Young Minds: Growing research backing nutrition’s role in mental health

By  and   Global News

TORONTO – When you walk through the grocery store aisle with Alan Logan, he sees food in an entirely different way.
“Anytime we see these deep greens, deep purples it’s a best friend to the brain,” Logan said.

Logan sees brain food.  A naturopathic doctor and author of The Brain Diet, he believes nutrition and its role has been undervalued historically in mental health care.That’s changing.  Emerging research shows food can have a direct impact on mental health, warding off depression and helping to treat more serious disorders.
“Just like the heart or any other organ, the brain is dependent on nutrients for its function and its structure,” Logan said.
What we eat creates our neurotransmitters, proteins, amino acids – the building blocks that do the heavy lifting in our bodies.
The nutrition we get out of our foods – antioxidants, vitamins, healthy oils — help fuel our function, mood, and nerve cells that help our brains communicate.
“So this is quite remarkable in terms of how it is that nutrition can matter,” Logan said.
Diet matters.  Naturopathic doctor Alan Logan talks about how critical  nutrition is in the treatment and managements of our mental health. To read on, click here. 

Binge Eating May Signal Anxiety, Depression & Suicide Risk

By  Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on July 23, 2013

Binge Eating May Signal Anxiety, Depression & Suicide Risk A new study of African-American girls finds that body dissatisfaction can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression, and an increased risk for suicide.
Dr. Rashelle Musci and colleagues from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University found that mood disorders and a dissatisfied body image placed the girls at higher risk for turning their emotions inward — displaying “internalizing” symptoms such as suicide.
Western culture places a significant focus on appearance, especially among girls and women. This cultural underpinning drives many to develop eating behavioral problems.
The most frequently occurring problem eating behaviors are binge eating, or eating large amounts of food in a short period of time and feeling out of control while eating.
This behavior leads to shame, embarrassment, distress and an attempt to conceal it.
For the study, found in the journal Prevention Science, Musci and colleagues investigated how depressive and anxious symptoms may be precursors to binge eating behaviors and suicidal outcomes in 313 black females.

Study participants were followed for 11 years, from the ages of approximately 6-17 years old. Teacher, parent, and child interviews were carried out, examining levels of anxiety, depression, satisfaction with physical appearance, and eating behaviors, particularly binge eating. Click here to read on. 

Giving hope to addicted youths

By Edward Hill – Victoria News
Published: July 23, 2013 8:00 AM 
Updated: July 23, 2013 8:39 AM

SN-beaconhopehousePJuly2413.jpgA nondescript 1970s-era home in the Uptown area of Saanich holds six simple but tidy bedrooms, gardens, offices and a long dinner table.
For young men struggling with drug or alcohol addictions in Greater Victoria, it’s the home away from home to regain control of their lives.
“There are very few treatment centres for youth (in B.C.). You’ve got to scour the province for a place to take youth and have it not cost a fortune. This program is really needed in the Capital Region. Youth need a place to go,” said Maj. Kathie Chiu, executive director of the Salvation Army’s addictions and rehabilitation centre.
Chiu and other Salvation Army staff gave community groups an inside look at the renewed Beacon of Hope House last Friday, which relocated from Vic West to Saanich earlier this year. Up to six young men between 13 and 18 years old can stay at the house at any given time, typically for a month to three months.
“It is a very home-like atmosphere,” said Sarah Jenkinson, a counsellor at Hope House. “It’s important for youth in detox not to be institutionalized. This (facility) blends in well with the neighbourhood.”
The Vancouver Island Health Authority chips in 25 per cent of the Hope House’s $550,000 annual operating costs, and the Salvation Army funds the remainder for six beds, and 14 counsellors and residential staff members. To continue reading, click here

Children and Suicide Resource Toolkit

Are children under 12 really at risk of suicide? Many people
would answer: “No! How could they be?”
But both empirical evidence and anecdotal information suggest
So why do so many believe children to be immune to suicidal
thoughts and actions?
One reason is the relative rarity of suicide deaths of children.
Statistics show that there are very few suicides of children.
However, this can be partly explained by underreporting.
When child suicides do occur, they are often officially reported
as accidents. Numerous studies suggest that the number of
children who die by suicide is higher than the reported figures
Another reason is that it is believed that children do not have
the developmental maturity to act on suicidal thoughts
(CSP, 2000).
However, research shows that by the age of 8 or 9 children do
have a thorough understanding of suicide (Tishler, 2007).
Children often have the intent to cause self-injury or death
regardless of a full comprehension of the lethality or finality of
the act (ibid, 2007). They may just wish to end their emotional
pain without fully understanding the consequences of their
actions. Click here for more.

