SAD (Stress, Anxiety and Depression) and Understanding Neuron Communication

There’s nothing more complicated than emotions – sadness, stress, anxiety, depression. How do you control them? How do you deal with them? How do you keep these emotions from negatively affecting you?

Research is ongoing but more has been done to find the link between our brain, emotions and how healthy we are.serotonin-neurons-baucominstitute-stress-anxiety-depression-blog

One way to approach this complicated connection is to understand how it all works.

There are as many as 40-50 different chemicals in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves that serve as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitter molecules quickly travel the synapse to lock into protein receptor sites. When enough neurotransmitters are locked in to the receptors there is an electrical charge that is activated.

In the case of emotions and mental incapacities, these neurotransmitter mechanisms can go awry and the interactions between the neurons can become overactive or underactive. Both overactivity and underactivity can cause problems. Abnormal levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are found in chronic stress, anxiety and depression.

When someone goes to the doctor and receives medication for one of these issues, the doctor is hoping to re-adjust the levels of various neurotransmitters in the brain that are out of balance.

SAD-stress-anxiety-depressionFor example, Prozac or some other antidepressant will be prescribed for depression where as Gabapentin or Neurontin will be prescribed for anxiety.

Where the rubber meets the road, specifically, is with three of the 50-odd brain chemicals called “neuroamines” – serotonin, norepinephirine, and dopamine. These chemicals are produced primarily in the brain stem and circulate throughout the brain. Abnormalities in these chemicals lead to pervasively high levels of two basic emotions: fear and sadness, which are driving forces behind stress and fear. For example, elevated levels of norepinephrine are associated with chronic stress and anxiety disorders including panic attacks and phobias. Decreased levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are thought to be involved with depression.

We’ll break this down more next blog and how emotions are the driving force that create SAD – stress, anxiety and depression.

What is a takeaway that helps you from this blog?

The Brain and SAD (Stress, Anxiety, Depression)

At Baucom Institute, we focus on the needs of the body to function properly like what we eat and how we supplement what we eat.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be addressing how the brain, its functions and needsdepressed man sitting in the tunnel, are related to SAD – stress, anxiety and depression.

With the medical community using the prescription pad as the answer to helping patients deal with these issues, it’s time to educate the public about the facts and the options to chemical treatment.

First, let’s address the brain and the areas that are affected by SAD:

Amygdala - Part of the limbic system which controls mood, memory and hormone production and actively assigns negative emotions like fear and anger to our thoughts and perceptions; where negative emotional memories are stored and recalled.

Basil Ganglia - Located under the frontal lobes of the brain, the basal ganglia are connected to the frontal lobe cortex which helps movement, thinking, memories and emotions; studies have shown it atrophies with stress, anxiety and depression.

medical  doctor with brain3d meatl in his hands as conceptPrefrontal Cortex - The front most part of the frontal lobe cerebral cortex helps regulate thinking and reasoning, decision-making, and expression of emotions; stress will cause the prefrontal cortex to shut down and actually shrink as well as lessen metabolism.

Hippocampus - Located under the right and left temporal lobes right behind the amygdala, the hippocampus plays a central role in encoding long-term factual memories, works with the amygdala in creating emotional memories; it will reduce in size with chronic stress, anxiety and depression.

Hypothalamus - The nuclei of the hypothalamus will be altered in chronic stress, anxiety and depression which negatively impacts the pituitary master hormones, affecting the functioning of the entire body and brain.

Next time, we’ll address understanding neuron communication and how stress, anxiety and depression affect neurotransmitters.

Have anything to add? We want to hear from you so post below!

Methylation

Methylation can turn genes on or off.

Some nutrients affect the methylation process quite dramatically. Methylating factors like B12, B6, MD, Zinc monitor specific methylation reactions.

Methylation_DNA_Baucom_InstituteMTHFR

What is MTHFR?

