New Study Finds Humans Need Better Therapies, Not Just Antidepressants 

According to a new study, while antidepressants are the main solution for treating depression, their use may not be that effective long-term. The study showed that depressed individuals who aren’t medicated, but in a stable and consistent therapy program have been able to have a greater quality of life in the long run when it comes to their mental health. 

Lead pharmacoepidemiologist for the study Omar Almohammed, emphasized that the point of the study is not to deter individuals from using antidepressants, as these drugs do save lives, but instead bring light to the fact that many people who do take them think that it’ll be enough to combat their depression, when that’s not the case for a lot of people. 

“For some, these meds do little to relieve depression and can have unwanted side effects such as weight gain, insomnia, loss of sex drive, and even withdrawal-like symptoms if they are stopped abruptly.”

Embed from Getty Images

“Improving people’s overall wellbeing, especially their quality of life, for years and not just a few short months, is the ultimate goal of therapy. However, whether antidepressants help achieve this goal is questionable, to say the least.” Almohammed and colleagues wrote.

Antidepressants in general have a history of being either unreliable or ineffective. This is partially due to the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has long suppressed piles of trial data that prove some antidepressants can be ineffective.

The study took data from the US Medical Expenditures Panel Survey, a nationwide study that tracks which health services are used by Americans. The researchers found that antidepressants leave many people “desperate” for better treatments, specifically, between 2005 and 2016, roughly 17 million adults were diagnosed with depression each year. 

The analysis found that while antidepressant use was associated with some improvements in the immediate mental health of these individuals, the physical aspects of their quality of life tended to diminish. 

About two-thirds of the individuals researched throughout the 11-year dataset were women, which also reflects the gender-disparities that exist in the mental health industry. Nearly 60% of the women in the data were treated with antidepressants. 

Embed from Getty Images

“People tended to report that their psychological distress and well being improved with antidepressants, but their physical health problems, bodily pain, and lack of vitality often remained.”

“Doctors and health professionals should consider looping people into psychotherapy or social support sessions before resorting to or when prescribing antidepressants mainly since there was no persisting impact for these medications on people’s quality of life,” the team writes

Again, the authors of the study emphasized that antidepressants shouldn’t be distributed, but instead clinicians should be rethinking the best way to help their clients through therapy and other programs in addition to, or in lieu of, antidepressants.  

“Pairing antidepressants with support from a psychotherapist seems key to improving people’s quality of life, more so than the drugs or talking therapy alone.”

“Although we still need our patients with depression to continue using their antidepressant medications, long-term studies evaluating the actual impact for pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions on these patients’ quality of life are needed,” the team concluded.

Magnify Glass of Real Estate Market

Global Wellness Real Estate Market Surging Throughout Pandemic 

Wellness real estate is defined as “commercial, institutional, and residential properties that incorporate wellness elements in their architecture and amenities,” according to the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

GWI explained that throughout the past few years the wellness real estate market has seen exponential growth, even with the pandemic. 

Embed from Getty Images

“The pandemic fueled the shift in the real estate and construction industries toward wellness: from 2019-2020, wellness real estate continued to grow by over 22%, even as overall construction shrank,” the organization reported.

GWI held their annual Wellness Real Estate and Communities Symposium this week in New York where they discussed the market as it currently stands, and ways to continue to expand and improve it. 

“The wellness real estate market as a continuing opportunity, driven in part from lessons learned during COVID. Doctors, architects and wellness professionals have come together to introduce preventive medicine intentions into the way we design the built environment as a preventative medicine tool,” shared presenter and sponsor Paul Scialla, CEO of wellness technology firm Delos.

“The pandemic has driven the idea of ‘building for human health’ into the mainstream consumer consciousness, and the recent market growth far exceeded our predictions.”

Embed from Getty Images

The US and China alone account for 60% of the overall total wellness real estate market. GWI estimates that there are more than 2300 wellness projects worldwide in various stages of development and completion; three years ago that number was around 740. 

GWI attributes the growth in the industry to many factors, including many brought on by the pandemic; “stress, loneliness, remote work and an increasing eco-consciousness in the public sphere.”

