Alison

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease and its Effects

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia and a common disease that affected an estimated 5.8 million Americans 65 years and older in 2020[1]. This disease can also take a large toll on the patient’s loved ones. Why is this? Alzheimer’s causes an individual to forget aspects of their life, extending to the point at which they may have no recognition of their loved ones. The patient may no longer recognize their close loved ones visiting them, even though they may have known them for years. Although this devastating effect of Alzheimer’s disease may be the most known symptom, there are many others that people may not know about. Follow along as we take a look at the other symptoms to help you or a loved one understand a more in-depth view of Alzheimer’s.

Memory Loss: As aforementioned, memory loss can have a damaging effect on personal relationships. This is not the only troubling effect from the loss of memory. Memory loss may cause crucial mistakes in a patient’s life. Examples may include misplacing money or important objects, trouble keeping up with bills and other tasks that were once simple and routine, getting lost in public, and trouble remembering how to do work, which may lead to termination.

Dwindling Attention Span: People living with Alzheimer’s disease can often find it difficult to pay attention. Unintentional disruption and lack of attentiveness may occur in activities such as reading books or magazines, watching television shows and movies, or paying attention to someone in a conversation. Not being able to concentrate or carry out once basic enjoyments may lead to a patient experiencing frustration and a potential outburst of anger.

Incontinence and Lack of Bodily Control: Bodily functions may be [...]

Know the Options for PTSD Treatment

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that takes an exhaustive toll on the those living with it.  The disorder begins when trauma from a traumatic event manifests in the form of anxiety, triggers, and intrusive memories or flashbacks. Traumatic events can include but are not limited to serious incidents such as a car accident, exposure to a traumatic event, loss of a loved one, physical assault, childhood or domestic abuse, sexual assault or rape, and torture. Military soldiers are especially prone to PTSD, as violence from war can be deeply traumatic for those involved. PTSD can begin within one month of the event.

Treatment for people living with PTSD exists in multiple forms. Below is a list of PTSD treatment options and tips that may help you or a loved one.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This form of therapy, also known as CBT, involves a therapist who can assist with processing the traumatic event. Often, PTSD symptoms can affect how the individual handles adverse events and can diminish their self-confidence or sense of control. At its core, CBT aims to help the person living with PTSD regain control of their life.
Medications: A person living with PTSD may want to contact their doctor about medication options. SSRIs and SNRIs are common PTSD and antidepressant medications that are used to increase the serotonin level of the patient. Serotonin can often fight fear and anxiety as the hormone plays a large role in stabilizing mood, happiness, and the feeling of well-being. When considering medication, it is important to talk to your doctor or medical professional to see what medications may be right for you.
Coping Mechanisms to Use and Avoid:

Use: If [...]

Helping A Child Treat Their Migraines

Migraines can be painful for at any age – from adolescence to adulthood. Migraines are intense headaches that can create a throbbing on one side of the head. These debilitating, throbbing pains can also come with a variety of other symptoms, from nausea and vomiting, to visual and hearing impairments, and even a numbness of the face.

Migraines are so prevalent in children and teenagers that about 10% of children live with migraines and just over a quarter of the population of teenagers between the ages of 15-19 years old[1] live with them as well. Seeing a child suffer can be hard. How can you help your child in need? Below are a few ways to help lessen the impact that migraines may have on your child.

If applicable, utilize a 504 plan. A 504 plan ensures a student has the proper resources to adapt to any medical needs necessary. These resources can include test taking in a quiet space, changes to instruction, and changes to how a curriculum is presented to the student. These optional resources for the student or child in your life may provide a safety net in case a migraine occurs.
Dehydration can play a major factor for triggering migraines. Each child should have the proper amount of water intake relative to their age. Children 4 – 8 years old should maintain an intake around 5 cups of water daily, whereas children 9 years old and older should maintain a daily intake of 7 – 8 cups of water.
Taking note of your child’s stress levels can help monitor migraines triggered by stress. Stress can manifest in many ways. Sports, puberty, and school are some of many contributing factors [...]

4 Tips for Living with Depression

Depression can feel like a daily struggle. After all, it can lead to a lack of interest in daily life, impact drive, and poor hygiene dietary, and exercise habits. Relationships can be impacted in a negative way and performance in the workplace can become poor. How can you take preventative action to lessen the impact of depression in your everyday life? Consider these 4 tips:

1.)Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is vital for proper motor function and allows the brain to reset to take on the next day. Better sleep can help build a positive mindset by allowing the brain to think more clearly, which can allow for better productivity at the workplace. Adults are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. To get the most out of those hours, consider shutting off electronics an hour before bed for a more peaceful sleep.