  • Methylenehydrofolatereductase is an enzyme responsible for converting 5, 10- methylenetetrahydrofolate to the product: 5-methytetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF)
  • Certain mutations in the gene coding for MTHFR produce an enzyme that has reduced activity
  • Reduced activity can lead to elevated levels of homocysteine especially when folate levels are low
  • MTHRF genotyping can provide information about potential causes of elevated homocysteine and how to address it
  • 5-methyltetrahydrofolate is involved in the metabolism of folate and homocysteine
  • The product of the reaction catalyzed by MTHFR converts homocysteine (a potentially toxic amino acid) to methionine (a useful and necessary amino acid)

The X Factor

the-x-factor-metabolic-syndrome-baucominstitute

We’re always looking for the next big thing but the next big thing is already here – Metabolic Syndrome X – the biggest problem in America! The USA has the highest percentage of obese in the world, 34% female and 27.7% male, 35% of whom are Mexicans and 40% African American males.

What is Metabolic Syndrome X? In our blog last week, we shared that this syndrome is a result of having three or more metabolic risk factors: insulin resistance, elevated blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high lipids – TG, LDL, etc.

“94% of the rats who were allowed to choose between sugar and cocaine, chose sugar. Even rats who were addicted to cocaine switched their preference to sugar!”

Here are the symptoms:

  • Borderline high or normal blood glucose
  • High triglycerides (above 2.3 mmol/l)
  • Low HDL (good cholesterol)
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Excess weight resistant to dieting
  • Skin tags
  • Osteoarthritis

According to researchers at Yale University School of Medicine, insulin resistance in skeletal muscle leads to changes in energy storage and insulin-resistant individuals rerouted carbohydrates to liver fat production. This leads to elevated triglycerides in the blood by as much as 60% while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol by 20%. In a study done by Yale, participants who were young and lean, with no excess abdominal fat became insulin resistant. The good news is, they found that insulin resistance in skeletal muscle can be treated with one simple method – exercise!

Let’s talk about sugar for a moment, because that it ultimately the biggest culprit in the cause of The X Factor.

The average American eats 142 pounds of sugar a year, or about 2.5 pounds each week, a 23% increase over the last 25 years! And most of it is coming from, one guess . . . soft drinks – which includes artificially sweetened drinks as well! In the US, ¼ or 22% of the daily calories are from drinks, according to a report called “What America Drinks.”

According to Drs. Fischer, Hommel, Fiedler, and Bibergeil, in a study done on “reflex mechanism on insulin secretion,”  we are seeing that soft drinks are linked to Metabolic Syndrome:

  • Men and women who drank more than one soda daily had a 48% adjusted higher prevalence
  • insulin level rises in the first minute after the start of a carbohydrate-rich meal, vs glucose level rising in the third minute of a balanced diet
  • An increase in triglyceride levels and LDL
  • Consumption rose 135% of high fructose corn syrup between 1977 and 2001
  • Americans eat an average of 132 calories of high fructose corn syrup a day

In a lab experiment with rats by the University of Bordeaux called “Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward,” 94% of the rats who were allowed to choose between sugar and cocaine, chose sugar. Even rats who were addicted to cocaine switched their preference to sugar!

Obviously, we have to get over our addiction to this satiable substance! In the meantime, many changes have to take place to get this X Factor under control.

Doctors, in weight-loss fields, GP’s, restorative, and otherwise, are all finding that to get this syndrome under control several factors have to take place:

  • Balance glucose/insulin levels
  • Increase metabolism
  • Increase fat burning
  • Create appetite suppression

A study done by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute European Association for the Study of Diabetes found that a natural substance can greatly help in this fight:  Green Tea Catechins or EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). After 5 and 10 weeks of treatment with EGCG, and GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug Avandia, the blood sugar and insulin levels of mice were tested. The researchers found that the mice did just as well on the green tea extract as they did on the drug. The extract has been found to have these benefits:

