Category Archives: Medical Conditions

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Robin Williams and the Specter of Mental Illness

Please note: We are not medical professionals; Please do not take anything contained in our blog as medical advice. If you need help, please contact your physician or other appropriate medical professional.

Over the past several days, the internet has been abuzz with memories of Robin Williams. Comedian, actor of stage and screen, and father, Robin Williams’ forty year career was marked with years of brilliant performances. However, unbeknownst to many of his fans, Mr. Williams suffered greatly at the hands of an invisible enemy – Mental illness, in the form of bipolar disorder.

Van Gogh also suffered from mental illness; Many theorize bipolar disorder.

Van Gogh also suffered from mental illness; Many theorize bipolar disorder.

For many, depression is just a word, with sorrow just a temporary state. For others, depression is all too real, and, too often, misunderstood. However, as Mr. Williams’ death shows, it’s all too easy to appear happy on the surface while suffering deeply underneath. Because mental illness rarely has any sort of outward manifestation, people with mental illness are regularly met with skepticism, even aggression, from even the most well-meaning of people. Additionally, for those who choose to share their experience with mental illness or their feelings, it can be difficult to convey the full meaning of what “I’m depressed” means.

It’s important for appropriate dialogue to happen in the aftermath of tragedies like this one. It’s all too easy to write off suicide as the actions of one person, especially if one doesn’t understand those actions. The first step in any conversation is understanding what it is about.

What is Depression?

Depression can take several forms. Some examples:

  • Major or Clinical depression – This severe form impacts one’s ability to work, sleep, eat… Really, to live. While this can be isolated to a single episode in an individual’s life, more often it occurs several times. It is estimated that approximately 6.7% of American adults suffer from clinical depression, with between 20-25% of adults suffering from an episode of major depression at some point during their lives. This form often occurs in tandem with other psychiatric issues, such as anxiety, and can also be associated with substance abuse.
  • Persistent depressive disorder – This is a depressive episode that lasts 2 years or more, and can fluctuate as far as severity of symptoms. While it can be less severe in terms of its manifestation, it tends to hold on longer, and can occur in an individual with clinical depression as well.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – One of the more common mental disorders, SAD is also known as “seasonal depression.”
  • Bipolar disorder – While bipolar disorder is not purely a depressive condition, it is a combination of elevated periods of happiness, known as manic phases, followed by periods of depression.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of mental illness is how common it is. The National Institute of Mental Health estimated in 2012 that 16 million adults in the United States experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. That’s just under 7% of all American adults. They also estimated that about 9.5% of the adult U.S. population suffers from some form of mood disorder, with 45% of those cases classified as severe.

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors. Genetics are one potential facet, as are environmental conditions. Traumatic experiences, loss, and stress can also bring on symptoms of depression. At their core, though, depression and other mood disorders are disorders of the brain. MRI technology has shown that the brains of individuals with depression appear differently from those that do not suffer from the disorder.

Symptoms of depression vary, but the most common symptoms include persistent negative feelings, including sadness, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, and helplessness. People suffering from depression may seem to have a short fuse, or be disinterested in things they once enjoyed. They may have difficulty making decisions, feel worthless, or their eating habits may change drastically. In some cases, thoughts of suicide may occur, or even attempts.

Allie Brosh's comic informs about the realities of depression, including feelings of emptiness.

Allie Brosh’s comic, Depression Part Two, explores the realities of experiencing depression, including feelings of emptiness and hopelessness.

Artist Allie Brosh, known for her Hyperbole and a Half web comic, has written a particularly compelling and accurate portrayal of depression and how it feels, titled Depression Part Two. While the entire piece is a worthwhile read for those interested in understanding depression, this quote is particularly useful for those interested in understanding how depression feels:

“I remember being endlessly entertained by the adventures of my toys. Some days they died repeated, violent deaths, other days they traveled to space or discussed my swim lessons and how I absolutely should be allowed in the deep end of the pool, especially since I was such a talented doggy-paddler. I didn’t understand why it was fun for me, it just was. But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren’t the same. I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse’s Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled.  I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience. Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.”

How to Help

Mental illness is no less a real disease than any other. Clinician Julie Hanks once said “Telling someone struggling with depression to ‘cheer up’ or telling an individual with an anxiety disorder to ‘stop worrying so much’ is like telling a person with diabetes to simply ‘lower your blood sugar level.’” But how do we help? Those living with depression and other mental illnesses cannot and should not be made to shoulder their burden entirely on their own.

In dealing with mental illness, each individual is totally different. Small wonder, as each of us deals with our feelings and lives differently. However, there are a few things that are universal when helping an individual who may be suffering from a depressive episode.

