Dr. David J. Scheiderer, MD, MBA, DFAPA , Director of Education at Integrative Psychiatry, Inc, in Sarasota, Florida, clinician, educator, lecturer and key opinion leader in both conventional, mainstream psychiatry and complementary and alternative medicine will be speaking at on the topic of Psychoneuroimmunology: Clinical Application of an Emerging Field In Medicine at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting this week in San Francisco.
LOCATION: Moscone North – Exhibit Level Room 123
TIME:9:00 AM – 120:00
Did you know?
- An estimated 26% of American adults – about 1 in 4 – suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. This translates to roughly 57 million people.
- Mental disorders, especially depression, are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada.
- An estimated 5 million living Americans have attempted suicide, and on average, a suicide occurs every 17 minutes.
Many different conditions are recognized as psychiatric disorders; common categories of mental illness include:
- Anxiety disorders (i.e. generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, OCD, phobias)
- Mood disorders (i.e. depression, mania, bipolar disorder)
- Psychotic disorders (i.e. Schizophrenia)
- Impulse control (i.e. ADHD)
- Substance abuse disorders
- Eating disorders (i.e. anorexia, bulimia)
The etiologies of mental illness are complex, but it is commonly understood that neurotransmitters play a role. This is why medications that alter levels of neurotransmitters in the synapse, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Cymbalta, are utilized by clinicians to treat depression, anxiety and more. Testing neurotransmitter levels and treating identified imbalances with diet modification and targeted nutritional therapy can help improve not only your mental health, but physical health as well.
We know that chronic disease, how it runs it’s course and their outcomes are influenced by mental illness but we’re also beginning to understand that effective treatments for mental illness are also influenced by chronic disease. There’s extensive evidence that associates mental illnesses with diseases such as:
This association is most notable among people with more serious or disabling mental illnesses who are at risk of dying 25 years prematurely from cardiovascular or other chronic diseases. The research suggests that this shorter life expectancy exists not only because these people have higher rates of smoking, obesity or because they don’t follow their health care professional’s advice but also because of physical changes to their bodies. Some of these changes include endothelial inflammation (inflammation of the inner lining of the blood vessels) platelet stickiness (needed to form a blood clot), changes to the regulation of heart contraction by epinephrine-non-epinephrine and the metabolism of cortisol, also known as the Stress Hormone.
A comprehensive assessment of your neuroendocrine system can provide a thorough assessment of your adrenal health with catecholamine and cortisol levels, as well as identify sex hormone imbalances which can give insight into many chronic diseases. A test such as the NeuroHormone Complete can provide answers to assist in the detection and correct ion of many underlying imbalances. Given the connection between mental and medical illness, it is more important than ever to monitor and address imbalance in these areas.
Crawlspaces and attics are dark, dingy and sometimes damp: all ideal conditions for mold, fungus, and other germs to flourish. Mold in crawlspaces is extremely common, and may impact one in three crawlspaces in the United States, according to mold remediation specialist Jim Dobbins. It’s usually the result of increased humidity and moisture in the crawlspace, typically from the ground in the crawlspace, a leak, or inadequate ventilation.
In attics, meanwhile, mold often forms as the result of inadequate ventilation. Warm moist air, created from the people living below, rises toward the ceiling and enters the attic around light fixtures and other openings. If the attic is well-ventilated, the moisture will pass outside, but if the warm air has nowhere to go, the moisture will accumulate.
Both attics and crawlspaces are also rich in the organic materials that molds, fungi and other microbes need to feed on.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention In short, it can grow almost anywhere, as long as moisture is present. If your attic is not ventilated properly, mold spores could be congregating.
In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 30 percent to 50 percent of all structures have damp conditions that could encourage the growth and spread of biological pollutants like mold. And that’s just for average climates; in warm, moist climates, this percentage is likely much higher.
What’s Dangerous About Mold?
Mold is a microscopic, living organism whose purpose is to break down dead materials. This is why, over time, it will destroy whatever it is growing on, including your carpets, furniture and cabinets, and even structural elements of your home.
However, this is only a part of what makes mold dangerous. Molds release thousands of microscopic spores into the air, and they are easily carried around your home, where you may breathe them in. It is through this inhalation that mold can cause health problems to you and your family.
What Types of Health Problems do Molds Cause?
