Manage Seasonal Affective Disorder

The end of August signals the winding down of summer. It is a time of transition – long, warm days giving way to cooler imgres-1temperatures. The lush green vegetation and blooms of the season begin to fade as the colors of autumn take center stage. For many, this is an easy and expected change. But for about five percent of the population it can lead to a case of the blues, a very real disorder known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

SAD literally does make you feel sad, depressed and lifeless. While this condition can most often affect people who live in places where summers are long and hot or where winters are long and cold – the fact is that the condition can be influenced by a simple change in season.

Less people suffer from spring and summer blues than those who are afflicted by significant mood changes during fall and winter. So, before fall arrives and rapidly turns to winter, here are a few tips to help you recognize the signs of SAD, and recommendations from health care experts to help treat the condition if you think you might be afflicted.

Symptoms

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information & the National Library of Medicine, these are the more common146-summer-blues symptoms to look for:

  • Hopelessness
  • Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Increased sleep (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Sluggish movements
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability that seems to have no reason

If you recognize any of these changes in your mood, consult your health care professional. Do not keep this to yourself. Speak to those closest to you, and confront the issue. Whether you choose medical treatment or lifestyle changes to help manage this condition, make sure that it is done under a doctor’s supervision.

Treatment

The Mayo Clinic recommends a number of treatments to combat SAD:images-3

  • Light therapy
  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy

You may also want to consider these lifestyle changes:

  • Create a lighter environment.  Open windows, let sunlight in.
  • Spend more time outdoors. Take frequent walks in a nearby park or find a public space where you can sit and take in the view.
  • Start and exercise routinely. It helps with stress or a feeling of anxiety. Having a daily, bi-weekly or weekly routine keeps the mind active and re-energized – all of  which helps to keep your focus on more pleasant things.

Risk Factors

Risks are higher if you have a history of depression, bipolar disorder or other related issues. This condition is reported more often among women than men. If you have a family history of depression, you may be more prone.

Remember that having seasonal blues is a very real condition and one that is treatable.

If you are on a prescribed medication for any condition, and you need help affording your prescriptions, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

References: Mayo Clinic, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, PubMed Health, PsychCentral

By WHBlogger 
08/11/2014 

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

 

 

Quick Guide to Kindergarten Immunizations

As fall quickly approaches, so does the beginning of a new school year. In the coming weeks, millions of kindergarteners across the country will be entering the classroom for the first time, but before they do, they’ll need to be up-to-date on their immunizations.kindergartner

What immunizations are required?

Even though the federal government does not have vaccine regulations, all 50 states require children in public schools to have certain immunizations. Each state has slightly different vaccine requirements, so parents should check with the local health department or the school office to see which specific immunizations their kindergartner will need.

Children who have followed the immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) won’t need to do anything—they will have all of the necessary vaccines in time for kindergarten. However, if parents have missed any vaccination appointments or chosen to delay certain immunizations, they will need to catch up before starting school. If this is the case, their pediatrician can recommend a schedule that will get them fully vaccinated as soon as possible. In some states, the child can still attend class so long as all of the future vaccination appointments have been formally scheduled.

List of immunizations

In the following list of immunizations, you’ll note that protection from several illnesses can be combined into a single shot. In addition, some of the vaccinations require several doses (spaced out over a period of weeks or months) in order for a child to reach full immunity.

Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (5 doses)
This vaccine is commonly abbreviated as DTaP or DTP. 

  • Diphtheria is extremely rare in the United States. The disease affects the membranes of the nose and throat. In serious cases, it can spread to the heart and brain.
  • Also known as “lockjaw,” tetanus is also uncommon in this country. The disease affects the nervous system and it has no cure.
  • Pertussis is better known as “whooping cough.” It spreads very easily and a pertussis epidemic has recently been declared in California.  

Immunization shotPolio (4 doses)
Polio was essentially eradicated from the United States in 1979.  It infects the central nervous system and causes various forms of paralysis.

MMR (2 doses)
This vaccine contains protection from three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.

  • Measles starts with cold symptoms and, eventually, the child develops spots. Pneumonia, brain swelling, and other complications are possible. There are generally less than 200 cases of measles in the United States each year, however in 2014 a record of 667 cases were reported.
  • The infection that causes mumps affects the parotid glands, which sit near the ears. Hearing loss is common in people who’ve had mumps, but fortunately, the MMR vaccination has lowered disease rates by 99% since it was first introduced in 1967.
  • According to the CDC, rubella has been eliminated in the United States. Also known as “German measles,” the illness has symptoms that are similar to measles, but they’re often less severe.

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (4 doses)
Commonly abbreviated as “Hib”, this vaccine protects against a specific type of bacteria that causes several dangerous illnesses. The most common ones are brain infections, blood infections, and pneumonia.

Hepatitis B (3 doses)
This disease is often called “Hep B.” It can turn into a life-long condition and it often causes serious liver damage.

Varicella (1 or 2 doses)
This vaccine protects against chickenpox, an illness that causes an extremely itchy skin rash. In some cases, chickenpox can cause severe dehydration, pneumonia, and streptococcal infections in the skin.

