All posts by Paul Susic

The Facts Behind Aging and Nutrition

The Facts Behind Aging and Nutrition: By Chaim Golz

Worried about getting old? If you are anxious about getting into the so-called “golden years” since you are afraid that you looks will fade and that your once vibrant spirit will go away, then take comfort in knowing the you can actually do something about it. How? Well it’s just all about finding the right balance when it comes to aging nutrition. Know how to take care of yourself, especially now that you are still young so that when it’s time to be aging gracefully, you would not be kicking yourself for having waited so long before actually making an effort to start living a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

Here are some simple tips on how you will be able to ensure good diet as early as now: Stay away from fatty foods: aside from being one of the best ways to lose unwanted flab , being able to stay away from fatty foods is also a great way for you to ensure not worrying about bag aging nutrition in the years to come. Why? For simple reasons really. One is that you would not get too fat to lose the stamina to exercise and two, it will keep you from suffering from high cholesterol levels, which in turn, can lead to other problems that can be related to poor aging nutrition like cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. If you can, just eat adequate portions of food each day so that you would not end up eating more than you should.

Quit smoking: it does not matter whether you are young or old, you should definitely quit smoking, better yet, not even start smoking at all. Do not think that a few puffs would not really do you much harm. No matter how you try to put it, smoking is bad for our bodies which is why if you do not kick this nasty habit at once, you are a likely candidate for suffering from the poor diet in the years to come. Remember, once you have already damaged your lungs there is really no easy remedy for it and you have to bear with the consequences such as emphysema which is a deadly disease of the lungs brought about by smoking.

Only drink alcohol occasionally: while smoking ruins your lungs, too much alcohol on the other hand, will ruin your liver. Again, like smoking, you may not realize it yet but you are actually setting yourself up for suffering from poor the poor diet once you get older. If you are not addicted yet to alcohol then you still can have a drink or two every once in awhile, especially wine as it is a well known detoxing agent and will help rid your body of any bad toxins.

Exercise, exercise, exercise: do you envy those people who just looks to young for their age? Well aside from knowing good aging nutrition, these are also the people who know the value of getting enough exercise to help them stay active and in shape. There is nothing better than having a way of circulating the blood all over one’s body – this is known to be a very healthy way in keeping one look youthful. Also, since you are keeping yourself active, you are releasing endorphins, making you a generally happy person that also does not have any problems climbing stairs. But do not over exercise yourself either, just keep everything in moderation and for sure you ill not suffer from bad aging nutrition in the long run.

Reading on the subject.
Article Source:

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist  

Prozac: Depression medication of choice?

Prozac Depression Medication: Overview

In addition to depression, Prozac is a medication used to treat bulimia, obsessive compulsive disorder and often symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Prozac is a depression medication referred to as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) which many clinicians and researchers believe increases the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is believed to contribute to elevating moods by increasing the level of this neurotransmitter in the brain in such mood disorders as depression. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that are discharged by neurons and absorbed by other neurons to complete activities and assist with our moods. Excess neurotransmitter discharged by neurons are reabsorbed back up into the initiating neurons if not absorbed by another neuron. This additional unabsorbed neurotransmitter is believed to enhance moods and reduce depression.

Prozac is most often prescribed to treat depression in the moderate to severe range or what is referred to as major depression, which often has a serious effect on daily activities and functioning. The symptoms of major depression include low energy and low mood, decreased sex drive, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, changes in sleeping habits and appetite, concentration problems, a slowing of the thinking processes and suicidal thoughts and ideation. Prozac is not only taken for major depression however, in may be used for various other mental health disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Although it is most often prescribed for adolescents, adults and the elderly, it has been prescribed for children at times.

Prozac Depression Medication: Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Although it is most often used in treating depression, prozac is a medication sometimes prescribed in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessions are repetitive thoughts and compulsions are repetitive actions usually performed to reduce anxiety associated with the obsessions. Prozac may also be used to treat eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, which is a binge eating disorder that involves deliberate vomiting to reduce weight. Prozac is also used at times to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder:

PMDD, which is referred to more commonly as premenstrual syndrome (PMS) which includes mood changes such as depression, anxiety, irritability, persistent anger and mood swings. It is marketed when used for PMDD under the brand name Serafem, which basically has the same active ingredients as the brand name Prozac. The symptoms of PMDD usually begin about 1 to 2 weeks before a woman’s premenstrual period, and includes symptoms such as breast tenderness, headaches, joint and muscle pain and bloating. PMDD can frequently be severe enough to interfere with a woman’s daily activities and relationships and is believed to be helped by this depression medication.

Prozac Depression Medication Precautions:

It is important to always be honest and open with your physician when taking Prozac. You should give a complete medical history, including any history of kidney disease, liver problems, heart problems, seizures, history of diabetes and allergies. Prozac has been known to make individuals drowsy or dizzy, making it necessary to be cautious when performing activities that require a high level of alertness such as driving or operating heavy machinery. Alcohol consumption should also be limited when on this depression medication. Prozac use should also be limited if you have a history of alcohol dependency, liver disease or diabetes. Like many medications, precaution may be necessary when this drug is used by the elderly as they have a higher level of sensitivity and seem to metabolize medications more slowly. This medication may also need to be monitored intensively and used only if necessary if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon as this medication is believed to pass into breast milk. Because of this possible risk to the infant, Prozac may need to be discontinued or breast-feeding may need to be curtailed while taking this drug. Obviously, continuous discussions with your physician are imperative while pregnant or breast-feeding because of these risks.

