GIRL’S PUBERTY & PERIODS

maximum-win-when-puberty-goes-right_o_4965805Girls of puberty age face discrimination in society so says the news again. Some banned from crossing river because of monthly periods. Interestingly, God put period in girls for reproductive cycle to be fruitful, multiply to replenish earth according to Bible. Functions of human body are God’s creation so people need proper education to learn to understand these female conditions. Modern times show deataile scientific knowledge on menstruation. So schoolchildren learn biology so know scientific explanation of periods. Period means a girl’s womb is prepared for child-birth each month. The girl’s body waits through ovulation cycle when egg is released to receive the seed/s to become pregnant and to have children. But since girls are too young to bear children and still in education they are not ready to give birth yet. So each month the egg from the fallopian tube is released waiting for conception in the womb. Since no pregnancy takes place, egg and womb linings are shed as the ‘period’ in preparation for repeat of this cycle each month. After birth a womb is still busy continuing monthly cycle until menopause when period stop. A natural of fertility cycle of girls is being used as religious discrimination against young innocent girls. The tradition of outhouse for periods exists in cultures all over the world to keep girls in a special hut.

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The concept of sacred ground of homes and rivers is used to put girls in special huts for exclusively the periods. Elderly women train girls in personal hygiene and after periods they go back to family compounds. The idea is found in Bible too so women are considered “unclean” from sacred spaces during periods. And must have purification baths and must abstain from intimacy during periods. In some places menstrual cups, pads or special cloth is used by women during periods. For those not going through the periods they are allowed to cook, clean and do chores. Those in periods cannot enter the family compounds until after periods. In places where a girl is safe, warm and nearby home period is time of “break and rest” for the girls. Those isolated in places exposed to elements is unsafe, cold, some are at risk from the elements and animals roaming around. Girl’s education is interrupted so do not go to school. If they to ask teachers to be excused from classroom to change in school toilet, i can be embarrassing to tell male teachers such details by girls. So it was concluded by some societies to exclude them during periods. Education is not continued and so school work lags behind when in the hut. No lessons or homework given for missed classes and some it is assumed must not touch other things to ‘contaminate’ it. This why girls in periods are banned from the homes and school still an issue in some places. Other issues of sanitation or washing of cloth or disposing of used pads in home is of concern too. Often a sight of blood is considered sacred to must not touch or taint home or certain holy places. It is necessary to educate people periods are like any normal health experience. Talking-To-Boys-About-Puberty-Periods-And-Girls

Homeschooling during period if this is possible can be set up by the schools to ensure education of these girls are not compromised. Homework can be given but this idea is not popular so girls are affected. The elders making laws need to understand value of a girl’s education often misconstrued as waste of time or money. They say, after all girl’s just end up in kitchen so less education thought as easy way to control girls. This issue has several underlying causes needing to be addressed for the human rights of girls to have periods without attack on their education. In addition the societies can learn from others in other parts of the world on how a girls’ periods does not interrupt education. To some extent social stigma is attached to periods so a natural mood swings and mood changes or pain responded to as ‘oh it’s that time again.’ On other occasions, even if girl is not in their periods is assumed they are always daily going through the periodic cycle. Girls not allowed to touch certain objects in extreme cases even the Bible considered too Holy if in period. Periods-in-Developing-Countries-Header-1Period matters need to be dealt with very carefully in harmony with views of community which associated, interprets lack of rain or good harvests as results of human actions and behaviours. The people who are aware notice changes in the girls during periods so may feel it is inappropriate to socialize in that state. It is awkward for some men unaware of real meaning of a girl’s monthly cycles. Whatever methods girls choose or are available to that society, the well-being of girls must be ensured. Organisations can support by donating their essential personal hygiene items too expensive to buy in some places. The disposal must be done discreetly so the used pads not dragged by dogs from local damp sites. These needs are beyond young girls to meet by own efforts. So discrimination against girls must be reconsidered to stop ‘gods’ harrassing girls to realise God  ALMIGHTY created girls in HIS IMAGE to reproduce on earth.

