Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Depression, Alzheimer's, and what you can do to beat the odds

Now here’s something to chew on. Did you know that scientists have discovered a link between depression and the future onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD)?

It’s true. And much literature is available showing the increased risk of developing dementia if one also has experienced unipolar or bipolar affective disorders. Researchers have found an increased incidence of dementia in patients who had been diagnosed with major depression (MD) within 5 years before the onset of AD. These findings indicate that both MD and AD share a common neurobiological defect which causes similar cognitive decline in both illnesses. Studies also show a strong correlation between the onset of AD and an initial depressive episode occurring 25 years earlier. Twenty five years earlier.

So there you have it. Depression may be a risk factor to the eventual development of AD. Why am I sharing this unfortunate tidbit with you? Well, the good news is that there are certain lifestyle factors within our control that we can commit to now in order to avoid struggling with these illnesses.

Diet: Studies show that incorporating healthy nutritional habits – such as eating a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, seeds, and olive oil – can slow the progression of mental function decline. Oral supplementation with Coenzyme Q, and other antioxidant-rich foods containing vitamins C and E, betacarotene, and Omega-3 may help restore brain molecules that have had oxidative damage. Foods rich in folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12, help decrease homocysteine levels.

Exercise: Studies show that having an active lifestyle, including regular physical exercise and cognitive stimulation (Sudoku, reading, Crosswords, taking up a new instrument) may delay the onset of AD by preventing associated illnesses like depression, diabetes, strokes and heart disease. Such activities help normalize blood pressure, blood cholesterol and weight by improving cerebral blood flow and stimulating neuronal growth, factors which have been shown to delay the onset of disability. Exercise also regulates hormone cortisol levels; this stress hormone is responsible for hippocampal damage and weakened immune functioning in patients with AD. Cognitive exercises help preserve mental agility and executive function, delaying the onset of dementia.

What if you are currently struggling with a depressive episode? The simple answer is for you to seek professional help now to ensure you are receiving the appropriate treatment for your mood disorder. Visit your family doctor, get a referral to a psychiatrist, and seek psychological counselling now with a licensed therapist. Doing so can only help you – not only in the long run, but in the short run too. After all, it’s no fun struggling with the serious medical condition that is depression. In fact, it’s downright depressing.

For further information:
Canadian Mental Health Association
Depression Hurts
Diet and Depression
On Memory
Brain Booster

Other Sources:
Carpenter, B., Strauss, M., & Kennedy, J. (1995). Personal history of depression and its appearance in Alzheimer’s disease. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 10(8), 669-678.

Green, R.C., Cupples, L.A., Kurz A., Auerbach,, S., Go, R., Sadovnick, D., et al. (2003). Depression as a risk factor for Alzheimer disease. Archives of Neurology, 60(5), 753–759.

Heun, R., Kockler, M., & Ptok, U. (2002). Depression in Alzheimer’s disease: is there a temporal relationship between the onset of depression and the onset of dementia?. European Psychiatry, 17(5), 254.

Kasahara, H., Tsumura, M., Ochiai, Y., Furukawa, H., Aoki, K., Ito, T., et al. (2006). Consideration of the relationship between depression and dementia. Psychogeriatrics, 6(3), 128-133.

Kessing, L.V., Nilsson, F.M. (2003). Increased risk of developing dementia in patients with major affective disorders compared to patients with other medical illnesses. Journal of Affective Disorders, 73(3), 261-269. Retrieved from

Ownby, R.L., Crocco, E., Acevedo, A., John, V., & Loewenstein, D. (2006). Depression and risk for Alzheimer Disease: Systematic review, meta-analysis, and metaregression analysis. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 530-538. Retrieved from

Verkaik, R., Nuyen, J., Schellevis, F., & Francke, A. (2007). The relationship between severity of Alzheimer's disease and prevalence of comorbid depressive symptoms and depression: a systematic review. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22(11), 1063-1086. doi:10.1002/gps.1809

The above information is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to be a substitute for seeking individual medical or psychological advice and treatment.

In Bliss,
Coach Sandy
© 2010, Find Your Bliss Coaching.

Psychological Learnings

Earlier this year, I decided to bite the bullet and head back to school to pursue my Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. So far, I have to say that I’m loving the program for the intellectual stimulation and the copious research I’m compiling into all things psychological. 
Since I am learning so much (and since this blog is called “Finding My Bliss”!), I thought it might be a nice change of pace for me to share with you some of the great material that I’m acquiring. So there you have it, a new Bliss Blog segment is born. For future reference, I will tag all such postings under the label “Psychological Learnings”, and will try to include a corresponding reference list for those of you interested in further reading.
In Bliss,
Coach Sandy

© 2010, Find Your Bliss Coaching.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At One With Nature

Nature is one of the greatest sources of happiness. In fact, humans have lived in the lap of nature for millions of years and their stay in modern cities is comparably very very short. Even today, many people still live in close proximity to nature.

Nature is all free! It is there for everybody to stand and stare and derive happiness and solace from. It does not distinguish between rich or poor, strong or weak, man or woman. The golden sun is free, as is the silvery moon. Cool breeze, warm seashore, imposing mountains, smooth flowing rivers, dark and inviting forests... Free, free, all are free! It is free, not because it is cheap, but it is rather priceless. How much would it cost to make only an artificial island with rivers, forests, mountains, and surrounding ocean? A million dollars? A billion? And if one can afford it, will he donate it to humanity, free for everyone to enjoy? Or will he charge an entrance fee?

When we see the moon, we see it in its entirety, no matter how many millions of people are seeing it at the same time. Similarly, the sky, the sun, the ocean, rain and sunshine - all are there for us to possess fully. Each can stare at the sky and claim all of it for his or her own happiness.

Nature understands our moods. If we are sad, it is also sad with us. But it does not make us sadder. It does not lead us to further despair. It applies gentle balm to our wounds. It sits besides us like a mother, spouse, sibling, or a friend and embraces us, talks to us, listens to us patiently, empathizes with us. Slowly it lifts our spirits, makes us see our woes, worries, and wounds in the right perspective of infinite time and space. Next thing you know, we are smiling, laughing, and are happy again!
Do you appreciate the infinite beauty that is lying around in the form of nature?

Do you draw happiness out of it?


In Bliss, 

Coach Sandy 
© 2010, Find Your Bliss Coaching.