10 Easy Self Care Tips for Depression

Everyone deals with depression in different ways. Some try to handle it by themselves, while others get help. We’re not telling you that you can fight depression on your own, but there are definitely certain things you can do for yourself that could help massively. Here are 10 self-care ideas that you might want to try.

 

Journaling: 

You might be surprised at how big of an impact this can have. Many studies have looked at journaling as a way fight depression and the results are very promising. Journaling forces you to reflect and it helps you get things off your chest, even and if you’re just admitting things to yourself.

 

Reconnect with a friend:

Even if you have no desire to get out and talk to people, you should probably at least make an effort. Researchers have looked at the most effective strategies for dealing with depression, and actively participating in your own social life is a very beneficial tactic. Humans are social animals, so we actually need a community of some kind.

 

Comfort food:

Certain foods and diets definitely have a strong effect on depression. You could choose to go super healthy and that definitely helps with our state of mind. But you might be surprised at the antidepressant qualities of various foods, including chocolate which has serotonin boosting qualities, tea and even coffee are actually great for fighting depression. And this is backed by numerous studies.

 

Humor:

You’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Well, that might not be too far from the truth. Humor is actually a great way to deal with depression. Watch a funny movie, see a stand-up comedian, do whatever makes you laugh. Laughter releases endorphins and decreases stress hormones among many other benefits.

 

St. John’s Wart: 

We all know that antidepressants are one of the most common ways to deal with depression.

These are special medications prescribed by professionals. But some might want something a little more natural. If this is the case, then St. John’s Wart is definitely an option. This natural herb has proven effectiveness against mild depression, although it won’t do much more for severe cases.

 

Physical activity: 

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most effective. Time and time again, studies have shown that regular rigorous exercise is one of the best ways to fight depression. Exercise releases endorphins which are natural feel-good chemicals in the body. Seeing the physical changes in our body after a hard workout is a great and mood booster as well. There’s really no downside to getting a little exercise done and you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel pretty good afterwards.

 

Bibliotherapy: 

Another proven method of dealing with depression is bibliotherapy. Although the word might sound complicated, it’s actually pretty simple. Bibliotherapy is the use of books in therapy. This is probably one of the most popular self-guided forms of therapy out there and it has a great track record. Usually, there’s an initial consultation with a professional therapist and then the patient uses a book to guide themselves along their therapy journey. The book instructs the patient on how to improve their mood, deal with depression and conquer anxiety. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s only recommended for those with mild depressive symptoms.

 

Yoga: 

A few different studies have examined how Yoga can help with depression, and they’ve come to the conclusion that it can be very effective. Someone say that yoga is just another form of exercise, but in truth, it’s more than that. Many people describe yoga as a kind of meditation in motion, it can be spiritual in nature, and it can also be very introspective. The results speak for themselves.

 

Meditation: 

Meditation might just be one of the oldest self-care techniques in history. People have been meditating for thousands of years and the effects of this practice are well documented. The aim of meditation is to attain inner peace which makes it a perfect strategy for combating depression. One of the most popular methods for dealing with depression these days is mindfulness, which is a type of meditation which focuses on being of ourselves, our thoughts and the people around us. Numerous studies have examined the effects of this on depression and it has proven to be quite effective. Quite simply, it gives us greater appreciation of our own lives.

 

Massage Therapy: 

It’s always good to treat yourself to a nice massage, but if you’re trying to pursue a lifestyle

of self-care, then you might want to seriously consider massage therapy. You left this method until last for a reason. Massage Therapy is only loosely linked with decreased depressive symptoms. It won’t cure depression, but it will decrease stress levels. And hey, getting massage is never a bad thing.

 

Taken care of a loved one with brain issues

Caregiver Research 

 

