Low testosterone levels associated with depression in older men
Men with low testosterone levels are more likely to be depressed, according to an article in the February issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
According to information in the article, testosterone deficiency (hypogonadism) is a common condition in older men, occurring in 30 percent of men older than 55. Testosterone levels peak in early adulthood, and then decrease by approximately 1 percent per year after age 40. Symptoms of hypogonadism include decreased muscle mass and strength, decreased bone mineral density, diminished appetite, decreased libido, fatigue and irritability. Some symptoms overlap with those of depression, but the association between hypogonadism and depression is unclear. Read the rest of the article about this finding...
Wednesday, January 28, 2004
Suitcases from an insane asylum tell of lives long lost
Craig Williams, a curator at the New York State Museum, drove four hours to visit Willard Psychiatric Center in the spring of 1995. The complex, located 65 miles southwest of Syracuse, was about to shut down after more than 100 years. Williams figured he would be able to pick up some artifactsmaybe some antique furniture or a few nurses' uniforms. A staffer suggested he check out the attic of an abandoned building, and that's when he found 400 suitcases covered by decades of dust and pigeon droppings.
These suitcases bore the names of former patients. Inside were their long-forgotten possessions: snapshots, diaries, postcards, books, letters, news clippings. For Williams, finding these suitcases was the equivalent of stumbling upon a buried chest of gold. "You'd open these suitcases, and you could so clearly sense and feel a personality and a humanity," he recalls. He didn't know it at the time, but these dusty trunks would change the course of his life, sparking a mission that would stretch on for the next nine yearsfirst to uncover the stories of the suitcases' owners, and then to present them to the public. Read the rest of the article at the Village Voice.
Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Antipsychotic Drugs Raise Diabetes Risk
Four prominent medical organizations warned on Tuesday that a widely prescribed class of antipsychotic drugs (Clozaril, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Geodon, and Abilify) increase the risk of diabetes, echoing concerns raised by U.S. regulators and researchers.
The American Diabetes Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity joined forces in a statement published in the February issue of Diabetes Care. Read more about the risk...
The trials of getting a newspaper article published
We live in a society that promotes freedom of speech through mechanisms such as a free press. What most folks don't understand, however, is that the 'press' (as an entity) isn't really an option for 990f most Americans who want something published (other than a letter to the editor). The press is a corporate entity, just like any other corporation, whose bottom line often trumps whatever ethics it believes it follows. I recently had a revealing experience with the supposed 'free press' when I tried to have an article regarding Seasonal Affective Disorder published in my local community newspaper. This newspaper is very small, maybe 30 pages, and is published on a weekly schedule. I thought it a no-brainer that they would accept such content from a local resident and published author without issue.
For reasons they seem unwilling to disclose, they have refused publication of the article. I don't get it. If I were editor of that newspaper and a local professional wrote such an article, I'd gladly accept it. Why not? It provides timely information to the community about a disorder that affects a good percentage of northern residents every year at this time.
Thankfully, the Internet has become the true free press, publishing for the people, by the people. I reach at least 20x the readership of my local newspaper every week, so I certainly wasn't looking to expand my readership. I was just trying to give a little something back to my local community where I live, that's all. I still don't understand why it has to be so difficult. Apparently some people believe that there must always be some ulterior motive for one's actions... It's a sad, cynical world we live in if that's the case.
Thursday, January 22, 2004
Century of research confirms impact of psychosocial factors on health
Over 50 percent of deaths in the United States can be attributed to behavioral and social factors, says psychologist Oakley Ray, Ph.D., of the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University who reviewed the last century of research on psychosocial factors and health. Furthermore, recent research provides evidence that stresses that affect the brain can hurt the body at the cellular and molecular level and diminish a person's health and quality of life. But, the research also says that maintaining a positive frame of mind can help a person overcome some of these stress effects, fight disease better and ultimately delay death. These findings are reported on in this month's American Psychologist, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
Why sleeping on it just might work
From Coleridge's epic Kubla Khan to Mendeleyev's periodic table of elements, it's long been believed that sleep can help fuel artistic creativity and scientific insight. A recent experiment designed by German neurologists at the University of Lubeck now provides scientific proof for the phenomenon.
