Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Work Days Lost Due to Stress

In 2003, the most recent data available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 3,820 work days were lost due to anxiety, stress or neurotic disorders. According to Norma Malcolm of the BLS in Chicago, it's unclear just how accurate that figure is. One reason it's hard to track is that people aren't going to admit their problems to their employers.

According to the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, employees who can't adapt to the stresses that come along with their jobs ar costly for business. The organization reports that more than 13 million workdays worldwide are lost each year from stress, anxiety, and depression. Among the main stressors include work overload, lack of recognition, poor relations with supervisors, low participation in decisions and poor communication.

Work-related stress is a very significant psychological issue for employees. One reason for the increased stress is the job insecurity that employees feel due to the amount of turnover. The days of working for a company for 25-30 years and then retiring are over. Recent technology such as pagers, e-mail, and cell phones were supposed to help make life easier and save time, but instead it has people thinking they can accomplish more. Shift work, longer hours, and too many responsibilities are other factors that can cause anxiety in the workplace.

People should think about how well the job fits them. They should be aware of stress-related symptoms such as feeling overwhelmed, muscle tension, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, changes in energy, and irritability and headaches. If a job is stressful, people should determine what time of the day they work best to do the more difficult or mundane tasks at that time. People need to have a sense of control in the workplace and they need to develop positive and healthy work relationships.

Outside of work, a healthy diet and consistent sleep schedule are critical to maintain balance. Employees also need to establish boundaries between their job and personal lives. People tend to give up their time with friends or do fewer social activities when they're stressed. By being social outside of work is what refreshes us and provides us with energy so that we're able to meet today's demands. She summarizes by saying that stress in moderate levels can be motivating, exciting and challenging, but people need to evaluate their situation to be aware if they're under too much stress.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Kids Need To Get Outside

A growing number of experts have been studying the effects of nature on children’s behavior, emotional well-being, creativity, and academic achievement. They’re saying that it doesn’t look good.

One study, done by the California Department of Education, showed the effects of outdoor-science classes for at-risk sixth graders. When compared to a similar group that studied indoors, they found that the outdoor students improved their math and science scores by 27 percent. They also showed to be more cooperative, attentive, and more likely to get along with their fellow students.

Other research has shown that children with ADD have a better ability to concentrate, can complete tasks, and can follow directions better after having playtime in green, natural settings. Children deprived of contact with nature tend to be more depressed, anxious, and have lower self-esteem. Author Richard Louv recently named this “Nature-deficit disorder”.

By the 1990’s, the area around people’s homes that children were allowed to play had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. They say that today’s average 8 year old can better identify cartoon characters then native species. In the past five years the rate in which doctors are prescribing antidepressants has doubled. While at the same time, the average time spent viewing TV had risen to four hours. One study has found that due to the increased demands on their time, from homework and structured activities, children’s play time has dropped 25 percent between 1981-1997. No one is suggesting letting children run off unsupervised. But they do suggest that parents try harder to ensure that their children get their needs for nature met.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Children on Sleeping Pills!

The use of sleeping pills in children and adolescents has risen 85 percent between 2000-2004. This is yet another sign that parents and physicians are increasingly turning to prescription medications to solve their children’s health and behavioral problems.

In 2004, more than 181,000 children and young adults between 10 and 19 were given sleeping pills. This is out of 41 million people in that age range, according to a study by Medco Health Solutions, a managed care company. Because no sleep medication had been approved for use in children under 18, few of these prescriptions have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Still, doctors commonly use medications for patients and disorders for which the drugs have never received FDA approval, particularly when whose patients are children.

Medco found that 15 percent of people under the age of 20 who received sleeping pills were also on medication for ADHD. It is known that most ADHD meds can cause insomnia. So are children being treated for insomnia caused by hyperactivity or insomnia caused from the ADHD medication?

According to the New York Times, the rising drug use is partially due to the expensive marketing campaigns of makers such as Lunesta. Experts expect sleeping pill use to increase even faster this year.

The trend of medicating our youth has become alarming and, in some cases, a vicious cycle. Consider this; children and teens suffering from undiagnosed sleep apnea, which can make them hyperactive, are often misdiagnosed with ADHD and given a stimulant. Insomnia is one of the most common side effects of these stimulant ADHD medications - Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall. These children then need another drug to counteract the insomnia, when all the while, all they really need

It is therefore suggested that such problems be treated by teaching the child relaxation techniques and other sleep oriented behaviors to help them sleep.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stressed Out?

