Archive for category Health and wellness

Most Californians Don’t Know What a Water District is; as the drought gets worse they soon will.

Winter months are when California gets the majority of rainfall it needs to replenish the state’s water supply. That hasn’t happened this year. Both the State Water Project Resources and Colorado River Resources are reporting record low numbers of water for this current rain season. And there’s little hope of catching up as this rain season is coming to an end. The Northern Sierra Snowpack is at 4.30 inches, only 19 percent of what it should be.

State statsIt would be hard to find a climatologist or research scientist who would claim this drought is going away any time soon. According to recent studies published by Scientist at Stanford University, this drought will be around for a while and will get worse.

It’s not just a matter of no rain. Something else is happening in California that is not causing the drought, but will certainly contribute to it, and that’s the state’s increasing population.  The State of California already has the highest population of all western states and it’s increasing at a steady rate. According to California’s State Department of Finance the state’s population will increase in fifteen years by 14 percent to an estimated 44 million people. This increase in population will mean an even higher demand on an already dwindling water supply.

garden GraphicIf you did a poll and asked Californians what a water district is most wouldn’t know. But that’s about to change real fast. These agencies will soon be featured on evening news reports and documentaries. Many Californians will soon begin contacting or even protesting water districts.

A simple definition of a water district is a municipal organization that provides water to customers in a service area. With the exception of rain, water districts supply all water used in cities, on farms, in manufacturing, and water for residential use. This is why water districts may not have much significance to Californians now but they soon will; these are the agencies that control water and as that water becomes scarcer, these agencies will become more important to Californians.

car wash graphicAs the current drought situation worsens, and that’s inevitable, Californians are sure to be faced with things like statewide mandatory water conservation. If mandatory conservation doesn’t work these water districts, the municipal organizations that have jurisdiction over all water use, will have no choice but to start rationing water. This could mean that when Californians uses their rationed amount of water; they’ll turn on a facet and see nothing. Once this happens many will be forced to purchase bottled water for personal consumption, cooking, personal hygiene, even flushing a toilet. They’ll also be paying a premium price for that bottled water.

This scenario may sound like a script from a movie but the truth is; it could start happening very soon. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is already considering water rationing by the summer unless conditions improve. A recent Op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times calls for state wide water rationing because Californians have about one year of water left.

 

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A Matter of Circumstances; giving spare change may not help the homeless

defAccording to the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the federal definition homelessness is a person who sleeps in a place not meant for human habitation. This includes people who sleep on the streets, in a car, in a park, and also includes people sleeping in emergency shelters and transitional housing. In an effort to identify the severity of homelessness and determine the amount of federal funds needed to address this issue, HUD compiles statistics each year to prepare a report for Congress. The latest report determined in January 2014, there were 578,424 people experiencing homelessness on a given night. Most (69 percent) were staying in residential programs for homeless people, and the rest (31 percent) were found in unsheltered locations. Nearly one-quarter of all homeless people were children under the age of 18 (23 percent or 135,701). These statistics also include 49,933 homeless veterans who served in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Homelessness in the United States is a complex problem with a wide range of causes. These causes include mental health issues, loss of employment, fleeing from domestic abuse, addiction, returning military veterans, and victims of natural disasters. Regardless of cause, those who are homeless suffer one of two different situations: chronically homeless and temporary homelessness.
faceChronically homeless is defined by HUD as a person who has been homeless for twelve consecutive months or has had four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. The majority of these people have become chronically homeless because of a disabling condition. HUD defines a disabling condition as a diagnosable substance abuse disorder, a serious mental illness, developmental disability, or chronic physical illness or disability, including the co-occurrence of two or more of these conditions. In addition, a disabling condition limits an individual’s ability to work or perform one or more activities of daily living. Many chronically homeless individuals either don’t have the resources to bath, or because of a mental health issue, are not concerned about hygiene. Due to their appearance the chronically homeless have become the face of homelessness in the United States.
graphicTemporary homelessness is an episode of homelessness that doesn’t last more than twelve consecutive months. HUD defines an episode of homelessness as a separate, distinct, and sustained stay on the streets and/or in a homeless emergency shelter. These are people who have suffered some type of setback or tragic event like loss of employment, foreclosure, loss of a loved one, or a medical condition that has depleted all their funds and could no longer pay rent or buy food. One of the toughest challenges for this homeless population is making every attempt to not look homeless. They must make extra efforts to do laundry, practice good hygiene, and maintain a presentable appearance. This includes bathing in a restroom sink at a library or gas station to prepare for job interviews or other important appointments. If they are successful in these attempts individuals experiencing temporary homelessness to do appear to be homeless.