“All molds have the potential to cause health effects,” says the EPA. “Molds can produce allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce potent toxins and/or irritants.” In fact, people who live in homes with mold often report:
Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, difficulty
breathing, and shortness of breath
Sneezing and/or nasal congestion
Eye irritation (eyes)
If left untreated, mold will gradually destroy whatever it is growing on — including structural elements of your home.
Among people who have existing respiratory conditions (such as allergies or asthma).
Preventing a Mold Problem in Your Crawlspace or Attic
If you suspect mold is in your home smell, black, pink, orange or green spots on walls, flood or hurricane damage, damp basement, crawlspace or attic) you should seek out a professional (a certified mold remediator or a certified mold contractor)
For those of you who don’t, count yourself lucky, and begin to take the following 11 steps to keep mold from becoming a problem in your home.
1. Use an Air Treatment System to clean your air.
2. Fix any leaky plumbing or other leaks immediately.
3. Prevent moisture due to condensation. To reduce moisture levels in your air, increase
ventilation (if the outdoor air is cool and dry
4. Don’t let your home’s foundation stay wet. Make sure there’s proper drainage and that the
ground slopes away from the foundation.
5. Keep furniture and floors dusted. Mold spores can collect in your household dust, so
dusting often is highly recommended.
6. Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning drip pans clean and flowing properly.
7. Make sure moisture-generating appliances, like your dryer, and your bathroom and kitchen
exhaust fans are vented outside.
8. Keep indoor humidity levels below 60%, and preferably between 30-50%.
9. Change your home’s air filters regularly.
10. If necessary, add insulation to reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces, such
as windows, piping, exterior walls, roof or flooring.
11. Make sure any damp or wet spots are cleaned and dried within 48 hours.
U.S. EPA: Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
CDC: Environmental Hazards & Health Effects, Mold
Texas Department of State Health Services
© 2012 Health Realizations, Inc.
As we get older, maintaining and enhancing brain function becomes increasingly important. Some degree of memory problems and a modest decline in the brain’s process that regulates an individual’s ability to organize thoughts and activities, prioritize tasks, manage time efficiently, and make decisions are fairly common features of aging. Who among us hasn’t experienced what’s commonly called a “Senior Moment” The good news is that your cognitive destiny is not fated – you do have control. There’s no sure way to prevent dementia but there are steps that might help your brain stay healthy over the long term: be physically and socially active, learn new information and stimulate your mind, maintain a healthy diet, keep your blood sugar and blood pressure under control, and, if you smoke, stop.
At Integrative Psychiatry, we are pleased to tell you about an exciting new product designed specifically with your brain and pursuit of mental happiness in mind. The product is FolaNAC and comprises three agents (contained in two separate bottles): the smaller bottle has a combination of L-methylfolate and methylcobalamine (Vitamin B-12) while the larger bottle contains N-acetylcysteine (NAC). Designed to be taken together, the combo packs a wallop and was specially formulated as an alternative to prescription Cerefolin NAC which is approved by the FDA for memory loss. This multi-pronged product offers distinct advantages for building and maintaining brain health.
L-methylfolate (L-MTHF) is the biologically active form of folate (vitamin B-9) and the only form of folate that crosses the blood-brain-barrier. It regulates the formulation of a critical co-factor called tetrahydrobiopterin (BH-4) which is intricately involved in the synthesis of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Up to 1/3 of the U.S. population may have genetic defect that prevents the conversion of folic acid (folic acid is the synthetic form of the body’s natural folate) into the biologically active form of L-MTHF. Research has suggested a relationship between low folate levels and clinical depression and poorer response to anti-depressant medications. Adding L-MTHF has been shown to enhance the effects of these agents. Methylcobalamine (vitamin B-12) is a biologically active form of Vitamin B-12 and the form that is transported into peripheral tissues where it aids in red blood cell formation and the metabolism of homocysteine. In addition, it provides general nervous system support.
NAC is a precursor to glutathione, one of the body’s most potent natural anti-oxidants which facilitates the ability of nerve tissue to utilize Vitamin B-12 and subsequently reduce or eliminate oxidative stress in those tissues while increasing the body’s total anti-oxidant capacity and significantly lowering homocysteine levels.
Accumulating data demonstrates a relationship between elevated levels of homocysteine and neurodegenerative diseases including cognitive disorders and dementia. These conditions are associated with chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Folate depletion or deficiency may occur as a consequence of oxidative stress and associated chronic inflammation. Homocysteine levels are largely determined by Vitamin B-12 and folate status.
