It’s not unusual to feel sad, lonely or unmotivated at times, especially after a loss or during a difficult time. However, when feelings of sadness become overwhelming and persist over a long period of time, it may be time to speak with your clinician about clinical depression. Many people use the word “depressed” to describe a sad mood, but depression is actually a serious medical condition with both physical and mental symptoms that prevents sufferers from enjoying a normal life. It’s also more common than you may think: up to one in four adults in America suffer from depression. Having depression does not mean you’re weak, crazy or weird. Too many—approximately half the people who suffer from symptoms of depression—do not seek diagnosis or treatment. In these untreated cases, clinical depression may worsen or lead to suicide.
Symptoms of clinical depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include:
• Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or emptiness
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details/or and making decisions
• Fatigue and decreased energy
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness or hopelessness
• Changes in your sleep pattern including: insomnia, excessive sleeping or early-morning wakefulness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
• Overeating or appetite loss
• Persistent or worsening of aches or pains
• Digestive problems that resist treatment methods
Any one of these symptoms would make it difficult to function normally, and combined they can be overwhelming and lead to thoughts—or attempts—of suicide. Continue Reading »
When the topic of athletic injuries comes up, baseball isn’t often high on the list of concerns due to its lack of physical contact between players. There are, however, risks of sprains, strains tears and soreness for baseball players of any age or level. Below are several tips on how to avoid the most common mishaps while playing America’s pastime.
Preserve your arms and shoulders
The most obvious risk of injury in baseball is the overuse of arms and shoulders. This can result in shoulder fatigue and tendonitis (inflammation of a tendon), especially for pitchers and particularly when pitching curveballs and sliders, which put more stress on the elbow. Fatigue and inflammation can be avoided by keeping track of how many and what kinds of pitches are being thrown, whether it’s during practice, warm-ups or during the game.
It’s also important to be mindful of how many games are being played per season. It’s not uncommon for players today to participate in leagues, regular season games or travel teams all year round; resting for part of the year, however, can mean more years of overall play. Continue Reading »
Finding a primary care clinician who you like and trust, and building a partnership with him or her over time is one of the best things you can do for your health. My goal as a connection specialist is to be the first step in navigating that process, taking the stress and anxiety out of finding a new primary care clinician, and talking through the process and answering any questions you may have so we can get you on the road to good health.
Research shows that people who have an ongoing relationship with a primary care clinician have better overall health outcomes and save money in the long run by doing yearly preventative visits. As you begin looking for a primary care clinician, consider the following:
- Are the office hours or location convenient?
Some patients want to have a clinician closer to their workplace versus their home, and Affinity Health System has several convenient locations to meet your health care needs. We offer same-day appointments, extended hours during the week and also weekend hours at some of our locations.
- What do you want in a clinician?
I often get asked how long a particular clinician has been practicing, or what their specialty is. If you have specific needs, like treating high cholesterol, or are interested in treatments such as integrative medicine or acupuncture, keep those in mind while you search.
Continue Reading »
Winter—especially in areas like the Midwest—can seem like the longest season of all. Aside from the stress of hearing snowbunnies and sun lovers debate the merits and setbacks of the snow and icy season, there are a few winter health issues to be wary of as well.
1. The winter blues
Do you suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? SAD is a type of depressive disorder that is brought on by winter’s shorter days—with early sunsets and late sunrises, the lack of natural sunlight causes some to experience increased sleepiness, increased appetite, a heavy sensation in the limbs, loss of interest, a sense of hopelessness and social withdrawal. The endorphins gained from exercise can be helpful with SAD symptoms, as can light therapy, which uses a special lamp to make up for missing natural sunlight. Make sure to speak with your provider if you experience these symptoms.
2. Winter dry eye
Between the cold, dry air and the dryness from indoor heating (especially space heaters), winter can often be a time of burning, itching eyes. These symptoms, along with a feeling of grittiness, indicate that your eyes are not producing enough tears to keep them comfortably moist. Dry eyes can be relieved with artificial tears, using a cool-mist humidifier and eating foods with omega-3 fatty acids, such fish and flax seed. In severe cases, a procedure that closes the ducts that drain tears from the surface of the eyes may be needed.
3. Dry skin
In addition to dry eyes, winter’s cold air and low humidity can also cause severely dry and cracked skin. A cool-mist humidifier is also helpful in this situation, as is taking shorter showers and skipping baths, which tend to exacerbate dry skin. A good moisturizer is key during cold months, and don’t skimp on places like elbows and feet, which are especially prone to dryness and painful, cracked skin. Use a moisturizer with SPF—even if the sun isn’t out long during winter months, its rays can still cause damage. Continue Reading »
Do you know what the symptoms of the flu are? While often confused with a common stomach virus that runs its course, influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death, especially in older individuals. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently—even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.
An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. Getting vaccinated isn’t just important for yourself; when more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. Below are some commonly asked questions about flu vaccinations:
How well does the flu vaccine project someone from the flu?
There are many different strains of influenza, so the vaccine—and its effectiveness—can vary from year to year. Each year a vaccine is developed to match the strains expected to be prevalent in the coming flu season. While it is impossible to predict the prevalent strains exactly, the vaccine is the best defense against the flu. Its effectiveness also depends on your typical health; the vaccine is effective, but it won’t make you invincible.
Is there a vaccination for children and a different vaccination for adults?
There are two different types of flu vaccines: trivalent, which protects against three strains of the flu, and quadrivalent, which protects against four. It is advised that patients speak with their provider to determine which vaccine is best for them. Continue Reading »