Current statistics published by HUD indicate some progress has been made in America’s attempt to address homeless causes and issues. Chronic homelessness among individuals declined by 3 percent (or 2,164) over the past year, and by 30 percent (or 36,197) between 2007 and 2014. Homelessness among veterans declined by 33 percent (or 24,117) between 2009 and 2014
subThere is something you can do to help the homeless in your area and it may sound strange; do not give money to homeless people who are panhandling. If you want to help you might be doing more good by volunteering or making a contribution to an organization in your city that serves homeless populations.

Not giving money to homeless individuals may seem like a lack of compassion, but addiction is a leading cause of homelessness. Giving money, even spare change, could actually be causing more harm than good. If that individual you gave money to is suffering with addiction issues chances are the money you gave could go toward the purchase of drugs or alcohol and not food. Also if you engaged in dialogue with an individual suffering from a mental health issue, there is a possibility their behavior could be unpredictable and could put you at risk.
childrenYou may think charitable acts of giving money to homeless individuals are good intentions that help reduce the problems that confront them, but this may not be the case. Assisting an organization that serves homeless populations is a much more effective and safer way you can help. People who work at social service agencies are case managers, social workers, nurses, and doctors who deal with homelessness on a daily basis. They’re aware of the causes, issues, and challenges of homeless individuals and families. They know what issues are the most acute, and know how to deal with unpredictable behavior that might be the result of a mental health issue.

When you volunteer or make a contribution to a social service agency you’re getting more bang for your buck. This will accomplish more than just giving money to homeless who solicit in public places.  Your efforts will increase the resources trained professionals need to effectively identify causes and help homeless individuals and families with food, programs, and resources.

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In Plain Sight

ht3Victims of human trafficking are not always easy to identify. It is very possible you may have seen one cleaning tables in a restaurant, on a subway, or at a stop light. This is an issue that doesn’t get as much media attention as other topics, but human trafficking involves 800,000 victims worldwide each year. This includes many victims here in the United States, most are women and children.

Trafficking generates a profit of 32 billion dollars each year and is defined by an exploitation which comes in many forms. Only 19% of all trafficking involves labor exploitation. The most common form of exploitation is sexual.

The most common form of exploitation is sexual. Some runaway children will become sex workers at early as 12 years old.

The most common form of exploitation is sexual. Some runaway children will become sex workers at early as 12 years old.

According to the U S State Department, 80% of all trafficking involves sexual exploitation. This includes forcing victims into prostitution, sexual slavery, and forcing victims to commit sex acts to create pornography. Over 70% of trafficking victims in the United States are women and half are children.

In the United States the average teen will enter the sex trade industry between the ages of 12 to 14 years old. Many of these victims are runaway girls who have fled from sexual abuse. According to UNICEF the United States is considered a top destination for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. States; anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises.

There are ways to identify a trafficking victim. If you encounter a child or adult that is not sure of their whereabouts, exhibits fear or anxious behavior, or has inconsistencies in their story, these are conditions consistent with a trafficking victim. This person may also have unexplained injuries. If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 1-888-373-7888

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Change your thoughts; change your life

Attitude and behaviors are two things that can determine success or failure, both are influenced by memories.    

 

According to Dr Norman Doidge, “The discovery of neuroplasticity, that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains, even into old age, is the most important breakthrough in our understanding of the brain in four hundred years.”

According to Dr Norman Doidge, “The discovery of neuroplasticity, that our thoughts can change the structure and function of our brains, even into old age, is the most important breakthrough in our understanding of the brain in four hundred years.”

