There is a lot to talk about when it comes to mental health, the reasons why it’s not readily and openly discussed, and what can be done to help change this fact.
Historically, the stigma attached to mental health issues can be traced back to times when people had strong emotions about physical conditions. For example, outbreaks of leprosy terrified the public at one time. This terror resulted in those afflicted by leprosy being quarantined away from the masses.
As other horrifying or unexplainable conditions evolved, the idea of quarantining “sick” people persisted and with that came the birth of the mental institution. Taking the afflicted and removing or hiding them from society became acceptable — most likely having something to do with the adages “out of sight, out of mind” and “ignorance is bliss.”
In reacting this way, society pushed mental health issues to the rear of their conscience and has done a tremendous disservice to those who may need help but are afraid to seek it out.
She Looks Healthy…
Some physical conditions, like chronic illnesses (those lasting over 90 days), are often left undiagnosed by medical professionals. This could be on the part of the doctor missing something. More likely, it could stem from the patient who thinks what they feel is wrong is just “in their head” based on what they have read or been told by others. Not wanting to be diagnosed with a mental condition because of the stigma, they don’t inform their provider about those symptoms.
Even if diagnosed, lots of chronic illnesses have symptoms that remain hidden to the public. Take fibromyalgia for example — the condition most often considered fake because the person who has it appears to be physically fine.
A person living with fibromyalgia can tell you that there are good and bad days. But to the average person, the fibromyalgia sufferer may always look fine. What is not shared are the different levels of physical pain experienced every day and, more importantly, varying levels of severe emotional distress as well. Imagine waking up every day wondering how your body is going to feel. Will it let you get out of bed, shower, and get dressed without issue? Will you be able to sit through a day at work without feeling like you’ve been beaten with a club? Will you feel totally exhausted by noon then find an excuse to break away from whatever activity you’re involved in just to nap for a bit?
For a person dealing with a chronic illness, the feeling that their body is not in their control takes a huge toll on their mind. Daily life feels like a battle without a way to win. Since that feeling never subsides, their mental health deteriorates, frequently becoming a full-blown anxiety disorder, depression, or other condition. Left untreated, these patients can become suicidal.
What’s harmful to these people is twofold: First, they feel they can’t share their exasperation. Others don’t understand them, or they treat them like constant complainers. Second, most are treated by doctors who employ conventional medicine and are simply prescribed drugs to placate the physical pain and additional drugs to help calm their mental state.
The Missing Link
Some medical professionals are now recognizing that conventional medicine (the exclusive use of synthetic drugs, radiation, and surgery to treat health conditions) is a type of treatment that has its place, like in life-threatening situations or with massive injuries, but that there is something missing when it’s the only choice for patients in non-critical medical circumstances. These practitioners are changing tactics to a more modern approach – one that emphasizes a link between physical and emotional health.
Enter Holistic Healthcare
Holistic healthcare is an approach that takes the whole person into account – their body, mind, spirit, and lifestyle. This approach uses facets of conventional medicine and may include alternative medicine. It forms a partnership between both the practitioner and the patient. By bridging the gap between doctor and patient, there is more awareness, a sense of ownership, and better participation on the part of the patient for the control of their care and overall health.
As the patient learns more about their health and about how their mental health affects their physical well-being, they often want to learn more or find support to help them in their journey.
Fortunately, there are some major changes taking place to help assist them. Since affordability of healthcare or access to it can be problematic, things like telemedicine and online lab testing are becoming readily available. With more practitioners embracing the connection between physical and mental health, sources to assist them in their efforts to educate patients are continually being developed.
For example, social media is being used more regularly by medical professionals and health communicators to not just deliver messages to patients, but to encourage interactive sharing between the parties. According to the Duquesne University School of Nursing, interactive social media has actually helped reduce suicides.
Behind Closed Doors
Despite any profession-based advancements, the public perception is still a major contender at fault for the stigma associated with mental health. So how can society change the conversation?
