Healthcare workers are front line fighters against COVID-19, but they face critical shortages of Personal Protective Equipment nationwide. PPE enhances their safety so they can keep caring for our loved ones.
Medical facilities across the country are running low on masks and other important safety supplies. What do hospitals and health-care workers need right now? The Wall Street Journal reported last week that hospitals across the country are running out of masks and other key equipment, and that the U.S. strategic stockpile of medical supplies is outmatched by the spread of coronavirus. Items in particular need include personal protective equipment, or PPE, which health-care workers require to keep themselves safe while treating infectious-disease patients. On the website GetUsPPE, started by a group of doctors and supported by a volunteer team of developers, designers and organizers, more than 1,500 requests for donations have been made by health-care workers across the country seeking things like N95 respirator masks, surgical masks, hand sanitizer, face shields and protective gowns. […] If I have spare masks and other supplies at home, how do I donate them? The American Medical Association recommends anyone who has PPE to contact their local hospital or health department “to ensure these resources are appropriate and can be distributed based on need,” AMA President Dr. Patrice Harris said in a statement.
Helping others: it’s a fundamental part of humanity, bonding together and helping a fellow man or woman. In times of tragedy, the stories of those who help others are inspiring, such as helping the nation recover from national disasters and terrorist attacks. Some men and women even devote their lives to helping others, from the police force that protects our cities, to the fire departments who run into burning buildings, to the service men and women who risk their lives for the common good. But helping others isn’t limited to these grand gestures or times of tribulation. Helping others can be done each and every day. And contrary to what you may have heard, helping others doesn’t always have to be a selfless act. It’s important to understand that helping others can actually help yourself. No matter what the motivation, getting out and helping others is the key. So in that spirit of motivation, here are 5 reasons why helping others actually helps yourself. …
To President Trump and Vice President Pence, On February 24th, health authorities from China and a team from the World Health Organization reported that 3,387 health workers (1) in China had been infected with the novel coronavirus. In Italy 2,629 health workers (2) have been infected, which reflects 8% of total cases in Italy; hospital doctor union head Carlo Palermo told Italian news (3) source ANSA on March 16 that it was a “frightful number, and this situation puts health facilities in further difficulties.” In the U.S., where the disease is early but closely following the Italian growth curve (4), our healthcare workers, including physicians, nurses, emergency responders, food service workers and other frontline staff, are frightened – not only because of the impending stress on the healthcare system, but also because of the plummeting supply of personal protective equipment, or “PPE.” …
Ugh you say, as you roll your eyes. Don’t lecture me on what I should do! But this isn’t a cliché or a holier-than-thou lecture on the benefits of volunteering your time. It is my own personal experience of how volunteering helped get me, and now maybe you, through depression. How is this possible, you might wonder. I can barely take care of myself, get off the couch, or think straight. I couldn’t do something like that – I would fail miserably and embarrass myself. It’s contrary to what you might naturally think to do when depressed. Well, think about the following and see if it makes sense to you. […] Gradually, over time, my providers and others noticed a lift in my mood. They attribute it, in part, to my activities as a volunteer, and to the sense of purpose and new connections it gave me. […] I urge you to try volunteering your time to help others for so many reasons, including as a strategy to help you through your depression. You might be surprised by the results!
Science has tried to interview George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for 2 months. Last week he responded. Gao oversees 2000 employees—one-fifth the staff size of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and he remains an active researcher himself. In January, he was part of a team that did the first isolation and sequencing of severe acute respiratory syndrome 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19. […] Q: What mistakes are other countries making? A:The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks. This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.
With the coronavirus quickly spreading in Washington state in early March, leaders of the Skagit Valley Chorale debated whether to go ahead with weekly rehearsal. The virus was already killing people in the Seattle area, about an hour’s drive to the south. […] On March 6, Adam Burdick, the choir’s conductor, informed the 121 members in an email that amid the “stress and strain of concerns about the virus,” practice would proceed as scheduled at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church. Sixty singers showed up. A greeter offered hand sanitizer at the door, and members refrained from the usual hugs and handshakes. “It seemed like a normal rehearsal, except that choirs are huggy places,” Burdick recalled. “We were making music and trying to keep a certain distance between each other.” After 2½ hours, the singers parted ways at 9 p.m. Nearly three weeks later, 45 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or ill with the symptoms, at least three have been hospitalized, and two are dead. The outbreak has stunned county health officials, who have concluded that the virus was almost certainly transmitted through the air from one or more people without symptoms.
