Depressed And Demented

Elderly woman with dementia sitting on wheelchair near houses and stone driveway

Ambien And Dementia

Understanding what an elderly person with dementia is going through is like trying to understand what it feels like to slowly lose your memory for good. Imagine forgetting to turn off the stove or driving to the supermarket and ending up across town by a bridge which you have never seen before!

Try to imagine what it would feel like to be living in your last years of life with memory loss. Not only is your life coming to an end and are unconsciously worrying whether you have lived a productive and meaningful life, but your memory is also slowly fading away. And imagine feeling confused and forgetting details related to everyday situations.

Imagine performing an activity with a person one day and almost forgetting about it the next; “what was it that we did yesterday?” Patients with dementia do not forget as much autobiographical information as they do with recent activities that were just performed. Ask them where and when they were born and they will most likely be able to provide you with that information.

Ask them what they had for breakfast and they will give you a blank stare! On top of that, 1/3 of patients with dementia suffer from depression. Let’s sum this scenario up:

  • Elderly knowing that your life is soon coming to an end
  • End of life worries regarding having lived a prosperous and fulfilling life
  • Confusion about everyday events
  • Memory loss about everyday events
  • Depression

How would you feel if you experienced the above scenario? In addition, many patients with dementia may be prescribed psychotropic medications despite contraindications. For instance, Prozac and Zoloft may cause fractures and falls in the elderly. Antipsychotics increase the risk of death in patients with dementia, and benzodiazepines increase the risk of falls in the elderly.

Ambien or Zolpidem is a “Z-Drug” or sleeping medication used for insomnia. It is known to cause cognitive impairment and amnesia as side effects. Consider a patient with dementia who is suffering from insomnia, and who is prescribed Ambien by their physician. Not only is this patient losing their memory, but they are now taking a medication that worsen’s their cognition!

One would argue, “no physician in their right mind would prescribe a demented patient a medication that does that!” But is it really that hard to believe? Just because someone went to medical school and received an MD or DO degree, does not mean that they are a competent physician!

Overall, we need to be understanding and compassionate in regards to what patients with dementia are going through; especially family members who understandably lose patience with their loved ones. Consider the symptoms mentioned above and try to put yourself in their shoes.

I don’t think you’ll be going to sleep tonight dreaming of that scenario!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Drinking And Driving

Drunk adolescent male leaning on SUV in front of woods

Wheel Of Fortune

“Don’t drink and drive” are the 4 words which we repeatedly hear since adolescence, yet there continues to be thousands of drunk drivers worldwide on a daily basis. It’s as if the words are registered and discarded faster than they are processed. Why do so many people continue to drink and drive despite the adverse consequences?

For starters, alcohol has a powerful influence on one’s judgment. Unlike marijuana for instance, alcohol can make someone so intoxicated that they can no longer discern right from wrong; in this case, they get behind the wheel drunk and drive to their destination. What the consequences will be do not matter to them in that situation and state of mind.

This is not to imply that marijuana does not make people intoxicated or stoned. But the difference with this drug is that people who are stoned tend to remain more preoccupied with a relaxing activity, such as watching a movie or listening to music. They are not as tempted to get behind the wheel and go driving to random places, even though it does happen quite often!

Most people would agree that it’s more tempting to drive under the influence of alcohol, because they want to get from point A to point B without any delays. In this case, point B may be another party, their house, a friend’s crib or their significant other’s pad. Drinking and driving has a lot to do with the final destination: “I need to get there tonight and I need to get there quick!”

Even if one tells himself prior to drinking that he will not drive tonight, once those few shots of bourbon or that sour whisky goes down their throat and hits their nucleus accumbens, their judgment begins to quickly change. They may also experience peer pressure from their friends to drive: “come on bro, we gotta make it to this party!”

What started as a good intention of not driving for the night, may end up in a damaged vehicle and a fatality or two. Some would argue that drinking and driving is also fun! You can blast the music with your friends, while speeding on isolated back roads to your destination of choice! Until you lose control of your vehicle or a deer jumps in the middle of the road, distracting you and causing you to swerve and crash into a tree!

