How Bipolar Disorder Can Affect Your Sleep

Getting the appropriate amount of sleep, along with maintaining a nutritious diet and exercising regularly are considered the three most important aspects to living a healthy lifestyle. For those living with bipolar disorder however, getting the right amount of sleep is both very important and a major challenge.

Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). While experiencing the manic or hypomanic phase of the illness, those with bipolar disorder can go on little or no sleep for lengthy periods of time.  Conversely, during the depression or low phase, individuals may require excessive amounts of sleep (up to 14 hours per day).

Bipolar disorder can affect sleep in many ways, including:

  • Insomnia – Insomnia includes not only difficulty falling asleep, but problems staying asleep or getting too little sleep.
  • Hypersomnia – A condition marked by over-sleeping, which is sometimes even more common than insomnia during periods of depression in bipolar disorder.
  • Delayed sleep phase syndrome – Delayed sleep phase syndrome is a circadian rhythm disturbance. It can be associated with depression.
  • Irregular sleep-wake schedule – When people with bipolar disorder have a lack of a sleep routine, the irregular cycle can greatly interfere with appropriate treatment of the disorder.
  • Nightmares, vivid dreams and night terrors – These may also affect people with bipolar disorder.

Disrupted sleep can aggravate a mood disorder so it’s important to address some of the issues that can affect sleep.  There are several ways a person with bipolar disorder can attempt to get regular sleep. These methods are known as sleep hygiene and can include:

  • Creating a schedule – Establishing a regular time to go to sleep and to wake up can be beneficial as it can reduce the changes in mood that accompany bipolar disorder.
  • Optimizing your bedroom – Try making the bedroom as comfortable as possible. This can include having the right kind of bedding and pillows as well as eliminating light, noise, and other distractions.
  • Limiting activities – The bedroom is a place reserved for sleeping. Try to limit other activities, such as watching TV or working on your laptop, in the bedroom.
  • Diet and exercise – Avoiding alcohol and caffeine use before bedtime as well as eating large meals can help improve sleep. It’s also a good idea to keep a few hours between exercise and bedtime.
  • Take time to relax – If you can, wind down before bedtime. Consider a warm bath, some pleasure reading, or meditating before turning off the lights.

Your doctor may also suggest light therapy, certain medications or sleep aides to help you improve your sleep patterns. To make an appointment with a mental health professional at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s outpatient Mental Health Center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Mental Health

Many people who were diagnosed with COVID-19 over the past year and a half have reported a variety of long-term symptoms.  The conditions that have received the most attention focus on either the physical effects of the virus, such as shortness of breath or fatigue or cognitive deficits, such as confusion or memory loss. For some, however, there are other lingering symptoms that can affect their mental health.

Recent research has concluded that nearly one person in five diagnosed with COVID-19 now also suffers some form of a mental health disorder. This can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Other patients may experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Patients experiencing PTSD typically have spent time in a hospital, more specifically in an intensive care unit, or were on a ventilator.

While it is difficult to determine is if these mental health symptoms emerge in patients as a result of neurological reaction to the virus or are due to the stresses of contracting the virus, it is important to raise awareness of the issue and provide resources to get these individuals the necessary help.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Post-COVID Care Center, located in our MediSys Hollis Tudors Center at 2001-16 Hollis Avenue, offers comprehensive range of services for those living with lingering effects of the virus, mental health services delivered by highly qualified psychiatrists. To make an appointment, please call 718-736-8204.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Jamaica Hospital Welcomes Dr. Ugochi Akoma

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center would like to introduce our community to Dr. Ugochi Akoma, our new Obstetric Gynecologist, specializing in Maternal Fetal Medicine.

Dr Akoma, who grew up in the South Bronx, earned her Bachelor and Doctor of Medicine degrees at Brown University. She returned to her Bronx roots to complete her residency at the Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  After completing her residency training, Dr. Akoma demonstrated her commitment to her caring for her community by dedicating five years of clinical service to treat thousands of underserved pregnant women in the Bronx.

During that time, Dr. Akoma encountered many high-risk patients facing challenges such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and infections in pregnancy. These experiences further inspired her goal to complete a fellowship in Maternal Fetal Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. There she acquired the necessary tools to provide her patients with an expertise in diagnosing and managing high risk pregnancy conditions.  

Dr. Akoma joined Jamaica Hospital earlier this year and her current title is Director of Perinatal Diagnostic Centers- Obstetric Ultrasound, and Director of Quality Improvement in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In addition to her training in the medical and surgical management of high-risk pregnancies, Dr. Akoma also specializes in the management of a broad range of high-risk complex medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia, multifetal pregnancy, cervical insufficiency, preterm birth, and placental previa.

 Dr Akoma is a first generation American who understands the health disparities many women in our community face due to reduced access to safe housing, healthy foods, education, and quality health care. Dr. Akoma recounts, “After attending the best Ivy League undergraduate and medical schools, and residency programs, and having been a witness to seeing the vast health inequities in my community, I made a personal commitment to come back home and work towards the goal of reducing maternal morbidity and mortality and adverse outcomes.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Akoma, please call Jamaica Hospital’s Women’s Health Center at 718-291-3276.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Do You Have Post-COVID Re-Entry Anxiety?

