Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Prescription Drug Abuse

There was a day when prescription drug abuse was a disease affecting individuals already suffering with a drug addiction involving street drugs.  It was never something we spoke about in terms of our teenagers, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts or uncles.  Today, prescription drug abuse is widespread and in some communities, it is considered an epidemic.  It can affect all types of people and if there is no effective intervention can lead to devastating consequences.

What causes one to develop an addiction to prescription drugs?  There isn't just one single factor that can be a predictor of prescription drug abuse.  In many cases, it begins as a needful thing to treat such things as a broken bone, pain from surgery or injury, anxiety, and even insomnia.   At first the medications work well and much needed relief is achieved.  Over time, if the pain and discomfort persists, we develop a resistance to the medication and more is needed in order to continue to receive relief.  During this time, these powerful drugs can create changes in our brain by depressing the central nervous system which makes you drowsy and calm or, in the cases of stimulant addiction, can make you alert and overly energetic.

Prescription drugs have become more readily available and easy, especially for teens and young adults, to get.  Instead of buying drugs from the street, they can be taken right from the family medicine cabinet.

Here are some smart tips for ensuring you don't fall into an addictive situation.

  1. Take your prescriptions as outlined by your health care provider.
  2. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives to medications linked to addiction and abuse.  Sometimes, a different kind of medication or even a lower dose will suffice.  Remember that opioids are best used in acute episodes, not always long term or chronic pain.
  3. Do not change or alter dosage amount or times you take it.
  4. Make sure you understand the long and short term effects of the drug.
  5. Do not share your medication, even with family members
  6. Follow up closely with your doctor on your progress.
  7. Keep your prescriptions locked in a safe place, away from children and teens.
  8. Always check with your pharmacist before mixing prescription or over the counter medications. 
  9. Consider integrative methods for dealing with pain, anxiety and insomnia.
  10. When you are through with a medication, as per your doctor's orders, take any unfinished pills to a pharmacy so they can be disposed of correctly. 
Above all else, be honest and upfront with your healthcare provider if you have an addictive personality or have struggled with addictions in the past.  Communicating well and educating yourself and your loved ones will make a big difference and keep you in control of your good health. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year, New You

Are you a die hard resolution maker?

Do you think it's the biggest waste of time, or do you fall somewhere in between the rustling of the calendar change.

I know for many, it has been a difficult year, and resolutions or not, we can't wait to say 'Goodbye' to 2018.  For many more people I know, some of the most amazing opportunities and blessings have presented themselves this year.

Personally, I'm always eager to start something new and that includes resolutions.  The list of all the things we hope to accomplish in the coming year can be lengthy and lofty.  Sometimes, I am still going strong a couple of months into the new year, but if I'm being honest, nothing really evolves past the first week in January.

So, what are some alternatives to a resolution that might spare you the guilt of failing miserable with some heartfelt goals?

Here's a list we've compiled:

Word of the Year: Choose a word you want to focus on for the year.  It could be JOY, GRATITUDE, GIVING, PEACE...You get the idea.  Focus on bringing more of that, into your life.

What you got right: Instead of starting the year with all the ways we need to be better, how about starting the year with a list of all the things you got right?  Why start the year on such a negative note, with line by line shortcomings?

Gratitude:  Commit the year to being grateful for you what you have and what you are.  Consider that you are enough.   It's one of the important concepts to living a full and abundant life yet we don't do it enough...consistently.

Weekly Resolutions:  Doing anything for a year, feels daunting.  Why not make little weekly resolutions to make bigger life changes.  Let's face it, no one's life actually changes all that much due to a resolution, but smaller weekly goals, actually could.

Start Something New:  Start a new hobby or activity that you have always wanted to do.  Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is start!

However you decide to start the new year, do it your way, with purpose and conviction.  You know, you could even start 2019 by doing nothing!  Absolutely Nothing.  Just let the year unfold as it will and watch with excitement, what comes next. 

Friday, December 28, 2018


You don't have to look far to find someone with anxiety, even severe anxiety.  It's becoming shockingly common, more common than it has seemed to be in the past. 

There's a looming deadline and your stomach is doing somersaults and your brain refuses to stop spinning, even for a minute. 

It's only the second week in the month and you have 20 bucks to your name and you're sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire. 

The baby is due any day and you had no idea one could be quite so nervous.

The doctor said you are going to need a hysterectomy and fall apart in a puddle of tears.  