The wheel of fortune is not to be reckoned with when it comes to drinking and driving. Be smart and either stay sober for the night, have a designated driver or have someone sober pick you up!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Scared Of The Future

Person holding clear round glass in front of body of water

The Road That Lies Ahead

With so much pressure to keep improving and bettering yourself, many question marks remain about your future. When you attempt to visualize it, your dreams become apparent in your mind’s eye. But in addition to your dreams, the reality that truly lies in the future is pure darkness; you don’t know what tomorrow will bring you!

No one can predict their future. Even if you know that something is supposed to happen next week, is that guaranteed at all? Life always manifests unpredictable events; some bad and some good. But you never truly know what lies in your future. For instance, take a look at the rapper Juice Wrld: he was flying with his crew on a private jet when all of a sudden, he had a seizure in the airport and passed away at the age of 21!

The unpredictabilities that lie in the future can be very scary and anxiety-provoking. Not knowing what life has in store for you tomorrow, is actually quite frightening if you sit down to think about it! Many people experience injuries, losses, sad news and even death when they least expect it.

But does this mean that we should live a guarded and fearful life? Absolutely not. You would be making a grave mistake if you did, because when you live a guarded and fearful life, you are preventing yourself from flourishing; you are essentially half-alive. Do not give power to fear, because once fear senses a little weakness within you, it starts coming at you even harder!

Regardless of not knowing what your future has in store for you, you need to wake up every day and do your best! Live a life of dignity and happiness, even if you are going through difficult times. You are always in a better position than someone else is. And keep your complaints to a minimum. So what if you are eating the same sandwich for lunch 5 days a week! Do you think the homeless person down the street from you has it any better?

Keep dreaming and living your life in the present. Don’t dwell so much as to what is going to happen in the future.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Marijuana For Anxiety

Person holding marijuana joint in front of tree and body of water

Can Marijuana Help With Anxiety?

Marijuana is an interesting drug due to its intoxicating effect on the human mind. Many people swear by the fact that marijuana alleviates their anxiety by relaxing and calming them down. But others would argue otherwise, claiming that marijuana exacerbates their anxiety to the point of inducing panic-like symptoms.

But without randomized-controlled trials, we cannot assume that marijuana is efficacious for anxiety disorders. But that does not mean that we should discount the many user reports circulating around about marijuana’s positive effect on anxiety. If marijuana does alleviate anxiety, how does it do that?

We know that THC, the intoxicating chemical found in marijuana, binds to CB1 receptors in the brain and CB2 receptors in the periphery. We also know that there are two strains of marijuana: indica which produces more of a body high and sativa which produces more of a head high.

Which strain alleviates anxiety more depends on the user. Many would attest that indica highs do a better job at alleviating anxiety, because the high is more directed towards the body. This results in a lesser head high and potentially less anxious symptoms. On the other hand, sativa may exacerbate anxiety in users because it mainly provides a head high.

What is a typical user experience on marijuana that leads to less anxiety? If you’re feeling on edge, worried and anxious, within the first 5 minutes of inhaling marijuana, the user will feel their state of consciousness slowly being altered. The feeling is a sense of mental relaxation with the perception of slowed time.

The user also becomes more aware of their bodily sensations and their surroundings; everything becomes more alive and interesting to the senses. Because of this, it may take away the user’s focus on their anxiety symptoms; their attention becomes redirected to other activities which become more interesting, such as music and movies.

But what about a user’s experience with marijuana exacerbating anxiety? The anxious symptoms can escalate within a few minutes of inhaling or later on in the journey. The anxious symptoms can be quite severe, to the point of inducing a panic state or the thought of “losing one’s mind.”

An example of anxiety while on marijuana may include something of this sort: you’re standing in your kitchen high and eating a delicious delicacy. Your taste buds are on fire while you slowly allow your masticatory muscles to chew away your small piece of heaven. But all of a sudden, out of no where, your perception of you standing in place and eating becomes magnified and blown out of proportion!

There is way too much unnecessary focus by your mind on your current situation: your posture, your chewing, your bodily sensations such as your heart rate and breathing, and your thoughts. The next thing you know, you’re starting to experience anxious thoughts: “oh my god, I’m freaking out! I feel uncomfortable. Something bad is going to happen! I wish I could end this high!”

