Feelings of guilt often accompany major depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. That you are having difficulty functioning on a very basic level, while knowing that you “don’t have it that bad” (or, that’s what your *insert family member* is telling you) has you feeling even worse. Your family and friends may not understand what you're going through, and from their perspective, have trouble grasping why you can’t just pick your head up and work through this. You tell yourself, ‘I'm not DYING, for God’s sake…,’ but it doesn’t help a thing.
When You're Stuck in Your Head
“You know, depression is sort of a selfish feeling,” someone told me last week. “I just sit there, thinking only about myself and my life.” So, when she is able, she volunteers with a local hospice. On the days she volunteers, her depression is not as bad.
The Struggle is Real
You don't like taking antidepressants. They take too long to work. The side effects of this antidepressant are worse than the last one you tried. Is your depression treatment resistant?
Laughing Until We Couldn't...or Could...Breathe
In 2010, following my father’s cancer diagnosis, I accompanied him to MD Anderson for one of his two-day appointments. Interested in the ancillary services they offer to patients and their families, I looked at the Integrative Medicine department’s events calendar when we arrived. Ten o’clock a.m.: Laughing Yoga. How could we pass that up!? My dad reluctantly agreed to participate.
Ketamine Gets ALL the Reactions
With all of the chatter about ketamine and its treatment of refractory depression comes excitement, curiosity, doubts, and criticism - from both patients and healthcare providers alike. "It's really fascinating," says one doc, while another quips, "but it doesn't last long enough!" It's been deemed "the most exciting development in mental health" by some, while others express legitimate concerns about the long term effects of ketamine use. "Do they really send people down the k-hole!?," someone asked me last week. (The answer is NO. The dose administered is subanesthetic and subdissociative. Read more here. )
When anything or anyone new and different arrives on the scene, isn't this the way humans typically respond? That which challenges the status quo usually evokes discomfort and fear. (See why more means better when dealing with ketamine clinics)
How Do Your Stressful Mornings Affect Your Health?
Picture this: A stressful event happens. Your brain interprets it as a physical or social threat, which results in the activation of the regions of your brain associated with pain. Your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) triggers the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, followed by cascade of physiological events, which results in the production of inflammatory proteins and stress-related changes in your genes. This response to stress happens over and over and if not managed can become chronic, increasing your risk for inflammatory-related diseases, such as arthritis, asthma, certain types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and psychiatric disorders.
Migraines Are the Worst
A woman recounts her experience: “It happens after I eat chocolate or drink red wine, or right before I start my period. I know it’s coming on because I start to see flashes of light in my peripheral vision. That’s when I brace myself, wherever I am, knowing my day’s plans may be shot. Best-case scenario, I’ll take prescription medicine and kick it before it kicks me. Worst-case, I’ll have to leave work and will be confined to my bed, in the dark, drinking cups of black coffee with an ice pack on my head, until the pain subsides. Sometimes the pain doesn’t let up for a day or two. When I do finally feel some relief, I am exhausted and hungover.”
What Are Patients Experiencing During the Infusion?
In a previous blog entry, I wrote about the ketamine infusion experience. Let me expand on that today, as I focus on recovery from ketamine infusion therapy. While our patients are receiving ketamine infusion therapy, our nursing and anesthesia clinicians are conducting ongoing assessments of the patients. Every ten minutes, the patient’s vital signs are checked, and the patient is asked how s/he is feeling. All patient responses are recorded within the medical record and utilized to help our clinical team better understand how this low-dose infusion affects the patient. Responses from patients vary from “I feel good” to “I feel weird,” with adjectives like ‘funny,’ ‘sleepy,’ ‘fine,’ and ‘a little drunk’ used to describe how patients feel while receiving the infusion. They also report feeling as if they are dreaming, unable to really engage in a conversation or stand up.
What time are we eating!? What can we bring!? Will the kids swim!? Oh, what a bummer that it’s raining…we were gonna take the boat out!
While you might be seasoning meat to grill, making potato salad, drinking beer, slathering sunscreen on your kids’ faces, or just enjoying a long weekend, take a moment to remember the men and women who died while serving in the Armed Forces.