5 signs you should ask your doctor about depression

Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 @ 9:54 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 @ 9:54 AM

These 5 signs are solid indicators that you should talk to your doctor about depression 1. Your mind seems foggy and you have trouble concentrating 2. You feel irritated or angry over things you would normally shrug off 3. You have unexplained pain such as back pain or headaches 4. Your eating habits have changed, either an increase or decrease in appetite 5. You sleep too much or too little

A common perception of someone suffering from depression is a person who's sad and/or crying. Although you certainly may feel this way if you're depressed, the illness may also present itself in more subtle ways that you might not expect.

Depression is a very common illness, with about 16 million adults in the U.S. having at least one major episode of depression in the past year. Despite there being many different types of treatment available, about two-thirds of people with major depression never seek treatment

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Sometimes they think they'll "snap out of it" on their own or they may be too embarrassed to address the condition. But delaying treatment could have devastating effects in every area of your life, and at its worst, could result in suicide.

The following five signs are solid indicators that it could be time to talk to your doctor about depression. 

Your mind seems foggy.

If you have trouble concentrating or making decisions on an almost-daily basis, Health's website says, this could be a sign of depression. It can cause fuzzy, unfocused thinking that can affect your memory and ability to make good decisions. This could make you forget work deadlines as well as tasks you need to complete at home. At its most extreme, it could even lead you to engage in unhealthy, risky behavior.

You tend to get angry.

Although most people probably associate depression with sadness, it can also cause you to feel irritated or angry over things that you would normally shrug off. If you find yourself raging at little things at work and home, you may actually be depressed. This can be especially true of men, Reader's Digest says, who may find it more socially acceptable to express anger rather than sadness when they go through something such as divorce.

You have unexplained pain.

The Mayo Clinic says that unexplained pain such as back pain or headaches can sometimes be the first or only sign of depression. In fact, pain and depression can create a vicious cycle. If your depression is causing pain, this can make you further depressed, which increases your pain. In addition, depression-related pain that continues over time can create additional problems such as stress, low self-esteem and difficulty sleeping. Some forms of treatment can help with both pain and depression, while others treat only one condition, so you and your doctor can talk about what's best in your particular case.

Your eating habits have changed.

Depression can affect many aspects of your life, including your eating habits. Health says you may experience a loss of appetite as well as a decreased interest in food and cooking. It can also have the opposite effect, making you more likely to try to soothe yourself by binge eating on unhealthy food. In addition, if you normally eat a healthy diet but find yourself suddenly turning to junk food, you may want to talk to your doctor about depression.

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You sleep too much – or too little.

Crawling into bed and escaping into sleep is behavior that may be associated with depression, according to Health. You may find yourself wanting to stay in bed and also escaping into naps when you can during the day. Depression can also cause you to stay awake late at night as you toss, turn and worry. And like many symptoms of depression, sleeping too much or too little can create a vicious cycle. You can feel tired and sluggish from too much sleep, so you may feel even worse, which can make you likely to sleep more or have more trouble getting to sleep at night.

Getting help

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends the following tips for getting help:
  • Call 911, go to your local emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you're feeling suicidal.
  • If you think your condition is mild to moderate, make an appointment with your primary care physician.
  • If you think your condition is moderate to severe, make an appointment with a specialized doctor such as a psychiatrist.
  • Seek out community support groups, which can serve as valuable tools for help and to know you're not alone in suffering from depression. NAMI can help you find support in your area.

Women’s hands really are colder than men’s, scientists confirm

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 2:10 PM

Women's hands really are colder than men's, according to scientists. Researchers found women's hands are typically 2.8 degrees colder. Scientists guess think differences in body size, hormones and composition are the cause. Cold hands is not usually a medical issue, except for people with Reynaud's disease.

Ladies, raise a gloved hand if your hands feel as frozen as Elsa’s, especially in the winter.

Women’s hands generally are colder than men’s, and the old saying “cold hands, warm heart” may go a long way to explaining why.

Using thermal images, University of Utah researchers compared the hands of men and women, and found that women’s hands typically run 2.8 degrees Fahrenheit colder than men’s.