“The pandemic has definitely brought the wellness real estate concept more into focus. COVID forced us to see our homes and built environment in a radically new light. Wellness real estate is now quickly moving from elective to essential.”

According to GWI vice president of research and forecasting, Beth McGroarty, the pandemic drove trends in wellness real estate thanks to a multitude of factors, such as advanced technology, remote working procedures, and affordability depending on the area.

Why Experts Believe Gardening Is Good For Both Your Physical And Mental Health 

There’s been a growing amount of research surrounding what we can do for ourselves at home to continue to practice good physical and mental health habits. After the last year, we’ve all had to adapt our lives to make sure that we’re constantly stimulating our brain, and moving our body to ensure that we remain as healthy as possible. 

Gardening has become one of the most popular pandemic activities and for good reason. A growing amount of research has proven that gardening is not only great for your physical health because it gets you up and moving, but your mental health as well, due to the fact that it gives you tasks to focus on, while also adding beauty to your space. 

Embed from Getty Images

James Wong is a botanist and journalist who recently looked into this concept more deeply, and found that gardening has actually helped a lot of people cope with the isolation of the past year. 

Wong explained how in general, “research has shown that mindfulness exercises that focus one’s attention on the here and now and stop our minds wandering to the past or worrying about the future are an important therapeutic tool.” So gardening has always acted as a form of therapy for many people. 

“Gardening is a classic example of such a mindfulness exercise, where you clear out extraneous thoughts and focus on what is in front of you, especially given the seasonal nature of gardening.”

Embed from Getty Images

“In fact, many Eastern cultures that have a long tradition of mindfulness are fixated on the beauty of seasonal plants, such as cherry blossom, precisely because of their transience, not in spite of it. So, in my opinion, fake plants and a green fence are unlikely to provide the full benefit,” Wong explained. 

There’s also a major social aspect that comes with gardening that Wong explained has motivated many individuals to go out of their way to talk to others. 

“Studies conducted at community gardens found that gardening in such places has a significant positive impact on one of the key factors behind poor mental health – loneliness and isolation.”

Wong recommends putting energy into your front lawn garden, or whichever part of your house is closest to your neighbors if you want to attempt to branch out and get to know the individuals you share a block with. 

“Each of these benefits appears to play only a small part in a much more complex puzzle, and the relative importance of each piece is likely to vary enormously for each person, to the point where they are often contradictory. When it comes to horticultural therapy, the best advice is it doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it the way that works best for you,” Wong explained.

Post-Pandemic Covid-19

Post-Pandemic Lifestyle Tips For Living Your Best And Healthiest Life 

As more and more Americans continue to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations, states are continuing to ease up on pandemic restrictions to allow vaccinated individuals to get back to a certain sense of normalcy this summer. 

As we enter back into the world, many of us are mainly concerned about staying healthy, so it’s important that we continue to take care of ourselves to stay healthy as the pandemic continues to come to a prolonged end. 

“As the world begins to get back to its pre-pandemic state, health should stay at the front of our minds. There are things you can do to avoid infection by SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that could harm you.” says Brenda Rea, lifestyle and preventive medicine physician at Loma Linda University Health.

Embed from Getty Images

Rea and other physicians recommend the same basic categories of maintaining a healthy lifestyle: a proper diet, daily exercise, drinking water, mental wellness, and sleep.

When it comes to our diets it’s important to remember that balance is key. Rea claims that “diet plays one of the most important roles in either increasing or reducing stress, down to a cellular level. The fuel you put into your body can work as a defense against illness and help your body work at its peak performance level,” or it can do the opposite and work to make you more lethargic and vulnerable to illness. 

Daily exercise can also reduce your chance of getting either a virus or long-term disease. Getting exercise everyday doesn’t need to be as intimidating as it seems. It could mean getting up and going for a 30 minute walk everyday, doing yoga every morning, etc. 

“Exercise can increase your immunity to certain illnesses while also reducing your stress hormones, which can increase your susceptibility to disease.”

Water is obviously one of the most important things in all of our lives. So it’s important that you make sure you’re drinking enough of it every day. Rea explained how water “helps rid your body of toxins, and ensures that your body systems function properly, and helps prevent illness.”

