Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is My Diet Making Me Depressed?

Is My Diet Making Me Depressed?

Recently I have been learning more about the connection between food and mood. What we eat, our nutrition, and the right amount of vitamins and minerals in our bodies can help improve our moods. Nutritional deficiencies and food allergies can mimic symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Common nutritional deficiencies that may cause depression

If our bodies are deficient in vitamins and minerals they often exhibit symptoms of depression or anxiety. These include chromium, magnesium, zinc, thiamine, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and iron.

Common symptoms of chromium deficiency include anxiety, fatigue, depression, low self esteem, weight gain and carbohydrate cravings. Chromium can be found in foods such as American cheese, wheat germ, chicken, fish, orange juice, fruits, whole grains, carrots, potatoes, and spinach. It is also helpful to avoid sugar, soda, refined white flour, cereals, spices (black pepper, thyme), mushrooms, brown sugar, coffee, tea, beer, broccoli, romaine lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. See the Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet from the National Institutes of Health for more information: NIH chromium fact sheet

Another mineral that is commonly lacking in our diets is magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is evidenced with symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability, anger, excitability, headaches, confusion, apathy, insomnia, and hyperactivity. Magnesium is commonly found in peanuts, almonds, soy flour, bran flakes, whole wheat, raw brown rice, avocado, wheat bran, low fat milk, shrimp, tuna, Brazil nuts, cashews, sesame seeds, walnuts, potatoes, bananas, spinach, broccoli, and collard greens. See the NIH magnesium fact sheet.

Zinc is also a mineral commonly overlooked in our diets. Apathy, depression, fatigue, irritability, weight loss, and attention deficit are some of the common symptoms. Zinc can be found in pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, soy beans, wheat germ, wheat bran, sesame seeds, cocoa, sunflower seeds, corn, rice, oats, cheese, peas, barley, turkey, almonds, peanuts, wholegrain flours, and brown rice. See the NIH zinc fact sheet.

What Can I Do?

  • Assess your diet and increase intake of fruits and vegetables, lean meat and fish.
  • Decrease your intake of processed foods, sugars, and fast food.
  • Assess your stress level – increased stress can affect your body’s absorption of nutrients.
  • Talk to your doctor, or make an appointment with a Certified Clinical Nutritionist about your diet and whether or not you may have nutritional deficits. They may recommend nutritional supplements. Do not take any nutritional supplements without discussing them with your doctor as they could interact with other medications or be otherwise harmful.
  • Take a multivitamin. Tests the absorption level of your vitamins and supplements in a glass of water. They should dissolve completely within 30 minutes in order for them to be absorbed within our bodies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Anger Management - What Would Jesus Do?

Is it a Sin to Get Angry?

Is it wrong to get angry? What does the Bible say about handling anger? There are 243 verses in the Bible that mention anger. Even God was angry many times in the Old Testament:

Numbers 11:1

Deuteronomy 6:15

2 Samuel 24:1

2 Kings 21:6

Isaiah 9:19

Jeremiah 23:20

Ezekiel 7:8

God was also “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Joel 2:13, Nahum 1:3) and his anger only lasted “for a moment” (Psalm 30:5). God often “holds back his anger” (Psalm 78:38, Isaiah 48:9).

Biblical Anger Management

But what does this mean for us? How should we handle our anger? The Book of Proverbs contains many messages about anger management. Proverbs 14:29 states, “Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.” (New Living Translation). Proverbs 15:1, in the Message version, reminds us that “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” In the New Living Translation, Proverbs 19:11 says, “People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.” In Ephesians 4:26 we are encouraged, "In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Permission is granted to reprint this article in your newsletter or magazine as long as the following information is included: "Jama Thurman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Professional Life Coach working in Manassas, VA with adolescents and young adults looking for peace and purpose. For more information about counseling and life coaching, please email or visit"

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How to Calm Down When You Feel Like Pulling Your Hair Out

Do I Have an Anger Management Problem?

Are you easily irritated or often frustrated? Are you often critical of yourself or others? Do you lack patience or have difficulty waiting? Do you feel stressed out or easily discouraged? Can you sometimes be insensitive to the feelings of others? Do you sometimes blame them for your problems? Do you avoid people when you don’t want to talk to them? Are you unwilling to listen to others’ points of view?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may have difficulty managing your anger. Anger is often expressed in many ways besides yelling, screaming, and physical aggression. Anger management is simply recognizing your feelings of frustration, and learning positive ways of coping with these feelings.

Some people believe that anger is a “negative” emotion, and that healthy people should never get angry. However, anger is a normal human emotion, and everyone has feelings of anger at times. We can choose to handle those feelings in constructive or destructive ways. It is not wrong to feel angry, but sometimes our behavior can be hurtful or destructive.

I Don't Think About My Anger, I Just Forget About It

When you get angry, do you suppress your negative feelings deep inside, refusing to deal with them? Do you bury things “under the rug” and hope they will go away? It is not any healthier to hide these emotions than it is to express them in negative ways. If you live in denial of your anger, you may feel you must “have it all together”, you may be concerned about “bothering” someone, and you may feel sad or stressed. Sometimes you might struggle with physical complaints such as headaches, chest pains, stomach problems or sleep difficulties. Unfortunately, if you try to suppress your anger, those feelings do not disappear. Often, they grow and grow until one day an explosion occurs.

Sometimes people don’t express their anger openly and may act in passive aggressive ways. They often give others the “silent treatment”, and may sulk and pout, or manipulate others by their behavior. They can be deliberately evasive, or tell others what they want to hear, yet do the opposite. They often complain about people or situations, but rarely address these situations directly. Passive aggressiveness is a form of control, and is not a healthy way of handling conflict.

I Don't Like Conflict - Can't We All Just Get Along?

All relationships have conflict. Learning how to communicate openly and honestly is the best way of managing feelings of hurt, frustration, insecurity, and anger. Conflict management is learning how to communicate and respect healthy boundaries. Communication should be clear, honest, and respectful. You should listen to the other person and give them time to respond to your needs and requests. You should learn how and when to say “no” in order to protect yourself. You need to know when to ask for help and be when to be assertive in expressing your emotions. Assertiveness is being firm and calm yet respectful of the needs of others.

Okay, Maybe I Do Need Some Help With My Anger, What Should I Do?

So how should you “manage” your anger? Anger management is simply learning how to manage your negative emotions in positive ways. Some strategies may work for you, while others may not be as helpful. Successful anger management strategies include:

1. Journaling or writing about feelings

2. Drawing or artistic expression

3. Talking to someone safe

4. Exercising

5. Singing, playing an instrument, or listening to music

6. Taking a hot shower or relaxing bath

7. Sleeping

8. Watching TV or movies

9. Cleaning or organizing

10. Reading

11. Playing games or puzzles

You may find additional strategies helpful. The key is to work through your anger in a positive way. Positive coping strategies should not hurt you, anyone else, or property. Many times these strategies will help de-escalate negative feelings and the feelings may be resolved. Other times the situation may need to be addressed in a positive, calm manner.

Permission is granted to reprint this article in your newsletter or magazine as long as the following information is included: "Jama Thurman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Professional Life Coach working in Manassas, VA with adolescents and young adults looking for peace and purpose. For more information about counseling and life coaching, please email or visit"