Information About Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that makes you feel constant sadness or lack of interest in life.  It can affect how a person feels, thinks and behaves. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Those living with depression have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes may feel as if life isn’t worth living.

While everyone experiences feelings of sadness at some point in their life, those with clinical depression have prolonged periods of feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless. These feelings are not always tied to a specific incident and can last for many days to weeks. Depression can occur in children, adolescents and adults. Although someone can experience depression only once in their life, most who suffer with depression experience recurring episodes.

Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Some people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.

There is no known singular cause for depression. Instead, health professionals point to a combination of contributing factors including a person’s brain structure and chemistry. Hormone and genetics are also believed to play a role.

Help is available for those with depression. A mental health professional can conduct an evaluation and outline a course of treatment based on the patient’s individual needs. Treatment may include:

  • Medications – These can include a combination of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotic, anti-anxiety or stimulant medications
  • Psychotherapy – Talking to a mental health professional on a regular basis about your depression and other issues can help treat the symptoms.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy – This brain stimulation therapy passes electric currents through your brain to help your neurotransmitters work better.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation – This treatment uses a coil to send magnetic pulses through your brain to help stimulate nerve cells that regulate mood.

Some with depression may experience thoughts of hurting themselves or others. If someone you know is depressed and you think they may hurt themselves or attempt suicide, call 911immediately.

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.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression experienced by people during the beginning of the fall months through winter. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is unknown; however, according to the American Psychiatric Association, “SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter.” Decreased levels of sunlight have been found to disrupt melatonin (a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle) and serotonin (a chemical that regulates mood) levels in the body.

Those affected by the disorder may find that they have sleep issues, difficulty concentrating, and increased cravings for unhealthy foods that can contribute to weight gain and low energy, as well as other symptoms associated with depression such as feelings of hopelessness or thoughts about suicide.

Treatment for SAD may include phototherapy, medications and psychotherapy. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as increasing your exposure to natural light.  This can be achieved by doing more outdoor activities such as walking, jogging and hiking.  Increasing physical activity is also strongly encouraged as this has been found time and time again, to reduce levels of stress and anxiety which improve symptoms of SAD. In addition to improving your mood, physical activity can help to control or lose weight.  

Paying attention to your eating habits is very important. Those with SAD are at an increased risk for emotional eating and making poor dietary choices. Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help you to manage your weight and sustain energy. Avoiding alcohol is highly recommended. Alcohol acts as a depressant, which in excess can worsen depressive symptoms

Practicing meditation or yoga  as well as receiving acupuncture or massage therapy have been found to decrease anxiety and stress levels, improving mental and physical health overall. It is also important to surround yourself with friends and family, this allows for less alone time and strong social support.

If the symptoms of SAD persist, consider cognitive psychotherapy and or SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) treatment to relieve depressive symptoms and address underlying difficulties.

If you are struggling with SAD, you do not need to feel alone. It is estimated that 10-20% of Americans suffer from SAD. It is important to seek help if you are experiencing issues at work or school, substance abuse or other signs of mental health disorders, especially suicidal thoughts.

To speak with or see a Family Medicine doctor about Seasonal Affective Disorder, please call  718- 206-6942

Marwa Eldik M.D.

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.

Perinatal Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Awaiting the arrival of your child or becoming a mother should be a time of great hope and happy anticipation, but for some, it can bring a wave of depression and anxiety. If you are experiencing depression and anxiety that occurred during or within one year after your pregnancy, you may have Perinatal Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

GAD is usually prevalent in those who have a history of depression, anxiety or substance abuse, a family history of mental illness, lack of a good support system, issues with a previous pregnancy or schedule and hormonal changes.

Some common signs of GAD are:

  • Feeling sad, depressed, and/or crying a lot
  • Diminished interest in becoming a mother
  • Feeling worthless or guilty, especially about not being a good mother
  • Strong anxiety, tension, and/or fear either about your future child or other things
  • Sleep problems
  • Thoughts of wanting to be dead or wanting to kill yourself
  • Having low energy
  • Loss of or increase in appetite or weight
  • Trouble focusing, remembering things, or making decisions
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations, numbness, or hyperventilation

Often times the new mom may experience disbelief, embarrassment, shame or guilt with GAD before seeking treatment to manage the disorder.  Successful management of GAD can be done through medication and/or therapy.

