Insomniacs Suffer Depression, Heart Woes After Years of Little Sleep (VIDEO)

By Carrie Gann

Insomnia DepressionRyan Holiday was so busy working three jobs that he barely had time to sleep. But when he finally found the time, he couldn’t sleep.

“At first the insomnia was a bonus because I could work more,” Holiday, 24, said. “I was working 18 hour days.”

Then, the panic attacks began.

“It was probably a combination of the stress from work and the insomnia,” he said. “One night I had three concurrent attacks. I couldn’t leave my bed. It was 4 a.m. I was wide awake.”

His doctor prescribed Zoloft and Xanax for his anxiety, and still unable to sleep, he started taking Ambien.

“It’s one of those things where you can’t tell if it’s working,” he said. “I do sleep, but I don’t feel rested. It’s kind of a strange kind of existence.”

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, according to an article published Thursday in the journal Lancet. But it often goes unrecognized and untreated. Doctors say it’s an alarming trend because of increasing evidence that untreated insomnia causes other health problems and can lead people to rely on sleep aids that don’t work.

ABC News

How Binge Drinking Affects Mental Health

By Rheyanne Weaver

Binge Drinking Affects Mental HealthDid you know that drinking four or more alcoholic drinks during one sitting is considered binge drinking? According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is becoming more of an issue for adults in the United States.

In fact, “more than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink an average of four times a month and the most drinks they consume on average is eight,” according to the report.

Binge drinking can lead to death in some cases, and can put people at risk for health issues like liver disease and cancer, as well as car crashes and violence, the report states. The physical consequences are documented, but how is mental health impacted by binge drinking? Experts weigh in on the situation.

Jeff Wolfsberg, a drug education specialist who has been interviewed for FOX News and other news outlets, said in an email that first of all binge drinking as a term isn’t so clear-cut as it appears.

Full story at EmpowHER

Volunteering can boost physical and mental health

By Christine S. Moyer

Volunteering Boosts Mental HealthAt a time when financial hardships and unemployment are causing stress among many Americans, primary care physicians should discuss with patients the physical and mental health benefits of volunteering, says the author of a recent report.

The report, which was published in the December 2011 issue of The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, found that people who give back to others lead more happy and healthy lives than those who do not volunteer.

“People in general are happier and healthier, and may even live a little longer, when they’re contributing” to their community or an organization they are passionate about, said study author Stephen G. Post, PhD. He is director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York. “The research on the benefits of giving is extremely powerful, to the point that suggests health care professionals should consider recommending such activities to patients.”

Post encourages primary care physicians to ask patients 12 and older during office visits if they volunteer in their communities. For those who do not volunteer, doctors should suggest they consider doing so, he said.

Full story at amednews.com

When to take a mental health day from work

Fox News

Day Off Work For HealthWhen work (and life) stressors become overwhelming, rather than toughing it out, what you may need is a day off. One survey found that 82 percent of employees admit to taking mental health days, simply to recharge themselves. 

The survey, conducted by ComPsych, a provider of employee assistance programs, found that 30 percent of those who took off said they did so because of family or relationship issues, while 20 percent said it was because of workload issues.

It may seem counterproductive to play hooky when you have more work than you can handle, but when you’re feeling super stressed, your work and creativity are likely suffering. Taking a day off can rejuvenate you so you come back as a more effective employee.

Still, you need to save it for when you really need it, since you can only take a mental health day once in a while. Before you take off, make sure you really need one, know how you should ask for the time off, and have a plan for what you’re going to do with your day.

Full story at Fox News

How to Cope With Mental Illness During the Holidays

Amy Pilkington

New Years HealthJanuary and February have always been the hardest time of the year for me to manage my symptoms, which can range from severe depression tomania. One year was particularly difficult, however. My father passed away on New Year’s Day in 2008.

He was very ill throughout the holidays and we all knew his death was imminent. As the eldest child, I took on all the funeral planning and felt I had to be the rock for everyone else. I completely ignored my own needs because I thought I had to be strong for the rest of the family.

It all blew up in my face. By mid-January, I was having bouts of psychosis that included hearing my father’s voice urging me to commit suicide. I hadn’t allowed myself to grieve for him, and I was also overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the holidays. While trying to be there for others, I had inadvertently set myself up for disaster.

Since then, the holiday season tends to make me anxious. I’m working on putting myself first, but I have a habit of doing the exact opposite—and it’s a habit that’s proving hard to break.

Full story at Health.com