As more individuals across the United States are getting vaccinated, many of the places that were forced to close due to the pandemic are slowly beginning to re-open and other social distancing restrictions are being lifted.

For some, these are signs that the country is returning to a degree of “normalcy” and is reason for excitement. For others however, the lifting of these restraints can evoke feelings of uncertainty, stress, fear, and anxiety.

Those who are experiencing these emotions might be living with a condition referred to as “Re-Entry Anxiety”, which is characterized by the stress encountered while attempting to return to a normal lifestyle. Those who experience reentry anxiety may have feelings of uneasiness about returning to work or school, are uncomfortable at social gatherings regardless of the size, and avoid human contact such as handshakes or hugs.

Re-entry anxiety is not an uncommon condition. According to experts, nearly 50% of Americans admit to feeling anxious about resuming in-person interactions after it is acceptable to do so. The same research also concluded that those who were vaccinated expressed the same level of concerns as those who have not yet been vaccinated. History has also taught us that the number of people presenting with mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia or obsessive compulsive disorder tend to increase following public health crises, such as after the recent SARS and Ebola outbreaks.

There are a few things those dealing with re-entry anxiety can do to ease themselves back into social situations, these include:

  • Giving yourself permission to be anxious – Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings you may be having. Understand that your feelings are natural, normal, and shared by many.
  • Starting small –Rather than thrusting yourself into an overwhelming environment, start gradually with brief, one-on-one interactions with a trusted friend. Try going for a short walk or sitting at an outdoor café.

  • Confronting your fears – If you are feeling anxious about something, it is best to address the issue as soon as possible.   The longer you wait, the harder it will be to overcome it.

  • Creating a bucket-list – Think about the things you have missed that bring you the most happiness. Setting a goal to do these things once again can shift your focus from anxiety to optimism and joy. 
      
  • Buddy-up – If you know someone who has similar levels of anxiety, work through your anxieties together. You can support each other and provide the strength to get through the otherwise difficult re-entry process.

  • Focusing on the facts – By relying on trusted sources, such as the CDC and state and local health departments will help you make informed decisions about the best and safest course to reintegrate yourself into normal activities.

While some may find these tips helpful, it is important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to overcome re-entry anxiety. We all had different experiences that affected how we coped during the pandemic; therefore everyone may have different factors that determine their reentry process.

For some, reentry might require professional assistance. The good news is help is available. There are many individual or group therapy options available either in-person or via telemedicine. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s outpatient mental health center, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Parents – Know The Symptoms Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Every parent has experienced their children display difficult or defiant behavior at times. It is normal part of parenting.  Some children and teens, however, may exhibit these traits along with others including anger, irritability, and vindictiveness persistently and for a prolonged period of time.  These children may have a condition known as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD.

ODD is a type of behavioral disorder, mostly diagnosed in childhood. Those with ODD typically act uncooperative, defiant, and hostile toward their peers, parents, teachers, and other authority figures. According to the American Psychiatry Association, children diagnosed with ODD exhibit this pattern of behavior for a minimum of six months.

The cause of oppositional defiant disorder is still unknown, but likely involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Children with ODD are generally considered more troubling to others than they are to themselves. The disorder can impact their relationships with friends and family and affect their educational and social interactions.

Symptoms of ODD typically begin during pre-school years, but in some cases, they can develop later. They almost always occur before a child enters their early teen years. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize the difference between a strong-willed or emotional child and one with oppositional defiant disorder, as it is normal for children to exhibit oppositional behavior at certain stages of their development.

Typical symptoms of ODD include:

  • Anger and irritability – Those diagnosed with ODD are characterized as easily losing their temper, are frequently annoyed by others, and are often resentful.
  • Argumentative and defiant behavior – Children with ODD often argue with adults or authority figures, defy or refuse to comply with rules, and often blame others for their mistakes.

  • Vindictiveness – This is defined by repetitive acts of spitefulness or revenge. Children with ODD typically display vindictive behavior multiple times over a six-month period.

It is important for parents to understand that managing a child with ODD is not something you have to do alone.  Recognizing the symptoms and getting help from qualified professionals can be beneficial.

Speak to your pediatrician about recommending a child psychologist or a child psychiatrist with expertise in disruptive behavior problems. A mental health expert can coordinate a behavioral health treatment plan that includes developing learning skills to help build positive family interactions and manage problematic behaviors. Additional therapy, and possibly medications, may also be needed based on the severity of the disorder.

To make an appointment with a pediatric mental health professional, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

New Masking Guidelines For Those Fully Vaccinated

Millions of Americans have received their COVID vaccine, and those who are now fully vaccinated can begin to do many things that they could not do because of the pandemic.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued updated guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals, which included new rules for mask wearing.

Some of the new guidelines allow those who are fully vaccinated to:

  • Gather or conduct activities outdoors without wearing a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues. Wearing a mask at large events, such as parades, live performance or sporting event is still recommended.
  • Attend small indoor gatherings with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart. It is still recommended to avoid large indoor gatherings such as the mall or movie theatre.
  • Travel within the United States without needing to get tested or self-quarantine before or after your trip.

