Saturday, August 26, 2017

More than the blues: depression

Depression​ ​and​ ​mania—the​ ​companion​ ​moods​ ​of​ ​bipolar​ ​disorder—are​ ​“ancient illnesses”​ ​and​ ​common​ ​among​ ​the​ ​general​ ​population,​ ​and​ ​successfully​ ​treating​ ​them is​ ​perhaps​ ​the​ ​best​ ​way​ ​to​ ​eliminate​ ​the​ ​stigma​ ​surrounding​ ​mental​ ​illness,​ ​says​ ​Kay Redfield​ ​Jamison,​ ​a​ ​foremost​ ​academic​ ​authority​ ​on​ ​manic-depressive​ ​illness​ ​whose best-selling​ ​memoir​ ​​An ​ ​ Unquiet ​ ​ Mind ​ ​​ chronicled​ ​her​ ​early​ ​experience​ ​with​ ​bipolar disorder. 

All ​the ​major ​psychiatric ​illnesses disproportionately hit ​the ​young, ​and particularly ​college ​ ​
age. “The​ ​average​ ​age​ ​of​ ​onset​ ​of​ ​bipolar​ ​illness​ ​is​ ​17,​ ​18,​ ​19.​ ​All​ ​of​ ​the​ ​major​ ​psychiatric illnesses​ ​are​ ​illnesses​ ​of​ ​youth,”​ ​Jamison​ ​said.​ ​“It’s​ ​not​ ​like​ ​cardiac​ ​disease,​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​like dementia,​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​like​ ​cancer,​ ​which​ ​disproportionately​ ​hit​ ​older​ ​people.​ ​All​ ​the​ ​major psychiatric​ ​illnesses​ ​disproportionately​ ​hit​ ​the​ ​young,​ ​and​ ​particularly​ ​college​ ​age.”

Jamison​ ​said​ ​it’s​ ​also​ ​important​ ​to​ ​note​ ​that​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​mania​ ​are​ ​not​ ​modern ailments.​ ​Hippocrates​ ​described​ ​mania​ ​and​ ​melancholia​ ​extremely​ ​well​ ​in​ ​about​ ​500 B.C.,​ ​she​ ​said,​ ​as​ ​did​ ​the​ ​authors​ ​of​ ​ancient​ ​Persian​ ​and​ ​Chinese​ ​texts.  “Depression​ ​and​ ​mania​ ​are​ ​complex​ ​and​ ​multifaceted​ ​disorders,”​ ​said​ ​Dr.​ ​Jamison​ ​in​ ​a talk​ ​at​ ​Vanderbilt​ ​University​ ​in​ ​2017.​ ​( 

“When​ ​we​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​these​ ​illnesses,​ ​we’re​ ​not​ ​just​ ​talking​ ​about​ ​illnesses​ ​of​ ​mood,” she​ ​said.​ ​“We’re​ ​talking​ ​about​ ​illnesses​ ​of​ ​energy​ ​and​ ​sleep​ ​and​ ​cognition—the​ ​ability to​ ​think​ ​clearly,​ ​the​ ​ability​ ​to​ ​reason.”  This​ ​is​ ​particularly​ ​problematic​ ​on​ ​college​ ​campuses,​ ​she​ ​said,​ ​where​ ​the​ ​essence​ ​of what​ ​young​ ​people​ ​are​ ​doing​ ​is​ ​learning.​ ​“When​ ​you​ ​have​ ​illnesses​ ​that​ ​disrupt​ ​that capacity​ ​to​ ​learn,​ ​it​ ​can​ ​be​ ​very,​ ​very​ ​frightening,”​ ​she​ ​said.​ ​“Suicidal​ ​thinking​ ​is​ ​not uncommon,​ ​and​ ​unfortunately,​ ​suicide​ ​is​ ​not​ ​uncommon.” 

Moods​ ​during​ ​depression​ ​includes​ ​hopelessness,​ ​irritability​ ​and​ ​apathy,​ ​she​ ​said. Mania,​ ​on​ ​the​ ​other​ ​hand,​ ​is​ ​the​ ​opposite​ ​in​ ​most​ ​ways.  “When​ ​people​ ​are​ ​manic,​ ​they​ ​have​ ​an​ ​incredible​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​energy,”​ ​Jamison​ ​said. “They​ ​speak​ ​and​ ​think​ ​quickly,​ ​they​ ​need​ ​far​ ​less​ ​sleep​ ​than​ ​usual,​ ​they’re​ ​restless, irritable,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​show​ ​astonishingly​ ​bad​ ​judgment.​ ​They​ ​spend​ ​money​ ​they​ ​don’t have,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​impose​ ​their​ ​enthusiasms​ ​and​ ​convictions​ ​on​ ​others.​ ​They’re​ ​impulsive, reckless,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​impetuously​ ​start​ ​new​ ​projects​ ​and​ ​new​ ​relationships.  “Mania,​ ​in​ ​short,​ ​is​ ​a​ ​high-voltage​ ​state,”​ ​she​ ​said.  Bipolar​ ​disorder​ ​is​ ​very​ ​common,​ ​Jamison​ ​said.​ ​

