Demons Versus Science

Brunette woman suffering from sleep paralysis

Sleep Paralysis Symptoms

The feeling of being paralyzed while attempting to fall asleep or wake up is known as sleep paralysis. Folklore has it that sleep paralysis is an attack by demonic spirits who sit on your chest in the middle of the night and terrorize you. But science has it that sleep paralysis is a sign that your mind and body are not moving smoothly through the different stages of sleep.

People who experience sleep paralysis are conscious but feel like they cannot move or speak for up to a few minutes; some also describe a sense of choking or pressure. The symptoms occur when a person passes between the stages of sleep and wakefulness.

There are two variants of sleep paralysis: hypnogogic and hypnopompic. Hypnogogic sleep paralysis occurs when you are attempting to fall asleep and hypnopompic sleep paralysis occurs as you are waking up. In the process of falling asleep, your body relaxes and your mind drifts off into sleep. With sleep paralysis, instead of your mind drifting off into sleep, you remain aware of the process of falling asleep and find yourself unable to move or speak.

The sleep cycle alternates between NREM and REM sleep. 75% of sleep occurs in the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stage, followed by a period of REM sleep. During the REM stage is when your eyes move quickly, your muscles remain relaxed or “turned off” and dreams occur. During hypnopompic sleep paralysis, you become aware of your surroundings before the REM cycle has ended, resulting in the inability to move or speak.

Sleep paralysis is more common than you think, with 4 out of 10 people suffering from it. It usually is first noticed during adolescence but can occur at any age. It is not clear what causes sleep paralysis, but it is believed that lack of sleep, stress, bipolar disorder, ADHD medications and substance abuse are some of the factors that may be linked to sleep paralysis.

There are no treatments that specifically target sleep paralysis. Improving your sleep habits, treating any comorbid mental illness that may contribute to poor sleep or treating an undiagnosed sleep disorder are some ways of helping relieve sleep paralysis.

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The Consistent Drive To Eat Healthy

Pleasant eating environment in a white kitchen

Is Eating One Meal A Day Healthy?

Eating healthy is a lifestyle. You must want it, seek it and live it. So many people attempt to eat healthy and sadly begin to give up after a week or two; other things in their life distract them and steer them off course. If you are not willing to change your eating habit 100%, then you will most likely fail in achieving a long-term healthy diet.

You must first find a reason to motivate yourself to adopt a healthy diet. Are you interested in losing weight or are you health-conscious and just want to eat healthy? Whatever the reason, it is very important to keep your drive alive no matter what obstacles you may be facing in life.

Obstacles, problems and concerns are part of life; they can only be dealt with but not always avoided. However, this does not mean that you must sacrifice eating healthy because of outside distractions. Your health always comes first! The moment that your mentality switches and you start putting your health second, you will lose your drive to eat healthy very quickly.

There are some people who believe that eating one meal a day is healthy. This is a very bad idea. To begin with, breakfast is the most important meal of the day: your body has not been eating for the last 8-10 hours and needs fuel to kickstart your day. Secondly, lunch is very important to keep your energy going in the afternoon; relying on energy obtained from breakfast is not a wise alternative.

And lastly, dinner is the last meal that connects two consecutive days; it refuels you before you say goodbye to today and say hello to tomorrow. Therefore, no meal should be subtracted from your day. Part of being healthy is being consistent with how often you eat. Adopting a healthy eating routine requires drive, consistency and passion!

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Medical Implications Of Antipsychotic Treatment

Shallow focus photography of prescription bottle with antipsychotic capsules

The Side Effects Of Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics can be divided into two groups: first-generation and second-generation. The first-generation antipsychotics were the first to be used in psychiatry, followed by the second-generation antipsychotics. Both classes have distinct medical side effects that are important to mention. Patients and their families always need to be properly educated on the the side effects of medications; medical problems can unexpectedly arise and cause confusion and discomfort if not previously warned about.

The first-generation antipsychotics:

  • Haloperidol
  • Loxapine
  • Thioridazine
  • Thiothixene
  • Molindone
  • Fluphenazine
  • Mesoridazine
  • Trifluoperazine
  • Perphenazine
  • Chlorpromazine (the first antipsychotic used)

The unique medical side effects from first-generation antipsychotics are called “extrapyramidal symptoms.” These include:

  • Dystonia (continuous spasms and muscle contractions)
  • Akathisia (motor restlessness)
  • Parkinsonism (rigidity)
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movement)
  • Tremor
  • Tardive dyskinesia (irregular jerky movements of the mouth and extremities)

As you can see, these motor symptoms can be very disturbing to patients and their families. The benefits and risks must always be weighed when starting or continuing a first-generation antipsychotic. Laryngeal dystonia, for instance, can lead to acute respiratory failure and death if not detected early enough!