2.)Eat healthy. The body and mind depend on a healthy diet to function at its best. A healthy diet can have a positive effect mentally and physically. Although there is no diet that cures depression, these foods may help with depression:

Water: Stay hydrated with 8 or more cups per day
Dark leafy green vegetables: Help fight against inflammation
Walnuts: Full of brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids
Blueberries, oranges, cantaloupe: Rich with cell-repairing antioxidants
Avoid excessive alcohol use: Excessive alcohol use and depression can create a terrible spiral. Using alcohol to avoid the problems at hand is not the answer to a healthy life.

 

3.)Find comfort in close friends and family. Having a community of supportive loved ones can create stability in your life. Life can be difficult with depression and you shouldn’t go through it alone.

4.)Create a [...]

Six Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mental health disorder that requires a medical diagnosis and is the chronic feeling of sadness and loss of interest in everyday life. This illness can affect how a person feels, thinks, and behaves and can lead to a broad range of emotional and physical problems. If you or a loved one are affected by major depressive disorder, be on alert for the following symptoms:

Exhibiting a lack of interest in something one used to enjoy

If you or a loved one has suddenly stopped caring about an activity that once brought you or them joy, this could be a warning sign and a symptom of a much larger issue.

Being tired or lethargic with no energy

A lack of energy in individuals with major depressive disorder can affect how they think, act, and even speak. It is crucial for people living with MDD to get the proper amount of sleep each night as people living with MDD are at a higher risk for sleep disorders. Depression and a cyclic disturbed sleep pattern can worsen symptoms of this illness. On average, adults should sleep anywhere from 7-9 hours every night.

Having trouble concentrating or completing tasks

Along with the lack of energy and disinterest in activities that once brought one joy, can come a difficulty with concentration. This could be an everyday at home task such as cleaning or could affect one’s concentration at the workplace. It is important to address this lack of concentration with a medical professional, especially if it is affecting your quality of life or a loved one’s.

Losing weight or having a sudden change in diet

MDD can play a major role in diet and weight loss. A change in how much [...]

Can You Define What Triggers Your Migraines?

Migraines are painful headaches often accompanied by throbbing on one side of the head, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivities, and sound sensitivities. These headaches can be triggered by certain activities, foods, drinks, substances, or a lack there of.

Movement in the body is a common trigger source for migraines. Activities, or exercise that may trigger a migraine include:

Weightlifting
Rowing
Running
Tennis
Swimming
Football

Choosing what to put in your body should not be taken lightly. Knowing your body and identifying the right foods, drinks, or substances versus the wrong ones can have a major impact on your migraines. Consider changing your diet if these common trigger foods, drinks, and substances are negatively affecting your migraines:

Too much caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
Alcohol
Tobacco and nicotine
Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG)

MSG is an additive to foods that enhances the flavor for many processed foods

Foods and drinks with tyramine – a natural compound formed in foods rich in protein

Red wine
Aged cheese
Smoked fish
Peanuts and other nuts and seeds
Bananas
Dairy foods, especially certain cheeses

Nitrates – foods that contain nitrates are a common headache trigger

Bacon
Hot dogs
Salami
Chocolate

Onions – the strong scent of an onion has the capability to induce a migraine
Processed, fermented, pickled, chemically enhanced, or marinated foods

Not eating can also impact the severity of migraines. Remember this the next time you think about skipping a meal. A meal planner to track food induced migraines will help you monitor how your diet affects your headaches.

Migraines may also occur because senses and hormones are affected. Sensitivity and migraines are directly correlated, leading [...]

Menopause, Triggers, and the Hot Flash Cycle

What is a hot flash?

A hot flash is an instant warm feeling, usually most fiercely over the face, neck, and chest. Excessive sweating and a rapid heartbeat usually accompany these symptoms. Hot flashes are the most common symptom of and are synonymous with menopause. Approximately 75% of women living with menopause will experience hot flashes, as they are the most common symptom.  Each individual occurrence can last anywhere from 2 minutes to a half-hour.

What is menopause?

Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her periods become erratic and then stop altogether due to the natural decline in hormones. This natural occurrence usually happens around the ages of 40 to 50 years old.

How does stress affect menopause and hot flashes?

Stressors during menopause can worsen symptoms because of the natural hormonal imbalances taking place. Often, hot flashes can disrupt sleep cycles which in turn can affect mood swings and mental health. Many women report experiencing hot flashes when they’re having an emotional response to something. This occurs because emotional responses make the blood rush towards the skin’s surface, in turn triggering the hot flashes. The fluctuation in hormones can affect mood swings, physical reactions, and even trigger relapsing mental illness. Everything from hot flashes to night sweats to fatigue and insomnia can be irritated and triggered by mood swings, which are the product of the imbalance in hormones. All these triggers are connected and can affect each other in an unrelenting intertwined cycle.

