Did You Know? A Fun List of Trivia Facts

Illustration of Alber EinstenImage by Rob de Roy from Pixabay

Knowledge Gets You Places

You won’t be getting a college degree nor will this help you to get a job, but these trivia notes will surely raise an eyebrow or two! Not to mention it will stimulate your brain.

Illustration of the human brain
Photo by Natasha Connell on Unsplash

Knowledge is Power

We’re not saying you will rule the world or become the next billionaire tomorrow, but the better we understand the world around us, the better decision-makers we become.

The power of knowledge expands horizons and instills critical thinking which can enhance our mental health. But probably most of all, having good intelligence works great for date nights! But if that is not useful to you, then at the very least, it can always help you finish your crossword puzzles or solve clues on Jeopardy!

On a more serious note, knowledge stimulates our brain which is a great benefit for our mental health. Through knowledge, we can navigate challenges, solve problems, and build a better world for future generations.

So let’s give it a go!

Animals

Hippopotamus in a lake
Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay
    • Hippopotamuses are listed as one of the most dangerous animals in the world. They are very territorial so don’t try to pet one! 
    • The oldest turtle in the world is Jonathan who is 190 years old.
    • There are twenty quadrillion ants on planet Earth. That’s a million billion or the number 1 followed by 15 zeros.
    • Male penguins give pebbles to the females as a courtship.

Happenings

    • Paul McCartney wrote the song Hey Jude to console John Lennon’s son, Jullian who was depressed from his parent’s divorce. McCartney made the change from Julian (AKA Jules) to Jude because he felt it sounded better. He composed the song in his car while riding to Lennon’s house.
    • CNN broadcaster Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt

History

Photo of Shakespear's house
Shakespeare’s birthplace. Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo: SMS
    • As was customary in 17th-century England, the dining room would have a long wooden table where the father would sit at the end, which was the only chair that had arms; hence, the expression chairman materialized. The table top was known as the board, which gives us the expression Chairman of the Board and Boardroom.
    • The Cosmetics company Avon was named after Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespear’s birthplace.
    • The first American to win a Nobel Peace was Theodore Roosevelt.
    • Despite popular belief, Henry Ford did not invent the automobile. That credit goes to Illinois residents the Duryea Brothers, circa 1892.
    • The son of the detective who investigated the Lindberg kidnapping was Norman Schwarzkopf, the general who led Operation Desert Storm in the war on Iraq in 1991.
T-Rex Dinosaur in the jungle
Photo by Fausto García-Menéndez on Unsplash
    • The Mesozoic Era, which existed about 252 million to 66 million years ago, is the period when dinosaurs roamed the earth and it is the time when the Triassic, Cretaceous periods and all too familiar Jurassic era existed. Earth’s continents were breaking apart at this time and that is why we find remains of dinosaurs across the world, despite the vastness of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that formed after it.

Biology

:Illustration of a bioligical connection
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Technology

    • 99% of all Internet communication travels through cables in the oceans.
    • Over 500 hours of videos are added to YouTube every minute.
    • You can have actual conversations with ChatGPT.
    • The most used word in the English language is “Time”.
    • The word searched the most on Google is “Love”.

Architecture / Engineering

JP Morgan Chase building under construction. Photo: SMS©
    • The copper framework of the Statue of Liberty weighs 125 tons.
    • The Pentagon in Washington DC is the largest office building in the world. The Willis Tower in Chicago comes in at number 4 and One World Trade Center, AKA the Freedom Tower in New York City, comes in at number 8, above the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. 
    • The famous London Bridge was dismantled in London and reassembled in Arizona.

Astronomy

    • If the sun blew up right now, we would still have another 8.3 minutes to live. That’s because light travels at a finite speed of 186,000 miles per second, so grab your beer or whatever strikes your fancy (legally of course) for the next 8.3 minutes and live it up. At least you will be happy for that one moment in time! 

Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full? A Discussion About Perception

Are You a Happy Person or Do You Worry?

Photo of a glass of water
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?  Photo: SMS©

A happy person tends to focus on the positive aspects of situations, maintains an optimistic outlook, and seeks joy in the present moment. They embrace gratitude, practice self-care, and find meaning in everyday experiences.

In contrast, a worried person is preoccupied with negative possibilities, tends to overthink and anticipate problems, and may struggle to find contentment. They dwell on uncertainties, magnify challenges, and may experience heightened anxiety. Many times, people who tend to worry a lot concentrate on unrealistic situations that will never materialize.

Many people who suffer from bipolar disease have these worries, but not to worry (pun intended). There are ways to overcome illogical concerns and view life more positively. This will not only serve to diminish your fears but also make you feel mentally healthy and subsequently, physically healthy as well.

In this year 2023, there is an abundance of ways to cope with worry and its corresponding emotions of stress and anxiety. Let’s get started.

The Stories

Fearful man with hands on his face.
Photo by MART PRODUCTION

 

Jack’s Letter

Jack got a letter from one of his credit card companies. It was a standard letter regarding updates on his privacy policies, but Jack got nervous thinking there was a problem with his credit card and ran to his phone to call them. 

What was Jack’s perception of this letter? No doubt it was a negative one, a half-empty glass outlook. 

Now, let’s look at another scenario.

Susan’s Voicemail

Happy womnan on phone
Image by Nebraska Department of Education from Pixabay

Susan received a voicemail from her doctor’s office after her visit there a few days earlier. The message was that they would like her to call them back. Susan didn’t think it was anything serious to worry about and when she called, they just needed to verify her insurance.

Is Susan a negative or positive thinker? No doubt she is thinking positively.

Let’s look at one more.

Marjorie’s Olive Oil

Marjorie needed olive oil, but she heard that the store might be out of it, so she called them first. The phone call went as follows:

Marjorie: “Hello, do you have olive oil or you don’t?”
Store: “Yes, we have it. The price is $9.99.”
Marjorie: “OK great. I will be there shortly.”

What caused Marjorie to say “or you don’t”? Is she a positive or negative thinker? 

Let’s take a deeper look at what positive and negative thoughts can do to us, or more expressional, is your glass half empty or half full?

Negative Thinking

Man stressed and worried
Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

A negative thinker is someone who tends to focus on the negative aspects of a situation or experience, rather than the positive. They have a mindset that tends to dwell on worst-case scenarios and assume the worst in any given situation. They often view problems as obstacles, rather than as opportunities for growth or learning.

Negative thinking is a pessimistic outlook, which can lead to a lack of motivation and a decreased ability to cope with stress and challenges. As a result, these individuals may struggle with increased anxiety and depression. Some people may go to the extreme and create a sense of hopelessness and despair.

These damaging thoughts can also have an impact on relationships, as they can lead to a general sense of cynicism. It is important to note that negative thinking is not the same as critical thinking, which involves evaluating situations and ideas thoughtfully and objectively. Rather, this type of pessimism involves a persistent focus on the bleakest aspects of a situation, often at the expense of the positive.

