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6 Ways to Reduce Inflammation for a Stronger Recovery

Addiction science is still relatively new and researchers are making new discoveries all the time. In recent years, the role of inflammation in addiction and mental illness has started to gain attention. Some studies have found that inflammation may contribute directly to addictive behavior while other studies suggest that inflammation plays a significant role in at least some forms of depression, which in turn increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder.

In the case of depression, researchers believe the inflammatory response, which is meant to fight infection and prevent the spread of disease, triggers a series of behavioral changes. These include fatigue, slow movements, sleep disturbances, isolation, and inability to concentrate–all common symptoms of depression. When you’re actually fighting an infection, these symptoms aid your recovery but when you’re not, you just feel depressed.

It’s also possible that in some people, stress triggers an inflammatory response because, from an evolutionary perspective, your body is preparing to face a physical threat. The inflammatory response gives your body a head start in fighting any infection that may result from injury. That’s why the current thinking goes, life stress can trigger a depressive episode.

It’s clear that if you’re recovering from a substance use disorder, inflammation is not your friend. Keeping inflammation under control should help you feel better and it will likely improve your physical health too. Here are some suggestions for reducing inflammation.

See Your Doctor

First, if you’re feeling the symptoms of inflammation, the first thing to do is see your doctor. Symptoms of inflammation may include body pain such as aching in the muscles and joints, fatigue, excessive mucus, rashes, and digestive issues. As noted above, depressive symptoms such as excessive or disturbed sleep, poor appetite, poor concentration, and social isolation may also be symptoms.

Seeing your doctor about these symptoms is important because they could signal a variety of medical issues, including allergies, autoimmune diseases, asthma, hepatitis, and other conditions that may require medical treatment.

Fix Your Diet

There are two major considerations with diet: avoiding inflammatory foods and eating more anti-inflammatory foods. Of the two, avoiding inflammatory foods is probably the most important. The worst offenders include sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, which are especially abundant in sodas; trans fats, and omega-6 fats, which are common in fried foods and packaged pastries; vegetable and seed oils; refined flour, such as white bread and pasta; and processed meats. Cutting these foods out of your diet should help you feel better pretty quickly.

On the other side, anti-inflammatory foods will make you feel a bit better and they’re typically nutritious as well. Anti-inflammatory foods include berries, especially blueberries, fruits like oranges and cherries, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil. When in doubt, go for whole foods with a minimum of processing.

Coffee and Tea

As discussed above, what you consume has a major effect on your inflammation. Because many people drink their inflammation as well as their calories, coffee and tea deserve special mention. Drinks high in sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, such as sodas, energy drinks, and fancy coffee drinks may be contributing to your inflammation more than anything you eat. It’s better to replace those drinks with tea or coffee.

Both are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Green tea is the best in this regard, but all coffee and tea offer some benefits. One recent study found that the mechanism by which caffeine keeps you from falling asleep may also reduce the production of inflammatory molecules in the body.

Manage Your Stress

As noted above, inflammation is often triggered by stress as the body prepares to face a physical threat. Unfortunately, this system is not well adapted to our current, more chronic forms of stress. Prolonged levels of high cortisol impair the body’s ability to manage inflammation and this is likely one reason chronic stress increases your risk for a number of health issues, including heart disease, obesity, and more frequent illness.

Managing your stress by reducing your obligations, getting regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, socializing with positive people, finding ways to relax every day, and so on, can significantly reduce inflammation.


Exercise is important for recovery for many reasons, including improving your mental health. There are several mechanisms by which this works and one may be that it reduces inflammation. We don’t entirely understand how exercise reduces inflammation but studies show that regular moderate exercise does reduce inflammation markers in the blood.

This may happen because exercise stresses the body, causing minor damage, which is managed with increased production of anti-inflammatory molecules. However, it works, it’s clear that even 20 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, each day reduces inflammation.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight significantly increases inflammation in the body. Excess body fat actually releases inflammatory chemicals and research suggests that this is a major reason obesity is linked to health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and depression.

The good news is that many of the behaviors that reduce inflammation also help you maintain a healthy weight. Eliminating inflammatory foods, eating more anti-inflammatory foods, and exercising regularly make maintaining a healthy weight much easier, and the anti-inflammatory effects are compounded by fat loss.