Approximately​ ​one​ ​person​ ​out​ ​of​ ​100 will​ ​develop​ ​a​ ​severe,​ ​classic​ ​form​ ​of​ ​the​ ​illness,​ ​and​ ​another​ ​2-3​ ​per​ ​cent​ ​of​ ​the population​ ​will​ ​experience​ ​a​ ​milder​ ​form.​ ​Some​ ​15-20​ ​per​ ​cent​ ​of​ ​people​ ​will​ ​have​ ​at least​ ​one​ ​episode​ ​of​ ​major​ ​depression​ ​in​ ​their​ ​lifetime.  “These​ ​are​ ​not​ ​weird,​ ​bizarre​ ​diseases—these​ ​are​ ​common.​ ​Depression​ ​is​ ​known​ ​as​ ​‘the common​ ​cold​ ​of​ ​psychiatry’​ ​for​ ​good​ ​cause,”​ ​she​ ​said.  Both​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​bipolar​ ​illness​ ​are​ ​genetic,​ ​she​ ​noted.​ ​Men​ ​and​ ​women​ ​are​ ​equally liable​ ​to​ ​bipolar​ ​illness,​ ​and​ ​women​ ​are​ ​about​ ​twice​ ​as​ ​likely​ ​to​ ​get​ ​depression.​ ​In addition,​ ​alcohol​ ​and​ ​drug​ ​abuse​ ​are​ ​very​ ​common​ ​among​ ​those​ ​who​ ​experience​ ​these disorders.​ ​The​ ​highest​ ​comorbidity​ ​in​ ​psychiatry​ ​is​ ​with​ ​bipolar​ ​illness​ ​and​ ​alcohol​ ​or drug​ ​abuse,​ ​she​ ​said. 

Jamison​ ​spoke​ ​of​ ​her​ ​own​ ​struggle​ ​to​ ​come​ ​to​ ​terms​ ​with​ ​her​ ​bipolar​ ​illness​ ​and​ ​to accept​ ​the​ ​necessity​ ​of​ ​taking​ ​lithium​ ​to​ ​treat​ ​it. 

Healing ​the ​Brain: ​Depression ​and ​Mental ​Illness ​ gives​ ​readers​ ​a​ ​view​ ​of​ ​the remarkable​ ​human​ ​brain,​ ​its​ ​capabilities,​ ​and​ ​its​ ​vulnerabilities.​ ​A​ ​brain​ ​compromised by​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​other​ ​mental​ ​illnesses​ ​is​ ​tragic​ ​and​ ​in​ ​many​ ​cases​ ​increasingly treatable.​ ​


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

What does legalized pot mean?

Changes in marijuana policies across states legalizing marijuana for medical and/or recreational use suggest that marijuana is gaining greater acceptance in our society. Thus, it is particularly important for people to understand what is known about both the adverse health effects and the potential therapeutic benefits linked to marijuana.

Because marijuana impairs short-term memory and judgment and distorts perception, it can impair performance in school or at work and make it dangerous to drive. It also affects brain systems that are still maturing through young adulthood, so regular use by teens may have negative and long-lasting effects on their cognitive development, putting them at a competitive disadvantage and possibly interfering with their well-being in other ways. Also, contrary to popular belief, marijuana can be addictive, and its use during adolescence may make other forms of problem use or addiction more likely.

Whether smoking or otherwise consuming marijuana has therapeutic benefits that outweigh its health risks is still an open question that science has not resolved. Although many states now permit dispensing marijuana for medicinal purposes and there is mounting anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of marijuana-derived compounds, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved "medical marijuana." However, safe medicines based on cannabinoid chemicals derived from the marijuana plant have been available for decades and more are being developed.

Courtesy: NIDA

Learn more about it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Trump declares epidemic. Get the facts on opioids here.

Sample free e-pub. Click here.

Overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50. Only 1 in 4 Americans with opioid addiction are getting the treatment they need. The national opioid addiction crisis is poised to get even worse as new synthetic drugs are introduced. The consequences affect the foster care system greatly, and in particular, gay youth in foster care.