As of now, all Americans are expected to take part in social distancing — meaning no parties, no bars, and no trips to your friend’s house. A lot has been said about how this will affect the American dating scene: Can digital dating last? Staying home — truly staying putwhere you are — also affects the relationship dynamics of couples, whether it’s a married pair or a couple who recently moved in together. Is it commitment — or is it self-quarantine? To get some insight, Inverse interviewed three romantic relationship experts on how to keep romantic relationships healthy while sheltering in place:
With overrun hospitals facing an acute shortage of masks, people are pulling out their sewing machines to fill the void. They are scrounging for fabric, cutting it up, stitching it together. They are repurposing drapes, dresses, bra straps, shower curtains, even coffee filters. They are building supply chains, organizing workers, managing distribution networks. Most of all, they are sewing. All over the country, homebound Americans are crafting thousands upon thousands of face masks to help shield doctors, nurses and many others from the coronavirus.
Help make masks for medics! Use this link for instructions and CDC approved mask patterns.
They are pulling together to meet an urgent need: Hospitals, overwhelmed by the fast-spreading pandemic, are burning through their supplies of protective gear, in particular masks, at an alarming rate. Doctors and nurses are getting sick and dying. […] “Sewers, we’ve always stepped up and done this thing,” said Denise Voss, the head of the Inland Empire chapter of the American Sewing Guild. “We’re made for this time. We’re happy to stay home and sew. And we all have stashes of fabric.” Her group, with about 130 members in Southern California, is making hundreds of face masks at the request of the Riverside University Health System Medical Center.
Mindfulness refers to the natural human ability to be aware of one’s experiences and to pay attention to the present moment in a purposeful, receptive, and non-judgmental way. Using mindful techniques can be instrumental in reducing stress and promoting positive psychological outcomes. Researchers have found that mindfulness naturally increases as people age. That is why people say life gets better with age. This may be because older people have the wisdom and time to use mindfulness as a means to improve wellbeing. The study has been published in the Journal Aging and Mental Health. Healthy aging researchers at Flinders University say certain characteristics of mindfulness seem more strongly evident in older people compared to younger people – and suggest ways for all ages to benefit. “This suggests that mindfulness may naturally develop with time and life experience,” says behavioural scientist Associate Professor Tim Windsor […] “The significance of mindfulness for wellbeing may also increase as we get older, in particular the ability to focus on the present moment and to approach experiences in a non-judgmental way. “These characteristics are helpful in adapting to age-related challenges and in generating positive emotions.”
According to new research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, those who know how to plan ahead but also live in the moment are better able to stay positive whenever the going gets rough. When you have a negative thought, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing can help calm you down and bring you back to the present moment. […] Those who used proactive coping methods (like visualizing dreams and then trying to achieve them) and mindfulness techniques each day were less likely to be negatively influenced by the stressors in their lives. Interestingly, though, when participants only engaged in proactive coping—and not mindfulness—they still reported feeling stressed. […] “Proactive coping works to reduce the likelihood of experiencing future stressors—that means people who do more proactive coping tend to encounter fewer stressful experiences,” Neupert told Runner’s World. “Mindfulness brings non-judgmental awareness to the present. That means an awareness of what is happening or being felt right now without attempting to change it. It is accepting the here and now.”
The coronavirus outbreak may have you feeling lonely, isolated, stressed, and anxious. Whether you’re social distancing or required to stay home, these tips may help you feel better. Be social. Socialization is key, especially if you feel isolated. Feeling connected to others wards off loneliness and stress. First, swap the term “social distancing” for “physical distancing.” Remind yourself that we’re all still connected, even if we’re apart. Next, consider it “distant socializing.” You can still get together with friends and family online or on your phone. There are apps that make face-to-face conversations easy. Send emails and texts. Get in touch on social media. Pick up the phone and say hi. Look online for religious services and cultural events. Many organizations are offering digital gatherings. Share your feelings with others. Conversation helps you feel less alone and more supported. …
The University of Washington Center for Health Trends and Forecasts published a number of predictive models for Covid19’s impact on the US, they even give predictions for every state. They predict the peak is just over two weeks away, around April 14, when there will most likely be over 2,000 new deaths per day in the U.S. as a whole. Other models they include are for required hospital beds and ICU beds.
As efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ramp up, you may have found yourself trying to find ways to help your community— while still practicing the social distancing and other important guidelines put in place to protect all our health. One critical need that has emerged over the past several days is the need for more personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns, in hospitals and other health care settings. In recent days, doctors and nurses have warned that they are running out of equipment to stay safe as they diagnose and treat patients. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Allina Health, along with several community partners, have launched a statewide volunteer effort, calling for people to sew and donate masks for doctors, nurses and other medical staff.
Want to help create masks? Use this link for instructions and the approved mask pattern from Sew Good Goods.
“Our communities are always looking for ways to help each other. We are so heartened by the response and are grateful for organizations like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota who are leading volunteer efforts to assist us in this critical hour,” said Helen Strike, COVID-19 system incident commander for Allina Health. “Hand sewn masks will allow us to meet on-going health care needs and preserve critical personal protective equipment for the caregivers on the front lines of the coronavirus response.”
Citing shortages, Deaconess Health System, including Henderson’s Methodist Health, has asked the public to sew face masks for staff fighting coronavirus. “This does follow CDC protocols that you can find on their website that if all other supplies are not available, that handmade masks that meet certain criteria are acceptable,” Deaconess spokeswoman Becca Scott said. The release with the video, pattern and instructions was posted to the Deaconess Facebook page Thursday morning and is available at deaconess.com/masks. A PDF of the pattern is available here and embedded at the bottom of this article. Deaconess has “a sample video” about how to make the masks, which Scott said will be sterilized when they come in. “This is not outside CDC guidelines if other supplies are exhausted. And so we want to have these coming in,”
Scott said. Shortages of specialized masks moved federal health officials this month to liberalize their recommendations about which face protection front line health-care workers should use to ward off the highly contagious disease stemming from coronavirus. “Prior to modern disposable masks, washable fabric masks were standard use for hospitals,” said Dawn Rogers, MSN, RN, FNP-C, Patient Safety & Infection Prevention Office in a release to media. “We will be able to sterilize these masks and use them repeatedly as needed. While it’s less than ideal, we want to do our best to protect our staff and patients during this pandemic.”
I was taking this thing pretty seriously from an early stage because of advice from my good friend @amhitchens, who rightly identified the coming crisis. So I put my house in lockdown, I closed @ICSR_Centre early, and I started taking precautions 2/
If you’re finding it hard to stay home right now, imagine how it would feel to be a doctor or nurse. Health care workers don’t have the luxury of holing up in their homes to shield themselves from the coronavirus. They have to expose themselves to the risk, and some are separating themselves from their families for weeksto avoid transmitting the virus to them. They’re not only suffering the anxiety of caring for sick patients — while facing a dire lack of personal protective equipment and rapidly changing hospital protocols — but also forgoing the calming companionshipof their partners and children. It’s a whole different level of lonely from what most of us are dealing with. So it should come as no surprise that the mental well-being of health care workers is in serious jeopardy. A new study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, quantifies that risk.
Three months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. […] A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. In recent years, hundreds of health experts have written books, white papers, and op-eds warning of the possibility. Bill Gates has been telling anyone who would listen, including the 18 million viewers of his TED Talk. In 2018, I wrote a story for The Atlantic arguing that America was not ready for the pandemic that would eventually come. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality. “What if?” became “Now what?” […] A recent analysis from the University of Pennsylvania estimated that even if social-distancing measures can reduce infection rates by 95 percent, 960,000 Americans will still need intensive care. There are only about 180,000 ventilators in the U.S. and, more pertinently, only enough respiratory therapists and critical-care staff to safely look after 100,000 ventilated patients. Abandoning social distancing would be foolish. Abandoning it now, when tests and protective equipment are still scarce, would be catastrophic.