What Can a Negative Thinker Do to Off-Set Pessimism?

Two seniors holding hands on a park bench
Photo: Shopify Burst Free Images

Negative thinking can be a difficult habit to break, but it’s not impossible. Here are some strategies that may help address these thoughts:

      1. Socialize and we are not talking about Facebook. Go out and meet people. This can help you forget about your worries and allow you to concentrate on talking about things that you enjoy.
      2. Surround yourself with positive people: With the above said, make sure the people you are with are positive thinkers. If you hear someone talking about their constant problems, politely excuse yourself and find some other folks who would be of more benefit to you.
      3. Sports and exercise: No doubt these activities will make you feel good, both inside and out. Anything from basketball to volleyball to weightlifting will be beneficial to you.
      4. Identify negative thinking patterns: The first step in addressing bad thoughts is to become aware of them. Notice when negative thinking arises and try to identify the patterns or triggers that lead to them.
      5. Challenge the negative: Once you’ve identified these thought patterns, challenge them by asking yourself if they’re based on facts or assumptions. Try to reframe them into more positive and realistic ones.
      6. Practice gratitude: Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help shift your focus away from negative thoughts. Start a gratitude journal or make a habit of reflecting on what you’re thankful for each day.
      7. Practice meditation: Meditation can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
      8. Get a Pet: Studies have shown that pets, especially dogs and cats can help diminish your worries and reduce your stress.
      9. Seek professional help: If negative thinking is interfering with your daily life or causing significant distress, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would be the best route. These are trained psychotherapists who can help provide additional support and guidance in addressing negative thought patterns. Additionally, you can visit a psychiatrist who can prescribe the proper medication for you that can help with your anxiety.

Positive Thinkers

People jumping for joy
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A positive thinker is a person who tends to see the world and situations in a positive light and has a generally optimistic outlook on life. Positive thinkers focus on the positive aspects of a situation, rather than dwelling on the negative, and they look for opportunities and solutions rather than being overwhelmed by problems.

These are folks who see challenges as opportunities and maintain an optimistic outlook on situations. They are not unrealistic or naive, but rather they choose to view situations constructively.

Optimistic thinkers find the positive aspects of a situation, rather than dwelling on the negative. They can naturally manage their thoughts and choose to focus on the good, rather than the bad in many circumstances.

This type of mindset can have many benefits, including improved mental health, increased resilience, better coping skills, and a more fulfilling life. However, it’s important to note that being a positive thinker does not mean ignoring or denying problems, but rather approaching them with a positive and constructive mindset.

Conclusion

Silhouettes of people jumping for joy
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

When you see an issue arise, give it a quick thought – is this something I should worry about? If it is something that would normally make you feel uncomfortable, confront the situation immediately and try to resolve it, but if this is something that may not be of concern at all, make a mental note and then confront your feelings by telling yourself that this is NOT something to worry about.

Follow the suggestions above regarding off-setting pessimism. Try meditation and socialize with positive people. Get a pet. Additionally, there is cognitive behavioral therapy available as well as speaking to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication if the need arises.

 

 

What Is Serotonin and How Does It Affect Your Mental Health?

Colorful illustration of the brain
Photo: iStock

Overview

Before we proceed to discuss the benefits of serotonin, let us review the tasks of neurotransmitters. Simply stated, information from one cell will send information to the next cell by jumping across a synapse (the gap between cells).

If you are unfamiliar with this process, our article on brain cells will help clear up any confusion you may have, but keep in mind that neurotransmitters don’t only function in the brain. 

This article will discuss what serotonin is, how it works, and ways to naturally increase its levels, and we will explore how certain medications can be used to treat serotonin-related disorders. 

By understanding the effects of serotonin, we can help maintain a sound mind and body. So let’s begin.

What is Serotonin?

This is an important chemical found throughout the human body. It is produced in the brain, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys. It plays a key role in the regulation of mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and learning, and in so doing, it is often coined the “happy hormone”. 

With that said, any serotonin deficiency can have a major impact on your health, especially, your mental health. Once in the synapse, neurotransmitters connect the chemical with receptors on the neighboring cell. This communication between neurons is what allows us to think, feel, and act.

How Does It Work?

Serotonin is produced by a chemical reaction between amino acids and enzymes. Once it is produced, it is stored in specialized cells called vesicles. The serotonin travels out of the vesicles and across the synapse to neighboring neurons and as mentioned, the neurons that serotonin affects are responsible for mood, appetite, sleep, and thinking. Therefore, any changes in serotonin levels can lead to changes in these functions. 

How Does Serotonin Affect Your Mental Health?

Silhouettes of people jumping for joy
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A person’s cognitive health is affected by many factors. These include genetics, past traumas, relationships, current health, and daily habits. Let’s take a closer look at serotonin’s effect on these functions:

    • Mood: Mood is often the first thing to be affected when serotonin levels start to drop. If its levels drop too low, they may result in a condition known as serotonin deficiency. A serotonin deficiency is often associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
    • Appetite: Serotonin helps regulate appetite by triggering the sensation of fullness. Therefore, increased serotonin levels can result in a lower appetite. A serotonin deficiency, on the other hand, can result in increased appetite.
    • Sleep: A serotonin deficiency can result in insomnia and a serotonin excess can result in hypersomnia (excessive sleep).
    • Thinking: Serotonin is associated with focus and concentration. Moreover, it is also associated with positive or negative moods depending on the situation. A deficiency can result in poor focus and a lack of concentration. This can negatively affect daily tasks that require a higher level of mental focus.

How to Naturally Increase Your Serotonin levels

Two Men Exercising on Mat
Photo: graphic stock

Given that serotonin is so important to mental health, taking steps to increase its levels can have a significant impact on your health. Some ways to naturally increase serotonin levels include:

    • Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for serotonin production. Any decrease in sleep can reduce its production and any increase in sleep can increase serotonin.
    • Eating a healthy diet: A healthy diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which are required to produce serotonin. A diet that is rich in these nutrients can help to naturally increase serotonin levels. 
    • Practicing a healthy lifestyle: Regular exercise, meditation, yoga, and other forms of relaxation are known to help increase serotonin levels. 

What Foods Help Maintain a Healthy Serotonin Level?

Photo of foods rich in Serotonin
Some foods for good mood, brain, and happiness. Photo: iStock

Before we list some foods that are rich in serotonin, let us define tryptophan. This is an amino acid that plays a significant role in the production of serotonin and it is important to note that tryptophan cannot be produced naturally in the body. So with that said, let’s take a look at what foods contain this amino acid.