If you're a business....
If you're a small business or small company that has everything on the line and you still haven't read, much less understood, the Cluetrain Manifesto, you should stop what you're doing right now and read it. The whole thing. Customers don't want to be talked down to any longer, they want conversations with companies. Not edicts, not sanitized generic communications which say virtually nothing. You want to create buzz for your product? Start by embracing your existing customers and learning from them. Don't be afraid any longer of talking to them. And then take it from there...
Harris Poll: Source article
Here's the source article for the Harris Poll information, showing Internet user trends over time. Very interesting to view...
Men underdiagnosed victims of depression
If there's a "depression season," we're smack in the middle of it. The holidays are over. If they were great, you're probably missing the freedom, turkey dinners, family and friends. If Uncle Al got drunk and everybody fought, you may be realizing life is not the bowl of cherries you had hoped for. Stir in the credit-card bills, driving to and from work in the dark and that extra bulge around the midsection, and it's easy to see why many people hate January.
For most folks, seasonal "blahs" give way to a sunnier outlook. But, if depression persists for longer than a few weeks, it may be a medical problem.
Men are under-diagnosed victims of depression. The U.S.-based National Institute of Mental Health says depression affects twice as many women as men, but men are much less likely to talk about it or seek help. "Men may not recognize their irritability, sleep problems, loss of interest in work or hobbies, and withdrawal as signs of depression," according to an NIMH release. Read the rest of this article about men and depression...
How TV Affects Your Child
Most children plug into the world of TV long before they enter school: 700f child-care centers use TV during a typical day. In a year, the average child spends 900 hours in school and nearly 1,023 hours in front of a TV. Television may seem like a good thing: preschoolers can get help learning the alphabet on public television, grade schoolers can learn about wildlife on nature shows, and parents can keep up with current events on the evening news. No doubt about it - TV can be a great educator and entertainer if you watch with your child. But despite its advantages, too much television can be detrimental. Read the rest of this article about how TV affects your child's health and wellbeing.
Poll: Internet use grows to 69 percent of US adults
More than two-thirds of American adults were users of the Internet in 2003, according to a poll published by market research company Harris Interactive. The figure of 69 percent of those polled represents around 146 million people.
Internet use among adults is growing constantly, Harris Interactive said, noting that the figure had risen from 67 percent in 2002, 64 percent in 2001, and 56 percent in 1999. The first poll taken, in 1995, found that only nine percent -- some 17.5 million people -- said they used the Internet.
The poll found that most Internet use -- some 61 percent -- occurs at home, while 31 percent ocurrs at work. The biggest change was seen in users of high-speed Internet -- 37 percent of users, compared with 22 percent two years ago.
Internet users spend at least nine hours a week on the web compared with seven hours in late 2002. Some 93 percent of users gave their ages at less than 65 years, and 60 percent were university students.
The telephone poll, taken last November and December, surveyed 2,033 people aged above 18 years.
Docs Say They're Ill Prepared to Spot Mental Problems in Teens
Many doctors aren't confident of their abilities to diagnose and treat mental illness in teens, especially when the disorders are serious, a new survey of family physicians and pediatricians finds.
Only half of the doctors said they always make a point of asking adolescent patients about their emotional well-being during exams. And three of four admitted they weren't very good at detecting drug abuse.
Another cold one here in New England
Well, it wasn't quite as bad as I was expecting when I woke up this morning to only -8 F outside. They were saying -15 F or more. Easy stuff. But the wind chill factor was -50 F!!!!! Now, c'mon... Nobody likes that. I toughed it out, started my car 10 minutes before I went out to it, and everything turned out fine.