With children sent home from school, unable to attend sports practices or even gather together for vigorous play, parents worry that the lack of exercise will harm their children’s mental health. Do they need to add the role of “coach” or “fitness instructor” to their already expanding list of parenting duties during the coronavirus pandemic? The answer is a reassuring no, according to the results of a new study: Parents don’t need to lead their teens through vigorous daily workouts; all they need to do is encourage their teens to be somewhat less idle. Simply getting younger adolescents to decrease sedentary behaviors in favor of even very light physical activity appears to lessen their risk of depression as they age into older teens, suggests research recently published in the Lancet. The majority of major mental illnesses, including depression, begin during the teenage years and can alter the course of an entire life. Any public health measure to prevent such illnesses, particularly those that are relatively low-cost and easy-to-implement, are extremely valuable, particularly during these higher-stress times of staying put. […] The kids who consistently engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity showed fewer depressive symptoms at age 18, which has been found in previous studies. The surprising result of this study was that less time spent engaging in sedentary behaviors in favor of light activity also predicted fewer depressive symptoms at age 18. Specifically, each hour increase in light activity predicted a lower depression score at age 18: 9.6% decrease in depression score at 12 years; 7.8% at 14 years, and 11.1% at 16 years.
Two new studies from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden underscore health risks associated with childhood obesity. Children with obesity have a three times higher risk of mortality in early adulthood compared with children in the general population and are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. The findings, published in PLOS Medicine and BMC Medicine, highlight the need to identify specific risk factors for children with obesity and find preventative tools, according to the researchers. The prevalence of children with obesity has increased in recent decades and the World Health Organization currently ranks childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. Prior studies have linked childhood obesity with an increased risk of premature mortality from middle adulthood. […] “Our study shows that children with obesity have a significantly higher risk of premature mortality already as young adults,” says Emilia Hagman, researcher at the Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, and one of the study’s authors. “Both the risk of death from somatic diseases, of which more than a quarter were directly related to obesity, and the risk of suicide were increased for this group. We did not, however, see an increased risk of mortality from injuries or external causes such as criminal acts.”
“Social distancing” is required to prevent infection. But loneliness can make us sick. In December, a woman in Tulsa, Okla. used a Craigslist post to plea for holiday companionship. “Anybody need a grandma for Christmas?” she wrote. “I’ll even bring food and gifts for the kids! I have nobody and it really hurts.” More than three in five working Americans report feeling lonely. Now that the country is facing a disease outbreak that demands measures like “social distancing,” working from home and quarantines, that epidemic of loneliness could get even worse. A paradox of this moment is that while social distancing is required to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it may also contribute to poor health in the long run. So while physical isolation will be required for many Americans who have Covid-19 or have been exposed to it, it’s important that we don’t let such measures cause social and emotional isolation, too.
Place your hand on a bed of cool, soft moss. Listen to a songbird chirping in the trees. Breathe in the rich scents of the forest. Calm your mind and open up your senses. This is shinrin-yoku, a traditional Japanese practice that involves immersing yourself in nature by mindfully using all five senses. In recent years, this health-centered activity has rapidly gained popularity in the United States, where it’s referred to as “forest bathing” or “forest therapy.” “It’s like meditation focused outward,” said Jeanne Christie, a certified forest therapy guide from Windham. “I find it enjoyable in a very unique and special way.” As the world struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic, forest bathing might be the perfect activity for people looking to relax, try something new and maintain their health. It’s a practice that can be self-taught and conducted in solitude. All that’s required is access to an outdoor space, even if that’s just an open window. […] Though it’s believed that humans have always practiced forest bathing in one form or another, the formal practice of Shinrin-yoku surfaced in Japan in the 1980s as a part of preventative healthcare and healing. Since then, dozens of studies have examined the potential health benefits of the practice.
Speaking of Wuhan, the city remains completely locked down two months after the onset. Roads are silent.
Western cities and regions on or above Wuhan’s curve may face similar fates.
The World Health Organization is officially advocating against the phrase “social distancing” and is from here on recommending the phrase “physical distancing” instead, according to Reuters. The idea is to clarify that an order to stay at home during the current coronavirus outbreak isn’t about breaking contact with your friends and family — but rather keeping a physical distance to make sure the disease doesn’t spread. The sentiment was echoed by Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. “I would argue that what we are doing right now is physical distancing, not social distancing,” she said during a town hall today, as quoted by the Dorchester Reporter. “We are creating physical distance between us to limit the spread of the virus,” she added. “But we should be doing that in the same breath as we are maintaining our social connections and sense of community and common sense of purpose.”