      • Salmon. This healthy fish has been mentioned numerous times on our website. And why? Because of all the nutrients it contains, which includes tryptophan.
      • Eggs: Another all-around healthy nutrient. In addition to all the other benefits eggs have, they are also rich in tryptophan.
      • Green Leafy Vegetables: Any veggies of this type, such as spinach contain a good source of tryptophan.
      • Pineapples: Eat them when they are fresh because they lose their serotonin levels as the ripening wears off.
      • Nuts: All of our favorite nuts contain tryptophan.
      • Tofu and Soy: Soy products are known to be significant in getting tryptophan to increase serotonin production in the body.

One note: Foods that are high in protein, such as salmon and eggs may compromise the serotonin boost even though they contain tryptophan, but if you add carbohydrates (carbs) to your meal, this can help keep tryptophan in the bloodstream.

Some healthy carb foods are brown rice, sweet potatoes, corn, bananas, and apples.

What Medications Can Be Used to Treat Serotonin-Related Disorders

pills in human hand
Photo: Graphic Stock

Some of the most common serotonin-related disorders include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. While some serotonin-related disorders can be readily managed with lifestyle changes, others may require the assistance of certain medications. 

Antidepressants are the most commonly used meds to treat serotonin-related disorders. They are helpful because they increase the serotonin level, but they may also have a negative impact on other neurotransmitters. As a result, it is important to speak to your medical provider before taking any medications on your own.

Takeaways for Better Mental Health Management

Mental health is a cyclical process that is affected by many factors. These include daily habits, current health, genetics, and past traumas. Given the impact of these factors, it is important to take care of ourselves and manage our health more effectively. 

One of the best ways to do this is by understanding serotonin and its effects. When serotonin levels are too low, a person can experience a serotonin deficiency, which can result in several mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and poor focus.

Fortunately, there are several ways to naturally increase serotonin levels. These include getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, practicing a healthy lifestyle, and discussing with a medical professional. 

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Benefits, Sources and More

Illustration of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Source: Free Images

Overview

How many of us have heard our parents say “Eat your fish! It is brain food!”? Well, even if you were a spiteful kid and didn’t listen, take note – they are right! 

Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (a covalent bond that contains four electrons in the outer shell of the atom). They are found in sunflower, flaxseed oils, as well as fish and walnuts, which are essential nutrients that play a vital role in the functioning of the human body, especially the brain, but your body cannot make these fatty acids. To nourish your body with these important ingredients, you need to eat the proper foods that contain them.

This guide will provide you with all the information you need to know about Omega 3 fatty acids, including their benefits, sources, recommended daily intake, and more. You will learn why they are essential for optimal health and how to incorporate them into your diet. 

With this information, you can make sure you are getting the most out of these nutrients and living a healthier life. Let’s get started!

Starting at the Beginning – What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Plate of uncooked salmon
Image by Piotr Eliasz from Pixabay

As mentioned, these are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in certain plants and marine animals.

They are considered essential nutrients for humans because the body is unable to produce most of them and consequently, we must get them from the food we eat. 

There are three types of Omega 3 fatty acids: 

      • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): ALA is found in plants, and is the only type of Omega 3 fatty acid that can be produced by the human body. However, the human body can only convert a very small percentage of ALA into EPA and DHA. 
      • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Found in fish and fish oils 
      • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Also found in fish and is an important nutrient for normal brain function in adults. Additionally and even more essential is that DHA plays a significant role in the development of the brain of infants. Experts have repeatedly stated that consumption of DHA in your diet will improve your learning ability, and lack of it has been related to a deficiency in learning.

Plant sources are mostly ALA (Alpha-lipoic acid) – A naturally occurring compound, but very little is converted into EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)Therefore, it is important to consume more ALA foods that convert into EPA and DHA.  

Benefits 

Omega 3 fatty acids are an essential part of the function of the cell receptors. They have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke and may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis,

Besides improved brain health, these healthy fats have additional benefits that include improved heart health, possible reduced cancer risks, and other conditions such as mood and reduced inflammation. Let’s take a look at each of these benefits in more detail.

      • Improved heart health: Helps to reduce triglycerides, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. These three factors are important for heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.
      • Improved mood: Helps to reduce the risk of depression and promote feelings of happiness, and as mentioned, they help to promote brain health and may assist in improving symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 
      • Reduces risk of dementia: Helps to reduce the risk of developing conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia. They also help to improve symptoms associated with depression, ADHD, and anxiety
      • Reduced inflammation: Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which can lead to reduced risk of diseases like arthritis. 
      • Other benefits: Helps to reduce blood sugar and blood pressure, improves skin health, and promotes weight loss.

Sources 

Package of Flax Seeds
Seeds such as Flax and Chia can be found in any major grocery store. Photo: ©SMS

Flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, fish, marine algae, and fish are some of the main sources of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Let’s take a look at the different sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and their benefits.

      • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a great source of ALA, which can be converted into EPA and DHA. The seeds are also rich in fiber and have a nutty taste and texture. They can be added to salads, baked goods, or other dishes. 
      • Chia seeds: This is a great source of ALA and fiber. They can be mixed into yogurt or added to salads. 
      • Walnuts: Walnuts are a great source of ALA and also provide some protein and healthy fats. They can be added to salads or eaten as a snack.
      • Fish: Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly. Fish is also a great source of protein as well. 
      • Marine algae: Marine alga is a good source of EPA and DHA, but it is much less common than fish. It can be consumed as a powder or in capsules. Marine algae are also rich in other minerals.

Best Fish for Omega 3

Salmon on a plate
Photo: Graphic Stock

Researchers have said that the following are your best sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

      • Salmon
      • light tuna
      • Sardines
      • Cod
      • Atlantic mackerel
      • Herring
      • Trout

Recommended Daily Intake 

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of Omega 3 fatty acids varies between different age groups. The RDI of Omega 3 fatty acids for infants is 0.5 grams, while it is 1.5 grams for adults. 

The RDI increases with age, which is important to remember. It is also important to note that these RDIs are based on ALA, not EPA or DHA. Although the RDIs are based on ALA, it is important to get enough EPA and DHA in the diet to promote health. 

Let’s take a look at how much Omega 3 fatty acids each age group should consume.

    • Infants: 0.5 grams
    • Babies are not able to consume fish, which is the best source of EPA and DHA. Breast milk contains some Omega-3 fatty acids, but it is important to supplement with additional Omega-3 fatty acids. Talk to your doctor about the best infant formula and infant formulas with added Omega 3. – Children: 1.5 grams
    • Children are growing and their brains are developing. It is important to ensure that children consume enough Omega 3 fatty acids to promote proper brain health. Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly.
    • Teenagers and adults: 5 grams – As we get older, we are less able to convert ALA into EPA and DHA. It is important to get enough EPA and DHA in the diet, especially as we age. It is also important to eat a healthy and balanced diet during this time to ensure that the body gets everything it needs.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 6 grams – It is important to get enough Omega 3 fatty acids when pregnant and breastfeeding to ensure proper brain development in the baby. Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and should be eaten regularly.