Some important information about this depression medication:

It is very important to understand that there can be very serious interactions when taking prozac in conjunction with other medications such as the MAO inhibitors (MAOI’s). When combined, the interaction between prozac and the MAOI’s such as nardil, parnate and marplan and can be fatal. Also, it is important to understand that caution may be necessary when taking prozac over prolonged periods of time. If you are taking any other medications, you need to notify your doctor immediately before starting Prozac.

Prozac Depression Medication Side Effects:

Although the side effects of the depression medication prozac seem to be less than the previous generation antidepressants such as imipramine, amitriptyline, desipramine and nortriptyline, there are still side effects associated with this medication that you need to be aware of. Some of the most common prozac side effects include dry mouth, sweating, insomnia, nausea, drowsiness and headache. Some of the less likely side effects are even considered to be more severe such as unusual weight loss and loss of appetite, decreased interest in sex, flulike symptoms, uncontrollable movements including tremors, and severe and unusual mood changes. Even more potentially dangerous but even less likely prozac side effects include vision changes, white spots and swelling in the mouth and tongue, trouble swallowing, prolonged and painful erection and changes in sexual ability. The most severe prozac side effects are fast and irregular heartbeat and fainting. Although allergic reactions to prozac are rare, they include rash, itching, trouble breathing and dizziness, and swelling. If you notice any of these allergic reactions after initiating treatment with prozac, you need to notify your doctor immediately. A more complete listing of prozac medication side effects follow.

Most Common Prozac Depression Medication Side Effects:

Abnormal dreams, abnormal ejaculation, abnormal vision, increased anxiety, dry mouth, dizziness, reduced sex drive, flulike symptoms, flushing, gas, headache, itching, impotence, loss of appetite, insomnia, nervousness, sinusitis, nausea, sweating, rash, sleepiness, sore throat, weakness, upset stomach, tremors, yawning, vomiting

Less Common Prozac Side Effects:

Abnormal taste, agitation, emotional instability, ear pain, frequent urination, high blood pressure, weight gain, sleep disorders, bleeding problems, chills, confusion, ringing in the ears, loss of memory, palpitations, increased appetite

There are some other even more rare side effects associated with prozac. If you develop any new or unusual symptoms you need to contact your physician immediately.

Prozac and Other Food and Drug Interactions:

Along with the prozac side effects mentioned above, there are also food and drug interactions that can occur when taking this antidepressant medication. The most serious of these interactions may be the interaction of prozac with the MAOI medications previously mentioned. Prozac mixed with these drugs can have a serious and even fatal medication interaction. Also, it is important to recognize that prozac in addition to any other medications can cause the effect to be increased, decreased or altered in various other ways. You should always talk with your physician when taking Prozac with the following medications:

Alprazolam (Xanax)
Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
Clozapine (Clozaril)
Diazepam (Valium)
Digitoxin (Crystodigin)
Drugs that impair brain function, such as sleep aids and narcotic painkillers
Flecainide (Tambocor)
Haloperidol (Haldol)
Lithium (Eskalith)
Other antidepressants (Elavil)
Phenytoin (Dilantin)
Pimozide (Orap)
Vinblastine (Velban)
Warfarin (Coumadin)

Special Warnings If You’re Pregnant or Breast-Feeding:

This medication has not been adequately studied for people who are pregnant or breast-feeding. If you’re pregnant or plan to get pregnant in the future or are breast-feeding your child, you need to be in constant discussion with your doctor to determine whether you may continue with this medication or need to discontinue breast-feeding. This medication is known to appear in breast milk and should probably be discontinued.

Prozac Dosage:

Prozac is usually taken once or twice a day and should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Also, it needs to be taken regularly to be most effective. If possible, you should take it at the same time every day. Some people have found that it takes prozac as much as four weeks to feel significant effects from this medication and to feel any relief from their depression symptoms. Additionally, some doctors recommend continuing prozac for approximately nine months beyond the initial three-month treatment period. Some people with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder may not feel the full effects for as much as five weeks.

Recommended Prozac Depression Medication Dosages:

The most common prozac dosage is 20 mg daily, usually taken in the morning. Your doctor may increase your dosage after several weeks if there has not been adequate symptom improvement. Elderly persons with liver and kidney disease and individuals taking other medicines may have their dosage adjusted by their physician.
When taking a prozac dosage over 20 mg, the physician may ask that you take two smaller doses in the morning and noontime rather than just once a day.

The usual dosage of prozac for depression is between 20 mg and 60 mg per day. The usual prozac dosage for obsessive-compulsive disorder usually ranges from 20 mg to 60 mg per day, although at times the maximum of 80 mg has been prescribed. For bulimia nervosa, the usual prozac dosage is 60 mg taken in the morning. The doctor may start at a lower dosage and increase to these levels over time. The most common dosage of prozac for premenstrual dysphoric disorder is 20 mg per day.

For patients who have been treated successfully with daily prozac, the doctor may consider a more long-acting form sometimes referred to as prozac weekly. The doctor may then ask you to discontinue daily doses for about seven days before taking your first weekly dosage.

You should never take more than one dosage of prozac at a time. If you miss your most recent dosage you need to take it as soon as possible. If a significant amount of time has passed, you may need to miss that dosage and return to your medication routine as soon as possible.