Living with Schizophrenia: Can Empathy Return?

Posted on July 19, 2013 by 

Like a film of cloudiness that filters the sunlight on a hazy day, my son Ben’s schizophrenia obscures some of the qualities that make him so dear.  Withoutschizophrenia treatment, his abilities to connect, care, feel joy and share love seem almost impossible to see.  With treatment, they are closer to the surface – but the 25% of him that is still obscured is sometimes heartbreaking, no matter how grateful we are that he is functional and mostly present. The presence of these clouds is lighter then, more like a haze than the thick formations when he is fully symptomatic. Still, Ben’s best qualities often seem dulled by that haze -and I miss the open, joyful child I used to know.
But sometimes, even the haze breaks – for an amazing moment – and I get a visit from Ben’s best self. Yesterday, I got a glimpse of his empathy, one of the qualities that get obscured as a negative symptom of schizophrenia.
It happened because of a tin of lip balm and it gave me a moment of joy and hope.

Why We Must Keep Developing New Schizophrenia Treatments

lip balm

Evidence of Empathy
After a close call two months ago, Ben is back in treatment and back at work. I drive him to and from his job, but otherwise it’s all on him. Yesterday, on the way home, we were listening to the radio (Ben flipping stations every 30 seconds or so, of course), and I reached for a tin of lip balm I keep in the car. Because of the heat wave, some of the balm had melted and the tin was therefore basically sealed shut. With only one hand, it was impossible to open. So I gave up.
Without a word, Ben reached over and took the tin, opened it, and held it out to me so I could use it.
That simple, helpful action brought tears to my eyes. Click here to read on. 

Understanding Cutting and Bullycide

 Psychological research suggests that there is a kind of perfect storm that takes place in this age range that makes suicide the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-24 (see Center for Suicide Awareness).
To begin with, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and depression regularly emerge during adolescence (Giedd, Keshavan, & Paus, 2008). It is at this vulnerable time that bullying tends to peak, with rates of school bullying (thankfully) falling across the high school years, and rates of cyber-bullying never changing (Eisenberg & Aalsma, 2005; and Schneider, O’Donnell, Stueve, Coulter, 2012). This is the perfect storm our youth face:
It is when they are the most vulnerable for depression/anxiety/eating disorders that they are the most likely to be the victim of bullying.
There is a third layer to this perfect storm: Disorders like depression and anorexia are associated with what are referred to as ego-syntonic symptoms. Ego-syntonic symptoms (like someone with depression cutting their body or a person with anorexia engaging in self-starvation) are particularly difficult to treat because the individual sees their behavior as consistent with and helping them achieve a particular goal (ego-dystonic symptoms, in contrast, would be those of PTSD). This can be understood intuitively with anorexia, as the act of self-starvation results in a salient, explicit outcome of weight loss, which the anorexic individual desires (despite anorexia having the highest mortality rate among psychiatric disorders). It is less intuitive to see how cutting is ego-syntonic, but this can be understood by marrying two seemingly unrelated lines of research: the physical-emotional pain overlap and pain offset relief. To continue reading, click here. 