  1. Common mistakes caregivers make and how to avoid them
    1. Mistakes commonly made
      1. Don’t: Ask “Do you Remember?”
        1. Can be anxiety provoking and disheartening if they do not remember 
        2. Do: re-introduce people regardless of how close they are
      2. Don’t: Correct Facts
        1. Arguing with them about incorrect facts will not help and may cause confusion/anger
        2. Do: Just agree and change the topic
          1. If they are acting out, distract them with another topic or a task to do to get them to focus on something else 
      3. Don’t: Avoid the Past
        1. Pleasant memories can help lessen the load when things begin to get heavy
        2. Do: Ask them what they liked to do as a child, listen to music from their past, and/or go through photo albums 
      4. Don’t: Believe You Should Never Get Upset
        1. It is okay to be annoyed → all feelings are normal/valid 
        2. Do: If you get upset/annoyed and no one is available to give you a break, try to step back, take a few deep breaths, and remember that what you are feeling is valid and completely normal. We are all human and even our loved ones can get under our skin. 
      5. Don’t: Forget to Laugh/Feel bad for enjoying your life
        1. Don’t feel guilty for laughing or experiencing happiness
        2. Do: Although the patient may not understand what is going on, just hearing someone laugh or seeing someone smile may lighten their mood 
      6. Don’t: Ease Off on Physical Activity
        1. Staying physically active is important for both patient and caregiver
          1. Benefits both physical and mental health
        2. Do: Take them on walks/get them moving even if it’s just around the house. Have them complete tasks like putting dishes away, gardening, or cooking simple recipes (with supervision of course)
      7. Don’t: Hide the Illness from Friends and Neighbors
        1. Do: Share the illness with them. They can act as another set of eyes or a helpful presence if something ever goes wrong 
          1. The more people know, the more they can help 
      8. Don’t: Refrain from Asking for Help
        1. Do: Allow others to help you, and ask for help when feeling overwhelmed. Caregiving is a 24/7 job and is both physically and mentally taxing, no matter how much you love the individual
          1. Be direct with your needs, some may not know how to help
      9. Don’t: Refrain from Taking Time for Yourself 
        1. Your effectiveness as a caregiver decreases if you are not taking proper care of yourself
          1. Similar to putting on your oxygen mask on first before helping others 
        2. Do: Take breaks throughout the day (even if only for a couple of minutes). Participate in activities that make you happy/help you relax
      10. Don’t: Make Promises You Might Not Be Able to Keep 
        1. Many promise their loved ones that they will never “put them in a home”
          1. Sometimes this is necessary, both for the patient and the caregiver
        2. Do: Be honest/realistic both with the patient as well as with yourself (Say that you will always do what is best for them, even if they may not see it that way) 
    2. Often times both caregivers and patients have trouble accepting the severity of the illness
      1. May lead to ignoring/dismissing the person’s symptoms, which is not helpful 
      2. Denying their symptoms may lead to a delay in them obtaining medical attention while also impairing your own mental and emotional adjustment to your loved one’s needs 
  2. Strategies to help caregivers avoid burnout and feelings of frustration (towards themselves and those they are caring for)
    1. Caregiver Burnout: a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion
      1. May be accompanied by a change in attitude, from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned. May experience fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression 
      2. Burnout occurs when caregivers do not receive the help they need or if they try to do more than they are able (either physically or financially)
      3. Other factors that can lead to burnout: role confusion, unrealistic expectations, lack of control (over situation), and unreasonable demands
    2. Symptoms of Burnout
      1. Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
      2. Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
      3. Feeling sad, irritable, hopeless and helpless
      4. Changes in appetite, weight, or both/changes in sleep pattern
      5. Getting sick more often
      6. Emotional and physical exhaustion 
    3. How to Avoid Burnout:
      1. Find someone you trust to talk about your feelings and frustrations
        1. Can also turn to a support group (local organizations may provide these) → can also provide time away from the patient 
      2. Set realistic goals and accept that you may need help with caregiving 
        1. Delegate tasks between yourself and others 
        2. Know your limits and be honest with yourself about your personal situation
      3. Be realistic about your loved one’s disease → acknowledge when the patient may require nursing services or assisted living 
      4. Take time for yourself 
        1. Taking care of yourself is not a luxury. Rather, it is an absolute necessary for caregivers 
      5. Talk to a professional (therapists, social workers, and clergy members)
        1. Develop new tools for coping → use humor to help deal with everyday stresses 
      6. Educate yourself → the more you know about the illness, the more effective you will be in caring for the person with the illness
      7. Stay healthy by eating right and getting plenty of exercise and sleep 
      8. Accept your feelings
        1. Having negative feelings about your responsibilities of the person for whom you are caring is normal
        2. It does not mean you are a bad person or a bad caregiver
    4. Feeling angry/frustrated/guilty is natural and valid. These emotions are human and unavoidable. If possible, remove yourself from the caregiving role whenever these feelings crop up or take a few deep breaths and remind yourself of the importance of your role if you cannot get away.
  3. Deescalating an outburst caused by feelings of frustration/anger
    1. Causes:
      1. Physical Discomfort
        1. May have an infection that they are unable to articulate or identify due to loss of cognitive function
        2. They might be tired or hungry/thirsty
        3. Their medications may also be causing side effects, especially if their are taking multiple medications at once 
      2. Environmental Factors
        1. May be overstimulated by loud noises, physical clutter, or an overactive environment 
        2. They may feel lost
        3. Most dementia/Alzheimer’s patients function better in the mornings, so take this into account when making appointments or scheduling activities
          1. Sundowning: common symptom of dementia; a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night 
          2. Can cause a variety of behaviors, such as confusion, anxiety, aggression or ignoring directions
          3. Can also lead to pacing or wandering
      3. Poor Communication
        1. Make sure instructions are simple and easy to understand
        2. Try not to ask too many questions or make too many statements at once 
        3. They may also be picking up on your mood, especially if you are stressed or irritable 
    2. How to Respond: 
      1. Try to identify the immediate cause
        1. Think about what happened right before their outburst to determine what triggered this behavior 
        2. Try to stay calm, you freaking out will only worsen the situation
      2. Rule out pain as the cause of the behavior 
        1. Pain can trigger aggressive behavior for a person with dementia. Once the pain subsides, typically their outburst will as well
      3. Focus on feelings, not the facts
        1. Consider the person’s emotions, rather than focusing on specific details. Try to decipher their feelings from their words and actions (will help you differentiate between when they are in pain, angry/frustrated, or sad)  
      4. Shift the focus to another activity
        1. The immediate situation or activity may have unintentionally caused the aggressive response → try something different
        2. Try a relaxing activity → soothe them with music, exercise, crafting, etc.
      5. Ensure safety
        1. Make sure both you and the individual is safe
        2. If they cannot calm down, call for help (another family member or caregiver, the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 hotline, or 911 if it becomes an emergency)
          1. If you call 911, make sure to inform the tell responders that the person has dementia which causes them to act aggressively 
      6. After the fact, share your experience with others
        1. Reach out to other caregivers or professionals (either in person or online) for strategies they have used in similar situations 
  4. How to determine when nursing home/assisted living placement is necessary 
    1. Every case is different (depends on how fast the illness is progressing, the resources their family possesses/whether the family can care for the individual physically/financially, etc.) → varies based on both patient and caregiver
      1. If you wait too long, there is a laundry list of things that could potentially go wrong
    2. Medication Management
      1. The nursing staff administers medications on a strict schedule and ensures the patient takes their meds (either in pill or injection form). They also look for an indications that a resident’s regimen should be changed
      2. While at home, caregivers must administer all medications and look out for signs that more/different medicines are required 
        1. Some signs that it may be time to move the patient to a nursing home is when the medications become too difficult to manage, if the patient’s regimen is frequently changing, or if the patient begins refusing their medications
    3. Mobility Issues
      1. At the end stages of dementia, patients have extremely limited mobility 
      2. It can become incredibly difficult/dangerous (if patient is larger than caregiver) to constantly move the patient around the home 
        1. Facilities are much better equipped to safely handle bathing, toileting, dressing, and other daily activities → they have the proper equipment, training, and manpower to assist residents and prevent accidents
    4. Wandering 
      1. If a patient wanders outside of their home without their caregiver noticing, a number of accidents can happen, with some even leading to a life-threatening situation
      2. When wandering becomes more constant, you  may want  to move the patient to a facility
        1. In these homes, residents are limited to specific spaces in the building and sometimes secured areas outside. These premises are heavily monitored and feature specific security measures to prevent them from wandering and getting lost/injured 
    5. Caregiver Stress
      1. Stress can quickly manifest itself in people of any age and can exacerbate even minor ailments
      2. Be honest with yourself about your emotional and physical limits while caregiving
        1. Placing a loved one in a facility does not mean that you have failed as a caregiver. Rather it reflects that you recognize that your loved one needs assistance that only professionals can offer (the patient deserves the best care, and sometimes we just do not have the training to offer the best care)
        2. Delaying nursing home care in order to not feel guilt/shame is far more detrimental to the patient than placing them in a nursing home even if they do not want it 
    6.  Rely on a plan, not a promise
      1. A patient’s daily care should not be substandard simply because of a promise their family made years earlier
      2. Make a plan before the patient reaches the stage of severe cognitive decline
        1. Allow them to be a part of the decision making process, let them choose the home they want to go to and determine when they want to be placed in said home (i.e., when they can no longer get out of bed without help, when they cannot prepare even basic meals, etc.)
    7. Placing a loved one in a facility does not equate failure. Rather, you are still caring for them and ensuring that all of their needs are met and they are receiving the best care possible
    8. There are also different types of facilities that a patient can move to, such as memory care, assisted living, and nursing homes. Having options is important, especially if your loved one is against going to a nursing home. 