  • Reduces fat absorption
  • Reduces LDL cholesterol/TG levels
  • Reduces glucose/insulin levels
  • Increases beta oxidation
  • Helps decrease appetite

Which ultimately:

  1. Reduce body weight gain
  2. Reduce body fat accumulation
  3. Stimulate oxidation in the liver

All in all, here are the recommendations by Alexander McLellan, ND, Neuropathic Physician in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and professor at the Canadian School of natural Nutrition and Chief Medical Officer for three clinical research trials in Diabetic Neuropathy in Canada and the US, in treating obesity and Metabolic Syndrome: Check thyroid function, Restrict carbs, Check for food allergies, Keep hydrated, Get stress levels down, Get to a support group and stay educated, Detox, detox, detox! The bottom line? It’s the samo, samo:

  • Eat right
  • Exercise more
  • Don’t rely on a “magic pill”

What do you think?

One Patient Among Many

familyMRGrad2013Hi. My name is Beth Rose. I am one patient among many.

I’m one patient among many others who see Dr. Karan Baucom and who has seen significant changes from diagnosis and prescribing changes for me in my daily life.

I began to see “Dr. B.” a few months ago because I was having several symptoms that began to worry me about my health. I have been a fairly healthy person throughout my 52 years.

I was very active when I was younger up until I had my children. Like a lot of moms, our kids take precedence, and we forget about taking care of ourselves! Over the last 20 years I have begun to have aches and pains in my joints, fasciitis in my feet, increasing back pain, terrible heartburn especially at night, increasing fatigue, no energy for running around with my kids, and the last few months terrible pain after eating in my upper torso. I have felt a mess and, with working our business that my husband and I own, I know the stress of that has contributed to the issues.

I had talked to Dr. B. about my family’s health a lot but Dr. B. asked how I was doing. She knew I was under a great deal of stress and could see the fatigue and lack of energy. I made an appointment and soon was undergoing several tests, including a full blood workup, sonograms, and mammogram. When Dr. B. got the test results back, she sat me down and gave me the most thorough report I’ve ever heard about my health! I was amazed with all the information and how it all linked together. My hormone levels were out of whack, I had gallstones, there are nodules on my thyroid, and I have several food allergies among other issues. I was totally shocked.

With advice and direction as well as prescribing a vitamin and bioidentical hormone supplement regimen, I am beginning to feel good again. I have increasing energy and less fatigue each day. Even better, my outlook on life is much more positive, which I think that has everything to do with the hormonal balance.

I appreciate my family physician, who we have been going to since our children were babies, but Dr. Baucom, as my specialist in Restorative Medicine, has been a life changer for me personally. I’ve never seen anyone take so much time with their patients, not only to diagnose and treat but to also educate.

I’ve been through the “School of Longevity” at The Baucom Institute. I hope to graduate with flying colors in the few next the months to come!

Hormone Series – Part VI: Cortisol

cortisol

The adrenals are two triangular shaped glands located on top of each kidney. Cortisol is one of several hormones released by these powerful glands. It is released as a “stress hormone.”

Cortisol controls:

  1. Blood sugar
  2. Fat and Protein mobilization
  3. Prevents inflammation
  4. Will make the liver make sugar from fat

The pituitary gland activates the adrenal gland by secreting ACTH. ACTH is adrenocorticotropic hormone. It stimulates the “cortical” layer of the gland to make cortisol. Cortisol has distinct bio-rhythms. It is high in the morning and by the evening is down. Stress alters the rhythm and may eventually cause the gland to become “exhausted.” “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James Wilson, ND, PhD, is an excellent book to explain why and how cortisol depletion can result in severe exhaustion. Unfortunately this hormone is not understood by most physicians. It is a test rarely ordered and a syndrome basically ignored.