If you are expecting a baby or have just become a mom and are feeling any of the symptoms listed above, you can make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Mental Health for a screening.

To make an appointment, please call 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.

Make Your Mental Health a Priority This New Year

Tis’ the season for New Year Resolutions!  We are all talking about shedding some holiday pounds, keeping ourselves more organized or just living our best lives in 2019.  While striving towards those goals, why not included your mental health in this years resolutions?

Did you know that mental illness affects millions of Americans, yet not surprisingly, many of those who need help do not receive it. There are many reasons why – it could be due to limited availability of services, or a strong distrust of others, or those who are mentally ill might have such a sense of hopelessness that they do not seek care.

While all of these are factors as to why someone doesn’t seek support, perhaps the biggest single reason is a sense of fear and shame associated with admitting help is needed. This sense of shame is very common and it is only reinforced by society, which has attached stigmas to mental illness. The beliefs the public has about mental illness leads those who need help to avoid it so they are not labeled as “crazy” and have their condition negatively affect their personal relationships and career goals.

Getting society to overcome the stigmas associated with mental illness is the key to having more individuals come forward, but unfortunately negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who have a mental health condition are common. These stigmas can lead to obvious and direct discrimination, such as someone making a negative remark about mental illness or it may be unintentional or subtle, such as someone avoiding an individual because they assume they could be unstable, violent or dangerous due to mental illness.

Those with mental illness should never be ashamed of their condition and here are some reasons why:

  • According to the World Health Organization, one out of four people will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives.
  • Shame is pretty much guaranteed to make things worse. Feelings of shame are proven to have detrimental effects on our mental and physical health
  • Mental illness is no one’s fault. No one asks to have a mental illness and it is definitely not a choice we make.
  • We’re not ashamed when our bodies get sick, so why should we be ashamed when our minds aren’t in top form.
  • There is no normal – our minds are complex things and no single brain is the same
  • Our mental health doesn’t define us. Don’t let your mental illness become who you are, it is just one aspect of you.

It’s time to speak out against the stigmas associated with mental illness and reframe the way we see it. Getting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.

To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Outpatient Mental Health Center, please call 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.

Can Journaling Help Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Did you know that keeping a journal is a great tool for relieving anxiety and stress?  According to Verywellmind.com, “Journaling can relieve stress by helping you work through your anxious feelings.”

By journaling, you can minimize thoughts that may have you anxious.  Writing down what is causing you to stress may help you shift feelings of fear and hopelessness to empowerment and solution orientated thoughts.

Some tips on how to get started are:

  • Start journaling for five to 15 minutes – Too much time shouldn’t be spent on your journaling. Write about what is concerning you most.
  • If an event is currently causing difficulty write it down in detail. If it is not a current issue, but something that has been plaguing you, focus on writing that you worry about the “what could possibly happen” factor.
  • Write how these feelings affect you in your daily life
  • Once your thoughts are arranged, you can write about what positive measures you can implement to help relive how you are feeling (i.e. meditation, exercise, support groups)

The hardest part about journaling is getting started.  Many people think that they don’t have the time to journal, but if you have the time to fret, you have the time to put pencil to paper and work on feeling better!

For more tips on how to benefit from journaling visit – www.verywellmind.com

 

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.

Can Too Much Sleep Be Bad For Your Health?

“You have to get enough sleep if you want to stay healthy.” It’s a common phrase that emphasizes how important getting enough sleep is to our overall well-being. So if sleep is that important, it would make sense that the more we get of it, the better we will feel. However, the idea that there is no such thing as getting “too much sleep” is one that is totally wrong.  In fact, chronic oversleeping can lead to a wide variety of health issues.