 

Resources:

  • The 36 Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Other Dementias, and Memory Loss

(https://www.amazon.com/36-Hour-Day-sixth-Alzheimer-Dementias/dp/1421422239/ref=asc_df_1421422239/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312643571004&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10893513336980022451&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9025150&hvtargid=pla-437060210315&psc=1)

  • Charlie’s Place: Provides programs for Alzheimer’s patients as well as tips for caregivers 

(http://alzbr.org/charlies-place-activity-and-respite-centers/)

  • Alzheimer’s Association: Provides tips for caregivers along with in-person/online support groups and a 24/7 hotline (800-272-3900) 

(https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving)

  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America – Caregiving Resources (fact sheets, free community classes, webinars, etc.)

(https://alzfdn.org/caregiving-resources/)

  • Memory Cafe Directory (places where those with dementia and caregivers can connect with others in similar situations to avoid social isolation)

(https://www.memorycafedirectory.com)

 

References:

10 Mistakes Alzheimer’s Disease Caregivers Make (https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/alzheimers-disease/10-mistakes-alzheimers-disease-caregivers-make)

Common Dementia Caregiver Mistakes and How to Avoid Them 

(https://www.wehelpcaregivers.com/news/dementia-caregiver-mistakes/)

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Caregiving for Someone Living with Alzheimer’s 

(https://www.healthcentral.com/slideshow/mistakes-to-avoid-when-caregiving-for-someone-with-alzheimers)

Caregiver Burnout

(https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9225-caregiver-burnout)

Anger and Aggression

(https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/stages-behaviors/agression-anger)

When is it Time to Place a Loved One with Dementia in a Long-Term Care Facility

(https://www.agingcare.com/articles/when-is-it-time-to-place-a-loved-one-with-dementia-188309.htm)

Signs it May be Time for Memory Care for a Loved One with Alzheimer’s or Dementia and Differences Between Types of Facilities

(https://www.dementiacarecentral.com/memory-care/knowing-when-its-time)

 

pylosophy

Eastern philosophy that I learned in Thailand

Eastern philosophy that I learned in Thailand that can make you a better person but you have to own it and follow it 24 seven.