Jealousy and Envy: The Emotions of Comparison and Contrast

Jealousy and envy are emotional transformations of shame.
Are you craving attention from a person whose focus is on someone else? Do you desire attributes that are possessed by another? When you experience jealousy or envy, you have measured your sense of your self against your image of another person and arrived at a conclusion that was motivated by the biological signal of the affect of shame. Technically, from the viewpoint of affect theory (Tomkins, 2008), an affect is the biological portion of our emotions. Thus, envy and jealousy are emotional transformations of the affect shame.
The emotion of envy is often confused with jealousy. Envy is directed at another or others, wanting their qualities, success, or possession. Jealousy involves thinking you will lose, or have lost, some affection or security from another person because of someone or something else—including their interest in an activity that takes time away from you. Both jealousy and envy involve comparisons and contrasts. Comparison suggests similarity or equivalence, whereas contrast focuses on differences. At times you may compare yourself with another, but most often you will be focused upon contrasts based on negative feelings. How you feel about yourself is determined to a great degree by the comparison and contrast of your sense of self with what you consider to be your ideals, which may be projected upon another person. Contrasting yourself with an idealized image of another person magnifies shame that can threaten your self-stability. Any threat to your esteem—your established sense of self—will likely activate shame (Catherall, 2012), and, when you come up short in such contrasts, shame is experienced as envy or jealousy of another. To continue reading, click here. 

Happiness Is Risky Business

5 Best Practices of Happy Risk-Takers
Published on October 22, 2012 by Angie LeVan, MAPP in Flourish!
By definition, risk defies common sense. C’mon, it’s not exactly rational to jump out of a plane (unless it’s groundbound and you’ve got a parachute), gamble in the midst of a bad economy, scale mountains, bungee from a bridge, or drive 30 miles over the speed limit—just for kicks. But there’s a tantalizing element to risk. An element of swagger and seduction. A provactive force that flirtatiously compels us toward the irrational: the thrill of the unknown.
Point blank: while risk doesn’t always make sense and despite the fact that many people have a hard time managing the uncertainty that comes with risk-taking, risk does make life more interesting, more engaging and quite frankly, more exciting. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a stir of excitement at least every once in a while? But does risk-taking make you happier?
We’ve been taught our whole lives that risk is a bad, bad thing. Why? Perhaps because risk can lead to failure, and we tend to believe that failure itself is a bad thing. And why should we believe otherwise? Society labels people as either not-at-risk (good) or at-risk (bad). In fact, our brains are wired to be alert of risky situations (and for good reason). Thus, it seems quite paradoxical to include risk-taking as one of the primary behaviors that leads to the ‘good life’.
Despite its bad rap, risk-taking is essential to learning what your limits are, to growing as an individual and to cultivating a thriving life. Risk is something to be fully embraced and celebrated! Without taking risks, it’s impossible to learn the skills that enable you to thrive in life, like learning to manage emotions in uncertain circumstances – which life is full of. Unfortunately, some people indulge in reckless risky habits like drunk driving and excessive gambling. That’s not the kind of risk I’m advocating. Most of you, however, dream of taking risks wrapped in the package of a cross-country move, a new romance, a bold careerchange or an exciting adventure like traveling to far and exotic places. And that’s the stuff I want for you! The stuff – good stuff – you can have if you read on! Click here to continue reading. 

Yoga As Self Care


il_570xN.331177132I can’t remember the date I began practicing yoga, but I remembered it being in 2009 when I fell in love with this practice.  In 2010 I really began adopting yoga into my life and found out that there were benefits on and off the mat.  In my opinion, yoga is much more than just getting on your mat, doing poses in a routine and saying “OM”.  It is about breathing, absorbing, being present, being aware and balance.
I recently began thinking about ways that I can incorporate aspects of yoga into my practice with clients.  There is something therapeutic about being able to focus on the present moment:  there is no need to worry about what can happen, may happen, might happen or can possibly happen.  You can focus on what is, at that moment.
There are many ways to incorporate yoga into your lifestyle and ways that it can possibly be helpful to clients.  Here are 3 of the several things that I have observed about what yoga can bring to your life.
* Awareness:  It is difficult to be practicing yoga (being at a class or doing your home practice) and not be aware of what you are doing.  You have to pay attention to what move comes next, how you feel, what is uncomfortable.  It allows you an opportunity to pay attention to yourself. Click here to read on. 

What’s Behind Your Anger?


bombIf you’re struggling with out-of-control anger, you may be wondering why your fuse is so short. Anger problems often stem from what you’ve learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed. Traumatic events and high levels of stress can make you more susceptible to anger as well.
In order to get your needs met and express your anger in appropriate ways, you need to be in touch with what you are really feeling. Are you truly angry? Or is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability?
If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, it is very likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings and needs. This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an adult, you may have a hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger.

Clues that there’s something more to your anger

  • You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to concede a point? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or her way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.
To continue reading, click here.