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Beyond Sadness

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With the traumatic suicidal losses of well- known Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain this year, depression is rightly considered as a major chronic disorder that needs extra attention from the public. Mental illness often gets pushed aside if there are no apparent symptoms that can be physically observed. That is why a greater emphasis must be placed on depression, and that the symptoms are not taken lightly as just “sadness”.

Though the neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects mood and emotions, is commonly associated with this disorder, the main causes are genetics and experiences. Depression is categorized as a feeling of hopelessness, lack of energy, and displeasure in prior enjoyable experiences. Without treatment, this chronic disease can hinder a person’s ability to function normally on a daily basis. Other side effects are appetite changes, loss of energy and sleep, and thoughts of suicide.

Run for the Cure

Luckily, this illness is treatable, and about 80-90% people respond positively to treatment. There are medication and antidepressants to modify a person’s brain chemistry but could be unsubstantial most of the time. Other treatments such as psychotherapy could treat more severe cases to talk through emotional difficulties.

A major type of treatment that tends to be overlooked is the impact of physical activity. Regular exercise eases depression by releasing endorphins, which are natural chemicals to help your body feel good and earn a better sense of well- being. Other than its ability to improve cardiovascular disease and lung disease, high- intensity activity helps to support nerve cell growth and connections in the hippocampus, which relieves depression. Moreover, it helps the individual to gain confidence, engage in more social interaction, and manage in a healthier way that doesn’t involve alternative drug dosages. Having at least 30 minutes of physical exercise 3-5 days a week can significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms. This self- care method will have long-term effects, and there are great ways to improve your health with such simple remedies. 

It’s important to keep in mind that progress may not be linear. There is no single pill or dose that could magically treat the patient until they feel whole again. With about 1 in 5 people who have a mental health condition, that means everyone is unique and so is their mental illness. It is a common and growing topic that we all must realize so that we can potentially save someone’s life.

 

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Diabetes

The Diabetes Epidemic Prediction in 2045

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Diabetes Epidemic throughout the World

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), there are approximately 425 million individuals living with diabetes. By 2045, the population with diabetes is expected to increase to 629 million. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three adults globally is suffering from diabetes. Diabetes is expected to increase because roughly 352 million people are predisposed to have diabetes. The values indicate that 6 percent of the population has diabetes, and 5 percent are predisposed.

Due to these alarming numbers, many organizations have formed to set parameters that will, in turn, reduce the risk for an individual to develop diabetes or will train them on how to better manage the condition. If diabetes goes untreated, it can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and death.

Figure 1: IDF Diabetes Population in 2017 and 2045

Organizations Trying to Stop the Diabetes Epidemic

In the previous decades, the prevalence of diabetes globally has increased and will continue to rise if the preventative measures set by governments and health organizations fail. Listed below are global organizations that are combating the spread of diabetes:

  1.    Center for Disease Control (CCDC)
  2.    Center of Disease Prevention (CCDP)
  3.    International Diabetes Federation (IDF)
  4.    World Health Organization (WHO)

Figure 2:  Healthcare Expenditures to Treat Diabetes in 2017

These are only a few examples of the many organizations that are investing time and money on research that will help prevent and manage diabetes. The current amount that was globally spent on healthcare expenditures to treat diabetes in 2017 was $727 billion. The United States alone accounts for $348 billion of spending to treat diabetes because a large amount of its population has diabetes or is at high risk to develop the disease.

Global Measures on Diabetes

As mentioned previously, there are many organizations that strive to find solutions for those affected by diabetes. At the same time, some organizations have collaborated to further improve their analysis and preventative parameters in economically impoverished and wealthy cities. These programs are being implemented all over the world in nations where diabetes is an ongoing epidemic.

The Center for Disease Control and the Center of Disease Prevention established a monitoring system to survey the upward trend of diabetes in rural cities globally. The organizations determined that healthcare expenses caused by diabetic-related diseases have led to poverty. The following list describes the current standard methods used to prevent diabetes:

  1.    Organize educational sessions to train and inform rural and village health care providers on diabetes prevention and management.
  2.    Provide technical support and assessment for patients’ self-management.
  3.    Evaluate high-risk diabetic elements and provide a screening service to individuals.
  4.    Train people with diabetes standard self-management skills.

The organization’s goals are to educate impoverished communities on how to better manage their diabetes. However, training people on self-management alone is not the best way to prevent diabetes. The diabetes epidemic is so alarming that even governments within cities have set up their own preventative measures. 

To prevent diabetes from further affecting their citizens, action plans have been set to facilitate a health-enhancing physical and social environment to promote health advice to manage diabetes. Government’s all over the world have made it their goal to gather as much data in hopes of implementing the appropriate strategies to combat diabetes. This global research has led to three targeted goals that are being focused on for improved results:

  1.    Reduce the risk of individual’s becoming pre-disposed to diabetes. 
  2.    Stop the exponential growth of diabetes.
  3.    Improve the availability of inexpensive medical devices and medicines to treat diabetes.

Multiple governments and health organizations put an emphasis on improving technology and medicine for halting diabetes because they determined that educating the population on self-management alone was not going to fix the problem. The global objective is to implement more accurate medical devices that monitor diabetes. In the 1970’s, diabetes monitoring was invented to help those with diabetes control their sugar intake at home. The two most popular methods used today are daily testing through self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) and long-term testing through glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c). However, these methods still contain some faults and there is a need for faster and more accurate results to match with the growing numbers. Many nations will need to develop a more efficient and faster point-of-care diagnostic device in order to stop the growing diabetes epidemic.