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Psalm 115:5 says gods have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes but not see so are just man-made idols in Habakkuk 2:18, 1 Kings 18 :26. God ALMIGHTY in the heavens demands veneration by people. Psalm 135:16 says gods have mouths but cannot speak, eyes but not see. A born again Christian believer in Christ is to practice WORSHIP of God only. Christ Shed His precious Blood to cleanse all people including girls in their periods. Believers cannot partake in any idolatry of gods or heathen practice if they claim to be saved. In the 21 century education available to bring an awareness and the relevant knowledge. This issue must be resolved properly to stop picking on the girls going through periods. It is not the fault of girls to put up with natural cycle tolerated monthly with no choice or any control over natural period issues.2-infographic-education God’s plans and purpose for girls is for birth of mankind so must be celebrated not punish girls for being in periods. In addition, a community’s actions are also known and seen by God who will hold decision makers accountable. So read Revelations 19:15 about God’s dealings with leaders in society. Isaiah 44:18 says gods know nothing, understand nothing their eyes do not see. They do not know or understand anything. God shuts their eyes so they cannot see; and so have no knowledge. Those who carry about their idols or pray to gods are like them. The Bible in Psalm 115:5 says those who are praying or praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, stone do not know Jehovah God. Children’s rights activists hit out at traditional leaders banning girls from crossing river while they are menstruating from going to school._99558170_b239af05-8ed2-4257-8153-64b56e998a53Yet Krobo girls in Somanya Ghana are dressed and taken to the riverside for Dipo bath rites. Any girl who dresses in this way is identified as ‘dipo-yo.’ On the Saturday morning the girls have ritual bath (aya-pa) at the riverside. The girl’s calabash contain sponge so proceeds to Srendor (stream) for spiritual bath. The chief priest is told when girl has period for the first time and grouped together with other girls. They are checked to be ensure they are virgins. After that they have a ritual bath in the river and are dressed beautifully in expensive kente, beads on head and around body. The point here is the Dipo god seems to not mind puberty girls in river they literally are bathed in. Later paraded in town to celebrate them by the whole town. This great source of tourism and hospitality attracts people from all over the world. Books are written about this practice. kroboIMG_20180112_103548But in the central region Ghana girls have been banned from crossing the River Ofin by traditional leaders, who say they are enforcing what they call a “directive” from a river-god. Children have to cross the river to get to school in Kyekyewere, in Upper Denkyira East district in the Central Region of Ghana. This means girls cannot attend school while they are on their periods. It is not on period days: a second order from the river gods bans all girls from crossing river on Tuesdays.  Remember Jehovah created rivers and oceans so all are free to cross it. Unicef’s menstrual hygiene ambassador Shamima Muslim Alhassan told BBC directive violates girl’s right to education and freedom of movement.

It seems the gods are really powerful aren’t they? Sometimes I think that we need to ask for some form of accountability from these gods who continue to bar a lot of things from happening, to account for how they have used the tremendous power that we have given them.”

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PeriodTalk-Cloud-600River Ofin serves as boundary between Ashanti and Central Region. Central Regional Minister Kwamena Duncan given indications to coordinate with Ashanti regional minister to find solution. In Madagascar some females are told not to wash during periods and in Nepal some women are forced to sleep in huts away from the rest of the family. Girls in other cultures face this problem since education is becoming compulsory in many countries. Many cultures have myths and taboos around menstruation globally. This must be demystified and debunked to intervene on behalf of young girls to benefit from education. Kweggir Aggrey said if you educate a boy or man you educate an individual but if you educate a girl or woman, YOU EDUCATE A NATION. And behind every successful man is woman so men must listen to women at home, community or in corporate boardrooms for the greater good of society and girls. Stop harrassing young girls all over the world and study reproduction biology. Elijah told people to follow God only not any idols in the Mount Carmel contest by calling fire down to burn sacrifice of Yahweh the real true God. God proved to the people HE has greater power than the idols. Again Gideon was also told to cut down idol shrine grove to build new altar for God and sacrifice cow to God on the new altar. Almighty God does not share His Glory with idols so demands a complete total loyalty because HE IS A JEALOUS GOD. He wants to be the only one people worship not a bit of God and a bit of idols. So school girls must attend school daily in their period, given pads, personal hygiene kit, discreet changing rooms facilities and water to wash with.  

 

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GUILTFREE WAYS TO SAY NO

Saying No for the Sake of Your Wallet

Request: A friend in need asks for loan.
What you should say: “I wish I can but as a rule, I don’t lend money to friends.”
Why it works: So its clear you did not single out this person as untrustworthy.

You shouldn’t feel guilty: Lending any amount of money can cause problems, says the communications trainer Don Gabor. It changes nature of relationship if the person doesn’t pay you back.”
Avoid the situation in the future: Never lend money to friends, you won’t get reputation as a Mobile Bank ATM. 9f8eab4c34bbdd4065c5809378443d16

Request: A coworker wants you to chip in $25 for gift for colleague you would not recognize at the watercooler.

You should say: “Oh, I’ve never really had a conversation with Ian. I think I’ll wish him a happy birthday in person.”
Why it works: Chances are, the person taking donations has no idea how close you are (or are not) with the intended recipient. By clarifying nature of your relationship emphasises intention to get to know the person better. So you come across as thoughtful rather than cheap.
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty: A gift is not a gift if an obligation, says etiquette writers Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh.
Avoid the situation in the future: If workplace gift giving is getting out of hand, take the lead in restoring sanity by circulating a card before someone can break out the gift-donation plate. Make sure others know you don’t expect anything on your birthday.How-to-say-no-to-your-boss-politelyRequest: Your third cousin asks to bring her boyfriend-of-the-month to your $150-a-plate wedding reception.