First and foremost, remember that they are suffering from a condition. As in the quote from Ms. Hanks, we don’t tell individuals with diabetes to just get over their blood sugar issues – That would be very silly, indeed!

This Understanding Depression detailed chart includes information about symptoms, treatment, and more.

This Understanding Depression detailed chart includes information about symptoms, treatment, and more.

Secondly, listen and keep an open mind. We all want to help with words, but sometimes the most helpful approach is one without any. Some individuals suffering from mental disorders may not have the opportunity to speak openly about their feelings, and just listening can make a huge difference.

Third, keep in mind a few things not to say! Even those with the best of intentions will sometimes find themselves wanting to tell those suffering from mental illness to “change their attitude” or “just put on a smile,” but these statements can be damaging for those suffering from the disorder.

Finally, never forget that they are the same person they were before the disorder or episode became apparent. Simply offering your support and letting them know that your opinion of them has not changed can be effective.

There are many resources for those who are or have a loved one suffering from mental illness. A few that we found that are noteworthy;

Other Articles from the Web:

Stress vs. Your Body

This infographic displays several shocking facts about stress in our daily lives.  Click for the full graphic.

This infographic displays several shocking facts about stress in our daily lives. Click for the full graphic.

One of the most common complaints among individuals is stress. In a 2013 study by the American Psychological Association, 42% of individuals surveyed reported that their stress levels have increased over the previous 5 years, while 36% say their stress has stayed the same. Stress at work, stress at school, stress at home – It’s everywhere, and it’s impacting our lives in a multitude of ways. Stressed workers perform less efficiently. Individuals who experience chronic stress in their daily lives report sleep problems, interpersonal issues, and physical symptoms like fatigue and headaches.

These physical symptoms just scratch the surface, however. A recent study by the Society of Biological Psychiatry has shown that stress and the resulting anger, anxiety, and depression can affect the heart and its healthy function. Stress can also lead to digestive issues, including IBS, as well as increased weight gain. Stress has been shown to have a direct correlation to decreased energy and mood, dizziness, panic and irritability – The list goes on, and impacts the bulk of Americans on a daily basis.

Moreover, individuals widely report they are not managing their stress, in spite of a large percentage of individuals saying they want to reduce their overall stress levels. What is the best way to manage stress? The Mayo Clinic recommends physical activity, including yoga and tai chi, to help reduce stress, as well as getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet. Other techniques suggested include meditation, relaxation techniques, avoiding tobacco and reducing caffeine intake. Alcohol should also be imbibed only in moderation.

Overwhelmingly, medical professionals recommend regular exercise to help reduce stress and its effects, but it can have other amazing effects as well, including improved sleep, mood, and self-confidence. It can help reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer, as well as reduce the risk of an early death by up to 30%. Seems like a great argument for breaking out the walking shoes, or hopping on a bike!

Sources:

The Anatomical Development of Type 1 Diabetes

According to American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes and 5% of people with diabetes have type 1, which is less common but much more serious than Type 2 diabetes. People who get the Type 1 diabetes produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to convey sugar to enter cells to produce energy.  If the sugar stays in the blood at a high level, it could damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the hearts [3]. 40% of young people with diabetes are at risk of heart and kidney disease. Recently, the researchers could identify young people with type 1 diabetes at risk of heart and kidney disease by using a simple urine test, which may help offer treatment early and prevent them happening.

But there is exciting news from CNN! Type 1 diabetics could maintain normal glucose levels long-term through transplantation of the Islet cells, which could produce the insulin and regulate the glucose levels. It is waiting for approve of the Food and Drug Administration. But it cannot help with Type 2 diabetes, which occurs due to insulin resistance [1]. Most of Type 1 diabetics are diagnosed from infancy to the late 30s.

Knowing the symptoms of Type 1 diabetics could be important:

• Extreme thirst, especially for sweet, cold drinks

• Frequent urination

• Drowsiness or lethargy

• Increased appetite

• Sudden weight loss

• Sudden vision changes

• Sugar in the urine

• Fruity odor on the breath

• Heavy or labored breathing

• Stupor or unconsciousness

• Nausea and vomiting (acute symptoms)

If you have any signs from above, you should call a doctor immediately. Most of the diabetics begins in childhood and use insulin injections to control the diabetes, and it could become fatal quickly if not be controlled well [2]. There is more risk for low blood sugar because intensive insulin therapy. While Type 1 diabetes is not preventable, the usual complication of diabetic neuropathy can be prevent, which is usually happen at least 10 years after the diabetes is diagnosed. The best ways are to keep the blood sugar under control and assess the nerve function regularly [4].