Connection, whether one-on-one or in groups, is at the heart of peer support. In a time when social distancing, shelter-in-place, and stay-at-home orders proliferate, the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community/Wildflower Alliance (WMRLC) is finding creative ways to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances dictated by the novel coronavirus. WMRLC is a leading peer-run organization in the state of Massachusetts, operating a variety of supports across its region. The organization received its initial funding through the Department of Mental Health in 2007, opening the doors of its first Resource Centers in Holyoke and Pittsfield that same year. The Greenfield and Springfield Resource Centers opened in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The organization has continued to improve access and capacity, with the addition of a Community Wellness Center in Springfield in 2010 and the acquisition of an independent space in Greenfield in 2011. WMRLC’s website states that above all, these centers are “intended to offer a safe space within which our community can come together, heal, share, support, learn from and strengthen one another.”
Writing classroom resources on climate change told me a lot about how children – and teachers – view themselves in an uncertain future, like the one we’re currently facing as the spread of COVID-19 accelerates around the planet. While putting together a national climate change program more than a decade ago, I was given a word of ‘advice’ by one experienced teacher who recalled her own school days when the promise of an atomic winter was never far from mind. “We were told to climb under a desk,” she said while I surveyed her staff on the anxiety their classes felt over global warming. “Dropping to the floor was never going to save us if bombs dropped, but it was sure better than telling us to just close our eyes and hope for the best.” […] Five-year-old brains find it hard to grasp climate models, epidemiology, and large-scale politics. But avoiding the issue until they’re a teenager doesn’t give them behaviours or beliefs that can be built upon as they go, either. The key is to start with what they know and use it as a scaffold, adding facts and possibilities based on familiar experiences and language while taking their questions as cues.
The most effective treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The cognitive aspect deals with misconceptions or unrealistic expectations about sleep – for example, the idea that we absolutely need eight hours or more of sleep every night – and the behavioural component involves a combination of sleep-restriction therapy, stimulus-control therapy, relaxation techniques and good sleep hygiene practices (see table). Stimulus control includes using the bed strictly for sleeping and not for other activities, such as reading and watching television; the therapy attempts to break the association between the bed and wakefulness. For example, patients are instructed to get out of bed if they fail to fall asleep within 20 minutes and stay up until they feel sufficiently sleepy.
So long as covid-19 spreads uncontrolled, older people will die in historic numbers, middle aged folks doomed to prolonged ICU stays to fight for their lives, hospitals will be overwhelmed, and most Americans terrified to leave homes, eat out, take the subway, or go to the park.
With schools and many businesses closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of people might be soon feeling the effects of another malady – cabin fever. The good news is that our area abounds with outdoor recreation opportunities that people can enjoy while still keeping a safe distance from other humans. “People are turning to the outdoors to ease their stress and regain a sense of calm,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. The national park that runs through the Twin Counties “is one of the natural places that can provide peace and perspective during these uncertain times.” At this time, the Parkway remains open, with the exception of standard seasonal road and facility closures and the temporary closure of the Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville, N.C. Those planning to visit the Parkway are encouraged to check blueridgeparkway.org for any changes in operations or road closures.
As many of us are being told to hunker down in our apartments and houses, and limit trips outside and social contact, things are feeling pretty “real” at this point. Aside from the general worry people may have about their physical health as they digest the news from around the world and here at home, there’s the larger toll this is taking on our collective mental health. Lots of organizations have put forth guidelines to help combat the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, and with good reason: One of the main weapons we have to fight the virus is social distancing—a deeply unnatural practice for humans, but an essential one. Here are some of the mental health practices to make sure to keep doing—or begin doing, for some of us—during the lockdown period. […] “Studies in resiliency during traumatic events encourage keeping a routine to your day,” says Deborah Serani, PsyD, professor of psychology at Adelphi University and author of “Sometimes When I’m Sad.” “This means eating meals at regular times, sleeping, waking and exercising at set times, and maintaining social (socially distant) contact. Unstructured time can create boredom, spikes in anxiety or depression, which can lead to unhealthy patterns of coping.”
Researchers examining a commonly used questionnaire found that it “substantially overestimates depression prevalence.” The survey, called the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), is a depression screening tool often used in primary care. It’s also commonly used by researchers to estimate how many people in the population would receive a diagnosis of depression. However, the researchers found that it was twice as likely to diagnose depression as the structured clinical interview (SCID). This could lead to massive inflation of the estimates of how many people “have” depression in the population. […] One problem identified by the researchers is that 90% of the population estimates of depression prevalence are based solely on screening tools like the PHQ-9. These published surveys, which estimate how many people “have” depression, are likely to overestimate prevalence by around twice as much.