What you should say: “We’ve already had to make so many tough decisions to get the guest list down to size. We really can’t squeeze in/afford another guest. But I would love to have you two over for drinks sometime so I can meet him.”
Why it works: If you illuminate some of behind-the-scenes planning, cousin may get clue of inappropriateness of request.
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty: It’s your party and your pocketbook, says author Patti Breitman.
Avoid the situation in the future: Make calls before you put together the guest list to see the new additions you should consider as you plan.sayno

Saying No for the Sake of Your Time

Request: You are offered a promotion that you don’t want. Though it means more money, it demands more hours or more of what boss calls responsibility and you call tedium.
What you should say: “I’m flattered that you want me, but for personal reasons I’m not in a situation where I can take this on. Perhaps in a year from now things will be different. Can we talk again if my circumstances change?”
Why it works: If in enviable dilemma boss will understand you have personal priorities that take precedence.
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty: By saying no to more time at the office, you’re saying yes to other things you cherish, long walks alone at sunset or evening time with your children.
Avoid the situation in the future: “If a position opens up at your workplace, you could let it be known that you are not in the running,” Breitman suggests. Being forthright saves your manager the trouble of pursuing a candidate who isn’t interested.maxresdefault (4)

Request: You are asked to coordinate bake sale again at your child’s school.
What you should say: “I know I am going to disappoint you, but I’ve decided not to volunteer this year, because I will feel stressed. Is there any way to get some of the other parents to step up?”
Why it works: People feel manipulated into doing something like The ice cream social won’t happen without your help! If address the problematic pattern of one person’s doing all the work, you sidestep manipulation. If you say no, it force others never get asked to say yes.
You shouldn’t feel guilty: “You’ve done your fair share, and now others can do this job,” says Robinson.
Avoid the situation in the future: Encourage school leaders to present the problem to all parents,” says Robinson. “If people know an important program may fail, usually remedy situation.maxresdefault (3)Request: If invited to distant relative’s annual Lobster Lua, 14th year in row.

You should say: “I’ve really had fun in the past, but I can’t make it this year. That week is already packed for me.”
Why it works: “You’ve explained it in a way that doesn’t sound like a personal rejection,” says Robinson. “And you’ve asked for understanding, based on your need to take stress out of your schedule. Everyone can identify with that.”
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty: You have only so much free time―and so much tolerance for flying lobster goo. “Don’t R.S.V.P. yes, then back out at the last minute or, worse, not show up at all,” say Izzo and Marsh. “That is the least decorous way of handling invite.”
Avoid the situation in the future: In a note, thank the relative for thinking of you and explain that because you tend to be busy at this time of year, he should feel free to take you off his invite list.maxresdefault (2)

Request: Boss asks you to supervise this season’s intern last seen with feet up on a desk, iPod on, Gameboy in hand.
What you should say: “Wow, that’s an interesting project. I’m really busy with the ABC assignment right now, so let me know if you want me to re-prioritize.”
Why it works: “Asking boss to prioritize tasks for you means so do not have to actually say “no,” Breitman says. If told to just squeeze the new task in, then do it. But keep a list of all the extra work you’ve done for your next review.
You shouldn’t feel guilty: You really do have enough work to do as it is.
Avoid the situation in the future: If extra tasks keep getting dumped on your desk, ask your boss for a meeting. Explain that the added assignments are making it hard to do your primary job properly. Ask if she wants to review your job description and renegotiate your salary while she’s at it.  AAEAAQAAAAAAAANxAAAAJDczZjg2NDEyLTE1Y2QtNDllNi1hNjIwLWY2MzgyYzc0YTA2Mg

Say No for the Sake of Your Sanity

Request: A friend asks to borrow car because own in shop to repair dent got while driving, talking on phone, and unwrapping juice-box straw.
What you should say: “I do not lend anything worth more than $1,000.” Try to avoid “I don’t have insurance for a non-family member, insurance policies cover the car, not specific drivers. If friend got into accident, it could make your premium go up. If you have time, offer her a ride instead.
Why it works: “Avoid blame on you,” explains author Patti Breitman. “Don’t indicate you don’t trust the friend.”
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty: “Your car is probably the first or second most valuable thing you own,” says Breitman. “You’re protecting a big financial asset.” Plus, if friend gets accident relationship might be totalled, too.
Avoid the situation in the future: Let your friends know that while you’re typically a generous lender (“Of course you can borrow my snorkeling gear!”), your car is off-limits. Say-NO-pic

Request: A guest offers to bring seven-layer dip to party. But doesn’t really go with Greek theme you planned.
What you should say: “What a kind offer thank you. I have already planned the menu, but do you have any dietary restrictions I should know about? Be nice and ask to bringing something, like bottle of wine or a loaf of bread.
Why it works: Acknowledging the offer of generosity let person know did all they could. If the person has dietary restrictions so cooking difficult for you, relent and let bring a dish to eat.
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty: Person offered to be courteous. Saying no, you gives license to relax, enjoy hospitality.
Avoid the situation in the future: When you invite people, ask if there is anything they don’t eat, because you want to make sure your menu works for everyone. Emphasize the word menu, so people know that you have a plan or a theme for the meal (and so they won’t try to upset it).thumbs-down

Request: Future sister-in-law wants to throw baby shower you don’t want fuss.
What you should say: “I really don’t want a party, but thank you so much for offering. Why don’t we splurge on visit to a day spa instead?”
Why it works: “Not everyone likes a party in honour or wants to be center of attention with a paper plate of bows on her head,” says etiquette writers Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh. Unless she has her own agenda, she should understand.
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty: “If you decline, you are taking away pleasure from the people who care about you, but it is occasion to shout about or be quiet about,” say Izzo and Marsh.
Avoid the situation in the future: Announce what you would prefer to do instead of a shower before anyone offers to throw one.