Presented in clear, non-complicated language to help the lay reader

To empower participants, coverage in this book includes a basic coverage of how addiction works in the brain and body. Substance abuse topics include: How the brain works; Why is addiction a brain disease? Opioids/heroin; Methamphetamines, cocaine; and Alcohol and marijuana. A related podcast covers support topics for parents, educators, social workers and clergy: Positive parenting as a prevention tool for drug abuse; Communication, encouragement,and negotiations; Setting limits; supervision, and knowing your child's friends. This program is presented by Fred Elia, MS, president of A Thousand Moms, and David Balog, author, Dana Foundation’s Sourcebook of Brain Science and Healing the Brain: Stress, Trauma and Development.
Contributions are encouraged to support the ongoing work of A Thousand Moms. All contributions are tax deductible.
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Founded in 2009, A Thousand Moms builds community support for LGBT/Q youth in foster/adoptive care. It is a program of the National Association of Former Foster Children, a registered 501(c)3 organization.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Paying with our health: 4 tips to financial recovery

It’s official: Money is stressful. 

For the seventh year in a row, the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey found that money is the top source of stress for American adults. More than a quarter of Americans say they feel stressed about money most or all of the time. Only 30 percent rate their financial security as high (8, 9 or 10 on a 10 point scale where 1 is not at all financially secure), and more than two-thirds believe that more money would make them happier.

People deal with stress in many different ways — sometimes healthy, often not. People commonly deal with anxiety by avoiding whatever it is that makes them anxious. Unfortunately, if you avoid dealing with your finances, you’ll likely create more financial problems, and more anxiety, in the long term.

Money matters are too important to ignore. Financial illiteracy is linked to money mismanagement and to debt. Debt, in turn, is associated with lower self-esteem, lower productivity and greater stress. Unsurprisingly, research has also linked financial strain to depression.

If you’re struggling with financial avoidance or financial denial, you can take action to get your money matters back on track.

Warning signs

How do you know if you’re avoiding reality when it comes to finances? Here are some of the clues:

  • You try to put money and finances out of your mind.
  • You avoid talking about money with family and friends.
  • You avoid opening bank statements or credit card bills.
  • You don’t know what your credit score is.
  • You don’t know your net worth.
If you can relate to any of these feelings and behaviors, it may be time to take a hard look at your relationship with money.

Beliefs and attitudes

We develop our beliefs and attitudes about money early in life. Often, we aren't even consciously aware of what our beliefs are, let alone where we learned them. If you’re dealing with financial avoidance or financial denial, it can help to think critically about the money beliefs you learned in childhood. Think about what your parents taught you about money. Talk to family members about their money beliefs. Then try to challenge your existing beliefs about money.

Many people feel embarrassed about their debt, ashamed that they let bank statements pile up unread. But that shame keeps you stuck. Try to move past the self-blame so you can take some concrete steps toward financial health.

Take action

  1. Keep tabs. Tracking your income and your spending is critical to healthy finances. If you’re not tracking money coming in and money going out, you don’t know if you’re spending your resources on the things that really matter to you.
  2. Develop a spending plan. For some people the word “budget” like the word “diet,” calls to mind feeling deprived. Instead of figuring out where to cut back, think about what you want to spend. If going to concerts or sporting events is really important to you, you might decide to spend more money on those outings and less on dining out or cable television. By making such decisions more intentional, you’ll get the most bang for your buck.
  3. Make it easy on yourself. Use automated systems as much as possible. Arrange to have a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account and your retirement account. Set up automatic reminders to alert you when a bill is due. It’s a lot harder to make a bad decision when the decision is out of your hands.
  4. Use tools. Technology makes it easier than ever to stay on track financially. A variety of software programs and apps can help you track spending and set spending and saving targets.

Seek professional help

It’s not easy to challenge your deeply held beliefs or to change ingrained behaviors. No matter how good your intentions, change is difficult. Psychologists are experts in helping people make lasting behavior changes. Research has shown that psychological treatment programs can reduce distress and anxiety and improve financial health among people with problematic financial behaviors.


Learn just how money stress affects your brain and health.

In the New York Capital region? 1. Get my book here or on Healing the Brain: Stress & Money. 2. Contact me, David Balog, a licensed financial representative, for a free consultation. Call 646-667-4254 or email

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Money Stress: Paying with Our Health

Money doesn’t buy happiness. Just try living without it, though.

We use money every day. It runs our daily lives--pays for food, clothing, and shelter; educates our children; supports us in retirement; and everything in between.

Americans are extremely concerned over their finances. Surveys show money and personal finances to be the number one cause of stress in America.

In this book about the brain, we look at stress and trauma and how they affect the brain and subsequently our health. Insomnia, migraines, ulcers, high blood pressure, and more are triggered by money stress, according to Corporate Wellness Magazine--and any doctor who sees patients every day.

The treatment and cure for money worries doesn’t come in a pill or physical therapy. Only basic knowledge about money and how it works can ease our fears and help build a sound financial house.

Think about it: We go to school. We get courses in English, Science, Math, History...what course don’t we get? Has anybody taken a course called My Money, Money 101, or Building Personal Wealth?

So do we learn about money at work? At home?

The answers are almost always no.