How to Incorporate Omega 3 Fatty Acids Into Your Diet

It can’t be emphasized enough that the best way to get these fatty acids is to eat more fish and marine algae. 

      • Eat more fish – Fish is the best source of EPA and DHA and can be eaten regularly. You can also eat other marine animals like shellfish, but it is best to limit these.
      • Eat more plant-based sources – Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are great sources of ALA. You can add them to salads, baked goods, or add them to yogurt. – Eat more marine algae 
      • Marine algae is the best source of EPA and DHA. It can be consumed as a powder or in capsules. 
      • Take fish oil supplements. Fish oil supplements can be taken regularly to get the recommended daily intake of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Potential Risks

The main risk is consuming too much fish and not getting enough nutrients from other food sources. It is important to get nutrients from other foods to avoid an imbalance in the diet. Another potential risk is consuming too many marine algae and not consuming enough other nutrients. 

All in all, consuming too much Omega 3 fatty acids is not likely to cause any serious side effects. It is important to consume the recommended daily intake to get the benefits associated with them. Besides, marine algae are rich in minerals and vitamins, so it is unlikely to cause any side effects. Fish oil supplements, on the other hand, are not as rich in nutrients, so it is important to get enough nutrients from other sources to avoid an imbalance in the diet.

Supplements

If you are having trouble incorporating enough Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet, supplements can be a great option. 

 

7 Things That Will Change Your Life in 2023. Well, Not Really But …

Silhouettes of people jumping for joyFFAImage by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

We thought that title would catch your attention and now that we have it, we’d like to clarify that these items listed below will not change your daily lifestyle; however, maybe, just maybe it will make life a little easier for you when you encounter these issues, as well as the knowledge you can gain from this (if you already don’t know about them), is, shall we say priceless!

1. How to Speak Directly to an IRS Representative

Papers from the IRS
Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

We all know it’s almost impossible to reach an IRS agent on the phone, or is it? Well, we found the way. Here’s how:

1.  Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040
2. Reply to the Select Your Language option
3. It will ask you to press an option for your income taxes. Press 2
4. Next, press 1 for questions about a form already filed or a payment
5. Then  press 3 for all other questions
6. Again it will ask for all other questions, Press 2
Do not press any key when it asks for your SSN
Then press 2 for personal or individual tax questions
Then press 3 for all other inquiries

Congratulations! You have reached the point where an IRS agent will answer the call, but the time it will take them to answer, well you’re on your own on that one 😂

Also, it may tell you to call back another time. Yes, after your fingers did all that walking. Our suggestion would be to try when they first open up.  If you’re lucky, it may ask you to enter your phone number and they will call you back. If so, definitely do it! The IRS will call you. It may be 5 or 6 or more hours later, but they will call back!

Source: support.taxslayerpro.com.

2. Do You Know the Difference Between Real and Fake Silver?

Whether you like it or not, China is a major seller of just about everything. We will not delve into the politics of this, but we’d like to make you aware that everything that is sold in China and other locations is not what it’s made up to be. 

Do you have silver jewelry, coins, or even bars?  Let’s talk about this.

A customer went onto a website and bought, what he thought was a great deal on American silver dollar coins. It turned out that these coins were fake.

How Did He Know the Silver Was Fake?

Easy. Get a magnet. Any magnet. Even a travel magnet that sticks to your refrigerator would work. Put your coin on the magnet. Did it stick to it? If yes, you have a fake!

Silver does not magnetize!!

3. Need Some Spare Change?

100 dollar bills
Well maybe not this much, but you get the picture! Photo Unsplash

These suggestions will not pay your rent or mortgage, but they can help you with some extra gas money (yes, even at today’s prices), provide tips at restaurants, get you a few extra bus or subway rides, or anything else where some pocket change would be a benefit.

Below are some tried and true methods where you can make that extra buck!

Take Surveys!

Believe it, some businesses will pay you to take surveys and the pennies do add up. Below are a few companies that are legitimate and will pay you for the services you provide, and you never pay anything to them.

If you like taking surveys, this one’s for you. You can register here. Pay nothing and you will periodically receive survey questions in your email from different businesses regarding how you like or don’t like a particular webpage, item, or service.

They pay anywhere from .20 to $2.00 per survey and it usually takes less than a minute or two to complete it. Now we know that .20 won’t get you anywhere, but as the email requests come in, you can watch the funds add up.

Usercrowd dashboard
Pennies add to dollars over time

This will not pay your monthly mortgage, but it may just help you with those little things in life you need to pay!

You can also register with the Apex Focus Group which will notify you of surveys and other evaluations that will pay you for your participation.

4. Need More Than Just Spare Change?

Sell Your Stuff!

Do you have items in your house or in the attic or basement that you don’t use anymore? Do you have old items that you once used as a hobby or that your grandfather gave you 10 years ago? Any old cameras, trains, or vintage books?  There are markets for them!

EBay would be your first source. Then you can drill down to other market resources such as those on Facebook. Also, try the ones who specialize in buying specific items such as trains or cameras.

Oh, Those Coffee Table Books!

So you’ve been have gathered those nice, picture books that look great on your coffee table, but now you have too many or you just want to part with them.

You have probably tried a garage sale and ended up getting $1 for what cost you $15 or if you live in an apartment, a garage sale would not exist. Maybe you tried eBay and got no bids or you went to your local book store but they won’t take them.

Well, help is on the way! If you live in the NYC area, there is one bookstore that would love to buy your table books. They won’t pay you market price, but their prices surely beat the $1 you got at your garage sale.

This is the Strand Book Store on 12St in Manhattan, but make sure you take a lot of your books so that you can accumulate some relative value for them, and a word of caution – if you drive, especially on a weekday, parking is horrendous, so you may want to take another driver with you who will stay in the driver’s seat while you visit the store. And yes, there will be a line to get in. Also, pack the books in a suitcase or similar travel case for ease of use.

So there you have it. All you need to do is find the right buyers and you can sell those things that have been lying around for the last 100 years.

Get Cash for Those Gift Cards!

Your grandmother gave you a $200 Apple gift card, but you are using Samsung Droid phones or you just got a $250 gift card for Target, but you would rather have the cash. Whatever the reason, there are ways you can trade in those cards for cash!

Here’s your solution! There are companies that will buy your gift card and send you cash and you can do it online! The only caveat to this is that you won’t get full pay for them, but you will get between 85% – 90% payment, which is not bad.

Following are five legitimate gift card payment companies that will cash you out.

Raise.com
CardSell
CardCash
QuickCashMI
ClipKard

Lost Money!

Stacks of $10 bills
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Have you ever wondered if there is some money owed you that you forgot about? You’ll be surprised how many people are owed money that they are not aware of! If you live in New York State, you can go to the NYS Comptroller’s Office website and run a search for unclaimed funds.