How can hot flashes be managed?

Staying hydrated and drinking the standard 8 cups of water a day is important for the management of hot flashes, as dehydration can increase the severity of hot flashes. Other tips include layering clothes, laying off spices, and [...]

Parents: Understanding Your Child’s Migraines

When considering the stereotypical migraine sufferer, you’d likely picture an adult. They could be suffering from migraines due to commonly known triggers like stress, alcohol consumption, or hormone imbalances. But did you know about 10% of children live with migraines? If your child were experiencing migraines, would you know how to tell? Don’t miss these common indications that your child may be experiencing migraines.

Children who experience migraines may disguise their symptoms as a coping mechanism to combat pain. For example, if a child experiences light or sound sensitivity, he or she may put on a pair of sunglasses to block the light, or earplugs to dull the noise. Migraines in children can cause severe throbbing pain which may lead to behavioral disturbances, such eating significantly less than normal, frequent crying, or excessive temper tantrums.

Migraines can cause nausea and vomiting, which can be easy to dismiss as an unrelated symptom, so make sure you’re paying attention to any and all changes in your child’s overall physical and emotional temperament. Migraine symptoms can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it may interfere with your child’s daily activities.

Migraines may come with additional side effects, commonly referred to as an aura. An aura is a symptom that can precede migraines or other neurological events. . Common visual auras include blurred or distorted vison, seeing zig-zag lines, blind spots, and lines or lights that may appear to be moving, flashing, or brightly colored. Children may be very susceptible to visual auras. Auras may last anywhere from 20-60 minutes. Aside from sight, auras can also influence other functions of the body, such as:

Slurred speech – changes in speech or losing the ability [...]

Managing Migraine Symptoms

A migraine can cause a severe pulsing sensation or a throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with daily life.

It is important to pay close attention to symptoms of a potential migraine in order to appropriately monitor and manage pain. If you or a loved one are experiencing chronic migraines, you’re probably familiar with the following symptoms, but do you know how to manage them?

Nausea

Due to intense pain in the temple region and the feeling of having heightened senses, nausea is common during a migraine. Vomiting is possible if a person with an active migraine is overwhelmed with nausea. These precautionary steps could help alleviate symptoms of nausea:

Loosen your clothing, especially around your stomach
Monitor your breathing, take slow deep breaths
Apply an ice pack to the head or neck
Avoid strong odors
Stay hydrated by taking small sips of water

Sound Sensitivity (Phonophobia)

Migraines may impact a person’s reaction to external stimuli. Because of this, a person having a migraine can become extremely sensitive to the sound around them. It is best to take these precautionary steps to limit sound:

Turn off or lower all digital noises within the area (television, radio, phone, etc.)
Find a quiet place to lay down away from external stimuli
Wear earplugs if noise cannot be limited within your area

Ocular migraine symptoms

Ocular migraine symptoms usually go away on their own within 30 minutes. It is recommended to rest your eyes until vision is regained. If a migraine lasts longer, this [...]

How to Cope with Independence Day PTSD Triggers

As America gears up for the 4th of July, it is important to remember that while we enjoy the cookouts, parades, and firework displays, for the millions of Americans struggling with PTSD, Independence Day can be very triggering. If you suffer from PTSD as a result of military combat or gun violence, make sure to follow these tips to have a safe and happy 4th of July.

Talk Openly with Your Neighbors

Ask your neighbors to let you know if they plan to light fireworks. Knowing ahead of time can prevent you from being caught off guard, which will minimize your risk of having anxiety or panic attacks. If you do not feel comfortable talking about this with your neighbors, ask a loved one to talk to them instead. Many people do not realize the implications of their Independence Day celebrations. Having a frank, honest, and respectful conversation can be very helpful, providing a fun and safe environment for both parties.

Create a Comfortable Environment

Think ahead of time to which people, places, and objects make you feel safe. Plan what you want to do or have during firework displays. Some popular techniques are:

White Noise: taking a shower, running a loud fan, having noise cancelling headphones, or playing nature sounds can help block out the noise and make you feel more comfortable.
Sometimes, sitting in a hard chair or on a flat surface with your back up against the wall can make those with PTSD feel safe.
Pick out soothing music or a favorite movie to distract you.
Find some photographs that give you joy.
Pull out a book, board game, or other activity to keep you busy.
Find a [...]