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Exposure to cold — whether it comes from taking a cold shower or a wintry walk outside — causes blood vessels in the hands and feet to contract, reducing blood flow there as the body seeks to protect the heart and other vital organs.

While this happens in men and women, the cold response is much quicker for women.

It’s still a bit of a mystery why, but scientists suggest that differences in body size, composition and hormones are the culprits.

Women have more body fat and less muscle than men. The fat protects the vital organs, including the uterus, but it also restricts blood flow to the extremities.

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Women also tend to lose heat faster from their skin because they’re generally smaller than men.

That explains why so many women are shivering in office cubicles next to their male co-workers wearing short sleeves.

For most women, having cold hands, though uncomfortable, isn’t cause for concern — unless it is a symptom of a medical condition known as Raynaud’s.

Raynaud’s disease causes fingers and toes to feel numb and cold in response to chilly temperatures or stress, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition causes small blood vessels that carry blood to the extremities to spasm and severely constrict, affecting blood flow. This can lead to tissue damage.

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Women are five times more likely than men to have Raynaud’s. Symptoms include: icy fingers or toes, skin color turning white or blue with exposure to cold or stress, and red with stinging pain after warming up.

There are two types of Raynaud’s — primary and secondary. The secondary type is caused by an underlying condition and is less common. The primary type is linked to family history.

Is feeding a cold a real thing? 5 winter health myths debunked

Published: Thursday, November 30, 2017 @ 4:05 PM

We separate fact from fiction with the following five winter health myths MYTH: Cold weather can make you get sick FACT: We're more likely to get sick in colder months because we're all cooped up together MYTH: You lose 90 percent of your body heat through your head FACT: You could cover up any other exposed body part and also feel warmer MYTH: You don't need sunscreen in the winter TRUTH: Up to 80 percent of the sun's rays can still penetrate the clouds MYTH: Feed a cold, starve a fever TRUTH: You need t

You've probably heard winter health myths for years and you may have even accepted some of them as fact.

From being told to bundle up, so you don't catch a cold to your neighbor swearing he got the flu from his flu shot, these myths make the rounds every winter.

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We separate fact from fiction with the following five winter health myths:

Stock photo

Cold weather can make you get sick.

Mom always warned you you'd get sick if you didn't bundle up before heading out in cold weather. Her advice wasn't exactly horrible, since you'll certainly be more comfortable and protected from frostbite. But cold by itself doesn't make you more likely to get sick, according to The Weather Channel. Most experts think we're more likely to get sick in colder months, but that's because we're all cooped up together, exchanging germs. Cold weather also dries out your nasal passages, reducing their ability to filter out infections. Despite evidence to the contrary, moms will probably keep warning their kids to bundle up. It's what they do.

You lose 90 percent of your body heat through your head.

Of all your body parts, your head is more likely to be exposed in cold weather. But that doesn't mean the myth about losing 90 percent of your body heat through your head is true, according to Business Insider. Sure, wearing a hat in cold weather will help you stay warm, but that's just because you're covering an exposed body part, not because there's anything special about your head. You could cover up any other exposed body part and also feel warmer.

You don't need sunscreen in the winter.

If you think you only need sunscreen in hotter weather, you've probably packed your lotion away by the time winter comes around. But even when the weather's overcast in the winter, up to 80 percent of the sun's rays can still penetrate the clouds, according to Reader's digest.

UVA rays are always present - even in winter - and they can damage the deeper layers of your skin, increasing your risk for skin cancer and causing premature aging of your skin. And if you're planning a ski trip, you should be even more careful. UV radiation increases with elevation, and snow reflects and intensifies sunlight. So whatever the season, wearing sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF is the safest way to go.

Feed a cold, starve a fever.

The origin of this myth may be rooted in antiquated beliefs about colds and fevers, according to CNN. It was once believed that your body literally became colder if you had a cold, so it needed to be "warmed up" with food. Fever was thought to need "cooling down" by not eating.

In reality, you need to eat whether you have a cold or a fever. Good, nutritious foods are important, but it's OK if your illness suppresses your appetite a little. Staying hydrated is most important, especially if you have a fever. You may need to replenish electrolytes, so sports drinks can be a good choice. Good ol' chicken soup will keep you hydrated while also helping to clear your nasal passages.