Embed from Getty Images

“Adequate water intake enables your brain to produce the necessary chemicals like serotonin or melatonin for optimal emotional and sleep health.”

Stress and mental illness in general can also weaken our immune systems, so it’s important that we take care of our mental health as much as our physical health as this pandemic comes to an end. “Taking care of your mental health can help you avoid mood disorders like depression or anxiety, reduce risk of infection, and less prone to feel lethargic or unmotivated. To get back to normal with less stress, I recommend putting a priority on your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing.”

Finally, it’s important that you’re getting a proper amount of sleep every night. Additionally, you want to make sure that the sleep itself is quality.  

“For adults, sleeping 7-9 hours a night is optimal.Infection-fighting antibodies are reduced when you don’t get enough sleep, making you more vulnerable to disease,” Rea explained. 

We all have to work together to take care of ourselves throughout the coming months. These have been unpredictable and trying times that have taken a toll on everyone to a certain degree. Check in on how your loved ones are doing, but most importantly make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Pandemic Mental Health

1 In 3 Covid-19 Survivors Diagnosed With Mental Health Disorders Within 6 Months Of Recovery

A pandemic study regarding the long term effects of Covid-19 in its survivors has estimated that 1 in 3 individuals were diagnosed with neurological or psychiatric conditions within six months of their initial infection. 

The study was published this week in the peer-reviewed journal, The Lancet Psychiatry. The study itself used electronic health records from more than 230,000 Covid-19 patients mainly from the US and specifically regarding 14 different brain and mental health disorders. 

The study found that “34% of survivors were diagnosed with at least one of the 14 conditions, with 13% of those people being their first recorded neurological or psychiatric diagnosis. Mental health diagnoses were most common among patients, with 17% diagnosed with anxiety and 14% diagnosed with a mood disorder.”

Embed from Getty Images

Neurological diagnoses were much more uncommon, however, they were more prevalent in patients who experienced serious illness during their Covid-19 infection. 7% of Covid-19 patients who had to be admitted to intensive care had a stroke, for example, and 2% were diagnosed with dementia. 

“It shows the toll that COVID takes is not just with the (disease itself), but also with the aftermath of the condition, which can be extremely complicated, involving not only the brain but other organs in the body as well,” said Dr. William Li, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the study of abnormal blood vessel growth.

The study also looked at around 100,000 flu patients and more than 230,000 patients who were diagnosed with a respiratory tract infection within the past year and found that neurological and psychiatric diagnoses were more common in individuals who fought Covid-19. 

Embed from Getty Images

“There was a 44% greater risk of brain or mental health disorder diagnoses after COVID-19 than after the flu, and a 16% greater risk than with respiratory tract infections,” according to the study.

Julie Walsh-Messinger, assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Dayton, recently discussed how it’s possible that “coronavirus infection could lead to anxiety or depression as these conditions have been associated with inflammation typically seen in Covid-19.”

“We’re seeing higher rates of depression and anxiety across the board regardless of (COVID-19 infection) or not. It’s hard to tease apart how much of it is general stress-induced anxiety or depression because of lack of ability to socialize, lack of ability to engage in activities that one normally enjoys, fear about the future and how much of it is specific to the disease’s progress. Even so, the study is an important first step in what clinicians can expect from their patients who have recovered from COVID-19,” she explained. 

“The size of the study also demonstrates how the long-term effects of COVID-19 can impact a country’s health care system even after the disease is gone. Although the individual risks for most disorders are small, the effect across the whole population may be substantial for health and social care systems due to the scale of the pandemic. Health care systems need to be resourced to deal with the anticipated need,” said lead author Paul Harrison, a professor at the University of Oxford in the U.K.

Children Drinking Juice Box

Manchester Schools To Perform Study On Children’s Wellbeing Post-Pandemic 

A multitude of school districts in Manchester are participating in a study that’s looking into the wellbeing of children and their emotional responses to reentering the world as the pandemic reaches its eventual end. Two-thirds of parents believe that mental health should be prioritized over academic attainment in the coming school year. 

