Airport Road, Erbil, Iraq 24/7 +9647508882200


Stress and Depression

Stress and Depression

Stress and Depression


When you think of stress, it probably brings negative emotions to mind. But some stress is good for you, like the anticipation you feel when you start a new relationship or job. It can fuel excitement and make you want to do and achieve more. Stress can also help you be prepared to face challenges or respond to dangerous situations.

Good stress doesn’t stick around. It boosts your mood to meet the moment, then goes away. If you’re under stress for long periods of time, it can become overwhelming and affect you both physically and emotionally.


“Our stress response does pretty good in the short term, but it doesn’t do very good if you activate it in the long term,” says David Prescott, PhD, associate professor of Health Administration and Public Health at Husson University in Bangor, ME.


“If we stay under chronic stress, our physiological stress response is taxed beyond what it’s designed to do, and it starts to impair us.”


The effects of chronic, or long-term, stress can be harmful on their own, but they also can contribute to depression, a mood disorder that makes you feel sad and disinterested in things you usually enjoy. Depression can affect your appetite, your sleep habits, and your ability to concentrate.



And the effects of depression can cause stress.


“The impact of stress on depression, and vice versa, is one of the most important problems of our times,” says Carol Landau, PhD, clinical professor at Brown University.


The Stress-Depression Connection

“We think that the causal relationship between stress and depression is what’s called ‘bidirectional,’” Prescott says. “One can cause the other, and the other can cause the first, and both can make each other worse.”



The ways depression can lead to stress are pretty clear.


“Depression disrupts your life, so you often are more isolated,” Prescott says. “Sometimes you shrink your interpersonal network and stop doing a lot of activities, like work or school or things that you enjoy. We know that kind of isolation makes your perceived stress level go up, so we know that depression can cause stress.”



6 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore


There’s good evidence that the reverse is true as well.


“A severe stress, like a divorce or a huge financial change, is a major stressor, and it sends the psyche sort of out of equilibrium. If you keep raising levels of stress, something’s going to happen, and often it is depression,” Landau says.


But the reasons stress contributes to depression are less obvious.


“It’s pretty clear that chronic stress raises the incidence level of depression,” Prescott says. According to The Mental Health Survey Report from The Mental Health Institution, levels of depression among members of Gen Z went up about 4% or 5% between pre- and post-pandemic.


“We think the social isolation, the disruption in normal activities, and the general stress of having your college or work disrupted appeared to increase levels of depression. But I would say we don’t know, causally, exactly how that happened.”



Make Lifestyle Changes

Sometimes a few small changes can break the stress-depression cycle, beginning with a more positive mindset.


“If you’re stressed and feel like you’re starting to become depressed, the biggest thing is to get a little more active coping strategy in the way you’re going to deal with your stress,” Prescott says. “Don’t just think that you’re going to have to ‘suck it up and take it.’”


A more active coping strategy can include:


Exercise. Just 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week is enough to make a difference. Activities like yoga and tai chi, which slow things down and help you relax, are good for reducing stress.

Avoid binge-eating or drinking. These may make you feel better temporarily, but they’re not helpful. In addition to being physically harmful, they can make you feel guilty and worse about yourself. Overdoing alcohol can affect your sleep and make you sluggish the next day.

Limit caffeine. Too much can wind you up and make stress even more intense. Try to cut down on coffee, soda, and other caffeinated drinks.

Quit smoking. The idea that smoking cigarettes can help you handle stress is a popular myth. While nicotine does help relax you right away, that feeling is short-lived and can create more stress through cravings or withdrawal.

Make time for yourself. Do things you like to do or that make you feel good. Go easy on yourself and focus on the things you do well.

Steer clear of stressors. If you know something or someone sets you off, do what you can to avoid that situation or person.

Sleep well. Making sure your mind and body get enough rest can go a long way toward easing stress. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours for adults every night.

“If you’re depressed and you’re trying to minimize the impact of stress on your life, it’s important to overcome that belief that ‘nothing I do is really going to matter,’” Prescott says. “It’s just not true in most cases. It may not change everything, but it’s a big thing to overcome that kind of hopeless belief.”



6 Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore


Find Support

Another way to ease the effects of stress and depression is to not try to handle them alone. Strong, supportive relationships can make a big difference.


“Depression is a state of disconnection,” Landau says. “So one of the most important things would be to find a way to connect. Adding a couple of people who you’ve known from the past and finding a way to connect is extremely important.”


Talking with friends and family can help you better understand what’s causing your stress, which can be a big step forward.


“If stress and depression are playing off each other, it can help to kind of articulate and pinpoint the stressors in your life that are causing the most impairment,” Prescott says. “We ultimately all feel ‘I’m stressed,’ in general, but it’s really helpful to sort of pinpoint down what specific things are getting to you.



“It’s helpful to have someone say things like, ‘How are you doing dealing with your stress?’ or ‘Tell me about how your mood is holding up?’ or ‘How are your spirits?’ Then just listen.

