sad woman beside wall

Debunking Myths About Depression

What is depression? There are no outward physical symptoms, there; isn’t even a biological test to properly diagnose it. Is it just an excuse to get a license to use medical marijuana or a support pet? Is it an excuse to collect disability? Depression may be hard to prove, but its effects certainly seem quite evident. Suicides and attempted suicides are the most commonly discussed, but depression can also play a big part in quality of life and forming relationships. For those who are still unsure about the reality of depression, here are a few common myths about the condition, and the reality behind them.

Depression is a Sign of Mental Weakness
In order to fully understand depression, we need to accept that no one wants to be depressed. It is a result of a mental disorder and, if anything, it takes great mental strength to work through daily.

Depression is Brought On My Traumatic Events
While certain circumstances can trigger episodes of depression, the events do not cause depression. While it is true that upsetting experiences can make a person sad, a negative emotional reaction is normal, and does not necessarily point to any abnormality. However, when symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, and reoccur frequently, it may be cause for a depression diagnosis.

Depression is Not a Real Illness
While there are no outward physical signs of depression, it is very real and does have a scientific explanation. According to the Mayo clinic, depressed people have differences in their brains and hormone and neurotransmitter imbalance that determine both their condition and its severity.

sad woman on outdoor steps

Depression is a Figment of Your Imagination.
Even though depression is a condition widely associated with a person’s mental state, it may go deeper than that. The National Institute of Health points to severe cases in which sufferers may experience insomnia, fatigue, muscle aches, and chest pain. Promoting the idea that depressions only a mental illness is simply downgrading its severity.

Men Don’t Suffer Depression
According to statistics, women are two times as likely to develop depressive symptoms than their male counterparts. However, this does not in any way exclude men from the illness. Middle aged white men have shown the greatest increase in numbers of suicides committed annually. The reason for the misconception is the tendency for men to express their depression differently from females, which make it easier to overlook. Male stereotypes about strength and stability cause men to feel less comfortable about calling attention to their depressive states.Depression can actually be more dangerous for men, because they tend to engage in substance abuse as a form of self-medication and avoid seeking treatment.

Antidepressants Will Cure Depression
Depression is not a “one size fits all” condition, and does not have a “one size fits all” cure. Antidepressants may be a common treatment option prescribed by doctors, but not every depressed person responds the same way to the same pills. Some people opt for psychotherapy, in combination with or independent of medication to alleviate depression. Many people have to try different methods of treatment before arriving at the one which works best for them.

Do you or a loved one struggle with depression? If so, tell us what challenges you face and how you overcome them.

Medical consultation

Prostate Cancer Does Not Discriminate

Getting screened for prostate cancer is not glamorous, it’s not enviable, and it’s certainly not something young men dream about. However, it is necessary to get one in order to prevent serious health risks. Here is some information on what you need to know about the PSA test.

What is the PSA Test?
PSA , or prostrate specific antigen, is a protein that is produced by the cells in the prostrate gland. The level of PSA in the blood is often elevated in men with prostrate cancer. Men who report prostate symptoms are subject to PSA testing to determine what is causing their problem. The test is done in combination with a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Who Should Get a PSA Test?
Traditionally, doctors have recommended yearly PSA screening beginning at the age of 50. Some recommended that men at a higher risk, including African American men and those with prostate cancer in their family history, begin the screening at 40 or 45. However, due to recent revelations about the potential benefits and harms associated with the screening, some organizations have begun to argue that a man who is considering testing should be informed in detail about the possible outcomes. The test is covered by Medicare and most private insurers.

What Are the Possible Harms or Limitations of a PSA Screening?
Early prostate cancer protection may not reduce the risk of dying from the disease. PSA screenings may detect small tumors that grow too slowly to become life threatening. Detecting these tumors is called an “over diagnosis” and treating them is called “over treatment.” Over treatment can expose meant to harmful side effects of the treatment, including urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction and problems with bowel function.

Doctor and patient

Tests may give false positives or false negatives. A false positive test can occur if a man’s PSA level is high.but no cancer is present. This is the case with most men; only about 25% of men who have an elevated PSA level test positive for cancer.

What Should You Do If Your Screening test shows a high PSA level?
Usually doctors recommend that a man showing an elevated PSA level have another screening to confirm the results. If the level is still high, the doctor will probably suggest that the man continue with DREs and PSA tests at regular intervals.
If the levels continue to go up, or if a lump is detected, doctors will order additional tests. If cancer is suspected, a doctor will recommend that the patient have a prostate biopsy to determine the nature of the problem.

Research
The largest of research studies done on prostate and cancer screening was conducted by the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Unit. Evidence showed that most men who were treated for prostate cancer would not have been detected without the screening.

If you’ve had or are thinking of having a prostate exam done, let us know how you weigh in. And keep in mind, prostate cancer does not discriminate, even against international spies.

Woman sleeping in a mosquito net

Repelling Disease Carrying Bugs

When we were little, our first Barbies were often international travelers.  We would dress her smartly in a two-piece suit with just the right amount of sexy and put her in some killer pumps, accessorize her with suitcase and briefcase and off she would go to catch her international flight.  In many scenarios, Barbie would jet set to some tropical location where she would be involved in Bond-esque scenarios, all of which she would able to navigate her way into and out of smoothly, emerging with Ken on her arm and her suit as fresh and pristine as it had been before she left. We really should have warned her about the bugs!!

Unfortunately, no matter how romantic and appealing traveling to other countries may seem, it is not without its dangers,  with insect carrying bugs,  namely mosquitoes and ticks, at the top of the list.  But, if you are well informed and well prepared, about how these  critters operate, you can greatly lower your chances of being bitten.

The first thing you should do is to try and avoid regions that are known to be hot spots for disease transmission.  Tropical regions are most commonly cited,  but be sure to check the CDC Travelers Health Website for updates on regional outbreaks.  But assuming you can’t avoid the mosquitoes doesn’t mean you can’t outsmart them.  Find out when  peak biting times are and try to stay inside during these hours and avoid vegetated areas where ticks and chiggers can be found.

Sorry, fashionistas, but if you’re planning on heading to the tropics you may not want to plan on packing those sleeveless numbers.  As alluring as the thought of bearing it all on a tropical island may be,  it may not be the most advisable. The CDC recommends that you minimize the areas of exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, boots and hats and make sure you tuck ’em in.  Shirts in pants, pants in socks, closed shoes.  Just remember:  Confidence makes you beautiful!! Also, while your dressing, it may be a good idea to spritz your duds with permethrin repellents for extra protection.  This will last through many washes.

Bed nets.  Now this one, we quite like.  Haven’t you often thought them to resemble sexy little canopies.  Make sure they reach the floor of are tucked under mattresses to seal the buggers out.  They should be pretreated with a pyrethroid insecticide for best results.  Pretreated nets are available for purchase and can last for several months if they are not washed.

Regrettably, when it comes to using repellents, there are environmental issues to consider.  Most of what is toxic to insects is, consequently, harmful to the environment.  However there are a few EPA registered products that have been proven to reduce bug bites.  DEET, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD, ad IR3535 are all recommended.  It should be noted that the first two are known as “conventional repellents” and OLE PMD and IR3535 are known as “biopesticide repellents”, derived from natural materials.

So, if an international flight is on your calendar, do not be deterred!  Just think of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Africa.  They did noble work and managed to keep free of disease and looked great doing it ! If they can do it, so can you!