  • Do not destroy life.

  • Do not take what is not given you.

  • Do not commit adultery.

  • Tell no lies and deceive no one.

  • Do not become intoxicated. It’s not realistic in the western world but alcohol should never be taken even in celebration. If you want to be the best but that as an individual choice.

  • Eat temperately and not at all in the afternoons. This does not apply if you have an eating disorder. If you have no eating conditions that are harmful. I have been trying a routine of intermediate fasting.

This is probably the hardest one for people to do specially when it comes to a loved one or something you have no control over

Worrying is a waste of time because worrying itself is your mind’s attempt to deal with an imaginary future situation. Since you can only deal (cope) with an event that is happening now, in the present, it’s a waste of time to attempt to feel better by thinking about what may or may not happen in the future.

Speaking to the Water with Pat McCabe – YouTube

 

see hear

HEAR SEE FEEL

Russell A. Bourne, Jr., Ph.D., Vice President of CPMHA

Many people are as calm or relaxed as they are going to be all day when they first awaken in the morning. Throughout the day they seem to become increasingly alert, aroused or even anxious. It as if the daily activities of life were acting similarly to someone gradually turning up the rheostat, or dimmer switch, on a ceiling light. Energy just seems to be increasing as the day goes on and sometimes this is welcomed and other times it can be quite distracting and even counterproductive. When this autonomic response needs to be lessened or calmed, people employ a variety of techniques such taking a casual walk, listening to relaxing music, meditating, etc.

A short and useful mindfulness technique to reboot or recalibrate (return to zero) involves a focused awareness of the 3 “over-used” of our 5 senses.
In general, we use our sense of smell and sense of taste primarily when we are dining. If asked, “what do you smell?” or “what do you taste?” right now, you would, in all likelihood, say “nothing”.
Whereas our other three senses, hearing, seeing and feeling (kinesthetic, not emotions) are used constantly. (Even when we are sleeping, we are aware of kinesthetic and hearing sensations and if dreaming, visual stimulation.)

The following description of a brief refocus/reboot technique is just one iteration of techniques that have been used for thousands of years to calm the autonomic nervous system when needed. It is a technique that can be used frequently during the day, takes just a couple of minutes, and becomes increasingly effective when used often. Personally, I use it between patient appointments and at the end of my work day to help return to zero…to start fresh.

Begin by sitting comfortably with eyes open. Inhale gently and on the exhale silently ask yourself the question, “What am I aware of hearing?” And then just listen while continuing to breath easily. Respond to the question with the awareness of what was most prominent to your hearing. Examples of responses could include the sound of the air conditioning, noises or voices from another room, sound of traffic outside, etc. After you have listened and responded, repeat the question with the following one change. Ask yourself, “What ELSE am I aware of hearing?”, as if you are listening beyond the first sound you heard. Follow a similar method as before: Inhale gently and on the exhale ask the question, pause, continue to breath easily, listen and then respond.

This pattern is then repeated with the visual sense, changing the questions to, “What am I aware of seeing?” and, “What ELSE am I aware of seeing.”

Next, the pattern is repeated for the auditory sense, changing the questions to, “What am I aware of hearing?” and, “What ELSE am I aware of hearing.

This should be a relaxed, casual, slow and easy process. Speak to yourself in a slower pace than usual and let the experience move slowly. All three steps will barely take 60 seconds. After doing the process once, all three steps should then be repeated. A very effective way to calm, refocus and reboot in just a couple of minutes or so.

The state-of-the-art on the science and evidence of what we know about concussion

CONCUSSION TESTS

In contrast to what some clinicians and lay persons may believe, there is no such thing as a concussion test. While brain scans are necessary to differentiate between mTBIs and complicated-mild TBIs, they cannot exclusively be relied upon to diagnose mTBI. In other words, neuroimaging is not a concussion test. Similarly, neuropsychological testing and computerized cognitive screening can help clarify the nature and extent of cognitive symptoms experienced following a concussion, but also are not concussion tests. Additional examinations and tests can help inform healthcare professionals and family members about various aspects of the youngster’s condition following a concussion, but none of them is a concussion test per se. Such exams and tests include the following: biomarker assays (e.g., S-100B serum levels; Oris et al. 2018), electroencephalography (EEG), neurological exam, physical exam, postural stability (i.e., balance) testing, graded symptom checklists, and various phone apps. Although these assessment methods are of value in the clinical management of children and teens following concussion, they should not be misinterpreted as concussion tests.

DIAGNOSIS

Bender and Matusewicz (2013) articulated their concerns about the postconcussional syndrome diagnosis. These authors pointed out that the symptoms of postconcussional syndrome (e.g., headache, dizziness, emotional, or cognitive changes) are not specific to concussion and may not actually be a direct result of the concussion, but may flow from other sources, including pre-concussion psychiatric problems or substance abuse. Although not as applicable to young children, this would be important to consider with teenagers diagnosed with postconcussional syndrome. Similarly, neurodevelopmental delays, delivery complications (e.g., anoxia (lack of oxygen) at birth), and pregnancy irregularities (Kaufman et al. 2016) should be considered when trying to draw conclusions about postconcussional syndrome symptomatology. Bender and Matusewicz noted that concussion checklists can lead to overreporting of symptoms and that scores on such checklists predicted worse scoring on performance validity tests, raising questions about the validity of a postconcussional syndrome diagnosis, which is based entirely on self-report. Finally, these authors asserted that “the literature strongly suggests that postconcussional syndrome lacks specificity and that it has questionable diagnostic utility” (p. 114). Failure to appreciate the non-specific nature of postconcussional symptoms can lead to misdiagnosis of postconcussional syndrome and persistent symptomatology (Larrabee 1997; Larrabee 2005).