Prozac Over Dosage:

Like all medications, prozac depression medication needs to be taken as prescribed. Dosages in excess to the prescribed amount can be dangerous and even fatal. Combining prozac with other medications may also result in over dosage. If you suspect an overdose of prozac, you need to contact your doctor or local emergency room as soon as possible.

The most common symptoms of prozac over dosage are sleepiness, vomiting, seizures, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. The less common symptoms of prozac over dosage are irregular heartbeat, high fever, fainting, delirium, coma, mania, low blood pressure, rigid muscles, sweating and stupor.

By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

What are the depression medications and how do they work?

How do depression medications work?

The depression medications work through their effect on the biochemistry of the brain which then affects our thinking processes. Our thoughts, actions and moods are activated by the nerve cells in the brain which are referred to as neurons. The thoughts, actions and moods that we experience in our daily lives involve neurons in specific areas of the brain being activated and then communicating with other neurons using a biochemical referred to as a neurotransmitter. These neurons frequently work together with other neurons, which then form networks in specific areas of the brain which allows us to complete specific actions and thought processes.

Some of the main biochemical messengers (neurotransmitters) which communicate with other neurons when completing thoughts and actions are of specific biochemical types including norepinephrine and serotonin. There are other neurotransmitters that are very important to our lives and functioning such as dopamine, which is involved in various mental processes such as when you feel pleasure or happiness. However, the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin have been found to correlate highly with how a person thinks and feels and experiences specific moods. Depression medications tend to primarily increase these two neurotransmitters. Medications of these types are usually referred to as SSRI’s or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The SSRI’s are believed to focus on increasing the level of serotonin even though their selectivity is now somewhat controversial. Some of the newer antidepressant medications are known to increase both serotonin and norepinephrine and are referred to as serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SNRI’s.

There are some depression medications that have been around for a long time including the tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors or what are referred to as MAOI’s. These medications are believed to affect several of the neurotransmitters in the brain rather than selectively affecting just serotonin and norepinephrine.

Antidepressant Medication: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors:

As previously mentioned, these depression medications are believed to selectively affect the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. This selectivity however is currently in debate among researchers and doctors. The description of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may not be an accurate description due to this debate of their selectivity. However, although this issue is somewhat controversial they are still referred to in conventional medicine and by physicians as belonging to the SSRI class of medications. The SSRI depression medications follow.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors:


Additional depression medications also have some effect on the serotonin level of the brain but are not usually referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These include:

trazodone (Desyrel)
vilazodone (Viibryd)
etoperidone (Axiomin, Etonin)
vortoxetine (Brintellix)
buspirone (BuSpar)

These medications are also included in this section due to their similar side effect profile.

The SSRI’s seem to be generally well tolerated but do have some common side effects which include drowsiness, difficulty achieving an orgasm and heartburn. More specific side effects are included in relation to specific medications on their respective pages. They can also affect a loss of appetite at times and have been known to also interact poorly with other medications. You should always consult your pharmacist or physician prior to mixing these medications with any other drugs.

Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI):

One of the more recent depression medications which are marketed for their effect on both norepinephrine and serotonin are the serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. The medications which fall within this category follow.

Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors:

venlafaxine (Effexor)
tofenacin (Elamol, Tofacine)
dezvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
duloxetine (Cymbalta)
levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
milnacipran (Ixel, Savella)

Additional depression medications that affect primarily serotonin along with norepinephrine are also not included in the category of SSRI’s including:

setiptline (Tecipul)
mirtazapine (Remeron)

There are many critics of the medication classification system which state that medications seem to be classified in a rather arbitrary way possibly to switch patients from one drug class to another if their previous medication does not seem to work.

Many of the same negative side effects listed for the SSRIs can also be included in the side effect profile for SSRI’s. These may include withdrawal symptoms and possible tardive dysphoria. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor) have both been included in the top five medications reported to the FDA MedWatch associated with very serious concerns such as violence including injuries to self, suicidal tendencies and possible homicidal ideation.

Depression Medication: The tricyclics

The tricyclic antidepressant medications are some of the older depression medications going back several decades. Their name is derived from their chemical structure and are still believed to be effective in combating depression for some people. Unfortunately, they have some side effects which are troublesome for some people that are not shared by the newer SSRI’s and SNRI medications. Some of the primary side effects which seem to be of concern to many people are dry mouth, constipation and drowsiness. Once again, more specific side effects associated with each medication are identified on the individual antidepressant medication pages.

Tricyclic Antidepressant Medications:


All of the tricyclic depression medications are now in generic forms and produced by additional manufacturers.

The Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s):

Another classification of medications that have been around for several decades and are still in use are the monoamine oxidase inhibitors or the MAOI’s. They are still found to be effective for some types of depression. However, one of the primary concerns with MAOI’s is that they have very serious, even potentially life-threatening concerns for interaction with other drugs. Your doctor needs to be very involved when taking these medicines in helping you to avoid foods that may interact poorly with these medications resulting in life-threatening consequences.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs):

Parnate (tranylcypromine).
Nardil (phenelzine)

Miscellaneous Antidepressants:

A final category of depression medications that really do not fit well in other specific categories include the following:

Serzone (nefazodone)
Wellbutrin (bupropion
Remeron (mirtazapine)

Depression Medications: Conclusion

Depression medications have evolved significantly over the last several decades with the introduction of newer medications including the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and the selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These medications are frequently selected for their effectiveness for specific symptoms as well as well as their respective side effect profiles. Although these medications are marketed according to specific categories as previously mentioned, these categories do not always represent the selectivity and specificity of the neurotransmitters that are affected. Also, older antidepressants such as the tricyclic antidepressants have had a long history and continue to demonstrate effectiveness for some mood disorders, although the side effect profile seems to be more troublesome for some individuals.