Well congratulations!  If you have ever been anxious and uptight about any of the above scenarios, you're normal!  While you may feel anxious in moments such as these, they are regular comings and goings of life and it makes sense to feel a little dread now and again. A little healthy anxiety in our cave men ancestors actually helped them survive dangerous or difficult situations. 

Anxiety, the kind that requires medical intervention is much different. 

It's been three weeks since you left the house because the thought of people keeps you stuck to the couch.

You have constant thoughts of looming danger.

You wash your hands excessively and avoid touching things in public in an effort to stay healthy. 

These examples are disorders of Anxiety.  How do you tell the difference between life and an anxiety disorder?  
  • Nervousness, worry and fear is ongoing
  • The feeling of anxiousness is not proportionate to the cause
  • Intrusive thoughts that overtake your ability to function normally
  • Extreme, or exaggerated negative thoughts. 
  • Worrying about a future thought
Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders in this country and affects over 40 million adults.  Of all those people, only a third actually seek medical attention.  Even though it is so common, it is also a disorder that is the most misunderstood. 

Medical professionals and scientists who study anxiety all suggest the following ways to cope with your anxiety.
  • Learn deep breathing techniques to help you relax and calm down.  Deep breathing does wonders to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Keep your head where your body is.  Projecting fear and worry too far into the future will exacerbate your anxiety.  Stay mindful, in the moment...Wherever you are, is where you should be.
  • Stop and say out loud, something you see, something you hear and something you smell.  It may seem like a small thing but helps to keep you anchored to something real, rather than imagined in your mind. 
  • Don't self medicate with alcohol, caffeine or recreational drugs.  Get plenty of sleep and eat healthy, nutritious food.
  • Understand what some of your triggers are.  Educating yourself on your condition goes a long way.  
  • Search out a support network when you are going through difficult times.  Being alone can often make things worse.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider and discuss your symptoms and treatment options. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Almost New

Well, a new year is upon us.  How do you get ready to start a new year?  Do you, like everyone, make a plan that will surely fail?  I mean, not to be a downer but isn't that the routine we set ourselves up for? Is it inevitable?  Statistics show that 92% of all resolutions fail!! Are there resolutions that work?

Here are some ideas on planning a successful new year...

  • Start small.  There's something about Auld Lang Syne that gets us all fired up and ready to change - everything! Resist the urge.  Choose just a couple of things to focus on.
  • Write it down and make a plan.  We are really good at stating what we want but no plan for the journey of getting there.  Do you want to save money?  Writing that down isn't enough.  Plan out the details of saving much will you want to save?  Are you willing to skip your favorite beverage addiction in lieu of saving a $4 a day?  
  • Work the plan.  Have your goals and plans written where you can see them everyday.  The things we keep our attention on become the things that develop in our life.  Intention and attention is the secret to New Years success. 
  • Do it now.  Procrastination is powerful.  Instead of saying to yourself, "I'll get to it after I do the dishes.", say, "I'll do it now."  Most tasks seem daunting when left in our head but the actual time it takes to accomplish that can require much less time if we just tackle it with vigor. 
  • Forget about all or nothing.  We sabotage so many life goals by thinking we need to arrive with perfection intact.  Not so.  When flying a plane, pilots know that most of the time, the plane is straying off course and each moment requires a course correction.  So it is with us...veering from our plan doesn't mean an imminent fail.  Sticking to it is the thing that matters most. 
Whatever you want in life, it's yours.  It's yours if you are willing to change your mindset just a bit and keep those plans on your radar.  

So, what are the things you have planned for your New Year?

Don't Panic

We are headed into one of the most stressful seasons of the year...the Holiday season.  What we hope will be a month of giving and caring can often resemble more panic and overwhelm, as our list of things to do grows exponentially each day.   No matter what our well intention thoughts are, life can take a toll.

So, how do we avoid anxiety and panic during this party planning, gift buying, giving and spreading the light kind of month?

  • Make a plan.  Keep it simple and reasonable.  
  • Stay organized.  Lists can be burdensome but they do help to keep it all from getting muddled inside your head. 
  • Know your limits.  It isn't a badge of honor to do more than you physically or mentally can. 
  • Practice good sleep hygiene.  Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  
  • Take a break from traditions that create too much stress. Maybe it's time to create something new.
  • Say no.  Remember that "No" is a complete sentence.  Though some people think they need an explanation along with a No, they don't. 
  • No one is perfect, including you. Your friend's Instagram posts may look perfect, but they aren't so don't believe everything you see.  Say yes to being human this holiday season.  
If you have a history of anxiety and depression, just knowing that this time of year may not be your best time of year, is half the battle.  Only expect of yourself what you know you can manage.  Your family would rather have a calm, rested mother than one who is anxious and always in a panic.  This is not the season of guilt and shame, it's the season of new beginnings, hope and peace...not just on earth but in your heart and mind as well.  