We’re going to be hearing a lot more about rewiring your brain in the near future. Research done by neuroscientist has yielded some very interesting findings. According to a recent article in New Yorker magazine, attitude and behaviors are two things that make you successful in whatever you set out to do. It turns out attitude and behaviors are formed by your memories, both good and bad.

In a similar article on the INC.com website, your memory is not like to video playback which is most commonly presumed, but more like a video editing process. We have the ability to diminish bad memories by changing details if we remember them to be small and insignificant. For good memories we do the same thing in reverse; exaggerate good memories by focusing on the good outcomes from that incident.

Harvard University researchers conducted studies at Massachusetts General Hospital to see what effect meditation had on the brain. Results from using magnet-imaging have shown individuals who mediated for an eight-week period dramatically strengthen the brain structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. This supports the theory that you can modify your brain.

The term “thoughts are things” may have more credence that just an old adage. Negative and positive thoughts and memories directly affect how we perceive our world and how we react to situations but they are not equal. Unfortunately the negative is three times stronger that the positive. This is called the negative bias. As a result of a survival instinct left over from our hunter gatherer days, we are wired to focus more on the negative. But in our modern-day world, the negative can hold us back and limit us from achieving real success and potential.

 

The brain produces electrical signals, which, together with chemical reactions, let the parts of the body communicate. Nerves send these signals throughout the body.

The brain produces electrical signals, which, together with chemical reactions, let the parts of the body communicate. Nerves send these signals throughout the body.

Selective memory and just recalling good memories is not going to help remedy the situation, it is important to get to the source and modify the bad memories so they will have less of an impact. When you recall these bad memories, imagine them smaller and change the details of the incident so that memory no longer gives you bad feelings. If you learned or gained something from a bad experience focus on what you took away and not how bad the incident was. When we recall good memories relive them attentively by paying attention to every detail. Go to that place in your mind during that incident by recalling the great feelings you felt during that time. Nothing worth having is easy to come by. This is going to involve some effort to change your thinking so don’t get discouraged and keep trying.

Can you climb a mountain? What was your first thought after reading this question? Was it a list of reasons why you can’t climb a mountain? If so, you really need to change your thinking about yourself and your abilities. Now if I repeated that same question instead of thinking why you can’t, try thinking about how you can. And also try removing these two words from your vocabulary; “should have”.

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Super foods are not just a cliche.

 

Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body's detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale's glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level.

Evidence has shown that Kale helps to clean and detoxify your body. Kale also helps to reduce the risk of five different types of cancers.

If the term “you are what you eat” is true, a new and improved you is definitely possible.

The term “Super Foods” needs some clarification. It sounds like some type of natural elixir that can bring you vitality and good health. Actually that’s no exaggeration, according to the website WebMD that’s exactly what super foods do. For an item to be considered a super food it must be natural and unprocessed, nutritionally dense with plenty of vitamins and minerals, and also can help to reduce the risk of illness with no side effects.

Some of the qualities that put super foods in a category of their own: they are whole foods in their natural form that have ability to help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of both heart disease and cancer, stop inflammation, and put you in a better mood. These super foods can also help fight diabetes and hypertension. WebMD also states that super foods are actually life altering. Keep in mind we’re talking about food items and not prescription medication.

 

There is new evidence that suggest Blueberries may help the nervous system and brain health. Blueberries may also help to improve memory.

There is new evidence that suggest Blueberries may help the nervous system and brain health. Blueberries may also help to improve memory.

These items are relatively inexpressive compared to processed foods, especially when you consider the nutritional content. You are not going to find naturally occurring antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory agents in soda pop, candy, or potato chips. Here are some examples of the most popular super foods: Blueberries, Beans, Broccoli, Oatmeal, Kale, Salmon, Yogurt, Walnuts and Pistachios, Tomatoes, Spinach, Turkey, Green Tea, Oranges, Garlic, and Pumpkin.

