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10 heart-healthy foods you’ll want to keep in your house (infographic)


How to help a teen with depression (guest blog post)


Teens are notorious for being moody, but there’s a difference between typical teenage emotions and depression. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 2.6 million U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in 2013. Depression in teens can lead to unhealthy coping behaviors, resulting in problems at school, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, self-harm, and reckless behavior. These issues are often a cry for help, and by knowing the signs of depression in teens; parents, teachers and other caregivers can identify teens who would benefit from professional attention.

Signs of depression in teens
Did you know that symptoms of depression can be different in teens than in adults? Be on the lookout for:

  • Irritable or angry mood for most days in a week, for at least two weeks. Outbursts of hostility are often the predominant mood in depressed teens, as opposed to sadness.
  • Unexplainable physical aches and pains. If a teen is complaining of symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches but a physical exam doesn’t show a cause, this could be a sign of depression.
  • Withdrawing and/or changing social groups. Unlike adults, often teens with depression will not isolate themselves completely, but may pull away from those that know them well and begin socializing with peers who don’t question the change in their behavior or mood.

Other signs of depression are more similar in both teens and adults. These include:

  • Lost of interest in things that used to be enjoyable.
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits.
  • Irrational fears or worries.
  • Very low energy and motivation.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

If a teen is expressing thoughts of suicide, it is imperative that he or she be evaluated by a mental health professional immediately. If a teen is showing several of these signs, the best thing an adult can do is be supportive in getting him or her medical attention. Continue Reading »

The art of Qigong


Qigong is an ancient mind/body/spirit exercise that has been practiced in China for thousands of years. The word “Qi” means vital energy and “gong” means to work, exercise or to cultivate; therefore, cultivating or maintaining energy and health is the main goal and benefit of the practice. Qigong is sometimes referred to as Chinese yoga because of its integration of physical postures, breathing techniques and focused attention.

There are many different kinds of Qigong practices and depths of understanding of the art, but the basics of the movements may be categorized as either static or dynamic in nature.

Static Qigong exercises include standing, sitting and lying meditations, while dynamic (moving) Qigong exercises include simple repetitive movements, an exercise called “push-hands”, and Taijquan form. Taijquan (or just Taiji) are slow choreographed movements that utilize a variety of motor skills.

Over the past 15 years, Taiji and Qigong have become subjects of increasing interest to medical researchers. Peer reviewed scientific studies have reported that various forms of Qigong are effective in improving:

  • Immune function
  • Arthritis and fibromyalgia pain
  • Sleep quality
  • Quality of life
  • Balance
  • Cardiovascular function
  • Flexibility
  • Strength

Continue Reading »

Save a life with three simple letters: QPR


Community-based suicide prevention coalitions work to reduce suicides in our communities. The big question is, “By how much should we reduce our suicide rate?” Should we reduce our rates by 10 percent? Or perhaps 20 percent? The answer that many in this field would tell you is, “By 100 percent!” Our goal is to have a zero suicide community. Others have done it; so can we. But we need your help.

In order to achieve a zero suicide goal we need everyone in the community to realize that each resident can help save a life. Much like many have received CPR training, by exercising what the three letters in QPR stand for, someone in our community can save a life. After all, suicide affects everyone in our community.

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, and is the best practice training approach for suicide prevention (https://www.qprinstitute.com/). QPR is a program in which any individual can be trained to learn how to recognize signs of suicide and be able to intervene. Anyone can be trained in QPR and potentially save a life.

A free community QPR training (open to any community member age 18 or older) will be held on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Chilton High School in Calumet County. Because space is limited we are asking interested individuals to register. To register, send an email to: registration@preventsuicidefoxcities.org or call (920) 931-2552 with questions. Continue Reading »

What is motion sickness, and how do you prevent it?


Summertime often means traveling, be it by plane, train, car or boat. For people who suffer from motion sickness, these trips are not a part of vacation they look forward to.

Experts say that motion sickness is caused by a sensory mismatch—a disconnect between the body’s systems that gauge the motion we sense and the motion we visualize. The symptoms typically start with sweating, dizziness and a general feeling of uneasiness, followed by nausea and in some cases vomiting. Different remedies work for different people and instances, so consider the following tips for relief:

Avoid anything that could cause or exacerbate nausea. Don’t travel on an empty stomach, but avoid greasy or spicy meals that could cause discomfort, as well as excessive alcohol and foods with strong odors. Try protein-packed snacks that will travel easily. You want to keep your stomach as calm as possible when going into a situation that might upset it more.

Sit where you’ll experience the least motion. If you’re traveling by car, driving can decrease that sight/feel disconnect that causes motion sickness. If that’s not possible, the next best option is the passenger seat so you can have a full view of the road. If you’re in an airplane, try to get a seat in the middle, over the wing, as this is the calmest area. If you’re sailing, you’ll want to be in lower level cabins near the center of the ship. Regardless of the vehicle, sit facing the direction of travel and take advantage of fresh air through vents or windows if possible. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.