Archive Monthly Archives: May 2018

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep and Mental Health

According to the American Sleep Association, 50-70 million adults have a sleep disorder. Among the most common are insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome, but simply the absence of a diagnosed disorder does not imply that an individual is experiencing healthy and regular sleep patterns.

Effects of Inadequate Sleep

Because our sleep needs change with age, people require different amounts of sleep at different points in their lives. Generally, children aged 6 through 12 require 9-12 hours of sleep, teenagers require 8-10 hours, and adults require 7-9 hours. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016) report that over a third of adults in the United States are not receiving adequate sleep on a regular basis. sleepandmentalhealth

Sleep deprivation has implications for your entire well-being. Cognitively, it inhibits your ability to act quickly, concentrate, and remember things. Physically, it increases your risk of conditions and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Further, one study found that sleep deprived individuals (those receiving five hours of sleep per night or less) had higher rates of mortality by approximately 15% (University of Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine, 2007). Finally, sleep largely influences our mood and psychological functioning. Conversely, those aspects impact your sleep as well. Lack of sleep can put you at a higher risk of developing anxiety or mood disorders, and increases negative feelings such as anger, sadness, distress, and exhaustion (Dinges D. et al., 1997; Neckelmann, D. et al., 2007. Consider the following tips to improve sleep and mental health.

Things Anyone Can Do to Improve Sleep

  • Maintain a consistent routine – Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day, including weekends. This will regulate your circadian rhythm, helping your body become accustomed to regular sleeping and waking times.
  • Limit cell-phone and computer use before bed – Research shows that the light emitted from our electronic devices reduces the production of melatonin, one of our natural hormones that tells your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine – Particularly in the afternoon and early evening, exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. One study found that 150 minutes of exercise each week improved participants sleep quality by 65%, leading to less feelings of tiredness throughout the day (Loprinzi & Cardinal, 2011)
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol – Although drinking may make you feel like you’re sleeping more soundly, it prohibits REM sleep, which decreases the amount of restorative sleep you get. In short, you may fall asleep faster, but you will likely wake up still feeling tired.
  • Journal – If you find yourself up at night with racing thoughts, find ways to process those thoughts during the day to allow yourself calmness when it’s time to rest.
  • Yoga and Meditation – Amongst improvements in stress reduction, body awareness, and mindfulness, practicing yoga and meditation has been shown to help many people with insomnia, including pregnant women, cancer patients, and the elderly.
  • Contact a therapist – Sometimes, sleep problems can lead to or stem from other issues, so it’s important to involve a professional if you are having a significant amount of trouble sleeping. Some professionals use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help restructure your though processes and maintain better sleep hygiene.

If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep and want to process the underlying reasons with a trustworthy professional, schedule a free initial consultation  with us to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling .

sleepandmentalhealth

Depression in College Students ~ Pittsburgh

Depression in College Students

The prevalence of mental health concerns in college students has been steadily rising, with depression, suicide, eating disorders, and anxiety as the most common. According to the American Psychological Association (2013), about 33% of college students in the previous year had felt that depression inhibited their daily functioning, and there are so many potential reasons for this: the increase in pressure and responsibility, lack of adequate support, first-time separation from one’s family, and stress and anxiety concerning academic performance, finances, and what life will be like after college. Further, there are certain genetic, hormonal, and seasonal factors that may induce depressive symptoms or make a person more at risk for acquiring it. depression

Signs & Symptoms

There is no one-size-fits-all picture of what depression looks like. Just as any other mental health disorder, it varies by individual, but there are things you can look for, in yourselves and those around you, that may indicate that a person is struggling with depression. These symptoms typically affect the physical, emotional, and cognitive aspects of individuals who live with depression, as it is an all-encompassing disorder.

Generally, people with depression may experience feelings of hopelessness, guilt, irritability, and sadness, with decreased interest in the things they formerly enjoyed and diminished attention to their hygiene and appearance. Depression can lead to changes in appetite and weight as well and can interfere with the ability to sleep. Moreover, it can lead to the excessive use of things like gambling, the internet, alcohol, and other substances. In fact, individuals “with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely to suffer also from a drug use disorder,” and are more likely to experience internet addiction than the general population (Katikalapudi et al., 2012; National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2008). Some of the most common cognitive symptoms of depression are forgetting things, difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, and slower reaction time (Tartakovsky). depression

Any combination of these symptoms can pose problems for an individual’s daily functioning. Specifically, in college students, depression may lead to behaviors such as isolating themselves, skipping class, neglecting responsibilities, and binge-drinking.

