26 THE QUEENS COURIER • HEALTH • JANUARY 3, 2019 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
4 ways to reduce your stress
Stress. No one wants it but we all experience
Depression and how to manage it
Sadness and grief are normal human
emotions. Th ese feelings can oft en last
for a short period of time. However,
when these emotions last for many days
or weeks, depression becomes a concern.
According to the American Psychiatric
Association, depression is a common and
serious medical illness that negatively
aff ects how you feel, the way you think and
how you act. Fortunately, depression is
among the most treatable of mental disorders.
Between 80 percent and 90 percent of
people with depression eventually respond
well to treatment. Almost all patients gain
some relief from their symptoms.
According to the National Institute of
Mental Health, an estimated 16.2 million
adults in the U.S. have had at least one
major depressive episode in a given year.
In fact, according to a report from the
National Center for Health Statistics an
estimated 8.1 percent of adults age 20 and
older had depression in a given 2-week
period during 2013-2016. Of those aff ected
by depression, 80 percent reported
having at least some diffi culty managing
work, home and social activities.
In the past, stigma surrounding depression
caused some people to avoid seeking
help. As celebrities, musicians, and even
politicians speak out about their own
struggles with depression, people have felt
empowered to take the steps to fi nd the
help they need.
Symptoms of depression
It can be diffi cult to know when feeling
down is turning into something more
concerning. According to the Anxiety
and Depression Association of America,
a major depressive episode may include
some of these symptoms:
• Persistent sad, anxious or “empty”
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
• Restlessness, irritability
• Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies
• Decreased energy
• Diffi culty concentrating, remembering
or making decisions
• Insomnia, early-morning awakening or
• Low appetite and weight loss, or, overeating
and weight gain
• Th oughts of death or suicide
• Persistent physical symptoms that do
not respond to treatment (such as headaches,
digestive disorders and pain for
which no other cause can be diagnosed)
Three steps that can help
People experiencing some or all of these
symptoms can take action by following
these three steps.
Step 1: Get screened by a qualifi ed
mental health expert. Depression can
only be diagnosed by a health care professional
who has special assessments
and tools to make the appropriate diagnosis.
Step 2: Talk to your healthcare provider
about a treatment plan. Depression
can be managed with the right treatment
options. A healthcare provider can determine
the strategy that works best for you.
Common treatment plans may include
psychotherapy and medication.
Step 3: Follow a treatment plan closely
and take medications as prescribed.
Abruptly stopping medications may
cause withdrawal symptoms that could
worsen depression. If you are uninsured
or your health insurance doesn’t cover
the medications you need, there are programs
that can help. For example, the
Inside Rx program is a free prescription
savings program that could save an
average of 40 percent off select brandname
medications and 80 percent off
retail price on generic medications. You
can check the price of medications, and
terms and restrictions like eligibility
requirements, at InsideRx.com.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. It
impacts all races, ages and genders. Take
these fi rst steps to help manage your
symptoms. Keep in mind, if you are
ever feeling suicidal thoughts, call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
it from time to time. Higher levels
of stress can cause problems at work
and at home. But stress is not just hard
on your mental well-being, it is hard on
your body and can lead to many negative
Stress levels can also increase signifi -
cantly when economic times are tough.
In England, the British Health and Social
Care Information Centre found that
stress had increased by 47 percent during
that country’s recession and that stress
was the single biggest cause of sickness in
the UK, aff ecting 20 percent of the population.
In the United States, a survey by
the Anxiety and Depression Association
of America found that seven out of 10
people reported feeling some stress daily.
To help you stay calm and focused, consider
these four ways to reduce stress.
Certain smells can bring back very specific
and detailed memories. Th ese could be of a
person, event or place. Most oft en the memory
also has a deeply emotional feeling that is
recalled. Th is is because smells are processed
by a specifi c part of the brain that stores emotional
memories. Taking the time to seek out
the smells that bring back those happy memories
can help reduce stress levels.
Stress is characterized in the human
body by high levels of the hormone
cortisol, referred to as the “stress hormone.”
Scientifi c research has shown, in
animals and in humans, that increased
levels of salt consumption are very
eff ective in reducing levels of cortisol.
Research from the University of
Haifa, published in the science journal
Appetite, confi rmed the relationship
between salt and stress in humans.
Researchers found an inverse correlation
between salt and depression/
stress, especially in women. Craving
salty foods may very well be a biological
defense mechanism we evolved to cope
with daily stress.
Animal therapy has long been used to
relieve stress, improve mood and treat
anxiety. Some studies have also indicated
that just being around an animal can
reduce blood pressure. Th is pet therapy
has been used in hospitals and nursing
homes and even with military veterans
suff ering from depression. And it
is not limited to dogs and cats. Rabbits,
Guinea pigs and even horses are used. An
added benefi t is that having a pet encourages
Regular exercise, even if mild, may be
the best stress reducer there is. When you
are active the body releases endorphins,
which produce a feeling of well-being.
Regular activity can improve your concentration
as well as your sleep, which
can oft en be negatively aff ected by stress.
Just going for a daily walk can help
improve how you feel. And the results of
exercise can also improve your self-image
and confi dence.
Wintertime can be stressful for many
people. Th e cold and shorter days mean
less sunlight and fewer opportunities for
outdoor activities. Th at is why it is important
to take the time to take good care of
yourself and your family by looking for
ways to relax.