By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

See Related Posts:

Cause and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

In order to understand the cause and symptoms of high blood pressure, you first must understand that there are two different kinds, essential (or primary) hypertension and secondary hypertension.

Essential Hypertension:

Essential hypertension is when the cause of high blood pressure is known and is the most common form. This is frequently brought on by the basic changes associated with aging. Blood pressure tends to increase as people get older and as larger arteries gradually begin to stiffen and small arteries may become partially blocked. Experts believe that this hardening and stiffening of arteries may be the reason that blood pressure seems to get higher as we age. It is also believed that an unhealthy diet and chronic stress may also be a cause of high blood pressure as we age. Also, obesity and kidney functioning may be a prominent cause of high blood pressure. Interestingly enough, in non-industrialized countries blood-pressure does not seem to increase as much when people age. These differences may be at least partially explained by the level of stress engendered in modern everyday life.

Secondary Hypertension:

Secondary hypertension is much more rare and is believed to be related to several disorders. Disorders such as partial blockage of arteries to the kidneys (diseases such as atherosclerosis), and diseases which cause damage to the kidneys such as infections or diabetes may result in secondary hypertension. Also, sleep apnea, or tumors in the adrenal glands which are located on the top of your kidneys, may also be a cause of hypertension of the secondary variety.

Certain drugs are also believed to be a cause of secondary hypertension such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), and even over-the-counter allergy drugs and cold remedies that contain phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine.

Symptoms of high blood pressure:

Symptoms of high blood pressure can be relatively difficult to determine in that some people have no symptoms at all. While they may blame high blood pressure for their headaches and the ringing in their ears, these symptoms may occur whether their blood pressure is high or not. Some people believe that their symptoms of high blood pressure include feeling flushed or just not feeling right.

The actual symptoms of high blood pressure may occur when there’s been damage to one or more of the bodily organs, which frequently may include the brain, heart or kidneys. The additional damage to these organs may be incurred if the symptoms of high blood pressure are not treated or are treated inadequately.

When you have very high symptoms of high blood pressure, you may have a sudden headache with loss of sensation and possibly paralysis of one half of your body. These symptoms are usually caused by the rupture of an artery in the brain, sometimes referred to as a hemorrhagic stroke.

Chest pain associated with coronary artery disease may also occur. If this happens, your legs and feet may swell and you may become short of breath during physical activity and eventually even during rest. Damaged kidneys may result in frequent urination, and if damage is severe you may feel nauseated and tired.

Additional symptoms of high blood pressure include blurred vision. This is usually the result of arteries in the eyes being damaged. If one of these arteries rupture, vision problems may occur, making this one the more troublesome symptoms of high blood pressure.

Some information inspired by The Merck Manual of Health of Aging

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D.. Licensed Psychologist (Health Psychology)

See Related Posts:

Defeat the Signs of Aging

Defeat the Signs of Aging

Assuming that everyone leaves their home, it becomes inevitable that we will on a daily basis become exposed to unavoidable environmental factors which can cause premature aging of the skin. Many of the same environmental insults that cause medical skin conditions also contribute towards the over all appearance of the skin with respect to aging. Over time, the aging process destroys the natural supplies of Hyaluronic Acid, causing skin to dry and wrinkle. The question then becomes what can we do to slow down the appearance of the skin’s aging process and how can we prevent further signs of aging from occurring.


Aging brings with it the realization that their skin will no longer have that youthful appearance. By reducing oxidative stress, restoring moisture, repairing signs of photoaging, and promoting healthy supportive tissues, these topical agents can literally turn back the clock on skin aging. There are many anti-aging skin care treatments, techniques and of course products available today to help you diminish the appearance of wrinkles, eye bags, dark circles and age related facial.

Anti-aging skin products cannot produce a 100% reversal of wrinkles, but using certain treatments will greatly improve your skin’s appearance. To help aging baby boomers actively restore the youthful look of their skin, researchers have developed powerful new ingredients that take the science of skin care to a new level. If you have deeper wrinkles that you would like to minimize, there are many other treatments to consider.


With multiple treatments fine lines and wrinkles, scars, pore size, and skin changes can be improved. There are cleansers, toners, serums, creams and treatments for every imaginable skin care concern. There are antibiotic treatments, which affect the skin from the inside, that she prescribes in cases of problem skin, though treatment is usually the first step. Oxygen treatments have found themselves increasingly popular across many countries.

The Oxygen Facials

The oxygen facial has been steadily growing in popularity since it was discovered that combining oxygen with certain anti-aging ingredients enhances cosmetic results. Anti-aging facials use products and techniques designed to slow the aging process, brighten skin, and reduce wrinkles. This treatment increases cellular respiration, enhances micro-circulation, fights premature aging, and it brings you a blissful sense of calm. Oxygen facials and oxygen skin care born from the anti-ageing medicine. By treating the skin with pure oxygen, you are restoring the nourishing elements that are not available in our environment as we know it.

