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Archive for the ‘Mental Health’ Category

Nature’s Prozac: Natural Antidepressants

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

I field questions frequently about natural antidepressants. With the hours of daylight decreasing and that terrible topic of winter just around the corner, I can already feel myself starting to freak out with the loss of sunlight. Here are a few tips for improving your moods, reducing depression and improving your mental health without antidepressants.

Before too many people get upset, do people need antidepressants on occasion?  Of course. However, I just received an email from my own health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield that they are now available from the online clinic doctors that read emails patients send them without ever meeting the person. What a crock of garbage. It amazes me that a health professional, MD, nurse practitioner or otherwise feels like they are qualified to write prescriptions for brain altering medications without even looking their patient in the eyes. Antidepressants shouldn’t be the first step for most people. There are a lot of natural antidepressants that are frequently helpful.

The number one natural antidepressant that we know of is exercise. If you are feeling punky, anxious, sad, depressed please do yourself a favor and exercise.  A study out of Harvard University found exercise to be just as effective and with longer lasting effects than Zoloft. On top of that, it wasn’t just a study done with slightly depressed people. Many of them had severe depression.

One of the most underrated natural antidepressants is sunlight. If you live in a climate that sees short hours of sunlight and lots of cloudy days and you notice yourself starting to feel extra sad this time of year, I recommend a sunlight for your desk. I use SunTouch Plus Desk Light in my office. I affectionately refer to is as my anti-murder light. It keeps me happy. Best $79 I have ever spent. Quite honestly, it worked so well, I bought two so I have one at home for non-work days. When the days grow shorter, I sit in front of it for the first 20 minutes in my office while I answer emails.

Let’s talk about a food that aggravates depression. Sugar. If you are prone to depression, stay away from it. First, it causes peaks and valleys in your glucose metabolism and the highs and lows will bring you up really quick and slam you down even faster. Also, it takes Vitamin B to process sugar. when you use up your Vitamin B processing sugar, you don’t have as much to regulate your moods.

If you follow these tips, odds are you will feel much better. On top of that, if you are prone to depression find a psychologist or licensed mental health therapist you trust. It amazes me the stigma some people still feel about finding help this way. What could possibly be better than someone who is forced to listen to your problems and and spend 50 straight minutes only talking about you?

The bottom line is that if you are depressed, get help.  Changes in exercise, diet and activities can make a huge difference as well as identifying and dealing with your problems with the help of a psychologist.

Yes, yoga can cause back pain

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Even the best cures can cause back pain and yoga is no different. The answer is yes, even as much as yoga can help back pain, yoga can cause back pain.

How is this possible? There are several ways that yoga can cause back pain. Let’s get a few things straight first. I am a trained yoga teacher who taught yoga for several years. I practice yoga myself. On top of that, I have an anatomy, physiology and injury prevention knowledge base that 99.99% of yoga teachers do not have. Yoga can be great for you in moderation and can help you resolve stiffness and tension in your body that has troubled you over a lifetime. Yoga can also be party to debilitating back and neck injuries. I have personally witnessed people blow discs in their back while practicing. I have personally taken care of many yoga instructors and yoga students who think that even though they practice yoga five days a week, their spinal pain can be resolved with even more flexibility.

Who are the people most likely to be injured at any activity? Research shows again and again, it;s your five percent least flexible and your five percent most flexible who find themselves in the most trouble. When I was teaching, it was hard to me to understand why so many of my co-teachers had more pain than any of their students and failed to see the cause.

Here are a few ways you can avoid hurting yourself. First, if you can’t breathe there, you shouldn’t be there. If you can’t comfortably inhale and exhale in a relaxed manner you are pushing yourself too hard. The goal isn’t to push yourself until you are able to tie yourself in a knot. It’s to relax your body as well as your mind and be healthy.

Second, building strength is just as important as building flexibility. This especially applies to women. If you are doing yoga twice a week, you should be doing strength training twice a week. No exceptions.

Third–common sense needs to prevail. If you inherently know that your body can’t bend like the teacher in the demonstration pose or have a fear of a pose, listen to your brain and don’t do it.

Finally- If you do yoga on even a weekly basis and your back pain or any other injury isn’t resolving, yoga isn’t going to solve it. It’s time to hit the chiropractors office and find out why you are in pain and create a strategy to solve it.

