Should you be on anti-depressants?

Should you be on anti-depressants?

pillsAre you thinking about going on anti-depressants? I wanted to write down my experiences and thoughts based on this topic in hopes to help somebody trying to make this decision.

I’ll just start off by saying there are a LOT of people out there on anti-depressants. At one point, me, my mom, my sister, my best friend, and a bunch of other people I knew had gone on anti-depressants. It made me think, does the brain just have a tendency to really be that unstable during different periods of time? Or is it our society, the expectations it places on us, the lifestyles it dictates for us as well as the diets most people eat and the way they treat their bodies?

Well, I’ve come to understand it’s really a whole slew of different things that could be involved, and it’s usually a combination of them. I was on Prozac for nine years for generalized anxiety disorder. It was only pretty recently that I came off.

My Nine Years of Experience on Prozac

Looking back on these past nine years, let me tell you a little bit about my experience and how I might have handled it differently.

In 2005 I had a major anxiety attack that stayed and lasted for a long time. I’m talking an extremely bad one – I couldn’t function. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or do anything except pace around. I had intense, long-lasting anxiety attacks – and not just attacks, but I was in a constant state of anxiety itself – for the better part of a year and a half.

My mom had some Prozac from when she used to take it and gave me some because she was tired of seeing me like this. Prozac did help; it took the edge off, and all of my emotions were less pronounced. No, Prozac doesn’t give you an easy way out or make you instantly happy. In fact it doesn’t feel good at all to have to be on medication. But it does make the anxiety more manageable, and took away most of my depression that would set in for me after a certain amount of anxiety.

What I didn’t know back then that I know now, is that while these mental issues feel threatening and horrible (especially anxiety), 99% of the time, they are not going to hurt you. Nothing catastrophic is going to happen. You have the reigns to your own mind – you are in control. And even when you feel out of control, yes it is a scary feeling, but you can, and will conquer it. It will pass. Psychological battles are just always the most difficult battles you can fight.

That being said, if you are experiencing something to the extent to which you can’t function, medication is very useful in this case. It helps bring you out of it. The problem is though that you can easily become dependent on this to take your anxiety way and let it do the work for you. I almost consider myself lucky in the fact that I still had anxiety on Prozac and I still mainly had to rely on my own tools and my own self to conquer it.

The Drawbacks of Using Medication for Anxiety/Depression

Many people fall to drugs (either regular prescription medication or illegal drugs) and/or alcohol to distract them from their anxiety. I’ve seen it time and time again. As we all know, this is not an effective long-term cure. In fact, it’s counter-productive. It will just cause problems down the road. But far too many people take this route.

One important thing to consider that I did not know about when I started taking Prozac was how much your diet and exercise regime actually plays a part in your mental health. Especially diet. The amount of sugar, unhealthy carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats that are in the typical American diet (along with some other countries as well) is not doing any good for our brain. It’s disrupting our moods, keeping us addicted to sugar, not allowing our brain to perform functions as well as it normally would. Energy levels are ruined, our ability to fight our own mental battles will be weakened, memory can be affected – the list goes on.

Exercise will boost your brain’s endorphins – especially a long distance run. Sometimes exercise was the only thing that would cure my brain for a while in the midst of anxiety hell.

Another thing is that I work in a creative field, and I found that while anti-depressants did make my brain a bit more organized, a bit less affected by things, a bit less obsessive…they also stifled my creativity, my memory, and my sex drive. This is not to say they will affect you in the same way. But just really think about it to make sure taking them is the right path for you.

My Suggestions and Key Points

The main point I really wanted to get to in this article is firstly that unless you can’t function, medication probably isn’t a good idea to start off with. Try some other things first.

Try changing your diet and sticking to it. Be dedicated to your mental and physical health; they are very intertwined with each other.

Try taking some herbs and vitamins. See my blog post here about natural methods of curing anxiety/depression. There are so many out there these days!

DEFINITELY exercise regularly.

And most of all – learn to discipline your mind. Yeah, saying that is kind of like telling people to learn to speak Japanese by tomorrow. But what I’m really saying is, in order to build up your tools in fighting anxiety and depression, you need to practice approaching them in certain ways with your mind. Your attitude matters 100%. The more you build up your tools, the more you’ll trust your own brain to be able to fight it better, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy and your mental problems will not be as severe.