Non invasive skin therapy treatments are now the right answer to people looking to keep healthy and prevent skin ageing. Oxygen facials are designed to improve the appearance of your skin by renewing skin cells and fighting the bacteria that causes acne. Oxygen facials may also help reduce fine lines as well as protect skin from sun damage and everyday stress. Oxygen facials are also used to treat burns and redness in the skin. As a result, your skin looks and feels firmer for a couple of days. Pure oxygen facials are the next big thing with celebrities such as Madonna, Sienna Miller and Kate Moss already reportedly converted to the new way to combat wrinkles and let your skin breath.


Please remember, preserving youthful skin is much easier than trying to repair skin that has been abused for years. Maintaining a beautiful, healthy and youthful skin is therefore very important, especially for women and girls. Skin care today is a very exact science providing us with a wide selection of treatments and supplements to counteract and slow down the aging process. The key to prolonged youthful skin is prevention, prevention, prevention.

Article Source:

About the Author:

Maintaining a beautiful, healthy and youthful skin is therefore very important, especially for women and girls. Skin care today is a very exact science providing us with a wide selection of treatments and supplements to counteract and slow down the aging process. Find out more about Things You Can Do To Slow Down The Aging Skin

Paul Rodgers specializes in marketing natural health and beauty products

See Related Posts:


Elderly Depression Symptoms and Suicide Prevention

Elderly Depression Symptoms and Suicide Prevention: Introduction

The most severe depression symptoms among the elderly are often easily recognized by others. However, it is usually much more difficult to distinguish the milder forms of depression from the normal emotional reactions to sadness and grief in everyday life. Depression symptoms among the elderly are not different in many ways from the depressive symptoms experienced by the younger age groups. Major depressive disorder is the most severe form of depression, followed by dysthymia which is milder, grief and atypical depression.

Mental health disorders are very different from medical conditions in that there are no biological markers to objectively identify their existence or severity. There are no laboratory changes or tissue abnormalities that can be used to identify and diagnose depressive disorders among the elderly.

The system used by psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health clinicians to diagnose specific mental disorders is referred as the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition). The symptoms for a major depressive episode from the DSM-5 follow below.

Major Depressive Episode Symptoms:

A person may be suffering from a major depressive episode if they are experiencing a persistently low mood and/or loss of interest in normal activities continually for two weeks or more and five of the following symptoms. The symptoms must also differ from the individuals normal functioning and include:

• Low mood;
• lack of interest in daily activities;
• a significant change in appetite or weight gain:
• sleep disturbance, either insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day;
• psychomotor agitation or retardation;
• loss of energy or fatigue;
• excessive or inappropriate guilt;
• reduced ability to concentrate;
• frequent suicidal thoughts or ideation.

A diagnosis of major depressive episode is the same for the elderly as for other age groups. The diagnosis is usually more certain when there is an apparent family history of prior episodes of depression or mania, or when there are precipitating factors such as the use of medications that are known to cause depression or the experience of a recent stroke.

Additional symptoms related to depression include delusions and disorganized thinking. Also, seniors will frequently have disturbances in cognition and bodily functions such as having constipation and a decreased sex drive.
Major depressive episodes may be mild, moderate or severe and are defined as “single episode” or “recurrent”. In the milder episodes there is very little change in daily functioning or functional impairment, and it may not be easily apparent whether a depressive episode is present. Severe major depressive episodes are distinguished by various debilitating symptoms including a significant decline in mood and interference with an individual’s social and job-related responsibilities. Severe depression can make it difficult to function in every aspect of an individual’s life including socializing, working and even getting out of bed in the morning. It can even become disabling to the point of being unable to feed and dress themselves and maintain normal hygiene.

Suicide Among the Elderly:

A major complicating factor associated with depression is suicide. It is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States with one out of every 16 people diagnosed with depression dying from suicide. Two thirds of people who die from suicide are depressed. Individuals most at risk for suicide in the United States are elderly white males who live alone, along with those who make prior attempts, individuals who abuse alcohol or drugs and/or refuse psychiatric evaluation and treatment. Although women attempt suicide 3 to 4 times the rate of males, men are actually 3 to 4 times more likely to be successful in their attempts.

An unfortunate factor associated with suicide is that possibly up to three quarters of people who die from suicide have visited the medical doctor in the prior month. This may indicate that they may have known something was wrong at the time, but they or their doctor did not identify or feel it was necessary to treat an existing depression. While it is not possible to accurately predict who will attempt suicide, there are warning signs that a depressed person may make an attempt. In many cases family and friends are unaware of the warning signs or the severity of the symptoms until it is too late.

Suicide Prevention Among the Elderly:

The most important step in preventing suicide among the elderly is to recognize risk factors and warning signs, and to take preventative steps to get appropriate evaluation and treatment by a trained mental health clinician. The basic signs include:

• A family history of suicide or previous attempts;
• verbal threats or statements about a desire to die;
• acquiring the means such as purchasing a gun;
• neglecting an individual’s home, pets or finances;
• personality changes and drastic changes in mood;
• self-imposed social isolation;
• frequent use of drugs or alcohol;
• putting an individual’s affairs in order and giving away important belongings;
• suddenly being cheerful or calm following a period of depression
• exaggerated complaints of pain or aching.

It is important to understand that many people have some or several of these symptoms but are not suicidal. Also, not all people who commit suicide have these risk factors.

