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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

APA Urges Psychotherapy For Treating Depression

A photo of a group conducting psychotherapy.
A photo of a group conducting psychotherapy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you watch television ads? Some are really clever, they pull you in and make you think or make you smile or even make you realize how you might help suffering children or abandoned animals, they remind you about products that may help you decide what to cook for dinner or that it is time to get your children ready to start the new school year. Certain times of the day many television ads promote health and new medications (complete with a very quick overview of side effects that often make the potential cure sound worse than the medical condition itself). The truth is television ads do work, they do get your attention. When you watch certain ads do you ever daydream about how you might design and compose a parody advertisement about certain products?

American Psychological Association (APA) campaigns for the efficacy of psychotherapy for treatment of depression

Take a minute to watch one of the APA's new videos which encourages us to first trying psychotherapy for treating depression.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, then you can see it here.

Depression statistics in the United States

Many organizations gather statistics regarding the prevalence of depression in the United States population. For example:
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) measures trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care. Their yearly report is called National Healthcare Quality Report. In 2009 2 million youths ages 12-17 had a major depressive episode, while 14.8 million adults age 18 and over had a major depressive disorder.
  • The National Institutes of Health considers the top 10 chronic health problems with depression being in that top 10. The NIH reports that 14 million Americans are affected by depression.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 American out of 10 reports they suffer from depression.

Antidepressant statistics

Consumer Reports (according to their website) "is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. The organization was founded in 1936 when advertising first flooded the mass media." Regarding drugs for depression and anxiety Consumer Reports determined:
  1. According to IMS Health, a group that monitors drug sales, U.S. doctors prescribed $9.9 billion worth of antidepressants in 2009, a 3 percent growth over the previous year.
  2. Antidepressants are the third most prescribed class of drugs in the country, after cholesterol-lowering drugs and codeine-based painkillers.
  3. Drugmakers spent almost $300 million in 2009 on ads for two newer antidepressants.
  4. Forty-seven percent of respondents got their prescription from a psychiatrist; the rest obtained it from their primary-care physician, whom they saw separately or as an adjunct to talk therapy with a mental-health professional. 

APA outlines five reasons to first consider psychotherapy for depression

The APA blogged about their new campaign encourages people suffering from depression to consider psychotherapy before medication. Here are their top five reasons:
  1. You learn to work through your own problems.
  2. No one is taking a side, except to help you.
  3. Your secrets are safe.
  4. Long-term value can't be beat.
  5. Psychotherapy works!

The APA's message is all about providing information and alternatives

In some ways, the APA's video campaign resembles what we refer to as a public service announcement (PSA). Each video is quick, about one minute in length. They don't feature images of real people, but cartoon like characters moving through a world of gray tones into a more colorful world. The message is straightforward and provocative. It makes you stop and think...and that of course, is a good first step toward mental health.

What do you think of the APA's campaign? We welcome your comments.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

20/20's "Intoxication Nation" Includes Interview With Kristen Johnston

English: The logo of the American Broadcasting...
 The logo of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). This vector image is based on :Image:American Broadcasting Company Logo.png. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Do you watch ABC's 20/20? 20/20 debuted 34 years ago and for the last 25 years 20/20 has been a Friday night staple for ABC's prime-time schedule. For many people Friday night means getting together with friends, having dinner out with the family, escaping for a long weekend getaway or maybe just taking a break from the week's activities and watching a bit of television. It is estimated that about 5.6 million Americans tune in to watch 20/20 every week. Some episodes are so gripping they prompt viewers to share the news with just a simple statement like "did you see 20/20 this week?"

Did you see 20/20 this past Friday?

If you missed 20/20 this past Friday, you can watch the entire show Intoxication Nation here. It includes segments titled "Blackout Parties," "Drunk Walking," "Hangover Helper," "DUI Wars," and "Kristen Johnston's Life Threatening Addiction." If you watch the full show parents may be shocked at the extreme video depicting young adults antics to achieve a "black-out", you will see how easy it is for young under-age students to purchase liquor on line, you will learn about the dangers of not only driving under the influence, but also walking under the influence and you will learn what local police are doing to try to prevent people from injuring themselves or even causing their own death or that of an innocent bystander. To put it simply, Intoxication Nation is an eye-opener.