Technology as One Way
Duquesne goes on to state that 90 percent of adults use mobile devices and over 70 percent use video sharing platforms, and this usage has increased searches related to healthcare. Interestingly, Google recently put out information showing that there has been a huge spike in people asking more personal questions in their searches — like “do I have schizophrenia” or “how can I help my friend who is suicidal?”
For the mental health industry, this is a sign that people are avidly using technology to search for possibly immediate assistance, and marketers are responding to this demand. There are already lots of internet-based resources out there to help people, but now more health apps are being developed. Take for example PTSD Coach, developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a highly successful app designed for military veterans. Apps to monitor stress, exercise, diet, relaxation time, sleep patterns, and more are abundant, and each plays into aspects of the holistic approach that lends itself to addressing both physical and mental well-being.
Share to Be Aware
While methods to increase awareness involving changes to medical approaches or the implementation of technology-based applications can be helpful, perhaps the greatest impact in changing the narrative on mental health would be for more people to share more about their personal experiences in regards to mental illness.
According to Outrun the Stigma, the act of sharing knowledge, stories, opinions, questions, or anything related to an issue can be extremely useful in breaking down barriers to open conversations. As conversations take place, more people become enlightened, fear dissipates, and the stigma surrounding the topic begins to chip away.
The same can be done for mental health. As people learn to talk openly about symptoms, related actions, and ways to give or receive help, the less frightening the topic of mental health will be for everybody.
NOTE: Ghostwritter for this article.
Nyquil is a common cold and flu relief medication that is sold over-the-counter in either liquid or pill form. It is usually used to relieve coughing but it also produces a feeling of relaxation and drowsiness. Additionally, some people who have conditions with associated pain use Nyquil to help maintain a pain-free state of sleep.
Because Nyquil is thought to produce a deep and enduring state of sleep, people often ask: can you take Nyquil just to sleep? Or: can I use Nyquil as a sleep aid? To answer these questions, a few aspects of Nyquil need to be considered.
What Makes Using Nyquil for Sleep Work?
The main component of Nyquil is Doxylamine Succinate, an antihistamine that causes drowsiness by blocking histamine from attaching to receptors in the brain. Because doxylamine succinate doesn’t discriminate between which histamine receptors they block, they cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit receptors that are involved with the regulation of sleep (just one of the important functions of histamines). The disruption of this particular function of histamines in the brain results in drowsiness. Nyquil also includes the ingredient dextromethorphan HBr, which is included in the medication to suppress coughing. However, as it metabolizes in the body, it becomes dextrorphan (DXO) and levorphanol. Levorphanol is a painkiller, reported to be five times more powerful than morphine. Listed as a dissociative drug by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, DXO is an NMDA receptor antagonist psychoactive that acts primarily as an antitussive (cough suppressant) but has dissociative hallucinogenic properties –like those found when using ketamine, DXM (dextromethorphan) and PCP (phencyclidine).
Taking Nyquil to Sleep
Even though Nyquil contains components that are specifically designed to induce sleep, relying on the medication for sleep is not advised. Use of Nyquil, as with any drug that is said to assist with either falling asleep or maintaining sleep throughout the night, may lead to several problems.
Nyquil Effects on Sleep
Using Nyquil as a sleep aid is known to make people drowsy and fall asleep. The duration of sleep can vary depending on the person. For some, taking Nyquil is good for sleeping between four to six hours while for others sleep lasts between seven to eight hours. For most people, sleep is calm and continuous; however, some people have reported experiencing disrupted sleep, often involving lucid and weird dreams, increased anxiety, breathing stoppage and trouble falling back to sleep. This can lead people to consume more of the drug in a shorter time period in order to get back to sleep.