 

COCONUT OIL SUPER FOOD?

CoconutsCoconut oil classified is considered a superfood according toCoconut oil is high in saturated fatSales of coconut oil are rocketing, propelled by celebrity endorsements and claims that drinking the stuff will cure everything from halitosis to digestive disorders. Actress Angelina Jolie-Pitt is said to have a tablespoon or so with breakfast most mornings, while model Miranda Kerr says she not only adds it to salads and smoothies, but she cooks with it and splashes it on her skin as well. The health claims that swirl around coconut oil are treated with a great deal of scepticism by scientists. Coconut oil is seen, in the scientific community, as an unhealthy fat. It is very high in saturated fat (86%), even more so than butter (51%) or lard (39%). The reason that foods rich in saturated fats are frowned on is because eating them causes a rise in blood levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein). LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” because high levels are linked with increased risk of heart disease. On the other hand, saturated fats – which are particularly bad for you – also tend to raise HDL, “good” cholesterol, which has the opposite effect. It is possible that a particular food can raise overall cholesterol levels, yet still be heart-friendly.

Cholesterol check

So is coconut oil a cholesterol-busting wonder food, as some claim, or is this all dangerous hype? Despite all the sound and fury that surrounds coconut oil there have been surprisingly few human studies carried out to test specific health claims. So for the current BBC2 series of Trust Me I’m a Doctor, we thought we should help organise a trial. The Trust Me team started by contacting Prof Kay-Tee Khaw and Prof Nita Forouhi, both eminent Cambridge academics. With their help we recruited 94 volunteers, aged 50-75 and with no history of diabetes or heart disease, and designed a study to assess what effect eating different types of fat would have on their cholesterol levels. We began by randomly allocating our volunteers to one of three groups. Every day for four weeks, the first was asked to eat 50g of extra virgin coconut oil – that’s about three tablespoons full.

Type of oil or fat Polyunsaturated (%) Monounsaturated (%) Saturated (%)
Coconut oil 2 6 86
Butter 3 21 51
Lard 11 45 39
Goose fat 11 56 27
Olive oil 10 76 14
Rapeseed oil 28 63 7
Sesame oil 41 40 14
Corn oil 54 27 12
Sunflower oil 65 20 10

The second group was asked to consume the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is widely seen as being extremely healthy. And the third was asked to eat 50g of unsalted butter a day. Again, that adds up to just over three tablespoons. The volunteers were told that they could consume these fats in whatever way they pleased, as long as they did so every day for the whole four weeks. On the other hand others think that Coconut oil ‘as unhealthy as beef fat and butter’ so the Diet debate: Is butter back and is sat fat good? They were also warned that, because they were consuming an extra 450 calories a day, they might well put on some weight. Before our volunteers started on their new high-fat regime we took blood samples to get baseline measurements, focusing mainly on their levels of LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (the “good” cholesterol) The importance of these two measures is that your heart attack risk is best calculated, not by looking at your total cholesterol score, but your total cholesterol divided by your HDL score. NHS Choices suggests that this figure should be below four. So what happened? As expected the butter eaters saw an average rise in their LDL levels of about 10%, which was almost matched by a 5% rise in their HDL levels Those consuming olive oil saw a small reduction, albeit a non-significant drop, in LDL cholesterol, and a 5% rise in HDL. So olive oil lived up to its heart-friendly reputation.Olive oil

Early Stages of Studies

But the big surprise was the coconut oil. Not only was there no rise in LDL levels, which was what we were expecting, but there was a particularly large rise in HDL, the “good” cholesterol, up by 15. On the face of it that would suggest that the people consuming the coconut oil had actually reduced their risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Olive oil is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is seen as particularly healthy. I asked Prof Khaw, who was clearly surprised by these results, why she thought it had happened. “I have no real idea,” she candidly replied. “Perhaps it is because the main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid and lauric acid may have different biological impacts on blood lipids to other fatty acids. The evidence for that comes mainly from animals, so it was fascinating to see this effect in free-living humans.” So should we be hailing coconut oil as a health food? “I think decisions to eat particular oils depend on more than just the health effects” she said. “This is just one study and it would be irresponsible to suggest changing dietary advice based on one study, however well conducted.” This was a very short-term study and compared to olive oil, research on coconut oil is at an early stage. So the claims about coconut oil being a superfood are premature. But if, like me, you enjoy putting coconut in your curries, there seems no very good reason to stop.

The new series of Trust Me I’m a Doctorcontinues on BBC2 at 20:30 GMT on Wednesday 10 January and will be available on iPlayer afterwards.

