Tag Archives: Depression

Dr. C’s Journal: A Little Bit About “Energy & Fatigue”

Sometimes I wake up in the morning with a feeling of RELAXED ENERGY. My mind is clear, I have no fatigue, and believe once more that the world is wonderful, and it’s great to be alive.

I St-re-tch, exercise my hands (I have Osteoarthritis, and they are stiff), take out my Nite guard ( I grind my teeth at night and would otherwise wear them away), take my beta blocker eye drops ( to lower my intraocular pressure) and wash down my Eliquis ( an anticoagulant to prevent stroke from my Atrial Fibrillation) with 16 oz. of water, while thinking about all of the delights awaiting me.

Yes, my body was in better shape 60 years ago; but I had much more responsibility then, and much less discretionary time. All things considered, I like to believe that I am happier now.

The KEY is to stay in GOOD HEALTH. GOOD SLEEP is critical, but it cannot be had by willpower alone. As I have discussed previously, you need a bedtime routine, good SLEEP HYGIENE.

You also need a…….. GOOD DIET. with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fatty, spicy foods will stay in your stomach and bother you at night, particularly if you eat Late. I like to finish eating by 5 PM. Late dinner is also likely to produce GERD, and maybe Sleep Apnea.

GOOD EXERCISE is also critical. If you are not tired at the end of the day, it is hard to get good sleep. I always seem to sleep better on the day when I walk the hills for an hour, which is 3 days a week. Try not to exercise within 2 hours of bedtime. Assuming that you have a good base of SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE, there are other mechanisms that can foul things up. INFLAMMATORY conditions often cause fatigue.

The most common inflammatory diseases are OBESITY, METABOLIC SYNDROME and DIABETES. OBESITY is the defining disease of our EXCESSIVE SOCIETY, where there is too much of everything, and excessive consumption is relentlessly advertised everywhere.

External correction is probably a pipe dream, since there is no will even to Tax Sugar-containing Beverages, the “low hanging fruit” of dietary excess. Internal correction is all that is left, and that takes WILL POWER, also in short supply.

INFECTIOUS DISEASES are a subset of inflammatory conditions. COVID 19 is the poster child of infection, and FATIGUE is one of the hallmarks of the disease. Interleukins, like TNF-alpha, IL-1, andIL-6 are some of the defense factors which cause the fatigue. AUTOIMMUNE Diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus are also associated with fatigue-producing interleukins.

Fatigue even has its own flagship disease, CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME. Chronic viral disease has been suspected as the cause of this condition, and inflammatory cytokines may be elevated. This condition, and the similar GULF WAR SYNDROME are still poorly understood. Several CFS patients were sent to me when I was in practice, and I had some success in getting them to exercise regularly, which seemed to help. CANCER is another category of diseases where Fatigue is prominent.

Inflammation plays a role in these diseases, which also drain energy substrates from the Patients body; Cancer cells have a high metabolic requirement. MEDICATIONS, Cancer meds especially, but a variety of other Drugs are associated with FATIGUE. I went through MY MEDICATION LIST. Lo and behold, 3 of them are associated with fatigue.

Finasteride is a relic of my prostate operation, recommended to keep it from growing back. It causes fatigue, probably because of its ANTITESTOSTERONE effect. At least I can still pee, and am not bald. I take METFORMIN because of its fame in prolonging life. Its mechanism is that of interacting with the Sirtuin system, and increasing the inefficiency of mitochondria. Isn’t this surprising?

Like many other things in physiology, you place a stress on the body, and the body responds by improving its performance. If you are fatigued, you exercise. Respecting the body works with drugs as well. If you are drinking a ton of coffee and stop it, after a few weeks you will feel less fatigued.

