My Year To Thrive

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." ~Maya Angelou


Yoga For Bipolar Disorder — Yea, Nay, Or Meh?

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.
~B.K.S. Iyengar (Quote Garden)

A study on yoga & Bipolar Disorder recently dropped in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice, “Self-Reported Benefits and Risks of Yoga in Individuals with Bipolar Disorder“.  It has blown the bipolar-sphere up.  When I finished yesterday’s post about yoga for veterans with PTSD I had a Google alert for “bipolar disorder” with four links about it, with varying opinions.  Today I have more opinions on it to review.

It involved 109 participants who self-identified as having BD & practicing yoga being given an online survey of their experiences with yoga.  The results were majority positive, for instance less anxiety & better sleep, but some people did report having negative experiences such as agitation during rapid breathing or hot yoga.  The study mainly saw hatha & vinyasha yoga, the typical yoga practiced in the USA, rather than the sudarshan kriya yoga of yesterday’s post.  Further research is planned.

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Yoga helps war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder | Raw Story

Some of the most damaging consequences of seeing combat can happen in the mind. Of the 2.3m American veterans who returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, up to 20% go on to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point. In a report published by the US Department of Veterans Affairs at least 22 American veterans take their lives every day.

Yoga helps war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

The effects of PTSD can include intrusive memories, heightened anxiety and personality changes. Individuals can also experience hyper-arousal, where they are easily startled, feel “jumpy” and constantly on guard. Standard current treatment for PTSD generally involves prescriptions for antidepressants and psychotherapy, with mixed results.

In a new study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, researchers say that yoga can be used to bring better mental balance.

Yoga has previously been shown as valuable in reducing the stress of university students, and depression, anxiety, alcoholism and PTSD in tsunami survivors, as well as helping cancer patients. The charity Yoga for America runs programmes for serving soldiers and war veterans.

An interesting, albeit small, study was done on sudarshan kriya yoga for veterans with PTSD.  It used twenty-one veterans diagnosed with PTSD.  Eleven were assigned a one-week intensive course of yoga, & the other ten were the control group.  The yoga group showed reduced symptoms of PTSD, including lowered anxiety & hyper-arousal, as well as less intense intrusive memories.

If it works on intrusive thoughts, I will definitely be looking into that.


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Exercise for Stress and Anxiety | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

This meme must be dead because now I’ve done it.

Exercise for Stress and Anxiety | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA

Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Some studies show that exercise can work quickly to elevate depressed mood in many people. Although the effects may be temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache.

Science has also provided some evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. In one study, researchers found that those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.

This ADAA article is based on the book, Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being.  This is just the long line in research showing physical activity (however you want to define it) is good for anxiety & depression.  I like that this article lacks the hyperbolic evangelism of some reports on the issue.

It admits exercise isn’t going to work for everybody, & it won’t work to the same extent for everyone who does benefit.  Other studies I’ve read over the years have found it works better for mild-moderate depression.  I personally doubt it would be useful for severe depression because when you’re at the bottom of a black pit of despair, just trying to climb out is more than enough activity.  They probably weren’t even included in the studies because none of them would show up. >_<

The article also include a list of tips for staying fit & for exercising in the cold.

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OCD & Exercise

“Torture: knowing something makes no sense, but doing it anyways.”
~ Corey Ann Haydu, OCD Love Story

(source: “OCD & Keeping Weight Loss Off For Life“)

This is a blog about mental health & running/exercise, so since I blogged about running Tuesday & OCD yesterday, today I thought I would go over how those things overlap.

A cursory search of the googles brought up the mixed bag of exercise & OCD.  While it’s helpful, in moderation, moderation isn’t really known to be OCD’s strong suit; it can quickly turn into a compulsion.

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TedMed: Peter Attia: What if we’re wrong about diabetes?

“Getting the cause  & effect right is extremely important… maybe we have the cause & effect wrong on obesity & insulin resistance.  Maybe we should be asking ourselves, ‘Is it possible that insulin resistance causes weight gain & the diseases associated with obesity – at least in most people?’  What if being obese is just a metabolic response to something much more threatening, an underlying epidemic, the one we ought to be worrying about?”
Dr. Peter Attia, “What if we’re wrong about diabetes?”

I received this video in a newsletter from Upworthy today.  It is a TED talk given by Dr. Peter Attia.  The topic of his talk is the idea that fat isn’t the disease, it’s a symptom, something a lot of people have been saying for years.

He suggests obesity is a healthy coping mechanism for dealing with insulin resistance, & points out that obese people without insulin resistance have no greater risk of developing the associated diseases than lean people without it, but lean people with insulin  resistance are actually at greater risk than the corresponding obese people.

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Exercise Makes You Smarter | Psych Central News

New research shows that a regular exercise routine can boost cognitive function.

Psych Central exercise makes you smarter

Exercise Makes You Smarter | Psych Central News

I like this study 😀  (naturally)  Another great reason to be active.

In the study, previously sedentary adults were put through four months of high-intensity interval training. At the end, their cognitive functions — the ability to think, recall and make quick decisions — had improved significantly…

My favorite part is

…began a twice-a-week routine with an exercise bike and circuit weight training.

Just two days a week!  Who can’t do that?

Read the rest of the article here & a link to their source.


Epilepsy Drug Shows Promise as Weight-Loss Aid, Study Says | MedlinePlus

foot on a scale from NIH

Epilepsy Drug Shows Promise as Weight-Loss Aid, Study Says: MedlinePlus

Ugh, another diet pill story.  Usually I pass these things by, but this one just got under my skin tonight.  I wasn’t really in a blogging mood, but since I did a mini-rant on my personal fb page I figured I might as well go ahead & do this while I have my ranty pants on.

Patients who took 400 milligrams of the anti-seizure drug zonisamide daily for a year lost nearly 7.5 pounds more on average than those assigned to dietary and lifestyle changes alone, the new study found. But they also suffered more side effects than patients not taking the medication.

Emphasis my own to point out to you this medication only averaged an extra 7.5lbs IN A YEAR over lifestyle changes alone.  And what are some of those side effects?

But patients in both drug groups faced a higher risk for side effects, including diarrhea, headache, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, concentration and memory difficulties, anxiety, and depression-related symptoms.

Do any of those sound like fun?  Do any of them sound worth an extra 7.5lbs in a year?  Of course, that’s a subjective question everyone has to decide for themselves, but for me the answer would be a resounding NO.

Having struggled with Depression since I was 14yo, along with having IBS, anxiety, chronic headaches, & pretty much all of those things listed, I find it disturbing they would so easily shrug off the side effects over such a small amount of weight.  Diet pills in general make me want to puke, but as I said this especially gets to me.

If it’s really about health, why don’t we promote nutrition & exercise, & leave the bull shit like diet pills out of the equation?  (Not to condemn people who go that route.  It is a personal thing that’s everyone’s right to choose for themselves.  This is just my general opinion on the issue.)  And why don’t we spend more time promoting those for every body, not just the fat ones?  People talk about losing weight for our health, but if you can be a size 2 while sitting on your ass scarfing cheeseburgers all day no one says boo to you.  They think you’re a magic unicorn & wish they could be so lucky.  Doritos don’t count as health food just because your jeans are the right size.

I am going to close by stealing a comment from a friend of mine who is epileptic:

My seizure meds can be used as diet pills too if given the right dosage, but the side effects from something like Zonegran is far out and I wouldn’t be taking it if I didn’t have to.