Elderly Depression Symptoms and Suicide Prevention Conclusion:

It is very important to understand that the elderly may be just as susceptible to depression as younger people. The symptoms are about the same along with the relevant treatment which usually includes psychotherapy and/or depression medications. Treatment is equally successful as well. Suicide prevention is also very important to consider among the elderly, with the highest risk among elderly white males. Always take depression symptoms of the elderly seriously rather than considering them as a natural byproduct of getting older, being in a nursing home or having increased physical illness. Recommend them to a qualified psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health clinician who has experience working with seniors in the community.

By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

See Related Posts:

Cause of Depression Among the Elderly

Cause of Depression Among the Elderly: Introduction

The cause of depression among the elderly can be from a multitude of factors. Frequently, family and friends see a senior that has had a recent setback and is sad and they say that they are depressed. Sadness is a very normal response to adverse circumstances and is usually transitory, short-lived and defined by those circumstances. But, when sadness becomes much more severe, longer-lasting and debilitating it may become a significant cause of depression among the elderly. The main symptoms of depression for all groups of individuals including seniors is when you have a persistently low or sad mood, decreased interest in normal activities, loss of self-confidence, feelings of worthlessness, changes in eating and sleeping patterns and difficulty concentrating. Fortunately, depression tends to be episodic with some level of recovery in between.

Some studies have concluded that as many as 18 million Americans suffer from depression at any given time and is believed to be the primary cause of disability in the U.S. Although mood disturbances can occur at any time including having the initial episode in the senior years, it most often first occurs between the ages of 20 and 30. Mental health practitioners believe that the usual untreated episode of major depressive disorder most often lasts about 8 to 9 months. Fortunately, the depressive episode can be shortened, and symptoms can be improved significantly with successful treatment resulting in much less suffering and disability.

Causes of Depression Among the Elderly: Brain Changes

Some researchers and clinicians believe that some of the primary causes of depression among the elderly as well as other individuals are related to chemical changes within the brain. They believe that these chemical changes are linked to the various symptoms of depression.

The brain is composed of various regions involved in specific physical and psychological functions. These regions also have networks of nerve cells referred to as neurons that communicate with each other through chemical messengers referred to as neurotransmitters. One of the main regions of the brain involved in depression is the limbic system which is believed to be involved in emotional experiences and behaviors. Another important functional area of the brain is the hypothalamus which is involved in regulating the pituitary gland, which is involved in regulating hormones in the body which can become out of balance when an individual is depressed. An important result or cause of depression among the elderly is when the biochemistry of the body is no longer in the state of equilibrium that is required to function properly.

These neurons in the brain are separated by small gaps referred to as synaptic clefts. Neurons then communicate with each other as we think or participate in activities by releasing neurotransmitters across the synaptic cleft to other neurons that then react to the neurotransmission. This neurotransmission is very fundamental to understanding the biochemical aspects of depression. There are specific neurotransmitters that are believed to be affected by depression, which can also be a means of intervention as they are increased with depression medications. Some of the main neurotransmitters involved in depression are serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Psychiatrists believe that imbalances in these substances in the brain can be a main cause of depression among the elderly.

Genetic Factors Associated with Depression Among Seniors:

It is believed that there are genetic factors that may predispose seniors as well as others to depression. Researchers have found that among twins, if one of the twins develops depression there is approximately a 50% chance the other will develop depression sometime during their lifetime. It is believed that genetic factors may also play a role in the treatment of depression. Clinicians have found that if an antidepressant medication has been found to be effective with an individual, frequently a first degree relative (parents, children and siblings), may also respond favorably to the same depression medication.

These genetic factors identify some of the reasons that it is important to consider family history for depression. However, just because one close family member has had depression does not mean that others will inevitably develop the condition. In many or possibly in most circumstances, depression is frequently triggered by some type of psychological stress or medical condition. This is often the case even if there is some underlying susceptibility to the development of depression.

Medications and Other Causes of Depression Among the Elderly:

It is believed that as many as 10% to 15% of depressive episodes as well as other mood disorders may be caused by medication, medical and neurological conditions, and both legal and illegal drugs. An example may be when depression is caused by the use of beta blockers over a long period of time, reserpine derivatives (which are used for high blood pressure), benzodiazepines (for anxiety disorders), steroids such as prednisone (Deltasone), and medications used to treat cancer. Also, withdrawal from amphetamines or other medications that stimulate the central nervous system such as cocaine can also cause depression.

It is also recognized that patients who experience Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia such as Huntington’s disease related dementia are more susceptible to depression than others. Depression can also be a natural byproduct of having a stroke. It has been found that depression may be experienced by at least 25% of individuals who have had a stroke in the left frontal area of the brain. Also, people who have been diagnosed with hypoactive thyroid frequently are depressed. Patients who have Cushing’s syndrome which causes an overproduction of the steroidal hormone cortisol more easily experience mood disorders, which could include mania as well as being at a higher risk for depression.

Vitamin deficiencies such as inadequate consumption of B-6 or vitamin B-12 have been known to be linked to depression. A study conducted in 2000 of 700 women who were deficient in vitamin B-12 were twice as likely to be depressed as those who did not have a vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Among the Elderly:

Some individuals have been found to experience depression more often during the colder months in which there is less sunlight. For many individuals, this seasonal affective disorder may begin in November and has been referred to by some as “winter depression”. One theory is that the decreased level of sunlight may reduce certain levels of mood elevating hormonal substances such as melatonin.