 

[1] Cells offer hope for Type 1 diabetes, CNN news. http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/06/health/islet-cell-transplantation-diabetes/index.html?hpt=he_c2

[2] More Ways to Cope With Type 1 Diabetes, The New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/health/25brody.html?_r=0

[3] What is Type 1 Diabetes? , Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.

http://www.diabetesresearch.org/what-is-type-one-diabetes

[4] How to Control Diabetic Neuropathy, Everyday Health.

http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-1-diabetes/diabetic-neuropathy.aspx

How the anatomy model would help in physical therapy

Shoulder Joint Anatomy Model With RotatorThe most common medical diagnosis for shoulder problems are rotator cuff tears, impingement syndrome, tendinitis, bursitis and adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) [1]. Proper physical therapy could help you recovery quickly with less pain and get back to normal life. Recently, Mariah Carey recovered from the shoulder injury through three month’s physical therapy. Shawnna Shula, the Fife High School volleyball coach, also got relieved from the shoulder surgery after intense physical therapy. Also, there is a new approach for shoulder replacement, which would not cut the subscapularis – a rotator cuff tendon in the front of the shoulder – and reflected to allow exposure to the joint as a typical shoulder replacement [2]. This technology would save time, eliminates risk of subscapularis insufficiency and let patients quickly return to do sports. This shoulder joint model shows the musculature of the rotator cuff, which could be detached for a clearer understanding of the shoulder joint.

Shoulder disorders are very common in individuals of all ages. The shoulder is vulnerable to injury because of frequently mobility in different directions.  It could become worse and worse when most of people choose to endure the pain. Most of people start to pay attention only until it become serious. Do you still suffer from the shoulder injuries? Do you feel pain when trying to lift something? Is the pain influence your work and mood? If so, let us help you understand your condition!Anatomy And Injuries Of The Shoulder Anatomical Chart

The more you understand the structure of muscles and joints, the better you could receive from the proper treatment. The knowledge could help you continue the treatment by yourself and actively cooperate with the doctors for treatment. This chart would give you a wealth of information of the functional anatomy of the shoulder. Fitness exercise could strength the shoulder muscles. But Remember warm up the muscles – Five to ten minutes activities, such as jogging or walking could prevent you from hurting the muscles.

 

[1] “Physical Therapists provide relief from your shoulder dysfunction” Newspapers. http://bit.ly/17yu8DS

[2] “New approach for shoulder replacement” Newspapers. http://bit.ly/15OTwba

The Anatomical Development of Type 2 Diabetes in Children

Studies released in the last few months have shown that diabetes is increasing among children, both in the United States and worldwide. What’s even more shocking is that Type 2 diabetes among children has dramatically increased. Until recently, only about 2% of diabetes diagnoses in children were for Type 2 diabetes mellitus[1]. Now, some medical statistics suggest about 50% of the new cases of diabetes in children are Type 2.

Medical researchers are still working to find out the causes behind this recent epidemic. Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for years in some children, possibly because it was once so rare. However, studies have pointed to some patterns in child development they notice in Type 2 diabetes patients ages 10-19. They include:

Human anatomy poster of type 2 diabetes

Understanding Type 2 Diabetes Anatomical Chart

Insulin resistance: At onset, the body might recognize the increase in blood sugar and the need to control it by increasing insulin production[2]. Over time, though, the body becomes insulin resistant. Endocrinologists are still trying to understand the reasons, but one may be due to the onset of puberty. As growth hormones increase, youth with a predisposition to diabetes show greater insulin resistance[1].

Weight problems: About 85% of children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in recent years are also overweight or obese[1].

Skin problems: Many new child patients of Type 2 diabetes showed signs of acanthosis nigricans, when dark, thick skin develops around the patient’s neck.

Women’s health: Young women with Type 2 diabetes tended to have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is an endocrine system medical condition affecting ovulation among other things. Infrequent periods or amenorrhea may also be present, although this may be as a result of being overweight. Other medical problems associated with young women with Type 2 diabetes include vaginal yeast infection, increased acne and excess hair[2].

Ketoacidosis: Some child patients of Type 2 diabetes face this complication in their blood[1]. When insulin deficiency is inherent in the human body, the body instead burns fatty acids, building up the level of acid in the human blood and causing sickness.

Cardiovascular complications: Children with Type 2 diabetes may exhibit abnormal cholesterol levels or high blood pressure. As with diabetes in adult patients, children with Type 2 have an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Eye health: A symptom reported in youth with Type 2 includes blurred vision[2]. Although this rarely affects Type 2 patients as children, in the long run, Type 2 diabetes has severe implications for eye problems. Chronic high blood sugar over the years can lead to bleeding of the eye, vision loss, or glaucoma.