“A lot of times, what helps people is not specific advice like, ‘Do this or do that,’ but just a chance to talk it out with somebody who pays attention. Ask an open-ended question like that and then bite your bottom lip and listen for a while.”

If talking to friends or family doesn’t work well enough, you can talk with a professional. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one way to change your perspective and approach.

“Cognitive behavior therapy is important because we want to be able to get control back,” Landau says. “CBT helps you focus on what small thing you can accomplish today, how you can implement it, how you can evaluate it. So it’s a great educational tool as well as a therapy tool.”

read more
How To Prevent a Heart Attack

How To Prevent a Heart Attack

How To Prevent a Heart Attack

Lifestyle choices involving food, exercise, sleep and more can help reduce your risk.

Statistics say someone in the United States will have a heart attack within the next 40 seconds. Blood flow to their heart will either stop or be severely reduced. Death or permanent heart damage is possible.

It’s safe to say that is a situation we all want to avoid.

Now the good news: The choices you make in life can reduce your risk of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or the severity of such an event. So, what’s the secret to a happy heart? Cardiologist Luke Laffin, MD, has the answers.

Heart attack prevention

Your heart is the pump at the center of a 60,000-mile system of blood vessels in your body. That massive network of arteries, veins and capillaries runs from your head to toe in a closed loop that begins and ends at your heart.

Keeping those blood vessels open is key to your circulation system working efficiently. A blockage of any sort can halt or slow blood flow, causing a heart attack.

Here are nine things you can do to help keep your blood flowing.

Maintain a healthy weight

Extra weight places an extra-large burden on your heart and cardiovascular system. It can damage blood vessels, drive up blood pressure and elevate cholesterol — health factors connected to greater heart attack risk.

A screening tool known as body mass index (BMI) typically is used to define obesity and overweight. The formula uses height and weight to estimate body fat.

A BMI of 30+ is the traditional benchmark for obesity; 25 to 29.9 is categorized as overweight. Falling in either category increases your risk of a heart attack. The higher your BMI, the higher the risk.

Where you carry excess weight matters, too, notes Dr. Laffin. “Belly fat” around your midsection can lead to increased buildup of plaque in the walls of your arteries, making a heart attack more likely.

Bottom line? Losing even a few pounds can significantly improve your heart health and reduce your heart attack risk.

Eat a heart-healthy diet

If you dump greasy garbage down a sink, odds are you’ll be dealing with clogged pipes at some point. That same reality applies to the food you eat and heart attack risk.

If you regularly eat foods high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium, you’re at risk of gumming up your system, says Dr. Laffin. Over time, foods in those categories can lead to plaque buildup and clogged arteries.

That means limiting menu choices such as red meat, fried foods and highly processed foods.

So, what should you be piling on your plate? The gold standard for heart-healthy eating is the Mediterranean diet, so named because it reflects the traditional eating patterns in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean diet is loaded with:

  • Fruits.
  • Vegetables.
  • Whole grains.
  • Healthy fats, like olive oil.

“A 2018 New England Journal of Medicine study showed that this way of eating goes beyond improving your cholesterol and blood pressure,” notes Dr. Laffin. “It also lowers your risk for stroke and heart attack.”

Other diets, such as a whole-food, plant-based eating style, may also lower your risk. But less data suggests they help reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks, adds Dr. Laffin.

Look to establish a sustainable eating plan: “It doesn’t help to go on a restrictive diet, and then, two years later, go back to eating junk,” he says. “Think 30-plus years into the future.”

Exercise regularly

Your heart is a muscle ¬— and muscles grow stronger with exercise. Strengthening your ticker allows it to pump more blood through your body, which helps keep arteries more open and flexible for better blood flow.

“Getting your heart rate in an aerobic training zone maintains that heart-pumping, or systolic, function, which can reduce heart attack risk,” explains Dr. Laffin.

Regular physical activity also can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol and keep your weight in check. As mentioned, those are all steps in the right direction to make a heart attack less likely.

To keep your heart healthy, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. (“Moderate intensity” means you can have a conversation while in action — so a brisk walk or light jog counts.)

If you up the exercise intensity level to high, 75 minutes (or more) of activity will get the job done.

“Working out two to five times a week can help stave off heart disease,” Dr. Laffin adds.

Get regular health screenings

In case you haven’t noticed, two key measures of heart health — blood pressure and cholesterol ¬— keep coming up. Both are “hidden” health factors that aren’t visible by just looking at your body.


