How does living by the sea affect your mental health?

The environment plays a significant role in an individual's emotional well being. A recent study1 from New Zealand and Michigan University concluded that 'residential exposure to blue space is associated with lower psychological distress'. There are a number of underlying factors that could explain the association between living by seaside and improvement of mental health conditions. Another piece of research from the University of Exeter showed similar results in the UK population, where a positive correlation is found between the proximity of residence to coast and ‘good health’. 

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The seaside provides the perfect combination of water and open space. In general, watching or being in water facilitates relaxation. Let us now think of few of our special senses:

Often the sound and vision of water from sea or ocean is observed to lift our mood. On a biological level, this audio-visual stimulus incites our parasympathetic nervous system which helps us becoming calm and relaxed. The touch of sand in our hands or feet provides an improved sense of well-being. This is also likely to be a conditioned effect in our thought process as we tend to associate beach with harmony, peace, relaxation etc. The smell of the breeze in seaside leads to a state of relaxation. 

Living in wider open space often encourages us to engage in regular exercise whether it is gentle strolling along the seaside or running, jogging etc. along the beach. Exercise is already proven to increase the relevant neurotransmitters like serotonin and noradrenaline which are deficient in people who are suffering with Depression. Therefore it may not be a big surprise that people living closer to sea or ocean, tend to have a more healthy lifestyle.  

Staring at the blue water and horizon can induce a semi-meditative state in our mind. A number of mindfulness exercises are based on the sea or a beach environment. Having seen the effectiveness of mindfulness in stress, anxiety and depression at my clinical practice, I believe that the residents by the side of sea, ocean or river will have ideal opportunities to practise mindfulness-based meditation exercise either by sitting on the beach, or even watching the waterfront from their homes. Mindfulness not only is an effective treatment modality for anxiety, depression and stress-related disorders, but it also promotes our overall emotional wellbeing. 

Having a home by the sea side brings us closer to nature, unlike the city environment where bricks and mortars remain a constant repertoire.

As far as the evidence base is concerned, all we can conclude at this stage is that there remains a positive association between positive mental health and living closer to sea or ocean. Larger randomised controlled studies are needed to establish the cause and effect relationship between these two factors. 

  1. Nutsford et al, Health & Place, May 2016, Vol 39, p: 70-78

Written by Dr Arghya Sarkhel - Consultant Psychiatrist, Living Mind
FRCPsych, DPM (Dublin), MSc in Neuroscience (London)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dry January - Living Mind's Approach

As the new year passes, many will have given thought to going without alcohol in alignment with Dry January. From an emotional or psychological perspective, Dry January is about giving a closer look at our wellbeing and health. Staying dry from alcohol, smoking and unhealthy eating are the obvious choices although there are endless reasons to take part in Dry January.

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According to research carried out at the Royal Free Hospital in London, 79% of participants who took part saved money, 62% had better sleep and more energy, and 49% lost weight. It seems like a no-brainer! Why wouldn’t you want to take part? Giving up these unhealthy habits for a month will help to instill a new sense of life into you and will undoubtedly leave you feeling refreshed.

During Dry January, you can also take the time to relieve yourself from thoughts and ideas which can compromise our functioning. How about instilling some self-compassion - regular practice fills our mind with kindness, pleasure, a sense of wellness and thereby hardly leaves any room for unhelpful thoughts to enter. Practising mindfulness helps to increase inner resilience along with physical activity and regular exercise helps to restore balance of neurotransmitters and helps maintain our 'dryness'.

At Living Mind, we can help you in a variety of ways to achieve and maintain this dryness, nourishing emotional health not just for January but for months and years to come.

Understanding Depression: What is it? How can you beat it?

Depression is a symptom that each of us can experience in our lifetime. But it is only considered as illness or disorder when low mood becomes pervasive and persistent irrespective of the possible triggers and when it compromises our social and or occupational functioning. It can affect our appetite, sleep and energy. Losing interest in day to day activities is one of the characteristic symptoms. Attention and concentration are also affected. 

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We tend to form rather pessimistic views about almost anything about ourselves and the world around us. Blaming ourselves, excessive feelings of guilt, hopelessness and helplessness shape an individual’s thought patterns. Sometimes, depression is so intense and severe, we may have thoughts of deliberate self harm or even suicide. 

