Category Archives: manage depression

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Alzheimer’s Often Leads to Dementia

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Dementia is a name for a group of brain disorders, whereas one or more of them, including Alzheimer’s destroys brain function within centers of the brain by way of various pathologies. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common brain disorder. It is defined as a cognitive fuction decline beyond what might be expected as normal aging. Dementia is not a specific disease but rather a term for the severity of impairment to remember, think, perform daily tasks, and make everyday decisions.

“The risk of developing Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia appears to be increased by many conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels. These include heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

Alzheimer’s Association 2022

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Alzheimer’s most devastating characteristics is the destruction of the brains neural conductors. Whereby memory loss is progressive, then worsens throughout time, causing the inability to communicate, swallow and feed oneself and ultimately shorten lifespan. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia and leading cause of death in the United States. Those 60 years and older are at increased risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affects a person’s ability to function independently.”

[Mayo Clinic 2022]

Alzheimer’s affects approximately 5.8 million people in the United States by gradually destroying memory cells. Fortunately, current treatment can slow down the progression and destruction of brain function significantly and decrease the chance of becoming a dementia statistic. Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the average mortality rate is 10 years. However, there are many who beat these averages and live more than 20 years after diagnosis. The younger population is not immune from Alzheimer’s. Those at greatest risk for developing some forms of Dementia are 65 and older. “Out of the ~50 million people worldwide with dementia, between 60-70% are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease [Mayo Clinic 2022].

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Dementia pathology (disease cause, progression and development), impacts the cortical and sub cortical brain function and can manifest its symptoms and progressive disease through known and unknown cause agents. Nutrition, diet and/or behavioral deficiencies known to influence and lead toward the development of a severe brain disorder:

Key pathologies and nutritional deficiencies that lead to Dementia. Alzheimer’s Alcohol-Induced Dementia, Frontal Lobe Degeneration, Huntington’s, Hypothyroidism, Parkinsons, Vitamin B1, B12, Folate Deficiency, Syphilis, Hypoglycemia, AIDS Dementia Complex, Severe Depression, End Stage Renal Failure, Cardiovascular Disease, etc.

Another factor that could increase risk to Alzheimer's include genetics. 
  • To decrease odds of Alzheimer’s, especially if genetically predisposed [someone in the family has/had Alzheimer’s], make healthy lifestyle choices which include: Maintain healthy diet and body weight, avoid excess alcohol consumption and avoid smoking. Exercise daily and avoid unnecessary stressors. Also look to nurture positive relationships and socialize in healthy environments. These are the best medicines to ward off brain disorders.

“There is a great deal of interest, … in the relationship between cognitive decline and vascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, as well as metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.”

National Institute on Aging 2022

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Awareness to possible cause pathologies, signs and symptoms and treatment options will assist greatly in the prevention of cognitive decline and brain disorder(s). There is an extensive list of pharmaceuticals that appear to slow down the progression of any one of the cause pathologies leading to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Talk to your Geriatric and/or Psychiatrist-Neurologist to learn more about a treatment protocol for you, or a loved one. There is no cure for dementia, prevention is the best course. 

Recommendations:
1. See Geriatric Psychiatrist-Neurologist if patient is forgetful, confused, doesn’t recognize people.
2. If diagnosed with a dementia disorder seek medication to slow down the progression.
3. Dementia Prevention – Live an active mental-physical lifestyle, read books, work puzzles, get involved in community activities, services, volunteer, work, daily walks aerobic exercise, etc.
4. Studies show moderate (1-2 Drinks/day) consumption of beer, wine, or distilled spirits may help. “A recent meta-analysis of observational studies concluded that light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of dementia, whereas both abstinence and heavy drinking are associated with a higher risk of dementia
” [Google Search 2022]
5. Low blood pressure medications appear to have a dementia health benefit per medical studies.
6. Mediterranean Diet – Consume plant foods (fruits and Vegetables), olive oil, cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry, no more then 1-4 eggs/week, keep total fat intake at 25%, consume less red meat.
7. Supplement diet with a quality daily mineral-vitamin and cognitive brain complex supplement
.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2022 Copyright. All rights reserved, MirrorAthlete Publishing @ www.mirrorathlete.org.