Do you know Kristen Johnston?

You might remember Kristen Johnston from Third Rock From The Sun or perhaps you have seen her perform on stage. Kristen has appeared in a number of movies and television series. Of late, Kristen is in TVland's sit-com called The Exes that debuted November 30, 2011. An Emmy Award-winning actress, Kristen is also known for her famous death scene in the sixth and final season of Sex and the City. Yes, Kristen played the aging party girl, Lexi Featherston, who accidentally falls out of a window and dies. She was very believable in this role. And this past week 20/20 took the time to interview Kristen to learn just how impacted Kristen's life was from addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Learn about Kristen Johnston's recovery

Now six years sober, Kristen sat down with 20/20's Elizabeth Vargas to discuss her life growing up, discovering her acting abilities, her dependence on alcohol and drugs, her brush with death, her rehab and what life is like now that she is sober.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can watch it here.

Johnston's new book "Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster

According to the back cover: "With GUTS, Johnson takes us on a journey so truthful and relatable, so remarkably fresh, it promises to stay with the reader for a long, long time." Take some time today to watch Kristen's interview. It might help you look at your own life or the life your loved one is living addicted to alcohol or drugs.

As National Recovery Month winds down to a final few days this September...consider the miracle of recovery. Recovery is possible every day, one day at a time.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Playing "catch-up" - Culture Evolves To Crisis In Military Alcohol And Drug Abuse

English: Seal of the United States Department ...
Seal of the United States Department of Defense (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Playing "catch-up"

How do you play catch-up? We have all experienced getting behind in our work, our school assignments, our own health, our chores, or correspondence with our loved ones. We even see the phenomena of playing catch-up with sports teams (from professional teams all the way to Little League or Pop Warner), suddenly the team realizes that they haven't been practicing enough or practicing smart, they haven't applied new techniques for nutrition, exercise, or even getting enough good sleep. The truth is we all play catch-up, but sometimes not staying ahead of the game of life can cause a crisis.

New report indicates the Department of Defense needs to catch-up

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) requested the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to study alcohol and drug abuse among the military. The DoD asked the IOM "to analyze policies and programs that pertain to prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of substance use disorders for active duty service members in all branches, members of the National Guard and Reserve, and military families." The IOM's study concludes that what was once considered part of the military "culture" has now evolved into a military "crisis." 

Key findings from the report "Substance Use Disorder in the U.S. Armed Forces"

A Huffington Post article (September 17, 2012) highlights key findings:

  • About 20 percent of active-duty service members reported they engaged in heavy drinking in 2008, the latest year for which data was available. (Heavy drinking was defined as five or more drinks a day as a regular practice.) 
  • Binge-drinking increased from 35 percent in 1998 to 47 percent in 2008. (That's five or more drinks at a sitting for men, four or more for women, but done perhaps just once or twice a month as opposed to each week). 
  • While rates of both illicit and prescription drug abuse are low, the rate of medication misuse is rising. Just 2 percent of active-duty personnel reported misusing prescription drugs in 2002 compared with 11 percent in 2008. 
  • The armed forces' programs and policies have not evolved to effectively address medication misuse and abuse. 

Recommendations for dealing with the "crisis" - how to "catch-up"

Alcohol and drug use and abuse has been part of the military culture for centuries. But it would seem that we have not allowed prevention and treatment protocols to evolve with the times. The problem is complicated by such things as lack of coverage for new types of services and treatment and, of course, working on dispelling the stigma attached to the disease of addiction and seeking treatment for same. The Department of Defense will need to look at approving new effective medications used to treat substance abuse, covering treatment in outpatient treatment facilities, training more counselors for military personnel (particularly those counselors that work with active duty military), and work to "de-stigmatize" seeking counseling and treatment for substance abuse.

A Huffington Post video report on playing "catch-up"

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Staying abreast of new treatment modalities and learning how to recognize when someone is suffering from the disease of addiction are critical in saving lives, families, and careers. Addiction, while a chronic disease, can be treated and recovery is possible.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

A Roll Of The Dice: Pathological Gambling An Impulse Control Disorder


The very simple definition of the word gambling is: "the act or practice of risking the loss of something important by taking a chance or acting recklessly." If you pull apart this definition then you can determine that taking a gamble can be one specific act or be a repeated practice. For example, if you witness a horrific event, you might gamble your own life to save the life of another. In a case like this, if you take the chance you are often called a hero; however, if, on the other hand, you engage in dangerous behavior repeatedly in a cavalier manner, then chances are, sooner or later, you are going to endanger yourself or another. When we discuss pathological gambling, we are usually talking about betting: betting on cards, horses, sports games, slot machines, lotteries to the point of risking everything.