This information deficit has become more critical because over the past decade, culminating in the Great Recession, the economic world of middle-class Americans shifted under our feet.

In these pages you will find information on topics that have proven important in talking to people about their finances. Folks working two and three jobs to make ends meet. People working in what they call “their retirement job.” Those trying adjust to the “new economy.”

Healing the Brain: Stress & Money gives readers a view of the remarkable human brain, its capabilities, and its vulnerabilities. A brain compromised by stress and trauma diminishes our health and yet the brain is slowly yielding its secrets to science and medicine.

Order the book by making a secure contribution to our organization, A Thousand Moms. Book cost $7.95 plus $3.50 shipping and handling, total $11.45. Order the e-pub for only $2.00. Please provide your email address on the order form.

Praise for Healing the Brain Series:

"Provides comfort and learning to the reader. Flows easily from one topic to the next and knits tidbits of information together in a unifying mosaic. Easy to read. Difficult to put down." --Michael J. Colucciello, Jr., New York State Dept. of Mental Health researcher, retired.

"Wonderfully written by Mr. Balog. A book that can help medical professionals as well as the general public, Mr Balog has tackled a subject that is complex and he makes it quite approachable. It has added and enriched my own practice of medicine by making me more aware of issues not often discussed in medical circles."--Peter Paganussi, MD, Virginia

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Alcohol: The Forgotten Drug of Abuse

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

University of Adelaide
Fewer Australian teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Aussie students, based on the findings of the latest study.

Fewer Australian teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Aussie students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

The results of the study, now published in the journal BMC Public Health, provide a snapshot of the prevalence of alcohol consumption among students, and the factors that most influence their drinking behaviour. This research has been supported by Cancer Council SA and SA Government.

"Harmful alcohol use is a serious problem in Australia, and drinking patterns are often first set in adolescence," says lead author Jacqueline Bowden, behavioural scientist and Manager of Population Health Research at SAHMRI, and researcher with the School of Psychology, University of Adelaide.
"With alcohol contributing to four of the top five causes of death in young people, and a leading cause of cancer in our community, it's important for us to better understand drinking behaviour among young people so we can help to prevent or delay it.
"One of the major messages from our study is that parents have more influence on their teenagers' decisions regarding alcohol than they probably realise. Parental behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol really do make a difference, and can help prevent children from drinking at an early age."
The study found:
  • By age 16, most students had tried alcohol
  • A third of students reported that they drank alcohol at least occasionally
  • Only 28% of students were aware of a link between alcohol and cancer
  • Across all ages, students were less likely to drink if their parents showed disapproval of underage drinking
  • Those aged 14-17 were less likely to drink if they knew about the link between alcohol and cancer
  • Smoking and approval of drinking from friends were more likely to result in drinking
  • Once young people have become regular drinkers, the main predictor for drinking is the perceived availability of alcohol
  • Cashed up students are more likely to drink.
Lincoln Size, Chief Executive Cancer Council SA, says: "The evidence is clear that alcohol use is a cause of cancer. Any level of alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing an alcohol-related cancer; the level of risk increases in line with the level of consumption.

"This latest evidence highlights the need to educate young people about the consequences of alcohol consumption and for parents to demonstrate responsible drinking behaviour. We need to get the message through that what may be considered harmless fun actually has lifelong consequences.

"We know that alcohol causes cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bowel in men and breast among women. There is also probable evidence that alcohol increases the risk of bowel cancer in women, and liver cancer.

Ms Bowden says we need to address the issue of supply to teenagers. "Many parents believe providing their children with alcohol in the safe environment of their home teaches them to drink responsibly. However, the weight of evidence suggests that this increases consumption, and is not recommended.

"Our results also found that those adolescents who thought they could buy alcohol easily were more likely to drink regularly. The issue of availability -- including price -- and marketing of alcohol in the community is a major hurdle to be overcome.

"Alcohol is more affordable in Australia than it has been in the past 30 years, and the number of premises selling alcohol in Australia has increased substantially in the past 15 years. Throw advertising and sports sponsorship into the mix and we have some very strong messages that alcohol is the norm," Ms Bowden says.

"Our evidence shows that that parents have a significant and substantial role to play, to help their kids develop a healthier relationship with alcohol early. Parents can set the boundaries and create clear expectations."
Ms Bowden says parents should:
  • Discuss alcohol use with their children, and the fact that not everyone drinks
  • Get to know upcoming activities, such as parties, and set expectations for behaviour
  • Reconsider drinking in front of children, as most alcohol is consumed by adults at home
  • Have alcohol-free events
  • Avoid binge drinking
  • Don't buy alcohol for adolescents or provide it at parties.
"We often forget that alcohol is the most widely used recreational drug in Australia and has an enormous cost on families. It is important that parents set the right example," Ms Bowden says.

Story Source:
Materials provided by University of Adelaide.