IATROGENIC EFFECTS

The power of authority commanded by healthcare professionals who diagnose postconcussional syndrome can trigger or fuel psychological mechanisms that contribute to or underlie the postconcussional symptoms. Put plainly, the healthcare professional making this diagnosis [i.e., postconcussional syndrome] can literally bring the diagnosis to life…thereby having an iatrogenic (i.e., harmful) effect on the patient. This phenomenon has been studied as is sometimes called response expectancy (Suhr and Wei 2013), a subtype of which is diagnosis threat (Suhr and Gunstad 2002). Thus, children and teens undergoing neuropsychological assessment in the context of concussion might underperform on the tests because they have come to believe that their symptoms were caused by the concussion. This is more likely if parents fuel such beliefs, which is not uncommon, especially if the parent has been misinformed.

CTE

More research on the long-term sequelae is needed to better understand the incidence and prevalence of CTE [i.e., chronic traumatic encephalopathy] and other neurological conditions among former athletes. The causes of mental health and cognitive problems in former athletes, like the general population, are broad and diverse including genetics, life stress, general medical problems (eg, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease), chronic bodily pain, substance abuse, neurological conditions and disease (eg, cerebrovascular disease) and neurodegenerative diseases (eg, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and ALS).The extent to which repetitive neurotrauma causes static or progressive changes in brain microstructure and physiology, and contributes to later lifemental health and cognitive problems, is poorly understood and requires further study. (p. 8)

SPORTS CONCUSSION

…high school football is associated with an increased risk of concussion, and yet no causative link has been established between playing high school football and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., MCI or dementia), is consistent with the most common clinical outcome among youth athletes who experience a concussion. Namely, they generally get better within about 10 days or less. This encouraging theme in the literature was described by Kirkwood et al. (2012) as follows:

…existing prospective controlled studies indicate that most high school and older athletes appear to return to baseline within 7-10 days after a concussion…Some percentage of athletes can be expected to display concussion-related problems beyond 1-2 weeks…

Although noncontrolled studies may be able to provide the number of athletes who display persistent postconcussive problems, they fail to account for the base rate occurrence of common postconcussive symptoms among non-head-inured individuals or account for false positives—that is, the number of nonconcussed athletes who would report ‘postconcussive’ symptoms or would be classified as impaired on objective testing at the time of postinjury measurement. (p. 345)

In other words, while a very small minority of concussed young athletes experience concussion-related symptoms beyond the typical timeframe of 7 to 10 days, the evidence of persisting symptoms is confounded by the fact that youngsters without a history of concussion experience these same symptoms for other reasons that have nothing to do with head injury.

It is important to emphasize that SIS (Second Impact Syndrome) is believed to be very uncommon and that it may even be a mischaracterization of some other neurobiological process. According to McCrory (2001), for example, SIS is more accurately viewed as diffuse cerebral swelling.

Recommendations for Pediatric Neuropsychologists

First, perhaps the most important recommendation is to know what a concussion is, and what it is not. In contrast to what is communicated in the media (Carone 2014), a concussion is not a grave or indelibly harmful injury, so parents, teachers, and other concerned parties should not worry about long-term negative consequences as a result of a concussion. Even though “The expected duration of symptoms in children with [sport-related concussion] is up to 4 weeks…” (McCrory et al. 2017) (p. 7), most children will probably experience a full recovery within 7–10 days. It is, therefore, recommended that pediatric neuropsychologists share this valuable information with those they serve.

Fifth, perhaps counterintuitively, it is recommended that pediatric neuropsychologists encourage a quick return to normal activities (Carroll et al. 2004; Ponsford et al. 2001), following the brief period of rest over the first 24 to 48 h. This does not, however, mean a quick return to activities that carry an increased risk for another concussion, as explained above.

Sixth, because there are no concussion tests, it is recommended that pediatric neuropsychologists disabuse parents and other relevant parties of the belief that such a test exists.

public speaking

Speech Anxiety

I remember vividly my father reading me books at night as a child. The way he emphasized every reaction of each of the characters in my stories while reading in a smooth uninterrupted rhythm. I remember being asked to read aloud for the first time in class, and constantly getting stuck on a word. From a very young age I built an anxiety around speaking out loud or reading aloud around anyone. No matter how hard I tried to say a sentence that sounded perfect in my head, it would always come out stuttered. I struggled making friends throughout grade school, because of my fear of being picked on or bullied because of my disability. My confidence and my entire mood were dramatically affected because I truly felt I would never be normal and get the right words like everyone else around me. I fell into depression in my teenage years and became a loner. People would whisper hurtful things about me in class, but I did not even care at this point. I was already my own worst enemy and no one was harder on me than myself.