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The flu shot can give you the flu.

This isn't true, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC). Flu shots are made with either an inactive form of the virus or no flu virus at all. Neither type can give you the flu. You may have a sore arm after getting a flu shot and some people report having a low-grade fever and aches for a day or two, but it's not the flu.

On the other hand, you may still get the flu even if you've had a flu shot, but the odds of getting it are much lower and, if you do get the flu, the symptoms will likely be less severe.

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Yes, you can actually enjoy the holidays without gaining lbs. Here’s how

Published: Monday, December 04, 2017 @ 5:22 PM

Here are 12 tips for keeping holiday eating under control Plan ahead and bring a snack Be the slowest eater at the table Drink plenty of water Bring your own guilt-free dish to a party so you know there’s at least one you can splurge on Use a small plate so it looks full Remember, you can eat whatever you’d like, as long as it’s in moderation Ditch sweet drinks and consume alcohol in moderation, if at all Don’t hang out by the buffet table Keep the portion size in check Before going back for secon

During the Christmas season, it's way too easy to eat, drink and merry your way to holiday weight gain while visiting with loved ones.

A little puff pastry here, some spinach dip there - before you know it, you've overindulged. But it doesn't have to be that way. When it comes to maintaining your weight during the holidays, it's all about balance.

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Here are a few top tips to help you keep seasonal weight gain at bay, no matter what potlucks, dinners and cookie parties come your way.

Stay active

Keeping your body moving throughout the season can help you avoid extra pounds by burning off all those excess calories. Try taking family walks before or after a holiday meal, break out the Wii or visit a few holiday light displays around the Metro area that offer walking tours.

Snack smart

Skip all the chips, crackers, chocolate and cheese at the appetizer table, which can really rack up the calories. Focus on fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables instead. This can prevent you from eating excess sugar and refined flour, which can contribute to weight gain.

Add protein

Include a little protein whenever you snack or eat a holiday meal, which can make you feel more full and help stabilize your blood sugar.

Bring a healthy dish

Potlucks are often laden with decadent treats and can present a challenge if you're trying to avoid gaining weight. Try bringing along a few lighter dishes so you can fill your plate with healthier options.

Stick with water

Let's face it, you can easily drink a day's worth of calories at holiday get-togethers. Stick to water and save your calories for the good stuff. 

Keep it natural

Whenever possible, eat whole, unprocessed foods that look as close to their natural state as possible. Processed foods often contain ingredients that can encourage weight gain, like high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. 

(Getty file photo)(Tetra Images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF)

Avoid seconds (and thirds)

After you've enjoyed one plate of holiday food, sit back with a cup of hot tea and let your food settle. Don't rush back for seconds or thirds, which can really increase your overall calorie count.

Savor one dessert

Ah, the dessert table. It's everyone's favorite part of a Christmas feast, and everyone's worst weight-gain nightmare. Prevent yourself from over-indulging by picking out one delicious-looking treat and savoring every bite, instead of sampling a few.

Increase fiber

Fiber can make you feel fuller for a longer period of time, which can help you avoid overeating during the holiday season. Increase your fiber intake naturally by eating fiber-rich foods like fresh and dried fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Reduce stress

When you have long periods of unchecked stress, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that at high levels can increase your appetite. Not only that, but cortisol can cause you to crave fatty, sugary foods that might lead to unwanted weight gain. Reduce your seasonal stress by periodically drinking herbal tea, relaxing in a hot bath, meditating or listening to classical music. 

Watch your portions

Filling your plate with smaller portions enables to you enjoy your holiday meal without overeating. Take smaller portions of high-calorie foods like stuffing and casserole, and fill in the gap with high-protein or nutrient-rich foods like turkey and fresh fruit.

Get your zzz’s

Lack of sleep can lower your metabolism, which could cause you to burn calories more slowly. Ramp up your holiday calorie burn by getting a good night's sleep. 

How to drink smart during holidays without worrying about calories

Published: Monday, December 04, 2017 @ 2:13 PM

Safe Holiday Foods You Can Feed Your Dog

It’s party season, friends. Calories count, so count your calories.