And when you ARE FATIGUED, you drink a LITTLE coffee, and it wakes you right up. Caffeine works by displacing ADENOSINE, which causes Fatigue as it increases through the morning, peaking at SIESTA (or tea) time,at about 2 PM. OMEPRAZOLE, which I take to prevent HEARTBURN, also is related to fatigue especially if it blocks MAGNESIUM for long enough. DEPRESSION overlaps with fatigue, as does SLEEPINESS, to increase the complexity of the situation.

Many chronic LUNG, KIDNEY and LIVER diseases are associated with fatigue as a secondary concern. STAY HEALTHY!

–Dr. C

BRAIN RESEARCH: 40% OF DEMENTIA CASES PREVENTED WITH LIFESTYLE CHANGES

“We are learning that tactics to avoid dementia begin early and continue throughout life, so it’s never too early or too late to take action,” says commission member and AAIC presenter Lon Schneider, MD, co-director of the USC Alzheimer Disease Research Center‘s clinical core and professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

LOS ANGELES — Modifying 12 risk factors over a lifetime could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases, according to an updated report by the Lancet Commission on dementia prevention, intervention and care presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC 2020).

Twenty-eight world-leading dementia experts added three new risk factors in the new report — excessive alcohol intake and head injury in mid-life and air pollution in later life. These are in addition to nine factors previously identified by the commission in 2017: less education early in life; mid-life hearing loss, hypertension and obesity; and smoking, depression, social isolation, physical inactivity and diabetes later in life (65 and up).

Schneider and commission members recommend that policymakers and individuals adopt the following interventions:

  • Aim to maintain systolic blood pressure of 130 mm Hg or less from the age of 40.
  • Encourage use of hearing aids for hearing loss and reduce hearing loss by protecting ears from high noise levels.
  • Reduce exposure to air pollution and second-hand tobacco smoke.
  • Prevent head injury (particularly by targeting high-risk occupations).
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 21 units per week (one unit of alcohol equals 10 ml or 8 g pure alcohol).
  • Stop smoking and support others to stop smoking.
  • Provide all children with primary and secondary education.
  • Lead an active life into mid-life and possibly later life.
  • Reduce obesity and the linked condition of diabetes.

Website

FALLS AMONG THE ELDERLY: CONDITIONS & PREVENTION

Falling down is common on both ends of the Human lifespan. Little kids are always falling down, but there isn’t much energy to dissipate, since their mass is small and they don’t have far to fall. Moreover, their bones are pliable.

The Elderly also fall, increasingly, as they age. They have a lot further to fall, and their bones are often brittle and osteoporotic. Injury is quite common, they often break a hip, and may slide into a peogressive deterioration leading to their demise..

Ordinary walking, a “normal gait”, is a very complex activity and requires a lot of information and coordination by the nervous system.

VISION is critical, as you are often navigating through a minefield of stairs, rug edges, slippery objects, lamp cords, tubes and pets. Cataracts may be a problem to be corrected. Multifocal glasses can be a factor.

HEARING can warn of certain hazards or warnings and is important. A FINE SENSE OF TOUCH is required to give you cues as you are walking. Peripheral neuropathy can make walking difficult.

PROPRIOCEPTION, the positional sense of where your extremities are located in space, is a sense we take for granted, but which may deteriorate in time. Proprioception is very important for a normal Gait. The inner ear, with it’s semicircular canals and vestibular apparatus is necessary for proper BALANCE.

Balance can be PRACTICED in a number of ways, like standing on one leg, or merely WALKING a lot. These MULTIPLE SENSES must be COORDINATED by the Thalamus, Corpus Striatum, medulla, Cerebellum, and Cerebral Cortex and instructions sent to the muscles of your Legs, Arms, back and abdomen.

It is mandatory to keep these muscles, your Heart and your body, STRONG and FIT. Factors that make you more likely to have a fall are mostly the reverse of the above, and are called RISK FACTORS.