I sought the help of therapists and counselors to help. Most of them tried hard, but they were no help to me. Until I met one woman who suffered from the same problem as me in her younger years. Her speech was superb. I remember listening to her story for the first time in disbelief because she told it flawlessly. She told me a secret that would become like a miracle cure for me. She told me to practice everything in the mirror before you say it. Think about what you want to say 3 times before it comes out of your mouth. In the beginning this made my responses very long and drawn out, but her story inspired me so much that I kept trying and practicing. Not too long after I was cured. My confidence was back, and I began forming new relationships that I never thought were possible. The heavy weight of anxiety and nervousness around groups soon faded away and I saw life in a new way. I am so hopeful for the future now because I know there is nothing I cannot do.

-Anonymous

post partum depression

Post-Partum Depression

The arrival of my baby was the cliché , “the best day of my life”. I fell in love with this little human the moment he took his first breathe out the womb. This immense deep feeling was something I never felt before. Yes, you love your significant other, your parents, family, and friends. For me, nothing could even come close to how I felt when he laid his little head on me. I knew instantly that I wanted only the best for my baby and that I would love this little human unconditionally.

Little did I know that this love would be cut short 2 months later. I got very sick, where I could not get out of bed. I was diagnosed with the Flu and was then was put on medication. My mother and sister stayed with my baby, so he would not get sick. My breast milk dried up and I felt like the worse mother in the world. I was advised not to breastfeed my baby until I was fully recovered. Mothers are supposed to provide for their children and here I was, I could not feed my own child. Through out my pregnancy I read books and scavenger the internet for the bests ways to raise a newborn. I chose the path of breastfeeding, as this was the most natural way for a newborn to gain the nutrients needed. As I pumped out the breast milk and threw it away, each day began to feel like torture. Soon I did not want to hold my baby. I felt like a failure and that I was an unfit mother.

Postpartum depression set in quickly. It changed my entire mood, my sleep schedule, my eating habits, and my whole life. My doctor and family desperately looked for ways to help me. Some treatments were sleeping pills, which I would never try. Other treatments were seeing a therapist, which helped to get a different perspective of what I was going through. Each day was different, some were great, and others were rough.

I eventually was cleared from my doctor to start physical activities. I signed up for a yoga class with my sister. Within 5 minutes, I started to cry and ran out, my sister follows me. She hugged me in silence as I continued to sob. She looked at me and said you can do this! I washed my face and went back to the class. I stared taking yoga classes every week. This helped me calm my nerves and clear my mind. As a former ballerina, yoga has allowed me to reconnect with myself through the poses. I began to feel full and happy again.
Post-partum depression is real. I realized I was not a failure as a mother. I just needed a little help, support, and guidance.

park bench

Barbara’s Story of Suicide

I am writing this story today in support of the Concussion, Pain & Mental Health Awareness organization, otherwise known as www.CPMHA.com. as well as to honor my daughter, Erin, who took her life at 15. I never thought anything like this could happen in my life. After the initial shock, I woke up one day thinking, how could this be my life? How did this happen? Maybe this resonates with you as well, or someone you know.

This is a story that is becoming all to common in today’s world, suicide by our youth. As I attend & support our Palm Beach County Survivors of Suicide, I see the effects first hand and hear the stories of the families. Recently, I heard a statistic that hit me hard, it is getting worse, not better. The # of suicides in girls ages 11-15 has tripled since 2012. It is my wish that Erin’s life and our family story can help others outsmart this phenomenon.

I want to start by giving a brief background to show that childhood factors play a part in our future decisions. I never felt that I could be myself amongst my family, so I played at friend’s houses & put my efforts into school activities & sports, Cheerleading, Student Council and the National Honor Society.

I had a realization at a young age that I had a gift for noticing behavior patterns and went on to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Development. Even with this background, I could not save my daughter. Suicide is insidious and crosses all age, race and economic barriers.

Right now, I feel so strongly that we must be aware of our greatest future resource, our children. These are not easy times to parent, especially with social media, children living in a one parent household or a blended family home. Parental Alienation is also on the rise along with bullying & sports concussions.

After I married, I waited a number of years to have children. I wanted my husband’s career to be stable and lucrative, as well as our marriage. I wanted to be a “Stay at Home” Mom and raise our children.

When my 1st daughter was about 2, I knew that this marriage was not working. I experienced a lot of emotional abuse & I did not know how to rise above it. I was taught to be a victim and I found myself becoming depressed and having feelings of unworthiness. Just as I was about to leave I found myself pregnant with Erin. I was really afraid to leave for a number of reasons so I kept setting mini goals before I would file. For example, I’ll leave when Erin is out of diapers, then I’ll leave when she goes to pre-school, etc., but Erin was a very difficult and conflicted child and parenting was exhausting and stressful. I couldn’t put my finger on how to help her. I sought professional help for her in spite of my former husband’s efforts to block it. I knew there was something wrong, but no one could diagnosis it at the time. I even had Erin court ordered for counseling, but she was told by her father not to share her feelings and she didn’t.

As a mother, my intuition was very strong. I could not shake the feeling even when professionally trained therapists could not find a diagnosis in the DSM book, that there was something wrong ,however I began to doubt myself. It takes a lot of tenacity to stay on this journey, but her behavior was proof of a problem.