Given the close inter-dependent relationship between homocysteine and oxidative stress, it makes sense to simultaneously include anti-oxidants when addressing folate and Vitamin B-12 deficiencies. FolaNAC provides a unique option for addressing the complex and inter-related mechanisms associated with oxidative stress, folate and Vitamin B-12.
“Disease cannot live in a body that’s in a healthy emotional state,” at least, so says author Bob Proctor in the film, “The Secret.” “The Secret” — which was not being shown in theaters, but rather was spread through a viral, grassroots marketing campaign — discussed a centuries-old principle that has earned a “new-age” reputatio
|According to the Law of Attraction, if you focus on positive things you’ll attract good into your life. But the opposite also holds true: if you worry constantly and think negatively, you may attract more of that into your life.|
“The secret is the Law of Attraction. Everything that’s coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in your mind,” Proctor said.
The idea is simple and very general: whatever it is that you focus on, think about and occupy your thoughts with will appear in your life. Humans, in this way, are like magnets, attracting into their lives whatever it is their emotions, beliefs and thoughts focus on.
However, says Katherine Puckett, LCSW, director of mind-body medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, while stress and negative emotions can certainly contribute to illness, things aren’t always so black and white.
“We’re always emphasizing at [the] Mind-Body [Center] that you never have to be hard on yourself about being sick, you never deserve it, and it never is helpful to be hard on yourself … there are lots of people who worry, and who don’t get cancer, there are people who are afraid they’ll get sick who don’t get sick, and then there are people who live a really clean life and are fairly stress-free who do get sick, so I’d don’t think it’s always so simple.”
Puckett stresses that, even in the face of negative thoughts or stress, you should never blame yourself for being sick, and it is never your fault (plus, feeling that you are to blame only brings on more negative emotions).
The Power of Your Thoughts to Avoid or Attract Sickness
According to the writers, philosophers, doctors and scientists behind “The Secret,” the Law of Attraction is not a new theory. In fact, they say Plato, Galileo, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein all used it to achieve success. Delving even deeper, the Law of Attraction brings up the mind-body connection, which says your mind can evoke physical changes in your body — for the good or for the bad.
“The mind-body connection has to do with the idea that what happens in our minds or our emotions affects our body,” says Puckett. If you feel worry in your mind, you feel it in your body. And some of these things are obvious to us like butterflies or heart palpitations, or you get diarrhea from stress or you can’t sleep … then there’s a really important one that isn’t usually as obvious, but even more significant probably, which is that stress over time can affect the immune system.”
This very real connection, supported by numerous studies in recent years, has changed the way doctors and scientists view the mind.
“The central nervous system is not just a passive responder to the outside world, but is fully able to control many previously unanticipated physiologic responses, including immunity and inflammation,” said Gary S. Firestein, M.D., professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, and director of the University of California San Diego’s Clinical Investigation Institute.
In a study led by Firestein, it was found that in a model of rheumatoid arthritis the central nervous system could sense and modulate inflammation in the joint. By blocking key signaling enzymes in the central nervous system of rats, the researchers recorded decreased inflammation and destruction in the joints. “This is an entirely new approach,” Firestein said. “Instead of targeting enzymes at the actual site of disease, our hypothesis is that the central nervous system is a controlling influence for the body and can regulate peripheral inflammation and immune responses.”
The Mind’s Ability to Worsen Conditions
While studies are pointing to the mind’s ability to help heal illness, others also show it can worsen many conditions. According to a report in the November 2006 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, emotional issues and stress may activate or worsen certain dermatological problems, including acne, hair loss, eczema, rosacea, warts, psoriasis, and herpes.
A new field called psychodermatology has been developed to look into this” mind-skin connection,” and the Harvard report says that mind-body techniques, such as hypnosis, relaxation, meditation and psychotherapy may help to relieve certain skin conditions.
So is Thinking About Sickness Enough to Cause Sickness?
While there aren’t any scientific studies to confirm or refute this question, believers in the Law of Attraction certainly think so. Meanwhile, focusing on positive thoughts and healing can also go a long way toward good health. Just remember, Puckett says, to make room for all of your feelings and emotions.