Gambling: A look back in America

There was a time in our recent history that the only place that one could legally and openly engage in gambling was to take a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. And since Las Vegas is located in the western part of the United States most people might never have found the time or means to make such a trip. Following prohibition and the start of building of the Hoover Dam in 1931, the State of Nevada determined that gambling could be profitable for local businesses and the state legislature legalized gambling in 1931 with the first gambling license issued in 1931 and US Route 95 was extended into south Las Vegas. 

And so it went until 1978 when Atlantic City, New Jersey, in an effort to revitalize the economy, on May 26, 1978, the first legal casino opened in the eastern part of the United States. This followed the citizens of New Jersey approving legal gambling for Atlantic City in 1976.

In 1988 the United States government passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which, according to Wikipedia, "recognized the right of Native American tribes to establish gambling and gaming facilities on their reservations as long as the states in which they are located have some form of legalized gambling." Again this act, like the laws that helped establish legalized gambling in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, was a way of "generating revenue for the tribes, encouraging economic development of these tribes."

Also, government sponsored lotteries actually came on to the scene as early as 1934 in Puerto Rico. It was not until 1964 that the first state run lottery started in New Hampshire. And today up to 48 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have government sponsored lotteries. Most of these lotteries support public educations systems.

So it can be seen that the legalization of gambling in the United States was born out of a desire to find new ways to help businesses to be profitable, revitalize a stagnant economy, generate revenue for Indian tribes and support public education. 

Don't we all gamble?

There is no doubt that most of us, if we are over 18, have participated in gambling. We might buy a lottery ticket, scratch ticket, participate in a football pool or March Madness pool...we might have a standing poker game with friends; we might enjoy visiting the track when the horses are running in your community. For the most part this type of gambling is just fun entertainment and when the game or event is over and the lottery numbers are called we return to living our daily lives without consequence.

But for many Americans the acts described above are just the tip of the iceberg of an impulse control disorder.

How prevalent is problem gambling and how costly is problem gambling?

Because gambling is regulated by the individual states, getting a national overview of statistics as they relate to gambling addiction can be difficult. According to The National Council on Problem Gambling:
"Our research finds that 2%-3% of the US population will have a gambling problem in any given year. That’s 6 million to 9 million Americans yet only a small fraction seek out services, such as treatment and self-help recovery programs."
This organization also offers 10 questions to determine if you might be suffering from pathological gambling:

1. You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
2. You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone. 
3. Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep. 
4. You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid.
5. You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling. 
6. You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling. 
7. You have borrowed money to finance your gambling. 
8. You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses. 
9. You have been remorseful after gambling. 
10. You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.
Additionally, the annual cost to the United States resulting from addicted gamblers ranges from a low of $6.7 billion to a $53.8 billion. This is a wide range, but either number is alarming.  

DSM-5 Proposed Re-Classification

Currently the American Psychiatric Association is preparing for publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013. According to their website:
"The work group has proposed that this diagnosis [gambling disorder] be reclassified from Impulse-Control Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified to Substance-Related Disorders which will be renamed Addiction and Related Disorders."

Gambling addiction treatment...going forward

Gambling addiction, whether it is referred to as an impulse-control disorder or a substance-related disorder or an addiction and related disorder, can destroy your life figuratively and literally. If you feel you have a problem, you should seek treatment. If you sense that your loved one has a problem with gambling, remember that family members can and do enable this behavior. Again, suggest Gamblers Anonymous, treatment or an intervention.  According to Wikipedia, pathological gambling can lead to depression and suicide ideation:

A report by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide. The Council also said suicide rates among pathological gamblers are higher than any other addictive disorder.