Addicted to Nyquil for Sleep
According to Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “When used as directed, Nyquil does not present substantial risks, even with repeated use. It is better to stop using it for sleep-inducing purposes.” So, while using Nyquil as directed is thought to be safe, taking it in ways that are not recommended can be dangerous. As one becomes more accustomed to the positive effects brought on by drinking Nyquil, they may become psychologically addicted to using Nyquil. For these people, the thought of attempting to go to sleep without using Nyquil brings on anxiety. This anxiety then motivates them to use the product. However, people who have become addicted to Nyquil sometimes notice that, over time, the typical amount that they consume does not produce the same effect. Instead, it may take longer to fall asleep or they may not be sleeping as long. Taking larger doses or more frequent doses usually indicates that the body has developed a tolerance to the drug, and is likely to have formed a dependence and addiction. As with any drug, this situation should be treated as a serious condition. Withdrawal symptoms can occur, and the individual should seek assistance from medical and/or mental health providers in order to overcome the addiction.
Original blog post: TheRecoveryVillage.com
Ever notice that when you spill coffee over the edge of your cup it always produces a ring under the bottom edge?
There is a rather complex reason for this, but it can be summed up somewhat easily. Two main factors are at play: surface tension of the molecules of the liquid and the temperature of the surrounding environment.
When a drop of coffee is splashed outside of the cup, it has an initial “pinned” spot, and from there the surface tension within the liquid causes the molecules to spread and draw more liquid away from it.
The temperature of the surrounding area then comes into play as a difference in temperature between the liquid and the air causes evaporation to begin. When an evaporating drop is checked under a microscope, there is a strong outward flow of material as the particles stream toward the edge, rather than moving around randomly. As the process continues, the molecules of the liquid continue to draw towards the edge and, because of their surface tension, they continue to draw more molecules towards them to replace liquid that has already evaporated. This continuous flow piles the material up at the edges, where it eventually dries and forms a ring.
No matter what type of liquid or different types of surface on which the liquid is spilled, all combinations still produce rings.
Scientists who have recently studied this phenomenon believe it has implications for industries that rely on the uniform deposition of solids suspended in liquid media (i.e., paints) and that dispersed solids could be deposited in a controlled fashion such as by creating tiny electronic circuits or providing a means of high-density information storage.
Originally posted in Headline Discoveries, January 2011
When people think about the bodily harm that results from drug abuse, they most often consider things like damage to the brain, lungs, heart or stomach. What is less known is the serious harm that drugs and substances cause to a person’s teeth and gums.
While almost any drug, legal or illegal, can affect a person’s system and cause harm to their teeth and gums the greatest damage comes from the use of common street drugs: methamphetamine (meth), heroin, marijuana and cocaine.
What Drug Use Does to the Teeth and Gums
Using of drugs frequently causes dry mouth – a serious lack of saliva production. Saliva is a key protector that wards off bacteria overpopulation. Without enough saliva, dry mouth irritates the soft tissue in the mouth and the gums. Once the gums are inflamed, they can recede from the tooth wall. This then allows bacteria to enter the gaps, resulting in infections and tooth decay. For people who abuse substances, poor oral hygiene is common due to multiple factors -an inability to afford proper oral care, a lack of concern for oral health, or a lack of nutritious foods. Stimulant drugs, such as ecstasy, meth, cocaine or heroin, cause the individual to clench or grind their teeth. This can result in jaw pain and the weakening of teeth -sometimes to the point that they end up breaking off. People who smoke in addition to using drugs are also at risk for infection and tooth decay since smoking negatively affects any part of the mouth.
Harm to Teeth Based on Specific Drugs
In addition to the general harm associated with substance abuse and poor oral health, each different street drug creates additional adverse health outcomes, resulting in rotten, discolored, broken, missing teeth and gum disease.
Methamphetamine is very acidic. Use can lead to upset stomach due to the drug’s acidity -causing reflux and vomiting. Excessive vomiting coats the teeth with acid, leading to further corrosion of the enamel and allowing more decay to set in. Additionally, meth sometimes makes people crave soda and sweets, another common element in tooth decay.
Use of heroin causes damage to the teeth that are nearly the same as those seen with meth use. Also, the drug’s pain-killing property can cause an individual to ignore symptoms of damaged teeth and gums, leading to further problems.
Smoking marijuana can cause mouth cancer. Additionally, some people develop a condition called “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.” This condition leads to nausea and vomiting that can wear away the enamel of the teeth, leading to tooth decay.