Fibromyalgia Phantom Pain Diagnosis and Treatment

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An unexplained pain disorder is commonly labeled as fibromyalgia. The worse thing about unexplained physical pain is the depression that comes with it and not knowing the cause of it and how to effectively alleviate, or remove the pain. In many fibromyalgia cases, mental health prescription drugs are often the treatment course.

Fibromyalgia is not considered a mental illness disorder… however, it is considered a real disorder once medically substantiated through examination and lab protocol diagnosis. It has been medically determined a depressed and anxious mindset and lack of sleep can cause an autoimmune response leading to inflammatory pain-causing symptoms throughout the body. It has long been a practice for medical professionals to prescribe anti-depressants and sleep aid medications useful in treating acute and chronic phantom pain.

Many who suffer from “medically unsubstantiated and undiagnosed pain cause” are three times more likely to suffer from depression and/or anxiety. In the absence of pain causing illness and disease and physical injury, the central nervous system(s) neuro and hormonal chemicals are often found out-of- balance. Body chemical imbalances are found to trigger an inflammatory autoimmune response in many patients. This chemical imbalance and inflammatory response have a direct connection to mood and bodily pain.

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The populace who tends to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia is women between the ages of 35-55. This condition rarely takes a toll on men, the elderly, or children, although it does occur. Women with fibromyalgia in the U.S. represent over 80% of those diagnosed with this condition. The total populace affected by fibromyalgia in the US represents 2% of our population. Fibromyalgia was formally known as fibrositis (a group of disorders characterized by widespread body aches and pains in muscle, connective tissue, joints and bone). Other triggers that can activate the fibromyalgia condition include exposure to dampness, or cold and certain infections. Pain is usually worse in the morning.

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Understanding Fibromyalgia Basics: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain and stiffness in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Although an exact cause of this condition has not been directly identified, it is thought that a major player to this chronic condition resides within the brains serotonin levels which affects mood. Lower levels of serotonin are known to stimulate depression and with depression psychosomatic illness often occurs. If anyone becomes depressed for a long period of time, the body gets sick and real physical pain is experienced. There seems to be a direct correlation between depression, lack of sleep, restlessness, disturbances in bowel function and super sensitivity with touch, whereas key trigger pain receptors are transmitted via the neurochemical highways from the central nervous system (brain). Fatigue combined with depression can trigger autoimmune infection, and related disease and pain anywhere in the body.

When mental and physical pain episodes go undiagnosed too long and without intervention, unhealthy habits and behavior often ensue, i.e., self-medication, sedentary and addictive drinking habits, etc. Unhealthy lifestyle untreated for long duration will lead to more psychosomatic neuro and hormonal chemical imbalances and pain and illness which can lead to other disease manifestation and cancer.

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If you have unexplainable acute/chronic phantom pain in any muscle, joint, tendons and ligaments, seek a medical opinion and request referral to a physiatrist as soon as possible before symptoms worsen.

Recall, “Fibromyalgia is considered a real disorder once medically substantiated.” However, it remains a challenge for many physicians to diagnose an exact cause of pain and treat effectively in some cases. Why? Unlike rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus there is no swelling, external-internal tissue damage, or joint-muscle deformity. The patient is healthy otherwise but suffers from chronic muscular pain and stiffness without swelling, deformity or bruising.

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When diagnosing fibromyalgia, the most common symptoms doctors look for: headaches, tender point pain, irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue etc. Psychological symptoms: depression, sleep disturbances and mood changes. Referred lab findings may medically substantiate the disorder via Elevated levels of Substance P (Chemical Nerve Signal) and Nerve Growth Factor (Found in the spinal fluid) and lower levels of serotonin (Brain Nerve Chemical) from laboratory specimen fluid samples.

“The level of chemical in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) called substance P, which transmits pain impulses to the brain, is three times higher in people with the disease than in those who do not have the condition. This likely causes someone with fibromyalgia to experience pain more intensely” [emedicinehealth WebMD 2021]

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If you experience phantom pain and have not been diagnosed with a substantiated fibromyalgia disorder, read the tips and recommendations below and seek a medical opinion and diagnosis to get the help you need and deserve now.