Steps You Can Take

As a friend, colleague, or professor of a student that may be experiencing depression, it is important for you to be sensitive to and supportive of that individual. Recognize that the things they are going through are likely not in their control, and encourage them to reach out to a mental health professional. One of the worst things you can do is minimize what they are going through and criticize them for the effects it is having in their life.

If you, yourself feel that you are experiencing depressive symptoms, it is good to process what you are feeling with someone else, though it can be hard to talk about. It may be helpful to turn to a trusted friend, family member, or professor at first, but if your symptoms are impeding your ability to function, getting in contact with a counselor or therapist will be the most effective way to work through your emotions and develop healthy coping skills. depression

If you are suffering with depression, please schedule a free consultation today to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction and relationship counseling . MStress Management Pittsburgh

What We Believe, We Become

The very interesting thing about believing certain things, is that it takes almost constant reminding that you believe those things as you’re just living your life. I’ve read books several times that echo the belief that what you think is what will become. I’ve listened to speakers say it. I’ve said to people. I’ve written it. I know that it’s true but what happens when we’re believing and thinking for something we wish to see materialize in our lives and that thing is looking just as distant as when we first realized we wanted it? What do we do when we’ve toiled, pedaled, ached and ached again as we’ve journeyed toward a certain something that we’ve long-desired, and yet seem to be further away than closer to? psychologyofabeli

What do we do in that desperation-moment of letting go or continuing on? What do we do when we hear the thing we’ve been holding onto and our stomach turns? Tears fill our eyes because we’re more than doubting the validity of the belief? “As you think, so you will become.” Well how long do I have to sit in that thought, because my car is being repossessed. My wife and kids are looking at me with something less than loving eyes. Even if I finally achieved what I continually have been thinking I’ll become, will I even want it at this point? Faith… faith has long left me…

Well… that’s just how it feels…

But aren’t the things we feel truth?

There is a truth that lies deeper than that which you feel. Buried beneath tears, fear and doubt there lies an unbreakable, unmovable, and immutable truth. The truth is simply, you’re not meant to be forever lost to the realm of hopelessness. You’re also not meant to be forever dazzled by the realm of jubilation. Our universe is perfectly balanced. The presence of fear and fearless, hope and hopeless exist together. As for the life to come, well hopefully that’s the one filled entirely with perfect jubilation that won’t make us insane.
psychologyofabelief
If you’re interested in discovering ways to turn your thoughts into more positive ones, contact us at makinwellness.com. We can help you find new perspective while developing coping skills. Schedule your free consulation today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Craven iammarkcraven.com

Mindful Eating to Improve Mental Health

There are various sources of stress whether it be work related, relational issues, health concerns, or other daily worries. Things like exercise and time outside are encouraged as a way to positively affect our mood and reduce stress. When it comes to our eating habits, we often hear about particular foods linked to increased energy levels and improved physical health. What about mental health though? What does our mood have to do with our food? Surely, it’s unlikely to hear someone say, “My food is really stressing me out.” But it turns out, the old saying “you are what you eat” is ringing true in more ways than one. Consider further evidence of the link between food and its affects on mental health. Mindful eating

An expecting mother will carefully choose what she eats to ensure her developing baby is getting needed nutrients and “brain food” for the brain of her developing fetus. According to nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, “Antioxidants protect the baby’s brain tissue from damage” (S. Kuzemchak, 2018). Dark leafy greens, blueberries, and other dark colored fruits and vegetables provide the most antioxidants. Like a developing fetus, our brains need antioxidants for protection from free radicals – waste produced when the body uses oxygen, which can cause damage to the cells. Eating nutrient rich foods containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain, while protecting it from damaging free radicals, or oxidative damage. Poor nutrition is taxing to the immune system putting one at risk for free radical damage, premature aging, among other health risks.Mindful eating

