Seasonal Affective Disorder: What You Should Know

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The bright lights of the holiday season aren’t just for decoration; they can also help regulate your mood.

In late fall and winter, shorter daylight hours leave many people with little to no sun exposure, signaling the brain to create too much of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.

This overproduction of melatonin leads to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that affects an estimated 10 to 20 percent of the population.

SAD Differs from Depression

Major depression is a disease in which your brain’s pleasure responses are broken. You may have a loss of appetite, fatigue, trouble sleeping and feelings of hopelessness. Depressed people often have a harder time managing their symptoms in the winter. But when depressive symptoms are only affecting you in the winter, it’s considered seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD Affects Men and Women Equally

Historically, researchers have considered women to be more likely to experience seasonal depression. But psychiatrists are increasingly finding that’s not the case. “The classic crying and melancholic depression is more the norm of expression in women. But men express things differently, showing depression with more irritability, anger or frustration,” said Dr. Andrew Angelino, director of psychiatry at Howard County General Hospital.

Ways to Reverse SAD

If you can’t get outside during daylight hours, there are ways to help reverse your body’s creation of too much melatonin.

“If you find that you’re prone to getting the blahs in the winter months or you know you have depression and are taking your medicine, you can also get a light box,” says Dr. Angelino.

Absorbing natural, full-spectrum light regulates hormones in the brain, and helps keep your moods stabilize. In addition to obtaining a light box, Dr. Angelino recommends these five tips to help chase away the seasonal blues:

  1. Keep your holiday expectations realistic. Don’t let your hopes for perfection spoil your holiday spirit. Learn how to embrace things as good enough, like food, company and gifts.
  2. Practice wellness. A daily routine of at least 7 hours of sleep, a 30-minute exercise routine and limiting your alcohol intake can go a long way in fighting the blues.
  3. Stand in the sun. Take a break from your desk. At least 15-30 minutes of sunlight, especially in the early morning, helps to regulate your internal clock.
  4. Cultivate some winter hobbies. The chilly weather may freeze your weekend gardening plans but it may be the best time to catch up on your reading list or tackle a new project in the house. Adjust your leisure activities to fit the seasons.
  5. See a doctor if natural interventions are not successful. If your symptoms are regularly interfering with your everyday life, make an appointment with your doctor.

Article Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/prevention/seasonal-affective-disorder-what-you-should-know?utm_medium=social&utm_source=Facebook&utm_campaign=Health&utm_term=SADAnswers&utm_content=HealthSection

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From Causing Cancer To Treating Depression, 6 Little-Known Facts About Oral Sex

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Before the Clinton years and well after the Michael Douglas days, the notion of oral sex has been considered taboo. Now, oral sex is more openly discussed in movies, TV shows, and magazines as a pleasurable part of a healthy adult relationship. However, there’s much about oral sex that sexually active people should know before performing fellatio or cunnilingus on their partner.

In the U.S., 27 percent of men and 19 percent of women have had oral sex in the past year, according to a 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB).  Meanwhile in 2012, two-thirds of young Americans aged 15 to 24 have engaged in oral sex. Most of these young adults have tried oral sex before they engage in intercourse because of the popular misconception that oral sex is “risk-free,” but that’s not the case.

The surprising facts below will clarify misinformation surrounding sex, especially oral sex, and what can happen to the human body.

1. Men give oral sex as much as they receive it, especially older men.

Contrary to popular belief, men, especially older men, give as much oral sex to women as women give to men. A 2010 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found only 55 percent of men in the 20 to 24-year-old range admitted to giving oral sex in the past year compared to 75 percent of women. In the 30 to 39 age range, 69 percent of men have given women oral sex compared to 59 percent of women. This pattern suggests that the more you age, the more reciprocal you are in oral sex.

2. Giving oral sex can lower the risk of preeclampsia.

Pregnant women who perform oral sex on their male partner can lower their risk of preeclampsia. A 2000 study published in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology found women a strong correlation between a diminished incidence of preeclampsia and the frequency at which a woman practices oral sex. If a woman had relatively little prior exposure to the father’s semen, she would have a higher risk of developing the condition compared to if she performed oral sex and swallowed his semen.

