat dairy, candy, etc., you’re likely to be making your depression and anxiety worse. Stick with as much fish, fruits, vegetables, whole fiber-rich grains to help stabilize your mood more consistently.

Here they are: Some foods to avoid to help your depression and anxiety.
Note this list is not exhaustive.

  1. Sugary and Diet Soft Drinks. This list includes soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, Kool-Aid, etc. What’s so bad about them?
  • Soda Pop/Kool-Aid: This is a no-brainer to avoid. All sugar, and no nutrition. Sugar is very addictive, and plays with your brain’s incentive/reward system, which leads to depressive moods when you don’t have the sugar your body and brain crave. A better alternative if you’re craving a sugary soda drink would be seltzer water with just a splash of fruit juice. Too much caffeine often found in soda pop and diet soda can make anxiety worse, too. Try seltzer water with a splash of lime, cranberry, or orange juice. Or simply keep yourself hydrated with enough water your body needs. Your cravings for soda will go away.
  • Diet Soda: If you get rid of the sugar, you should be fine, right? Not exactly. A common artificial soft drink sweetener, aspartame, has been directly linked to depression. With diet drinks you won’t experience the energy/post-sugar crash, but diet soda can still get you depressed, perhaps even more than regular soda can. Your brain thinks it’s getting the sugar it’s craving, but it’s not, so it gets depressed.
  • Fruit Juice: Fruits not only contain healthy vitamins our bodies need, they also contain natural fiber that helps you feel full while slowing down how your blood absorbs energy. No fiber means just vitamin-packed sugar water that gets your blood up, followed by a post-sugar crash. Again, your body thinks it’s getting something it wants or needs, but is being left wanting. If you like fruit, eat it whole, and if you’re thirsty, try plenty of water, or seltzer + a splash of  your favorite fruit juice.
  • Energy Drinks: Energy drinks can cause abnormal heart palpitations, disrupted sleep, and heightened anxiety because of the caffeine and vitamin stimulants found in them (A common energy-boosting ingredient, guarana, has lots of caffeine). And don’t forget all the sugar or artificial sweeteners found in energy drinks. Water is your best bet to satisfy thirst, , while a piece of fruit nicely takes the edge off of a sugar craving.
  1. Alcohol. This one should go without saying, since alcohol is classified as a depressant. In addition to the high levels of sugar in alcohol, small quantities of it alone can disrupt your sleep, which can lead to heightened levels of anxiety and then later, depression. Too much sleep, which may result from overdrinking and then having to “sleep it off” the next day, can cause even more mood disorders, too. If you do drink, keeping your alcohol intake to moderate levels (One drink maximum for women, two drinks at most for men) can be a good way to relax, feel less anxious in social situations, and can help regulate the cholesterol in your blood.
  2. Frosting. Again with the sugar talk, right? Yes, but also keep in mind that typical cake/cookie frostings contain around 2 grams of trans fats (the bad fats) per serving. Trans fats, also known as partially-hydrogenated oils, are classified as GMOs, and have also been linked to depression. They are common in pizza dough, fried foods, crackers, cookies, donuts, cake, etc. Limit your fats to the good ones, like those found in nuts, avocado, fish, and olive oil. They actually lift your mood.
  3. White bread. Highly-processed white flour found in many white breads (also refined pastas, white rice, cereal, white sugar) quickly converts to blood sugar after consumption, much like from sugary drinks. This causes spikes and crashes in energy levels, leading to anxiety and depression. Why not try home made whole wheat bread?
  4. Light dressings. You might know that some store-bought dressings and marinades come loaded with sugar, usually listed as high-fructose corn syrup on the ingredients list. But many “light” dressings are sweetened with aspartame, much like diet soda, and are therefore also linked to depression/anxiety. Try making your own salad dressing using nothing but fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Ketchup/Soy Sauce. Ketchup contains high levels of sugar, while “light” ketchup contains artificial sweeteners. Soy sauce, typically associated with healthy-sounding foods like veggie stir fry and such, contains a lot of gluten, which can heighten anxiety and depression, and make you feel sluggish. Try making your own tomato salsa (and for a bit of a kick, add a dash of cayenne pepper to taste), and low-gluten soy sauce.
  6. Coffee. This is a controversial one to bring up, perhaps, but think of all the caffeine in coffee, known to disrupt our sleep, make us jittery and anxious, and let’s not even talk about the post-caffeine crashes. Caffeine levels can be gradually phased out of your diet, to avoid caffeine withdrawals and headaches. Cold water in the morning can wake you up just as well as coffee can. If you must have your coffee, try decaf.

Dietary changes can certainly improve your overall mood consistently, but sometimes depression and/or anxiety can be too much to handle on your own. Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to better sleep and improved overall wellness. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Journaling to Help Depression and Anxiety

Journaling can help depression and anxiety

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Can journaling help depression and anxiety? You may have heard others talk about or counsel you to just take up a daily journaling habit to help you organize your thoughts, express gratitude in order to appease depressed feelings, or even just to give you a sense of accomplishment each day.

But you’re skeptical. How can something as simple as writing down your thoughts help you work through mental health issues. We’re going to walk through how it works, why it works, and why you should be journaling to help you “sort things out.” You’ll even get some of what is referred to as “depression journaling/writing prompts,” to help you get started.

