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Depression is a mental health condition which affects a person’s thinking, feelings, energy and behaviour. It is the most common mental health condition, affecting some 300,000 people in Ireland.

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The World Health Organisation define depression as “a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness and poor concentration” (WHO, 2017).  Every day experiences create different moods (sadness, grief, elation etc.), so it can be difficult to determine what is normal and what is abnormal. A prolonged feeling of any one emotion could be a signal that you need to take steps to get yourself back on track.

Top Tips to get yourself Back on Track:

Get support: Surround yourself with people you trust and feel you can openly speak to about your problems. The expression “a problem shared is a problem halved” is very true. Counselling can be very effective. The HSE offers a National Counselling Service (NCS) which is a confidential counseling and psychotherapy service available free of charge in all regions of the country.

Say YES: Try to change your mind-set… say yes more often, even if you don’t feel like participating. Just by participating in new activities, your body will generate more positive emotions… helping to negate negative emotions. A fulfilling social life can contribute to a sense of meaning and self-worth.

Eat a Balanced Diet: Eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, fish, lean meats, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. A balanced diet will provide adequate vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids to help keep your body nourished and energy stable. Low energy contributes to low mood so eating every 3-4 hours is a good way to keep energy stable and reduce low mood.

Avoid Energy Grabbers: Refined carbohydrates such as pastries, white bread, white pasta, white rice, sweets, cakes, biscuits etc. can cause energy slumps, contributing to low mood. Caffeine can also lead to mood problems if drank in excess. Caffeine also inhibits levels of serotonin in the brain, and, when serotonin levels are suppressed, you can become depressed and feel irritable.

Avoid your Triggers: Everyone has their own triggers… it could be gluten, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, dairy – we’re all different and we all react differently to different foods/ substances. People who are sensitive to gluten found in wheat, rye, spelt or barley often find that these foods contribute to feelings of sadness. If this is the case, avoid as much as possible. Alcohol often triggers depressive tendencies in the days following a drinking binge. Try to avoid any foods, drinks or substances that tend to exasperate symptoms of depression.

Exercise: According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of depression, and the effects can be long lasting. Exercise gives you a boost of energy, increases endorphins — such as serotonin — that improve mood and may improve sleep quality, which in turn can increase overall happiness. Do: Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week at a minimum. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, skating, hiking, aerobic classes are all types of aerobic exercise. Find something you enjoy and just Do It!

Spend Time Outdoors: Research shows that soaking up extra vitamin D from the sun can help to reduce the symptoms of depression.  Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and affects brain function, so a deficiency can cause mood disorders, including depression and seasonal affective disorder or the winter blues, a form of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Do: Spend 20 minutes out in the sun everyday. Even on cloudy days, your body will be able to produce some vitamin D.

Find a Purpose: Having a purpose or goal in your life can give you direction and greatly ease negative feelings. It doesn’t need to be complicated – it could be visiting a sick friend, completing a patchwork quilt, sorting out the garage.

Relaxation techniques: Try Pilates, Yoga or Meditation, as they are great ways to relax the mind and get in touch with the now. All three relaxation techniques have a positive effect on serotonin levels, thereby improving ones mood.

Lavender Oil Depression

Relax with Lavender Oil: This oil is well known for its calming benefits and also benefits mood. There was an interesting study showing the benefits of lavender on people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can result in depression. The lavender oil, when used daily, helped decrease depression by 32.7%, reduced sleep disturbances and moodiness in 47 people suffering from PTSD. Do: To use lavender oil as a natural remedy for depression, add 5–10 drops to warm bath water, diffuse 5–10 drops in your bedroom at night to promote sleep, and apply 2–3 drops topically to the temples, chest and wrists in the morning.

Food Supplements to help manage Depression:

Eskimo-3 Advanced EPA Despression

Eskimo-3 Advanced EPA

Eskimo-3: This is a premium food supplement rich in EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fats which are vital for neurological health. The higher your levels of omega-3, the higher your level of serotonin will be. The reason for this is that omega-3 fats help build the brain’s receptor sites for serotonin, the feel good hormone. Omega 3s supports brain, eye, and heart health throughout life. Eskimo-3 has the highest levels of EPA and DHA available in a single serving.  On the market for more than 20 years and with over 120 scientific studies, the Eskimo range represents probably the finest quality fish oil on the market, providing Omega-3 rich oil of legendary purity, freshness & stability. The oil is always from sustainable sources, and there is full traceability and quality control throughout the production process, from the fishing boat to the finished oil.