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5 Ways to Treat Chronic Pain at Home

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Chronic pain affects 1 in 3 Americans6, and is the number one reason that people go to the doctor. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months. It can be very disruptive and often takes a well-rounded approach to manage. Trips to multiple doctors can be hard to fit into busy schedules, and can get quite costly! Keep reading to learn more about 5 pain management options that can be done at home. Remember, always consult with your healthcare professional before starting a new treatment.

1. Better nutrition. 

Even after an injury heals, pain may still be present. A large factor in chronic pain is inflammation. Chronic inflammation can cause increased pain and more tissue damage over time. Our diets can make inflammation better (or worse!) and making a few simple changes can make a big difference. Common inflammatory foods are: refined sugar, artificial sweetener, dairy, processed meat and alcohol. 1  Food sensitivities to things such as gluten and soy can also cause inflammation. Try removing these from your diet for a few weeks and then see if your pain levels change once you reintroduce them.

2. Retrain your brain.

Chronic pain trains our brain to feel like our bodies are under constant attack. This activates our sympathetic nervous system (also known as the “fight or flight” mode for our brain). The good news is that we can switch to the parasympathetic nervous system (also known as “rest and digest” mode) with a bit of practice. Slowing things down and taking time to rest, calming the mind, and meditating can allow the brain to turn off the alarm system to let the body relax, lessening the perception of pain over time. 2

3. Warm it up.

Using heat in the form of a heat pack, warm bath, or spa, can be a great way to relax tense or spasmed muscles. Heat is best used as a “warm-up” prior to doing exercise or stretching. Avoid using heat on a new injury as this can make swelling worse. For chronic stiffness or spasms, apply a heat pack for no longer than 30 minutes to avoid injury to the skin. Also, never use a heat pack on broken skin or areas with infection.3 Check with your healthcare provider to see if it is ok to use a heat pack on your painful areas if you are diabetic. 3

4. Cool it down. 

Using ice or cooling agents can help to reduce inflammation, especially after exercise or stretching. When starting a new activity, the painful area can become sore or inflamed, even with gentle exercise. Chronically painful areas can get aggravated after work due to prolonged sitting or standing. Because ice constricts blood vessels, use an ice pack for no longer than 10-15 minutes to avoid injury to the skin and sensitive surrounding areas. Never use an ice pack on the front of the neck.4  You can use an ice pack several times a day if needed, just make sure to rest for at least 40 minutes in between icing sessions.

5. Get moving.

Exercise and movement are vital for our health. Without daily activity, our muscles (including the heart) and bones become weak and our exercise tolerance decreases. This is called deconditioning. When the body becomes deconditioned, we are more prone to injury, and existing pain can increase since weak muscles cannot support the body well. Stiffness and spasms tend to get worse without some form of exercise. Gentle movement, even a few extra minutes per day, can improve circulation and reduce pain. Set small goals, like a walk to the corner and back, and slowly increase activity as tolerated. 5

By incorporating the steps mentioned above, chronic pain can become more manageable. While nothing can replace a licensed healthcare professional’s help, these small steps at home can add up to big improvements in pain control over time. You deserve to feel your very best!


References:
1-https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/arthritis-diet/foods-to-avoid-limit/food-ingredients-and-inflammation-11.php
2-https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfulness-in-frantic-world/201501/can-mindfulness-meditation-really-reduce-pain-and-suffering
3- https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/heat-therapy-cold-therapy/how-apply-heat-therapy
4- https://www.scoi.com/patient-resources/education/articles/should-you-ice-or-heat-injury
5- http://medicine.jrank.org/pages/429/Deconditioning-Prevention-treatment-deconditioning.html   Deconditioning – Prevention And Treatment Of Deconditioning
6-http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx

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Depression

Even a Million Dollar NBA Player Has Personal Obstacles to Overcome

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We might see professional athletes as role models who are unstoppable, but they too have their own hurdles to get across. Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love, an advocate for mental health, described his own experiences of how he balanced anxiety and basketball.

In the Player’s Tribune, Love admittedly said that “I didn’t want to look weak. Honestly, I just didn’t think I needed it.” Last November during a game against the Hawks, Love encountered a panic attack and abruptly had to step out midway. People mostly pay attention to physical health and wellness, especially for athletes, and not towards mental health. Growing up around the stigma that all men needed to be strong without discussing any feelings, Love always felt that he was forced to repress his grievances and hardships. By suppressing his thoughts for 21 years, it just made his mental health more complicated.

He emphasizes the importance of discussing out loud our inner feelings and confronting the fact that “I need help.” He wants everyone to know that “everyone is going through something we can’t see.”

“Everyone is going through something we can’t see.”

The primary concern regarding mental health illness is that it isn’t seen visibly. That is why it is difficult for some people to accept this illness without observing any tangible evidence.

A few months later after Love confessed his situation to the public, Carson Daly conducted a full interview with him on the Today Show. He finally decided to break the silence and opened his heart to the public about how he overcame the stigmas of mental illness. Even though it may be a never ending process filled with dark thoughts and a constant battle in your mind, he found much more support when he spoke openly about mental health to others. Now, Love goes to a therapist and is continuing to combat his internal fight every day. His social media fans are inspired by his actions and are fascinated by his admittance.

It’s not only Love who acknowledges mental illness as a prominent problem; it is a recurring trend where celebrities are opening up about their internal struggles to the public during interviews. Diminishing psychological health is understandable for people who are constantly under high pressure and stress from society. A few months ago, renowned people such as Janet Jackson and Ariana Grande opened up about their personal conflicts in the People’s article. We should respect that these public figures, role models, and celebrities are still human. As humans, we all have individual hardships to conquer; but together, everyone’s support can help bring awareness and care for mental diseases. As more people feel comfortable enough to come out from the dark to discuss their feelings openly, mental illness will soon demand a greater focus in society.

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