Several days before my daughter took her life, I went to the Adolescent Psychologist, that Erin had just started seeing. I told them that I had an overwhelming sense that something was going to happen and we had to do something. I was adamant & extremely worried. The receptionist said that there was nothing we could do. We had no evidence that would support Baker acting her (she wasn’t on drugs) & they would just release her, but I could not shake this feeling. I had nowhere else to turn and my former husband refused to communicate, so I waited it out on pins & needles. I had exhausted all means that I knew of at the time and I just turned to prayer. This was between 1996 – 2002 and there were not that many resources available that I could find and this subject was pretty taboo.

Then, the worst thing that can happen to a parent happened to me:
My daughter, Erin took her life. I remember getting a call to come to my ex’s home right away. He never called or communicated, so I knew something was very wrong. Erin had hung herself in her dad’s home while he was home. She had been acting out that night & wanted to meet her friends, but was not on drugs or cutting or anything we know of. Her dad told her something that she didn’t like and she went into the garage, found string and sat in her room braiding string to hang herself. To this day, that just amazes me that she spent all that time braiding string to be strong enough & that he was home.

Erin's Bench

Here are some lessons that I know now from my circumstances, however, each story is unique:

Lesson # 1 – Trust your gut & heart no matter what someone says. I could do that now, but I didn’t trust enough then. Even professionals are wrong. Seek out the support team that you feel is the best you can find and trust them. Suicide is unpredictable & oftentimes there are no warning signs. In fact, the victim often is happier and throws us off prior to because they make up their mind & feel relief. I know that was what Erin did and I hear it over & over again. We thought she had turned a corner and was settling down.

Lesson # 2 – Put the oxygen mask on & take care of yourself (this is easier said then done, I know, but being aware that you are helping your child when you do this makes it easier, even with sleepless nights) Eat healthy, mind your thoughts, exercise and meditate. When I practiced this, it was easier to cope.

Lesson # 3 – No Matter What, put differences aside and work together for the benefit of your children, (even in healthy relationships there can be disagreements on how to help your child) … you are risking their lives. It is a game of Russian Roulette – it may not be death, but it will affect their future. Get your ego out of the way. Conscious Parenting is a great skill & tool to use when parenting.

Lesson # 4 – Have courage to do what you need to do. It is not heroic staying in a bad relationship for the sake of your children. I was so beaten down by the time that I did leave, that I couldn’t make the best decisions and was depleted. I also think that I was afraid to leave because I didn’t know how my husband would respond and what he would do. I think many women face this, especially with a challenging child. Another contributing factor at that time was that, the norm was to “Stay and Make it Work at Any Cost.” I believe staying too long cost my daughter her life. The circumstances kept getting worse.

Lesson # 5 – Keep searching for the right information. We didn’t have the internet back then. I even went to a Professional conference for Psychologists and Educators that my therapist recommended trying to find help for Erin. I think that she might have been Biopolar (no one talked about that then) or had something called Oppositional Defiance Disorder. We will never know for sure.

Lesson # 6 – Reach out to find others going through this, you can’t do it alone. There were not many support groups back in those day. We didn’t have the internet. Now, the world is available to you, even internationally. Find groups to support you. I found a 12step program & church groups, but not much was available back then. More things are becoming available today for us. Just today, I saw an initiative being put together by Deepak Chopra: neveralone.love It looks great.

Lesson # 7 – Be discerning who you listen to, everyone wants to give their opinion. It is often hard for people to believe that this could be happening, especially if they are in healthy family situations. You can get judged that it is you and you are crazy and this really affects your efforts and judgement.

I hope that the story of my daughter Erin can save even one life & bring more awareness to this issue. Thank you for allowing me to share my journey & my daughter with you. — Barbara

Erin’s life put me on a different career path with a mission to help others:
I focus on a Full Spectrum of Health: physical wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and mindful practices. I specialize in the aftermath of Trauma, Trauma Recovery practices, mindfulness and Activating your Body for Health. I am a speaker, I conduct private sessions for Trauma Recovery as well as workshops to help mitigate Trauma as it is occurring. I also have a Global reach in a new paradigm of health, Nutrigenomics, the practice of Activating your body vs Supplementing your body and how Nutrition affects your genes. It all matters.

sports burnout

Burnout in Sports

Having played soccer for over 13 years, it was all I ever really knew growing up. As a child most of my time was spent at soccer fields, whether it was for my games, training, or watching my brothers play. Everybody always tells you, “It’s great that you have a huge passion for the sport”, but nobody really addresses the fact that the pressure can really get to you after some time. You push and push your body until you reach a point where you just don’t function the same. The constant pushing not only messes with your physical well being, but it all takes a
toll on your mental state.

Having to constantly push yourself because your team is counting on you and having pressure from your parents, eventually leads to a burnout. You work so hard growing up in order to earn a spot on a collegiate team, and you feel as if one of your deepest desires has been fulfilled. However, then you realize that this is only going to intensify over the course of the next few years. It then hits you that you are burning out. You try your best but there’s only so much you can give before you realize that you have to stop.