DEPRESSED MUMS SINGING

Mum singing to babySinging speeds up’ recovery from post-natal depression. Singing helps mothers recover from post-natal or post partum depression more quickly study suggests. Researchers found women who took part in group singing sessions with their babies experienced much faster improvement in their symptoms than those who did not. The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, looked at 134 mothers with post-natal depression. Early recovery is seen to be crucial to limit effects on mother and baby. Post-natal depression is estimated to affect one in eight new mothers. And previous studies have indicated singing can help improve the mental health of older people and those with dementia, but this is the first controlled study of its effect on post-natal depression. The women were placed into three groups:Mother and baby music group
  • one took part in group singing
  • another took part in in creative play sessions
  • a third group received their usual care, which could include family support, antidepressants or mindfulness

The singing workshops saw the mothers learning lullabies and songs from around the world with their babies and creating new songs together about motherhood. And those with moderate to severe symptoms of post-natal depression reported a much faster improvement than mothers in the usual care and play groups. All the groups improved over the 10 weeks, but in the first six weeks, singing group already reported an average 35% decrease in depressive symptoms. The Principal investigator Dr Rosie Perkins said the study, although small, was significant because it was important to tackle the symptoms as quickly as possible. “Post-natal depression is debilitating for the mothers and their families. As research indicates some women think accessible singing with their baby helps speed up recovery at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives,” she said. The lead author Dr Daisy Fancourt at University College London, said singing is another useful therapy to offer women. babies with musical instrumentsMany mothers have concerns about taking depression medication whilst breast-feeding and uptake of psychological therapies with new mothers is relatively low,” she said. “These results are really exciting as suggests something as simple as referring mothers to this community activities could support their recovery.” Dr Trudi Seneviratne, who chairs the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Perinatal Faculty, said: “It’s exciting to hear about the growing evidence base for novel psychosocial interventions like singing to facilitate a more rapid recovery for women with post-natal depression. “I look forward to more work in this area in the future, as it will be enjoyed by both mothers and their babies.”Since the study, Breathe Arts Health Research has started running singing workshops in partnership with the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust for women with post-natal depression across the south London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. Community and socialising helps overcome isolation and loneliness of new mothers. The feel good factor of singing with the babies is definitely a win- win situation lifting the mood and going out of the home helps to lift their spirit too. Isolated mothers can organise own singing sessions with friends in communities and their babies benefit too from a calm, happy, relaxed mother. If child raising is recognised or considered as a valid hardwork and to celebrate mothers and carers the world will become a better and safer place. So families must be prioritised and to help mother’s like Finland pays both parents to raise their children. Depression is caused by loneliness, pressure, stress of modern living without extended family support and children become depressed too. So it is good news to help mother’s and also to improve motherhood as an honourable collaboration with God’s idea to multiply to replenish the earth.

THE CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

The authors conferred, and they decided that there would be a special clause added to the list of symptoms of depression. None of this applies, they said, if you have lost somebody you love in the past year. In that situation, all these symptoms are natural, and not a disorder. It was called “the grief exception”, and it seemed to resolve the problem. Then, as the years and decades passed, doctors on the frontline started to come back with another question. All over the world, they were being encouraged to tell patients that depression is, in fact, just the result of a spontaneous chemical imbalance in your brain it is produced by low serotonin, or a natural lack of some other chemical. It’s not caused by your life it’s caused by your broken brain. Some of the doctors began to ask how this fitted with the grief exception. If you agree that the symptoms of depression are a logical and understandable response to one set of life circumstances losing a loved one might they not be an understandable response to other situations? What about if you lose your job? What if you are stuck in a job that you hate for the next 40 years? What about if you are alone and friendless?1296x728_depression_and_memory_lossDrug companies would fund huge numbers of studies and then only release the ones that showed success. The grief exception seemed to have blasted a hole in the claim that the causes of depression are sealed away in your skull. It suggested that there are causes out here, in the world, and they needed to be investigated and solved there. This was a debate that mainstream psychiatry (with some exceptions) did not want to have. So, they responded in a simple way – by whittling away the grief exception. With each new edition of the manual they reduced the period of grief that you were allowed before being labelled mentally ill – down to a few months and then, finally, to nothing at all. Now, if your baby dies at 10am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01am and start drugging you straight away. Dr Joanne Cacciatore, of Arizona State University, became a leading expert on the grief exception after her own baby, Cheyenne, died during childbirth. She had seen many grieving people being told that they were mentally ill for showing distress. 0084254001422867528_461504_600x458_actualno

She told me this debate reveals a key problem with how we talk about depression, anxiety and other forms of suffering: we don’t, she said, “consider context.” We act like human distress can be assessed solely on a checklist that can be separated out from our lives, and labelled as brain diseases. If we started to take people’s actual lives into account when we treat depression and anxiety, Joanne explained, it would require “an entire system overhaul”. She told me that when “you have a person with extreme human distress, [we need to] stop treating the symptoms. The symptoms are a messenger of a deeper problem. Let’s get to the deeper problem.” I was a teenager when I swallowed my first antidepressant. I was standing in the weak English sunshine, outside a pharmacy in a shopping centre in London. The tablet was white and small, and as I swallowed, it felt like a chemical kiss. That morning I had gone to see my doctor and I had told him crouched, embarrassed that pain was leaking out of me uncontrollably, like a bad smell, and I had felt this way for several years. In reply, he told me a story. There is a chemical called serotonin that makes people feel good, he said, and some people are naturally lacking it in their brains. You are clearly one of those people. There are now, thankfully, new drugs that will restore your serotonin level to that of a normal person. Take them, and you will be well. At last, I understood what had been happening to me, and why. However, a few months into my drugging, something odd happened.do-you-be-able-yo-explain-the-real-causes-of-diseases-from-genetic-5-638