“Our version of being positive makes room for all the feelings that somebody has. I refer to that as trying to be real. There’s room for all of your feelings and we want to be real about how you feel. I believe, and I’ve seen it happen, if people have the chance to do that, if they have somebody they can really talk with who really listens and takes them seriously — even if they are mad, sad, scared, whatever — they’re going to have a better chance at being positive if they’ve had a chance to share all of their feelings.” She continues, “When people get a cancer diagnosis, or any major illness [diagnosis], it signifies a loss of control … but you can use your mind to help the healing process, to make good choices for yourself, to take care of yourself.”
© 2013 Health Realizations, Inc.
As I mentioned in my last blog on the causes of burnout (http://integrativepsychiatry.net/blog/burnout-stress-gone-wild-the-causes-by-dr-dave/), the base of my pyramid shaped step-wise approach to treating burnout and other stress syndromes comprises lifestyle modifications or what I call Health Related Behaviors (HERBs). The other two rungs on the ladder are General Adrenal Support and Syndrome Specific Interventions. These will all be covered in good time.
I encouraged you, as I do now, to begin to consciously develop and refine your own set of HERBs as part of your life philosophy.
In today’s blog I will start to get more specific with respect to the HERBs I want to share with you and that I try to incorporate into my own life.
Some of these (please refer to the diagram below) may not yet make sense to you but I will eventually try to shed light on them in future blogs.
First, “Clean Up Your Act”
You are exposed to more environmental toxins and pollutants than ever before. Moreover, a wide array of life stressors (work-related issues, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, emotional turmoil, neurotransmitter and hormonal imbalances, pace of living, medications, infection, urbanicity) increase inflammation and oxidative stress. Inflammation and oxidation create their own toxic metabolic byproducts. All toll, these environmental and internal toxins overwhelm your body’s natural detoxification pathways and begin to accumulate. Said accumulation of such toxins are believed by many, including me, to be a root cause of many symptoms:
Recent growth in public awareness of this connection between environmental/metabolic toxins has significantly increased interest in detoxification programs. Unfortunately, many retail cleansing products use low-quality ingredients and fail to offer dietary guidelines and other HERBs. For that reason, I strongly recommend you use professional-grade products and the expertise of an experienced clinician when you first try cleansing.
One of my favorite detox strategies is OptiCleanz GHI, often the very first recommendation I make for many of my patients and clients regardless of what symptoms their toxins are causing. What is so special about OptiCleanz is that it can prevent/reduce inflammation regardless of where it is coming from. Moreover, by providing easily digested and absorbed plant based protein, this all inclusive supplement helps repair your leaky gut (once inflamed for any reason, your gut begins to leak) and mobilize and eliminate toxic metabolic compounds generated by your inflammation
In addition, OptiCleanz is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients that help improve control of blood sugars (by itself an anti-inflammatory effect), decrease carbohydrate cravings, balance your immune system, and support liver detoxification pathways.
What’s more, OptiCleanz provides you with the necessary amino acid building blocks and the vitamin and mineral co-factors needed to manufacture your brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) which become depleted whenever you are battling toxic or inflammatory states.
Think of OptiCleanz as your “Garbage Disposal Reset Button in a Powder.” It will help you all by itself plus make you more likely to positively respond to subsequent interventions whether that be more targeted amino acid therapy, condition or imbalance specific supplements, or even prescription medication.
Don’t just take my word, however, about the merits of OptiCleanz. In a recent review on Examiner.com, OptiCleanz was described as a “Wonderful Product!”
To learn more about OptiCleanz or to purchase a tub of it, follow this link: http://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/opticleanze-ghi.html
http://youtu.be/XexoKRvmX1M (great work by the way Dirk. Looking forward to meeting you. This link is an old youtube slide show for OptiCleanz. Don’t know how or if to imbed it. Have at it.)
Stay tuned for my next blog wherein I will plow ahead with my HERBs. Next up: Sleep On It.
Until then, Dr. Dave
Thanks for trudging through my last two posts on burnout. And yes, I heard you. The last one was too long and too heavy. So I’ll try to make this blog about general causes of stress shorter and more to the point.
Remember, stress is not what happens to you (we call these stressors or triggers) but rather stress is your complex multi-system response to what life throws at you.