Having to say goodbye to the sport that you had played for most of your life is devastating. There comes a point where you truly understand that even though you still really like the port, you simply just cannot perform at the level you once used to. I was going to defer for a season and join in the spring, but as time passed it became clear that my life was headed towards a different direction and even if I wanted to play soccer again, I simply could not. I had more things to focus on and realized that soccer was my past and it was time to move forward.

food and female

The Battle Between Female, Focus and Food

by Cara Puscasiu

Ever since I was little I could remember being too afraid to wear shorts because my legs were too skinny. I would look at my stomach in the mirror and pinch my skin, convincing myself it was fat and reiterating that my proportions would never be ideal. It wasn’t until I became an athlete that I had the confidence to wear shorts to school. My legs were defined with muscle now, I wasn’t a “stick” anymore, as people liked to call me. I thought that I had overcome all my body image issues but that was just the beginning of falling into a deeper hole that would take over my life. It started with fabricated diets that I created. I went sugar-free for months straight, I wouldn’t even eat ketchup. Then came the ‘all vegetable and white meat diets’, no carbs, no steak, no salt. Then came the ‘cleansing’ teas, made of apple cider vinegar and lemons and ginger that burned my stomach to shreds. Then came the laxatives, the desire to feel empty. My favorite feeling was to go to sleep hungry. If I felt a rumble in my stomach and lightheadedness, I could go to sleep peacefully. While my diets changed every few months, one thing never changed, the pinch of my skin on my stomach. It felt like a portable measuring tool that was with me whenever I needed to remind myself how well I was doing or how much more I needed to restrict.

My junior year of high school I made the impactful decision to send myself to a sports and education preparatory performance high school and stay for two years as a boarding student. Without the constant support from my parents who helped me eat and stay on top of my meals, I knew the control of my body was now completely up to me. Unfortunately, this mindset was the opposite of what you might optimistically think I wanted to do. The control was now mine, no one could tell me what to eat. My schedule was jarring. School was from 7AM to 1PM and after that, practice from 1:30PM to 5:30PM. This wasn’t good enough for me, though. I went running from 5:30AM to 6:30AM to burn extra calories, which would then come from the one coffee that I would drink before going to class. After class, I’d run to the cafeteria and get cucumbers and a piece of chicken. To hold myself over, I would sometimes scoop a little bit of tuna or pasta into my plate as a reward. Then I went to practice for 4 hours and then stayed longer in the trainer’s room to do ab workouts. I ended the day with a pinch to my stomach skin and a rumbling tummy.

What were silly diets escalated to calorie counting, every single day. I would aim for a net gain of 1,000 calories a day. This included the subtraction of calories burned during three hours of practice, one hour of conditioning, half an hour of abs and one hour of running. If I am being realistic with myself, I was probably only storing around 500 calories a day, not a thousand because I made sure to count my calories on myfitnesspal higher than I was eating and calculate my exercise hours lower just to make sure I wasn’t ‘cheating’ myself. I turned to our nutritionist who would come talk to my team every couple weeks. I asked her in a suspicious way, how I could become lean and skinny. She didn’t understand this cry for help, she genuinely thought I just wanted to be educated on lean meat to keep myself from bloating before matches. My coach overhead this entire conversation and without even knowing my past, he heard my cry for help loud and clear. He sat me down and explained that athletes’ bodies are machines for us. Tennis players are strong, they are broad and they are quick. He sympathized with me, remembering that 30 years ago, my father was his student as well at the same academy, on the same courts, and now he is a marathon runner, 145 pounds, 6 1’, and reminded me that my mom is 95 pounds, with a six pack. These are the two role models I’ve looked to my whole life. He knew me for around 6 months and could already draw these impactful conclusions, he saw me and he heard me without me saying a word.

I do not want to keep describing my story and giving ideas of what an eating disorder should be like. The best part of this story is the recovery. My coach decided I had to meet with the nutritionist once a week. She decided to chart my eating, (send her pictures of every meal, etc), long story short, after a quick few months, I got sent to the school psychologist. It’s important to remember that nutritionists tell us what to eat to be healthy, eating disorders are your brain telling you how little to eat. Eating disorders are scary because you lose sight of what is normal. Your mind is so convincing, it made me realize that my brain is all I had and I was losing my battle to it. No one anyone could ever tell me would help, it was up to me to fight harder. You hear “but you’re so skinny!” and “you shouldn’t feel insecure!” all the damn time but that doesn’t help, no words of ‘comfort’ help. You have to believe those things within yourself to make a real change and you have to be willing to make a change. It’s so scary, it’s so painful but over time, you will see, it’s worth it.

I am not perfect today, but I am aware of the person I used to be. I still catch myself minimizing the severity of my mental health. If I were in my own shoes a few years ago, I would have wanted to know that there is a much happier side of life. This was not a battle with my body, it was one with my mind. It is not as black and white as it is portrayed to be in the media when we hear about “eating disorders”. Women athletes are put under so much pressure to be who the world wants us to be, as well as being high-level athletes. I know now, that I would rather feel strong, no matter who the dysmorphia is in the mirror. When I was weak, I couldn’t perform my sport the way I knew I could. Winning is not just on the field, or the court, or the track, it’s in your mind. I hope if anyone who is reading this is battling the same battle, just know, you are not alone and that there is a world of so much more happiness than numbers and mirrors. It may take some time but winning is worth it, I promise.