While the recommended amount of sleep for adults varies based on age, activity level, and lifestyle habits, generally speaking, most adults should get an average of between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.  Sure, it’s okay to sleep in a little late on the weekends, but if you find yourself requiring over nine hours of sleep on a consistent basis, or feel that you don’t feel well–rested when you don’t, it may be a sign of a another issue.

For some, oversleeping could be due to a condition known as hypersomnia, which causes people to require unusually long periods of sleep at night and suffer from extreme sleepiness throughout the day.  Those with hypersomnia also have low levels of energy, experience problems remembering things and do not feel recharged from a nap like the rest of us do.

Hypersomnia is not the only reason one might require extra sleep. Other reasons may include the use of certain substances, such as alcohol or some prescription medications. Obstructive sleep apnea may also be another reason why someone needs more sleep as those with this condition have their sleep cycles obstructed, making them feel less rested.  Lastly, depression is another leading cause for oversleep in many individuals as those who are clinically depressed are more lethargic and more likely to want to stay in bed.

Regardless of the reason why someone sleeps too much, the condition needs to be addressed as studies have indicated that oversleep can lead to many other health problems, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Headaches
  • Back Pain
  • Depression
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Fertility Issues

In addition to, or perhaps as a result of these other issues, those who oversleep have been found to have higher death rates than people who sleep seven to nine hours a night.

If you are oversleeping, it is important to address the reason why. If it is caused by alcohol or prescription medications, look to cut back or eliminate those substances from your daily routine. If you think you are oversleeping due to depression seek help from a mental health professional. Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with hypersomnia or another medical condition, treating the disorder may help you return to a normal night’s sleep.

You should also look to ensure that the sleep you get is restful by practicing good sleep habits. Try to establish a set bedtime and wake-up time, avoid eating a heavy meal or consuming caffeine before bed, and maintain a comfortable sleep environment. Exercising before bed can also help you relax and fall asleep easier.

Jamaica Hospital offers a comprehensive sleep center, which diagnoses and treats a wide variety of sleep disorders.  If you believe you require too much sleep, we can help you figure out why. To make an appointment at our Sleep Center, call 718-206-5916.

 

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 Introduces Robotic Pet Therapy to Provide Comfort to Patients

Being hospitalized can be a difficult situation for many. In addition to dealing with being sick or injured, patients struggle with feelings of depression, stress and loneliness. To help them cope with these emotions, Jamaica Hospital has recently implemented an innovative pilot program that is receiving very encouraging feedback.

Under the guidance of Dr. Sharon Wexler, PhD, RN, nurse researcher at Jamaica Hospital, a study is being conducted at the hospital to determine the benefits of robotic pets on hospitalized older adults (65 and older). These patients were selected because they are among the group most likely to demonstrate feelings of depression or loneliness during hospitalization.

According to the robotic pet program, patients receive a free, lifelike, battery-powered cat or dog with an audible heart beat to care for and play with. These pets interact with the patients by purring or barking, snuggling, turning their heads, opening and closing their eyes, wagging their tails, moving their paws, and showing their bellies. The pets, which come with a collar, identification tag, and grooming brush, cost approximately $100 and are single patient use only, so patients get to take them home with them once they are discharged.

Some may ask why use robotic pet therapy when actual pet therapy is available?  The answer is Jamaica Hospital, like many other hospitals across the country does recognize and utilize live pet therapy for our patients. While pet therapy has been widely proven to improve the spirits of patients and potentially improve clinical outcomes, there are some limitations to this service. Unfortunately, traditional pet therapy services are not available 24 hours a day. In addition, some patients may have a fear of animals or be allergic to them. By introducing robotic pet therapy in addition to traditional pet therapy as an intervention, Jamaica Hospital now offers our patients a technologically advanced and effective additional service to boost their outlook and recovery process.

Prior to using realistic looking robotic pets, the hospital had older patients care for an avatar virtual service animal by using a tablet computer. The results were extremely positive as these patients exhibited increased cognition levels and reported fewer feelings of loneliness and depression, making the decision to continue with the robotic pet service an easy one.