The researchers believe this occurs because of the development of immunological tolerance via oral insertion and gastrointestinal absorption of the semen. This supports the notion that a greater frequency of sex with the same partner who is the father of a woman’s child, can significantly decrease her chances of developing preeclampsia. The pregnancy complication is characterized by high blood pressure, and can sometimes be accompanied by fluid retention and proteinuria.

3. Swallowing semen during oral sex can ease pregnancy morning sickness.

Typically, the nausea that occurs during the first few months of pregnancy, morning sickness, can be remedied with a teaspoon of ginger or mint. However, a 2012 paper written by SUNY-Albany psychologist Gordon Gallup suggests pregnant women who swallow the father’s semen can actually cure their episodes of morning sickness.  The woman’s body will first reject the father’s semen upon ingestion as an infection and then react to it by vomiting, according to Gallup. After this, the woman’s body will build up a tolerance to it and alleviate the morning sickness symptoms.

4. Sperm via oral sex can lower the risk of depression.

Semen’s mood altering chemicals can elevate mood, increase affection, and ward off depression. A 2012 studypublished in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found seminal fluid may contain antidepressant properties and may significantly lower depression in women who had oral sex and sexual intercourse. The researchers also noted women who described themselves as “promiscuous” yet used condoms, were as depressed as women who practice absinthe. This implies how it’s not the semen, not the sex that made the women in this study happy.

5. Oral sex can give you cancer.

The link between oropharynx cancers and HPV has been growing overtime in the U.S. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found the proportion of cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) rose from 16 percent to 72 percent from the late 1980s to the early 2000s, particularly among Caucasian middle-age men. The sexually transmitted disease (STI) can cause genital warts or present itself without symptoms. If it’s left untreated, it can also cause cancers including cervix, anus, penis, vagina, and head and neck, among many others.

6. You can get STDs from oral sex.

STDs are commonly transmitted through vagina and anal sex, but unprotected oral sex can also put you at risk for them. HPV, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and hepatitis B can all be spread through oral sex. According to Planned Parenthood, the human immunodeficiency virus is less likely to be transmitted through this.

Oral sex is still sex and should always be performed with caution and preferably with a condom on to reduce the transmission of STDs.

Written By: Lizette Borreli

Article Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/causing-cancer-treating-depression-6-little-known-facts-about-oral-sex-343010

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Low Free Testosterone Concentration as a Potentially Treatable Cause of Depressive Symptoms in Older Men

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Context  Serum concentrations of gonadal hormones have been associated with various measures of well-being, but it is unclear whether their association with mood is confounded by concurrent physical morbidity.

Objective  To determine whether the association between serum testosterone concentration and mood in older men is independent of physical comorbidity.

Design  Cross-sectional study.

Setting  Community of Perth, Western Australia.

Participants  A community sample of men aged 71 to 89 years.

Main Outcome Measures  We used the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) to assess depressed mood. Clinically significant depression was defined a priori as a GDS-15 score of 7 or greater. Physical health was assessed using the weighted Charlson index and the Physical Component Summary score of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey.

Results  Of 3987 men included in the study, 203 (5.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 4.4%-5.8%) had depression. Participants with depression had significantly lower total and free testosterone concentrations than nondepressed men (P < .001 for both). However, they were also more likely to smoke and to have low educational attainment, a body mass index categorized as obese, a Mini-Mental State Examination score less than 24, a history of antidepressant drug treatment, and greater concurrent physical morbidity. After adjusting for these factors and for age, men with depression were 1.55 (95% CI, 0.91-2.63) and 2.71 (95% CI, 1.49-4.93) times more likely to have total and free testosterone concentrations, respectively, in the lowest quintile.

Conclusions  A free testosterone concentration in the lowest quintile is associated with a higher prevalence of depression, and this association cannot be adequately explained by physical comorbidity. A randomized controlled trial is required to determine whether the link between low free testosterone level and depression is causal because older men with depression may benefit from systematic screening of free testosterone concentration and testosterone supplementation.

Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide,1 affecting 2% to 5% of the population at any point in time.2 The prevalence of depression is higher in women than in men throughout the lifespan, but sex differences all but disappear after age 65 years.3 The results of several experimental and observational studies and randomized trials suggest that gonadal corticosteroids might be partly responsible for such a sex-related phenomenon.4– 6 Currently available evidence suggests that estradiol has clinically relevant antidepressant properties,6– 10 but data in support of a potential role for testosterone in the modulation of mood remain scant.

Testosterone binds to an intranuclear androgen receptor that is ubiquitously distributed throughout the body, including the central nervous system.11 This receptor, in turn, binds to DNA and affects the production of messenger RNA, which modifies protein synthesis by the cell.11 The androgen receptor has a polymorphic CAG microsatellite coding for a variable length of glutamine residues, and men with shorter sequences of CAG repeats who have higher total testosterone levels seem to be less prone to experiencing clinically significant depressive symptoms.12 In target cells, testosterone can also be converted to 2 active metabolites: dihydrotestosterone, a highly potent activator of androgen receptors, and estradiol.13 It seems plausible, therefore, that low concentrations of testosterone will result in reduced androgen receptor activation and a decline in the concentration of estradiol in the brain. In addition, preliminary evidence14 suggests that testosterone has short- and long-term γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic properties, and these actions may further contribute to the modulation of mood in men.

Pope et al15 found that 8 of 50 men aged 20 to 50 years treated with high doses of testosterone developed symptoms of hypomania. Moreover, testosterone levels have been inversely correlated with depression scores,16,17 and preliminary evidence suggests that men with depression have deficient testosterone secretion.18 Depression scores seem to increase with chemical castration19 and typically decrease with testosterone supplementation,20– 22 which is consistent with a possible causal link between the two. However, the association between testosterone and health outcomes is not specific to depression. Total testosterone and free testosterone levels decline with increasing age, but the concentration of free testosterone declines more markedly.23– 26 The resulting relative androgen deficiency in later life has been linked to decreased lean mass and increased fat mass, osteopenia, decreased muscle strength, fatigue, decreased hematocrit values, systemic illness and increased risk of coronary heart disease, and poor concentration, among other problems.27,28 This raises the possibility that the association between low testosterone concentration and depression in later life might be due to the presence of concurrent poor physical health.

We designed this study to examine the association between depressive symptoms and testosterone concentrations in older men. We hypothesized that men with clinically significant depression would have lower concentrations of free testosterone than nondepressed men and that this association would be independent of poor physical health.

Article Source: http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=482640

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New study supports link between Omega-3 supplementation and reduction in depression

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According to the World Health Organization, depression is a major cause of disease burden worldwide, affecting an estimated 350 million people. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, in 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

A new meta-analysis published inTranslational Psychiatry supports the link between intake of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish, and reduction in major depressive disorder (MDD). The meta-analysis includes 13 studies with 1233 participants and, according to the authors, showed a benefit for EPA and DHA comparable to effects reported in meta-analyses of antidepressants (see Figure 1). The effect was greater in studies supplementing higher doses of EPA and performed in patients already on antidepressants.

“This new meta-analysis nuances earlier research on the importance of long chain omega-3s in MDD management”, said Dr. Roel JT Mocking, the study’s lead author and researcher at the Program for Mood Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. “Omega-3 supplements may be specifically effective in the form of EPA in depressed patients using antidepressants. This could be a next step to personalizing the treatment for depression and other disorders.”

Additionally, this study underscores the importance of EPA and DHA omega-3s for overall health and well-being, and supports an existing body of research on the connection between omega-3s and depression.

Article Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/g-nss031716.php

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Testosterone helps bind antidepressants in brain

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Female sex hormones have a strong effect on the psyche. This has been confirmed by numerous scientific studies and by phenomena such as the “baby blues,” a bout of low mood following childbirth, or recurrent mood swings that occur prior to menstruation. However the male sex hormone testosterone also affects our mood and emotions, as well as our libido — and in a positive way.

In a study published in the highly journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers from the MedUni Vienna have now discovered a potential biological mechanism behind this relationship.