Every time I have anxiety I look at it as an opportunity to practice my own mental discipline. Because that’s exactly what it is. Look at and use anxiety as a tool for you to strengthen your own mind and willpower.

I’m not against medication. In fact, I’m grateful it exists for those who need it. But far too many people are ignorant of what types of things are actually causing or having an effect on their anxiety or depression and use medication as a crutch. Far too many become too dependent on it. Sometimes medication is necessary, but many times, it also is not.

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression please feel free to email me. I am always willing to help.

About Time 100% All Natural Whey Protein Isolate

About Time 100% All Natural Whey Protein Isolate

20131020_13472720131020_134625I was given a sample of this protein in both the chocolate and birthday cake flavor at the Olympia bodybuilding convention here in Phoenix this year. I am always wary of protein powders, as many of them have unwanted ingredients along with the protein.

This wasn’t the case however with About Time All Natural Whey Protein, which has only four simple ingredients on their label.

Ingredients:

One scoop of the powder contains 24g of protein on average, zero sugar, over 80mg of potassium, 25% DV of calcium, virtually no cholesterol and no sugar. The ingredients list, as mentioned, is very straightforward and the powder is sweetened with stevia. It is also lactose + gluten free, and only has 1g of carbs per scoop.

It doesn’t make use of whey protein concentrate in its ingredients, which can be a benefit for people with irritable bowel syndrome, as whey protein concentrate can sometimes upset people’s stomachs.

Taste:

Chocolate: Tasted great! However I typically blend my protein powders with almond milk, bananas, cinnamon, and ice, so I’m not quite so much in a place to judge the taste of the powder by itself. I’d probably know if it tasted horribly, though. It blended in well and in general the solubility is touted to be high for this powder.

Birthday Cake: Also tasted yummy, was a bit of a mild flavor, and blended well. I am more of a fan of the chocolate, though, because there’s more you can do with it as far as making smoothies, and I think overall it just tastes better than the birthday cake flavor.

I’m still not sure I’d replace it with my current protein powder (which is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard™ Double Rich Chocolate), as Optimum Nutrition includes enzymes that enhance the body’s ability to absorb and use the protein. About Time has flavored the powder with more natural flavors however, rather than Optimum Nutrition’s artificial flavors, which is an added benefit of About Time.

Overall though this is a protein powder that many people think highly of and I would not hesitate to recommend it to people.

Optimizing Your Body For Good Health

Optimizing Your Body For Good Health

ISS_4644_05726“The body is a complex organism that has the ability to heal itself — if only you listen to it and respond with proper nourishment and care. In spite of all the abuse our bodies endure — whether through exposure to environmental toxins, poor nutrition, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, or inactivity — they still usually serve us well for many years before signs of illness may start to appear. Even then, with a little help, they respond and continue to function.

Think of your body as being composed of millions of tiny little engines. Some of these engines work in unison; some work independently. All are on call twenty-four hours a day. In order for the engines to work properly, they require specific fuels. If the type of fuel given is the wrong blend, the engine will not perform to its maximum capacity. If the fuel is of a poor grade, the engine may sputter, hesitate, and lose power. If the engine is given no fuel at all, it will stop.

The fuel we give our bodies’ engines comes directly from the things we consume. The foods we eat contain nutrients, and these nutrients come in the form of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, water, amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipids. It is these nutrients that sustain life by providing us with the basic materials our bodies need to carry on their daily functions.

Individual nutrients differ in form and function, and in the amount needed by the body; however, they are all vital to our health. The actions that involve nutrients take place on microscopic levels, and the specific processes differ greatly. Nutrients are involved in all body processes, from combating infection to repairing tissue to thinking.

Research has shown that each part of the body contains high concentrations of certain nutrients. A deficiency of those nutrients will cause the body part to malfunction and eventually break down — and, like dominos, other body parts will follow. To keep this from happening, we need a proper diet and appropriate nutritional supplements. Brain function, memory, skin elasticity, eyesight, energy, the ration of lean-to-fat tissue in the body, and overall health are all indications of how well the body is functioning. With the help of proper nutrients, exercise, and a balanced diet, we can slow the aging process and greatly improve our chances for a healthier, pain-free — and possibly longer — life.