10 Fibromyalgia Tips and Recommendations
1. See your doctor if you experience any combination of the symptoms listed above, or (a.) Experience chronic body pain for more than 3 months above and below the waist. (b.) Feel pain in at least 11-18 possible tender points when light pressure is applied. (c.) Experiencing depression and thoughts of suicide and/or high levels of anxiety.
2. Get help if a family member exhibits: Panic attacks, hostility, restlessness, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, and physical pain.
3. If prescribed anti-depressants, a family member should watch for adverse character changes that lead to self-medication and unhealthy lifestyle habits to control pain. A two- month watch is recommended when prescribed anti-depressants to combat fibromyalgia.
4. Adverse behavioral risk is more prominent within adults under 24 and children.

5. Apply hot showers-spray localized area, use heating pads, whirlpool, hot compresses, gentle message to alleviate phantom pain.
6. Stretching and relaxation will alleviate stress, and biofeedback (doctor advisement on this one) will help ease contracted muscles causing pain.
7. The following prescription may be provided to ease pain. Aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Cortisone and local anesthetic injections at pain trigger points.
8. Antidepressants per doctor recommendations, e.g., Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI).
9. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these interfere with sleep.
10. Get adequate sleep and general conditioning and exercise, proper nutrition.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2009-21 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.org,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

Incompatible Food and Pharmaceutical Mixes

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Last Update: 3 June 2020 by Marc Woodard.

Many don’t realize some foods can interact badly with prescription drugs when consumed together. Those that fail to read the dietary warning’s listed on specific pharmaceutical labels, or disregard the prescription use instructions can cause increased health risk.

Listed below are 7 common prescription drugs and foods that when consumed together can increase health risk and/or cause severe ill-health side effects. There are many chemical reactions that occur within the body to keep the metabolism and overall physiology balanced. And when using pharmaceuticals it is important to understand, even the most benign appearing foods can cause an unhealthy chemical reaction.

What medications don’t interact well with certain foods?
Which whole foods are incompatible with what pharmaceuticals?

One only needs to understand everything we put into our bodies causes some kind of chemical reaction. Therefore it is important to realize, if you take any pharmaceutical, ask your doctor and/or pharmacist if there is any food that would cause an ill-health affect or risk to overall health when taken together.

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Listed are commonly prescribed medications & foods that don’t interact well.

1. Anti-depressants SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, etc. MAOI’s (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) – Isocarboxazid, Phenelzine, Selegiline, Tranylcypromine, etc. Their related generic counterparts are: Marplan, Nardil, (Emsam, Eldepryl, Zelapar) and Parnate.

Drug treatment purpose: Anti-depressants are effective in treating depression, panic and other anxiety disorders. They also require special considerations with regard to diet. MAOI’s are normally used when other anti-depressants fail. When used as prescribed they will boost mood by improving brain cell communication.

Side effects: Diarrhea, dry mouth, sleepiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, low blood pressure, nervousness, muscle aches, insomnia, weight gain, sense of taste, hampered sexual drive, erectile dysfunction, difficult urinating, tingling, or prickling sensation on skin. If removed from anti-depressants too fast the following withdrawal effects are likely: insomnia, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, irritability and anxiety may follow.

Non-compatible foods: Aged cheeses, pickled, or fermented sausages (pepperoni, salami), luncheon meats, beef liver, chicken liver, yeast-containing foods and beverages that have the compound tyramine [protein containing foods] in them. This compound has an effect on blood pressure. If the bodies MAO (Monoamine Oxidase) enzyme is inhibited by MAOI medication, it is necessary to avoid the foods that contain this compound. If this diet restriction is not followed, then blood pressure can increase towards critically unhealthy levels.

Health risk when prescription and non-compatible foods are taken together: High levels of tyramine in the body can lead to high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia and brain hemorrhage.

2. Anti-anxiety – Benzodiazepines are the most common anti-anxiety drugs, e.g., Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, Xanax, etc., and Generic: lorazepam, clonazepam, diazepam and alprazolam are all sedatives and bind with the brains natural sedatives to calm you down.

Drug treatment purpose: To help relax and reduce anxiety. Anti-anxiety drugs are also known as tranquilizers. Anti-anxiety medications work by slowing down the central nervous system [reduced brain activity] and have a relaxing effect on the mind and body. They are also prescribed for sleeping and muscle spasm disorders. Often antidepressants will be prescribed to relieve symptoms of anxiety.