Chiropractic Care can help Chronic Headaches and Migraines

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Chiropractic care can help chronic headaches and migraines.  As a chiropractor and lifelong headache and migraine sufferer, I know first hand how helpful chiropractic care can be when it comes to relieving headache pain.

Step One-Prevention.  First of all, most head pain comes from having poor spinal positioning, posture and reduced spinal mobility.  Many times the muscles in your neck develop poor contraction patterns, scar tissue between muscle layers and cause referred pain to your head from adhesions in the muscles.  Many of these problems will improve greatly with chiropractic adjustments to your spine especially your neck and upper back.  When your spine functions better many times headaches and or migraines reduce in frequency and intensity.

Step Two-Avoidance of Triggers.  If you are a migraine sufferer, avoid the things that cause your brain to go wonky.  If your problem is too much sunlight, make sure you wear a ball cap and polarized sunglasses.  If you get tension headaches, make sure you are getting up frequently from your computer and have your screen height and keyboard height set to minimize neck and upper back strain.

Step Three-Keep living.  Migraine sufferers, I speak from experience.  After two days of sitting in dark rooms and no improvement, get back to living.  During a beautiful summer, no one wants to spend three days a week in bed.  If after a day or so the dark room treatment isn’t helping, try getting back to activities you enjoy that help you keep your spirits up while avoiding those that hurt you.  You might find that you feel better after going on a bike ride but any water sports are killer.  Get out of bed and get on your bike.  It is not easy to motivate yourself when you feel crappy but lying around doesn’t usually help for long.  If you are going to hurt anyway, you might as well do something you enjoy.  Disclaimer—as long as you aren’t making yourself feel worse!

At my Plymouth chiropractic office, we improve the function of the spine so that you will often find relief from your head pain.  Call today, there is no use wasting a beautiful spring and summer feeling poorly.



Chronic Stress and Chronic Pain

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Have you wondered about the connection between chronic stress and chronic pain? Consider this, you have been hunkered down in front of a spreadsheet doing the turtle pose at your desk all morning when your boss calls you into her office. Your client is in another bad mood and now so is she. You’ve already spent 25 hours over the last two days in front of a computer screen and it’s still not good enough. Is it any wonder why you have a headache and back pain?

Let’s take the above example and analyze it. First of all, your body position at a computer is bad for you even when you are using your best posture. Secondly, hours on end of sitting and staring at a screen will cause you to start to bend forward creating strain throughout your spinal muscles. You will also chronically shorten your hip flexors causing lower back pain. Then you end up in an intense discussion with your boss and your shoulders end up by your ears due to stress. Your body recreates this cycle again and again leading to chronic pain.

Let’s take another example. You and your husband haven’t been getting along lately. When you come home, you are already stressed and irritable from a long day at work and so is he. Your body is tight and muscles are already shortened due to your habit of holding tension in your shoulders. You come home and want to relax and immediately you two start bickering with each other about the kids. The bickering ends for the night, the headache begins. You go to bed and your body is tense and tight all night because you are sleeping next to your worthy opponent all night and are still angry. When you wake up you wonder why your neck is sore and stiff. Then you go to work and do it all over again.

Chronic stress causes chronic pain. If you can manage your stress you can improve your pain as well as your emotional well being. Try mediating. Try sleeping in a separate room where you can get good quality sleep. Try getting up from your desk several times an hour so your body isn’t punished by your job. Try chiropractic, it will break your pain cycle and help you manage your stress better as well as prevent it from accumulating in your body.

Eliminating Stress

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Eliminating stress, is it even possible?  While elimination might now be on the horizon, reducing its impact on you is possible.  With the season of stress rapidly approaching, there are a few quick ways to make your day brighter that will give you immediate results.

1) Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths focusing on the inhalation, exhalation and nothing else besides relaxing your body.

2) Stop checking your gadgets and enjoy dinner without your email, texts and phone interrupting your time with the people you love.

3) Avoid sugar and the mood swings that come with it.

4) Take an hour out of your month to set goals and decide what you want from life versus let someone else chart your course.

5) Take time to enjoy some form of physical activity every day. Whether it is simply walking your dog or participating in an exercise class of some kind, your body was made to move.

