Mature audiences only
You have no doubt seen or heard the commercials: "Where does depression hurt? EVERYWHERE. Who does depression hurt? EVERYONE." Mental illnesses can consume you, take over your entire life and hurt everyone around you if you let it. I am no exception.
My life feels like I am stuck riding on a rollercoaster in the middle of a hurricane. I have ups and downs, and I have left a path of destruction in my wake. My sanity dangles on a tiny fragile string, and through this blog I am giving the world a look into my broken mind and my unstable life.
In the end, I am just a girl trying to maintain my sanity in a candy-coated world of misery. Here you'll get a glimpse at just how true those commercials are. Keep your arms and legs inside the blog at all times, hold on tight, and prepare yourself for a very bumpy ride ...
Feel free to comment here on the blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Are you living a happy life? Most of us face daily routines filled with the stresses of jobs and busy family schedules. And bad news seemingly is all around us, in an increasingly violent world filled with strife and scandal.
Yet there are many small changes that can help you and your family live happier, productive lives and improve your community, say experts.
“All over the world, people are finding that there really is a way to live happily. They trust life and believe things will turn out well and, if not, they cope. Life tends to prove us right, which is why a positive attitude is so important,” says J. R. Lankford, author of “The Covert Messiah,” which poses interesting questions regarding society, religion and science, as part of a fast-paced mystery thriller series.
“Even at the worst of times, people are usually wonderful. We saw teachers in the Newtown, Connecticut shooting give their lives without thought to protect their young pupils. We saw people at the Boston Marathon run toward the danger when the bombs went off,” she adds.
It is this observation about the profound and positive aspect of humanity that drives Lankford’s latest novel in her series, which is full of selfless characters willing to risk injury or death for a greater cause. Her novel addresses what would happen if Jesus were cloned and interacted with the modern world today.
In a deeply flawed world, Lankford offers some timeless advice for people looking to find serenity and happiness in their daily routines:
• Let the things of tomorrow worry about themselves. Yes, keep up with important events, but a steady diet of bad news isn’t good for you.
• Teach your children that they have the power to make the world a better one and it starts with belief in oneself.
• Take time each day to focus on the good in the present moment rather than being lost in worrisome and often pointless thought. Meditating even 15 minutes a day can change your life.
• If your children are involved in their own strife with fellow classmates and friends, help them identify common ground. Teach them to forgive and not retaliate.
• Set a good example by choosing to notice the good and being happy yourself. Volunteer. Demonstrate that an average person can touch the lives of others.
More information about “The Covert Messiah,” which can be read alone or along with Lankford’s other novels, can be found at www.jrlankford.com.
The world may not be a perfect place yet, but there are many ways to celebrate the positive things in your life and find happiness.
Buy the book on Amazon: The Covert Messiah (the Jesus Thief Series, Book 4)
Having a longer maternity leave reduces a woman's risk of postpartum depression, new research shows.
The findings suggest that the maximum 12 weeks of maternity leave given to American mothers under federal law may be inadequate, according to the University of Maryland researchers.
"In the United States, most working women are back to work soon after giving birth, with the majority not taking more than three months of leave," study leader Dr. Rada Dagher said in a university news release.
"But our study showed that women who return to work sooner than six months after childbirth have an increased risk of postpartum depressive symptoms," added Dagher, an assistant professor of health services administration at the School of Public Health.
In the year after giving birth, about 13 percent of mothers experience postpartum depression, which can cause serious symptoms similar to clinical depression.
This study included more than 800 women in Minnesota who were followed for a year after they gave birth. About 7 percent of the mothers went back to work within six weeks, 46 percent by 12 weeks, and 87 percent by six months.
Women who were still on maternity leave at each of those time points had lower postpartum depression scores than those who had returned to work, according to the findings published online Dec. 4 in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.
The researchers concluded that "the current leave duration provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act, 12 weeks, may not be sufficient for mothers at risk for or experiencing postpartum depression."
Future discussions about maternity leave policy should take into consideration the health of mothers after they give birth, the study authors added.
They also noted that many women are not covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act or cannot afford to take unpaid leave and have to return to work sooner that what may ideal for their health after giving birth.
Although the study found an association between longer maternity leave and less likelihood of postpartum depression in women, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Psychiatrists in the U.S. are less likely to accept insurance than other types of doctors, according to a new study.
Researchers found only about half of psychiatrists accepted private insurance between 2009 and 2010, compared to almost 90 percent of doctors in other specialties.
"It's a very big difference," Dr. Tara Bishop said.
Bishop is the study's lead author and an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
"It seemed to fit in well with my personal experience of referring patients to psychiatrists and stories that I've heard from other doctors," she said.
A renewed focus has been put on the availability of mental health services in the U.S. as the country approaches the first anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
On December 14, 2012, a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at the school before turning a gun on himself.
Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a new push to increase access to mental health services with $100 million in government funding (see Reuters story of December 10 here:).
Bishop and her colleagues write in JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday that some advocates have raised concerns over limited access to mental health services due to psychiatrists refusing to accept insurance.
"It's certainly something that I have to think about on a regular basis - about which doctors take insurance and which ones can see my patients," Bishop told Reuters Health.
For the new study, she and her colleagues used data collected by the U.S. government between 2005 and 2010.
On average, about 1,250 doctors were surveyed every year and about 6 percent were psychiatrists.
The researchers found the proportion of psychiatrists accepting private insurance was lower than other types of doctors and decreased during the study period.
About 72 percent of psychiatrists accepted private insurance in 2005 and 2006, but that fell to 55 percent in 2009 and 2010.
The proportion of doctors in other specialties accepting private insurance also decreased, but not as much.