When snorted, use of cocaine damages the tissue that separates the roof of the mouth from the nasal cavity. Over time, this can cause a hole to form, making it hard for the individual to eat or speak. Also, cocaine is acidic. If it is smoked (as with crack) or if the powder is placed in the mouth, the teeth are coated with the acid and their protective enamel breaks down. For some people, rubbing cocaine on the gums produces mouth sores.
Most times doctors tell you that a well-balanced diet is the key to staying healthy. Although this is good advice for most people, individuals with bipolar disorder (or manic-depression) need to be careful.
WebMD states that “there isn’t a miracle diet for bipolar disorder.” In general, they recommend avoiding fad diets and sticking to the basics, like eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains and sticking to fewer foods loaded with fats and sugar.
This concept is all well and good, but there is a more valuable point that you need to know, and few sources out there discuss this.
Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling, who spent his life studying and working in the sciences, founded the new field of Orthomolecular Psychiatry in 1968. Pauling proposed that “mental abnormalities might be successfully treated by correcting imbalances or deficiencies among naturally occurring biochemical constituents of the brain, notably vitamins and other micronutrients, as an alternative to the administration of potent synthetic psychoactive drugs.”
In laymen’s terms, this means that there are certain foods that can greatly affect your moods if you are swinging on either end of the pendulum of bipolar disorder.
For example, when someone feels emotionally balanced, potatoes are okay to eat. They are also okay to eat when that same person swings to the lows of depression. However they should be avoided if that person is having a bout with the manic side of bipolar. Milk and other dairy products are okay when balanced, but they should be avoided when on a manic high, and yet they can help when on a depressed low. Fish, (tuna in particular), pork, carrots, spinach, oranges, brown rice and many other foods are okay no matter what level a person is at.
What a person with bipolar needs to be careful of is when a particular food is a key ingredient of another food product. For example, tomatoes are okay for when they feel balanced and or the depressed end of bipolar, but they need to be avoided when swinging to the manic side – so no tomato-based products like ketchup or tomato sauce on pizza.
Why Does Eating or Avoiding Certain Foods Matter?
Everyone’s brain has three neurotransmitter chemicals that are affected by food; dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Neurotransmitters relay signals between neurons and other brain cells. In a well-functioning brain, the proportion of these chemicals works properly, however, in bipolar disorder, there is a chemical imbalance between these.
Any foods that are ingested break down into a chemically-based composition of their own that can have an impact on any one of these neurotransmitters or any combination of them. So if the chemicals in the person’s brain are running one way, adding the wrong set of chemicals through food intake can further press the brain to react in a negative manner.
How to Learn More
To learn more about how certain foods can be used to manage bipolar symptoms (and other types of depression), “The Brain Chemistry Diet” by Michael Lesser, M.D. (Putnam Books, 2002) may be helpful. Lesser was one of the founders (along with the late Linus Pauling, Ph.D.) of the Orthomolecular Psychiatry Movement.
Originally posted on Yahoo Health
Whether you are watching television, browsing the internet, or reading a magazine, images of very thin people are very common. The result is a consistent messaging that the ideal body, particularly for women, is a very thin one that is often, in fact, unhealthy. Additionally, there are thousands of diet plans, workout videos, gym memberships and exercise equipment seem to be everywhere.
There has been a surge of sites over the past 10 years that are geared towards promoting a very thin body. They are called “thinspo” sites.
These sites have been created to support a movement that is known by a few names: “thinspiration” (or “thinspo” for short), pro-ana (pro-anorexia), and pro-mia (pro-bulimia). This movement supports and encourages people to get ultra-thin, in most cases below what would be considered as a healthy weight. While the assumption might be that these sites are only for women, this is not the case. The desire for a super thin body has crept its way into the male population as well and there are many “thinspo” sites directed specifically at men. In 2010, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study involving 180 active pro-eating disorder websites, of which 98 percent were administered by women. Two years later, an article in GQ that was reporting on the rise in anorexia among men noted that ten years ago clinicians estimated that men made up around 5 percent of the anorexic population, while today it’s between 20 and 30 percent. Regardless of gender, the target audience of these pro-anorexia sites tends to be young adults.