The hardest thing for me is acknowledging that my current crisis is not a lifestyle.  It’s a blip in the road that will eventually even out if I keep the habits in place that keep me healthy and strong.  Taking time to exercise and enjoy the outdoors are always the best things to keep me calm.

While holidays are always a stressful time regardless of your family situation, they don’t last all year.  (Thankfully!)

Winter Activities in Minnesota to Keep You Enjoying the Outdoors All Year

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Winter activities in Minnesota are truly the only things that keep those of us life here sane.  This is the time of year that I get anxious wondering what I am going to do with five months of winter. Yikes, is it really 5 months?? It is. I find that I need to be outside and get a lot of light otherwise I end up very crabby.

Here is a brief list of activities you can do outdoors that are fun and will get you some fresh air.

1) Hiking–lots of trails are still open, especially if there isn’t a lot of snow yet. There are several areas near Plymouth that have great areas of open space and woods. French Park on Rockford Rd just east of 494, Orono has two areas that I like Wolfsfeld (trailhead is in the parking lot of the church on the north side of County Road 6 and Brown Rd). Wood-Rill is also beautiful. It is located behind Wayzata Country Club. Both are large enough to get lost in and are beautiful!

2) Cross Country Ski–Hopefully we will get snow this year. Gear West has a great group of people who meet every Wednesday night September-February to train for cross country ski season. Every level is represented from total beginners to Olympic hopefuls. It is a LOT of fun.

3) Snowshoeing-No special skill required, strap them on and walk. Equipment is also available at Gear West.

4) Frozen Lake Sunrise Walks-my personal favorite!

Really, when it comes down to it, there aren’t a lot of days each year that without good gear you can’t get out and enjoy some sunshine and fresh air in comfort. Your face might get cold, you may prefer June weather, but if you get yourself outside, you will be rewarded with less anxiety, more happiness, more energy and possibly the skills for a new winter hobby.

Tips for Combating the Winter Blues

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Without exceptions December is always the month I feel I am combating the winter blues.  As those of us in Minnesota know, we’ve been lucky this winter. That doesn’t mean that the lack of light, brown all-around and weather that is just warm enough to tempt but not enough to sit outside doesn’t start to have an impact.

Here are some tips I’ve found for combating the winter blah’s. First of all, cold or not, getting outside makes all the difference. Having a chance to breathe fresh air that hasn’t been recirculated through your office or house makes a big difference. Whether it is to take your dog for a walk, go on a Sunday afternoon hike, or visit a local ski area (which are perfectly groomed this year) being outside will automatically make you feel better.

Secondly, make sure your nutrition is up to par. This means drastic reductions in the amount of sugar you put in your body because as we know, sugar makes us moody. I don’t think I need to site any research sources here, anyone with a five year old has seen this in action. Cut back on the caffeine if you have a tendency to get anxious, it will only make you more jittery.

Third, exercise consistently. Research shows that the best way to up serotonin (the happy hormone) levels is not with a pill, it is with daily exercise. Find something you enjoy and get active again. Your body is made to move.

Fourth, make sure your Vitamin D intake is sufficient. You need Vitamin D for your body to absorb calcium so that you have strong healthy bones. Your body makes it from sunlight and if like today, you aren’t getting any, you’re missing out. Check with your doctor on the appropriate dose and source.

Lack of Sunlight and Depression

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Why do lack of sunlight and depression go together?  It’s because of the Vitamin D you don’t get when you aren’t exposed to the sun as well as the fact certain people (like myself) are predisposed to seasonal affective disorder.  If you walk in to my Plymouth chiropractic office at 7:30 in the morning you will wonder what that bright light is coming from my desk. It is a sunlamp. As any of my friends and family members will tell you, without sunlight I turn in to a grump. Three years ago I found a full spectrum light on craigslist, thought I would give it a go and picked it up. Now that I know it works great, I bought a new one, two actually, one for work and one for home. The brand I use is Nature Bright. Costs $89 off Amazon. I use it for 30 minutes in the morning and in desperate times, the beginning of December, I use it in the afternoon as well. Everyone around me can tell when I have missed it. Give it a shot. You don’t have a lot to lose!

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