Vitamin D3: Vitamin D also regulates the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin –your feel good hormone. Low levels are thought to be responsible for S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder), commonly referred to as “The Winter Blues”, and therefore supplementing with vitamin D during the winter months can help ease symptoms and improve mood.

Rhodiola: This is an adaptogenic herb which works by increasing the sensitivity of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters help to increase focus and memory and improve mood. Terranova Rhodiola is very good.

B-Complex: Deficiencies of a number of nutrients are quite common in depressed individuals. The most common deficiencies are the b vitamins Folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. These B vitamins are essential for a healthy nervous system and the healthy production of hormones serotonin and dopamine which are essential for improving mood. 

Multi Vitamin/Mineral Formula: A good multi-vitamin mineral supplement could help safeguard your health. A deficiency of any single nutrient can alter brain function and lead to depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. By taking a good multi, you can correct all deficiencies, and hopefully positively affect your health.

STRESS AND DEPRESSION, mental health, CONCEPTION, PREGNANCY, PRENATAL DEPRESSION, ALISON CANAVAN, BE COMPLETE, DEPRESSION DURING PRENANCY, FERTILITY TREATMENT AND DEPRESSION,We often talk about postnatal depression in women but lately I’m hearing about more and more women struggling with both stress and depression when they are trying to conceive and during their pregnancy. Some women are lucky and conceive straight away, but for others trying for a baby can lead to years of stress, fertility treatments and, in some cases, depression.

According to the HSE, depression affects one in four women at some point in their life. It often occurs when women are in their 20s and 30s, when they may also be considering having children. Fertility treatment can cause you to live month to month, trying to balance and navigate a tight schedule of tests and treatments. This can be incredibly difficult even for the most resilient among us.

This journey can not only start to erode your self-confidence, but it can also affect your friendships and lifestyle, too. You can feel sad and scared, and for many life can spiral out of control, which is why it’s important to ‘mind yourself’. At times this is easier said than done, but eating well, exercising, keeping a gratitude journal, practising mindfulness and meditation, doing fun activities with your partner and spending time with friends can all help.

The most important thing to remember is to share your feelings. If you feel you can’t speak to your partner, finding a good therapist might help you to navigate your way through your emotions. Personally, I find it easier to talk to someone I don’t know who lends a non-judgmental ear, and counselling can sometimes help you to see things more clearly.

Researchers are not sure if mental health can affect fertility, although it is very clear that infertility can affect mental health! It is possible, though, that high levels of depression, anxiety and stress can affect the hormones that regulate ovulation.

If you have been trying for a baby for a long time and you finally become pregnant but the dark cloud doesn’t lift, please don’t be too hard on yourself. Pregnancy is an emotional time when hormones are rampaging through your body and they could be causing a bit of trouble on top of everything else.

Prenatal depression can present with symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling irritable in yourself and with those around you
  • Feeling fearful of the future
  • Appetite loss
  • Being tired all the time
  • Becoming withdrawn

For other women pregnancy might be unplanned, uncomfortable or complicated so there are many reasons you might start to feel down. This isn’t helped by the myth that pregnant women should be happy all the time. Out of the estimated 33 per cent of women who will suffer from depression at this time, this myth can lead to 20 per cent not asking for help because they feel scared or ashamed, says Healy Smith, a reproductive psychiatrist.

Prenatal depression can be a precursor to postpartum depression if it isn’t properly treated so follow my rule, which is…

TALK-ASK-DO

  • Talk to someone you can trust or call a helpline
  • Ask for help or find help for someone you love
  • Do whatever it takes to get yourself well.

There are lots of non-medical approaches you can take including acupuncture, taking a good quality omega-3 supplement such as Eskimo as a mood booster, and psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Self-care is important, too: it’s actually selfless and not selfish. A bath, some adult colouring (my current favourite), a massage or even a short walk can all help.

The question of medication, however, is always a conversation you need to have with your doctor. Clinical depression needs medicating, but a lot of the time therapy, positive lifestyle changes and stress reduction techniques will help enormously. And if you are on medication already, it’s important to ask about its safety of during your pregnancy. Throughout our lives it’s important that we figure out our own wellness formula, do our research and try new things because we are all so different. If you are looking for good quality information relating to women’s mental health and wellness, visit Kelly Brogan MD My friends in New York recommended this reproductive psychiatric specialist’s website when I was really struggling for the way she combined both medical and holistic approaches.

 

Welcome to day 2 of my new video series and today is one of my favourite quick and easy mood boosting smoothie full of good fats including:

Avocados: I predicted and hoped last year that this little fav fruit of mine is finally going to have its year in 2016 and maybe just maybe become the new coconut oil! Avocados are nutrient dense and contain around 20 vitamins and minerals. They are great for our skin, hair, energy levels and can help with depression because of their high levels of folate. So what are you waiting for?