Thursday, January 15, 2004
Death of Civility and Tradition
I don't have many pet peeves and, in fact, pride myself on the dearth of them. For instance, I'm old fashioned in that when at work, I actually expect people to spend the majority of their time working. I like to hold open doors for my wife. I believe in trying to acknowledge gifts and thoughtful gestures with actual written cards or notes, not emails. And I find nothing wrong with wanting to spend a holiday with my family.
Today, something got me up in arms that I would rarely otherwise think about. It has to do with cell phones and driving. I try not to talk too much on a cell phone when I'm driving, and if doing so, pull over into a parking lot or ensure that I'm on an interstate and stay in the right-hand lane with cruise control on to keep distractions at a minimum. I've never thought much about people who talk incessantly on their cell phones, driving, eating, when they go off in the office and the person's in a meeting (but didn't have the common courtesy to either turn it off before leaving their desk or take it with them). Whatever.
But there is a limit to all of this. And this limit was crossed today when I attended the funeral of my wife's last remaining grandmother. She passed earlier in the week and the funeral was early this morning. We had to drive to the cemetary as is tradition, across Cambridge. Our procession was relatively small, only about a dozen or so cars. It is tradition and a sign of respect for the dead and the grieving to follow a few simple rules when you come across a funeral procession. One, you don't cut into the procession, no matter what. It's that simple. You don't try and get in front of it unless you have the room to do so. And quite simply, you show some common courtesy, decency, and respect for the dead. This transcends all races, religions, and cultures.
So today, in what was no more than a 20 minute drive across Cambridge, we had two drivers who tried to cut into our small procession, both oblivious to what they were doing because they were too busy talking on their cell phones. We honked at them to no avail. At a red light, the funeral director got out of the lead car and walked back to the one vehicle and asked him to get out of the procession (and luckily, he complied). The second guy was trying to cut in front of the procession by making a left-hand turn at a light from the straight thru-lane. Of course he didn't make it and looked frustrated that he had to wait all of 1 minute to let us go by. He too seemed oblivious to what he had done because he too was too busy talking on his cell phone to notice it was a funeral procession.
People, it's time to pay attention again to the world around you when you drive, especially in crowded, hectic city streets. Put down the darned cell phone, especially when you're driving in such an area, and look around you and drive defensively. These kinds of behaviors, which are a simple result of inattention and perhaps, disrespect, are going a long way to making our society less civilized and less enjoyable to live in. No one wants their funeral to be treated light-heartedly or shown disrespect. So please, take it easy. Slow down. And enjoy the life you have while you still have it to enjoy.
New study shatters Internet 'geek' image
The typical Internet user -- far from being a geek -- shuns television and actively socializes with friends, a study on surfing habits said on Wednesday, January 14, 2004.
The findings of the first World Internet Project report present an image of the average Netizen that contrasts with the stereotype of the loner "geek" who spends hours of his free time on the Internet and rarely engages with the real world.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Transition to Adulthood Delayed, Marriage and Family Postponed, Study Finds
Becoming an adult takes longer today than in previous decades, with many not achieving all the traditional markers -- starting a career, forming a new household, starting a family -- until after age 30, according to a study by the Network on Transitions to Adulthood.
The study finds that young people in the second half of the 20th century are traveling more pathways after finishing high school, combining more roles, exploring more options and gaining more education to prepare for an increasingly demanding labor force than did adolescents in the earlier half of the century. As a result, they are delaying but not abandoning marriage and family.
Even Modest Exercise Can Prevent Weight Gain
The results of a Duke University Medical Center randomized controlled trial strongly suggests that not only can 30 minutes of daily walking prevent weight gain in most sedentary people, but that any further exercise can lead to additional loss of weight and fat.
The researchers said that their study provides the first scientific basis for a "more is better" approach to exercise. The 30 minutes of daily walking is the equivalent of 10 to 12 miles of walking each week, the researchers said, adding that for most sedentary people, this amount of exercise will offset the slow and incremental weight gain of inactivity.
