Brain pacemaker treats crippling depression
Once taboo, seeking mental health treatment is now common. Still, treating major depressive disorder (MDD) and other severe mental health issues remains difficult. Traditional methods, such as medications and talk therapy, sometimes prove insufficient.
That’s why doctors are turning to “brain pacemakers” and deep brain stimulation to fight severe cases of depression. Early attempts at deep brain stimulation focused on cookie-cutter approaches, stimulating the same parts of the brain in different patients. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, however, recently monitored one patient’s brain activities during bouts of depression.
Doctors worked to understand the patient’s emotional circuitry, including the orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. They found that the patient’s most severe depressive bouts were accompanied by a massive increase in activity in her amygdala. Using electrical pulses, researchers reduced brain activity in the amygdala, which correlated with a reduction in symptoms.
Earlier studies also showed promise. In one proof of concept study, doctors treated six patients with deep brain stimulation targeting the same area of the brain. All six reported relief from depression symptoms. Within six months, however, two patients experienced a recurrence of symptoms. The other four patients continued to report improved symptoms.
Currently, some deep brain stimulation treatments rely on the NeuroPace RNS to monitor electrical signals in the brain, and when needed, will deliver electrical pulses. This so-called brain pacemaker helps regulate the brain’s functioning. The NeuroPace RNS is also used to treat seizures.
Over 16 million Americans suffer at least one major depressive episode per year. While many can be treated with traditional talk therapy and medications, a small number suffer severe depression that is unresponsive to traditional treatments. Deep brain stimulation may help.
Breathing break reduces stress
If your to-do list is running long and your stress levels are rising, you might want to start your day with a quick break. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true — just a few short minutes of breathing and mindfulness can help you set your stress aside and improve your focus and productivity when you attack your inbox.
Set a timer for five minutes. Start up some relaxing sounds or soft music if you like. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, and take a few deep breaths from your belly, letting the air slowly rise up into your chest, all the way up to the top of your head. Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts, then hold for four counts before starting again. Focus on each count and how the air feels as it moves in and out of your body. Think about how your body feels through each breath, and if other thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them and let them go.
While you do this exercise, don’t worry about how well you’re doing it — just try to stay in the moment. When your timer goes off after five minutes, you can return to your tasks feeling refreshed and ready to tackle each challenge as it comes.
If a DIY quick meditation isn’t for you or if you prefer a guided experience, a number of meditation apps are available for iOS or Android. Try Headspace, Calm, Healthy Minds, or The Mindfulness App.
Cryolipolysis: Get sculpted without surgery
Are you looking for a way to say goodbye to stubborn fat without liposuction? Cryolipolysis (Cool¬Sculpting®) is an ingenious controlled cooling system that provides long-lasting results.
What is it?
Cryolipolysis is a non-surgical, needle-free treatment that destroys fat cells below the skin to reshape your body without damaging the surrounding tissue.
How does it work?
Cryolipolysis freezes and crystallizes targeted fat cells and destroys them. The body naturally eliminates these dead fat cells in the weeks following the treatment. Untreated areas remain unchanged.
Unlike typical weight loss, where the size of the fat cells varies, cells treated with cryolipolysis disappear permanently, providing long-lasting results. This procedure also allows you, in most cases, to return to your daily activities immediately.
Which areas of the body can be treated?
You can use cryolipolysis to treat many areas of the body, such as a double chin, upper arms, love handles, abdomen, gluteal folds, and inner thighs.
Each person responds differently to treatments, and complications are possible but rare. To find out if cryolipolysis is right for you, visit a clinic in your area that offers this service.
Dental flossing tips everyone should know
Daily flossing is essential to good oral health. It does more than remove unsightly or annoying pieces of lettuce or popcorn stuck between your teeth. It removes plaque before it turns into tartar, which can cause cavities and gingivitis. Flossing also helps clean the areas your toothbrush may struggle to reach. What’s more, it helps remove bacteria and prevent bad breath.
Here are a few tips on how to use dental floss correctly.
Which one to choose?
There are various types of dental floss, including monofilament, multifilament, waxed, unwaxed, and mint-flavored varieties. Select the product you prefer. You can purchase a floss holder or threader if you have difficulty using floss because of braces or limited dexterity.
Using a brush may be more appropriate if your teeth are widely spaced. Talk to your dental hygienist for personalized advice.