Actually, don’t count every calorie unless you have a serious weight problem. In that case, it’s probably a good idea to count them all. For everyone else, at holiday get-together time, vigilant calorie-counting is the death of fun. A general awareness, though — that’s just smart partying.

We’ll get to wine calories soon enough here — because you’re going to be drinking some wine this month — but first let’s address your attitude going into this glorious party season. We know what happens. You eat and drink fairly sensibly most of the year, and then you take your eye off the prize for a few weeks and, as the saying goes, the wheels fall off the truck.

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I can think of two approaches here, and the first one is: Go at it with your mind. Develop a strategy. Give up a few things here and there outside of the party sphere. Reining yourself in at a party is a lot more confining that reining yourself in at lunch during a busy workday. You won’t even remember the healthy salad and extra 16 ounces of water you consumed on an anonymous Tuesday — but the memories of the wine and fellowship you shared at a holiday party might stick with you for years.

Don’t think of your prepping as “dieting” so much as “training.” Deprive yourself where indulgence vs. discipline is not that big of a divide (i.e., in the routine days leading up to your parties), and it will make those celebratory sips feel earned and all the more satisfying. The recommended normal consumption of wine is two glasses a day for men, and one glass for women. Fine. But come on, now, we’re talking about a party — you’re just getting started at two glasses. Just keep reminding yourself that it is indeed a party and not a Roman orgy, and maybe you don’t need a second dessert to go with your glass of tawny port. Maybe the wine is enough. Ask yourself what you would rather have, if the calories matched up: a couple of scoops of buffalo chicken-blue cheese dip or an extra glass of pinot noir?

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As someone told you when you were a child, life is all about choices. Don’t give up everything — just some things. It’s hard, I know. I’m not suggesting that trading a few meat lover’s subs for salads will transform your body. I’m just encouraging you to get your mind in the right space as the holiday season approaches. Put some calories in the bank, via self-deprivation, and then when the time comes to enjoy yourself, don’t sweat every delicious wine calorie.

This brings us to the second approach: Go at it with your gut. Tell yourself that it’s a party, and it’s the holidays, and you’re seeing old friends and family, and life is short. Maybe you don’t hold back as much on the things you like: the dips, the desserts. Maybe you live in the moment and then ready yourself for the reckoning. Promise yourself — really promise — that you’ll do damage-control when the season comes to an end, either through reduced calorie intake or increased exercise. It’s hard, I’ll say it again. But we do it for the wine, friends. As someone also told you when you were a child, everything worth doing takes effort.

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Both approaches reassure your commitment to enjoying wine not only in your daily life but also on special occasions like holiday parties. There’s a distinction there. It’s not just about “having” wine on a special occasion — it’s about really enjoying it and maybe allowing yourself to enjoy a little more of it. You could call this the Live And Let Live approach. The Now or Never approach. The Get Up and Do Something About It if You Gain a Few Pounds approach.

OK, now, there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you’re getting into — what you’re up against. So here are a few tips on weight-smart wine consuming. No matter which approach you take — relying on your head or your gut — consider that wine calories come from alcohol content. The higher the alcohol percentage, the more calories you’re ingesting.

Obviously, serving-size matters too. A standard 5-ounce pour of dry table wine, either red or white, at about 12 percent alcohol, is going to come in at around 125 calories, give or take. A dessert wine could be double that, but not necessarily because it’s sweet, although that does play in a little bit. The higher calories in many dessert wines come from their higher alcohol content (some hovering around 20 percent). Then again, we usually pour smaller portions of those wines, so at 2 ounces, your glass of port would be close in calories to your 5-ounce glass of red or white. Generally, warmer climates produce higher-alcohol wines, and New World wines are more potent than their Old World counterparts. Those are just guidelines, not guarantees by any means.

You’ve probably already decided that your approach is going to take cues from both your head and your gut. I like that. I like feeling out a situation and not letting either extreme win the night. It’s party season. Let it flow, but not just for the sake of letting it flow. We drink wine all year long. If we’re going to do it right during party season, let’s really do it. Let’s try something new or arrive with a special bottle to share.

And when it comes time to make those choices, look around, do the math and remind yourself, as I often do, of the wisdom my brother-in-law The Dinger used to love to impart (even if Oscar Wilde or someone before him said it first): “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”