Dr. David Phillips, a sociologist from University of California-San Diego found "visitors to and residents of gaming communities experience significantly elevated suicide levels." According to him, Las Vegas, the largest gaming market in the United States, "displays the highest levels of suicide in the nation, both for residents of Las Vegas and for visitors to that setting." In Atlantic City, the second-largest gaming market, he found "abnormally high suicide levels for visitors and residents appeared only after gambling casinos were opened."

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Testicular Cancer Risk Linked To Marijuana Use

New study links marijuana use to testicular cancer

On September 10, 2012, a new study was published in the journal Cancer.  The basic finding is this: Young men have a higher risk of testicular cancer if they use marijuana. This study adds to the results of previous studies that have found that marijuana use may have lasting effects on men's overall health, including fertility.

About the study...

This study was conducted at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine located in Los Angeles, CA.  The study's author was Victoria Cortessis, assistant professor of preventive medicine. They decided to do the study because testicular cancer is on the rise and they wanted to zero in on young men's habits that could account for the increased risk.
  • 455 Californian men of basically the same age group were studied, 163 were already diagnosed with testicular cancer, while 292 men were healthy.
  • Researchers used interviews to seek information about their recreational drug use.
  • Those that used marijuana had double the risk of testicular tumors, compared to those who did not use marijuana.
  • The diagnosed testicular cancers tended to be faster-growing and more difficult to treat.

ABC News Good Morning America video report

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

What else should be researched 

Researchers do admit that they don't yet understand how marijuana affects the risk of this cancer type. Testosterone would seem to play a key role, as according to Cortessis: "We know testosterone is an important regulator of testes development and function.It may be that marijuana use disrupts this regulation in a way that makes the testes much more vulnerable to cancer."

Researchers also suspect that using marijuana during puberty may make men particularly more vulnerable and researchers are not sure how other habits like drinking and using other drugs along with marijuana may impact their risk of testicular cancer.

More studies will be conducted, in the meantime any new information, like what this study offers, should not be dismissed.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Does Dad Time Really Impact Self-Esteem? How About Mom Time?

Gambel's Quail parents teaching babies to drink water

Moms and Dads...

It really matters little which animal species you study to see the impact of a parent.  In the animal kingdom sometimes it is the mother who guides and cares for the young, sometimes it is the father and sometimes it is both. Anthropologists compare and contrast patriarchal and matriarchal species, as well as cultures and societies.  In a perfect world each child has the love, attention and emotional support of two parents. But the world isn't perfect and many life events occur and a child can find oneself in a one parent household; however, that does not mean that this child cannot grow and prosper in every sense of the word. What improves one's chances to face life with confidence and optimism in reaching goals is self-esteem.

What is self-esteem?

Maybe some readers think of the term self-esteem as a relatively new psychological term; however, the first time that it was discussed in psychological literature was by William James when he published the Principles of Psychology in 1890. According to James, self-esteem is born when the individual splits his "global self" into two parts: "knower self" and "known self". Most dictionaries will define self-esteem simply as: a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself.  It is self evaluation and it is affected by how we look at ourselves and how we feel others view us.

What affects or controls our self-esteem?

Self-esteem would seem to evolve as a child matures. It probably has very little to do with one's stature in life; that is, happy and successful people are found in every socioeconomic strata. The one contributing factor that scientist seem to agree upon is the overwhelming importance of parental influence on a child's self-esteem. Of course, other influences can be how our peers treat us, how we feel about our body image, finding contentment and a sense of success when we attempt to learn a new skill.

New study highlights the importance of spending time with Dad...

Late last month the results of a seven year study that looked at shared time spent with teens and their parents were published in the journal Child Development.  CNN quotes Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State:
"The stereotype that teenagers spend all their time holed up in their rooms or hanging out with friends is, indeed, just a stereotype. Our research shows that, well into the adolescent years, teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time, especially shared time with fathers, has important implications for adolescents' psychological and social adjustment."
 Here are the study's parameters:
  • Nearly 200 families were tracked for 7 years
  • Most of the families studied were exclusively European American, living in small cities, towns and rural communities and came from working and middle class. 
  • Each family studied had at least two children
Reported results:
  • The amount of time that kids spend with their parent in a group setting lessens as they go through the pre-teen years and teenage years. 
  • One-on-one time increases up to about the age of 12, remains stable to about age 15 and then starts to decline. 
  • Parent group setting time with children between the ages of 8 to 15 was typically seven to eight hours per week. 
  • Weekly one-on-one time for mothers was about 75 minutes, while father's one-on-one time was just over 60 minutes.
  • Increased time with Dad showed key benefits for self-esteem and "social competence", while Mom time did not show the same correlations. 