Borrowing language from the Institute for Functional Medicine – of which I am proud to be a member (http://www.functionalmedicine.org/) – I look at your stress responses from three vantage points:
- Antecedents: static, long-standing, predisposing factors that are difficult if not impossible to change such as your genes, uterine environment, and early life events that influence for the rest of your life what stressors will trigger a stress response and what that stress response will look like;
- Triggers: the “straws” that break your back, the specific life stressors – you know what they are – such as work-related challenges, sleep deprivation, running the pace that kills, poor nutrition, too little sunshine, environmental toxins, etcetera,etcetera, etcetera;
- Mediators: the specific alterations and imbalances in your unique biochemistry – adrenal, thyroid, and sex hormones; neurotransmitters; immune function; and growth factors – that can be measured and repaired.
I consider your stress from these three vantage points so that I can help you craft customized solutions based on your unique triggers and mediators.
The obvious “low-hanging fruit” interventions you could employ for any stress syndrome would be to reduce the frequency and intensity of those life stressors that are triggering your stress. Duh. At the same time, strive to increase the frequency and intensity of those activities that nourish, replenish, and re-create you and your reserves. Double Duh.
In an upcoming blog I will share with you my most current version of Dr. Dave’s Top Ten Wellness Tips that I try to incorporate into my own life on a regular basis. My purpose in so sharing is not to have you adopt them but rather to begin to develop (and continuously refine) your own top ten list of wellness-related behaviors you to want inculcate as habits.
As I wrote, however, last month (http://integrativepsychiatry.net/blog/low-motivation-check-your-dopamine/) in my blog on motivation, “Assuming for a moment that, despite what you have may have been told, you are neither stupid nor lazy, then why is it so hard” to do what you know to be in your own best wellness interest? Because you may simply lack the biochemical reserve to pluck even the lowest hanging of fruits.
Dr. Dave’s Call to Action
For that reason, at the same time I am encouraging and coaching you to establish your top ten wellness habits, I am likely to recommend some general supportive measures that can help you regardless of the cause and type of stress afflicting you as well as more specific interventions based on your individual symptoms and unique biochemistry.
My next blog will begin to address in more detail some general measures you can take no matter what brand of stress you have. Until then, get to work on building a strong personal stress management system (PSMS) by identifying your core top ten wellness behaviors. Don’t try to incorporate them into action just yet, however, for if you are burnt, you may actually end up feeling worse in the short run.
Next, because our main stress structures involve the brain and the adrenal glands, start familiarizing yourself with concept of adrenal dysfunction. You’ll find plenty of information about this common phenomenon on the Internet or you can peruse those pages on our site: http://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/adrenal_fatigue.html
And as always, let me know what you’re thinking. I can’t actually read your mind.
In my last blog here on Integrative Psych (http://integrativepsychiatry.net/blog/burnout-stress-gone-wild/) and in a related one on Health Remedies where I often guest blog (http://healthremedies.com/blog/stress-anxiety-and-your-health/) I introduced several key aspects of burnout and other stress reactions:
- Stress is necessary for the survival of both you as an individual as well as for the species at large;
- Too much stress, however, can lead to one or a combination of three distinct stress syndromes: Act Out, Burn Out, and Freeze Out; and
- By causing, triggering, aggravating, or perpetuating various Diseases of Civilization (DOCs), stress syndromes can wreck your health and cut short your life.
Burnout is Costly to Society
This installment looks at little more deeply into some of the societal costs of burnout. The economic and humanistic costs attributed to burnout are staggering. For example, it has been estimated that in the US occupational stress costs employers in excess of $200 billion annually.
This number, although impressive, grossly underestimates the costs associated with burnout and other forms of stress because these conditions have no official definition or set of diagnostic criteria. As a result, it is difficult to directly measure burnout’s prevalence, cost, and impact. Indirectly, however, much can be inferred , based on something we do know:
Burnout increases your risk of getting many of modern society’s biggest killers: heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, depression,insomnia, stroke, dementia, and obesity.
These and other chronic diseases, collectively know as Diseases of Civilization (DOCs), are responsible for greater than one-half of all deaths in the world and are projected to cause two-thirds of all deaths globally over the next twenty years.
Furthermore, chronic diseases are accelerating despite the fact that they are for the most part preventable. Early identification and treatment of burnout and other stress syndromes will prove to be among the most effective ways of slowing the progression of these all too familiar DOCs.
Two points bear emphasizing:
- Burnout and other stress syndromes lead indelibly to Diseases of Civilization (DOCs); and
- DOCs drive healthcare costs.