Known side effects: Addiction, inability to focus-learn, uncoordinated, clumsiness, confusion, disorientation, blurred vision, upset stomach, lightheadedness, sleepy, impaired judgment, nausea, memory loss. Long term users of these medications also experience depression. High dosages and long term use will likely increase suicidal thoughts and feelings. Benzodiazepines can also cause the opposite of a calming effect like mania, aggressive behavior, or hostility, rage and even hallucinations.

Non-compatible foods: Alcohol. When these drugs are mixed with alcohol the sedative properties on the brain and body is amplified. Not only do you feel more drunk, but more tired and forgetful. Coffee and drinks with caffeine in them affects anti-anxiety and asthma medications.

Health risk when prescription and non-compatible foods are taken together: Your breathing rate is significantly slowed down and risk of respiratory failure increases.

3. Antibiotics – Monodox, Dynacin, Sumycin, Cipro, Levaquin, etc. Generics: minocycline, tetracycline and doxycycline, etc. This listing represents a few of many antibiotics that could be prescribed.

Drug treatment purpose: Antibiotics are used to kill bacterial infections. They are not effective against fungal (ringworm or vaginal yeast infection), flu, or the common cold.

Side effects – Antibiotics are relatively safe when used appropriately. However, like any medication unwanted side effects do occur. If you experience any skin rash, hives, wheezing, anaphylaxis (shortage of breath), swelling of lips, tongue or face seek medical attention immediately.

Non-compatible foods: Dairy products have calcium in them. Calcium tends to bind with the antibiotics if a dairy product is consumed within a two hour window after taking the medication. Vitamins and Antacids can also decrease the efficiency of antibiotics. For example, ciprofloxacin an antibiotic used to treat urinary tract and abdominal infections among other things; when mixed with antacids becomes less effective when it binds to magnesium and calcium.

Health risk when prescription and non-compatible foods are taken together: This binding prevents the antibiotic from absorbing into the body to fight an infection rendering various antibiotics useless. When this happens the medication stays in the intestine and leaves the body at the next bowel movement. Yet there are other antibiotics used for strep throat and ear infections where dairy products have no impact on those medications.

4. High blood pressure, or anti-hypertension medications – Univasc, Zestril and Monopril can raise your potassium levels. Common generics: Hygroton, Lozol, Mykrox, Diuril, Lasix, Esidrix, etc. There are many specialized medications that are designed to treat both diuretic and high blood pressure cases.

Drug treatment purpose: To lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting risk. Many classes of blood pressure medications include a diuretic treatment component. These medications help to rid the body of excess water and sodium and help to control blood pressure. Diuretics are often used in combination with other medications like anti-clotting prevention treatment that use aspirin and Plavix. When patients are at high risk of stroke or heart attack, doctors often prescribe Plavix as an anti-platelet drug for blood clotting prevention. The first line of attack is aspirin. Both anti-clotting and blood pressure medications may likely be prescribed together, but not always.

Known side effects: Gout, increased blood sugar levels, leg cramps, weakness, impotence may occur.

Non-compatible foods: Limit foods high in potassium like bananas, salt substitutes with potassium, spinach, leafy greens and sweet potatoes. Eating a banana once a day, or leafy green the next should be ok. But you’ll want to confirm diet and frequency of consumption with your prescribing physician.

Health risk when prescription and non-compatible foods are taken together: Too much potassium in the body can cause your heart to beat irregularly and in severe cases can cause cardiac arrest. Also, two foods that can keep blood clotting medications from working are garlic and ginger. They can cause excessive bleeding as they both have high doses of blood thinning agents in them.

5. High cholesterolStatin drugs (blood cholesterol lowering medications) include: Lipex, Mevacor, Zocor, Crestor, Vytorin or Lipitor, to include generics like simvastatin, lovastatin, or atorvastatin, etc.

Drug treatment purpose: Lower High Blood Cholesterol.

Known side effects and health risk: As of recent studies, the following health risks are possible; memory loss, diabetes and muscle pain. The food and drug administration has officially linked statin drugs with forgetfulness, confusion and increased blood sugar levels that would be of concern for diabetics. Liver injury is also possible and is rare.