In addition, if you are fully vaccinated and have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

These new guidelines only apply to fully vaccinated individuals, which is defined as 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC is instructing unvaccinated people to wear a mask at all gatherings.

Vaccines remain the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you would like to make an appointment, to get vaccinated at Jamaica Hospital, please email us at covid@jhmc.org

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Facts About Aspirin Therapy

Daily aspirin therapy is sometimes recommended for people who are at risk for heart attacks or diagnosed with certain heart diseases. While this form of therapy is effective, it may not be the right form of treatment for everyone.

Taking occasional doses of aspirin is typically safe; however, daily use can lead to serious side effects.  This is why it is highly advised that you speak with your doctor to determine if this approach is best for you. Serious side effects of aspirin can include:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • A stroke resulting from a burst blood vessel
  • Allergic reactions

Recommendations for daily aspirin use may vary from person-to-person. Your doctor may recommend this regimen if you have:

  • Coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis
  • Had a heart attack
  • Had a transient ischemic attack or stroke
  • Had bypass surgery or a stent placement procedure

Your doctor may not recommend daily aspirin therapy if you:

  • Have a bleeding or clotting disorder
  • Have bleeding stomach ulcers
  • Have an aspirin intolerance
  • Drink alcohol regularly
  • Are undergoing certain medical or dental procedures

If you are considering daily aspirin therapy, you must consult your physician before you begin.  You should inform your doctor about any health conditions or risks you may have that will increase the chances of complications.  Provide a list of medications that you are taking, as some may contribute to drug interactions and adverse effects.  Based on the current condition of your health, your doctor will advise you as to whether or not daily aspirin therapy is right for you.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Understand Developmental Disabilities

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. During this month-long observance we look to raise awareness and educate the community on developmental disabilities.

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during a child’s developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Developmental disabilities occur among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Recent estimates in the United States show that about one in six, or about 17%, of children aged 3 through 17 years have one or more developmental disabilities, such as:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Hearing Loss
  • Vision impairment

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) most developmental disabilities are believed to be caused by a complex mix of factors including genetics; parental health and behaviors (such as smoking and drinking) during pregnancy; complications during birth; infections the mother might have during pregnancy or the baby might have very early in life; and exposure of the mother or child to high levels of environmental toxins, such as lead. For some developmental disabilities, such as fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

Diagnosing a developmental disability involves monitoring when children reach developmental milestones, such as when they first speak, crawl and walk and how they behave and learn. As a parent, you know your child best. If you feel your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, speak with your pediatrician and share your concerns because early intervention is vital in helping your child overcome barriers and lead a full life.

If you would like to make an appointment with a pediatrician at Jamaica Hospital, please call our Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What To Expect After You Receive Your Vaccine

Jamaica Hospital would like to provide our community with the facts about what to expect after getting the vaccine.

The most common side effect associated with the COVID vaccine is pain and swelling in your arm at the location of the injection site.

Other side effects reported by some include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

It is important to note that these side effects are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus. These symptoms typical go away in a few days, but they may affect your ability to participate in your daily activities while you experience them.

If you are experiencing pain, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen. It is not recommended that you take these medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects, because it is not known how these medications may impact how well the vaccine works.

Some tips to alleviate your symptoms include:

  • Apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the injection site
  • Use or exercise the arm that received the injection
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Dress lightly

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Should I Let My Child Play Sports During the COVID Pandemic?

As we slowly attempt to return to some degree of normalcy during the COVID pandemic, many activities are beginning to resume, this includes youth sports to be played. Depending on the state or region you live in, your children may now be able to participate in many of the activities that were placed on hold nearly a year ago.

As a parent, it is important to understand the potential risks before deciding to allow your children to play sports.  To help you make an informed decision, Jamaica Hospital is providing the following tips for your consideration:

  • Understand the current COVID-19 positivity rates in your community. Families who live in areas where there is a high or growing number of COVID cases will have an increased risk of contracting the virus. Parents can track positivity rates on their local department of health website.

  • Consider the sport that your child wants to play.  Certain sports, such as wrestling or basketball require players to be in closer proximity to one another. These sports pose an increased risk of exposure as do other sports where there is a high level of physical exertion and those that are played indoors.

  • Assess how much equipment or gear is shared among players.  Even though we know the primary way the virus is spread is from person to person, through droplets in the air, it is still possible to contract COVID by touching a contaminated surface.  For this reason, it is important to limit the use of shared equipment and make sure all gear is sanitized between uses. Never share water bottles.

  • Determine if your child’s team has the ability to socially distance while the players are not actively engaged.  Can the players be placed at the minimum required distance from one another while on the sideline or bench? Are there efforts to have them wear masks when not competing?

Other determining factors that can increase or reduce the risk of spreading the virus include the age of the athlete (older children tend to understand and comply better), the size of the team, the amount of travel required to play the sport and the number of spectators in attendance. By being knowledgeable of the situation you can reduce your child’s exposure and allow them to once again enjoy the sports they love to play.

If your child has any underlying health issues, it is important to speak to your doctor before allowing your child to play.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.