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Naturopathic Help for Depression

Wednesday, April 23, 2014  by Marlene Kurban with guest, Dr. Jonathan Goodman

Clinical depression has become one of the United States’ most costly illnesses, although more than 80% of people who are diagnosed with depression can be effectively treated.  Symptoms vary in severity and duration and may include persistent sadness and anxiety, restlessness and irritability, sleeping too much or too little, difficulty concentrating, weight gain or weight loss, fatigue, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness, and/or suicidal ideation.  A thorough comprehensive physical examination may be recommended to rule out other illnesses. 

It is estimated that 50 – 75% of Americans suffering from major depression do not receive treatment.  Some individuals avoid seeking help because they are concerned about possible stigma, lack health care insurance, or are not interested in taking antidepressants.  Yet there are many effective treatments that can help reduce symptoms of depression, including psychotherapy and lifestyle changes in nutrition, stress reduction, sleep, exercise and social supports.  We asked Dr. Jonathan Goodman, a naturopathic physician who practices in Connecticut, for his perspective on how naturopathic medicine can help people with depression.   (Please note that the information provided is not a substitute for medical or professional care, and if you believe you are suffering from symptoms of depression or other mental health issues, you should not use the information in place of a visit or consultation with your physician or other healthcare provider.)

 Q.  Dr. Goodman, what would you suggest for people who are interested in finding a naturopathic physician to help them with symptoms of depression?  What credentials/qualifications should they look for?

 A.  I would definitely suggest a visit to a naturopathic physician, or ND, for someone suffering from depression.  When seeking out an ND, make sure this person has graduated from an accredited four year postgraduate school of naturopathic medicine.  In states such as Connecticut which license NDs, only those with such degrees can receive licenses and practice.  

 NDs are trained in treating the whole person.  As such, a typical ND visit will involve a thorough history which will incorporate the physical, mental and spiritual spheres.  Depression can have a purely chemical component or can arise from a temporary life situation or recent event.  Habits such as addiction or other self-destructive behaviors can feed depression.  A sedentary lifestyle or vitamin/mineral deficiencies can contribute to depression.  Medication side-effects can trigger or exacerbate depression.

Q. What are some of the advances in naturopathic medicine to treat depression? 

A.  Herbs such as St John's Wort, supplements such as 5-HTP and amino acid treatments can all help depression.  Vitamin D has been shown to help.  Acupuncture can play a role, as can meditation, exercise and coaching a positive mental attitude.   Treating sleep disorders such as apnea can make a big difference.  

Q.  Can naturopathic physicians work in conjunction with other medical providers?

 A.  Absolutely.  Not all cases of depression will respond to naturopathic treatment.  People with severe depression with suicidal ideation should be referred to a psychiatrist for supervision.  NDs are trained to know when to refer a patient who is not responding or whose presenting symptoms and history warrant more specialized care.

 Dr. Jonathan Goodman lives in Connecticut and is a naturopathic physician, lecturer, teacher, industry leader and author.  He pursued his medical training at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle, receiving his Doctorate in 1999. He completed his residency at Griffin Hospital’s Integrative Medicine Center, where conventional and holistic doctors collaborate in patient care.  He is a member of the Connecticut Naturopathic State Association.

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Financial Peace During the Holidays

Tuesday, December 3, 2013  by Marlene Kurban

The statistics are scary:  39% of Americans carry credit card debt month to month (2012 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey) and the average household credit card debt weighs in $7,050.  Making things even grimmer, many households lack even a basic financial cushion. reported in 2012 that 28 percent of American families have no savings at all. Another 20 percent don't have enough saved to cover even three months' worth of living expenses, while just 43 percent have enough in savings to cover three months of expenses.

 Yet the store circulars and Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales beckon, and ‘tis the season to slide even further into debt for many families.  The difficulty for many households often lies in setting a budget and sticking to limits.  Sure, parents want to please their kids and buy the latest $200 Dr. Dre headphones they’re clamoring for, but in a few months there will be yet another “must have” item that the kids will want.  The headphones will be shoved in the closet or under the bed, as the bills keep rolling in.  Is it possible to put the brakes on out-of-control holiday spending that will only lead to stress and anxiety down the road?

 Yes, it is possible, but it involves a major attitude shift if the holidays only mean “presents” and not “presence.”  As in the presence of mind to avoid shopping triggers that you know will throw your budget out of whack.  As in appreciating the presence of family and friends, and simple holiday rituals that create memories.  Will kids remember the gifts they received?  Maybe …but if you think back to your own childhood, are your fondest holiday memories of toys that you got, or of family experiences?  I’ll bet that the fewer presents you received as a kid, the more meaningful they were. 