More and more research is finding that inflammation is a mediating factor in many diseases, including depression. The good news is that unless you have an underlying medical issue, you can do a lot to reduce inflammation and the consequent health risks just by making a few healthy lifestyle changes, including eating a healthier diet, exercising regularly, managing stress, and maintaining a healthy weight. Furthermore, these various efforts tend to reinforce each other.

At Enlightened Solutions, we believe that the secret to a strong recovery from addiction is living a happy, healthy life. Our program emphasizes holistic, individualized treatment for mind, body, and spirit. To learn more, contact us today.

How Depression Can Change with Age

Depression is a mental health disorder that will always stay with you no matter how old you get. You may notice certain changes in your depression the older you get as life tends to hit you such as dealing with grief, break ups, job loss, etc. By knowing about how depression symptoms can change the older you get, the better you will be able to prepare for them.

Depression Changes Your Body Age

A study from the Amsterdam University Medical Center showed that the DNA of people with major depression is older by eight months compared to those who do not have depression. They examined the DNA of 811 with depression and 319 without. The changes in genes that did not affect the DNA sequence (epigenetics) took place more quickly for those with depression. The scientists saw that people with major depressive disorder had a great deal of epigenetics and methylation which changes the activity of a DNA segment without changing the sequences. It showed people with depression were biologically older by eight months compared to people without. Severe cases showed the biological age was 10-15 years older than the chronological age.

The study also showed that those with childhood trauma were biologically 1.06 years older than those who did not experience trauma. Methylation levels increased and decreased with age. The difference becomes more apparent when someone enters their 50s and 60s. This research shows how early-life trauma can have an effect on us and how important it is to engage in early preventative treatment for depression and tough childhood experiences.

Depression Can Change Your Brain

The British Medical Bulletin showed that certain regions of the brain can be affected by depression such as the hippocampus, thalamus, amygdala, frontal and prefrontal cortices. The severity and the length that the episode lasts affects how much the brain will shrink. For example, noticable changes happen in the hippocampus during a single episode of depression or multiple, shorter episodes. When a section of the brain shrinks, the functions of that section shrink as well. For example, if the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala are responsible for emotional responses and they shrink, this can lead to a reduction in empathy.

A study by the Cambridge University Press did a study that showed 71,000 people with depression had a rapid brain age. They experienced cognitive decline, memory loss, and a decline in processing information. This shows that cognition function needs to be looked at when people have depression since they may be risked for an increase in cognitive decline. The more cognitive decline there is, the worse your depressive symptoms can be.

Depressive Symptoms Appear for the First Time When Aging

Even though we can get depression when we are young, it can also occur as late as age 50 for the first time. According to a 2015 study in Psychology and Aging, depression diagnoses can increase from ages 65-85. This could just happen as a result of the challenges that come with aging. Cleveland Clinic says that when we have an increase in health issues, grief, and loneliness, it can be a trigger to depressive symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 said that middle-aged women between the ages of 40-59 had the highest rate of depression in the United States.

Antidepressant Responses Change Over Time

People with depression take antidepressants for a long time, but our reactions to the medications change when we get older. Either certain medications lose their effectiveness or biochemical changes are just not agreeing with your antidepressants. You should speak to your doctor about the depressive symptoms you are experiencing that are conflicting with your antidepressants to make any kind of changes in your prescription. The Mayo Clinic believes that as you get older, your brain and thinking changes which affects your mood. The changes in the way your body processes substances may mean that you need to take more medication and change your dosage.

Lack of Folate Vitamin Leading to Depression

Folate is a B vitamin and pregnant women are told to take more folic acid to reduce the risk of a miscarriage. For women, lower concentrations of folate in the blood and the nervous system can lead to depression, mental impairment, and dementia. Those with naturally lower folate levels can lead to problems with antidepressants. Folate deficiency also increases with age where the older you are, the more likely you have low folate levels which contribute to more depressive symptoms over time.