Researcher's observations...

The researchers offer the following suppositions as to their findings:
  • In two-parent families the mother's role is so scripted that a mom's involvement may go unnoticed.
  • Children may develop higher self-worth based on one-on-one time with their fathers, because their fathers go beyond social expectations when devoting undivided attention to their children.
  • Fathers are more involved in leisure activities with their children and have almost "peer-like interation" with their children.
  • Or it might be that the fathers that spend this one-on-one time with their child actually are drawn to a child who already has a higher self-worth. 

Going forward...

As with most research, in the end we always have more questions to ask.  We all can agree is that family and parents are important.  Self-esteem is important, as most researchers suggest: "Low self-esteem occasionally leads to suicidal ideation and behavior. These can include self-imposed isolation, feelings of rejection, dejection, insignificance, and detachment, and increased dissatisfaction with current social relationships. A lack of social support from peers or family tends to create or exacerbate stress on an individual, which can lead to an inability to adjust to current circumstances. Drug abuse and forms of delinquency are common side effects of low self-esteem."

A message for parents

There is a golden rule- "Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you." Dating back to 1780 BCE (Before Common Era) man has referenced this basic rule and it is a rule that every parent can or should understand. We all want to be treated with respect, we want to learn how to live and love and grow. It is this basic respect, even for our infants, that can and does lay the foundation for self-esteem. This past February a wonderful singer passed away at a young age. Whitney Houston suffered from the disease of addiction, but many years ago she recorded a powerful song that touched on how to parent - "show them all the beauty they possess inside."

In closing, take a minute and enjoy Whitney Houston singing "The Greatest Love of All!"

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

EHR Software May Interfere With Recognizing Patient's Despression

Being "seen" by a medical professional...

When was the last time you were examined by your primary care physician (PCP)? And if you don't have a PCP, then when was the last time you were seen by any physician or medical professional, either as an outpatient or in an emergency room?  Was the medical professional using a computer to make notes about your current condition?  If you answered yes to the last question, then chances are the medical professional was using computer software to establish or update your electronic health records (EHRs).

What is an electronic health record?

There are many websites that offer a basic definition of an electronic health record. After reviewing a number of these, we offer the one found on Wikipedia:

"An electronic health record (EHR) is an evolving concept defined as a systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations. It is a record in digital format that is theoretically capable of being shared across different health care settings. In some cases this sharing can occur by way of network-connected enterprise-wide information systems and other information networks or exchanges. EHRs may include a range of data, including demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal stats like age and weight, and billing information."

It is important to note three phrases in this definition: evolving concept, theoretically capable of being shared, and may include a range of data. So we know that EHR software, like any software is deployed in steps or iterations (always being adapted or improved), with a goal that once a patient has an EHR the records can be immediately shared from doctor to doctor, across state lines, among different health care providers like hospitals, clinics and include a range of informational data, but there seems to be no mention of the data including the medical professionals' personal observations of the patient.  In other words, what does the medical profession "see" or intuit from the patient's physical appearance or behavior?

What are medical professionals concentrating on when they utilize EHR software? 

If you or a family member has been seen by a medical professional who is using EHR software there is a good chance that you wondered what the medical professional was not seeing, because their concentration was focused on the software. These professional sometimes carry the hardware, which is a portable computer, in one hand and complete the data fields with their free hand. If they are new to the software, you might notice them struggling to remember things like: do I hit the "enter" key, the "escape" key or the "tab" key; does this field accept only numbers and no special characters like - / #, can I find a diagnosis code that adequately describes the patient's overall condition?  Does the medical professional ask questions of the patients without making eye-contact, just keeping their eyes on the computer screen or even their back to the patient depending on whether or not the computer screen is bolted to a wall or on a swinging arm?

New study reports on what medical professionals are not seeing when using EHR software...

The results of a new study led by Jeffrey S. Harman, PhD, of the University of Florida and recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine may surprise you, or maybe not. According to the ModernMedicine website article, the following hypothesis was studied:

"...that because EHRs are designed to improve specialized care delivery, odds of depression treatment at practices with EHRs would be greater than at non-EHR practices."