If you are as busy as I am, it is hard to take time to take care of your body.

If you can't get away and take a vacation, take a non-working weekend, or lunch with a friend to turn your mind away from your troubles. Exercise regularly as this tempers the body's reaction to stress. Try not to gobble "comfort foods" which can build belly fat, a risk factor for heart disease.

Monday, October 17, 2005


How many times have you heard that you can do anything if you just try hard enough? Although this is a very appealing thought, it is just not always true. No matter what words you use to encourage a child, they will not change the child's neurology or biochemistry.

For instance, asking a child with Attention Defecit Disorder to try harder just may backfire. Studies show that the part of the brain involved in executive functioning will actually shut down if asked to do more than one is capable of. So, rather than just saying "try harder", offer your child a tool to actually help balance his biochemistry so he can gain better control and live a most productive life.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Are ADHD Drugs Effective & Safe?

A review conducted by the Drug Effectiveness review Project at Oregon State University concluded that there were no good quality studies that examined the long term safety and effectiveness of ADHD medications. An analysis of more than 2200 studies of 16 drugs revealed evidence on the effectiveness to be seriously lacking. This group, set up by 12 US states to provide independent information, analysed data from six pharmaceutical manufacturers. They rejected 2107 of the studies due to unreliability and reviewed the remaining 180 reports. The study found that evidence on the use of drugs to affect outcomes relating to academic performance, consequences of risky behaviors, and social achievements was lacking. They stress the importance in finding out if it truly is ADHD that children suffer from. A child given medicine for ADHD may be inattentive due to eyesight problems or problems at home.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Prescription Drugs More Deadly Than Terrorism

Since 2001, 490,000 people in the United States have died from prescription drugs. In the same time period, only 2,996 people in the U.S. have died from terrorism, all in the 9/11 attacks.

The reported prescription drug deaths were a result of medication mistakes. By comparison, this country spends about eight times more on deaths due to medical mistakes than we project to spend next year on Homeland Security.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Stress and Your Health

Are you stressed to your limit? Be careful. Research has shown a direct link between stress and increased cholesterol levels.

During stressful times, chemical messengers are released that prepare your body for responding. These hormonal changes can raise your total cholesterol. There are also indirect links between stress and cholesterol levels. For example, if your response to stress is lighting up a cigarette or grabbing a bag of chips, you are creating habits that raise levels of LDL's (bad cholesterol) and reducing levels of HDL's (good cholesterol).

In today's world it is nearly impossible to completely avoid stress. You can however lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels simply by learning to STAY CALM. You may even choose to work through stress by walking.

So....put down the cigarettes and pick up the walking shoes.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Depression Linked To Sleepiness

Are you sleepy? You may be depressed.

Pennsylvania State University pshyciatry professor Edward Bixler, PhD, conducted a study which revealed that the number one risk factor for excessive daytime sleepiness was depression.

Over 16, 000 men and women participated in this study. Daytime sleepiness was seen equally among men and women. Although sleep apnea is often said to be the reason for excessive sleepiness, the study showed that depression was the cause more often than BMI, diabetes, smoking and sleep apnea.

People seeking help for excessive daytime sleepiness should be screened for depression, obesity and diabetes.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Are you feeling a little down? Beware! Research shows if you have mild depression, you are six times more likely to fall into major depression.

If you are experiencing some, but not all, of the many symptoms of depression, for even a short period of time, you may have a case of mild depression.

In the medical field, cases of mild depression can be overlooked. Many physicians see depression as a “black or white” issue (you are either depressed or you’re not). Some physicians do not diagnose depression unless you have all/nearly all of the warning signs while others will diagnose mild depression if you have at least two, but no more than 5 of the following symptoms:

-feeling sad/tearful
-drop in interest in activities
-change in weight and/or appetite
-sleeping too much or too little on a daily basis
-feeling restless/sluggish
-feeling worthless/excessively guilty
-trouble concentrating
-fatigue/loss of energy regularly
-suicide thinking/attempts; thinking about death frequently

The term “mild” depression would lead one to believe it almost insignificant. To the contrary, mild depression is actually more common than major depression and can be just as debilitating.