About 93 percent of doctors other than psychiatrists accepted private insurance in 2005 and 2006. That fell to close to 89 percent in 2009 and 2010.
The proportion of psychiatrists accepting Medicare - the federal insurance program for the elderly and disabled - and Medicaid - the state and federal insurance program for the poor - was also lower than other types of doctors.
In 2009 and 2010, 55 percent of psychiatrists accepted Medicare and 43 percent accepted Medicaid. Among other specialists, 86 percent accepted Medicare and 73 percent accepted Medicaid.
Bishop said her team can't tell from the data why doctors did or didn't accept insurance.
It could be that insurance doesn't pay psychiatrists enough for the extra time they spend with their patients compared to - for example - a family doctor. The findings could also reflect a shortage of psychiatrists, which means there are enough patients willing to pay upfront.
That is just speculation, said Bishop, who added that the study also can't say whether the trends she and her colleagues observed have changed since 2010. The 2011 survey results, she said, were just released.
Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, president of the American Psychiatric Association, told Reuters Health reimbursement is probably one of the biggest obstacles keeping psychiatrists from accepting insurance.
"Many doctors can't afford to accept insurance because (insurance companies) don't pay them for the time," he said. "It involves taking more time with the patient and often treating them with psychotherapy."
New regulations addressing the disparity in payments for psychiatrists should help to mitigate the gaps in doctors who accept insurance, Lieberman said. But the shortage of psychiatrists is still a problem that needs to be addressed, he added.
He cautioned that the new study only looked at office-based psychiatrists and didn't include those working in hospitals and clinics.
Lieberman, who was not involved with the new study, is also the Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and chair of the psychiatry department at Columbia University in New York.
"We hope there are solutions," Bishop said. "I think it will just take a lot of thinking by many people in the policy world and the medical world to think about how you might get more psychiatrists to accept insurance."
TalkSession, a website that connects patients to mental health care providers.
The site lets users vet caregivers based on needs and specialties, and a diagnostic patient questionnaire seeks compatibility in communication styles and outside interests. Then patient and practitioner connect via TalkSession’s video platform — no couch required.
There are hurdles. For one, doctors’ licenses aren’t portable between states, even over Wi-Fi. And fewer than 20 states force private insurance to reimburse telemedicine. Many states have bills in the works, though, so e-serenity might not be far off.
People with an irregular heartbeat may also be at increased risk of being depressed, suggests a new study from Germany.
The added risk was small, researchers found, but it's in keeping with other studies linking heart disorders with depression.
"It's consistent with a large and growing literature on the role that depression plays with heart disease," Richard Sloan, who was not involved with the new study, said.
Sloan is the Nathaniel Wharton Professor of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University in New York.
"There are a great set of studies, many of which show a much stronger effect," he told Reuters Health.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a type of rhythm disorder affecting the heart's upper chambers. It can be caused by a number of issues - including heart attacks, infections and heart valve problems. Obesity is a risk factor for AF, as are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Approximately five million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with AF in 2010. That number is expected to grow to about 12 million new cases per year by 2030, according to one recent study (see Reuters Health story of Jul 26, 2013 here:).
Doctors have long known that patients' mental state can affect how well they take care of themselves, follow treatment instructions and how they perceive the burden of their illnesses.
Dr. Renate Schnabel, from the University Heart Center in Hamburg, and her fellow researchers wanted to see if depression might affect the course of atrial fibrillation and patients' feelings about their disease.
Schnabel's team used data on 10,000 German adults for the new study. Most did not have AF, but 309 did.
The researchers compared the average depression scores for people with AF to the scores of people without the condition.
Depression was measured on a scale of zero to 27, with higher scores indicating more severe depression.
On average, people with AF scored a four, compared to an average score of three among those without the irregular heartbeat. In either group's case, the score wouldn't be enough to warrant treatment for depression.
Sloan said a one-point difference in depression severity wouldn't be noticeable to an individual. The study also can't answer whether one condition leads to the other or if they simply share a common cause, he said.
Schnabel and her colleagues did find that the difference in depression severity they saw was mostly driven by the physical symptoms of depression, such as aches and pains, being more common or intense in people with irregular heartbeats.
Screening for and treating depression symptoms might help heart patients to feel better physically and potentially even improve their heart conditions, the researchers write in PLOS ONE.
Sloan said cardiologists have learned that depression is a condition they should look for and possibly refer their patients for treatment.
"It's a serious matter and should be treated as a serious matter," he said.
"If you're depressed at any time - whether after heart disease or something else - you should treat it."
Exercise might help treat sexual problems in women taking antidepressants, especially if their workouts occur right before sex, new research reveals.
The study included 52 women who had reduced desire and other sexual side effects while taking antidepressants.
For the first three weeks of the study, the women did not exercise. They were then divided into two groups for the next three weeks, with one group assigned to exercise immediately before sex and the other group assigned to exercise in a way that was not timed to having sex. The researchers then reversed the two groups for another three weeks.
Having a regular exercise routine improved orgasm in all the women, the findings showed. But doing 30 minutes of exercise immediately before sex led to a significant boost in libido and overall improvements in sexual functioning, according to the study, which was released online in advance of print publication in the journal Depression and Anxiety.
Moderate exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system, which plays a role in blood flow to the genital region. Antidepressants have been shown to depress this system, the researchers said.
The findings suggest that regular exercise might be a cheap and safe way to treat the sexual side effects of antidepressants, according to the researchers, from the University of Texas. The study did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect link between exercise and improved libido.
"Considering the wide prevalence of antidepressant sexual side effects and the dearth of treatment options for those experiencing these distressing effects, this is an important step in treating sexual dysfunction among women who are taking antidepressants," study author Tierney Lorenz, who is also with the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, said in a University of Texas news release.