Here is what the researchers determined after examining data from the 2006-2008 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey:

  •  Depression treatment and mental health counseling were significantly less likely to be offered during visits to practices using EHRs.
  • Use of the technology also was significantly associated with reduced odds of treatment of depression during visits made by patients with three or more chronic conditions.
  •  EHRs were associated with half the odds of depression treatment, including antidepressant medication, whereas EHRs were not associated with the receipt of depression treatment in visits by patients with two or fewer chronic conditions.

Possible reasons for not recognizing patient depression...

The referenced study reports the following reasons for not recognizing depression and failing to offer treatment for depression and/or mental health counseling:

“[EHRs] encourage biomedical exchange between the physician and patient including discussion of medication. In contrast, [EHRs] have been observed to have a negative impact on psychosocial exchange, with screen gaze being inversely related to physician engagement. It is possible that the clinic workflows embedded in [EHRs] inadvertently encourage physicians to focus on these multiple physical problems and push depression treatment ‘off the radar screen,’ even after physicians diagnosed the condition.”

Can a patient help to improve the psychosocial exchange?

It is important to remember that depression can cause real physical changes and many patients don't realize that their physical symptoms could be caused by depression. Therefore, it is important that patients honestly and completely answer basic questions presented to them by the medical professional. For example:
  • Have you noticed a change in appetite?
  • Have you recently gained or lost weight?
  • How are you sleeping? Are you having trouble falling asleep or having trouble waking at a normal hour?
  • Do you feel tired? Are you always fatigued?
  • Do you have digestive problems, like constipation or diarrhea?
  • Do you have headaches?
  • Do you seem to have any kind of chronic pain? Including chest pain?
It is true that the answers to the questions posed might fit a number of conditions, other than depression. But if the medical professional poses a question, then it is incumbent upon the patient to answer the questions honestly and completely, offering details. The patient will not get the attention of the medical professional, including real eye-contact, if every question asked is answered matter-of-factly with: "Not really," or "A little," or "sometimes."

The bottom line is this: Help your health care provider to "see" you, to really get to know you, to recognize that what may seem like a little ache or pain might just be depression or some other debilitating mental health problem.  
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day: Honoring Our Addiction Treatment Professionals

Many of our National Holidays are celebrated on Mondays. It wasn't always so, but on January 1, 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act moved a number of holidays like Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day from fixed dates to designated Mondays and was designed to increase the number of three-day weekends for federal employees. One holiday, Labor Day, was first thought of 130 years ago this year; however, it was not until 1894 that Labor Day was officially recognized as a federal holiday to be celebrated on the first Monday of every September.

So today is Labor Day 2012 and while we will often take a holiday from posting here when the holiday falls on a Monday, today we want to take a few minutes to honor our staff who works tirelessly in the field of addiction and recovery treating our patients. Working daily with those suffering from the disease of addiction brings challenges and rewards, offering patients care and insights on how to take the first step in recovery and proving that hope exists and recovery is possible one day at a time.

Like any disease, research continues to unravel some of the mysteries of the disease of addiction. The news is filled with studies and observations of what causes the disease and ways to treat the disease. Working in this field requires that our staff stay abreast of new these developments, attending conferences, participating in forums, continuing their education and renewing their certifications. It takes commitment; resolve to be the best that they can be honoring the trust placed in them by our patients and our patients' families.

So today we would like to honor Hope By The Sea's staff. While we hope you will visit our staff page, we also want you to remember that the staff members listed here represent only our core staff; however, each day additional staff members work side by side with our patients with individual and group therapy, transporting and guiding patients through extracurricular activities (learning how to enjoy life in sobriety), offering a kind word or simple act to encourage patients by sharing their experiences, teaching through example. Perhaps the best honors for our staff comes from patient testimonials, including those from family members who have attended our Family Program.

American Flag graces Hope By The Sea's Ortega property
Today we will fly our American Flag paying tribute to the contributions and achievements of all American workers. There will be parades and picnics in many communities. There will be special Labor Day sales. And you can be sure that many Americans will attend an AA meeting today. Hopefully many in attendance will think of the addiction recovery professional who works tirelessly, committed to helping people achieve long-term recovery. 
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