What is depression/anxiety journaling?

A conservative estimate of 350 million people throughout the world deal with mental illness, or about 5 percent of the entire world’s population.

In contrast, in the United States, that percentage is significantly higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in five people in the U.S. struggles with depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, or some other mental affliction, though experts could say with the utmost confidence that the actual number is probably higher, due to underreporting.

How do many people who struggle with mental illness cope? Many of them employ journaling! If you’re not familiar with the practice, you might be wondering “Exactly what is depression journaling?” Depression is a daily (or it can be be-weekly, or even weekly) practice of getting your thoughts, ruminations, feelings down on paper. It can involve gripes, it can involve gratitude. It can be completely random, or more structured and systematic–whatever works best for you.

How journaling helps depression and anxiety

How does depression/anxiety journaling work? Not only can it help calm depressive and anxiety-driven symptoms, it can also help reduce stress, manage anxiety, help you routinely organize, prioritize, sift through exactly what’s bothering you, and it can bring new perspective, insights, and clarity you hadn’t considered.

Let’s take a closer look at how journaling helps.

Take the wheel
Sometimes brooding over things can feel overwhelming, and without any kind of outlet. Writing it all down can bring order to a seeming loss of control, and can make it seem more manageable.

It can make your concerns feel less daunting, and can make you feel more grounded and in control.  Talk about taking more proactive control of your mental health management.

It can help you feel better almost instantly, especially as you form a consistent habit of doing it, and can help you recognize when you’re down in the dumps enough that you need to talk to someone about it rather than keep it bottled in.

Enhanced awareness

 Have you ever thought that perhaps you feel like a stranger to yourself?

Journaling during depression and/or anxiety in real time as it comes to mind pulls your feelings and thoughts out into the light where they can be reviewed and considered. You may even surprise yourself with what surfaces, like realizing that something is making you apprehensive that you never noticed until writing it down.

Something else: Your journal may be very cathartic if you keep it private and to yourself, and it can also be something that you share with your counselor, to help you keep your inner musings documented and organized.  This can help improve the effectiveness of your therapy as your counselor helps you sort out what’s most important in terms of your goals, and helps you progress forward.

Finding patterns

Consistently writing about your conscious thinking and what you notice about what’s going on with you internally can help you keep track of recurring symptoms, and can help you identify those things that trigger your anxiety and depression.

Maybe symptoms spike at a certain time of day, or when you’re stressed at work, or when a certain topic of conversation comes up in your significant relationship. Knowing and recognizing your triggers is at least half the battle when it comes to avoiding them as you move forward.

As you journal, you may also more readily be able to recognize your own personal progress, and can help you gain insights into how you’re perceiving things differently (hopefully for the better!)  Reviewing past entries is almost like having an outsider’s perspective into your own world view. Are you feeling better? Worse? More or less the same?

Journaling can help you recognize when and where you might need more help and perspective, and can also help you find reassurance in the progress you’re making on your own path.

A different perspective

Journaling to beat depression and/or anxiety is a solid way to feed yourself positive self-affirmation.

Writing about the things you’re grateful for (gratitude journaling) and about the things you like about yourself and that you and others see in yourself (affirmation journaling) is a consistently beneficial way to reinforce and enjoy all the positive in your life.

Keeping happy memories at the forefront of your mind by far overpowers all the negative thinking that all too often surfaces, and helps you recondition your mind to always be looking for the positive, rather than relish in the less savory.

Journaling prompts for depression and anxiety

How about some journaling prompts to get you started?

  1. When you look in the mirror, who do you see?
  2. If you could meet and speak to your 8-year-old self, what would you say? Write about mentoring a younger version of yourself.
  3. Summarize for yourself all the lessons you’ve learned about life. Share them with a younger version of yourself (see previous), and offer encouragement to yourself.
  4. What song lyrics, or movie quotes, or poems have served as a guiding light to you and why?
  5. What’s your favorite holiday, and why?
  6. Make 10 promises to yourself and write about them
  7. What is one time when you felt on top of the world? How did you feel about achieving a goal? Give that version of yourself a superhero name, and write all about it for future reference.
  8. What are some pressing questions that have been on your mind recently? Talk yourself through them to some sort of satisfactory answer.
  9. What’s the first thing you think about every morning upon awakening, and what’s the last thing that crosses your mind before you drift off to sleep?
  10. What is causing you pain and anxiety right now? Write about it and see if you can’t find a way to find some comfort and healing.

What prompts can you come up with? How would you like to know yourself better? Write about it!

Some final journaling tips

Journaling is never going to be perfect, and it’s going to take a while to get into the habit of doing it and to start recognizing the positive effects it’s having.

Here are some tips to keep in mind as you adjust to this new way of looking at and documenting your innermost feelings and thoughts and how you process them.

  • Free write without judgment (less editing, more writing)
  • Be consistent (about 20 minutes every day, or at least once a week)
  • Keep your writing notes handy (on your nightstand, in your backpack, in your car, etc.)
  • Get in the habit of always looking for the positive

Does journaling sound like it might interest you? Give it a try! If you are struggling with mental illness or low self-esteem, start organizing your thoughts, however awkward it may feel at first. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.