For example, nearly one-third of Americans suffer from chronic disease, and their health care expenditures account for more than 75% of our nation’s $2.6 trillion in direct medical spending. This dollar amount is greater than ten times the $256 billion spent just thirty years ago.
“Presenteeism” Costs Far Exceed Direct Rx Costs
As you can see, the treatment of chronic disease exerts a significant and measurable effect on the cost of health care in the US. That said, the corresponding productivity costs are even greater.
For example, the biggest indirect cost – loss of productivity – in workers with chronic diseases are as much as 400% greater than the cost associated with treating DOCs.
- Unplanned absences;
- Short- and long-term disability;
- Reduced workplace efficiency and effectiveness;
- Increased workplace accidents and errors;
- Inadvertent negative impact on work environment; and
- Decreased customer service, satisfaction, and loyalty.
The first two of these, unplanned absences and disability, result in costs of benefits and replacement workers. The other four demonstrate that productivity can be negatively impacted even if you are able to drag yourself out of bed and show up for work. How well you perform at work is naturally influenced by the normal imperatives of every day life. If, however, you are burned out or have chronic disease, your performance will suffer even more. This phenomenon is often referred to as “presenteesim” and exceeds the costs of both healthcare expenditures and the direct costs of absence. Think of presenteesim as merely being present in zombie- like fashion with little mental or physical engagement with the task at hand, your fellow workers, or the customer. But hopefully without all that flesh eating.
When these productivity costs are tallied and added to direct treatment expenditures, the top 10 conditions most expensive to employers (many of which, you will not be surprised to learn, bear a strong relationship to burnout) differ considerably from the top 10 ranked solely by treatment expenditures. Stated differently, the most costly conditions and health risk factors related to presenteeism are different from those that are the most expensive to treat.
As you look at the table to the left, please note how many of the top 10 productivity and total cost drivers relate directly to symptoms of burnout: back/neck pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, other chronic pain, and anxiety.
Not only does burnout lead to the development of the chronic illnesses know n as Diseases of Civilization (DOCs), it also directly accounts for much of our national healthcare burden.
Call To Action
In order to feel better, function more highly, stave off degenerative chronic illness longer, pursue happiness more effectively, and lower direct and indirect health-care costs – manage your stress.
Let me know how I can help.
We are rapidly approaching the one-hundred year anniversary – Sunday evening April 20th, 1913 – of Sir William Osler’s elegant address to a group of Yale students entitled “A Way of Life.”
In that speech, Osler reminded his “fellow students” that the person “who feels on awakening that life is a burden or a bore has been neglecting his machine, driving it too hard, stoking the engines too much, or not cleaning out the ashes and clinkers.”
These days, that very person Olser described in his keynote lecture is more likely to be called “burned out, ” a term that you no doubt see used more and more frequently. Although it gets all the press, “burnout” is only one form of stress seen currently in modern society. We will get to the other forms – Act Out and Freeze Out in subsequent blogs. First, however, let’s review some stress basics.
Stress In General
Stress, and your capacity to cope with it, are the most important determinants of your overall health and pursuit of happiness. Stress exerts powerful effects on the normal, and as it turns out, pathological, physiology of nearly every organ in your body.
You no doubt recognize stress in its purest form: the classic “fight or flight” mechanism so crucial to your survival and over the millenniums, the survival of the species. Often, however, modern stress cannot be resolved by either fight or flight actions. What happens when modern stressors – deadlines, computers, law suits, time pressure, white-collar desk jobs, the hustle and bustle of contemporary society, and so on and so forth – activate your time-tested danger alert systems but neither fight nor flight is possible or advisable? Over the next several blogs I hope to shed light on that all important question.
The main theme of this series of blogs revolves around the following concepts:
- Stress changes your physiology in preparation to fight or flee;
- Such changes in physiology served you well during our species’ more physically oriented past;
- In modern times, stress-induced alterations in physiology disrupt organ systems that are unable to adaptively use or effectively dissipate these fight or flight energies;
- It is, then, these poorly channeled danger-alert-system mechanisms (DASMs) that ultimately lead to burnout and other stress syndromes.
Burnout is Rampant
Common sense, personal and professional experience, the scientific literature, and the popular press all tell me that burnout is seen with increasing frequency among workers across myriad industries and professions. Any numbers thrown around, however, likely underestimate the true prevalence because there currently exists no readily accepted formal definition of burnout and because most figures do not include the other big two stress syndromes of Freezing Out and Acting Out.