The Greater Manchester Young People’s Wellbeing Program will be running the study that will be gathering data from tens of thousands of young students across 250 secondary schools in the city of Manchester. This is the first study of its kind in the UK, and it will begin collecting data this fall. Initially, the program will attempt to learn young people’s feelings and concerns over returning to school, as well as their physical activity. 

Embed from Getty Images

Research is also being conducted for the University of Manchester in association with the Anna Freud Center, the Youth Sports Trust, and the Greater Manchester combined authority. This major collaborative effort shows that Manchester authorities and educators are greatly concerned that students won’t be able to learn as successfully due to the amount of adjustments they’ve had to make within the past year. 

David Gregson is a philanthropist who first brought up the idea of performing this study. Gregson argues that “the UK has neglected the wellbeing and physical health of children in favor of academic attainment, to the detriment of their actual development.” 

The Youth Sports Trust also recently performed a survey that suggested parents agree with Gregson’s argument. The survey found that “65% of parents believed wellbeing was a key factor in choosing a child’s secondary school, while only 48% said the same of exam results. Meanwhile, 70% of parents with children between the ages of 11 and 16 said their children’s wellbeing had suffered during the pandemic.”

Embed from Getty Images

“I first took this idea to Greater Manchester in 2019 and all Covid has done, as the tide has gone out, is expose the pebbles we knew existed. For me, our education system has become too focused on attainment. A necessary but insufficient assessment,” Gregson said. 

“We’ve got ourselves into the position where we think that attainment is the be-all and end-all and I don’t agree with that. I want to change that dialogue and I want to improve the wellbeing of young people in Greater Manchester to prove that point.”

Gregson claims that all the data collected in this program will be shared with local authorities and government leaders so that they can recognize, and hopefully change, areas of need within the education system. 

“My 10-year plan is to add a second leg to the assessment of young people in Britain that we don’t just think of them as people who get GCSE results,” Gregson said. 

“That we think about another equally important part of their makeup, which is their wellbeing, their sense of self-esteem, their sense of optimism. We’ll need all of that. We needed it pre-Covid and we’ll certainly need it after Covid.”

Living Alone In Lockdown: How To Keep Yourself Healthy And Occupied At Home 

In November 2020, the Office for National Statistics released findings that showed levels of loneliness had climbed to record levels within the past year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings showed that 8% of adults were feeling “always or often lonely,” and 16-29-year-olds were twice as likely to experience those same feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. 

Even individuals who were previously living by themselves have claimed that this pandemic has forced them to rethink their entire way of life. Some experts claim that long-term social isolation is as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes a day; obviously this is in reference to complete and total isolation, however, being trapped in your home with nothing but a smartphone to show you the outside world is anything but healthy.

Embed from Getty Images

Many individuals living alone have also found themselves in the unlucky position of being unemployed due to the decline in economies throughout the world as well. The combination of complete solitude and lack of employment is leaving individuals to get trapped in their own heads, and being in the middle of a deadly global pandemic is causing those inner voices to become much louder. 

Brenda is a 71-year-old UK resident who lives by herself. She recently spoke with the media about how the pandemic and its isolation has given a lot of people the opportunity to self-reflect, which doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. 

“I’m not the sort of person who thinks about dying, but I suddenly found myself wanting to clear my papers and get rid of clutter, as it wouldn’t be fair on my daughters if I passed. All the things I’d ignored by surrounding myself with others came to the front of my mind,” she explained as she broke down how a lot of us have also lost the ability to interact with each other because of this pandemic.

Embed from Getty Images

“What I found odd, having been very sociable before, was that you almost lose the art of it. A friend turned 70 last summer and her daughter threw a party; 15 people were allowed. I really looked forward to it but on the day I felt strange. I always liked living by myself, but total isolation from society is a different thing altogether. As the year wore on I missed people terribly and fell into some real slumps.”

Lonely people are much more likely to turn to negative vices, like drinking and smoking, when left in complete isolation. The addition of a deadly virus spreading around the world has many individuals caring less about their health when it should have the opposite effect. Experts claim the best way to combat this is creating a daily schedule for yourself that allows you time to explore your creative side and pick up some new hobbies. 

Many individuals have turned to things like baking bread, painting, knitting, puzzles, running, etc. to pass the time and better their lives while stuck inside. Doing activities that stimulate your body, mind, and spirit and keep you engaged are the best for combatting these negative feelings. 