Let’s be honest, there are motives here; the goal of this article is to get you to stop eating junk food start eating healthy. This is easier said than done, but is possible. You may want to make small changes over a period of time. Modifying behaviors gradually can help to change your perception of what is normal and over a period of time eating healthy will be effortless. It’s a matter of making choices; start out by making one or two choices to get healthy and build on that. For some individuals this may be easier and more effective than a “cold turkey” method of change.

 

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Water; our new liquid gold

 

According to the United States Geological Survey a bathroom faucet that drips one drop of water per minute will waste 104 gallons of water per year

According to the United States Geological Survey a bathroom faucet that drips one drop of water per minute will waste 104 gallons of water per year

Water conservation is our new reality and we have no choice. Prior to California’s drought saving H2O was a green thing. It’s still a green thing but that green now stands for money. Here is a sobering fact that may bring things into perspective; according to the website quench.com, on a global scale only 1% of this planet’s water is drinkable. Of course we can clean and filter water through technology and nature, but we cannot replenish water at the rate we are consuming it.

Now to bring this closer to home, we here in California are facing a serious situation when it comes to water and this is something we must come to terms with soon. When you conserve water you do your part to respect the environment. That’s all very nice but the hardcore truth is you can either start to conserve water or start paying even more of your hard-earned money. Money is a great motivator so keep in mind, when you conserve water

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American Family consumes over 300 gallons of water a day. And that’s just for indoor use. About 30% of water consumed in America is for outdoor use. To break it down on an individual basis, the average person in America uses about 70 gallons a day. Here are some tips that could help you to cut down on an amount of water you consume in the course of a day that just might help you to save money:

  • Don’t let the water run while you brush your teeth. Just get the toothbrush wet then shut the water off. Then put it back on to rinse.
  • When shaving, fill the sink with water and swirl the razor in the water to rinse it.
  • Take a military shower, the water runs no longer than three minutes and that’s it. Yes this is possible; ask anyone who has served in the military.
  • When taking a bath do not let the water run until it reaches the desired temperature and then close the drain. Close the drain off first then get to the correct temperature while the water is running. And unless you’re a hippopotamus, you can use less water to take a bath.
  • Wait until you have a full load until you do the laundry.
  • Be diligent about looking for dripping faucets or leaks in the bathroom
  • When doing dishes, soak pots and pans in hot soapy water before washing them. This will also make it a lot easier to clean the stuck on food residue.

We have just scratched the surface of this issue. Unless California sees a lot of rain, enough to get Noah scrambling for wood, this problem is not gonna go away anytime soon. This is now a part of our new reality and we have no choice but to conform. Here is the best way to conserve water; every time you hear water running, just imagine your bank balance decreasing at an accelerated rate, because that is exactly what is happening.

 

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Homeless in America; we can fix this

The National Alliance to End Homelessness claims on any night in the United States 640,000 people experience homelessness. To better understand “Homeless” we must first define the term. That is not an easy task because homelessness is a complicated issue. Certain criteria must be met for a person to be considered homeless. To best define the term in simple words, homelessness means an individual or family must sleep in a structure not suitable for human habitation, such as cars, sidewalks, parks or abandoned buildings. This also includes individuals who are scheduled to be released from an intuition, treatment program, or hospital within 30 days and no plan for housing in place. This definition is brief at best. For a more information you can go to the US Department of Health and Human Services website.

Do these people look homeless? Actually some of them may be. A segment of America's homeless population are facing the challenge of not looking homeless

Do these people look homeless? Actually some of them may be. A growing segment of America’s homeless population are must face the challenge of not looking homeless while searching for employment.

We can’t talk about the topic of homelessness without first mentioning the Homeless American Veteran. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development reports close to 60,000 veterans are homeless. Nearly half of them served in Vietnam. Many other homeless veterans have served in World War II, the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military’s anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. At this point in time, younger homeless veterans make up about eight per cent of the homeless veteran population, but that number is increasing.

There are several circumstances that cause homelessness, but those who become homeless fall into one of two categories; transitional and chronic. It’s estimated that the chronically homeless make up the largest portion of America’s homeless population. The majority of these individuals surfer from some type of mental health issue. Mental health also includes addiction.