  There are always choices.  So limit the spending this year.  Make a realistic budget and stick to it.  Talk to your family about prioritizing.   Focus more on experiences and less on things.  A winter hike along a shoreline path can do more for your spirits than a trip to an overcrowded mall.  Be of service to others; maybe spend some time as a family doing something to give back to your community. And if your kids don’t get the headphones this year, believe me, they’ll survive. top Top

Managing Workplace Fatigue

Wednesday, July 31, 2013  by Gwen Kesten, Ph.D.

There is a well documented link between workplace safety and fatigue. Certain industries are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impact of workplace fatigue including transportation services, and various industries requiring shiftwork such as healthcare. In many of those work situations, adverse events that occur as a result of fatigue carry high stakes related to people’s health and safety.

Workplace fatigue is primarily caused by inadequate quality and/or quantity of sleep. When this occurs over an extended timeframe, employees are likely to be negatively affected. In 2001, the National Sleep Foundation conducted a study about sleep habits in Americans. They surveyed a large group of adults who claimed to have suffered fatigue to the point where it interfered with daily functions. They found that women reported this problem more than men, and that this degree of fatigue was most often reported in adults who suffered from depression, who did shiftwork, or who served as primary caretakers for children or others unable to care for themselves. The medical sleep literature suggests that most adults need between 7 and 9 hours per day. In the United States, adults only average between 6 and 7 hours of sleep per day. Further, adults are often poor judges of their own level of fatigue, typically believing that their functions are less compromised than they, in fact, are.

The human body functions in a natural rhythm that repeats about every 24 hours. This “Circadian Rhythm” regulates sleep patterns, alertness, body temperature, digestion, hormone levels and various other functions. Individuals function best when they follow the body’s biologically natural pattern of sleep. At naturally lowest points of alertness in this cycle (typically between 3 and 5 am and 3 and 5 pm) the likelihood of a period of fatigue  increases. With serious sleep deprivation the body sometimes even engages in very brief periods of sleep called “micro sleep” for  seconds at a given time. These short periods of non-rejuvenating sleep are described by researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison as nerve cells in a “sleep-deprived yet awake brain”, briefly going “off line” into a sleep-like state, while the rest of the brain appears awake. During these episodes cognitive functions and performance are suspended.  

Fatigue can be caused by many things. The most obvious is an inadequate number of hours of sleep – inadequate quantity. In addition, poor quality of sleep leads to fatigue. Factors that can lead to poor quality of sleep include interrupted sleep; sleep disorders such as apnea, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions. Fatigue can also result from involvement in prolonged physically or mentally draining tasks, long commutes, and from sedating medications. Caffeine and alcohol use diminish quality of sleep. Environmental conditions such as continuous noise, humidity, temperature and lighting can lead to poor sleep quality resulting in fatigue. Finally, shiftwork can have a deleterious effect on sleep. Studies show that night workers get 5-7 hours less sleep per week than those who work days. Those who work rotating shifts also challenge their body’s ideal sleep cycle.

 Workplace fatigue can be uncomfortable, and it can have serious negative consequences. Productivity is generally poor under conditions of fatigue. Individuals typically have diminished cognitive and physical capabilities when fatigued. Irritability is common. Motivation is diminished. Communication becomes compromised. Empathy suffers. Human errors and accidents increase with fatigue as do ongoing health problems.

 Given the frequency and serious consequences of workplace fatigue, it’s fortunate that strategies to combat fatigue include some that can be fairly readily employed. It is important to try to set aside a regular time each day for 7-9 hours of sleep. Sleep cannot be “banked.” Sleeping for long periods following several days of insufficient sleep is not effective in maintaining a stable rest cycle. Sleep is most restorative when in a cool, dark, quiet, comfortable sleep space that is the same each day. Exercise on a daily basis helps with stress management and general health and promotes good sleep as long as it occurs several hours before bedtime. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before sleep and reduce caffeine for hours prior to sleep. Once in the work environment, strategies that can help stave off more intense fatigue include changing tasks such that no repetitive tasks lasts too long, changing posture and position regularly, and taking work breaks. Move around during breaks and move to a different space. Eating or drinking can provide a sense of revival as can washing with cool water. If despite strategies to combat it, fatigue remains, it may be prudent to develop a system of double checks on tasks with high associated risk factors. Coworkers can help each other by taking note of signs of fatigue in themselves and coworkers and facilitating restorative and protective strategies.


Gwen Kesten is a clinical psychologist who joined Solutions EAP in 2002 through a joint venture with Middlesex Hospital.  She has over twenty years of post-Master's clinical experience working with children, adolescents and adults. Dr. Kesten conducts workshops for businesses and healthcare organizations on Burnout, Stress Management, and topics related to clinical syndromes such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and sexuality. top Top

What do Employees Really Want from Their Employers?