If we do not give ourselves the proper nutrients, we can impair the body’s normal functions and cause ourselves great harm. Even if we show no signs of illness, we may not necessarily be healthy. It simply may be that we are not yet exhibiting any overt symptoms of illness. One problem most of us have is that we do not get the nutrients we need from our diets because most of the foods we consume are cooked and/or processed. Cooking food at high temperatures and conventional food processing destroy vital nutrients the body needs to function properly. The organic raw foods that supply these elements are largely missing from today’s diets.”
Source: Prescription for Natural Healing, by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC. Page 3.

Appreciating Healthy Food

Appreciating Healthy Food

A Dialogue taken from my favorite book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman:

“I wondered about Joseph. “Is he a warrior, like you, Soc?”

“No one is a warrior like me,” he answered, laughing. “Nor would anyone want to be. Each man or woman has natural qualities. For example, while you’ve excelled in gymnastics, Joseph has mastered the preparation of food.’”

“Oh, you mean cooking?”

“Not exactly. Joseph doesn’t heat food much; it destroys the natural enzymes needed to fully digest the food. He prepares natural foods in a way you’ll soon see for yourself. After a taste of Joseph’s culinary magic, you’ll have no tolerance for fast food joints ever again.”

“What’s so special about his cooking?”

“Only two things, really—both subtle. First, he gives his complete attention to what he does; second, love is literally one of the primary ingredients in everything he makes. You can taste it afterwards for a long time.”

“Wait a minute, Socrates. Eating isn’t really a problem area for me. I’m slim, I generally feel pretty good, and my gymnastics proves I have enough energy. How is changing a few things in my diet going to make a difference?”

“Your present diet,” he said, glancing up through the sunlit branches of a beautiful tree, “may give you a ‘normal’ amount of energy, but much of what you eat also makes you groggy, affects your moods, lowers your level of awareness, and interferes with your body’s optimal vitality. Your impulsive diet results in toxic residues that have a long-range effect on your longevity. Most of your mental and emotional problems could be minimized by simple attention to proper eating.”

“‘How can changing my diet affect my energy?” I argued. “I mean, I take in calories, and they represent a certain amount of energy.’

“That is the traditional view, but it is a shallow one; the warrior must recognize more subtle influences. Our primary source of energy in this system,” he said, waving his arm to indicate the solar system, “is the sun. But in general, the human being–that’s you..

“‘Thanks for the concession.”

“… in his present state of evolution, has not developed the ability to make direct use of the sun’s energy; you cannot ‘eat sunlight’ except in limited ways. When humanity does develop this ability, the digestive organs will become vestigial and the laxative companies will go out of business. For now, food is the form of stored sunlight which you need.

A proper diet allows you to make the most direct use of the sun’s energy. The ensuing store of energy will open your senses, expand your awareness, and sharpen your concentration into a slashing blade.”

“All that is going to happen by eliminating cupcakes from my diet?”

“Yes–by eliminating cupcakes, and a few other odds and ends.”

“One of the Japanese Olympic gymnasts once told me that it’s not your bad habits that count, but your good ones.”

“That means your good habits must become so strong that they dissolve those which are not useful.” Socrates pointed ahead to a small cafe on Shattuck near Ashby. I’d walked by there many times without really noticing it.

“So, you believe in natural foods, Soc?” I said as we crossed the street.

“It’s not a matter of believing but of doing. I can tell you this: I eat only what is wholesome, and I eat only as much as I need. In order to appreciate what you call natural foods, you have to sharpen your instincts; you have to become a natural man.”

“Sounds positively ascetic to me. Don’t you even have a little ice cream now and then?”

“My diet may at first seem Spartan compared to the indulgences you call ‘moderation’, Dan, but the way I eat is actually filled with pleasure, because I’ve developed the capacity to enjoy the simplest foods. And so will you.”

The Benefits of Brussels Sprouts — There Are Many!

The Benefits of Brussels Sprouts — There Are Many!

03D38082-Brussels sprouts contain a unique combo of cancer-fighting phytonutrients called glucosinates, making it an important food for chronic disease prevention.

-High in fiber, Brussels sprouts are great for the digestive tract. They help reduce cholesterol and may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

-The nutrients in Brussels sprouts offer a powerful mix of cardiovascular, detox, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory support.

A great way to eat brussels sprouts: Sauté them with garlic, onion, and pancetta, and then pan-braise them with a splash of balsamic and chicken stock.

Source: Experience Life Magazine, page 48, October 2013.

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