The pain started to seep through again. Before long, I felt as bad as I had at the start. I went back to my doctor, and he told me that I was clearly on too low a dose. And so, 20 milligrams became 30 milligrams; the white pill became blue. I felt better for several months. And then the pain came back through once more. My dose kept being jacked up, until I was on 80mg, where it stayed for many years, with only a few short breaks. And still the pain broke back through. I started to research my book, Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions, because I was puzzled by two mysteries. Why was I still depressed when I was doing everything I had been told to do? I had identified the low serotonin in my brain, and I was boosting my serotonin levels – yet I still felt awful. But there was a deeper mystery still. Why were so many other people across the western world feeling like me? Around one in five US adults are taking at least one drug for a psychiatric problem. In Britain, antidepressant prescriptions have doubled in a decade, to the point where now one in 11 of us drug ourselves to deal with these feelings. What has been causing depression and its twin, anxiety, to spiral in this way? I began to ask myself: could it really be that in our separate heads, all of us had brain chemistries that spontaneously malfunctioning at the same time?07depressionTo find the answers, I ended up going on a 40,000-mile journey across the world and back. I talked to the leading social scientists investigating these questions, and to people who have been overcoming depression in unexpected ways – from an Amish village in Indiana, to a Brazilian city that banned advertising and a laboratory in Baltimore conducting a startling wave of experiments. From these people, I learned the best scientific evidence about what really causes depression and anxiety. They taught me that it is not what we have been told it is up to now. I found there is evidence that seven specific factors in the way we are living today are causing depression and anxiety to rise alongside two real biological factors (such as your genes) that can combine with these forces to make it worse. Once I learned this, I was able to see that a very different set of solutions to my depression and to our depression waiting for me all along. To understand this different way of thinking, though, I had to first investigate the old story, the one that had given me so much relief at first. Professor Irving Kirsch at Harvard University is the Sherlock Holmes of chemical antidepressants the man who has scrutinised the evidence about giving drugs to depressed and anxious people most closely in the world. In the 1990s, he prescribed chemical antidepressants to his patients with confidence. asian-man-yawning-and-sleepy-at-work-4k-resolution_emg5iw6cqx_thumbnail-full01He knew the published scientific evidence, and it was clear: it showed that 70% of people who took them got significantly better. He began to investigate this further, and put in a freedom of information request to get the data that the drug companies had been privately gathering into these drugs. He was confident that he would find all sorts of other positive effects but then he bumped into something peculiar. We all know that when you take selfies, you take 30 pictures, throw away the 29 where you look bleary-eyed or double-chinned, and pick out the best one to be your Tinder profile picture. It turned out that the drug companies who fund almost all research into these drugs were taking this approach to studying chemical antidepressants. They would fund huge numbers of studies, throw away all the ones that suggested the drugs had very limited effects, and then only release the ones that showed success. To give one example: in one trial, the drug was given to 245 patients, but the drug company published the results for only 27 of them. Those 27 patients happened to be the ones the drug seemed to work for. Suddenly, Professor Kirsch realised that the 70% figure couldn’t be right155771072

It turns out that between 65 and 80% of people on antidepressants are depressed again within a year. I had thought that I was freakish for remaining depressed while on these drugs. In fact, Kirsch explained to me in Massachusetts, I was totally typical. These drugs are having a positive effect for some people but they clearly can’t be the main solution for the majority of us, because we’re still depressed even when we take them. At the moment, we offer depressed people a menu with only one option on it. I certainly don’t want to take anything off the menu but I realised, as I spent time with him, that we would have to expand the menu. This led Professor Kirsch to ask a more basic question, one he was surprised to be asking. How do we know depression is even caused by low serotonin at all? When he began to dig, it turned out that the evidence was strikingly shaky. Professor Andrew Scull of Princeton, writing in the Lancet, explained that attributing depression to spontaneously low serotonin is “deeply misleading and unscientific”. Dr David Healy told me: “There was never any basis for it, ever. It was just marketing copy.”

A doctor writing a prescription

I didn’t want to hear this. Once you settle into a story about your pain, you are extremely reluctant to challenge it. It was like a leash I had put on my distress to keep it under some control. I feared that if I messed with the story I had lived with for so long, the pain would run wild, like an unchained animal. Yet the scientific evidence was showing me something clear, and I couldn’t ignore it. So, what is really going on? When I interviewed social scientists all over the world from São Paulo to Sydney, from Los Angeles to London I started to see an unexpected picture emerge. We all know that every human being has basic physical needs: for food, for water, for shelter, for clean air. It turns out that, in the same way, all humans have certain basic psychological needs. We need to feel we belong. We need to feel valued. We need to feel we’re good at something. We need to feel we have a secure future. And there is growing evidence that our culture isn’t meeting those psychological needs for many perhaps most people. I kept learning that, in very different ways, we have become disconnected from things we really need, and this deep disconnection is driving this epidemic of depression and anxiety all around us. Let’s look at one of those causes, and one of the solutions we can begin to see if we understand it differently. There is strong evidence that human beings need to feel their lives are meaningful that they are doing something with purpose that makes a difference. It’s a natural psychological need. But between 2011 and 2012, the polling company Gallup conducted the most detailed study ever carried out of how people feel about the thing we spend most of our waking lives doing paid work.