Other medical conditions: Hypertension is another disorder associated with Type 2

Type 2 Diabetes Anatomy Model from GPI anatomicals

diabetes mellitus in kids. Other anatomical conditions include: glycosuria (expulsion of glucose through the urine), dislipidemia (lipid disorders)[1], frequent infections, and slow healing of wounds and sores[2].

Implications in Medical Education

The alarming rate of Type 2 diabetes in children in the present day should induce increased education of controlling this medical condition, both in terms of patient education and healthcare educations of medical students and nursing students.

Since Metformin, the drug typically used to control Type 2 diabetes in adults, has not been shown to work well in child patients to accomplish glycemic control[3], pediatricians and other healthcare professionals need to promote exercise, and specific types of exercise, to diabetic children. Educators need to act as a model and promote healthier eating choices, so that the developing bodies do not have to work as hard at controlling blood sugar.

In medical schools and nursing schools, the increase in Type 2 diabetes among young people means that there needs to be a greater awareness of changes in endocrinology that may lead to early onset of Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, there needs to be more time devoted to educating the causes of Type 2 diabetes, including weight management and nutrition.


[1]Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Adolescents.” American Diabetes Association

[2]Overview of Diabetes in Children and Adolescents.” National Diabetes Education Program

6 Favors You Can Do for Your Amazing Brain

We don’t need to tell you over and over again the keys to a healthy lifestyle. You already know that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, exercising a couple times a week, sleeping good hours and stressing less are going to help you go far in life. In the case of your amazing brain, these healthy practices will certainly be a favor for the most important body part in the human anatomy:

The brain anatomy and how exercise helps to strengthen it

But what if you want to go beyond the basics? Wouldn’t you like to do as much as you can to preserve the condition of your brain’s health for the rest of your life? Here is what we’ve learned from medical research that may help your brain’s anatomy:

To learn more about your amazing brain, see our brain anatomy models and medical charts! They’re an extra 10% off until March 18th, when you enter code BRAIN10 at checkout.

Brain medical education products at Anatomy Warehouse

Flu shots and influenza prevention in January

Happy new year to all our anatomy blog readers! We hope you’re starting the new year in good spirit and with good fortune and health. And while we speak of good health, might we recommend getting a flu shot if you already haven’t? A common misconception is that January is too late to get a flu shot, but the reality is that the flu virus is still alive and kicking throughout the holidays, and you may be even more likely to catch the flu during the peak of flu season, in January or February, than during other months!

The influenza virus mutates into different forms all the time, and that’s why flu shots taken in previous years become increasingly less useful to the patient. A quick and obvious fix to that is to get a flu shot from your local physician. If you have health insurance, contact your provider to see if a flu shot will be covered. And if not, there are always cheap resources to gain access to a flu shot. Many pharmacies offer flu shots with special payment plans.

But what if you absolutely cannot get to a health center to get your vaccine? What if you have had adverse reactions to vaccinations in the past, and you’d like to prevent influenza some other way? Although there is never a 100% guarantee that you will be able to prevent the flu or flu-like symptoms such as a cold, there are some easy health practices you can adopt to make it unlikely that you will get the flu this season.

1. Wash your hands…wash them! Believe it or not, 80% of infectious diseases are spread through touching. The bacteria and viruses leading to the flu and flu-like symptoms can be everywhere–on desks, doorknobs, and even on your clothes! Be strict about washing your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and after doing tasks that may involve you touching many objects.
2. Don’t touch your face You may do this habit without hardly even thinking about it, but when your hands touch an object with contaminants, and then it touches your face, your risk of getting the flu is much higher than before. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are all germ entrance zones into your body, and it’s worth it to train yourself not to touch these focal areas, especially during the flu season.
3. Keep your house and workspace clean Even if you and the humans you’re normally around are not sick, there are many ways germs can travel to your furniture and carpet and stay there, waiting for someone to infect. Use a disinfectant cleaner regularly at home and the places where you work or study.As you can see, cleanliness is a big deal in flu prevention, and it pays to be careful with your hygiene this time of the year. Doing these tasks may not seem like a big priority for those with busy lifestyles, but it’s worth it in the long run, as sick time in bed is much more costly in your life. Lastly, don’t forget to follow standard health care practices–eating a balanced diet, sleeping normal hours, keeping stress to a minimum, and exercising–as these will keep your immune system up and running.

 

For more information about the flu, see our Understanding Influenza Anatomical Chart.

anatomical chart for understanding the flu virus

This anatomical chart shows ways to prevent the flu, what to do when you have the flu, and common questions and answers patients have including the difference between a cold and a flu.