On a positive note, Depressive disorder is potentially a treatable condition. As it's aetiology is multifactorial i.e biological, psychological and social; the treatment plan should also address these domains.  At Living Mind, we look into these factors in a systematic manner. 

To diagnose, Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Sarkhel goes through an extensive initial assessment, and makes sure that the diagnosis is accurate. This rules out any other possible physical illnesses that could mimic the  symptoms of depression. The patient is always involved while formulating a comprehensive care plan. 

At Living Mind, we have taken a step further.  Our emphasis is on bringing non pharmacological and pharmacological treatments together including complementary therapies. We offer Reflexology, Mindfulness and Acupuncture, advice on Lifestyle and Nutrition.  We have observed significant improvement with inclusion of these complementary approaches. 

Very soon, we will be able to deliver state of the art, drug free intervention for Depression in the form of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). This is a groundbreaking, new biological approach which targets the part of the brain responsible for the symptoms of depression. It is safe, effective and does not need sedation or anaesthesia. This is widely practised in USA and Europe.  At Living Mind, rTMS can be combined with other modalities of treatment depending on needs and patient’s choices.

Our focus is making accurate assessment, exploring the different aetiological factors and delivering the most appropriate treatment suitable for the individual person. Our humble goal is Making Lives Meaningful!

For more information, please visit our website livingmind.co.uk/rtms/

What is Bipolar Disorder and how it affects the daily life of an individual.

 Bipolar Mood Swings

Bipolar Mood Swings

One in every 100 adults will be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at some point in their life. 

Bipolar disorder can occur at any age, although it more common in younger age-groups. 3.4% of 16–24 year olds.

Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic Depressive Illness, is a condition that affects a person’s mood, energy and activity level, which can swing from one extreme to another and varies widely among people. Some people may only have a couple of bipolar episodes in their lifetime and are stable in between depressive, manic or hypomanic episodes, while others suffer from a number of these episodes during their life.

People with bipolar disorder experience periods of depression and mania: Depressive period associated with very low and lethargic feelings while during mania period very high and overactive. 

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on the period/episode the person experiences.

Depression
 A person can be diagnosed with clinical depression before having a future manic episode (sometimes years later), after which you may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
During an episode of depression, the person may have overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, which can potentially lead to suicidal thoughts.

Mania
Sometimes it is hard to acknowledge for the patient that he or she is experiencing mania. It can feel very positive, as the person feels very creative and energetic, full of energy, ambitious plans and ideas. Losing interest in food and sleep, talking quickly and becoming annoyed easily are also common characteristics of this phase. People with this disorder may also experience symptoms of psychosis, where they see or hear things that aren't there or become convinced of the things that aren't true.

 There are 4 types of Bipolar disorder. 

Bipolar I Disorder is characterised by unrated manic period which generally lasts for about 3 to 6 months and can be accompanied by depression which can last for about 6-12 months. 

Bipolar II Disorder or hypomania is diagnosed when depressive episodes are more severe than manic ones. 

When mood swings become more regular, i.e. 4 in 12 months period, it can indicate that a person suffers from the third type of BD called Rapid Cycling. 

Cyclothymia is diagnosed when there are numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms which last for more than a year. 

Other Unspecified Bipolar or Related Disorder is diagnosed when mood swings are not as severe as those in the above mentioned types, but there is a possibility that it can develop into full bipolar disorder.

What causes bipolar disorder?

Although the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, it's believed that a number of things can trigger an episode. For example, extreme stress, life-changing events, as well as genetic and chemical factors.

Stressful life events Some experts believe that a person may develop bipolar disorder if he or she experienced severe emotional distress or childhood trauma.

This could be because experiencing trauma and distress as a child can have a big effect on your ability to regulate your emotions.

Life changing period both positive and negative, such as: a relationship breakdown, money worries and poverty, traumatic loss are also believed to affect the quality of a person’s life.

Genetic inheritance. Researchers believe that environmental factors can also triggers symptoms of bipolar disorder. For most people, family members are an influential part of their environment as they grow up.

