Depression and Anxiety – These Findings on the Causes May Surprise You

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and despite 50 years of extensive research and tremendous enhancements in technology; WHO states that there is no single cause or explanation of depression. Rather it is suggested that a combination of biological (genetic and biochemical), sociological (stressors) and psychological (development and life experiences) factors interact to cause depression.

This definition reflects what the vast majority of mental health and well being organisations from around the globe propose.

However, WHO employs a biopsychosocial model to provide a picture of depression.

1) Genetic factors: According to WHO, it has been consistently observed that depression tends to run in families. For the uninitiated, genes are like computer chips within our body that hardwire or pre-program us towards certain physical or physiological predispositions. The BlackDog Institute (Australia) suggests that “the genetic risk of developing depression is about 40%, with the remaining 60% being due to factors in the individual’s own environment”.

For example, in 2003, a New Zealand study suggested a certain gene – responsible for the transportation of serotonin – in conjunction with a serious life stressor was responsible for depression (Caspi A et. al. Science 301: 386-389). At the time, this was heralded as a significant breakthrough in the understanding and treatment depression.

However, according to a recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “a gene variation that has long been thought to increase the risk of depression in combination with stressful life events may have no effect after all” (Serotonin Gene, Even Combined With Life Events, Has No Effect On Depression; June 17, 2009).

The search for a single gene or a combination of genes in the cause of depression continues.

2) Biological Factors: An imbalance in biochemicals within the brain, known as neurotransmitters, “may produce” depression. However, according to WHO, “the assumption that depression is the direct result of a biochemical imbalance may be an oversimplification”. There is much conjecture and debate as to whether a biochemical imbalance is the cause of depression or this imbalance is a result of the depression itself – a classic chicken and the egg scenario.

For instance, a 2005 study suggested that there is very little scientific evidence that depression is caused by a biochemical imbalance, despite it commonly and frequently being presented in the media as fact (Lacasse JR, Leo J: Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature). The results of studies conducted and withheld by pharmaceutical companies were examined. According to the researchers, the chemical imbalance theory, which was formulated in the 1960’s, was based on the observation that mood could be artificially altered with drugs, rather than a direct observation of any chemical imbalances.

The reality is, “researchers know very little about how anti-depressants work, there is no test that can measure the amount of serotonin in the living brain, no way to know what a low or normal serotonin level is – let alone show that depression medication fixes these levels”. An example commonly used is, “while antidepressant drugs increase levels of serotonin, this doesn’t mean that depression is caused by a serotonin shortage. After all, aspirin may cure a headache, but it doesn’t mean that headaches are caused by an aspirin deficiency” (

Even more concerning is the latest report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examining the effectiveness of antidepressants, which demonstrated that there was no real difference between antidepressants and a placebo in the treatment outcomes of mild and moderate depression (Antidepressants aren’t the only remedy for milder forms of depression: Robert DeRubeis; Jan 2010).

In other words, treating mild or moderate depression with a sugar pill was just as effective!

Furthermore, in the treatment of patients with severe depression, there was only a 4 point difference on the scale used to measure the severity of an individual’s depression between the antidepressant and a placebo. Strangely, a recent newspaper article in the New York Times was extremely critical of the undue media attention of the results from this study. Its’ main argument was that it is the mental health system to blame for over-prescription of antidepressants for mild and moderate depression. Further, it cited that antidepressants are effective in the treatment of severe depression. However, it failed to mention that even in the treatment of severe depression there was only that 4 point difference between the use of the pill and the placebo.

Of note, for pharmaceutical companies, depression is big business. The number of Americans taking antidepressants since the mid-1990’s has nearly doubled, with at least 27 million taking pills to combat depression (Archives of General Psychiatry). Further, in 2008 alone, 164 million prescriptions were written adding up to almost $10 billion in sales (IMS Health).

Worryingly, the pre-school age group (0-5 years) has been one of the fastest growing markets for antidepressants in recent years (Psychiatric Services, April 2004).

Of interest, if depression was purely and simply due to a biochemical imbalance; why is psychotherapy or talk therapy just as effective in the treatment of depression? This fact alone calls into question the oversimplification that depression is due to a biochemical imbalance or genetic factors. How can talking about something overcome a medical illness or disease due to a biochemical imbalance, as so often and strongly advocated by the health authorities and pharmaceutical companies?

3) Psychological Factors: According to WHO, “how and what a person thinks may determine the onset of depression. If people have distorted thinking by which they view everything around them including themselves and their future as negatively and pessimistically, then their mood also becomes sad, completing the picture of depression”.

A Secret Way to Get Cheap Dental Care Without a Dental Plan

I had been looking for a good dental insurance policy or discount dental plan when a friend of mine who was a dental assistant told me about another way I could get cheap dental work done.  In fact, in some places you can even get some dental procedures done for free and you will get expert care the whole time.

These places are called dental schools and they are scattered across the country.  So how can they offer you some of the cheapest dental care anywhere?  Well these schools are training students who hope to be successful dentists someday.  But you can only learn so much in text books and there comes a time when you need to practice on a real human being.  So by subjecting yourself to these students for the sake of their education you save a lot of money.