One of the most important things to remember, however, is to really listen to yourself and your feelings. No one should ever feel alone, even if they’re living on the top of a hill thousands of miles away from everyone. Take care of your body and mind, and look into online therapy options if you think talking out your thoughts will help you move past them. Many of us have been focusing on keeping our bodies healthy throughout this pandemic due to the virus, but don’t forget that mental health is just as important as physical health, if not more important. Treat yourself kindly, and never be afraid to ask for help.

Candles in the Home

How Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh Can Enhance Your Overall Wellbeing

When it comes to our homes personal scent, more times than not we can become so accustomed to how our homes smell that we don’t even notice when more foul smells start to appear. When bad smells are caused by things like trash, a lack of cleaning/dusting, laundry, etc. they tend to linger and attach themselves to parts of your home, unknown to you though. 

Joseph Allen is a professor at Harvard who recently discussed how for some individuals the “olfactory ambiance of their home can lead to what is known as ‘sick home’ syndrome. Thought to be caused by poor ventilation, mold and the accumulation of bad smells, the symptoms include headaches; eye, nose or throat irritation; dry or itchy skin; or mental fatigue.”

Embed from Getty Images

Allen claims, however, that it’s unknown whether or not this syndrome is a physical response to the smells in one’s home, or if it’s more psychological, and has more to do with the mental health aspect that comes with maintaining a clean or messy space. He explained that often our brains tag unpleasant odors as dangerous due to an evolutionary response of associating negative smells with disease and death. 

Regardless of if this response is physiological or physical, you should always make sure your house is clean in terms of dusting and taking out the trash. Even further, making sure your house is always smelling pleasant and fresh is one of the most effective ways to enhance your overall mood and wellbeing. 

Think about when you find yourself in times of deep sadness or stress, entering into a messy space only adds more physical and psychological clutter to your life because it’s just one more thing to worry about. Smelling things like lavender, vanilla, or peppermint in times of overwhelming stress can help relax and center the body. 

Embed from Getty Images

Pleasant and powerful scents such as rose, citrus, or cinnamon will take you out of whatever overwhelming line of thinking you’re in and return you to the present moment. By focusing on the scent of your home and that present moment you’re more easily able to figure out what you need to do for yourself in order to make your own life easier, and less stressful. 

According to research the scent of the South American heliotropin flower is thought to have an extremely calming effect on the body. Allen explained that this flower in particular is used as one of the main ingredients in baby powder, so the scent automatically transports your subconscious to the reassuring and simplistic memories of childhood.

While candles and essential oils are also an amazing way to liven up the scent of any space, they’re not 100% necessary for when you find yourself in times of passing stress or anxiety. Introducing strong smells to your body can immediately jolt you into the present moment, energize your sense and clear your mind. Something as simple as smelling fresh coffee grounds in your cabinet, or garlic frying in a pan can help accomplish this. 

Allen explained that smells always retain their ability to evoke a specific memory and/or emotion in us. Compared to every other scent, smelling is the most powerful in terms of sensory cues taking us back to a very specific memory or time in our life. So go out and invest in some fresh flowers, a few cinnamon cloves, and maybe even a candle or two, oh, and also remember to take out your trash periodically.

Organic Fruits & Vegetables

How To Maintain An Organic Lifestyle Easily At Home 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general is the best way to support your body’s overall sense of wellness. This includes not only our physical health, but mental health as well, because when our bodies are functioning the best they can, our minds begin to follow. Leading an organic lifestyle is not only healthy, but fulfilling to the many ecosystems that make this planet so beautiful, so what can you do at home to help benefit yourself and the planet?

Eating organically doesn’t have to be as complicated as some may make it seem. Eating vegetables, fruits, and other fresh produce that hasn’t been touched or cultivated using intense chemicals ensures that your body is receiving all of the nutrients that food item has to offer. Organic eating also includes eating meat that hasn’t been processed with any hormones in a closed factory setting. 

Embed from Getty Images

This is genuinely one of the healthiest ways to eat because chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and more can have an incredibly negative impact on one’s health. If you had your own home garden, and then your lawn was sprayed down with insecticide, would you still want to eat what you grew in that garden?