While robotic pet therapy has been utilized at many extended care facilities, Jamaica is the first hospital to explore the potential of this service in an acute care setting. The hospital has already enrolled dozens of patients into this program, which began only a couple of months ago, and early indications are very promising, with patients expressing very positive feedback about their experience.  The hospital looks forward to the continuation and expansion of this program in the future.

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.

Borderline Personality Disorder

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, perceptions of self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.

People with borderline personality disorder may also experience:

  • Mood swings
  • Uncertainty about how they see themselves and their role in the world
  • Quickly changing their interests and values
  • Viewing things in extremes
  • Having intense and unstable relationships
  • Impulsive or dangerous behaviors
  • Self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Recurring thoughts or threats of suicide
  • Feelings of emptiness
  • Issues controlling anger
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Feeling cutoff from themselves and others

While the cause of borderline personality disorder isn’t clear, researchers believe that genetics, brain function, the environment, as well as cultural and social factors may increase the likelihood of developing the disorder.

That being said, being in an “at risk” group does not mean that you will develop the disorder.  Likewise, you may not fall into any of the groups but that doesn’t preclude you from developing the disorder.

There are numerous recommended treatments for borderline personality disorder including, but not limited to psychotherapy, medications, as well as group, peer and family support groups.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting the traits of having a borderline personality disorder and would like to speak to a licensed mental health professional, please call Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Mental Health at 718-206-7160 to schedule an appointment

For more information on borderline personality disorder visit, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder/index.shtml

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.

Today is World Health Day – Let’s Talk About Depression

In recognition of the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), every April 7th people across the earth celebrate World Health Day.

Doctor In Consultation With Depressed Female Patient

Every year on this date, WHO and its partners select a different global health issue – The subject of their 2017 awareness campaign is depression and their campaign slogan is “Depression: Let’s Talk.”

Depression is a common mental health disorder that affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. The risk of becoming depressed is increased by poverty, unemployment, life events such as the death of a loved one or a relationship break-up, physical illness and problems caused by alcohol and drug use. Untreated depression can prevent people from working and participating in family and community life. At worst, depression can lead to suicide.

At the core of the World Health Day campaign is the importance of talking about depression as a vital component of recovery. There is a negative association surrounding many mental health disorders, including depression. This connotation remains a obstacle that is difficult to overcome for people around the world   By encouraging those with depression to talk to others, whether with a family member helps break down this stigma. Also, by initiating conversations about depression in group forums, such as in schools, in the workplace and in social settings; or in the public domain, such as in the news media or on social media platforms will ultimately lead to more people seeking help.

Jamaica Hospital operates a outpatient mental health center where individuals can speak with trained mental health professional about depression or any other disorder. To make an appointment, 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.

Diabetes and Depression

Depression-300x200Diabetes does not directly cause depression but can contribute to it indirectly for a variety of reasons. Managing diabetes can be very stressful and it does require a modification of eating habits and, to some degree, a modification of lifestyle. Many people have difficulty keeping their blood sugar under control and this can also lead to frustration and potentially be a cause of depression.
Signs of depression include:
• Change in appetite
• Change in sleep pattern
• Loss of interest in doing things that were once enjoyable
• Trouble concentrating
• Lack of energy
• Feeling suicidal
If diabetes is not well controlled then variations in blood sugar level, high or low, can lead to symptoms that are similar to depression.
Similarly, depression can lead to the onset of diabetes. When people are depressed their eating habits tend to be affected and many people will over eat to the point of becoming obese. Some people who are depressed have no desire to be physically active, and many will also smoke. All of these are risk factors for diabetes.
There are ways to manage both diabetes and depression simultaneously. The most important factor is to speak with a physician who has experience and can help you to gain control of these illnesses. A patient who has been diagnosed with diabetes might also benefit from a program that focuses on behavior modification that will lead to a healthier lifestyle. There are medications that can be prescribed which will be helpful in managing these illnesses. Seeking the help of a psychotherapist will also be helpful in gaining confidence in the ability to manage both diseases.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a physician at Jamaica Hospital to discuss diabetes management please call 718-206-6742.

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.