Ingredients:

  • Large handful of Kale or Spinach
  • 1 small Avocado
  • Large handful of frozen mixed berries (I buy them fresh and freeze them as I don’t like warm smoothies and these berries are still my wexford berries as I bought a lot and froze them!!)
  • A small handful of mixed seeds and
  • A small handful of mixed beansprouts (The Happy Pear sell them/ Supervalu)
  • 1 Teaspoon of coconova extra virgin coconut oil
  • Fill to the line with Coconut Water

BLEND AND SERVE

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental health

Is breathing good for you? Well of course it is we need to it to keep us alive but have you ever noticed in situations that are stressful our rates of breathing change and some of us even hold our breath without even realising it!

Down through the years I have struggled to find something that really works for my depression and anxiety. Don’t get me wrong I have found lots of things that have worked temporarily, but I was sick of being on a roller coaster and simply craved consistency in my moods and my ability to cope with everyday life.

Regular meditation practice has given me the just that! Through meditation I have received the most precious and priceless gift of peace both in myself and also in the world I live in. It helps me to cope with stress, depression, anxiety and the everyday challenges that come with daily life.

In a study called: The effects of Mindfulness based therapy on anxiety and depression, Published by The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, they found that mindfulness based therapy was moderately effective for anxiety and mood disorders and the results suggest that mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations. Their meta-analysis was based on 39 studies totaling 1,140 participants who received mindfulness-based therapy for a range of conditions, including cancer, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and other psychiatric or medical conditions.

But too be honest the clinical evidence backing meditation and mindfulness now is plentiful and hard to argue with. The reason I actually chose this study was because the results said moderately effective. Sometimes people expect miracles but in my opinion the miracle is the ability to cope with life a bit better.

If we do a lot of little things that are moderately effective imagine how powerful they would all be when they work together?

I really wish I had been given the kind of prescription in this picture when I was a teenager rather the usual pill filled kind we have become so used to today.

Meditation for anxiety and depression, alison canavan, mindfulness for anxiety and depression, Mindful monday, prescriptions, why pills don't work, health and wellness, positive mental healthDon’t get me wrong I know that there’s a place for medication but there is no way we need the amount of medication being prescribed today. I have swallowed or drank my emotions for well over half my life and making changes is hard, in fact it is very hard at times, but the thing is those changes are so worth it in the long run even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

It costs nothing to try meditation and if you are struggling to sit still and focus on your breathing try some guided meditations from websites like Zen 12 or Omharmonics I find these great if I’m very hectic and stressed or in an airport, on a plane, bus or train.

But try my simple “first steps” approach and see how you get on:

Meditation can be done anytime and anywhere and the busier you are the more you need it.

quotes, mindful monday, meditation gives peace, meditation can help depression and anxiety, alison canavan quotes, health and wellness, how to prevent depression

START BY:

Sitting in a comfortable position with your back straight

Start to notice the natural flow of your breath

Inhale and exhale slowly and keep repeating

Don’t try and stop your thoughts, instead just observe them and let them go by almost like watching a motorway and if your favourite car drives past, let it go and don’t follow it!!

Start small and build – so even a couple of minutes a day building in more time each week. This way you will be able to incorporate it into your routine without you even noticing.

Finally Enjoy it!!!

#MindfulMonday

MEDITATION-facebook

 

Today is the beginning of Oprah and Deepak’s 21-Day meditation Series on “Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude”. I absolutely love these meditation series as they are thought provoking, easy to follow and complete.

For me meditation is a chance to just sit still with myself and be present. For such a long time I lived life in fast-forward. I felt like a DVD player whose button was stuck and I was too busy top go and get repaired. When my world fell apart I had two choices to face what was happening or bury my hand in the sand and wallow in my own self-pity.

It was at that point I actually realized how selfish I had been for years. Partying myself almost to death at times in an effort to block out reality. I didn’t even realize the pain my friends and family were in watching me but in hindsight I also had no idea how to help myself.

When I chose to face the music the weeks and months and indeed years that followed were some of the most difficult of my life so far. Throughout this time one of the many tools I used was meditation. I’m very often asked if meditation can bring up strong emotions and the simple answer is “yes it can!” But what I found powerful is that sometimes words aren’t enough and we if we really want to heal on a deeper level unfortunately we do need to dig deeper to get to the truth. I use the word unfortunately here because it can be hard work and very hard on yourself personally but let me tell you it’s worth it in the long run.