Those who are transitional homeless are currently experiencing homelessness for the first time and make up smaller number of America’s homeless. On average, they can regain some type of suitable housing within 12 to 18 months. One of their biggest challenges is trying to not look homeless. It is typical for them to bathe in public restrooms to prepare for appointments and job interviews. This segment of America’s homeless population has the ability to be retrained and acquire marketable skills.

Homeless graphWhile those who are transitional homeless make every attempt to not look homeless, those who are chronically homeless are highly visible on American streets and present with the biggest challenge in attempting to overcome homelessness. These individuals need additional resources that would include some form of treatment to address issues that made them homeless. It is important that our society address the issue of the chronically homeless, but if we also turn attention to the transitional homeless with a different goal in mind, we could reduce homeless statistics and better improve America’s standing in the world in manufacturing and technology.

Children homelessThere is no doubt the United States needs to retrain its workforce. Once a world leader in manufacturing, America now trails behind several other countries. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that America imports more than it exports. America needs to develop and manufacture products the world needs and we have the potential to do that.

Here is just one example of an opportunity the United States has to increase manufacturing and technology within its own borders; Rare Earth Metals are used for making anything electronic from cell phones to TVs. The continental United States has about 14 rare earth mines, some of the largest deposits of rare earth metals in the world are right here. Once we mine rare earth metals, the United States has to ship them to China to be manufactured because we don’t know how. Yet we have so many people who have the ability and desperately want to be retrained and gain long-term employment.

Shelter useAddressing the Homeless issue in America will require more than a quick fix because it is a complicated issue. However, it is possible to significantly reduce homeless statistics in general if we create resources for those who have the ability to be retained. We can’t expect the government to do all of the work; we must also look to American corporations to institute programs, maybe even with tax incentives, which will hire and re-train the American worker. “Investing in America” is not just a cliché. It appears we have not been doing that lately and look where we are.

This proposal of identifying the employable segment of our population and retraining them with marketable skills is not a new concept; America has done this before with a high degree of success. We must look at our history and examine those programs that did work to re-employ people, update them and make them adoptable to the needs of a modern-day economy, and reinstitute them. When we Americans reduce our homeless population, we will strengthen our middle class and enhance our own sustainably.

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Its ok, you won’t offend them; never avoid someone who is disabled

Often people who have no prior experience dealing with a disabled person will feel awkward or even afraid to communicate with them for fear of saying or doing something that could be offensive. Rather than risk offending someone who is disabled, they may avoid or ignore that person. This is very understandable, but when you have a fear of communicating with those who are disabled, you could be closing the door to what could be a wonderful and beneficial friendship.

Here is something you need to keep in mind; just because a disabled person may have limited physical ability, that doesn’t limit their outlook, sense of humor, potential contribution, and level of intelligence. Friendships enhance the quality of our lives. Think of how you could be missing out by closing the door to someone who, even though they may not be able to run a marathon, could inspire and motivate you. Here are some simple guidelines to follow that will help you to overcome that fear and not be afraid to communicate who those who are disabled.

When you are speaking to someone who is hearing impaired and is using a sign language interpreter, speak directly to the person and not the interpreter. In fact, it is better to pretend the sign language interpreter is not even there. If you need to get the attention of someone with a hearing disability, it is ok to tap them on the shoulder or wave your hand to get their attention. Make sure that person can see your lips move, speak clearly, slowly and expressively. Remember, this person has to read your lips. Keep objects like food, silverware, or cigarettes away from your mouth when speaking to them.

Never shout or speak really loud to someone who is hearing impaired. If they are wearing a hearing aid, do not assume they can hear you clearly, still make sure they can see your lips. Even though they may be wearing a hearing aid, they may also depend on reading lips.

If you’re in a conversation with someone who has difficulty speaking or may shudder, you should patiently listen and do not interrupt to finish a sentence for them. You may want to ask short questions that require short answers. Even nodding your head is acceptable. Do not pretend that you understood what was said when you’re speaking with someone who has a speech impediment. It is preferred that you repeat what you understood and give the person a chance to clarify.