The second-generation antipsychotics:

  • Aripiprazole
  • Ziprasidone
  • Risperidone
  • Quetiapine
  • Olanazpine
  • Clozapine (the gold-standard, used as a last resort for treatment-resistant schizophrenia)

The unique medical side effects from second-generation antipsychotics include:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Weight gain
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Tonic-clonic seizures (with clozapine)
  • Agranulocytosis (with clozapine)
  • Myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy (with clozapine)

As you can see, a healthy psychiatric patient has the potential of becoming a lifelong diabetic after starting a second-generation antipsychotic. These are very serious side effects that must always be monitored for when a patient is started on a second-generation antipsychotic.

Overall, the side effects listed above do not present in all patients, but they must always be monitored for! Education, teamwork, coordination between different specialities and therapeutic physician-patient relationships are required for careful monitoring of potential side effects as well as successful treatments!

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National Ice Cream Day

Three people holding ice cream cones on national ice cream day

The Health Benefits Of Ice Cream

Surprisingly, ice cream is not just a dessert that makes you feel guilty after consuming too much! You can now enjoy your ice cream in peace by remembering some of the health benefits of this tasty treat!

The health benefits of eating ice cream:

  • Contains vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K and B12
  • Contains potassium which helps lower blood pressure
  • Great source of energy (contains carbohydrates, fats and proteins)
  • Contains calcium and phosphorus which promote strong bones (calcium may also help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer)
  • Contains l-tryptophan which is the precursor to serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for mood elevation)
  • May lower the risk of ovulation-related infertility
  • May increase arousal and boost your libido
  • Makes you happier by activating a pleasure center in the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex

So what are you waiting for? Scoop up some chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream and put a smile on your face!

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Happy Healthy Food

Stacks of blueberries

The Benefits Of Blueberries

Blueberries are low in calories and high in nutrients! An entire cup contains only 80-85 calories! They are also rich in fiber, manganese, vitamin C and vitamin K; nutrients are important for the proper maintenance of cellular organelles and organs and reducing the risk of developing physical disorders.

Blueberries have one of the highest levels of antioxidants among fruits! They are rich in anthocyanins which protect your body from free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for damaging cells and contribute to cancer and aging. Blueberries also directly increase antioxidant levels in your body!

Blueberries reduce DNA damage! DNA damage occurs in every cell throughout its lifetime and is responsible for aging. It also plays an important role in the development of cancer. Blueberries neutralize the free radicals which are responsible for DNA damage.

Blueberries are very good for your heart! They reduce levels of oxidized LDL which is the bad cholesterol responsible for contributing to heart disease.

Numerous studies have demonstrated a decrease in blood pressure in individuals consuming blueberries!

Blueberries can help maintain brain function! They benefit aging neurons by leading to improvements in neuronal signaling. The antioxidants are also responsible for delaying mental decline.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that blueberries improve insulin sensitivity, resulting in a lower risk of developing type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome!

Blueberries may help prevent urinary tract infections! They contain substances that prevent bacteria like E. Coli from binding to the wall of your bladder.

So what are you waiting for? It is time to indulge in your new favorite healthy snack: blueberries!

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Women’s World Cup Final

Women playing soccer during daytime

The Beauty Of Teamwork

The women’s United States soccer team won the 2019 FIFA World Cup by beating the Netherlands 2-0 in the final match. Seeing an American team dominate in the sport of soccer when traditionally the sport has been dominated for generations by other countries, is a great feeling and nice moment to observe!

Getting involved in a team sport has many advantages:

  • Making friends
  • Establishing strong relationships
  • Provides a support network
  • Learning to work together with others
  • Learning from others
  • More pressure is lifted off of you
  • Sharing victories together feels good
  • Boosts productivity
  • Improves morale
  • Teaches conflict resolution skills
  • Advances your career

Soccer is a great sport to get involved in, whether you decide playing it at age 40 or would like your daughter or son to try it out. It has many health benefits including:

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and stay active; your health and well-being depend on it!

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The Nasty Nature Of Alcohol

Drunk young man passed out from alcohol in back car seat

Alcohol Effects On The Body

Alcohol has an amazing way to break the ice, make you feel relaxed and disinhibited and alter your reality in the present moment. But what a lot of people do not take into consideration is all the harmful effects of alcohol on your mind and body!

Alcohol effects on the mind:

  • Slurred speech (one of the first symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption)
  • Blackouts (it effects your memory formation, resulting in no recollection of the previous night’s events)
  • Hallucinations (withdrawal may cause visual and tactile hallucinations)
  • Dependence (due to a psychological and physical addiction which are both related)
  • Shrinking brain (the frontal lobes that are responsible for planning and executive functioning start to shrink)
  • Depression, psychosis, anxiety/panic attacks, slowed thinking, memory loss and the increased risk of experimenting with other drugs

Alcohol effects on the body:

  • Cancer (chronic users can develop mouth, throat, esophageal, breast, pancreatic, liver and colon cancer)
  • Heart damage (causes dilated cardiomyopathy which results in your heart pumping blood inefficiently)
  • Lung infections (affects the immune system resulting in the increased risk of developing tuberculosis and pneumonia)
  • Liver damage (the progression from fatty liver β†’ hepatitis β†’ cirrhosis β†’ hepatocellular carcinoma or death)
  • Anemia (deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin resulting in pallor and fatigue)
  • Chronic pancreatitis (which can progress to diabetes and pancreatic cancer)
  • Stomach distress (bloating and painful ulcers)
  • Diarrhea (damages your intestines)
  • Infertility (with chronic use)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Birth defects (also known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome – which is the most preventable intellectual disability in newborns)
  • Thinning bones (increases the risk of developing osteoporosis, resulting in brittle and fragile bones)
  • Malnutrition (prevents your body from properly absorbing vitamins and nutrients, resulting in conditions such as macrocytic anemia and Wernicke Encephalopathy)
  • Poor coordination (affects the cerebellum of the brain which is responsible for coordination)
  • Muscle cramping
  • Tingling (including numbness and pain in the hands and feet secondary to damage to the central nervous system)
  • Alcohol poisoning

As you can see, the list is exhaustive and is not worth drinking heavily. Sadly, alcohol is very addicting and many people are never able to stop. If you or anyone is suffering from an alcohol problem, please seek immediate medical treatment!

The DSM Ready Community is always available to talk about problems, issues and concerns regarding an addiction! Feel free to be open and honest so we can be of help to each other.

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Sleepy Stretches

Woman stretching in bed

Benefits Of Stretching Before Bed

Stretching is a wonderful habit to develop, especially after intensive workouts. It helps you feel mentally and emotionally relaxed, relieves stiffness and feels great. A good time to unwind and stretch your body is before bed!

Because stretching is a very personal act, the activity helps you focus on your bodily sensations and gets your mind off your daily stressors; this relaxes you for a good night’s sleep.

The awareness of your body during stretching helps you develop mindfulness; the act of being nonjudgmental towards yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness has been shown to promote better sleep. And with a little bit of stretching before bed, you can avoid getting into the habit of sleep deprivation and the increased risk of mental illness that comes along with it.

Stretching helps relieve muscle tension and loosens you up prior to sleep. Imagine going to bed feeling stiff after a 3 hour tennis match? It’s not a good feeling. Stretching is for your muscles what showering is for your skin and hair; they help you rejuvenate.

Stretching improves your flexibility, increases your range of motion, reduces musculoskeletal pain, relieves stress, calms your mind and helps decrease tension headaches! All of these benefits can help promote a better night’s sleep because they help your body recover from the wear and tear of daily activities, promoting peace of mind before you doze off.

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Cherry Picking

Red cherries growing on a tree

The Health Benefits of Cherries

To maintain a healthy mind and feel great, you must maintain a healthy body; you are what you eat! Fruits such as strawberries and bananas are excellent choices to snack on throughout your day. But cherries are also delicious and packed with goodies! (Just don’t forget to spit out the pit)

The health benefits of cherries:

  • Vitamin C (maintains your immune system and skin health)
  • Potassium (needed for muscle contraction, nerve function and blood pressure regulation)
  • Fiber (important for bowel regulation)
  • Antioxidants (combat premature aging, reduce inflammation and chronic disease risk, fight cellular damage and protect against mental decline)
  • Accelerate muscle recovery and decrease muscle soreness
  • Enhance exercise performance
  • Polyphenol antioxidants (keep your heart healthy by protecting against cellular damage)
  • Improve symptoms of arthritis and gout (inhibit oxidative stress and decrease inflammation and uric acid levels)
  • Contain melatonin (help regulate your sleep-wake cycle and improve your sleep quality)

So what are you waiting for? Head to your local supermarket for some cherry picking! πŸ’

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Phantom Limb Pain

Person wrapped with clear plastic bag experiencing phantom limb pain

Invisible Sensations

A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated limb is still attached. Phantom limb occurs after leg amputation in 98% of patients! The experience may last for years and may even be painful. Sometimes the pain is worsened by anxiety or stress. There is no known cause or treatment; it usually stops spontaneously over time.

Phantom sensations may even occur after amputation of breasts, teeth or even eyes! For instance, some patients who undergo a mastectomy (surgical removal of a breast) report experiencing a phantom breast, or the sensation of still having the amputated breast present. For amputated limbs, the sensation may feel as if the missing limb is shorter or in a distorted position. Phantom sensations have also been reported in transexuals who experience phantom genitals after gender reassignment surgery.

Because the cause of phantom limb is not known, there is no treatment that cures the condition. Treatment approaches that have shown to be helpful include: antidepressants, acupuncture, hypnosis and biofeedback. It can be very debilitating for these patients to lead a depressive-free life while experiencing phantom sensations; imagine having a limb amputated and then feeling as if your limb is still there, but also accompanied by pain!

How would you feel? Imagine the depressing thoughts and suicidal ideations that patients experience while battling phantom limb pain! This is why we must come together and support each other through all our difficulties and struggles!

The DSM Ready Movement is about understanding and caring for each other!

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