How to Treat Your Depression As You Age

As we age and change, our depression does the same thing. One thing that stays the same is that there will always be treatment available. One way is by connecting with others and limiting the times that you are alone. Being alone will only making your depressive symptoms worse as you are focusing too much on it. Socialize with your loved ones over the phone, email, or in person. You can also get out into the world by going to a park, having lunch with a friend, going to a show, etc. You can also volunteer your time so that you feel a good sense of accomplishment. You should also make sure to sleep for seven to eight hours, eat balanced meals, and exercise. Do not let your depressive symptoms worsen as treatment options will always be available no matter how old you get.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Serious Physical Effects Your Body Can Have From Anxiety

When people cannot figure out how to manage their chronic anxiety symptoms over time, they experience intense physical side effects to their body. Because they are so stressed all the time, stress hormones are constantly being released. By getting treatment as soon as you realize that you cannot handle your anxiety symptoms alone, you are protecting not only your mental health but physical health as well.


Those with anxiety may experience uncontrollable yawning before and after anxiety episodes or could happen randomly. This can be because of having a poor night’s sleep. Anxiety has a tendency to either make us wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep or to hardly be able to fall asleep because of our racing thoughts. Another reason for yawning could be as a response to the stress we are feeling as a way to help us relax. Having a panic attack can make us hyperventilate where we are not getting a full breath. By yawning, you are expanding the rib cage and sending a signal to your brain that you got a full breath. You can prevent this constant yawning by breathing in for four seconds and breathing out for another four seconds.

Muscle Aches

You may also experience random muscle pain that seems to come out of nowhere like muscle tension, soreness, back pain, and headaches. When a person’s fight or flight response is activated, the muscles will naturally contract. The longer you are constantly in that fight or flight response, the longer your muscles will contract as well. How we feel mentally will make us hurt even more physically. We constantly dwell on the pain that we are in that we do not do enough to make it better. We may feel that if our back hurts or we are getting headaches, it is best not to exercise or do any high intensity movement, which will make our muscles hurt more if we do not move them. You can treat this by taking a hot shower to provide instant relief to muscle tension as well as a massage for someone to push out those tense muscles.

Pins and Needles

The feeling of pins and needles is like when your foot falls asleep when you leave it in the same position for a long period of time. The same can happen to you if you experience chronic anxiety. The nerve stops sending signals when we feel stress which causes us to feel numb. Shock waves are sent to the nerves to wake them up. Our body tenses up so much that our body feels like it is in constant terror. You can stop this from happening by breathing in slowly for five to seven seconds and breathing out for the same length of time. Try clenching your fists when you feel this tingling or walk around the room to get the blood flowing in these areas and remind your body to wake up.

Losing Your Voice

You may find that feeling so tense all the time can make you feel like you are losing your voice. This can be because anxiety tends to make acid reflux symptoms worse which can give us a sore throat or loss of voice. When your fight or flight response is activated, we are also produced less saliva in our mouth. It may help for you to try speaking more loudly and more confidently when you enter a room so that you do not have to be so quick to mutter when you speak. It is also more important for you to drink more water to keep your throat hydrated. This will help you from adding further stress to yourself by using water as a source of treatment.


Anxiety can also lead to us developing rashes in which we are put in a state of tension, releasing a lot of cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. This can lead to your skin being more sensitive and developing reactions much more easily like acne, psoriasis, herpes, eczema, etc. It is best to try to control your anxiety through medications, deep breathing, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc. If the rash is not too bad, you are wait it out as it should last a few days to a week. You can take medications for rashes like Benadryl or rash reducing medications like hydrocortisone cream. Make sure not to scratch your rash or wear clothes that can irritate your rash worse.


Anxiety has a tendency to make you feel dizzy because of hyperventilation. Our breathing starts to occur unevenly where we eliminate too much carbon dioxide while making you feel like you are not getting enough oxygen. Your blood vessels begin to tighten, develop a rapid heartbeat, and blood flow is reduced towards your brain which leads to dizziness as well as being lightheaded or having trouble thinking. To avoid feeling like you are on a rollercoaster, you should try your best to breathe slowly at all times to avoid hyperventilating.

Having a Cold

When stress hormones are released, your immune system starts to weaken as a result. This can lead to constantly developing the common cold or high blood pressure problems in the long-term. By listening to what a therapist tells you and being in control of your anxiety, you will be able to control your physical health as well.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will be ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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