How chronic illness effects mental health

How chronic illness effects mental health

Being under the load of a chronic health issue is emotionally and psychologically stressful in the extreme. It creates a lot of uncertainty and fear about how we will cope. Our brains have been designed over millions of years to identify and ward off threats, but it really struggles to identify between external threats to our well being and those that come from within (worry). This deep concern about the impacts of a chronic health issue is an internal threat that needs to be managed a different way, not with the fight, flight or freeze response. The body and mind are stressed enough. It doesn’t need our defence system switching on to fight an invisible foe.

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Top Six Mindfulness Apps

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By Simon DuBois - Psychologist, The Health Lodge

As a Psychologist, I am using Mindfulness training more and more in my daily treatment of clients.

Mindfulness helps us identify when our minds are engulfed by unhelpful, stress-producing thoughts, and encourages mental distance from them. We are then in a better position to achieve emotional calm and think more clearly in difficult life situations.

Through the act of gently watching your inner brain dialogue and guiding your attention to a specific place in your body, mind or environment, you are strengthening your ability to notice what is happening within yourself, and taking your attention to where you would like it to be. We gain more mastery over our mental experience, rather than have distressing emotions be the driver of us.

When you participate in a mindfulness based practice it’s a bit like taking your brain to the gym. With ongoing practice your mental strength can improve significantly over time. When we strengthen our minds in the mindfulness gym we can manage the mental and emotional challenges of life with more ease.

We live in an amazing age of technology which gives us immediate access to really well constructed mindfulness programs. And if we own a tablet or a smart phone we can access and use them just about anywhere. Here are my top five favourite mindfulness apps you can download onto your device. Have a go at one and help yourself become the master of that chattering mind.

1. Smiling Mind: Young people really like this one. Smiling Mind is a meditation app customised by age for anxiety and depression, ranging from small children to adults.

2. Headspace: Headspace is a project designed to demystify meditation. Using the wonders of science and technology, they make it easy-to-learn, fun-to-do, and relevant to your everyday life.

3. Actcompanion: Guided mindfulness meditation exercises, like body scan and mindful breathing, help you get started with the basics of mindfulness training.

4. Mindful Creation: Gain a greater sense of connection to meaningful life experiences. Step out of repetitive thinking patterns. Break free from reactive behavioural patterns. Release stress, and overcome boredom and frustration. Enjoy a simple, yet effective way to know yourself.

5. The Mindfulness App: Do you want to find more balance in today’s increasingly stressful existence? The Mindfulness App is a tool for increasing your awareness in life. It helps you with the most difficult aspect of Mindfulness practice – namely to remember to be mindful.

6. 1Giant Mind: Meditation is no longer a fringe idea or some hippie hocus pocus. Doctors, CEOs, celebrities, athletes, corporations, schools, and even the military are meditating. Meditating regularly has a real and lasting positive impact on our lives. Not only does it reduce stress and anxiety and the risk of stress-related mental illness and disease, it also increases our sense of calm, improves our health, and makes us happier.

Simon Dubois is a Psychologist at The Health Lodge in Byron Bay. To book an appointment contact The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445.

Lyme disease - Integrative Treatment Approach Part Two

In part one we identified what Lyme disease, or Lyme Borreliosis, is and how it is transmitted. Now we take a look at testing and further treatment.

 

Testing for Lyme disease

Testing for Lyme disease is not straightforward. Lyme disease, the bacteria called Borrelia, can live in tissues, organs, the nervous system, and in collagen and joints. So may not come up in blood tests, especially in chronic cases. Rather than use blood tests to detect the bacteria, the tests are used to check the body’s immune response to it.

 

The tests currently used to diagnose Lyme are very poor at detecting Borrelia, and results may come back falsely negative. This leaves a significant number of individuals with Lyme disease undiagnosed and untreated.

Studies have indicated that PCR (polymerase chain reaction) is more accurate than culture and serologic testing in early Lyme disease. There are only a few laboratories in the world that offer more comprehensive Lyme testing, and only one in Australia.

 

What about CD57+?

If you have read through any forums on Lyme disease chances are you have come across the term CD57+. This is a test that some practitioners are using in Lyme disease. Lymphocytes, a class of white blood cells, have different markers
on them. One of these markers is the CD57 marker. Cells with the marker are said to be CD57+. The CD57+ test measures how many lymphocytes have this marker on them.

 

One study (and two case reports) from the early 2000’s reported that patients with chronic Lyme disease have low levels of CD57+ cells. They found that when patients responded to treatment, these levels went up; and in patients who did not respond to treatment, these levels stayed low. However, another group of researchers found that there was no correlation between CD57+ cells and Lyme disease.

 

So there are only really two studies that have looked at CD57+ cells in Lyme, and one found that it was a good marker for Lyme, and one found that it was not. Given the research we have to go on, we really cant say whether it is reliable for Lyme.

 

The complexities of treating Lyme disease

Treatment of Lyme disease can be a long and difficult journey. At The Health Lodge, our treatment plan for patients with Lyme disease involves three main phases.

 

Phase 1: Detox

Detoxification is the first and hardest part of the treatment process. Borrelia, like several other bacteria, produces neurotoxins. These compounds can cause many of the virus-like symptoms common in Lyme disease, and also potentially interfere with hormone action by blocking hormone receptors.  It has been said that the longer one is ill with Lyme, the more neurotoxin is present in the body.  It probably is stored in fatty tissues, and once present, persists for a very long time.

 

Phase 2: Pathogen clearing

Lyme disease is not your average bacterial infection. Ticks often carry other organisms, including Babesia, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella. These can be transmitted to humans at the same time as the Borrelia bacteria, causing co-infection. It is incredibly important to test and treat these co-infections as well. Animal and human studies show that these co-infections can cause more severe and treatment-resistant Lyme disease.

 

Phase 3: Breaking down biofilms

Borrelia is also capable of creating a biofilm. A biofilm is a slippery, glue-like coating that some bacteria create to act as a protective shield. The plaque on your teeth is a type of biofilm produced by Treponema denticola, which causes gum disease. To create the biofilm, the bacteria clump together and build a complex matrix around themselves. They can do this on a range of surfaces including our soft tissues. Other organisms, including the co-infections common in Lyme disease, can live inside the biofilm. The biofilm protects the bacteria from attacks from the immune system and antibiotics.  The Borrelia biofilm is one of the reasons Lyme disease and its co-infections are so difficult to treat.

 Your integrative team of health care specialists

We believe that a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals is essential in managing all the aspects of Lyme disease. The multidisciplinary team may include general practitioners, psychologists, nutritionists, naturopaths, osteopaths, and acupuncturists. This comprehensive and holistic approach is designed to support the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.

For enquiries call The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445