If you want to search for unclaimed funds in another state, you can go to the National Association of Unclaimed Funds, select your state, and search your name.

Hey, you never know!

Be a Mystery Shopper!

Man wiht paper bag on his had referencing mystery shopping
iStock 051723

Once you are registered with a mystery shopper company, you will get emails to visit a bank and discuss a loan or a bank account. The idea is that they want to see how the bank employee responds to your requests and that he/she follows all bank policies, based on the questions you ask. 

Sometimes, they will ask you to go ahead and open a bank account or accept the loan. You will be paid more than if you were just evaluating them.

But it doesn’t stop there. These companies will pay you to not just visit banks but also to evaluate retailers, gas stations, supermarkets, and even car dealerships. 

It is called mystery shopping and is legitimate!

Here are two companies that provide mystery shopping:

Athpower
Intelli-Shop

Your pay can differ widely and can range anywhere from $10 to $250 depending upon what they will ask you to do. Mystery shopping at locations (called shops) that require several hours to complete do pay the higher amounts of course.

Note that these mystery shopping companies are very stringent and you must follow their guidelines exactly as mentioned or they will not pay you. 

Participate in Research Studies

These are legitimate companies that need people to participate in physical studies and they can pay $25o or more. One example is where you would be called to play a role as a juror and listen to testimony from both the defense and prosecution attorneys.

No real names are given but they want to actually see how jurors would discuss the case. Others are studies with hearing folks discuss current events, finance and there is even one about what makeup to wear. Of course, the types of studies change over time, but there is always something to enroll in. Check it out!

Participate in Clinical Studies

Lab technicians looking at blood samples
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Have you seen those commercials that offer prescription drugs or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines (e.g. memory inducers, vitamins, etc.) and the narrator says “According to a clinical trial of over X participants…”? Did you know you can be one of those individuals who participates in these trials?

You may not be aware but all the major pharmaceutical companies, as well as other medical companies and organizations, offer people to participate in clinical studies such as these.

The trials can vary immensely but usually involve testing new drugs, vaccines, or other medical advancements, as well as studying a person’s reaction to previous diseases they may have had, such as Covid.

Here is the Pfizer website for clinical trials, but if you Google pharmaceutical study participants, you will get a whole list of providers that offer these studies.

The amount of pay also varies, from volunteering where you will not get paid to amounts that can range from $20 to over $150 per study.

Of course, you should be vigilant by researching these companies, as well as consulting with your medical professional prior to participating, especially if you have a medical issue or are in your senior years.

Rideshare

Just about everyone has heard about ridesharing. If you decide to be a driver you could potentially make a decent amount of money each week.

If ridesharing is too time-consuming for you, you could try delivering food. You pick the date and time when you will be doing the deliveries and get paid accordingly. 

Pay varies greatly, but expect to pull in anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per day, depending upon the length of time you put into it.

Below are the major ‘eats’ delivery services that you can register with:
Uber Eats 
Grubhub
DoorDash

5. Do You Drive an Electric Vehicle?

Illustration of EV going to get charged
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

We bet your burning question is – how much money am I saving vs. driving a conventional gas car?  We did research and the answer is that it depends upon your driving habits, lifestyle, and location, but with that said, we were able to generalize an amount.

We called the local electric utility company where Howard Fensterman and his law firm are located, which is Nassau County, and established a formula from there. 

Some electric utility companies will tell you how much you have spent when charging your EV. The information below came from PSEGLI.

Chart from PSEGLI that shows the monthy payment a user was charged for charging his EV at home
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By erring on the side of caution, we have estimated that for a standard EV, which usually consists of a 65kWh battery, the cost to charge the car to 80% from empty is equivalent to about 230 miles of driving and costs around $13.00 of home electrical costs. $13 is less than half as much if you would be gassing up your car for that same range at today’s gas prices, and it will only get worse for gas car drivers and better for EV drivers as inflation keeps sticking its nose into our finances. 

6. Saving on Electricity

Did you know that most electrical utility companies offer a Time of Use (TOU) plan? What this plan does is provide you with peak, off-peak, and super off-peak hours when you can run your electrical devices and appliances. Of course, the super-off peak would be the time when electricity costs are the cheapest.

7. Yes Go Ahead and Buy That Sofa!

If your credit score is not up to par with the bank’s requirements, which usually means a FICO score of 660 or below you might be thinking you will not be able to purchase that furniture, computer, TV, or another item you so dearly wanted.

Well, fear no more. No credit check loans are available. What this usually consists of are companies that lease you the money to buy the item, and they come with no credit check.

Usually, they will offer you a payment plan where you can pay monthly but the key is to pay it off within three or four months. If after that period, you have not paid it down in full, the interest rates get pretty high. About 40% or so. But the bottom line is that you can purchase your item, but just be mindful of the consequences. Read the contract fully before you sign.

Some of the no-credit-check companies are Progressive Leasing and Vive.

Note: The sources provided in this article are for informational purposes only. Howard Fensterman does not endorse any companies or entities listed. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.

What Happens When Fear Goes Too Far? The Science Behind a Panic Attack!

The Adrellian Factor

Fearful man with hands on his face
Photo by MART PRODUCTION Pexels

Ever jump when you hear a sudden loud noise? This is the fight or flight response that your body takes to a potential danger that you are confronted with. Moreover, fear would be an extension of the loud noise reaction and would be much more intense. The mind interprets the situation as a danger, reacts appropriately, and takes the necessary biological and psychological precautions to alleviate this fear.

What’s Happening Physically?

When the body senses danger, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and as a result, your body’s heart rate and blood pressure are increased, as well as possibly a pounding headache and sweating.

Man grabbing his chest
GraphicStock

As your heart beats faster and harder, known as palpitations you may feel, faint and get a sharp pain in your chest.

You may even feel like you are having a heart attack, which could be possible, depending upon your personal physical and psychological conditions. In this case, you may want to contact medical professionals, especially if the condition persists.

As these systems continue, your body can experience a “nervous stomach”.  The muscles in the stomach wall contract, which can cause nausea and vomiting. In addition to the physical symptoms, the mind also becomes “paralyzed”. This is when your cognitive process becomes disrupted. People may also feel an experience of detachment. The thoughts are racing and a person may feel as if their body isn’t their own.

Not everyone will feel every symptom during a panic attack, but if a fearful condition confronts you, there is no doubt you will experience a good variety of these.

Let’s break these symptoms down.

What’s Happening Mentally?

Woman showing signs of headach or stress
Photo: Graphicstock

Some typical thoughts during a panic attack are “What if this happens again?” “What if I can’t do this?” or “I’m a failure”, among many other thoughts of worry. These emotions arise in a part of the brain called the amygdala which contains almond-shaped cells that are located near the bottom of the brain.

The amygdala contains your memories and with those memories, connections to certain emotions exist. They can be happy, sad, scared, or any other emotion you had during that memory and are called emotional remembrances. The amygdala is a part of the limbic system, the portion of the brain which is responsible for your emotional and behavioral responses.

Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety

    • Understand The Cause – The cause of your anxiety could be biological, psychological, or social. If it’s biological, you can take medication. The cause may be psychological, in which case you can learn how to overcome anxiety. The cause may also be social. In this case, you may need to change your social habits.
    • Identify The Trigger – In a panic attack, the mind interprets harmless situations as potentially catastrophic. Take some deep breaths and try to think about the situation in an organized fashion step by step. If you can break down why the situation is happening, you will have a better chance of confronting and dealing with it.

Conclusion

Panic attacks can be anxiety disorders. They affect 15-30% of the population. When you get an attack, your body reacts with the fight or flight response. This can cause a rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and possibly other conditions such as sweating.

The amygdala in your brain is where the response originates and is where the adrenaline and cortisol hormones are released.

You may be able to control these attacks, especially if you have an anxiety order condition. About half of the people with anxiety disorders don’t seek help. They assume that they’ll overcome their anxiety on their own. However, it may take months, years, or a lifetime for things to get better. It’s important to seek help as soon as possible. It’s more likely that the symptoms will be mild if they’re treated early. If untreated, an anxiety disorder can get worse, causing depression, abuse of drugs or alcohol, and even suicide. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, talk to your doctor. Together, you can find a treatment that works for you.

All You Need to Know About Personality Disorders

Board listing names of personality disorders  Photo by kentohyayimages.com

Human beings are complex social creatures. Our personality plays an important role when it comes to managing relationships with others, whether it is in the home, at work or in social settings, where one can display his/her emotions without a face-to-face encounter, which has led to some of the most unusual and sometimes just plain scary and dangerous posts. How we interact, behave and think is all determined by the type of personality we have. 

What are Personality Disorders? 

Our personality can be determined by many factors. Our upbringing and social environment would be at the top of the list; however, there are certain factors which can result in changes in our mood. This may involve a change in behavior and thought process which is unhealthy and damaging to relationships. An inflexible and destructive thought process and behavior is known as a personality disorder.     

People suffering from these disorders have difficulty in managing relationships and day to day tasks. They have trouble dealing with stress and coping with routine situations which may arise every day. Personality disorders not only affect the behavior with others but it also involves how a person treats him/herself. 

Types of Personality Disorders 

Based on characteristics, personality disorders are divided into three clusters. The signs and symptoms  vary with the type of condition. People suffering from cluster A will exhibit different symptoms when compared with individuals suffering from cluster B. It is possible to get diagnosed with more than one personality disorder. 

Cluster A – Suspicious

This is characterized by odd, eccentric behavior. The common features of this type of personality include social awkwardness and withdrawal. These people have trouble forming close relationships, even with family. Lack of trust even among the closest relatives in one of the most important warning signs. Some of the common personality disorders which are part of this group are:

  • Paranoid Personality Disorder 
  • Schizoid 
  • Schizotypal

Cluster B – Impulsive and Emotional

This cluster is characterized by trouble in controlling emotions and behavior. It causes serious problems when it comes to managing relationships. People suffering from this condition not only have trouble with others but they have irrational and erratic behavior towards themselves as well. The four personality disorders which fall under this cluster are:

  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Borderline 
  • Histrionic 
  • Narcissistic 

Cluster C- Anxious

This cluster is characterized by intense anxiety and fear. It can seriously hamper a person’s ability to manage routine stress. As a result, it is particularly dangerous as it can affect a person’s normal functioning of life. Disorders included in this cluster are: 

  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Dependent 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive 

Causes of Personality Disorder

Personality disorders can be attributed to many factors, not the least of which could be associated with mental illnesses, such as bipolar or schizophrenia, but in this article, we will keep it simple by just listing some of the reasons why one would have a disorder with his/her personality.  

According to research some of the common causes include: 

Genetics  

A malfunctioning gene is an important contributing factor in the development of a number of personality disorders, including OCD. More research is trying to find the link between genetics and other common disorders like anxiety.  

Childhood Trauma 

Childhood trauma is likely to be an important cause of developing personality disorders. A research study has found that the number and type of childhood trauma is closely linked with different types of personality disorders. For example, children who experience sexual abuse have a higher risk of developing borderline personality disorders.    

Verbal Abuse

It is rightly said that verbal abuse is far more dangerous than physical abuse. Research shows that adults who were exposed to verbal abuse during childhood were three times more likely to develop various personality disorders.  

Inadequate Parenting 

Inadequate parenting is one of the potential causes of developing personality disorders. Children who feel left out, are unheard or come from disturbed families are more likely to develop personality disorders. In comparison to those children who were nurtured and brought up in a loving and caring environment. 

Diagnosis

A personality disorder is usually not determined by a physical exam. However, a physical exam is conducted to screen and rule out other possible causes of behavioral issues. A detailed psychiatric evaluation is the most important step in identifying and diagnosing the type of personality disorder. The symptoms of the patient are then be compared to the criteria provided by the American Psychiatric Association known as DSM-5. 

Treatments 

Personality disorders are a serious condition affecting the quality of life of a person. It is detrimental to relationships and for the individual. Often people suffering from personality disorders have denial issues. However, it is important to realize that these conditions are not self-curative. They need proper medical intervention. 

These disorders are difficult to cure but appropriate diagnosis and effective treatment can turn out positive results. Common treatments for curing personality disorders include: 

Medication 

A number of psychiatric drugs are prescribed to control the symptoms of personality disorders. Some common medications used include: 

  • Mood Stabilizers 
  • Anti-depressants 
  • Anti-psychotic drugs and 
  • Anti-anxiety medications. 

Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy is guided intervention by a psychologist to treat the personality disorder. This method may be used alone or as an alongside treatment with medicines. Trained psychologists use talk therapy to modify the thought process of patients. These sessions are effective for stabilizing mood and behavior. The process may also involve the family members of the patient. Some of the common types of therapies include

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy 
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy 
  • Family focused therapy

Hospitalization 

In some cases, a personality disorder may be very severe. In such cases, it is important to hospitalize the patient. This treatment is usually used when the patient can inflict self-harm or may harm others. To avoid such conditions, patients are hospitalized and adequate treatment is provided. 

An Alarming Rise in Antidepressant Usage Across the US

Man displaying frustration in front of a deskAmericans have been increasing their dosage and intake of antidepressants like Prozac, Celexa, and Effexol just to name a few. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, the rate of antidepressants has increased exponentially among adults and teens (individuals aged 12 and over) alike. The study documented an almost 400% increase between 1988 to 1995 and 2005 to 2008.

Research undertaken by the federal government has found out that one in every ten Americans takes an antidepressant daily. This has made the drug the third most popular prescription medicine in the country.

What Do the Numbers Say?

The picture painted by further segregation and analysis of the statistics appears to be rather grim.