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They found that 13% of people say they are “engaged” in their work they find it meaningful and look forward to it. 63% say they are “not engaged”, which is defined as “sleepwalking through their workday so 24% are “actively disengaged”they hate it. Antidepressant prescriptions have doubled over the last decade. Most depressed and anxious people I know, I realised, are in the 87% who don’t like their work. I started to dig around to see if there is any evidence that this might be related to depression. It turned out that a breakthrough had been made in answering this question in the 1970s, by an Australian scientist called Michael Marmot. He wanted to investigate what causes stress in the workplace and believed he’d found the perfect lab in which to discover the answer: the British civil service, based in Whitehall. This small army of bureaucrats was divided into 19 different layers, from the permanent secretary at the top, down to the typists. What he wanted to know, at first, was: who’s more likely to have a stress-related heart attack the big boss at the top, or somebody below him? Everybody told him: you’re wasting your time. Obviously, the boss is going to be more stressed because he’s got more responsibility. But when Marmot published his results, he revealed the truth to be the exact opposite. The lower an employee ranked in the hierarchy, the higher their stress levels and likelihood of having a heart attack. Now he wanted to know: why? And that’s when, after two more years studying civil servants, he discovered the biggest factor. It turns out if you have no control over your work, you are far more likely to become stressed and crucially, depressed humans have an innate need to feel what is done day-to-day, is meaningful. When you are controlled, you can’t create meaning out of your work. Suddenly, the depression of many of my friends, even those in fancy jobs who spend most of waking hours feeling controlled and unappreciated started to look not at problem with their brains but a problem with environments. DSjrsX3W4AAzwwADiscovered, many causes of depression in my journey about finding the reasons why we feel so bad. The core was about finding out how we can feel better how we can find real and lasting antidepressants that work for most of us, beyond only the packs of pills we have been offered as often the sole item on the menu for the depressed and anxious. I kept thinking about what Dr Cacciatore said deal with the deeper problems are causing all this distress. I found the beginnings of an answer to the epidemic of meaningless work in Baltimore. Meredith Mitchell used to wake up every morning with her heart racing with anxiety. She dreaded her office job. So she took a bold step – one that lots of people thought was crazy. Her husband, Josh, and their friends had worked for years in a bike store, where they were ordered around and constantly felt insecure, Most of them were depressed. One day, they decided to set up their own bike store, but they wanted to run it differently. Instead of having one guy at the top giving orders would run it as a democratic co-operative. This meant they would make decisions collectively, they would share out the best and worst jobs and they would all, together, be the boss. It would be like a busy democratic tribe. When I went to their store Baltimore Bicycle Works the staff explained how, in this different environment, their persistent depression and anxiety had largely lifted. It’s not that their individual tasks had changed much. They fixed bikes before; they fix bikes now. But they had dealt with the unmet psychological needs that were making them feel so bad by giving themselves autonomy and control over their work.f6gu4kjvmomhwypo9ytj.jpg

Josh had seen for himself that depressions are very often, as he put it, “rational reactions to the situation, not some kind of biological break”. He told me there is no need to run businesses anywhere in the old humiliating, depressing way we could move together, as a culture, to workers controlling their own workplaces. With each of the nine causes of depression and anxiety I learned about, I kept being taught facts and arguments that forced me to think differently. Professor John Cacioppo of Chicago University taught me being acutely lonely is as stressful as being punched in the face by a stranger and massively increases your risk of depression. Dr Vincent Felitti in San Diego showed me that surviving severe childhood trauma makes you 3,100% likely to suffer depression as an adult. Professor Michael Chandler in Vancouver explained to me that if a community feels it has no control over big decisions affecting it, the suicide rate will shoot up. This new evidence forces us to seek out a very different kind of solution to our despair crisis. One person in particular helped me to unlock how to think about this. In the early days of the 21st century, a South African psychiatrist named Derek Summerfeld went to Cambodia, at a time when antidepressants were first being introduced there. He began to explain the concept to the doctors he met. They listened patiently and then told him they didn’t need these new antidepressants, because they already had anti-depressants that work. He assumed they were talking about some kind of herbal remedy. He asked them to explain, and they told him about a rice farmer they knew whose left leg was blown off by a landmine. He was fitted with a new limb, but he felt constantly anxious about the future, and was filled with despair. The doctors sat with him, and talked through his troubles so post partum requires help.

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They realised that even with his new artificial limb, his old job working in the rice paddies was leaving him constantly stressed and in physical pain, and that was making him want to just stop living. So they had an idea. They believed that if he became a dairy farmer, he could live differently. So they bought him a cow. In the months and years that followed, his life changed. His depression which had been profound went away. “You see, doctor,” they told him, the cow was an “antidepressant.” To them, finding an antidepressant didn’t mean finding a way to change your brain chemistry. It meant finding a way to solve the problem that was causing the depression in the first place. We can do the same. Some of these solutions are things we can do as individuals, in our private lives. Some require bigger social shifts, which we can only achieve together, as citizens. But all of them require us to change our understanding of what depression and anxiety really are. This is radical, but it is not, I discovered, a maverick position. In its official statement for World Health Day in 2017, the United Nations reviewed the best evidence and concluded that “the dominant biomedical narrative of depression” is based on “biased and selective use of research outcomes” that “must be abandoned”. We need to move from “focusing on ‘chemical imbalances’”, they said, to focusing more on “power imbalances.de545d9acba05f4a7e96f64bd08ecffe