Pro-anorexia websites feature photos of ultra-thin individuals and have captions with accompanying stories that, according to medical professionals, encourage and support the eating disorder. In addition, the use of social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, etc.) and personal blogs have been cited as primary sources that assist teens in their goals of extreme weight loss and further complicate their eating disorders. As a means of offering support to each other, selfies are posted that show vast weight reduction, visible and protruding bone structure (collarbone, spine, ribs, leg bones, jaw bones), and tips on hiding purging methods, hunger suppression tactics, and even ways to prevent vomit from eroding teeth.
The Issue with Pro-Anorexia Sites
Treatment professionals are concerned that the population of young adults who partake in thinspiration feels that this is a lifestyle choice. In this way, anorexia or bulimia is their chosen method to attain the body they want – thereby giving them the lifestyle they choose. With names like “MyProAna,” “ProAna Tips and Tricks,” and “Male Thinspo – A Guide to Perfection,” these sites are a draw for individuals who suffer from eating disorders. Strangely, the site owners typically have some sort of disclaimer/warning statement on the front page that supports the idea that this way of living is a choice. One site called, for example, states the following message: “This site does not encourage that you develop an eating disorder. This is a site for those who ALREADY have an eating disorder and do not wish to go into recovery. If you do not already have an eating disorder, better it is that you do not develop one now. You may wish to leave.” Another similar statement is: “Heavy dietary changes and exercise can be a deadly hazard to your life. Nothing is more precious than your life. Please make sustainable changes only. It won’t happen in a day. It will take its time. Consistency and perseverance will get you there.” Professionals are concerned that pro-anorexia sites provide people struggling with an eating disorder with the methods to achieve their goals and perpetuate this body image ideal through an enabling “support” system that is hidden away from family and friends.
Original blog post: TheRecoveryVillage.com
As you’re walking towards your car on a blistering summer day, something catches your eye. Yep. It’s a dog locked up in a car. Now what? You look around and don’t see anybody that seems to be aware of the situation. Should you call for help? Break into the car yourself? Leave it and hope for the best?
If you’re a dog lover, your first instinct is likely to be to get help of some kind, so you call 911 to report the situation. But, as you wait, you can see the dog is in distress and you get more anxious. The urge to do something can be overwhelming. So you start to think about finding something nearby to help you break the window.
While this is an admirable thought, you need to be aware of the ramifications of such an action. In the past several years, there has been a spike in awareness of dogs being left in cars during hot summer days. Facebook is plastered with good intentioned images and stories reminding people to not do this. What’s scary though are the comments that are left on those posts. More often than not, people say they would break into the car to rescue the dog no matter what the consequences. However, those consequences can be surprising, and sometimes pretty harmful, to the person who was acting as nothing more than a Good Samaritan.
What Happens If You Break a Car Window to Save a Dog in a Hot Car?
In the US at the present, a few more than half of the states have some form of “Hot Car” legislation in place. Some states allow only law enforcement officers (and this can include animal wardens) to take action on a vehicle to release a dog trapped inside in hot temperatures. For some of these offices, relief actions can only be executed if the internal temperature is above a certain degree, assuming the officer can get a thermometer inside to check. Other states have laws or provisions that will allow a good Samaritan to take action but, and this is important, there may still be some consequences for that person – though they may not be as serious as those faced in states where no recourse is available.
For states where there is no permission allowed by either law officers or Samaritans, the penalties vary but can include felony counts revolving theft or vandalism, and the possibility of being sued in not protected against.
Keep Informed About Hot Car Laws Before You Act
It’s important to know what is allowed in the state you are in if you encounter such a situation. While anyone who loves dogs does not want to see them suffer or die due to heatstroke brought on by being left in a hot vehicle, considering the ramifications of taking action should be part of the decision in what can be done. Fortunately, more and more states are putting Hot Car laws into place, making it less likely that anyone will ever have to make a decision about what should be done to rescue a dog left in the heat.
Original blog post on DogFriendlyTraveling.com