I combined meditation with journaling, counseling, exercise, nourishment from food and I also kept a gratitude diary so when I listened to todays initial meditation from Deepak and Oprah the tears flowed and instead of fighting them like I used to I let them flow. I wrote in my journal for a while afterwards because I obviously hit a nerve and what I realized yet again is just how powerful the art of gratitude is. When you are deeply and truly grateful for something you will feel emotions. Part of my tears today are relief that I pulled through and sometimes I get overwhelmed by emotion when I think of how kind some people have been.

So try not to be afraid of who you are and your emotions. Own your feelings, recognize them and if necessary ask for help in figuring them out but never ever be afraid to just be who you are because we are all different and unique and this world needs you to shine your light brightly as there is only one of you and no matter what you think you are important too!!

NAMASTE XXXX

Visit www.chopracentermeditation.com for more information on the 21 day meditation series

I’m A HUGE fan of finding what works for you and how and what we feed our kids is no different. The one thing we simply can’t escape is that good nutrition is important.

If you have been reading any nutrition articles lately I imagine your head is spinning at the fact that we have been lied to for years about fats and cholesterol. We have been warned off all fatty foods and as a result have made some companies who make low fat products very wealthy. Fats were feared and butter and cheese were demonised.

However no matter what studies come out and what we are told the fact remains that our Western diet is unbalanced. Sugar is now the enemy. I realised this a few years ago during my fight with depression.

As soon as I cut down on sugar and processed foods my mood lifted. Of course, general lifestyle and exercise habits play an important role too, but eating unhealthy foods can cause inflammation, which leads to illness. There are now studies showing links between inflammation and depression.

One is by George Slavich, a clinical psychologist at the University of California in Los Angeles. He told The Guardian newspaper that depression has as much to do with the body as the mind. ‘I don’t even talk about it as a psychiatric condition any more,’ he says. ‘It does involve psychology, but it also involves equal parts of biology and physical health.’

A family of proteins called cytokines sets off inflammation in the body, and switches the brain into sickness mode. Both cytokines and inflammation have been shown to increase when people become depressed and fall when they’re better.

Omega 3 fats worked for me in my recovery from depression. I notice a dramatic difference in my mood when I don’t take them. Omega 3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. They are essential fatty acids that the body cannot make for itself. There are two EFAs (essential fatty acids) Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 6 fatty
acids have been growing in prevalence in modern diets. Some research suggests that too many Omega 6 fats can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. They are in margarines, cakes, some fast foods, dressings, nuts… the list goes on. Many studies are now showing us that we need more Omega 3s instead.

Foods that provide Omega 3s include flax seeds, walnuts and green vegetables. However, our bodies need to convert Omega 3s into the active form that the body can use called EPA or DHA. The body is not very efficient at doing this. It is estimated only 5 per cent of flax oil is converted to EPA and DHA. Shellfish and oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies already have EPA and DHA in its required form but how many of us eat oily fish three times a week or feed it to our children?

Scientists are still working to reveal how Omega 3s work during brain development, learning and cognition. Dr Alex Richardson has been researching this area for years. She is the author of They Are What You Feed Them, in which she talks about the effect a lack of Omegas has on children’s behaviourand development.

eskimo kids

I give James Eskimo-3 (visit eskimo3.ie for stockists) kids everyday as it combines the unique stable fish oil, Eskimo-3, with Omega 6, Omega 9, vitamin D and vitamin E. I used to add it to yogurts, porridge, smoothies and even spread it on toast to get it into him but now he is used to the taste and takes a tablespoon every morning. A lack of EPA and DHA affects all parts of our body including our bones, blood, organs, skin, hair and mental health. They might be only one piece of the jigsaw but they are a very important piece.

Post Natal Depression is far more common than any of us realise. I receive so many messages and emails from Mums who are still suffering in silence and I strongly urge you to get help. I know how hard it is but i promise you that you will recover once you get help and take the baby steps necessary. There are lots of helplines and charities in this article so pick up the phone. Recovery is possible Ali xxxx

ALISON-series one of mindin mumMINDING MUM WEEK 1 PT 2

 

 

ST PATRICK’S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TO LAUNCH IRELAND’S FIRST ALL DIGITAL POP-UP RADIO STATION

AND

TODAY THEY ARE BEGINNING THE SEARCH FOR IRELAND’S MOST UPBEAT SONG

NO FEE UPBEAT FM 6Ireland’s first all digital pop-up radio station, will be officially launched next month and will be the first of its kind to broadcast in Ireland.