People with artificial limbs or limited hand use will not be offended if you offer to shake hands, so go ahead and offer when you are introduced. It is ok to shake the left hand if you have to. If you offer to give that person assistance, wait until they accept the offer. Then ask how you can help and wait for them to instruct you.

If the person is an adult, treat them like one. Nothing is more offensive than treating a disabled person like a child. Address a disabled person by their first names only when the situation is acceptable. If they introduce themselves by their first name, then you have the green light.

Do not under any circumstances patronize someone in a wheel chair by patting them on the head or shoulder. Never lead against, place your hand, or an item on someone’s wheel chair. Keep in mind that wheel chair should be treated like part of their body, because to them, it is. It is ok to place yourself at eye level when speaking to them.

When you meet someone who is visually impaired or blind, always identify yourself and anyone else in the group. When in a conversation with someone who is visually impaired it is important to identify who you are speaking to, but do that in a causal manner by saying the person’s name at some point in the sentence.

When speaking with someone who is disabled, it is natural to feel awkward, and guess what, so do they. Consider the dynamics of the encounter; you’re trying to be sure to not offend someone who is disabled, and they are trying to trying to cope in a non disabled world as best as they can. Keep in mind, by avoiding a disabled person for fear of offending them is far worse than not giving them a chance to function in a non disabled world. Go ahead, talk to them, any mistake you make will not offend them. Also, you will be surprised how quickly you get comfortable with the situation.

 

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Its a matter of change; 3 things we do that affect our health

Chioce Article Fig 1Three lifestyle activities we do everyday affect our health and the money we Americans must spend in health care dollars. If we were to change these behaviors, we could live longer healthier lives. Changing these activities would also have other far-reaching benefits; it would save money in health care dollars, which also help to reduce the national debt. We Americans spend more money for healthcare than any other country in the world.

It’s up to each individual to change these behaviors. By making these changes, Americans would begin a process that will improve and enhance the quality of their lives, and significantly improve the financial health of America. These three activities are part of a simple equation.

Smoking + Exercise + Nutrition = 50 percent of all deaths = 90 percent of the healthcare cost in the United States

The top three causes of death in the United States are Heart Disease, Cancer, and Lung Disease or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Each of these activities plays a major role in causing each of these diseases. Since these behaviors are a factor in the cause of diseases that kill us; changing these behaviors would yield results that could save both lives and money.

Smoking

English: A chest X-ray demonstrating severe CO...

Little explanation is needed for smoking and it plays a major role in all three of the top causes of death in the United States, it’s pretty obvious. According to the National Institutes of Health, Cigarette smoking causes about 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States each year. It’s the main preventable cause of death and illness in the United States. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, including the heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, mouth, reproductive organs, bones, bladder, and digestive organs.

Nutrition

Good nutrition is paramount for good health and well-being. Nutrition is also directly related to all three leading causes of death. According to the website healthypeople.gov, nutrition directly affects the development of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A healthful diet will keep people healthier and also help to manage health conditions so they do not worsen over time.

Exercise

Exercise can boost the immune system, which may help the body to respond to viruses, bacteria, and the onset of disease. Exercise helps to reduce High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Obesity and Diabetes, which are all factors in the development of illness that result in the leading causes of deaths. According to the National Institute of Health People who are active live longer and feel better. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can delay or prevent diabetes, some cancers and heart problems.

Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. Examples include walking briskly, mowing the lawn, dancing, swimming for recreation or bicycling. Stretching and weight training can also strengthen your body and improve your fitness level.

Causes of Death

According to 2011 statistics from the centers for Disease Control, Heart Disease was the leading cause of death that claimed 597,689 lives. Cancer came in second with 547,743 deaths. Chronic lower respiratory disease was third with 131,080 deaths. These three leading causes of death in the United States all have one thing in common; they can all be prevented by changing the three lifestyle activities mentioned earlier: Smoking, Exercise, and Nutrition.

How much money do we spend for health care?

Healthcare has a hefty price tag and that cost is rising significantly. The cost of healthcare in the United States neared $2.6 trillion in 2010, over ten times the $256 billion spent in 1980. According to a recent PBS article we spend $8,233 per person for healthcare in the United States each year. That’s almost three times more than other developed nations in the world like Britain, France, and Sweden. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product.