Many factors can cause the transition from mild depression to major depression. A study, done in Baltimore, MD, showed that people who had strokes were much more likely to develop major depression. The same study also revealed a deadly fact: depressed heart attack survivors were at greater risk of dying or developing more heart problems within two years.

There are many things that can increase feelings of depression, or turn mild depression into major depression. Alcohol can have a negative effect on mood, and misuse or abuse of alcohol, tranquillizers and sleeping medications, or narcotics can all play a major role in the length and severity of depression. The link between cannabis abuse (as opposed to use) and depression is also widely documented. Life experiences, such as job loss/financial difficulties have also been proven to bring on depression or further advance one’s feelings of hopelessness.

For those who are not diagnosed until they are suffering from major depression, there is hope. Although major depression can be a devastating illness, it is highly treatable. Between 80 and 90 percent of those suffering from serious depression can be effectively treated and return to their normal daily activities and feelings. Many types of treatment are available, and the type chosen depends on the individual and the severity and patterns of his or her illness. There are three basic types of treatment for depression: medications, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). They may be used singly or in combination. It is becoming very common, for those suffering from depression, to use more natural alternatives in treatment. This includes all natural supplements, self-help techniques, exercising and changing their diet. Studies show a high success rate with these natural alternatives, without the side effects of prescription medication.

Another important fact, with both mild and major depression, is that rate relapse incidents can be very high. Therefore, once diagnosed with depression, a patient and his/her physician will want to watch very closely for recurring symptoms so that, again, treatment can begin immediately.

As with any other illness, depression is treatable and the earlier it is diagnosed, the sooner healing can begin.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Exercise May Make You Smarter

Using mice and memory tests, researchers have discovered that exercising can increase the production of neurons in the memory region of the brain. Previous research only suggested that exercise increased the development of brain cells in young mice. But by also using older mice, the study suggests that exercise also helps them. This leads to the promise that seniors may be able to boost their brainpower. The study also suggests that those with diseases such as Alzheimer's could be able to replace brain cells by engaging in physical activity.
The study showed that older mice that exercised on a running wheel developed new brain cells and were able to learn a new task faster then those who didn't exercise at all. This was due to the production of neurons in the memory part of the mouse brain. If the findings also hold true for people, they suggest regular workouts might give seniors a boost in brainpower and it might even help forestall the dementia people can get as they get older. Researcher Fred Gage of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in LaJolla, Ca. suggests that it's never too late to get moving. The mice in the study were about 70 in human years, and they developed an edge in brainpower after exercising for only a month. Previous research used mice that were about 20 in human years. This study is the first to show the benefits in older mice as well. Gage and his colleagues allowed a group of old and a group of young mice unlimited access to a running wheel. The mice ran about 2 miles each day. A third group of mice were kept from exercising. After a month of regular exercise, the researchers then tested the mice on memory. Placing them in water, the mice were first shown where the platform to stand on was located. Then they had to find it on their own, even when it was hidden in cloudy water. The researchers found that the older mice who exercised did just as well as the younger ones. They remembered the location of the platform and quickly swam there without much trouble. However, the older mice that didn't exercise daily had trouble locating the platform, showing a decline in memory. In most cases, the mice swam around aimlessly and either never found the platform, or found it by chance. When the team examined the mouses' brain tissue, they also found that the older mice that had been exercising had more significant amounts of cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps with memory and the ability to learn new tasks. Gage says that the mice that didn't exercise produced very few brain cells. William Thies of the Chicago-based Alzheimer's Association says this study suggests that people with brain destroying diseases such as Alzheimer's might be able to replace and build brain cells as a result of daily workouts. The findings also indicate that healthly older people might be able to reverse some of the normal age-related loss of brain cells with only a daily walk.
Public health experts recommend that adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. They feel that building fitness into every life helps prevent heart disease, diabetes and might offer an edge in old age. People shouldn't wait for researchers to confirm these findings. This new study adds yet another compelling reason to get your body moving.

Other ways to improve your brainpower....

Research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston recently concluded that the more sleep you get, the better you will remember. They believe that during sleep, newly formed memories get organized in the brain. Therefore, the more you sleep, the better your chances of retaining the information. These findings may explain why infants, who are constantly learning, require so much sleep.