  • –Previous Falls are the best predictor. More than 2 or 3 in a year is worrisome.
  • –Balance Impairment is best treated by practice.
  • –Decreased Muscle strength. –Visual impairment.
  • –Polypharmacy (more than 4 prescription Meds), or a Psychoactive drug (look up)
  • –Gait impairment, Walking difficulty.
  • –Depression, which is often treated by antidepressants or sleeping pills- Psychoactive drugs.
  • –Dizziness or orthostatic hypotension, which causes a drop in blood pressure on standing. and a number of other problems, often a function of age.

PREVENTION of falls is of course better than treatment of the resulting INJURY. Working on your HEALTH will help the INTRINSIC causes of falls, and that is what we have been discussing.

Preventing the EXTRINSIC causes of falls means working on: –Improving the household safety by putting in railings, getting rid of throw rugs, clutter, and maybe pets( a good friend went into a downward spiral after tripping over his Dog.

Adjusting or eliminating psychoactive drugs and antihypertensive drugs (which often include the beta blockers which worsen orthostatic hypotension.

Interestingly, VITAMIN D supplements were mentioned in 2 references I saw. Apparently Vitamin D reduces falls by increasing MUSCLE STRENGTH.

Please refer to the following Canadian article for a more complete discussion.

–Dr. C.

COGNITION & BRAIN STUDIES: APATHY, NOT DEPRESSION, ASSOCIATED WITH DEMENTIA

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We tested the hypothesis that apathy, but not depression, is associated with dementia in patients with SVD. We found that higher baseline apathy, as well as increasing apathy over time, were associated with an increased dementia risk. In contrast, neither baseline depression or change in depression was associated with dementia. The relationship between apathy and dementia remained after controlling for other well-established risk factors including age, education and cognition. Finally, adding apathy to models predicting dementia improved model fit. These results suggest that apathy may be a prodromal symptom of dementia in patients with SVD.

Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) is the leading vascular cause of dementia and plays a major role in cognitive decline and mortality.1 2 SVD affects the small vessels of the brain, leading to damage in the subcortical grey and white matter.1 The resulting clinical presentation includes cognitive and neuropsychiatric symptoms.1

Apathy is a reduction in goal-directed behaviour, which is a common neuropsychiatric symptom in SVD.3 Importantly, apathy is dissociable from depression,3 4 another symptom in SVD for which low mood is a predominant manifestation.5 Although there is some symptomatic overlap between the two,6 research using diffusion imaging reported that apathy, but not depression, was associated with white matter network damage in SVD.3 Many of the white matter pathways underlying apathy overlap with those related to cognitive impairment, and accordingly apathy, rather than depression, has been associated with cognitive deficits in SVD.7 These results suggest that apathy and cognitive impairment are symptomatic of prodromal dementia in SVD.

Read full study

MENTAL HEALTH: SOME THOUGHTS ON DIAGNOSING AND TREATING “DEPRESSION”

I recently posted a discussion on osteoporosis that was based on a MNEMONIC, using the word itself as the basis of exploring the Risk factors Evidence that you have Osteoporosis is hidden, and are discovered by Dexascan, or when you suddenly have a major fracture.

DEPRESSION is common, but sneaks up on you. It may be a job to discover that you have it, to DIAGNOSE it, so that you can be treated. The diagnosis has about 10 markers that can be formulated into a mnemonic, so that you can remember what they are. My favorite is by Paul Blenkiron, writing in the BMJ:

These 10 symptoms are described in the 10th edition of “the international classification of Diseases. The problem with some mnemonics is to remember the mnemonic itself.

Not here. Interestingly, The 4 PILLARS OF HEALTH are each represented in this list. 3 of them are valid TREATMENTS for DEPRESSION, as you will see in the following articles. When I looked up intellectual stimulation as a treatment for Depression, all i found was electrical or magnetic deep brain stimulation.

I can’t help but believe that INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION itself would at least help ward off much Anxiety and Depression. SLEEP has an interesting relationship to depression. Lack of sleep can be a CAUSE of Depression.