Speaking of gardens, keeping an organic garden is a great and easy way to ensure that the food you’re bringing into your home is, in fact, organic. Organic farming is nothing new, and is actually much more common in individuals’ personal home gardens now than it was compared to ten years ago. 

In order to create an organic garden you must buy organic seeds, which can likely be found at any local home and garden store, and then through composting you will be able to get all the nutrients that you need to help grow your garden. Be mindful of what plants you’re growing, however, as different produce will need different maintenance. 

Embed from Getty Images

Beyond just your diet, there are plenty of other ways you can lead an organic lifestyle in your day-to-day operations. Using organic beauty and skin care products with eco-conscious packaging will help benefit your local community in a multitude of ways. Using products with organic ingredients guarantees everything you’re applying to your face and body is all natural. 

Luckily, there’s already a ton of brands out there that produce organic shampoos, soaps, creams, makeup products, etc., and most of them can be found at your local drug or grocery store. Don’t hesitate to branch out with your beauty, and check the products your use now; you may already be using some organic products without even knowing because of how common they are now!

“Organic clothing” is another amazing way to implement organic elements into your life. Buying clothes made from recycled materials, thrift shopping, and buying from local retailers who also produce their products locally, are just a few examples of how you can turn your closet into a more organic space that better benefits the planet. The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change due to the consistent distribution of materials via airplane and other transportation services that burn fossil fuels.

As you can see, there are a ton of easy and accessible ways that anyone can start implementing organic elements into their lives, and thus begin leading a healthier lifestyle. Not only will your physical and mental health begin to improve, but the planet will also be a little greener thanks to your efforts.

Walking Outdoors

10,000 Steps A Day Is Key To Maintaining A Healthy Lifestyle, Doctor Says

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, doctors recommend taking at least 8,000 to 10,000 steps every day to keep your mind, body, and spirit active and engaged. Regardless of age, everyone can benefit from staying on their feet more throughout the day, especially in the middle of a pandemic that forces us to remain indoors. 

Duke Carlson is a family doctor who always recommends that his patients increase the number of steps they take each day as a means of supporting positive physical and mental health. 

“Following patients throughout their lives the way that I have in my career I’ve seen the amount of activity they are engaged in and daily steps make a big difference in their health.”

Embed from Getty Images

Carlson traditionally “prescribes” all of his patients to get at least 10,000 steps a day, as it has proven to be one of the more popular ways to get his patients moving. “People generally like to have a concrete number for the number of steps they should take,” this way, there’s a set goal that the individual can work towards everyday. Older patients may be prescribed 6,000 – 8,000 steps a day depending on their physical condition; age is never a determining factor in terms of someone’s physical health. 

Typically that recommendation is given to older individuals who have a history with arthritis or any other joint/mobility related conditions, but again, “age doesn’t make it where you can’t do steps,” it’s the condition of the body that impacts how well one can exercise at any age. 

Carlson often uses his mother-in-law as an example, and as a motivation, for his older patients who seem less inclined to get up and move every day. His mother-in-law is 85 and makes sure to get in 10,000 steps every single day, most of which occurs in her own home. She often uses the treadmill but also walks in place while on the phone or watching TV. 

Embed from Getty Images

“You can march in pace in front of the TV, you can go to Walmart and do two laps around the building before you go shopping, there’s always little ways to make daily exercise easy for everyone.”

The practice of shinrin-yoku, also known as “forest bathing”, is an alternative way to count steps that originated in Japan that Carlson has found himself adopting into his own life in recent years. This practice encourages individuals to go outside and immerse themselves in some type of nature; preferably under a canopy of trees. 

Carlson has been recommending this practice to most of his patients especially now that the world is enduring the Covid-19 pandemic. Getting out and finding nature paths that already allow for proper social distancing to take place is the perfect way to get in your 10,000 steps. The fresh air and colorful scenic surroundings are also an added bonus. 

For individuals working from home, he recommends finding simple ways to insert walking into your daily routine. For example, taking a walk on your lunch break instead of sitting in front of the TV, or walking in place while on business calls, just like his mother-in-law.