You may be thinking that you would get bad dental treatment this way, but the exact opposite is true. These students have expert supervision and many of them are very smart. They really want to get a good grade so they make sure that everything they do on your teeth is done well so they can impress their teacher. This works out great for you as well. Some of the nicest people I have met are students that work in these dental schools, and I have gotten some very good dental treatment that did not cost me a dime from these schools.

The only disadvantage to getting dental work done this way is time. It will take some patience on your part as the students working on you are learning and may not be the fastest in the world. Just make sure you have plenty of time and enjoy the free ride.  You can often get free dental cleanings from these schools so you may want to check your area.

What to Do When Your Child Care Center is Surrounded by Competition

In my child care consulting practice, I am seeing more and more centers with increasing levels of competition. Whether from in-home daycares or new centers that were built recently, more centers are competing for fewer new clients. This can be a problem because the new competition tends to drive down the price customers will pay, drive up costs, and overwhelm new parents.

However, you do not have to roll over and give in. With the right strategies, you can beat the other child care centers in your market. The greatest tool for doing this is a strong marketing program that clearly states how you are UNIQUE and different than your competitors. Can you honestly say that your marketing answers this all-important question:

“Why should I choose to enroll my child at your center rather than any other child care center in town?”

Average marketing will only get you average results. To be highly successful, you need to use a marketing plan that enables you to stand out. Effective marketing will:

  • Make sure your center’s name comes up when parents are looking for child care.
  • Enter the conversation already going on in parent’s heads.
  • Make the competition a non-issue.
  • Return to you $2, $5, $10 or more dollars for every dollar you spend on marketing.
  • Allow you to charge higher rates than average.
  • Have a system that allows you to fill vacancies at will.
  • Provide better care for the kids under your care.
  • Have a waiting list of parents.
  • Hire the best staff.
  • And best of all, improve your profitability (or financial health if you’re a non-profit).

As you can see, great marketing is important regardless of your situation, whether you are surrounded by competition or not. An effective marketing plan simply has too much to offer.

Lung Cancer – So Much Advice, So Little Time

As a current lung cancer survivor I continue to look for things that I believe might be helpful to anyone who has been diagnosed with lung cancer and the people that surround those individuals.

I am constantly reading articles that were written by people who have opinions on what are the right and wrong ways to treat lung cancer and most of them have merit in the fact that they are usually backed up with some facts and testimonials but I have yet to read anything that would give me the confidence to say, “This will cure lung cancer.”

I am confident that there are some very exciting things being researched out there that hopefully provide steps in the right direction like these tidbits of information that came from the ‘Cancer Update From Johns Hopkins’ that I received in late February.

The Article begins by reminding us that we all have cancer cells lurking in our body being held in check by our immune systems. When our immune systems are strong and on the job, cancer cells are destroyed before the can multiply and form tumors. When a person is diagnosed with cancer it is an indication that there has been a breakdown in the defenses that your immune system provides. So what causes these breakdowns? Generally the arrival of cancer is an indication of multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic factors, environmental or food and lifestyle factors. A solid diet including supplements are key to keeping the immune system strong and functioning.

Where Johns Hopkins is starting to change their thinking is in regards to chemotherapy and radiation as the only way to try to eliminate cancer.

For those of you who are not familiar with the ‘Batman and Robin’ of cancer treatment, we will start with Chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells which is a good thing. The downside to chemotherapy, it knows no boundaries so it will destroy rapid-growing healthy cells just as quickly. Chemotherapy can also cause damage to the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc. There are various medications that you can take while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment that will assist you in reclaiming things like red and white blood cells both crucial in your on going fight and survival, but these provide short term assistance.

Radiation is a little more cut and dry in its effects it destroys cancer cells but also destroys healthy cells and can damage healthy tissue and organs. Radiation is the proverbial ‘Bull’ in the ‘china shop’ that is your body. I could write another three pages on the immediate effects of both on the human body, but I think that you get the point, both have the potential to do as much harm as good. As far as long term consequences, as a current lung cancer survivor of three years, I’m not sure what long term means. Sounds like another article for another time.

Although both chemo and radiation can reduce the tumor size, when the body has too much toxic burden placed upon it by these two, the immune system can be compromised or destroyed altogether. This is what almost took my life in June of 07 when I found myself fighting off an infection with a very depleted immune system. The equivalent of fighting off a lion with a toothpick. Luckily for me, I ended up in intensive care before the various infections that were raging through me ended up putting an end to me.

Chemo and radiation can also cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy.

With myself, surgery was not an option. There was a fear with my small cell lung cancer spreading quickly by exposing the cells, so surgery has not been an option at any time. I will tell you this much, the two of them together, Chemo combined with radiation, comprised the treatment that I received for small cell lung cancer, that treatment has been the driving force behind my fight and has helped me stay alive as long as I have.

So here it is, John Hopkins thought is that an effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not making the foods that these cells need to multiply available to them.