Not all dogs cope well when their owners leave them at home. Some get so anxious they end up barking all day long, while others destroy the house and precious objects in their cooped-up state. Still, pinning it down to ‘separation anxiety’ isn’t particularly helpful for pet owners. Instead, new research suggests this is just a symptom of other underlying frustrations, like wanting to get away from something in the house, wanting to get to something outside, reacting to external noises or events, or even boredom. “Thus,” the study authors write, “there is a danger that a syndrome such as ‘separation anxiety’ is seen as a diagnosis, when the relative significance of emotions such as fear, frustration and the panic associated with loss of an attachment figure may be fundamentally important to understand for effective treatment.”
A Great Transcontinental Exchange with a Marvelous British Psychiatrist
A brilliant spontaneous transcontinental conversation between myself and Great Britain’s leading psychiatrist, Joanna Moncrieff, MD. We start with breaking news about the coronavirus epidemic in Great Britain, Europe and the USA, and the differing responses in various countries. Joanna gives a remarkable critique of the bizarre and unconscionable approval of Ketamine for depression by the FDA and describes the drug effects more clearly than you will hear anywhere else. We also discuss the very latest research confirming that antipsychotic drugs cause brain damage. We also talk about differing views on the US opioid epidemic. Along the way we touch on differences between the British and US medical and psychiatric systems as well as an overall critique of worldwide psychiatry. Just meeting psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff makes this information-crammed radio/TV presentation worth your time. My wife Ginger and her mother Jean were “enthralled” by this show!
Over the past two weeks, my closest friend and I have regularly traded our worst Covid-19 anxieties over text. She’d tell me she couldn’t stop crying, worried about her parents’ job security and an abrupt transition to working from home. I was nervous about extensive self-isolating, scouring the news every few minutes for bright spots amid mostly tragedy-ridden headlines. Suddenly stuck in our rooms, it’s fair to say that our mental health had plummeted, and we were — and both continue to feel — overwhelmed, stressed, and incredibly sad. […] The spike in interest in these digital mental health tools, which appear to vary in quality and scope, isn’t specific to a single company. TalkSpace, which calls itself an online therapy company, reports that the volume of users on the platform is up about 25 percent since the middle of February and that growth is accelerating. One of its primary competitors, BetterHelp, says the number of new members starting its service has spiked and that the number of new users who mentioned concerns about stress and anxiety during the past two months has more than doubled compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, mental health chatbots Wysa and Woebot have also seen usage go up. Demand extends beyond chatbots, too. Crisis Text Line, the tool I directed my friend to, reports that its volume of messages has jumped by more than 116 percent since Monday.
I recently spoke — on Zoom, of course — with Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University, who has written extensively about working from home and who has been pretty bullish about its benefits. Famously, he conducted a two-year study of a major Chineses travel company that found working from home made employees more productive and less likely to quit. But now, with the coronavirus pandemic turning many more people into de facto remote workers, Bloom is less optimistic about the new inundation of working from home. […] The key advice is to recreate social contact using video conferencing, two ways. First, group interactions. For example, the whole group can meet for a 30-minute video chat at 11:00 every day to catch-up on their personal situation, chat about the news or life in general — no work talk. Second, individual interactions. For example, every morning and every afternoon spend, 10 minutes video-talking individually to each of your employees. This is time-consuming but critical for keeping employees happy and productive through the next few months. In the longer run, it will build valuable loyalty by sticking with your employees through the good times and the bad times.
There’s a lot to be stressed about lately due to the coronavirus pandemic: Confirmed cases of COVID-19 keep rising, stock market volatility is causing panic, jobs are at risk and store shelves are emptying. But there’s a lot more at stake here than toilet paper. I’m talking about mental health, particularly for millennials. As a therapist who has worked intimately with millennials (they make up 90% of my practice) for much of the past decade, it worries me that quarantine and social distancing could potentially lead to more severe long-term mental health issues for this young generation. While the coronavirus dangers are real, anxiety-inducing distractions make it far too easy for millennials (even those with pre-existing issues) to overlook mental health implications. A new study published in The Lancet found that quarantine is linked with post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, confusion and anger — with some research suggesting these effects are long-lasting. That’s why I’m urging millennials to wake up: Don’t be reckless and flout the advice to stay in, but also don’t stay so cooped up that you go stir crazy over fears of the unknown.