Friday, June 7, 2013  by Tricia Arling

Guess what, for most employees, it’s not all about the money. Money does make life easier, but most candidates I talk to want purpose, flexibility, and recognition.  They want to be part of something important and involved in a culture which matches their values.  Employees want to work in a team that allows them to contribute as well as advance in their careers.  Ideally teams should challenge them as well as bring out the best in them.  And when employees contribute to this thing of value for the company, they want to be recognized for it.  Money is nice but public recognition is also a strong reward.  One of the most powerful Recognition Award programs I’m familiar with is Night on the Town Awards, in which peers recommend peers for a job well done.  The reward is $100 cash announced at a company meeting, call, or event so everyone knows about the employee’s positive impact on the product, project, team and/or company.


I also find that senior level candidates look for more freedom:  particularly, freedom to work outside traditional hours to allow a more flexible work/life balance.  I’ve seen, as well as experienced for myself, the increased positive results when employees are measured by results versus hours worked.


I’m currently recruiting for a position which requires highly technical resources and we can’t pay market value right now.  However, we have been very successful in filling our openings because we offer the “best in the business” technical teams, flexible work hours, independence and team work, as well as a product like no other in the market.  Proof positive that although companies need to be competitive with their salaries, they should also incorporate the intangibles: challenge, growth, recognition, freedom, and flexibility.


Our guest blogger is Tricia Arling, who holds an Advanced Certification in Internet Recruiting from AIRS and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.  She has been a Technical Recruiter for 18 years, working with start-ups and as an Independent Consultant.  Over the years she has read countless resumes and hired hundreds of professionals.  Combining her counseling background and recruitment experience, she has started a new blog - Job Seeker’s Advice Column, offering the ‘inside scoop’ on what recruiters look for. Tricia can be followed at and connected with on top Top

Forget Employee Engagement - Leadership Engagement Comes First

Monday, January 14, 2013  by David A. O'Brien

Jim was quite frustrated with his team and their apparent lack of engagement. After listening for almost 15 minutes to a litany of problems caused by their carelessness and lack of follow through, I asked Jimwhat he wanted. He explained that he had a lot of other demands on his time and needed his team to be able to follow though independently.

Jim’s situation is not atypical from many of my coaching clients. He was focused on “them” – wanting to fix his team - without awareness of his own role in the equation. Jim needed to start by examining his own engagement as a leader.

The best way to increase employee engagement is to increase leadership engagement.

Here are 7 things you can do to increase employee engagement by increasing your leadership engagement.

 1.  Assess your leadership. As a leader, you set the tone for your team. Everything you do or don’t do impacts employee engagement at some level. How well do you model the behavior you want from your team? Do you demonstrate the critical leadership characteristics ofopenness, integrity, resilience, trust,and respect? What are the top five characteristics of your leadership style and their impact on your team?

 2. Show employees that you value them. Research shows that one of the chief influencers ofmotivation and engagement is feeling valued.You don’t need a complex program to show employees you value them. Connecting with people on a personal level and building relationships can take you much further. Schedule 20 to 30 minutes of Leadership By Walking Around time on your calendar every week to let your team know that you’re there for them and that you care about how they’re doing.

 3. Communicate clearly and frequently.Another key factor in engagement is providing information that enables them to do their job and information about what is happening in the organization, especially around change.  Keep them informed about what is happening, why it is happening and its impact on the team so they don’t have to depend on the rumor mill.

 4. Ensure performance expectations are clear. Develop specific measures by soliciting input from employees. Hold everyone accountable for team success. Aligning talent capacity with interest, needs and motivation allows each team member to understand their contribution to team and organizational success.

 5. Link each person’s role and contribution to the key goals of the department and organization. The more each employee understands how their efforts impact the greater good of the group, the more likely they are to find meaning in their work.

 6. Give timely and specific feedback.No one knowingly chooses to fail.People need feedback in order to improve their performance. Make sure your feedback helps and motivates them to improve.

 7. Involve employees. Hold a discussion with your team about their view of engagement and what they think are the key actions and behaviors that support success for the group and organization. Identify the top 3 shared motivation drivers of the group. Involving them helps build a common language, clarify purpose and increase their ownership.


About David A. O’Brien, our Guest Blogger:

David is President of WorkChoice Solutions, a trusted provider of leadership and team effectiveness coaching and training services. He works with a wide range of corporate and nonprofit clients to help bring about sustainable improvements in organizational productivity. He is also an in-demand keynote speaker on the topic of leadership excellence. His first book, The Navigator’sHandbook, 101 Leadership Lessons for Work & Life is available on-line and in bookstores nationwide. Additionally, his articles have appeared in a variety of local, regional and national publications.

 To learn more, please visit WorkChoice Solutions on line at www.workchoicesolutions.comor contact him directly at 860.242.1070. You can also connect with David on Linked-in @

 To sign up for David’s quarterly Leadership Compass newsletter, please click here,
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