Think of when you let a cut up apple sit out. It becomes brown from oxidation. That is exactly what we don’t want to happen to our brains. Just as we fuel our vehicles to keep them properly running, we want to fuel our brains. Choosing high quality fuel will produce the best results. Speaking of apples and brains, eating “an apple a day” may actually help “keep the doctor away” since it contains powerful and beneficial antioxidants. A study at Cornell found apples to protect brain cells against oxidative stress, since they contain high levels of quercetin (G, Stemilt. 2016). It is recommended to eat the entire apple, including the skin, to reap all of the benefits. So why not try out the old saying and give your brain a boost by eating an apple a day!Mindful eating

In seeing the positive effects healthy eating has on our brains, naturally we have to question “how does food actually affect our mood?” Often times we are looking for a quick fix in this fast paced world when it comes to meal time. With fast food restaurants being readily available, it has become even easier to grab something to eat without really considering nutritional benefits. Our enteric nervous system (ENS) which directly controls our gastrointestinal system is said to be our “second brain,” with 95% of serotonin being produced in the intestinal tract. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain (E, Selhub, 2018). Since our GI tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, it makes sense that our digestive system guides our emotions. Researchers believe that serotonin (also called “the happiness hormone”) imbalance influences mood which may influence anxiety and depression. Production of neurotransmitters like serotonin is highly influenced by the good bacteria in our gut. Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in this regard.

Finding ways to balance serotonin and other neurotransmitters like dopamine and oxytocin, is key to maintaining wellness and improving mental health. One essential way is to be mindful of what foods we’re eating since it directly effects the health of our GI tract, which is so closely linked to our emotions. The process our body goes through when breaking down foods and using them for fuel is a very extensive one. Thus, eating high quality foods is vital to getting the best quality of fuel for our bodies. Below are some tips to boost serotonin, which in turn reduces stress and improves overall well-being.Mindful eating

Tips for improving serotonin levels to improve mental health:Mindful eating

• Take good quality probiotics – Probiotics are the good bacteria found in the gut, which can increase serotonin levels. Dr. David Williams explains the     benefits of probiotics and the connection between gut health and mental health at drdavidwilliams.com. He is known as a pioneer in the field of           probiotics.
• Exercise – Exercise is known for releasing endorphins, but did you know taking a walk or exercising for just 20 minutes can boost serotonin levels? A     little fresh air and sunlight can do wonders.
• Practice Mindfulness – taking time to be present prevents anxious thoughts, allowing one to enjoy the moment and make more meaningful                  connections with others. This includes being mindful of what we’re eating, thinking, and saying.
• Positive affirmations – We are what we think. Positive thinking improves our overall state of mind, promoting harmony between the mind and body.    “I am” statements gives greater opportunity for positive outcomes through a more positive outlook and approach.
• Eat nutrient dense foods – Healthier (mindful) eating habits provides benefits to the brain, which effects our mood and mental health. High quality      foods will give you a higher quality of life, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Remember, don’t drink your calories with thinks like soda or other      drinks with high sugar content.
• Eliminate or reduce sugar intake – Too much sugar is taxing to the body. Try replacing sugary snacks with healthier options like fresh fruit or trail          mix.
• Get a massage – Massage is a perfect way to remove toxins, promote restful sleep, and relieve stress. Essential oils like lavender can be used to aid      in relaxation during massage, which has also been shown to increase serotonin levels. Treat yourself to a little relaxation. It just might do you a lot        of good!
• Get enough rest – Adequate sleep helps reduce stress and produce serotonin, which improves mood and helps control appetite (healthy eating +        restful sleep = improved serotonin levels and improved mental health!)

Practicing these tips can help bring your mind and body into greater balance, improving mental health and overall wellness. If you would like additional support please schedule a free consultation today to get connected with Pittsburgh’s best therapists & coaches!

About Makin Wellness :

Founded in 2017 , Makin Wellness is Pittsburgh’s premier therapy and coaching centers located in Downtown , Pittsburgh and New Kensington, PA. The company’s mission is to help people heal and become happy again. Makin Wellness specializes in depression, anxiety, addiction, relationship counseling & more . mindful eating

mindful eating Laura Stewart, BA Makin Wellness

Laura Stewart, B.A.