Stress factors:

  1. Anger
  2. Fear
  3. Death of family member
  4. Divorce
  5. Marriage
  6. Financial Worries
  7. Job
  8. Relationships
  9. Personal Illness
  10. In-laws

Just to name a few, are viewed as stress. These issues if chronic and severe can totally deplete this vital hormone. Thyroid and severe adrenal stress go hand in hand. Low blood pressure as well as low blood sugar may be the only symptoms. Recovery from adrenal stress can take up to a year with treatment to resolve.

Cortisol is vital to the feeling of well-being. Longevity and quality of life are severely compromised when this powerful and needed hormone is barely available. Patients will rely on sugar and caffeine to “boost” their drive because they are unaware as to the real reason for their chronic fatigue.

Since the adrenal gland is needed for survival when compromised, all the other glands suffer as well. The thyroid gland, in trying to pick up the slack, will, in time, become hypo active itself, further compounding the situation.Cortisol-is-a-hormone-300x210

Eventually the immune system falters and Lupus, Crohn’s, colitis, chronic sinus and infections can plague the individual. Abdominal obesity (cortisol paunch) along with decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and increased blood pressure herald the demise of this vital hormone. There is acute adrenal fatigue, and mild and high adrenal fatigue. Saliva testing of the morning, noon, evening and night cortisol levels is the best way to determine the level of fatigue.

At The Baucom Institute, treatment is based on the stage of fatigue and support is given to the glands until they are healed. We also encourage your lifestyle and diet be altered. Of course, alleviating the stress factors is paramount to getting the most out of your treatment.

What is your stress level? What do you think your level of well-being is right now?

Cortisol “The Stress Hormone”

2010-10-22-TheVisualMD_Wellness1Tip_StressThe adrenals are two triangular shaped glands located on top of each kidney. Cortisol is one of several hormones released by these powerful glands. It is released as a “stress hormone.”

Cortisol controls:
1. Blood sugar
2. Fat and Protein mobilization
3. Prevents inflammation
4. Will make the liver make sugar from fat

The pituitary gland activates the adrenal gland by secreting ACTH. ACTH is adrenocorticotropic hormone. It stimulates the “cortical” layer of the gland to make cortisol.
Cortisol has distinct bio-rhythms. It is high in the morning and by the evening is down. Stress alters the rhythm and may eventually cause the gland to become “exhausted.” “Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome” by James Wilson, ND, PhD, is an excellent book to explain why and how cortisol depletion can result in severe exhaustion.

Unfortunately this hormone is not understood by most physicians. It is a test rarely ordered and a syndrome basically ignored.
Stress factors:
1. Anger
2. Fear
3. Death of family member
4. Divorce
5. Marriage
6. Financial Worries
7. Job
8. Relationships
9. Personal Illness
10. In-laws
Just to name a few, are viewed as stress. These issues if chronic and severe can totally deplete this vital hormone. Thyroid and severe adrenal stress go hand in hand. Low blood pressure as well as low blood sugar may be the only symptoms.

Recovery from adrenal stress can take up to a year with treatment to resolve.
Cortisol is vital to the feeling of well-being. Longevity and quality of life are severely compromised when this powerful and needed hormone is barely available. Patients will rely on sugar and caffeine to “boost” their drive because they are unaware as to the real reason for their chronic fatigue.ponokefalos andras

Since the adrenal gland is needed for survival when compromised, all the other glands suffer as well. The thyroid gland in trying to pick up the slack will, in time, become hypo active itself, further compounding the clinical situation.

Eventually the immune system falters. Lupus, Crohn’s, colitis, chronic sinus and infections plague the individual. Abdominal obesity (cortisol paunch) along with decreased HDL cholesterol, increased triglycerides and increased blood pressure herald the demise of this vital hormone. There is acute adrenal fatigue, and mild and high adrenal fatigue. Saliva testing of the morning, noon, evening and night cortisol levels is the best way to determine the level of fatigue.

Treatment is based on the stage of fatigue. Support is given to the glands until they are healed. Lifestyle and diet must be altered. Of course, alleviating the stress factors is paramount to treatment.

What difficulties do you have that you might relate with stress?