Non-compatible foods: Some cholesterol medications can be affected by grape fruit juice or the fruit. It is the inhibiting properties of this fruit that keeps the intestine and/or liver from breaking down the drug and increases the risk that the drug will accumulate in the body and become toxic. It is the citrus that blocks the enzyme in the intestines and prevents the metabolism of these drugs. The active component in this fruit is not yet known. Check with your prescribing doctor about grapefruit products in the diet. There are some statin medications that are not influenced by this fruit. It is also true some immune drugs and allergy drugs like Allegra are affected by grapefruit.

Health risk when prescription and non-compatible foods are taken together: Grapefruit and its juice should be avoided when using heart medicines and a number of other prescriptive drugs for cardio and immunological health related problems. Be sure to consult with the prescribing physician with foods you should consume when on these medications.

6. Blood thinner – Coumadin (generic: warfarin) Aggrenox, Aspirin, Jantoven, Heparin, Lovenox, Plavix, etc.

Drug treatment purpose: The job of blood thinners is to thin the blood for patients that are high risk of heart attack, or developing blood clots.

Known side effects: Each medication listed can cause a combination of the following side effects; Nausea, irritated stomach, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, dizziness and indigestion. Coumadin and Heparin can cause serious bleeding inside the eye and intestine, or cause bruising, blood in the urine, nose bleeds. Other problems include kidney function, difficulty breathing and muscle aches.

Non-compatible foods: Since Vitamin K (thickens blood) is found abundantly in leafy greens, they can block the effects of the blood thinners. Leafy greens that can affect of blood thinners are Brussels sprouts, collard greens, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley, kale, Swiss chard and Green tea. Other foods that may impact blood thinner medications include: cranberries, as well as the juice, garlic and ginger. They can actually increase the blood thinning properties of the blood thinners that could amplify their effect.

Health risk when prescription and non-compatible foods are taken togetherIncreased risk of stroke and heart attack.

7. Thyroid – Synthroid, Armour thyroid, Levoxyl, Cytomel, etc. Generic: Levothyroxin, thyroid desiccated, levothyroxine, liothyronine, etc.

Drug treatment purpose: Used to regulate the thyroid glands to normalize hormone functions throughout the body when they fail to produce enough thyroid hormone. Effective treatment can increase energy, mood disposition and body weight regulation. To include supports male and female characteristic traits.

Known side effects: Thyroid medications do not cause side effects if taken in the correct dose.

Non-compatible foods: Tofu, soymilk (soy products) and walnuts can prevent your body from absorbing the thyroid medication. It may not be necessary to give up these foods, but let your physician know about your dietary preferences. It is very possible your soy diet preference can be resolved with a modification of dose.

Health risk when prescription and non-compatible foods are taken together: Weight gain, obesity and other ill-health and disease complications.

References,

American Heart Association. Types of Blood Pressure Medications.

Ankrom, Sheryl. Dietary Precautions While Taking MAOIs. Former About.com Guide, updated June 17, 2009. 

Club Red. Some Foods and Medications Just Don’t Mix. January 2012.

Drugs.com. Common Side Effects, Allergies and Reactions to Antibiotics.

Drugs.com. Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism) Medications.

Harris, Gardiner. Safety Alerts Cite Cholesterol Drugs Side Effects. The New York Times. February 28, 2012.

Helpguide.org. Anxiety Medication.

Rodgers, Linda. Foods and Medications that Don’t Mix. Grand Parents.com

Mayo Clinic Staff. Depression (major depression). Monomine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs).

NBCNews.com. Foods to Avoid When You’re Taking Meds. 26 October 2006.

Vega, Jose M.D., Ph.D. Side Effects of Coumadin, Plavix and Other Blood Thinners.  About.com.

WebMD.com. Hypothryroidism.

Woodard, Marc. 41 Drugs to Die For. Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets. 24 October 2010.

Woodard, Marc. Defeat Anxiety and Panic Attacks. Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets. 24 November 2010.

Woodard, Marc. How to Deal with Depression. Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets. 25 August 2008.

Woodard, Marc. The Thyroid is a Powerful Weight Regulating Gland. Mirror Athlete Fitness Secrets. 21 May 2012.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, ARNG, CPT, RET. 2013-20 Copyright. All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Inc., www.mirrorathlete.org, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.