Keep in mind, all children older than six-months of age should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every year, usually in September or October. 

Even though most of the terrible diseases listed in this article are extremely rare in the United States, vaccines still represent a critically important healthy childpublic health initiative. Many dangerous germs are brought into the country every day from people who have traveled abroad. Without vaccinations, those germs could trigger outbreaks in the United States. In fact, that exact situation has occurred in recent years with measles outbreaks in New York City and Texas.

Bottom line: vaccines save lives. In the 20th century, they were responsible for virtually eliminating eight deadly diseases. Immunizations are, without a doubt, the best way to keep children healthy. 

If you are on a prescribed medication and need help affording your prescriptions, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

References: Centers for Disease Control, The Mayo Clinic

By WHBlogger 
08/27/2014 
Updated: 7/26/18

Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.

Psoriasis: An Overview

For 7.5 million Americans, dealing with the bothersome red patches of psoriasis is only half the battle. These individuals also have to fight against the common stereotypes surrounding the condition. But, the best way to dispel these myths is with knowledge and understanding.

What are the causes of psoriasis?

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. Normally, skin cells replace themselves every four weeks, but in some people, the immune system tells the cells to grow too fast. When that happens, the excess cells build-up to create a rash-like appearance on the skin and the condition is called psoriasis.

PsoriasisMany people believe that psoriasis is contagious, but it is not. Genetics play a role for some, but in most cases, scientists don’t know the root cause of this condition. They believe that the following circumstances can bring about psoriasis in individuals who are susceptible. These triggers can also aggravate the condition in people who have already been diagnosed with psoriasis:

  • Stress
  • Infections (especially strep throat)
  • Medication (antimalarials, inderal, indomethacin, lithium, and quinidine)
  • Damage to the skin (sunburns, cuts, infections, or vaccinations)

Types of psoriasis

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, there are five types of psoriasis. Nearly 80% of adult cases are classified as plaque psoriasis. However, young children are more likely to suffer from inverse psoriasis and guttate psoriasis. Keep in mind, individuals can transition from one type of psoriasis to another. They may also suffer from multiple types of psoriasis at any one point in time.

  • plaque psoriasisPlaque Psoriasis: This condition has the classic signs of psoriasis: raised, red patches with silver scales. The patches can be quite thick and they’re most often seen on the lower back, palms, feet, scalp, knees, and elbows.
  • Inverse Psoriasis: This type is only present in skin folds (armpits, under the breasts, and in the genital region). The skin appears red and shiny, but there are no scales.
  • Guttate Psoriasis: In this form, individuals have smaller pink lesions. These small spots are usually seen on the trunk, legs, and arms. The spots are thin and they have noticeably fewer scales.
  • mild-guttate-psoriasis-handPustular Psoriasis: Although this type is uncommon, some cases can be dangerous. Pustular psoriasis brings on painfully red skin and small blisters filled with pus. It can be widespread or confined to one area of the body.
  • Erythrodermic Psoriasis: This type is also uncommon, but can be life-threatening. It impacts skin all over the body and causes severe redness. Instead of having localized patches, scales are everywhere and large amounts of skin shed off.

Treatment Options

Even though there is no cure for psoriasis, there are several treatment options to try. Mild cases of psoriasis may only need one type of therapy, but more severe cases will need a combination of treatments. Individuals need to carefully consider the side effects and benefits of each choice:

  • Topical Treatments: This category consists of creams and ointments that are rubbed directly into the skin. Basic topical treatments are available over-the-counter, but some of the stronger creams require a prescription.  
  • Light Therapy: Some dermatologists recommend using natural or artificial light in order to slow the growth of skin cells. This could include sunlight, indoor UVA or UVB rays, or lasers. Doctors do not endorse using tanning beds or spending excessive time in the sun. A doctor or dermatologist should always supervise treatment with light therapy.
  • Oral Medications: Certain prescription drugs can be used to block the body’s immune system. These medications are usually reserved for severe forms of psoriasis. 
  • Biologic Medications: These medications are given through an injection or IV. Traditional oral medications used for psoriasis impact the entire immune system. However, biologic medications are able to stop the specific immune system response that triggers the overgrowth of skin cells.

Living with psoriasis can be painful, embarrassing, and frustrating. Thankfully, dermatologists and other skin experts are constantly researching safe and effective treatments that can improve the quality of life for people who suffer from this condition. If you have psoriasis, try to be open and share your condition with friends and family. Their support can help ease the stress and anxiety associated with the disease. 

If you are on a prescribed medication to help manage psoriasis symptoms, or for any other condition, and you need help affording your prescriptions, download a free Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card or request a card be mailed to you. It provides significant discounts on almost all recommended medications (brand and generic). Most experts agree, taking your medicines as prescribed improves overall health and wellbeing and lowers cost of health care for everyone. 

References: National Psoriasis Foundation, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), American Academy of Dermatology

By WHBlogger 
Originally posted: 08/22/2014 
Edited: 7/19/2017
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health. 

Tell us if this was helpful and let us know what other topics you might like to see us cover in our blog.