With Alzheimer's effecting 4.5 million already, and another 350,000 per year, researchers suggest that some simple steps can be taken to help. First, in a 10 year study of 1,800 women and men, those who drank juice three times a week had a 75 percent lower risk of dementia. Researchers at the University of South Florida speculate that the high concentrations of polyphenols, or cell-protecting antioxidants, may be the reason. Second, exercise sends blood to the brain, improving memory. Singing while working out further boosted retention for 70 percent of those that participated in the Japanese study. Finally, Swedish and American researchers found that out of 100 pairs of twins, those who had lost many teeth due to gum disease were four times as likely to develop Alzheimer's. They said that bacteria in the mouth may cause chronic inflammation, which could slow down blood flow to the brain.

Adult ADHD Meds Double

New research shows that the use of prescription medication for ADHD is growing at a faster rate among adults than children.
The use of drugs that help keep ADHD patients focused, doubled among adults 20-44 between 2000-2004. But according to data compiled by Medco Health Solutions, one of the countries largest prescription benefit manager, it only rose 56 percent among children during that time. The study also shows that among women 20-44, use of prescriptions rose 113 percent and 104 percent among those between 45-64, both far more than men. They also point out that spending on the medicines has quadrupled. Experts say reasons for the increase include better drugs, advertising, and parents of children recently diagnosed with ADHD realizing they too have the symptoms. Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical officer, told the associated press that doctors are now seeing about 1 percent of adults being treated and 4 times as many are estimated to have ADHD. This means that nearly 1.5 million Americans 20 and older are taking ADHD medicine. Dr. Patricia Quinn, a developmental pediatrician at the National Center for Gender Issues and ADHD, and an advisor to Children and Adults with ADHD, an advocacy group, says that these figures dispel the earlier beliefs that children grow out of ADHD. She says that 50 percent of adults still have problems that affect their functioning. And now, many are staying on their medication beyond adolescence.
Part of the increase is due to awareness of the disorder among the public through advertising. Eli Lilly and Co., makers of Strattera, have been running TV adds aimed at adults who may not realize they have the disorder. Also, the makers of Adderall XR and Concerta have advertised in magazines geared to parents of kids with ADHD.
ADHD has symptoms that include trouble concentrating, impulsively, disorganization, procrastination and hyperactivity. Along with behavioral therapy, medication is good because it can improve adults' relationships, parenting skills, job performance, even their sex lives, according to Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of a new ADHD book called, "Delivered from Distraction". With new, brand-name versions that last all day, limiting the ups and downs of symptoms, sales have soared from $759 million in 2000 to $3.1 billion in 2004, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical information and consulting firm. And as drug makers receive regulartory approval specifically to market to adults, the market for ADHD drugs could easily double.
Boca psychologist, Dr. Susan Levin, believes that while there are benefits for some adults, others are just stressed out and are being misdiagnosed. Boca psychiatrist, Dr. Eric Rutshtein feels that more adults are being diagnosed due to better diagnosis procedures. He points out that adults don't just get ADHD, they had it when they were kids too. He says that 3-7 percent of the nation's children have ADHD and a third of them have the disorder with the same intensity in adulthood. Dr. Levin also points out that while stimulants and non-stimulants are used to help some, doctors cannot act cavalier with the symptoms of ADHD. In our overstressed society, many symptoms can be describing a very stressed out, overloaded person.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Strattera Linked to Suicidal Thoughts

The Oct. 1 edition of the ADHD Help Center newsletter addresses recent news that links Strattera to suicidal thoughts in children. 2005 has certainly been an eye-opening year to the dangers of ADHD medications. In February Canadian officials, after reviewing reports of 20 deaths and 12 strokes linked to Adderall XR, pulled the drug off the shelves. A study released in February showed that Ritalin is linked to an increased risk of cancer later in life. Strattera was found to cause liver failure and Concerta was found to cause psychotic thoughts, hallucinations and death.

The simple fact is that these medications have risks and some of these risks are quite serious and potentially deadly. This does not mean that ADHD drugs do not have their place in the treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder but it is our opinion that drugs should be a last resort instead of the first course of treatment. There are viable options and alternatives to pharmaceutical medications. It is our hope that everyone solidly research the risks and benefits of all treatment options so that they can then make educated and healthful decisions.

You can read the full article by clicking [here].