Brain chemistry research evidence suggests that bipolar symptoms can be treated with certain psychiatric medications, which are known to act on the neurotransmitters (messenger chemicals) in the brain. This suggests that bipolar disorder may be related to problems with the function of these neurotransmitters. 

Treating Bipolar Disorder
When it comes to the treatment of Bipolar disorder at Living Mind we not only look into pharmacological intervention, but with equal importance we explore and advise on lifestyle choices, stress management and social activities.

We aim to personalise the treatment for every individual to control the effects of an episode and help someone with bipolar disorder live life as normally as possible. Our approach is based on combining orthodox and complementary treatments such as Mindfulness, Reflexology and Acupuncture. 

There are several options for treating bipolar disorder that can make a difference. The following treatment options are available:

    •    medication, to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they occur;

    •    learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania;

    •    psychological treatment – such as talking therapy, which can help you deal with depression, and provides advice about how to improve your relationships;

    •    lifestyle advice – such as doing regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, as well as advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep.

It is believed that the best way to control bipolar disorder is to use a combination of different treatment methods.

We offer help and advice for people with a long-term bipolar condition. This includes self-help and self-management advice, and learning to deal with the practical aspects of a long-term condition.

How Reflexology Lymph Drainage can help with Secondary Lymphoedema.

 Do something different this week - wear odd socks to bring awareness to Lymphoedema!

Do something different this week - wear odd socks to bring awareness to Lymphoedema!

Secondary Lymphoedema is due to damage to our Lymphatic System or difficulties with the movement and drainage of fluid in the Lymphatic System. It can be the result of an infection, injury, surgical treatment for cancer, i.e., breast cancer, inflammation of the limb or poor limb movement. 

It is thought that it affects around 200,000 people throughout the UK, with around 2 in 10 women with Breast Cancer, 5 in 10 women with Vulval Cancer and 3 in 10 men with Penile Cancer. 

Whilst there is no cure for this condition, there are things that you can do to help. This includes Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD).

Want to know more? This article looks at more about Secondary Lymphoedema and how RLD can help.

What is Secondary Lymphoedema?

Secondary Lymphoedema is a long-term condition that causes the tissues within the body to swell as the body lymph is not drained properly. Whilst it can occur throughout the body, it is most common in the arms and legs. This network of glands and channels is responsible for not only fighting infections, but also removing excess fluid; thereby causing the swelling within the tissues of our arms and legs. 

What are the symptoms of Secondary Lymphoedema?

There are a variety of symptoms that could point towards someone suffering from Secondary Lymphoedema. One of the biggest signs is that you notice your affected body part is swollen. You may not be able to fit as well into your clothes, or any jewellery that you wear could be tighter. This could have a potential adverse effect on mood, self-esteem and confidence. 

The swelling may not always be there, in fact it can come and go over time. Without treatment however, you will find that it becomes more severe and persistent. 

Other symptoms that you may find include:

  • A heavy feeling
  • Aches
  • Skin infections
  • Hard and tight skin
  • Wart like growths
  • Fluid leaking through the skin

What is RLD? 

RLD is a Reflexology technique researched and developed by Sally Kay BSc(Hons), whilst she was working in Cancer Care (Sally Kay RLD 2010). This therapy focuses on lymphatic reflexs on the feet that aim to stimulate and cause an effect on the lymphatic system within the body. It stimulates the flow of the fluid through the Lymphatic System which explains the reduction of swelling following RLD treatment.

How does RLD help?

According to Kay (2012), those who have had RLD for management of Secondary Lymphoedema, they have reported that it has helped in a variety of ways. This includes:

  • Reduced swelling
  • Less pain and discomfort
  • An increase in the strength and mobility of the arm and leg
  • A feeling of improved body image and wellbeing

All of these things are vital for those who are suffering with Secondary Lymphoedema and can help them feel better.

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about love and loving life. 
When you cultivate this love, and your actions happen in accordance with that.' - Jon Kabat-Zinn
Living Mind offers one to one  Mindfulness sessions for Stress, Anxiety, Depressive Disorder, 
Trauma related disorders etc.

Children to Adults  - anyone can benefit from this approach.
Please contact us for further information or to book a session. 
This is provided by Consultant Psychiatrist having special interest is Mindfulness.