And that’s how one potentially experiences a panic attack while under the influence of marijuana. Therefore, we do not yet know if marijuana is a good medicine for anxiety. For some people it works wonders, while for others, it wreaks havoc! Until we have conclusive RCT results, we can only go by user reports.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cake By The Ocean

Cozy beach house overlooking turquoise water and purple clouds

Living Your Dreams

To achieve the big dreams which you have been entertaining for years, you must be certain that you are in the right state of mind. You cannot be 100% focused on your current situation without a little dreaming in-between. Dreams are present-day unrealistic thoughts and fantasies which have the potential to become a reality in the future!

Your dreams should be alive and active every single day, regardless of whether you hold a killer job or no job. Dreams are there to smooth out the bumpy roads and provide you with hope that you will one day be in a better position in life. But not all dreams are related to wealth and prosperity.

Some dreams are about good physical health, new positive relationships or improved mental health. These dreams have nothing to do with money, fame and materialism; but these things aren’t bad either. It all depends on what you want. God gave you free will to decide what you want in life!

If one of your dreams involves a big fat piece of cake by the ocean, overlooking the turquoise water and purple sunset, then visualize and believe that every day of your life, until it becomes a reality! Never let someone else put you down because of your “grandiose” dreams; they’re not grandiose if you can visualize them with your mind’s eye!

People will always have a tendency to discredit your dreams because it’s human nature to not want others to get ahead. But don’t be like them. If someone accomplishes their dreams, sincerely congratulate them for their achievements! Having a good heart free of jealousy and envy will propel you towards your dreams at a much faster rate.

And lastly, live your dreams like there’s no tomorrow. Daniel Craig’s upcoming movie title “No Time to Die” says it best: there’s no time to cut your life short because every day is an opportunity to work towards your dreams. And you must believe that they are achievable; believe with all your will and you will succeed!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Weaponizing Mental Illness

Young girl sitting on sofa and checking social media on MacBook air with headphones on

Social Media Linked To Depression In Girls

The weaponization of mental illness is not a topic which you hear often; as a matter of fact, you almost never hear about it. That’s because to believe that there is a covert agenda to weaponize mental illness sounds outlandish and even extreme. Who would think of doing that and what would be the reason for it?

One interesting connection that can be made is the use of social media. New studies are revealing that the more frequently children and teenagers check their social media accounts (3 times per day is considered high), the higher their risk of developing depression. This is because a higher frequency of social media use results in poorer sleep, distractions from academics, sports and in-person relationships, cyberbullying and less physical exercise.

The evidence is demonstrating that social media use impacts girls more than boys. Girls are more likely to be emotionally affected by cyberbullying and are more prone to developing depression. It’s believed that depression is more common in females because of the sex steroid known as estrogen; it’s not clear why estrogen increases the risk of depression.

Taking away your children’s cell phones and access to computers is not a realistic solution in this day and age. But some possible solutions include:

  • No tech use in the bedroom at night
  • Teaching your children from a young age to focus more on academics and sports
  • Teaching your children about the dangers of social media use
  • Teaching your children discipline and balance
  • Setting a good example as a parent by not using social media that often

But what does this have to do with weaponizing mental illness? While a stretch, it’s always good to think outside the box and keep an open mind. Social media may be the platform that is relied upon by a covert organization to consistently contribute to the development of a mental illness, especially in children and adolescents.

By utilizing social media to cause mental illness in the masses, this tool helps to mentally destabilize the population, contributing to violence, mass shootings, hatred, division and suicides. Because there is no way on Earth that nature would contribute to mental illness, the only ways that a covert organization would increase mental illness is by technology and the reliance on genetic mutations.

How surprised would you be if scientists discovered that more than 1 hour of screen time per day would cause brain changes and genetic mutations, that would lead to the development of a mental illness? Would this be considered the weaponization of mental illness?

People are more prone to make irrational and impulsive decisions when suffering from a mental illness, especially when not medicated or under-medicated. And rather than relying on genetics for the development of mental illnesses in the masses, an environmental trigger must be created and utilized for fast results.

Is that where social media comes into play? Once again, this connection between social media and the weaponization of mental illness has absolutely no basis in the scientific literature. This is simply an idea worth entertaining, especially for those folks who keep an open mind to things and enjoy thinking outside the box.