As they grow older and as their sex hormone output falls, men suffer more commonly from depression and some studies have already demonstrated a positive effect of testosterone supplementation on the moods of the test subjects. Now, the study led by Rupert Lanzenberger from the University Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy has demonstrated for the first time worldwide that testosterone increases the number of serotonin transporters (proteins) in the human brain. These proteins regulate the concentration of serotonin and are also the target for antidepressants.

Serotonin transporters increased after just four weeks of hormone therapy

As a model for investigating the effect of testosterone, the researchers from the MedUni Vienna chose hormone therapy given to transsexuals. Says primary author Georg Kranz: “Transsexuals are people who feel that they are living in the wrong body and who therefore want high doses of opposite gender hormone therapy to adapt their appearance to that of the other gender. Genetic women are given testosterone, while genetic men are given oestradiol and medications to suppress testosterone production.”

Using the imaging method of positron emission tomography (PET), the scientists together with Wolfgang Wadsak and Markus Mitterhauser from the Clinical Department of Nuclear Medicine and Ulrike Kaufmann from the University Department of Gynaecology have demonstrated that serotonin transporter levels in the brain are significantly higher after just four weeks of hormone therapy with testosterone and that they rise further if therapy continues. Moreover, a close relationship has also been demonstrated between testosterone levels in the blood and the concentration of serotonin transporters.

“The study has shown that testosterone increases the potential binding sites for commonly prescribed antidepressants such as SSRIs in the brain and therefore provides major insights into how sex hormones affect the human brain and gender differences in psychiatric illnesses,” says Siegfried Kasper, Head of the University Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the MedUni Vienna.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Medical University of Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150126083816.htm

 

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January blues, avoiding depression after the winter holidays

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It can be hard to stay on track with your health and weight during the holiday ‘eating season’ – Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, etc. With all the extra snacking and feasting, and time consuming shopping and holiday events that keep you from exercising, November and December can seem like an extended period of bad-habit building. And those habits are often hard to break come January.

Trying to cope with post-holiday slump is part of the January blues. After two busy and gluttonous months, January feels like the extreme opposite, which often causes depression or makes it that much harder to feel motivated enough to get your health back on track. However, even if you’ve gained a few pounds and are feeling lethargic from all the excess, you can still bounce back from the holidays by starting 2016 with some smart choices and a plan. Here are five strategies to get you back on the mark.

Tips to beat the January blues

Watch your portions, regain your weight loss momentum

With the buffets, party trays and second helpings, your good dietary habits likely went out the window the past couple of months. Now that it’s January, bouncing back from the overeating is all about controlling your portions and returning to your regular eating schedule – three proportioned meals a day with healthy snacks is a great start.

Incorporate more vegetables, fiber and protein as they have the lasting power to keep you fuller for longer. Also, more leafy greens will provide essential nutrients that were probably missing from your holiday meals.
Another trick is to use smaller plates. It works! There’s a Small Plate Movement campaign, educating people that our plate size relates directly to our waist size. When we eat, we feel the need to completely clean our plates. With a larger plate comes larger portions, which leads to overeating. Small Plates suggests that by bringing down the size of your plate, you will not only eat less, but you will also feel fuller because you will think you just had a large, complete meal.

Keep on moving, stop being sedentary

It can be hard to find the time to exercise during the holidays, but if you want to get back to your energetic self, adding in some physical activity will give you a fresh start – and will also help you shed those unwanted holiday pounds.

Every step adds up: Park further away from the entrance to your grocery story, or get off one bus stop sooner and head to your final destination by foot. Go for a quick walk after your lunch or take an evening stroll to unwind after dinner. Aside from the slimming and strengthening benefits, studies show that exercise is a great way to relieve stress, which we could all use after such a hectic season.

In one particular study, conducted by the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, two groups of participants were asked to eat 50 percent more than they normally would. One group remained sedentary while the other group used a treadmill for about 45 minutes at a medium pace. What they found was that although the two groups gained weight, the treadmill group gained less than the sedentary group. They also found that their metabolisms returned to their normal rate.

Make a plan, choose achievable New Year’s resolutions

Vague resolutions like “lose weight” or “exercise more” often tend to fall to the wayside by February because they aren’t attached to specific actions. Breaking larger goals down into measurable, achievable steps helps you stay on track, and gives you a bunch of mini-achievements to enjoy while you work toward your bigger goal.