According to Johns Hopkins, depriving cancer cells of such things as sugar and sugar substitutes, table salt, milk, beef and pork as well as coffee, most tea and chocolate will have a huge positive impact in your fight. As far as water is concerned drink purified or filtered water no tap water or distilled.

A diet consisting of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seed nuts and a little fruit combined with about 20% cooked food including beans would be ideal to move your body from the acidic breeding ground for cancer cells to a more alkaline and healthy environment. I cannot begin to tell you the benefits of fresh vegetable juice which will put live enzymes into your system within 15 minutes to help enhance the growth of healthy cells. I would like to add that the introduction of organic vegetables and food into my system have been a key component of my early cancer success. There are some very good cancer diet books at your local library that can help you get on the right track as well as the internet and your health provider who will also be able to answer your questions, point is do some research in the field of proper cancer diet and nutrition it could mean the difference between life and death.

They also talk about the importance of the right supplements to help build up the immune system. I will tell you also to think about the importance of vitamin D to the health of the human body. Exercising daily which can be as simple as walking for a half hour a day and deep breathing to help get more oxygen to the cells since cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Johns Hopkins also talks about keeping a positive attitude and trying to limit stress as keys to fighting a successful battle.

I agree with all of the things that they are saying,(how often do you here that?) Let me ask you, “Why would a drastic change in your diet have such a dramatic effect on your health?” Do I really need to point this out to you?

You might want to sit down while you read this next section if you are startled by things that are as obvious as the nose on your face.

Had we paid more attention to begin with what we have been eating, we might not be a country that faces more health issues then the rest of the world. I am not just talking about cancer. I’m also talking about heart issues, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes and probably includes a number of things that you are now taking one of the hundreds of new medications that have been advertised non stop as of late. About that, did it ever occur to you as you were listening to the various side effects of everything being advertised that these new wonder drugs are more detrimental to your health then what ever it is that they are treating? Here’s another thought for you, how many new prescriptions will you eventually need to counteract the side effects of the first prescription that you never needed to begin with? I don’t want to get too far off subject, but the prescription craze that we have so easily fallen into coincides nicely with the amount of poor nutritional choices we make. We have become the “happy meal” society, surrounded by giant size portions of questionable products. We are far too busy to prepare our own meals so we eat fast food and pre made dinners packaged in plastic containers for our convenience. Problem being that we have no idea of the quality of the product and the container that we are heating by microwaves releases toxins into the food we eat when we heat it. I am not even going to discuss the various chemicals that have been in use to grow our food or the amount of toxins that we ply upon ourselves in an attempt to make our teeth whiter, our breath fresher our skin firmer. The amount of children being born with autism coupled with the steady increase in life altering diseases that we are inflicted with should be telling us something. The childhood obesity epidemic in this country should be telling us something.

We could look back over the past few decades and look at the trail of personal destruction that we have opened ourselves up to if you want starting with banks foreclosing on our Nations family owned farms which I believe was the beginning of things all the way through the get rich quick decade where wealth on paper backed by exaggerated real estate values helped us all reach a little farther then we had any business reaching. Bringing us to today where unemployment and foreclosure have brought us back down to the Earth which we continue to destroy.

Our view on the environment seems to follow suit with the rest of the way we choose to live. In denial. But again, I’ve strayed off my path. Back to what we were talking about, Johns Hopkins is right, for the cancer patient, our diet helps determine the outcome and overall success of our treatment. My point in case you missed it is that you should not wait for a life altering event to begin taking better care of yourself and taking responsibility for your health, which means paying attention to your eating habits as well as the quality of the food you eat. If you are responsible for a family you have an obligation to ensure that your family is being provided for properly. There is a very simple thought here, change your eating habits now by investing a little time, effort and thought up front and the return on that investment will be reduced health cost in the future and a longer, happier life for the people you are responsible for.

I don’t know what the cure for cancer is hopefully someone will find it and make it available for anyone and everyone who needs it regardless of their financial status or health care plan. I do know this for a fact, lung cancer is the leading killer among all cancers. Diet, Chemotherapy, radiation and any other alternatives that are found to be of value should be explored when it comes to your treatment. As of today the only guaranteed treatment for surviving lung cancer that I know to be 100% effective is avoidance.

Look at early detection testing, (Respiragene is the only one I know of) along with a strong smoking sensation program(many available programs out there) if you are a person who smokes. Review your diet and change your eating habits if need be to become a healthier person. A little exercise and some vitamins and maybe your immune system will remain at a level that allows you to avoid many life altering illnesses. Take the money you were going to spend on the next PlayStation game for your 6 year old and build him or her a sandbox or swing set instead. I believe that kids who are active and allowed to get their hands dirty reduce their chances for immediate and long term health issues.

Sure there is no accounting for your genetic makeup which makes us all individuals and many times is the main catalyst in deciding which of us will be more susceptible to what. What I’m talking about is controlling the things in your life that you can control to lessen the likelihood of you needing to make life and death decisions regarding treatments. Who knows maybe we can change the path we are currently on and set a better example for generations to come.