  •        24% of women older than 40 years of age take antidepressants on a regular basis, the highest intake reported among any other age or gender category.
  •        14% of whites, 4% of blacks, and 3% of Mexican Americans consume antidepressants.
  •        Less than a third of Americans who use the drug have seen a mental health professional over the course of a year.
  •        Differences in income do not reflect variability in antidepressant usage.

Why the Need for Concern

There is a consensus among mental health experts across the board that even though antidepressants may prove to be effective, they act as suppressors and do not address the underlying cause of the issue. Professionals believe that the benefits of antidepressants have been overstated in targeted marketing campaigns carried out by major pharmaceutical companies.

Common Side Effects   

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the country are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, and Celexa. These medications are considered to be “safe” but come with side effects for some people.

Patients taking SSRIs suffer from insomnia, skin rashes, digestive issues, mood swings, nausea, and joint and muscle pain to name a few. The severity of these effects varies from patient to patient with some cases being mild, others severe or in between. A rather serious issue arises when blood clotting capacity diminishes. Patients are at high risk of internal bleeding.

Some patients consuming SSRIs suffer from reduced sexual desire, performance, satisfaction or a combination of all these side effects. Lowering the dosage of SSRIs might prevent this but could potentially reduce the drug’s benefit. Antidepressants may also lead to weight loss or gain, depending on the prescription.

If antidepressants are taken alongside other serotonin-affecting drugs, a rare illness termed serotonin syndrome can occur. This syndrome leads to faster heartbeats, sweating, high body temperature, and increased blood pressure. Antidepressants should most definitely not be mixed with certain other prescription drugs. A medical professional is required to determine the correct medicine and proper dosage for the patient.

Can Antidepressants Stop Being Effective?

Even after depression symptoms are alleviated, a patient might be required to continue taking the drug. This is done in order to prevent the mental issue from resurfacing in the future. However, for many patients, these drugs stop being effective after a while. Medical science has not been able to pinpoint the exact reason for this but there are some reasons that can lead to the drug being ineffective.

Severe depression. Depression, in most cases, does not occur overnight. Rather, it is a buildup which worsens if left untreated. Even if a person is currently taking antidepressants, depression may exacerbate depending on a number of factors such as family or workplace stress, social or financial issues to name a few. Beyond a certain point of depression, antidepressants may stop working and your current dose might not be enough.

Age factor. Depression tends to get worse with age in some cases. People who are elderly experience changes in cognitive processes. They also go through mood swings that become more frequent and severe. The prescribed medication starts to lose its efficiency or can completely stop working.

A new prescription drug. Some medications meant for unrelated medical conditions may hinder the effectiveness of antidepressants.

An addiction. People suffering from addiction problems generally tend to take more than their prescribed dosage. This leads to reduced efficiency of the drug and may stop being effective all together over time.

Increased Awareness

The increased level of antidepressant usage could be reduced by spreading more awareness about mental health issues. No doctor or patient wants to be reliant on prescription drugs to find a cure.

Times are turbulent and social media does little to quell people’s worries and fears. A changing political landscape, economic transitions, and the increased usage of technology to replace jobs are just some of the more macro issues that people have to deal with in addition to regular life problems.

There is consensus across the board that prevention is better than the cure. Alternate forms of treatment such as therapy or even talking to loved ones may keep mental issues at bay. In the end, lifestyle choices do play a major part in mental health problems.

Some lifestyle choices are not an option such as a highly stressful job, which significantly contributes to aggravating mental health problems. However, other choices are in our hands such as regular exercise and better diet control.

Surveys and studies have shown that people who eat better and live better are less vulnerable to be plagued by mental health problems. A daily habit of a 20 to 30-minute exercise can really do wonders for our physical and mental wellbeing. Even patients suffering from mental issues have been known to cope with the illness better through increased physical activity.

Bottom Line

Antidepressants aren’t for everybody, but many people do use them and, for the most part, with partial or substantial success. With that said, however, the recovery from depression when using medication doesn’t happen overnight. It may take weeks, months or sometimes even years. The reason is that there are so many variations of the illness that it sometimes requires the right mix of medications for the patient to achieve results. In addition, many people who take antidepressant medications also go to therapy.  But it all starts with a visit to your doctor where he/she will determine the next steps to follow.

Bipolar Disorder – Much More than Just Mood Swings

Photo by Bambarayayimages.com

One could say that people exhibiting bipolar disorder are the most emotional people in the world; although possibility true, this would be a rather simplistic way of describing it, but it would definitely give a good illustration of how those who have this disorder react.

When you see someone with quick and extreme mood changes, it may be more than just regular emotional swings. Although not always, a person exhibiting episodes of drastic mood changes may actually be suffering from bipolar disorder and is a mental illness that affects around 60 million people all over the world, according to the World Health Organization.

What is Bipolar Disorder and How is It Different from Regular Mood Swings?

It is normal to experience mood changes in everyday life – there are days when you feel happy and content and there are times when you can’t help feeling down or maybe even depressed. However, if the mood changes are too drastic and start to affect your daily life, there could be an underlying problem.

Drastic and severe mood changes with depressive and manic episodes are the key symptoms of bipolar disorder.

This is a disease that affects the brain and as defined by the National Institute of Mental Health as an illness that is characterized by dramatic changes in one’s mood, activity levels, and energy. The highs and lows are so severe that they interfere with the patient’s everyday life and often makes it difficult (or impossible) to even carry out everyday tasks, not to mention the impact it has on that person’s friends and loved ones. The mood swings can last for prolonged periods, which then cause psychological distress.

The disease is also called manic-depressive disorder, which was a term used more often in the mid-20th century, reflecting the two extreme states of mood swings. Mania, or the high, is characterized by hyperactivity, grandiosity, and euphoria whereas the depressive state makes the person feel hopeless and lethargic. During the depressive stage, the patient loses interest in everything and becomes pessimistic.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Unfortunately, there is no test that can tell if a person is suffering from bipolar disorder. This makes the diagnosis quite difficult. The evaluation generally includes the following:

  • Physical Exam and Lab Tests – Since there is no test for bipolar disorder, doctors have to perform different types of tests, like body scans and blood tests, and a physical exam in order to rule out any physical medical condition that may be causing the symptoms.
  • Mood Charting – The doctor may ask you or a family member to keep an eye on (and maintain a record of) your mood swings, sleep patterns, and other behavioral factors on a daily basis.
  • Psychiatric Assessment – The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is often not made without the involvement of a psychiatrist. A person exhibiting some symptoms of the disease is often referred for a psychiatric assessment. This includes a number of things, like filling out a questionnaire or self-assessment form and consultation sessions with the psychiatrist during which the doctor will talk about your feelings, behaviors, and thoughts. The psychiatrist may also need to talk to a family member or a close friend regarding the symptoms a person is showing, in order to reach a decision.  Usually the psychiatrist can determine if the person is bipolar after just a few visits.