I learned all this, and what it means for us all, I started to long for the power to go back in time and speak to my teenage self on the day he was told a story about his depression that was going to send him off in the wrong direction for so many years. I wanted to tell him: “This pain you are feeling is not a pathology. It’s not crazy. It is a signal that your natural psychological needs are not being met. It is a form of grief – for yourself, and for the culture you live in going so wrong. I know how much it hurts. I know how deeply it cuts you. But you need to listen to this signal. We all need to listen to the people around us sending out this signal. It is telling you what is going wrong. It is telling you that you need to be connected in so many deep and stirring ways that you aren’t yet but you can be, one day.” If you are depressed and anxious, you are not a machine with malfunctioning parts. You are a human being with unmet needs. The only real way out of our epidemic of despair is for all of us, together, to begin to meet those human needs for deep connection, to the things that really matter in life.

This is an edited extract from Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari, published by Bloomsbury on 11 January (£16.99). To order a copy for £14.44 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99. It will be available in audio at audible.co.uk

FOOD IS YOUR MEDICINE

A North Carolina Gospel Minister Sows Seeds of Hope in a Food Desert in USA. The Reverend Richard Joyner of Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Conetoe, NC, exhorts his congregants to strengthen their community. First, the Reverend Richard Joyner got mad. Then he got a trowel. Sick and tired of seeing his congregation suffer from poor nutrition, the North Carolina minister sowed seeds of hope in a food desert. ABOUT A DECADE AGO, the Reverend Richard Joyner of Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church realized he ministered to a congregation of people often hungry and living in poverty but never complained. He came up with an ingenious use of land that helped keep the young ones involved in learning about nature first hand. The Church members unfamiliar with farming in the city are educated on how to grow own good produce.  The pastor found it difficult to comfort grieving or contain his outrage: “How do you tell someone who’s just lost a child to poor nutrition that this was God’s plan when it was totally preventable? Who would hang out with that God?” Each Sunday, Joyner felt like a hypocrite, urging congregants to worship a deity he doubted. During the week, he was forced to confront the community’s health problems constantly as a hospital chaplain. After one particularly trying hospital shift, Joyner pulled his car over and began to pray. “I heard a voice saying, ‘Open your eyes and look around,’” the 64-year-old remembers. All he saw was farmland. His parents and grandparents had been share- croppers; his great-grandparents, slaves. That moment fields blanketing Edgecombe County represented not untapped opportunity but a painful reminder of the region’s racist past.

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Young people enjoy outdoors activity so this roadside epiphany directly inspired the church’s now-bustling nonprofit agriculture and education center might construct a tidy narrative. It would, however, be inaccurate. Back in 2005, when Joyner first equipped area youth with seeds and spades on a borrowed plot down the road, he simply hoped to engage kids at summer camp. The campers consumed their initial harvest, but the following year, they started delivering free boxes of ‘Hen Pecked’ mustard greens, ‘Puerto Rican Red’ sweet potatoes and the vegetables to local senior citizens. “One 97-year-old lady, she was so excited, she kissed the children,” Joyner says. “That was the first time in a long time I witnessed anybody speaking a blessing over our troubled children.” Not everyone welcomes bounty. Only a generation or two removed from sharecropping, some church elders questioned the wisdom of participating in any sort of agrarian pursuit. They remained uncomfortably familiar with Edgecombe County’s role in the South’s antebellum cotton economy. Henry Toole Clark, a Civil War–era governor of North Carolina, owned a vast plantation—and dozens of slaves here. Joyner explains prevailing concern: “Do we really want our kids going back to that?” He empathized. Then again, he’d witnessed satisfaction junior parishioners derived from the soil. Less encumbered by Conetoe’s complicated history, they were free to dig in the dirt. “They’re bringing food to people who need it,” Joyner says. “They enjoy the process. They’re playing out there.” Meanwhile, various activities on the farm like preparing beds, selecting seeds, tending crops, selling produce, tracking digital data impart valuable lessons in science, technology, exercise, economics, math, and nutrition.IMG_20180106_150511

AN AMAZING WEIGHT LOSS

Among many people’s priority resolution for the new year is the desire to lose weight. An amazing weight loss plan used by this man transformed his life to shed the extra pounds of weight in a short time. So there is hope for many more people to follow his example to lose weight too. The father-of-two lost 12 stones in under a year in remarkable weight loss effort attributed to low calorie diet. Lorry driver Adam Moffat, 44, sheds half his body mass after adjusting eating habits. The Independent Online shared this story of Adam Moffat with his wife Margaret and daughters Hannah, 13, and Holly, nine Katielee pictured here by Arrowsmith /SWNS. The father-of-two is now half the size of the man he used to be after shedding more than 12 stone in less than a year. Prior to shedding half his body weight Adam Moffat, 44, gorged on pies, cakes and daily double rolls crammed with sausages. He would scoff cakes with breakfast and lunch and would even sneak in a kingsize Mars bar before dinner.