I’m so excited to be one of their presenters and this week we’re launching the search for Ireland’s most upbeat song as part of the campaign to promote positive mental health and wellbeing.

The campaign will see the first ever pop-up radio station dedicated to promoting positive mental health being aired during Mental Health Awareness Week in October.

Other presenters joining me will include, Alan Shortt, Teresa Lowe, and Paddy Cullivan.

The station will be purely dedicated to mental health and the importance of positive mental health, early intervention and managing your mental health.

Radio professionals from local, national and community radio have also volunteered to service the station which is great along with  a number of celebrities and mental health advocates.

Sarah Surgenor, the Communications Manager for St Patrick’s Mental Health Services said, “We developed the concept of Upbeat On Air as we were looking for an innovative and creative way to get people talking about mental health. We’ll be on air for 70 hours during Mental Health Awareness Week during which we will have well known people talking about their own personal experiences.  We will also be providing tips and guidance for people on how they can look after their mental health in a positive and proactive way.”

 

Nominations can be made online at www.upbeat.ie. Shortlisted songs will be played on Upbeat On Air throughout Mental Health Awareness Week; Monday October 6th to Friday October 10th.

News about the pop-up radio station and song choices will be shared on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #imlistening and also right here on my website and social media.

NO FEE UPBEAT FM 5

 

Follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/alicanavan and Facebook to hear more www.facebook.com/alisoncanavanofficial

Thanks Ali xxxx

 

ROBIN WILLIAMS

AS PRINTED I N THE DAILY MAIL 14TH AUGUST

Depression comes in many forms, strikes without warning and really doesn’t care who you are or indeed what you do for a living.

This was proven to us yet again this week when another bright light was taken from us way before his time.

I have no doubt that Robin Williams has a place in all our hearts. His diversity of work and ability to make us laugh was truly unique.

His body of work will be played in millions of houses in the coming weeks and years to come as, yet again, we all try to understand a terrible disease that is invisible to the eye.

It never ceases to amaze me that at times like this you scroll through the various social media and read posts from people who are amazed at the selfishness of people who take their own lives.

Some people are in disbelief because he had a loving family and so much to live for. Others call him selfish because he was a celebrity and therefore ungrateful . They ask, ‘How could anyone who has everything materially ever feel sad?’

When I read these comments I feel sad that it seems no matter what we’re doing to start conversations about mental health, we have people who are utterly — in my opinion — selfish themselves, posting comments that are hurtful to everyone who has ever lost anyone through suicide and/or mental illness of some kind.

Robin Williams was very open about his mental health issues. He suffered from addiction and, even as recently as this summer, was trying to get the help he needed. It was simply just not enough for him to fight his demons.

Sometimes when I’m well I wonder how I could ever have such negative thoughts and feelings. I’m an extremely positive person and always see the glass half-full.

However, I can never become complacent and secure about my mental health and unfortunately always have to be aware of it. There is not a day goes by now that I don’t ask myself how I’m feeling and look at my lifestyle and how I’m treating myself.

That doesn’t mean that I’m mad or unbalanced and, these days, it also doesn’t mean I’m sad all the time either. It means I, unfortunately, have a mini-war happening inside and it also means I suffer from an illness that’s invisible. I’m fighting what I consider to be the silent killer of our generation.

Everyone with mental illness is fighting their own and very unique battle with this incredibly misunderstood disease. Finding a formula that works for you is essential but sometimes our formulas stop working and we need to figure out why.

In the beginning I found this annoying and upsetting, but now I’ve accepted it’s simply part of my life. I have a child who needs me and so my mental health is my top priority.

One of the darkest days of my life was when I asked my mum not to leave me alone with James because I didn’t want to be here anymore. She knew I was serious and I knew I needed serious help. I thank God every day that I got the help I needed. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t.
Early intervention is essential. We need to stop the stigma and encourage people to speak up and ask for help. Every single one of us has a responsibility here. The statistics say that one in four of us will suffer from mental health problems, but I think that every single person will encounter a mental health issue in some shape or form.

To Me, Robin Williams’ death is another serious wake-up call about mental illness — not just for our Government but for everyone. At the very least we all need to recognize that our lifestyles and how we treat ourselves will directly affect how we feel.

Stigma is fuelled by fear and fear is the main reason people are not getting help. Believe me, nothing matters more than people getting well. Who cares what the neighbours or your friends think! Open your heart and open your mind. Believe me, it will make
a difference.

Here I give a short description about what I learnt over the years on my long road to recovery from depression about what works for me. Some of it may help you if you or anyone you know suffers from any mental health issues. I really hope it can help in some small way xx