Knowing your numbers in these areas and others allows you and your healthcare provider to better assess your heart attack risk, notes Dr. Laffin. This is especially important as you age (heart attack risk rises as you get older) and if you have a family history of heart disease

Medical experts recommend the following screenings to stay on top of heart health:

  • Blood pressure: Get an annual reading to watch for changes even if your BP is regularly in the healthy range below 120/80. If your blood pressure is higher, your healthcare provider may suggest more frequent screenings. (It also doesn’t hurt to track your BP with an at-home monitor either.)
  • Cholesterol: At a minimum, healthy adults should get their cholesterol checked every four to six years through a blood test called a lipid panel. If you have an elevated risk for heart disease and stroke, testing should be done more often.
  • Weight/waist circumference: Routinely done during checkups to calculate your BMI.
  • Blood glucose: Diabetes doubles your risk for heart disease. A blood glucose test measures blood sugar, or glucose, levels to screen for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends regular screening beginning for anyone age 35 or older. Those with elevated risk factors should start getting evaluated earlier.

“Information gained from these screenings can help you create a plan to better protect your heart,” says Dr. Laffin.

Manage conditions

Nearly 1 in 3 adults around the world have high blood pressure. Elevated cholesterol is even more common, affecting 39% of the global population. Diabetes, meanwhile, affects about 10% of people.

Why bring up all those statistics? It’s to emphasize that a lot of folks are dealing with conditions that bring increased heart attack risk.

Managing those conditions through lifestyle changes (such as diet and exercise) may help lower your risk of a heart attack, encourages Dr. Laffin. Healthcare providers also may prescribe medications to better control the conditions. If so, keeping up with them is essential.

Quit smoking

Smoking a cigarette releases more than 7,000 chemicals — and that toxic collection isn’t exactly heart-friendly. This gunk can cause atherosclerosis, a hardening and narrowing of your arteries from plaque.

This plaque buildup can eventually reduce blood flow to your heart and trigger a heart attack. (Add it to the long list of issues caused by smoking.)

The good news? If you stop smoking, you reduce your risk of a heart attack within 24 hours of snuffing out that final cigarette. Your risk of heart disease drops to half that of a current smoker within a year.

“Quitting smoking or avoiding the habit is an absolute must to protect your heart,” stresses Dr. Laffin. Talk to a healthcare provider to find the best smoking cessation method for you.

Limit alcohol

Tipping back a few too many beers or cocktails can take a heavy toll on your heart. In fact, downing excessive amounts of alcohol in a single night is guaranteed to ratchet up your blood pressure.

“If you have three or more drinks in one session, your blood pressure will be higher the following day,” shares Dr. Laffin.

If imbibing and elevated blood pressure becomes a regular occurrence, your risk of a heart attack increases. Excessive alcohol use can even change the shape of your heart, a condition known as alcohol-induced cardiomyopathy.

So, what does that mean to the average person? Let’s start with this: If you’re going to drink beer, wine or liquor, it’s best to do so in moderation.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting alcohol consumption to two alcoholic beverages (or fewer) a day for men and one alcoholic beverage (or fewer) a day for women.

“Drinking less is better for health than drinking more,” the Guidelines state.

And drinking no alcohol at all is best of all.

Reduce stress

Chronic stress sets off a negative chain reaction throughout your body. Count your heart and cardiovascular system among the areas hit hardest.

How so? Well, constant stress can increase the buildup of problematic plaque in your arteries. Stress also can cause your arteries to constrict, which in extreme cases can trigger a heart attack. Add a spike in BP to the worry list, too.

If you find yourself frequently stressed out, explore activities that can help you relax, recommends Dr. Laffin. Consider trying various types of meditation or seek out help from a mental health professional.

Get your ZZZs

Here’s a statistic that might keep you up at night: Research shows that people with insomnia are almost 70% more likely to have a heart attack than those who get enough solid shuteye after going to bed.

Not getting enough sleep can drive up your blood pressure, which — as we all know by now ¬— can increase heart attack risk. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, try getting on a regular bedtime schedule. Other tips to improve sleep include limiting screen time before going to bed, cutting out bedtime snacks and keeping your bedroom cool.

Final thoughts

Can you take every possible precaution and still have a heart attack? Absolutely, says Dr. Laffin. Your genetics can lead to a heart attack despite you doing everything right when it comes to lifestyle choices.

But there’s no doubt that building heart-healthy habits improves your long-term odds.

read more
The implications of male and female brain differences

The implications of male and female brain differences

Men and women are equal, but they and their brains aren’t the same, according to a growing pile of scientific evidence. So why is most research still performed on only male animals and men? A panel of researchers explored this question and its implications on a recent episode of KALW’s City Visions radio show.

read more
Explanation of Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Explanation of Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

What Is Emergency Medical Service (EMS)?

EMS is an emergency medical response service that provide on site medical treatment and transportation to the nearest medical facility for patients who cannot transport themselves. This is usually at the site of an emergency, where patients needs immediate medical attention.

EMS can also be known as or referred to by many different names depending on the location and organization in which the EMS belongs to.

read more
Basic First Aid Instructions and Treatment

Basic First Aid Instructions and Treatment

Accidents happen. Someone chokes on something or gets bit by a and insect. It is important to know when to call the emergency number for life-threatening situations. While waiting for help to arrive, you may be able to save someone’s life. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is for people whose hearts or breathing has stopped and the Heimlich maneuver is for people who are choking.

read more