Depression Among the Elderly Conclusion:

The most important thing to understand about depression is that it is not sadness. It is more severe, longer-lasting and debilitating. It can increase the risk for suicide significantly and should be taken very seriously. The rate of depression among the elderly is similar to many of the other age populations. Treatment for depression among the elderly is just as effective as with the other age groups and should be initiated as soon as possible.

By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

See Related Posts:

Safe Medication and Aging – 6 Challenges to Overcome Medication Errors

Safe Medication Procedures

There are many challenges we face with aging and taking medications. These obstacles can be overcome by caregivers.

·         Vision: Impaired vision can cause difficulty reading the labels on medications. Ask the pharmacist to provide labels in large print. For over the counter medications, caregivers can make large print labels to place on those bottles. Using a magnifying glass for reading may also be helpful.

·         Hearing: Hearing difficulties can affect the information your aging loved one hears and interprets what is being said. It is important that you have the doctors and other healthcare professionals to speak louder or write things instructions down. Caregivers may also assist their aging loved one by going with them and taking notes.

·         Swallowing: As we age, some may experience difficulties with swallowing some pills and capsules. When a doctor prescribes a medication, ask if it comes in an alternative form. If it does not, ask if it can be crushed. Many medications cannot be crushed, so the doctor may have to order an alternative medication.

·         Memory: Everyone has lapses in memory. For the aging, which are more likely to be forgetful, forgetting a medication can have serious consequences. It is important that a medication system be put into place. Medication systems can range from simple low tech pill boxes to high tech containers that alert your aging loved one that it is time for a dose and has a system in place to alert the caregiver if a dose has been missed.
More Challenges with Safe Medication and How Caregivers Can Overcome Them

·         Dexterity: As we age the ability to open bottles, the difficulty of breaking a pill or giving eye drops to ourselves can become a challenge. Ask the pharmacist to provide easy to open bottle tops for your prescription medications. If a medication is to be cut in half, ask the pharmacist to do that for you when they are filling the prescription. There are easy to use inexpensive pill cutters available. Your pharmacist can recommend one that will suit your needs.

·         Scheduling: The greatest challenge with aging and safe medication is the scheduling of the medications themselves. Caregivers can overcome this obstacle in several ways. The medication systems as discussed above can help. It is important to plan for medications around your aging adult’s daily schedule. Plan a schedule to take medications around meal times or bedtime. These activities can be cues that it is time to take medications. Your doctor or your pharmacist can assist with developing a plan to best suit your need.

These are the six most common challenges that caregivers face when dealing with your aging loved one and medications. Being proactive and developing ongoing assessment of the medication system will increase the assurance of safe medication for the elderly.

About the Author:

Diane Carbo Registered Nurse has more than thirty five years in the nursing field. Her experience as a geriatric care manager, makes her uniquely qualified to help those who want to live out their lives in their own homes. That decision may be made when you are 20, 30, 40 or in fact at any age, with sooner rather than later being ideal. Diane has developed a web site to make people aware of issues and options. You will find a mountain of helpful information that will be continually updated. Please visit to learn more about safe medicine and the elderly. While you are there sign up for Aging Home Health Care Newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of the Home Health Care Planning Guide.
Article Source: 

See Related Posts:


Namenda (Memantine): Medication for Alzheimer’s disease?

Is Namenda (Memantine) a good medication for Alzheimer’s disease?

Namenda (Memantine) is one of the newer medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This Alzheimer’s disease medication is manufactured by Forest Laboratories and is marketed in the United States under the name of Namenda for patients who are suffering from moderate to more severe forms of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. It began being marketed in January, 2004 in the United States although it previously was sold for some time in Canada and Germany. Many families of Alzheimer’s or dementia patients have been purchasing the medication from Canada for some time over the Internet. Some of the current estimates are that possibly 4 million patients currently have Alzheimer’s disease, with about 1 million suffering from severe symptoms of dementia. Namenda (Memantine) medication is the first drug offered for use with patients in the moderate to severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Does Namenda (Memantine) medication help?

Namenda has been found to help with the thinking and memory skills of patients who have moderate to severe impairment in their cognition. Cognition is their ability to think through their problems. Namenda does not help everyone but has been found to help some people to slow the pace of deterioration, which allows some individuals to maintain some of their cognitive skills and functioning capabilities for a longer period of time. This obviously helps both the Alzheimer’s patient and the caregivers in many ways.

Is Namenda (Memantine) different from any other Alzheimer’s medications?

There are some similarities between Namenda and some of the other Alzheimer’s and memory drugs on the market. However, there are actually more differences than similarities. One of the main similarities is that very much like other Alzheimer’s medications (Aricept, Exelon, Reminyl and Cognex) it does not really improve the functioning or memory skills of the individual. It merely retards the deterioration, which then allows the individual to function at a higher level and maintain their independence for a longer period of time. Additionally, the most prominent feature of Namenda is that unlike the other Alzheimer’s medications it is known to be more effective in the moderate to severe stages of the disease. Some of the other medications seem to be more oriented toward the mild to moderate stages and are rarely prescribed for individuals who have more pronounced symptoms. These other medications delay the breakdown of the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter and extremely important to the communication between nerve cells in the brain. Namenda blocks excess amounts of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which is believed to damage and/or kill nerve cells in the brain. Physicians now prescribe combinations of the memory medications to get better results and to ease the transition from the mild to moderate or severe stages of the disease.

Is there much hope for Namenda?

