Month: April 2016

Surrender Vs. Acceptance with Depression

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There are many forms of surrender in the world–some that turn out good, others bad. We stop treatments, end marriages, leave jobs, switch majors, and abandon projects. We take sick days, break our New Years’ Resolutions, and concede arguments. We decide it’s more important to get six hours of sleep than to make that 9 AM deadline. We write texts and emails, but delete them before sending. Most people’s lives involve some degree of strategic retreat–from year to year, from day to day. We can’t win all the time.

For many people with depression, this drive to give up is inflated to an unhealthy degree. Sometimes, you may want to give something up before it even starts. Often, it’s important to fight that urge–to stick with your intentions even when it’s hard. But, just like anyone else, sometimes you have to know when to surrender. And the way you surrender can be just as important as when to surrender. Toni Bernhard at PsychologyToday calls this “giving in” rather than “giving up.”

One of the most important aspects of “giving in” is to replace self-loathing with self-compassion. You shouldn’t hate yourself from needing a break; you should take a break because you love yourself. For instance, instead of thinking:

“I can’t finish this. I’m useless.”

Instead try and think something like:

“It’s not worth beating myself up when I’m not making progress. I’m going to set this aside for now and relax.”

Another important thing difference is whether or not you’re projecting your surrender into the future, or mistaking a setback for a failure. So instead of thinking:

“I stayed in all weekend. I’ll never make any friends.”

Try to think:

“Making friends isn’t working right now. I’ll need to take care of myself for a bit, and focus on the relationships I have, before I’m ready to pursue new friendships.”

Thirdly, it’s important to accept that change is a part of life, and sometimes “giving in” just means letting go of a status quo that doesn’t work for you anymore. According to Ms. Bernhard, instead of saying:

“I give up on my friends. They don’t understand me or paying attention to me.”

You should say:

“These friendships aren’t working out for me in their current form. It’s not their fault that they don’t understand, but I deserve friends who will be responsive to my needs.”

Sometimes, what seems like failure can be easily reframed as an opportunity to expand your boundaries. There’s no way to make everything easy, or to make sure that everything you try works out the way you want it to. Life comes with its share of disappointments, and that can be especially difficult for the depressed. But you can make sure that your failures don’t come to define your life.

Do you or a loved one suffer from depression? See if you qualify for Lincoln’s clinical research study on depression today!

Five Ways to Live Well with Depression

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Sometimes it can feel hard to get away from your depression. As with any illness, sometimes you just want to leave your treatment in the doctor’s (or therapist’s) office and keep it separate from your life. But, like many illnesses, managing depression can be a full-time job. Medication and therapy are very helpful, but the way you live your everyday life can count just as much.

Diana Rodriguez at EverydayHealth has some tips for how to live well every day with depression. These tips may be difficult at first, but it’s not about torturing yourself–it’s about little ways to make your life easier without sacrificing the things that are important to you.

1. Make friends with the mirror. You may have heard “fake it ’til you make it” as a strategy for depression, and this applies even at the most basic level. Practicing smiling in front of the mirror can lift your mood and help you find some things to smile about in real life. And “power posing“–standing before the mirror in a confident pose, such as the “Wonder Woman pose,” with your hands on your hips–is has shown to boost confidence on a neurological level. Try it out! It might seem silly, but even a minute a day of these types of behaviors might be a huge help.

2. Set goals you can achieve. Much has been made of “gamification” as a way of increasing learning and productivity. Games are all about finding an optimal groove of challenge and reward, and this applies to life as well. At the most basic level, all you need to do is break your day down into simple, important, and daily tasks, and rewarding yourself by “checking them off” over the course of the day. There are many smartphone apps that let you manage productivity in this way; I and many people I know use a Bullet Journal for task management.

3. Create a routine. While you’re organizing your task management, you can also take the time to set up a calendar, agenda, or reminder app (Bullet Journals can serve this purpose as well). Daily routines are helpful; it’s much easier to keep yourself from spending all day on the couch when you have some level of structure to adhere to. You don’t need to micromanage every aspect of your day, but when you’re suffering from depression, it’s easy to let time get away from you; get time working for you again.

4. Take care of your body. Your mental health can’t be separated out from what your body’s up to. Diet and exercise are great ways to alleviate your depression, but don’t forget about personal hygiene as well. You don’t need to look a certain way to feel good about yourself, but basic routines such as showering, brushing and flossing, and grooming habits might do more for your self-esteem than you think. And even if you can’t exercise, make sure not to spend too much time sitting down. Smartwatches and other fitness aids sometimes include “stand goals,” reminding you to get on your feet for a few minutes every hour. This is a simple goal that can do a surprising amount for your health.

5. Practice kindness. Just as the body is tied to the brain, your feelings about yourself are connected to the way you treat others. Sometimes depression makes it hard to be nice, and sometimes it makes it easier to be nice to others than to yourself. Allow yourself to just give and receive kindness; if your every day life doesn’t give you many opportunities to be helpful, consider volunteering or donating to a cause that you care about.

Do you or a loved one suffer from depression? See if you qualify for Lincoln’s clinical research study on depression today!

Five Tricks That May Prevent Migraines

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For many who suffer from migraine, there seems to be no relief in sight, with or without medication. The onset of your headaches might seem random, but there may be many things that can contribute to–or prevent–migraine headaches. Dr. Shilpi Agarwal at EverydayHealth has shared some tips that may help some people stave off migraines.

1. Avoid triggers. Do you notice any particular factor that links your migraines togerher? It might be too subtle for you to catch up on. Certain foods and substances, in particular, have been linked to migraines, including chocolate and alcohol.

2. Try these supplements. Ask your doctor about vitamin supplements that might help combat migraines. Vitamin B2 and Magnesium are two substances that might be able to fight off migraines. However, be sure not to take them unsupervised, especially magnesium, which can interfere with several other medications.

3. Get a massage. A professional massage is best, but if you can’t get a professional masseuse, recruit a friend. It’ll feel good, and the release of tension might prevent migraines, or make them less severe.

4. Try acupuncture. Many clinicians are suspicious of acupuncture, and it’s tough to say exactly what effect it has on migraines, but it’s proven a huge help to many people. If you aren’t afraid of needles and have access to an acupuncturist, it might be worth a shot.

6. Reduce stress. Mental and emotional stress may be one of the biggest precursors of migraines. And just like many symptoms of poor health, there’s plenty that you can do to reduce excess stress. Try to simplify aspects of your daily routine, meditate, and stay physically active. If certain relationships or obligations are causing you lots of stress, consider whether they may be more trouble than they’re worth. Some stress is good, but too much stress can wreak havoc on the body and mind, including migraines.

Migraine is a recurrent condition, and there’s no “cure” that’s guaranteed to work. However, you are not powerless against your migraines. Try these tips and others to see what works for you and your migraine in particular.

Do you or a loved one suffer from Migraine? See if you may qualify for Lincoln Research’s study on Migraine today!

Current Studies at Lincoln Research

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Lincoln Research is a clinical research site dedicated to high-quality patient care. We specialize in research of psychiatric conditions such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), but have conducted studies in a wide variety of areas. If you’re interested in participating in a study, but none of our current studies interest you, be sure to check back in on our study listings page every couple of months to see what’s new.

Here are the studies we have going right now.

Migraine

Migraine fixed

Schizophrenia>

Are you or a loved one currently taking Invega Sustenna (paliperidone palmitate) for the treatment of schizophrenia and not having an adequate response?

This study is investigating whether a newly FDA-approved medicine may provide adequate treatment for your symptoms of schizophrenia

To be eligible for this study, you must:

  • Be 18 to 65 years of age
  • Have a diagnosis of schizophrenia
  • Have received at least 3 doses of Invega Sustenna (paliperidone palmitate) prior to the study

Call our office to see if this clinical trial may be appropriate for you!

Genetic Testing for Depression

AssureRx

To stay updated with information about new opportunities at Lincoln Research, like us on Facebook or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Two Ways To Look At The Causes Of Depression

Photo Courtesy Of: freedigitalphotos.net/ by David Castillo

Photo Courtesy Of: freedigitalphotos.net/ by David Castillo

We know a lot about how depression works, and we know a little–though not as much as we’d like–about how to treat it. However, we still don’t know what causes depression, and there are many strong disagreements in the medical and research communities as to where depression comes from, or even how to classify and think about therapy.