If you’re not one of them, then forget that you ever heard of the weaponization of mental illness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Punch-Drunk Syndrome

Man walking towards boxing ring surrounded by audience

Living With Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

CTE is a neurodegenerative disease that occurs after repeated head traumas and multiple blows to the head. It tends to occur in athletes such as boxers and hockey and football players, but may also be seen in cases of domestic violence and military personnel exposed to concussions. The symptoms tend to occur 8-10 years later. The disorder is based on a clinical judgment, since a definitive diagnosis does not occur until after death, available as autopsy results.

There are four stages. Some of the first symptoms include confusion, dizziness and headaches. This is followed by memory loss and impulsive behavior. Eventually, dementia, vertigo, depression, deafness and suicidality occur. There are many more symptoms which may occur, such as:

  • Pathological jealousy
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Parkinsonism
  • Speech problems
  • Unsteady gait

Pathologically, there is atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain as well as the hippocampus, mammillary bodies and amygdala. There is also evidence of neuronal loss, white matter changes, hyperphosphorylated tau protein deposition, thinning of the corpus callosum, dilated ventricles, and much more. The disorder causes a great deal of damage to the brain, especially after years of repetitive blows to the head.

There is no effective way of preventing this disorder, unless one quits the sport or activity which increases their risk of repetitive concussions and head trauma. One important method of helping to prevent this disorder is the time-off period required after a concussion or head trauma.

Immediately returning to a sport or activity without providing enough time for recovery, increases the chances of experiencing future impacts followed by neurological complications. But even if this protocol is followed, it’s not going to prevent boxers from being exposed to heavy hits or football players from experiencing helmet-first tackles. Some have even called for the banning of boxing!

At this moment in time, there is no treatment for CTE. As with other forms of dementia, supportive treatment is provided. This involves having a caregiver guide and help take care of the patient at home. When one experiences memory loss, depression and confusion, he or she puts themselves at a greater risk of encountering dangerous situations, such as:

  • Leaving the stove on while alone at home
  • Getting into car accidents or not knowing how to return home
  • Wandering in the neighborhood and getting lost
  • Losing items and personal belongings
  • Death due to injuries or suicidality

As you can see, this is a very serious mental condition which can easily impair one’s life, and there are no good preventative strategies to avoid its development. The best way to prevent the development of this disorder is to avoid contact sports, but how can you convince thousands of people worldwide to stop playing their favorite sports?

It just won’t happen anytime soon.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Radiate Love With Your Heart

Two persons forming love fingers in front of body of water

It Feels Good To Spread

Nothing feels better than being surrounded by the warm comfort of love. It provides emotional comfort, a sensation of well-being and good mental health. The best part of it is that we can all contribute to spreading love and making this world a better place. But it starts within you! You must go deep within your heart and open the chambers of secretion.

Not everyone’s chambers of secretion are open; some people’s are clogged or non-functional to begin with. Someone can bathe you in love but no one can teach you how to spread it; it must come from you! Many people refuse to love because they have experienced many negative outcomes in life.

These people remain bitter and angry at the world, preventing them from radiating love and attracting positivity into their lives. This is a common mistake of many human beings: preventing your life from filling with love because of bitterness. Remaining bitter will not do you any good.

Some people believe the following, “I’ve been nice my whole life and I’ve always lost! I’m not going to be nice anymore.” This is a destructive mentality because you are preventing your true self from living; you are replacing it with a new identity that you hope will deliver you more respect and positive attention.

This might work for a little bit at first, but in the long run it will fail. Those who are not themselves are more likely to experience a mental illness, because they are not allowing their natural thoughts, behaviors and personality traits to flourish. Don’t try to be someone who you’re not!

Even if the world has treated you unfairly thus far, do the opposite by hugging and kissing the world back. In the bible it says, “You have heard that it was said, โ€˜eye for eye and tooth for tooth.โ€™ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also;ย if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well;ย and if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

The best way to live is in peace, love and harmony. We all suffer in this life and experience turmoil and pain. We all believe that life can be very unfair at times and wonder why “bad people” often win and why we lose. Your concern should not be on why others are winning; focus on yourself and being the best person that you can be!