While the diagnosis is not solely made on the basis of symptoms, it can definitely help to reach a conclusion. According to experts, a person suffering from bipolar disorder generally shows at least three symptoms of mania and hypomania (a less severe stage of mania) and at least five symptoms of severe depression.

A manic or hypomanic episode is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Increased energy, activity, or agitation
  • Acting abnormally jumpy, or upbeat (hyper)
  • Talking much more than usual
  • Distractibility
  • Decreased sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Making poor decisions, for example, bad financial decisions, going on shopping sprees, etc.
  • Euphoria characterized by exaggerated self-confidence and sense of well-being

Some of the most common symptoms a bipolar person shows during a severe depressive episode include:

  • Feeling extremely sad, hopeless, and empty
  • An increase or decrease in appetite
  • Significant weight gain or weight loss without any apparent reason
  • Feeling restless
  • Sleeping too much (hypersomnia) or too little (insomnia)
  • A constant feeling of fatigue
  • Low energy and slowed behavior
  • Reduced concentration and ability to think
  • Indecisiveness
  • Losing interest in everything
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts

Depending on the type of bipolar disorder and its severity, some patients may also experience and exhibit anxiety, psychosis, ADHD, or substance abuse. The initial signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder often first appear during teen age. However, the mental condition can also affect children.

Unlike the common perception, it is possible to live a normal life even when you are diagnosed with this disease and the even better news is that there are many medications available to help the individual maintain a normal lifestyle. Therefore, consult a doctor if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms – it may be more than just mood swings.

Lastly, we all need to be a little more empathetic towards people suffering from mental illnesses. They may not appear as severe as diseases that affect our body, they are equally (and maybe more) traumatic and painful. Instead of labeling anyone as psychotic, try and help them in some way –they may be suffering from a mental condition and may not be aware of it themselves.   

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – One of the Most Misunderstood Mental Disorders – CDP

Solider with hands on his faceJune 27th is National PTSD awareness day. While there is still a general lack of understanding of mental illnesses, PTSD is one of the most misunderstood mental disorders. Despite the availability of modern research findings, there are still many unfounded beliefs associated with PTSD.

Some of the commonly held myths are:

    • Only soldiers and war veterans can suffer from PTSD
    • PTSD is a sign of weakness
    • There are no treatments for PTSD
    • People who have PTSD are dangerous
    • Every person who experiences trauma develops PTSD

What is PTSD Then?

The American Psychiatric Association defines post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as “a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, it could be war, a terrorist act, serious incident, natural disaster, and sexual or violent personal assaults, like rape.”

The mental disorder is mainly characterized by extreme fear and anxiety that is often uncontrollable.

In the field of medical science, it is an established fact that anyone who has witnessed or experienced an event that negatively affected their physical and emotional well being or posed a threat to their lives can develop PTSD. Simply put, any incident that induces extreme learned fear can cause post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although it is common for anyone to experience anxiety and emotional issues after going through a trauma, the intensity of the symptoms reduces with time. But people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder are unable to recover from the trauma, and the severity of their symptoms does not reduce with time.

Research has shown that women, children, and disabled people are more likely to develop the disorder.

Factors That Can Increase the Risk for Developing PTSD

While it is impossible to accurately predict if a person is likely to develop PTSD, there are a few factors that researchers believe can increase the risk of developing it. They include:

    • Loss of a loved one
    • Serious injury or harm, either to yourself or to a loved one
    • Isolation or separation
    • Displacement from home or being away from the family as a result of some incident 

New Scientific Discoveries 

It was long believed that war-related PTSD depends on how well a soldier copes psychologically with the constant threat and exposure to violence. A research study published in the Academy of Management Journal in 2016 regarded the view as incomplete and representing only half the story.

As stated on the University of Cambridge website, researchers found that the context through which a person experiences a war may play an equally important role in determining why wars affect people differently; such as, their cultural, organizational, and professional background.

According to Mark de Rond, one of the two researchers who conducted the study, “this understanding of the connection between PTSD and the context of those who suffer from it could change the way mental health experts analyze, prevent and manage psychological injury from warfare.”

Some Common Signs and Symptoms of PTSD

A person suffering from this condition usually experiences and/or exhibits a combination of the following symptoms:

    • Extreme fear or phobia
    • Depression
    • Insomnia
    • Hypervigilance
    • Detachment
    • Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares
    • Severe anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Anger issues
    • Inability to concentrate
    • Self-destructive behaviors
    • Lack or loss of appetite
    • Substance abuse

The severity of these symptoms can vary from person to person.

Diagnosis of PTSD

PTSD statistics
PTSD Depression chart Wikipedia
Only a trained healthcare professional can diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder. This is due to the fact that many patients do not experience or exhibit most of the symptoms associated with the disease.

What makes it even more difficult is the fact that many people experience anxiety that is generalized and not associated with PTSD. This is why it is highly recommended to consult a trained and experienced professional for diagnosis and avoid taking any medications on your own.

How is PTSD Treated?

According to PTSD United, about 70% of adults in the U.S. reported having experienced traumatic events at least once in their lives. Out of this, 20% developed PTSD.  The website also stated that around 8% of Americans suffer from PTSD at any given time.

Like all other mental illnesses, many conventional treatments are available for it. However, they may not work for everyone. Patients who do not find relief from conventional medicines find it very difficult to deal with the disease, and they sometimes end up harming themselves; there are some cases where patients even committed suicide or committed harm to others.  

Due to the inefficacy of first-line medications (for some patients) and serious negative consequences, researchers have been continuously trying to find alternative treatments for PTSD.  

Can Cannabis be an Alternative Treatment for PTSD?

According to research published in Molecular Psychiatry, certain compounds that are present in cannabis can provide some relief to patients of PTSD.  

There are many other studies that have led scientists to consider that cannabis may offer help in managing the disease by providing symptomatic relief. However, the research is still in its preliminary stages and there is a long way to go before the drug can be approved as a treatment for PTSD.

How Can Cannabis Help with PTSD?

According to the research, cannabis can provide symptomatic relief by removing associations to painful memories. This can help patients who experience flashbacks whenever they see or hear something that is somehow associated with the event that initiated the disease.

A study was conducted to understand the neurobiological mechanisms that initiate the development of PTSD. It was found that people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have a deficiency of anandamide. Anandamide is an endogenous (not attributable to any external or environmental factor) cannabinoid compound that triggers certain brain receptors that are called CB-1. These receptors are responsible for mediating many psychological functions.

When they are normally functioning, they help people overcome traumatic incidents by deactivating the bad memories.  The research also found out that cannabinoids may help remove the deficiency of endocannabinoids that contribute to PTSD. However, the drug may cause many side effects. Hence, it should not be used unless prescribed by a registered healthcare practitioner.