For example, if you plan to focus on healthy eating in 2016, try goals like “Have a salad for lunch every day for a month” or “Eat five servings of produce a day.” Attach small rewards, like a manicure or movie night, to your goals as extra motivation.

Don’t be hard on yourself

The commotion of the holidays is done, along with the damage of over-indulgences. When we’re entering the dead of winter, it seems easier to start blaming ourselves and forming regret. Don’t allow yourself to do this! Your mood and attitude are equally important to maintaining good health. If you find yourself feeling a little blue, here are some easy ways to boost your mood.

Focus on the good things in your life, like your friends, a beloved pet and those phone calls to your grandkids! Gratitude and appreciation can help you think more positively and land on the bright side of things.

Restore your sleep schedule; a good night’s rest can have you feeling refreshed in the morning. In winter’s shorter days, try to get as much natural light as possible. The vitamin D will help lift your spirits. Lastly, stay social, continue to visit and talk with friends and family; the feeling of togetherness will keep you on the right track.

It’s true that there isn’t a lot about the holidays that’s normal when it comes to your day-to-day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t restore your good habits and make your health a priority once more.

If you do, it’ll make it that much easier to jump back into your routine full swing, leaving the holidays as memorable and enjoyable times to cherish.

Source: http://www.belmarrahealth.com/january-blues-avoiding-depression-after-the-winter-holidays/

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Vitamin D deficiency, depression linked in international study

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Vitamin D deficiency is not just harmful to physical health–it also might impact mental health, according to a team of researchers that has found a link between seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, and a lack of sunlight.

“Rather than being one of many factors, vitamin D could have a regulative role in the development of SAD,” said Alan Stewart of the University of Georgia College of Education.

An international research partnership between UGA, the University of Pittsburgh and the Queensland University of Technology in Australia reported the finding in the November 2014 issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses.

Stewart and Michael Kimlin from QUT’s School of Public Health and Social Work conducted a review of more than 100 leading articles and found a relationship between vitamin D and seasonal depression.

“Seasonal affective disorder is believed to affect up to 10 percent of the population, depending upon geographical location, and is a type of depression related to changes in season,” said Stewart, an associate professor in the department of counseling and human development services.

“People with SAD have the same symptoms every year, starting in fall and continuing through the winter months.”

Stewart said, based on the team’s investigations, vitamin D was likely to be a contributing factor in seasonal depression.

“We believe there are several reasons for this, including that vitamin D levels fluctuate in the body seasonally, in direct relation to seasonally available sunlight,” he said. “For example, studies show there is a lag of about eight weeks between the peak in intensity of ultraviolet radiation and the onset of SAD, and this correlates with the time it takes for UV radiation to be processed by the body into vitamin D.

Vitamin D is also involved in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine within the brain, both chemicals linked to depression, according to the researchers.

“Evidence exists that low levels of dopamine and serotonin are linked to depression, therefore it is logical that there may be a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms,” said Kimlin, a Cancer Council Queensland Professor of Cancer Prevention Research.

“Studies have also found depressed patients commonly had lower levels of vitamin D.”

Vitamin D levels varied according to the pigmentation of the skin. People with dark skin often record lower levels of vitamin D, according to the researchers.

“Therefore it is suggested that persons with greater skin pigmentation may experience not only higher risks of vitamin D deficiency, but also be at greater risk of psychological and psychiatric conditions,” he said.

Kimlin, who heads QUT’s National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Sun and Health, said adequate levels of vitamin D were essential in maintaining bone health, with deficiency causing osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. Vitamin D levels of more than 50 nanomoles per liter are recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.

“What we know now is that there are strong indications that maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D are also important for good mental health,” Kimlin said. “A few minutes of sunlight exposure each day should be enough for most people to maintain an adequate vitamin D status.”

“Queensland is known as the Sunshine State in Australia but that doesn’t mean all Queenslanders get enough vitamin D,” Kimlin said. “This research is of international importance because no matter where you live, low levels of vitamin D can be a health concern.”

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-12/uog-vdd120214.php

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