Making Modifications

Choice Fg 3It sounds simple but these activities are behaviors that can be difficult to change. Making changes can be difficult but not impossible. There is not one simple solution that can help every person change behaviors, but there is help.

We know about the dangers of smoking, and the benefits of quitting. But quitting smoking is no easy task because it is both a physical addiction and a pattern of behavior.  The Centers for Disease Control is a great place to start if you are thinking about kicking the smoking habit. Their website http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/ offers tips and information.

The American Cancer Society’s web site http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/quitting-smoking-help-for-cravings-and-tough-situations also gives information on how to deal with cravings for a cigarette during difficult situations.

Nutrition is more than a matter of choice. If eating right was just as easy as making a choice there would be no obesity. Truth is eating healthy foods becomes complicated when the demands of a busy schedule and cravings for sugar begin to play a role in making these choices. Sometimes making small changes can lead to healthy habits. The website http://www.nutrition.gov/whats-food offers good information to make informed choices about what you eat. Getting accurate information can help you to make better choices.

Some people seem to think you must wear athletic clothing or join a gym to get more exercise.  Well, than may help some people and that’s good, but there are simple things you can do in the course of your day-to-day life that can help you achieve your exercise goal. These things could include taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Park your car further from your destination so you can walk further. The Mayo Clinic website has some good information on the benefits of exercise. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676. There you will find out how exercise can also help to improve your mood and decrease depression.

 

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Depression; common among americans but when is it time to seek treatment?

depression“Nothing is ever going to get better. Why try to make a change, it won’t make a difference no matter how hard I try. Nothing is ever going to better not now not ever,” These feelings of hopelessness and despair are common symptoms of some forms of depression. One in four Americans suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Good news is; depression is an illness with a very high cure rate. The bad news is, according to the National Institute of Mental Health; few people who suffer from depression seek treatment.

Day to day life doesn’t always go as planned. Occasionally we have circumstances, events, or pitfalls that cause depression. Being depressed as a result of negative circumstances that occur in our lives is a natural human reaction. Under normal circumstances, people can recover from these events in a relatively short period of time. But there are other types of depression that are not a normal human response. When you feel depressed and that depression interferes with your activities of daily living, causes pain for you and those people in your life, it is possible that the depression is clinical and treatable. Depression is a common but serious illness, with a very high cure rate. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health there are several forms of depression that are categorized by type and severity;

  • Major depressive disorder, or major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Some people may experience only a single episode within their lifetime, but more often a person may have multiple episodes.
  • Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is characterized by long-term (2 years or longer) symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal functioning or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
  • Minor depression is characterized by having symptoms for 2 weeks or longer that do not meet full criteria for major depression. Without treatment, people with minor depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes—from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).

Some other forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, as the National Institute of Mental Health states, not everyone agrees on how to characterize and define these forms of depression. They include: Psychotic depression, which occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis. Postpartum depression, which some women experience after giving birth and is much more serious than the “baby blues”. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight.

There not a “cookie-cutter” pattern of symptoms for depression. Not everyone who suffers from depression may have the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness. According to the National Institute of Mental health, some of the common symptoms of depression can include.

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

Do you suffer from some form of depression?

According to the Mayo Clinic it is hard to determine what is normal and what is not. “Understanding what’s considered normal mental health can be tricky. Seeing how feelings, thoughts and behaviors determine mental health and how to recognize if you or a loved one needs help can be difficult.” There are many online tests for depression. But it is important to know that these are not a tool for a diagnosis. If you try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol you may feel better for a short time, but you’re not getting to the root of the problem. This could actually make matters worse, maybe even like throwing gasoline on a fire.

The first step to determine if you suffer from some form of depression is to identify that something is not right. And do not be ashamed to take that first step. It doesn’t mean that you have a problem that makes you not as good as others. Depression is a very common condition in our society. It takes courage to identify it. Often times even identifying or recognizing those hopeless feelings of despair can bring some relief. The second and most important step is talk to a health care professional about the feelings that you are experiencing. It is very important that you be very honest to that health care professional. In your description of feelings do not minimize of leave things out. That health care clinician is not there to judge you as a person. Not being totally honest and forthcoming with your healthcare professional could compromise the quality of health care you receive.