Psychology Today is a great resource for different perspectives on mental illness; many of their contributors write blogs about a specific perspective or aspect of an illness. This post is based on blog posts by Christopher Bergland, who writes a blog about the connection between mental health; Emily Deans MD, who writes from the perspective of an evolutionary psychologist; and Gregg Henriques, Ph.D., whose blog wants to create “a unified approach to psychology and philosophy.”

Mr. Bergland and Dr. Deans approach depression as a disease, located in the body; Professor Henriques looks at depression of a symptom of larger philosophical problems in the sufferers’ life. These approaches aren’t mutually exclusive, and neither of them is a definitive “solution” to the problem of the causes of depression, but they may provide complementary ways of thinking about the illness.

Depression in the Body

The popular idea that depression is caused by a “chemical imbalance in the brain” is very vague, and creates a false impression. Many people are led to think that antidepressant medications “re-balance” the brain in the same way that a vitamin supplement resolves a vitamin deficiency. The truth is much more complicated.

At the same time, the biology of the brain is definitely involved in the way depression affects people. You’ve probably seen images showing how a depressed brain looks different than a healthy brain–the healthy brain is “lit up” while the diseased brain is “dark.” Some parts of the brain actually shrink in size as depression progresses–and are restored when depression ends.

Research increasingly suggests that inflammation–the way our bodies respond when we get a cold, or are exposed to something we’re allergic to, or get a burn. This can happen at a low level throughout our entire bodies or even in the tissue of the brain.

The chemistry of our bodies can influence inflammation, and can also be influenced by our lifestyle choices. Both Mr. Bergland and Dr. Deans implicate a chemical called kynurenine in the inflammation that causes depression, and suggest different ways to fight it. Mr. Bergland points out that exercise converts kynurenine into kynurenic acid, and so regular exercise can reduce inflammation. This is one reason why exercise is a helpful treatment for depression.

Dr. Deans talks about reducing inflammation through diet, by changing your fat intake. Many people cut fat out of their diet for the wrong reasons–a high-fat diet generally doesn’t lead to weight gain–but eating healthier fats may make a difference. “Omega-3” fatty acids–mostly found in fish–reduce inflammation, while “Omega-6” fatty acids–found in vegetable oil and many other fat sources–can increase inflammation. Fish oil supplements are safe for most people and can be found in many supermarkets and pharmacies.

Depression as a Behavioral Response

Professor Gregg Henriques has a very different view of depression; he isn’t convinced by these neurochemical viewpoints. In what he calls the “Behavioral Shutdown” theory of depression, he says that people are generally depressed because their lives aren’t going the way they like.

In the Behavioral Shutdown model, depression is an immune response from the brain that spins out of control and proves unhelpful in our modern environment. Think of a bear that hibernates for the winter. The bear hibernates because its body knows that it wouldn’t be effective to forage for food during winter. If the bear was out and about, it would lose heat very quickly and fail to find food, so it might as well stay in and wait until spring.

Similarly, you can think of depression as being triggered by a sort of “emotional winter”–a time when the brain finds that it isn’t being rewarded enough for the effort it’s putting in. Sometimes, these triggers are obvious. Very poor people, and women in abusive relationships, are susceptible to depression because they suffer under immense emotional burdens and often aren’t receiving any emotional rewards in return. But it can also be more subtle, like a period of increased stress at work, or a time when you feel more distant with your established emotional connections (as when children leave their families and friends to go to college). In either case, the brain reacts by creating a state that discourages sufferers from seeking out emotional attachments or pleasure. Depression primes you to avoid situations where you could fail, embarrass yourself, or just expend a lot of energy for no reward.

This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t ever be treated for depression using medication, according to Professor Henriques–but it suggests that you and your mental health professional shouldn’t be looking at your brain at the root cause of the problem. Instead, you should try and decrease your emotional work/reward ratio to convince your brain to wake up again. This isn’t too different from Behavioral Activation Therapy, in that it depends on your ability to make a change in your life, even if your brain is telling you not to. Seek out positive relationships and gratifying hobbies, and seek to remove sources of stress that you don’t need. If you want to get past the winter, look for an emotional spring.

Do you or a loved one suffer from depression? See if you qualify for Lincoln’s clinical research study on depression today!

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