How to use it
It’s best to floss at night rather than in the morning, as salivation decreases while you sleep. You should floss before you brush your teeth. This way, your brush can completely remove the residue the floss displaces. It also makes it easier for the bristles and toothpaste to flow between teeth.
Follow these steps to floss effectively:
• Cut off about 12 inches of floss
• Wrap the floss around your middle fingers, leaving about two inches between them
• Tighten it with your thumbs and forefingers
• Slide it between your teeth, forming a “C” at the base of the tooth, under the gum
• Gently scrape the surface by passing two or three times from the gum to the top
It’s normal for your gums to bleed a little at first. However, if the bleeding persists after a few days, it could indicate that you have gingivitis. In this case, consult your dentist.
Make your back stronger this spring
Though sudden back pain can occur after a twist or a sneeze, most back injuries are caused by years of mistreatment before that final, painful injury.
Stresses such as poor posture, faulty body mechanics, obesity, emotional tension, and lack of fitness over the long term are the cause. With these modern problems, it’s not surprising that back pain is the number one complaint today.
Whether you want to treat it or prevent it, these steps will help.
- Posture: Stand with your ears, shoulders, and hips, forming a straight line. See a physical therapist or trainer if they don’t.
- Body mechanics: Keep the correct alignment of ears, shoulders, and hips while performing everyday activities. Keep lifted objects close to your body, and you reduce your risk of injury.
- Exercise: Make it central to maintaining a healthy back. Your program should include aerobic, flexibility, and strengthening exercises.
Aerobic exercise includes walking, biking, and swimming. Do it for 10 to 15 minutes three or four days a week to start, building to 30 minutes.
Poor flexibility can be a key contributor to lower back and neck pain. If your hips don’t move freely, your spine will move more than it should, leading to back programs. If you have a limited range of motion in an area, you need to stretch that area.
Well-balanced muscle strength is essential in maintaining good posture and a healthy back. Strong back, hip, and abdominal muscles support the spine. Strong trunk muscles help to prevent back injuries.
Remember these top keys to a healthy back: posture, mechanics, and exercise. The season for fun is now. Use it to get your back in shape for summer.
March 19-25: National Poison Prevention Week – Steps to take when poisoning is suspected
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has this important information for you.
If you suspect a child or adult has ingested poison, remain calm first.
- Call 911 if the victim has collapsed. If the victim is not breathing, call 911, then give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- If the victim is awake and alert, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. It is open 24/7.
- Be prepared to give the victim’s age and approximate weight.
- Describe the substance. Read from the container if available.
- Never make the victim vomit unless instructed to do so by Poison Control.
- Give your address and phone number. Stay on the phone for instructions from the emergency operator. The specialist may need to call you back.
- Medicines: Turn on a light when you give or take medicines. Read medication directions. Keep medicines in their original bottles. Store them in a safe place where they can’t be reached by children or teenagers.
- Household cleaners and chemicals: Keep chemicals, cleaners, and beauty products in their original containers. Always read the label before using it.
- Never mix cleaning products together. Doing so could produce toxic gases. Wear clothing that covers the skin when you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
- Open the windows and use a fan when using chemicals in the house.
Protecting young children
- Keep drugs and chemicals in childproof cabinets that children can’t reach.
- Don’t take medicine in front of children since they often try to copy adults. When giving children medication, never call it “candy.”
- Caution guests are not to leave drugs where children can find them. Don’t leave your own next dose on the counter.
Reducing the pain, increasing function with wrist arthritis
Wrist arthritis is common in older adults. Often, it develops as the result of past trauma or fracture, but there are simple steps that can reduce pain and increase function.
- Apply heat, cold, or both. An electric heating pad or warm water soaks can ease pain and stiffness. An ice pack or cold water soak can reduce pain from a flare-up caused by too much activity.
- Contrast baths can also be helpful. Soak hands in warm water for 10 minutes. Then switch to cold water for one minute. Or cycle back and forth for half an hour and end with warm water.
- Apply a topical prescription pain relievers gel like Voltaren or Solaraze.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and Advil have the lowest risk of side effects.
- Wear a splint to limit movement during a wrist-intensive activity.
- If pain persists, ask your doctor about anti-inflammatory medication or corticosteroid injections.
- Some surgical techniques are available when severe pain is unresponsive to other treatments, including total wrist replacement. Wrist fusion can help younger people with advanced arthritis, but the trade-off is loss of joint mobility.
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