So, make this Christmas season different.  Start some new traditions that truly do bring an extra measure of peace and hope as we inch closer to 2019. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Making of Postpartum Depression

We look at perfect pictures of new moms, their make up is done, not a hair on their head is left uncurled.  A sweet, sleeping infant lies in their arms and by all accounts, this is the happiest moment of all.

What you don't see when the camera is focused elsewhere, is the anxiety, depression, fatigue...the overwhelming fatigue!  Welcome to postpartum!  Now,  for some women, this never becomes an issue but for a greater and growing number of women, having a baby is the hardest kind of work that no one ever tells you about.

It's pretty much common sense that creating a human being is hard and stresses a woman's body.  Somehow, even as women, we think that delivering that perfect little baby is the end of our pregnancy journey...For some, the hard work is just beginning.

Interesting things happen after childbirth.

  • With the delivery of the placenta, progesterone levels plummet!  Almost immediately.  We love progesterone because it actually elevates mood.
  • Estrogen remains high which results in a hormone imbalance between progesterone and estrogen.  Another term for this is estrogen dominance.
  • Estrogen dominance looks like panic attacks, anxiety, depression, 
  • Estrogen that is too high also prevents cortisol, our stress hormone from getting where it needs to be, in our cells, so our cortisol levels drop.  We get a double whammy because progesterone,plays a critical role in producing cortisol as well. 
  • The adrenals are the back up gland to the ovaries so with low progesterone, high estrogen, low cortisol and the adrenals doubling up on work, they become fatigued and even burnt out. 
  • All this hormone imbalance results in many of the symptoms you feel with postpartum depression. 
So, what can be done?

Well, it's important to understand why you are feeling the way you are.  You aren't going crazy, your body is finding it's way back to a healthy, balanced state after working so hard for 9 months.  The number one thing you can do is make sure you are getting enough sleep.  Sleep is important for resting the adrenals.  Of course, eating healthy whole foods is critically important as well.  The cruciferous family of vegetables are an excellent choice for estrogen dominance.  Vitamin B6 and Magnesium help process all of that extra estrogen and can help relieve the symptoms of postpartum depression.  A good, plant based Vitamin C raises progesterone levels over time.  

It's important to be watchful when dealing with postpartum depression.  Symptoms can escalate quickly so, visit with your doctor, and if needed, get some additional support through pharmaceuticals until things settle down.  The duration of postpartum symptoms varies between women so be patient and kind with yourself.   

How Cholesterol Can Keep You Out of Trouble

All we ever hear about Cholesterol is bad.  It's like the kid down the street your mom never let you play with..."Stay away from Cholesterol!"  She would yell as we ran out to play, door slamming behind us.  

Cholesterol is not least in extreme amounts but did you know that it has some vitally important functions?  Our bodies actually make 75% of our cholesterol.  Cholesterol is the raw material needed, in order to produce hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, serotonin and more.  It also helps us generate Vitamin D.  Having adequate cholesterol successfully transports the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,K.   Generally speaking, cholesterol helps us feel good, hopeful, and healthy. 

So, what does our body use to generate all this cholesterol?  Well, its probably not what you think or what you've been told.  It uses refined carbs and sugar.  Stress is another big contributor to high cholesterol.  Cortisol is produced in the adrenals in order to help us handle our stress.  When we deal poorly with stress, our adrenals call for an increase in cortisol.  Cholesterol hears the call and cranks out more and more in order to meet the cortisol, our cholesterol numbers rise. 

Over the years, the powers that be continue to lower the acceptable cholesterol number. When was the last time you heard anyone talk about the risks of low cholesterol?  We rarely talk about the side effects of not having enough cholesterol but did you know that low cholesterol can be just as detrimental?  

Low Cholesterol can result in the following:
  • 700% increase in colon cancer
  • Heart and circulation problems
  • Ulcers
  • Dizziness and Arrhythmia
  • Increase in cancers
The bottom line is, we need to keep our health in balance.  Too much of a good thing is just as bad as too little.   If you are having high cholesterol problems, talk to your doctor.  Start managing your stress and eat a diet full of whole, vitamin rich foods, and as usual, watch your intake of sugary, refined carbs.  Remember, always check with your doctor before stopping or starting any medication