Tips for Safe Online Dating
You may have missed this in the pre-holiday rush to get your shopping, planning, organizing or traveling done, but I did publish an article about Tips for Safe Online Dating. If you're interested in this way of meeting people, I highly recommend taking the plunge and giving it a try. It is, after all, how I met my wife!!
Largest multistate study finds end-of-life care still 'woefully inadequate'
In a national study on end-of-life care in the United States, Brown University researchers find the physical and emotional needs of the dying continue to be unmet, particularly for those who die in institutions. With baby boomers about to reach retirement age, the need for reform becomes increasingly "urgent," according to Joan Teno, lead author of a paper published Jan. 7, 2004 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Friendships play key role in suicidal thoughts of girls, but not boys
Relationships with friends play a significant role in whether teenage girls think about suicide, but have little impact on suicidal thoughts among boys, according to a new nationwide study. The research found that girls were nearly twice as likely to think about suicide if they had only a few friends and felt isolated from their peers. Girls were also more likely to consider suicide if their friends were not friends with each other. Read the entire news release on this suicidal research here.
Research reveals brain has biological mechanism to block unwanted memories
For the first time, researchers at Stanford University and the University of Oregon have shown that a biological mechanism exists in the human brain to block unwanted memories.
The findings, to be published Jan. 9 in the journal Science, reinforce Sigmund Freud's controversial century-old thesis about the existence of voluntary memory suppression.
"The big news is that we've shown how the human brain blocks an unwanted memory, that there is such a mechanism and it has a biological basis," said Stanford psychology Professor John Gabrieli, a co-author of the paper.
Welcome to 2004!
Okay, so I'm a little late getting started with blogging in the new year, but hey, better late than never, right?! Welcome to 2004, I hope it is a good one for you!!
Friday, December 19, 2003
A new essay for the holidays
The holidays are a time of year, almost a rite of passage one might say, that you either love or dread. There's little inbetween. Most folks look forward to the holidays and Christmas on some level, perhaps believing they can or will rekindle that childhood feeling of innocence and wonder that usually accompanies this time of the year. Most folks, however, don't usually feel the same kind of anticipation toward the familial obligations the holidays often bring. Few folks look at the time as an opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of the holidays, and why they are meant to be important and special.
Read my latest essay, Finding Meaning in the Holidays and Christmas, and find your meaning again this holiday season.
Jokes activate same brain region as cocaine
There's truth in the maxim 'laughter is a drug'. A comic cartoon fired up the same brain centre as a shot of cocaine, researchers are reporting.
A team at Stanford University in California asked lab mates, spouses and friends to select the wittiest newspaper cartoons from a portfolio. They showed the winning array to 16 volunteers while peering inside their heads by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Thursday, December 4, 2003
Holidays Reinforce Negative Self-Image
The San Antonio Express-News reminds us that it's that time of the year again, when people (mostly women) misperceive what they see in the mirror and become overly critical of their body image. The holidays are a great time of the year to get into a vicious eating cycle, when many of us try to cope with holiday stress and our own self-image.
USA Today Discovers ADHD
USA Today just figured out that a lot of people have ADHD, thanks to the release of the first FDA-approved medication to treat it. Despite the fact that this has been a recognized disorder for decades, it's funny how news stories always seem to popup about disorders the minute a new medication is available to treat it. Often the same story will only passingly refer to other treatments available, and glowingly refer to the medication's own Web site (I'll leave it to you to read and figure out whether the USA Today story does this). Yes, that's where I'd turn to look for objective information about treatments!! (not).
Study Questions New Schizophrenia Drug
A drug that has become one of the first-line treatments for schizophrenia since the mid-1990s is not much better than older and cheaper medication, a surprising new study found. The study was paid for by Eli Lilly & Co., maker of the newer drug, olanzapine, sold as Zyprexa. Read more about this study.
In addition to it being as effective as the older medication combination, the newer medication costs something on the order of 8000% more per dose!! Sometimes newer medications are definitely not better.