Medications used to treat Depression

There are many effective treatments that can help people effective manage depression. Depending on the severity, depression treatments can include medications, counseling, or both. According to the Mayo Clinic, A number of antidepressant medications are available to treat depression. There are several different types of antidepressants. Antidepressants are generally categorized by how they affect the naturally occurring chemicals in your brain to change your mood.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Many doctors start depression treatment by prescribing an SSRI. These medications are safer and generally cause fewer bothersome side effects than do other types of antidepressants. SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro). The most common side effects include decreased sexual desire and delayed orgasm. Other side effects may go away as your body adjusts to the medication. They can include digestive problems, restlessness, headache, and insomnia.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These medications include duloxetine (Cymbalta), venlafaxine (Effexor XR) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq). Side effects are similar to those caused by SSRIs. These medications can cause increased sweating, dry mouth, fast heart rate and constipation.
  • Nor epinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs).Bupropion (Wellbutrin) falls into this category. It’s one of the few antidepressants that doesn’t cause sexual side effects. At high doses, bupropion may increase your risk of having seizures.
  • Atypical antidepressants. These medications are called atypical because they don’t fit neatly into another antidepressant category. They include trazodone (Oleptro) and mirtazapine (Remeron). Both of these antidepressants are sedating and are usually taken in the evening. In some cases, one of these medications is added to other antidepressants to help with sleep. The newest medication in this class of drugs is vilazodone (Viibryd). Vilazodone has a low risk of sexual side effects. The most common side effects associated with vilazodone are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and insomnia.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants. These antidepressants have been used for years and are generally as effective as newer medications. But because they tend to have more numerous and more-severe side effects, a tricyclic antidepressant generally isn’t prescribed unless you’ve tried an SSRI first without an improvement in your depression. Side effects can include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, urinary retention, fast heartbeat and confusion. Tricyclic antidepressants are also known to cause weight gain.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs — such as tranylcypromine (Parnate) and phenelzine (Nardil) — are usually prescribed as a last resort, when other medications haven’t worked. That’s because MAOIs can have serious harmful side effects. They require a strict diet because of dangerous (or even deadly) interactions with foods, such as certain cheeses, pickles and wines, and some medications including decongestants. Selegiline (Emsam) is a newer MAOI that you stick on your skin as a patch rather than swallowing. It may cause fewer side effects than other MAOIs. These medications can’t be combined with SSRIs.
  • Other medication strategies. Your doctor may suggest other medications to treat your depression. These may include stimulants, mood-stabilizing medications, anti-anxiety medications or antipsychotic medications. In some cases, your doctor may recommend combining two or more antidepressants or other medications for better effect. This strategy is known as augmentation.

Finding the right medication can be a trial and error process. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so finding the perfect antidepressant medication or medications may take some time. You may not notice any change right away; some of these medications need some time to take full effect. It may also take time for your body to adjust to any side effects there may be. It is very important that you talk to your doctor about any side effects you may be experiencing and do not stop taking the medication, some medications can cause a withdrawal if you stop taking them abruptly.

If you suffer from Depression, you’re not alone.

The National Institute of Mental Health has some interesting statistics that bring it all into perspective. If you are now, or ever have suffered from depression in your lifetime, you’re not alone. They break down the statistic of depression by prevalence. These statistics may indicate a really important point. Not everyone who is depressed either recognizes it or gets treated. 16.5% of Americans have a lifetime prevalence of depression, and out of those people only 51% receive treatment. Out of all the people who receive treatment, only 19.5% receive adequate treatment for their depression.

How does this translate to you?

These Statistics offer some very valuable insights that could speak volumes about those who recognize they suffer from depression and do something about it. Not everyone in American suffers from depression, but if you do its nothing to be ashamed of. If you suffer from depression, have the ability to recognize it, the courage to admit it, and the self-respect to do something about it, according to statistics you’re doing better that most Americans who suffer from depression.

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