Take for instance a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (August, 2012) which found that over a quarter of adults working in the US endorsed multiple symptoms of burnout and nearly a quarter were dissatisfied with life-work balance.
Because so many of my private patients and clients over the past many years have been physicians, lawyers and other professionals, I was particularly intrigued by the finding in this study that burnout is more common among physicians than other US workers. Please see the chart below for a comparison of physicians versus non-physician workers.
These numbers are consistent with other studies that estimate the ranges of burnout globally to be between 29-38% of workers. And in America, even if they don’t believe themselves to be burned out, 75% of US workers admit that their jobs are stressful and that the pressure of work is steadily increasing.
Well so what? Glad you asked. Tune in to my next blog wherein I will look at the potentially dire consequences of “Stress Gone Wild.”
Recent data out of the European Union from the Alliance for Natural Health International (AHN) has changed the way I practice medicine. While I have always had a healthy respect for the double-edged sword nature of prescribing medications, not until I saw the AHN’s data on the difference in safety between food supplements/herbal remedies and pharmaceutical drugs did I begin to really rethink some of my strategies, particularly with respect to the way I treat people who suffer from the common disorders Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD). For more information about these common disorders please visit our main site: http://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/adhd.html.
These AHN data reveal that natural health products are among the safest things you can put into your body. The safety of food supplements and herbal remedies stands in stark contrast to the dangers of conventional ADD/ADHD medications such as Aderall, Focalin, Ritalin, Concerta and other amphetamines. These dangers, recently reviewed on the Dr. Oz show, are alarming.
Side Effects of Psychostimulant Drugs
If you take stimulant medications such as the ones above you are at risk for suffering any number of adverse reactions. These include nervousness, insomnia, rashes, nausea, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, abdominal pain, elevated blood pressure, violent behavior, weight loss and even toxic psychosis. Misuse or abuse of the psycho-stimulants can result in serious, possibly fatal heart and blood pressure problems. These medications can be habit-forming and cause problems for people who have mental/mood disorders or a history of alcohol/drug abuse.
The Safety Record of Natural Health Products
Now let’s look at the AHN’s safety data for natural products. The figure below displays the relative risks of death to an individual for a range of activities. A larger bubble on the bubble chart represents a proportionately larger risk of death). Risk of death from food supplements has been arbitrarily assigned a value of 1 to allow calculation of the relative risk from other sources.
The data, collated and presented by Ron Law, an independent New Zealand-based risk management consultant, showed the following:
- Preventable medical injury in hospitals poses the greatest risk of death to citizens – some 351,220 times the risk of consuming food supplements, and 206,600 times the risk posed by herbal medicines;
- The risk of death from both smoking and cancer is around 173,000 times that of taking food supplements. Therefore, a hospital visit is over twice as likely as either smoking or cancer to take the life of citizen;
- People taking pharmaceutical drugs run a risk of death from side effects that is 123,125 times greater than the risk of death from taking a food supplement. Comparing pharmaceuticals with herbal medicines, meanwhile, the relative risk of death is multiplied 72,426 times.
A More Natural Approach
As a result of information such as this, I have started to offer patients and clients more natural approaches for treating the symptoms of ADD/ADHD. One of our most powerfully energizing and attention focusing products at IP is NeurvanaPro. In addition to treating the core symptoms of ADD/ADHD, it also addresses some of the brain chemical imbalances (low dopamine and norepinephrine) theoretically implicated in these disorders. For more details about this exciting alternative to prescription psychostimulants follow this link:
Because NeurvanaPro is part of a comprehensive program for both adults and children, with its purchase you will also receive “A Natural Plan for Attention Deficit Disorders,” a thorough guide with sections on:
- Nutritional & Dietary Therapies for Attention Deficit Disorders
- Ruling Out Health Problems that Mimic Attention Deficit Disorder
- Behavior Modification
- Helping Children with Attention Deficit Disorder
In the past, my knee-jerk tendency was to slap you on Adderall or some other psychostimulant medication to treat your ADD/ADHD. Although there are still times that such drugs are appropriate given the risk/benefit for a specific person. That said, it sure is nice to have a natural alternative for you, and frankly, for me as a clinician.
I would love to hear your ideas and experience on this issue.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.