Recently, deprivation of sleep has been used to TREAT episodes of severe depression. Obviously there is a lot we don’t know. Another puzzlement is the several week delay in the effect of SSRI medications. I acknowledge that throughout history many great intellects have manic-depression, which may be key to their productivity.

Depression itself is credited with deep understanding. The “black Dog” of depression is best avoided, however. A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE SHOULD HELP WARD OFF DEPRESSION.

–Dr. C.

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OPINION: “HIGH ANXIETY IN THE TIME OF COVID-19”

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. FORGET YOURSELF.

Henry Miller

Individualism and authenticity are highly valued traits in a free democratic society. My own concepts of American ideals canonize the  associated freedom. But there is never a “free lunch” in the realm of human nature.

Roy F. Baumeister’s  Book, “Escaping The Self” (which I read a couple of decades ago and either loaned out or lost) started me thinking about the BURDEN OF SELFHOOD. I recently listened to a BBC podcast on the Philosophy of Authenticity (BBC Radio 4 – In Our Time has upwards of 1000 forty-five-minute programs on topics I recommend highly). They discussed the  plight of the “Existential Hero”, and rekindled my interest in the over-demanding Self,  which idea I will argue can help guide an approach to ANXIETY.

Cooped in by SARS CoV-2, the U.S. has experienced a sharp rise in Anxiety and Depression. The Pandemic has deprived us of the sociability, diversions and travel that had previously lured us outside ourselves, and our jobs (except for the computer-connected) which give us purpose. The connectivity (and self-abnegation preached) in religious services has long been on the wane in secular America, and Covid 19 has temporarily closed the remaining Houses of Worship.

How does the Idea of getting OUTSIDE OURSELVES help the person in the grips of Anxiety? If nothing else, it serves as an organizing principle for the CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR (eg. CBT) necessary for lessening Anxiety. Changes in behavior are necessary; you cannot merely will Anxiety away.

IMAGINE the self as an expensive over-large HOUSE. It’s construction started at the moment of your birth, and progressed through infancy (perhaps with a few defects- we can always blame our parents – i.e. attachment theory). It was damaged by Adolescence, improved by our education and occupation, and remodeling continues our entire lives.

Being restricted to our homes is like Solitary Confinement. Having only our own minds to keep us company is severe punishment for 99% of humanity. What would you do if deprived of the internet and confined to a mountain cabin for just one day?  We are used to pervasive and instant connectivity. Our norms of isolation now would have been considered quite expansive just a generation ago. Well, maybe practice living with ourselves is a benefit of Covid – that which does not kill us, etc…

Using the house analogy, we spend a lot of Money and effort decorating the outside of the house  to impress our neighbors (‘amor propre’ of Rousseau). Spending time on Facebook rather than improving the inside, via  re-framing and behavioral change. The many rooms of the house also suggests the many compartments of the mind, some of which are more accessible than others, some almost unknown.

The analogy is far from perfect. For one thing our house should have legs to let us, the little person inside (the ‘homunculus’ of consciousness metaphor), walk our expensive and beloved (I hope) house through the world. Or better yet, ESCAPE IT BY OUTWARD FOCUS.

The ‘yourself-embracing reality’, out in the world, without the distortions (and protections) of your carefully crafted identity.

Do you dare?

Service (work) gets you outside yourself. To quote Kant:

“I slept and dreamt that life that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted, and behold, service was joy.”

Mindfulness (meditation) gets you outside yourself, to focus on the outside world. The religions of the world prescribe much of our behavior, defining our self-importance, and our expensive houses as “pride”, as something to diminish.

The word Ecstasy (not the recreational drug) is from the Greek (“to step outside oneself”). Ecstasy ( as well as orgasm, i.e. Woody Allen) may be OK occasionally, but for every day, most of us would prefer the Delphic Oracle admonition: “Medan agan (μηδὲν ἄγαν) – “Nothing in Excess”.

Enough hot air already! For those who prefer practical tips or neurobiology to conceptual framework, see the articles below.

-Dr. C.

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