Stressed Out and No Place To Go – Part II, Coping

boy-sleeping-on-bullLast week in our blog, we talked about if you are alive and breathing at this moment then you have probably had stress in the last 72 hours in some form. We gave some statistics that The American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress, New York, has come out with when they completed a survey in April of 2012 of the U.S. population and reported the statistics about stress. In it they revealed that 77% of the population of the US regularly experience stress on an everyday basis and that it costs this country $300 billion in health care annually on issues related to stress.

So what can be done about stress? Isn’t it inevitable?

In “Coping with Stress” by Susan Balla MA from www.learningdynamicsinc.org, November 2012, Susan says that we all experience stress—it’s our natural body response to the demand we might encounter. When it becomes a problem is when we perceive that we don’t have the resources to deal with the demanding situation. That’s when we need to find ways to cope to create balance back in to our life. She says we can find ways to keep stress at “healthy levels” that give us that edge to be better yet keep us functioning. She goes on to list the three areas where stress can show up:

  • Physical: fatigue, headaches, nausea, chest pain, muscle spasms and numbing
  • Mental: forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, inattention, poor problem solving
  • Emotional: anxiety, depression, hopelessness, worry, anger
  • Behavioral: isolation, diminished sexual drive, sleeping/eating less or more

She says there are ways to cope:

 Tip: Consider turning your cell phone off (or at least put it on silent) when completing any of these activities. It pays to disconnect from the outside world for a while. And remember, anything they are calling you about can wait and if not, others can deal with it. We are not superheros, nor do we need to be.

  • Take a time out and take a moment to address the situation. Try leaving the room if you are in an argument or taking a minute at your desk to stop. At this point, focus on your breathing.
  • Focus on breathing. Is it slow, calm, and deep or fast and agitated? Taking a moment to slow your breathing down can clear your mind and decrease your stress reaction. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet flat on the ground (or lay down). Close your eyes. Take one slow, deep breath in through your nose. Hold it briefly. Exhale your breath slowly out from your mouth. Repeat this process several times, focusing only on your slow, steady breaths. On your exhales, visualize your muscles relaxing and the tension leaving your body.
  • Relax in a quiet and comfortable space to practice visualizations. Close your eyes, sleep waterrelax your breathing, and begin to picture your own personal oasis. Place yourself in this oasis. Develop your surroundings using all five senses. If you are on a beach, focus on how the sand feels under your feet. Is it warm, wet, and soft? Can you hear the waves lapping up against the shore or feel the cool wind? Can you smell the salt water or the fresh air after a rainstorm? The more you practice your visualization, the easier it will be to summon it when you need it most.
  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation. Begin in a comfortable position, either lying down or with your feet flat on the ground. Starting at your feet, begin to slowly tense your toes and then slowly relax them. Repeat this process of tensing and relaxing your toes three times. Move to your whole foot next and repeat the tensing and relaxing pattern again for three times. Slowly move up your body, stopping at each location that you are able to tense.
  • Consider keeping a stress journal to help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Make sure to track what caused the stress, how you felt physically and emotionally, how you responded, what you did to make yourself feel better.
  • Go to sleep. Your body rejuvenates during sleeping hours making you healthier and more equipped to start a new day. Consider keeping your bed and bedroom an intimacy and sleep sanctuary. If you have trouble sleeping, try eliminating everything you do in your bed other than sleep and sex. Things like watching television or reading can impede upon your sleep cycle. Teach your body that when you enter your bed, it is time to sleep.
  • Exercise! When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins that create a natural high. Exercise helps regulate sleep, decrease tension, decrease depression, and increase your immune system. If you don’t feel like hitting the gym, try yoga to help stretch your muscles and improve your breathing. Simple stretches can also benefit your body since many people experience stress in their bodies. Try taking a few moments during the day to roll your head, stretch your neck muscles, roll your shoulders, and stretch your body.
  • More than just walking the dog, animals have therapeutic influences on their human companions. Petting an animal can decrease your blood pressure and help you live a longer life. Take a moment to care for and love a creature that will love you back unconditionally.
  • Laughter is truly one of the best medicines. Watch a comedy or spend time with your favorite funny friend.
  • Depending on your religious preferences, prayer can help you reflect, gain perspective, relieve pressure, and find hope and support.
  • Sometimes, spending time with friends is all we need to alleviate some tension. Having a conversation can add different perspectives, allow our frustration to vent, and give us a feeling of community instead of isolation. When faced with a stressful situation, it is important to remember that you are not alone, many others face similar hardships, and there are several resources you can pull from to be successful.
  • stress free zoneTry meditation. Start in a relaxing position and begin to empty your mind of anxiety provoking thoughts. Try repeating a word that has no emotional connection, to aid in clearing your mind. The more you practice, the easier this exercise will become.
  • If reading relaxes you, schedule time during the week for a quiet hour in the most comfortable part of your home. Curl up on the couch, in the bath, or in your favorite nook and transport yourself with a good book. Make sure to pick a time when the house is quiet or you know that someone else in the house can handle anything that arises.
  • Everyone needs a little indulgence once in a while. Take the time to slow down and pamper yourself. Try taking a warm bath with scented candles or going to the spa, these are wonderful ways to ease muscle tension and leave your stressors at the door.
  • Activities such as cooking, listening to music, cleaning, going for a car ride, gardening, dancing, or sitting at the local park are all wonderful coping strategies if they work well for you.