One of the newer developments is that doctors now use Namenda with Aricept and other memory medications as an adjunctive treatment and also to assist as Alzheimer’s disease continues to progress. However, this medication is not considered to be a miraculous cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It should not be given a false sense of hope that it is going to turn back the hands of time and restore previous memory and functioning. Even for patients with the most severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, this is considered merely a means to delay the deterioration in memory. Also however, it may be an additional step toward more effective treatments and possibly, eventually a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Namenda Side Effects:

Vomiting, sleepiness, pain, high blood pressure, headache, hallucinations, dizziness, coughing, constipation, confusion

Namenda Special Warnings and Side Effects:

This medication is not recommended for people with severe kidney impairment. Also, there are disease conditions which cause or alter the alkaline balance in the urine, which could result in a buildup of this medication in your body. You should always tell your doctor about any kidney problems such as renal acidosis, urinary tract infections or major dietary changes.

Namenda Side Effects and Drug and Food Interactions:

In addition to the Namenda side effects mentioned above, this medication should not be taken with some other medications as the effects of either or both may be increased, decreased or altered in some other way. As always it is important check with your doctor before you take Namenda with any of the following medications:

Amantadine (Symmetrel)
Cimetidine (Tagamet, Tagamet HB)
Cough suppressants that contain dextromethorphan (usually denoted as “DM”)
Glaucoma drug such as Diamox and Neptazane
Hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL)
Ketamine (Ketalar)
Nicotine (Nicoderm patch, Nicorette gum)
Quinidine (Quinidex)
Ranitidine (Zantac)
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda, Alka-Seltzer)
Triamterene (Dyrenium DM)

Namenda Dosages:

Recommended Namenda Dosages for Adults:

The recommended Namenda dosage for adults is 10 mg taken twice a day. At the initiation of treatment with this medication, it is recommended to take it at the dose or 5 mg once a day for seven days, and then gradually increasing it by 5 mg every seven days, up to a maximum dosage of 20 mg.

As you increase Namenda and you notice any side effects, your doctor may want to wait a week or so before increasing you dosage. Your physician may also be very careful with people who have impaired kidney functioning and may stay at a lower dosage.

How should your Namenda dosage be taken?

Namenda should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. As mentioned above, the usual Namenda dosage is increased gradually over one week intervals, usually at the level of 5 mg per week. Most doctors will wait a week before increasing the dosage. Taking dosages in it excess of the recommended amount will have no additional benefit for the patient. This medication can be taken with or without food.

Missed doses….

If you miss your latest dose of Namenda you should take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for the next dose you should skip the missed dosage and return to your usual dosing schedule. Never take two doses of Namenda at the same time.

How do you store Namenda?

This medication should be stored at room temperature.

Over dosage of Namenda:

If Namenda is taken in excess of the recommended dosage you may have serious consequences. If you believe you may have taken an over dosage of this medication, you should call your doctor or seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Symptoms of Namenda overdosage:

Stupor, sleepiness, restlessness, psychosis, loss of consciousness, hallucinations
Taking this medication as directed is absolutely essential to the effective use of this medication for Alzheimer’s disease.

Adapted from the PDR Family Guide to Prescription Drugs 9th Edition by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

See Related Posts:

Sleep and Health in Our Busy Lives

Sleep and Health: How much is enough? 

Sleep and health are never even questioned until a good eight hours becomes elusive. However, during sleep the body and the brain enter very different states from being awake, and is not simply a state of “switching off” for a few hours. When sleep is limited, the interaction between sleep and health can affect your health in a very significant way. 

Sleep and Health: An overview 

The interaction between sleep and health has probably changed significantly over the past couple of centuries. Prior to the advent of the electric light in the 19th century, records indicate that the average person may have slept over nine hours a night. In our modern society, the average person seems to sleep about seven hours a night, with some getting much less.
Sleep and Health: Can we get by without it? 

Medical science concludes that we cannot get by without sleep indefinitely, with 11 days being the record. While it has been agreed that sleep is essential to health, we’re still not sure why. Some scientists believe that the body essentially needs “down time” in order to build glucose reserves, or to exercise the neuronal circuits of the brain. Others have stated that the body simply needs to conserve energy, but in fact it seems that the body uses almost as many calories when it is asleep as when it is awake. While the precise need for sleep is uncertain, there is a continued recognition of the integral interaction between sleep and health.
Sleep and Health: Physiological changes
Sleep produces health changes in and through our physiological cycles. Sleep laboratories have found that growth hormone levels may reach a peak when people first fall asleep. This hormone is involved in cell repair, and maintaining the health of skin and muscle in adults. It is believed that another hormone testosterone is produced in the early sleep stages, which may help explain why sleep problems have been known to cause impotence in men. It is also believed that sleep assists us in processing memories. Researchers have found that it is harder for us to memorize complex information if we have not slept well. 

Sleep and health: How much do we really need?

Sleep and health is quite complex and opinion is still divided as to how much we really need. Some researchers have concluded that six or seven hours a night may be fine, although Stanley Coren, a Canadian psychologist believes that many in Western society are actually sleep deprived. He concluded that this may result in accidents and undermining an individual’s day-to-day efficiency. If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough sleep, you should experiment with an hour or two either more or less for about a week and seeing how you feel in order to know how it will affect your sleep and health over the long-term.

Information adapted from Reader’s Digest Making the Most of Your Brain

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist 

See Related Posts: