The Future of Mental Health

by Henry Emmons, MD

We are Living with an Epidemic of Mental Health Problems

The numbers are staggering. 

The percentage of people in the US suffering from depression, anxiety, and poor focus/memory are historically high and increasing by more than 10% each decade. The rise is even faster among adolescents. If you are struggling with one of these common mental health problems, you are most definitely not alone!

Currently available treatments often don’t work well over the long term. 

Antidepressant medications still form the mainstay of treatment for depression and anxiety, while stimulants are the primary treatment for ADD. Consumers and professionals alike are realizing the limitations of conventional treatments and desperately looking for more natural, safe yet effective alternatives.

Natural approaches to mental health treatment are too often disorganized and unscientific.

There is no unified theory explaining the epidemic of disorders, either in the...

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CBD and Cannabis For ADHD

calm focus joy Sep 26, 2019

Timothy Culbert, MD, IFMCP

Does CBD Oil Help Relieve Symptoms of ADHD?

There is sparse evidence that CBD oil can improve the core symptoms of ADHD, and the evidence that exists is mostly anecdotal. Nonetheless, that isn’t stopping patients from trying it.

The current concern is that consumer/patient use has sped past scientific evidence for use and regulation on product quality. That means long-term effects are virtually unknown and snake-oil companies continue to pop up with CBD products that are not pure. 

An article in ADDitude magazine summarized this:

“During [a person’s] development, I worry about cannabinoids, both CBD and THC,” says UCLA’s Evans. “There are adenosine receptors (and CB2 receptors) on the microglia that are critical for brain development, and CBD inhibits adenosine uptake. This may be a beneficial factor for epilepsy and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, but who knows for ADHD.” 

The article...

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Soothe Yourself: Boost Serotonin

calm joy Jul 16, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, head there first. 

Soothe Yourself: Boost Serotonin

Nearly everyone feels better when their serotonin levels are optimal. It has such a wide array of functions, involved with everything from sleep to appetite to impulse control to sexual desire. It's the brain chemical that helps soothe you when you feel stressed or threatened, and it offers considerable protection to the brain against the damaging effects of cortisol. 

Serotonin’s broad benefits may explain why Prozac and the other SSRI’s took the world by storm in the 1990’s. It took a while for the shortcomings of these medications to become clear—problems such as agitation, numbing of emotions and sexual feelings, weight gain, insomnia, fatigue. The SSRI’s are not the cure-all that they initially appeared to be. The problem remains: millions of people are...

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Reward Yourself: Increase Dopamine

calm joy Jul 09, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

[adapted from The Chemistry of Calm]

p.s., If you haven't read Part 1 of this series, head there first.

Dopamine 101 & How to Raise It When Deficient

The effects of dopamine are more complex than those of norepinephrine, at least in regards to anxiety. In some ways, they have a similar function.

Both dopamine and norepinephrine:

  • Tend to be energizing and aid in mental focus and concentration.
  • Can aggravate anxiety when levels are way too high.

However, dopamine has some beneficial effects against anxiety.

Dopamine can:

  • Improve motivation and the experience of pleasure.
  • Enhance microcirculation in parts of the brain.3

Unless dopamine becomes really excessive, your anxiety may improve if you gently boost your dopamine levels.

How do you know if dopamine is deficient?

Low dopamine symptom include:

  • Feel apathetic and fatigued.
  • Difficulty losing weight.
  • Feel unmotivated (as with exercise).
  • Low sex drive.
  • General difficulty getting pleasure...
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HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training for Resilience in Body and Mind

calm focus foundations joy move Jun 11, 2019

If you’re in fight or flight stress mode, your body is preparing you for brief, intense bursts of activity, followed by periods of recovery. We are wired for this, and as children we did it all the time. Consider adding occasional brief, intense bursts of movement to your weekly routine. This practice has many benefits.

The Benefits of HIIT

For instance, it can:

  • Improve weight loss, especially for that hard-to-lose abdominal weight.
  • Raise your metabolic rate for 24-48 hours, burning calories long after you’ve exercised.
  • Improve hormone levels, including cortisol, testosterone and human growth hormone.
  • Protect against adult-onset diabetes.
  • Boost energy, focus, and performance.
  • Help slow the aging process.

How to move quickly with interval training:

  1. Choose any activity you like that can be done intensely in brief spurts (20-30 seconds is enough). Good options include walking or running, biking, rowing, using a treadmill or elliptical trainer, swimming, calisthenics, or...
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Essential Oils for Adrenal Fatigue

calm joy Apr 24, 2019

By Tim Culbert, MD

Essential oils are a popular cure for... well, just about anything if you do a Google search. Research doesn't support many of those wild claims, but solid support does exist for the use of essential oils for many mental health benefits. Experiences consistent with adrenal fatigue are likely good fits for some oily-application.

So, can you heal adrenal fatigue with essential oils?

Short(ish) answer: using essential oils (aromatherapy) may offer a quick energy and mood boost that can then help support you as you take additional actions that offer more lasting effects.

Considering how safe aromatherapy can be when used properly, it’s worth a try if you have symptoms consistent with what’s commonly understood as adrenal fatigue.

On that note, if you haven’t read our article on adrenal fatigue, read it here. It’s a super helpful summary to get your grounded before you find yourself lost in the dark web...

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Stuck in Stress & Worry? Try These Four Actions to Filter Out Fear

calm joy Apr 17, 2019

by Henry Emmons, MD

In his first inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt famously said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Let’s be honest, though—there are plenty of things in this world you may be fearful of. If you walk with fear as a regular companion, however, it creates its own set of problems that go well beyond the thing that generated the fear in the first place.

Fear begets fear. Terrorists use this knowledge as a weapon, aiming to destroy just enough to create a panic. Politicians use fear as a strategy, urging us to vote for them or support their plan in order to avoid the dire consequences that they themselves have planted in our minds like seeds. Marketers use it as an inducement: “Buy this to avoid that….”

It is a uniquely human trait that we can make ourselves sick through our own thinking and that we can spread ideas to one another at a large scale. Under the right circumstances, which we seem to have at...

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Understanding Stress & Anxiety: The Evolution of Fear (video)

calm joy Apr 09, 2019

 

Why is it that two people facing the same stressful situation can respond so differently? Thousands of years of training is one reason. Throughout human history, it was advantageous to have a vigilant person on high alert to detect danger. The stressful situation would pass, and that person could likely take a break from the stress before ramping up again.

Stressors today are different, but our wiring to be on high alert is still the same. Most folks experience and interpret stressors that are generally low-threat, but constant. Fear then becomes a permanent state as folks worry about the threats at hand and those to come. There is no break from the fear. No rest.

That constant state of fear is unsustainable.

Watch the video to learn more about this evolution of fear. It can help you to be more gentle with yourself when you feel consumed by the experience and symptoms of your stress/fear response.

After the video, visit our special newsletter space to download the Fear...

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What is Adrenal Fatigue?

calm joy sleep Apr 03, 2019

By Henry Emmons, MD

Signs of Adrenal Fatigue

Perhaps you feel unmotivated, have less interest in things, feel weakness, or an unrelenting achiness in your muscles. Maybe you want to sleep too much, or simply wake feeling unrested. Your mood might be sad or down, or perhaps it’s just flat. But your biggest concern? The one that never seems to go away? It’s this feeling of profound fatigue.

How is Adrenal Fatigue Diagnosed?

The Mainstream Medicine Approach

Adrenal fatigue is not a term accepted by mainstream medicine. Trying to care for symptoms like those above will usually start with routine blood tests that look for adrenal insufficiency (known as Addison’s disease). The result will likely be normal. Most doctors will then look for other causes of the fatigue, doing routine blood tests to rule out things like low iron, low hemoglobin, or a thyroid problem. After this series, symptoms will usually be attributed to untreated...

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What You Need to Know About Caffeine

calm focus joy sleep Mar 13, 2019

By Henry Emmons, MD

“Life is short. Stay awake for it.” Caribou Coffee nailed it with that promotional tagline. It’s funny, memorable and a widely shared sentiment. If we want to get the most out of life, if we don’t want to miss anything, caffeine offers a safe, legal and increasingly pleasurable way to feel more enlivened.

I have nothing against caffeine. In fact, I personally love it. I’ve given it up several times over my life, thinking it might have negative health effects on me. But each time I’ve come back to it, finally accepting that I just plain enjoy it. I like the effect it has on me, the flavor, the ritual and the communal nature of sharing a cup of coffee with someone.

I believe that the research on the health effects from caffeine come out mostly on the side of it having an overall positive impact on health. It’s a legal stimulant. It can temporarily improve energy, focus, even mood. So long as it is not used in excess, it...

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