Remember: Taking care of yourself is not a selfish act. If we are well, than it is easier to give freely to others around us. If we are depleted from worry, depression, or fatigue, we are less equipped to deal with everyday stressors for both our families and ourselves. Giving back to yourself will not only replenish your resources it also reminds us that we are worth it.

Do any of these ways of coping resonate with you? How do you cope with stress?

Stressed Out and No Place To Go

stress-teenage

If you are alive and breathing at this moment then you have probably had stress in the last 72 hours in some form. The American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress, New York, completed a survey in April of 2012 of the U.S. population and reported the following statistics about stress:

Percent of people who regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress 77 %
Regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress 73 %
Feel their stress has increased over the past five years 48 %
Cited money and work as the leading cause of their stress 76 %
Reported lying awake at night due to stress 48 %
Annual costs to employers in stress related health care and missed work. $300 Billion
Fatigue 51 %
Headache 44 %
Upset stomach 34 %
Irritability or anger 50 %
Feeling nervous 45 %
Lack of energy 45 %

Did you catch the very first statistic? 77% of the population of the US regularly experiencereduce-stress physical symptoms from stress. No wonder we are spending $300 billion in health care annually on issues related to stress. That is very likely every adult that works in this country plus some children and retired folks and/or the elderly! It seems it is at epidemic proportions. Why is it such an important factor in our health?

The stress cascade, hormonally in endocrinology, is extremely intricate. Hormones appear to affect neurotransmitters, the adrenal gland, the thyroid gland and the intestines.

Cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland, is the main so-called stress hormone. We already know that over-secretion of cortisol over a long period of time is associated with diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as well as obesity.

Many people do not understand how these particular events occur simply because one is stressed. When stress occurs, the increased cortisol secreted by the adrenal gland increases blood sugar which is then stored as triglycerides, cholesterol, and glycogen. So stress and aging go hand in hand. Emotional triggers such as anger, fear, death of a family member, a move, a job change, marriage, divorce and financial worries, all influence cortisol and, subsequently, our blood sugar.

Because stress can cause a cascade of events that influence cortisol, insulin, thyroid, sex hormones, etc., it eventually translates into cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and depression. Stress has a huge impact on aging and related diseases.

What stressors do you have that you think might be creating problems for your health and wellness?

Our blog next week will focus on how stress can be reduced and controlled in order to begin to combat the impacting health issues that will occur if left unchecked. Stay tuned.