You cannot go wrong with being a loving person.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Feeling Lonely On Friday Night

Silhouette of lonely man standing on railing of building in front of body of water and city

Lonely Feeling At Home

One of the worst feelings to experience is coming home from work on a Friday evening to an empty apartment. After working hard the entire week, the last feeling that you want to experience is loneliness. But loneliness is very common; more common than you would think. But some of you are not buying it, thinking something along the lines of, “I don’t care how other people are feeling, I’m the one who is suffering. For all I know, other people may be doing fun things, while I’m home alone!”

This is a common mental battle which we all experience: believing that others must be living their lives while we’re at home suffering by ourselves. This is a misconception that you must remove from your mind today! Never assume that others are having fun or are happy; this will only make your situation worse.

So many people are in the exact position that you are in. They wish that they would have a group of consistent friends or a significant other who they can happily spend time with on the weekends. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. Life takes you through many different cycles.

These cycles can change at any minute: one day you are in college with your closest frat bros; the next day, you’re 30 years of age and single at home on a Friday night. It’s just the way the world works. But sitting and moping around won’t change your circumstances.

What will change your circumstances is a positive mindset, a strong belief in change and actions! Without a positive mindset and strong beliefs, it becomes very difficult to see any meaningful changes in your life. But positivity and beliefs aren’t enough; you need to implement your beliefs and turn them into actions.

Actions are probably the hardest to apply because it involves changing your habits and ways. And the older that you get, the more difficult it becomes to implement new actions. When you’re young, you have more curiosity, energy and drive to have fun, meet new people and go out to new places.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still do all those things when you are older; it just requires a bigger effort. If you are feeling lonely on a Friday night, then remind yourself that you are not alone! We are all in this together. Learn to put aside the negative chatter in your mind and enjoy your company. This phase shall one day pass too!

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Lost Opportunities

Disappointed man with long brown hair looking out of window

Your Daily Mental Battles

One of the worst feelings in life is when you have been presented with an opportunity and you failed to capitalize on it. The pain that follows is like an emotional bee sting, except one-hundred times more painful. It tends to linger for hours on end, sometimes even into the next day. Nobody enjoys lost opportunities, but is there anything that we can do to avoid the pain that is associated with them?

It depends on what you consider a lost opportunity. For every person, an opportunity may be interpreted differently. But it really does not matter if somebody else does not understand your lost opportunity, because to you it feels very real. Your job is not to convince someone else about your lost opportunity; it’s to find a way to either avoid the pain or to deal with it in a healthier way.

When we miss out on an opportunity, we often feel guilty, weak, worthless, annoyed, hopeless, desperate, angry and sad. Sometimes the emotions may become unbearable, killing all of our motivation and ruining our day as a result; this is the worst case scenario. When you allow this to happen, you are only worsening your mental health by unnecessarily stressing yourself out.

The reality is that there is no way to prevent lost opportunities. You can always tell yourself, “I’ll do this next time and it won’t happen again! I’ll actually act on it!” This kind of positive thinking may be helpful, but realistically speaking, it won’t be applicable on every occasion. There is no way to control how you will think and feel when your next opportunity will present itself.

Remaining optimistic is definitely the way to go, but just know that on any given day you may not be on top of your game, and that is when an opportunity might present itself. What will happen is that you will once again miss it, resulting in your unhappiness. Therefore, prevention of missed opportunities is not the solution.

The solution is to simply not care that much when you do miss out on an opportunity. Yes, the experiences will hurt and you will feel some kind of negative emotions within yourself. But the key is to handle them in a mentally healthy way, and allow them to pass swiftly without any lingering.

Don’t bury your emotions because they will not go away in the long run; they will resurface again in the near future. Burying your emotions is only delaying your processing of them. You have to find a way to train your mind to not be as negatively affected by missed opportunities. Rewire your mind along the lines of, “Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be even though I really wanted it to be. Next time I guess. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my day now!”

Don’t waste unnecessary energy beating yourself up because you didn’t capitalize on an opportunity. Just remember that things always happen the way their meant to happen, even if you feel otherwise! Move on and remain optimistic that you will capitalize on the next one!

And don’t think so much about it. Just go with the flow.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)