Different mitigation scenarios that include things like school closures, isolation of symptomatic individuals and quarantine of exposed household members, result in #flatteningthecurve and reducing mortality, but under the author’s assumptions still result in an epidemic. 3/19 pic.twitter.com/3eVSGxkHF3
Click through that tweet for an important thread buy virologist Trevor Bedford, who has been flawlessly predicting every aspect of this pandemic and is mapping the genome of this new coronavirus. Understanding the nature of viral beasts like Covid-19 is his field of expertise. He is someone whose word we and world leaders need to heed. In that thread he maps a pathway out of the nightmare we’ve found our societies and selves suddenly plunged into.
How many people are sick with the coronavirus in the United States, and when did they get sick? These are crucial questions to answer, but they have never been answered well. Archived data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—illustrated in the chart below—reveal that the government dramatically misunderstood what was happening in America as the outbreak began. On the last day of February, the CDC reported that 15 Americans had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. In the past week, as the country’s testing capacity has increased, officials have discovered more cases. Today, more than 17,000 people have tested positive. […] If there is one thing about the novel coronavirus that you must understand, it’s that it is a firecracker with a long fuse. Here is what the explosion looks like: Every six days, the number of people infected by the disease doubles, according to estimates from Bedford and other epidemiologists. At the start of February, Bedford now believes, the United States had something like 430 infections; if American interventions have done nothing to slow the disease’s spread, then his simple calculations show that more than 120,000 people could be infected by this weekend. Because of the great uncertainty, it’s probably most appropriate to give Bedford’s range: About 60,000 to 245,000 people are now infected with COVID-19 in the United States.
The sheer numbers of people succumbing to the coronavirus is overwhelming every hospital in northern Italy. Staff frantically wave us out of the way, pushing gurneys carrying men and women on mobile respirators – it’s not chaos, but it is hectic. They rush past wards already rammed with beds all filled with people in terrible distress – gasping for air, clutching at their chests and at tubes pumping oxygen into their oxygen-starved lungs. I’m in the main hospital in Bergamo, the hardest-hit hospital in Italy in the hardest-hit town in the hardest-hit province, Lombardy – and it’s just plain scary.
Masked, gloved and in a hazmat suit, my team and I are led through corridors full of gasping people who look terribly ill. I ask what ward I am in. “This isn’t really a ward, it’s a waiting room, we just have to use every bit of space,” my guide, Vanna Toninelli, head of the hospital press office tells me. The medical teams are fighting a war here and they are losing. The sheer numbers of people succumbing to the coronavirus is overwhelming every hospital in northern Italy – and it could easily overwhelm the rest of the country as well. The staff are working flat out trying to keep their patients from deteriorating further. They are trying to stop them from dying.
On March 10, Natasha Ott, 39, felt the beginnings of a cold coming on. She had a slight fever. CrescentCare, the medical clinic where she worked, had only a handful of tests for the new strain of coronavirus on hand. She initially passed on the chance to take one, after being told she was low-risk for the serious disease. When her symptoms didn’t shake, she did take the test on Monday. By Thursday, she felt “something in her lungs,” she told longtime partner Josh Anderson. But she still felt well enough by then to join Anderson as the pair walked her dog. On Friday, Anderson found Ott dead in her kitchen.
In a move that would have been unthinkable just months ago, quarantine and social distancing have now become commonplace globally as governments make concerted efforts to fight the spiraling coronavirus outbreak. The measures, which have seen citizens from the U.S. to India either encouraged or enforced to stay in their homes, are deemed by medical experts as necessary in reducing the spread of the virus. But, the implications for people’s mental wellbeing cannot be overlooked. A recent study from medical journal The Lancet notes that the psychological impact of quarantine can be great, resulting in a range of mental health concerns from anxiety and anger to sleep disturbances, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Indeed, separate studies of quarantined patients of SARS, a previous coronavirus outbreak in 2003, found between 10% and 29% suffered PTSD. The Lancet’s report found mental health concerns could be inflamed by stressors associated with quarantine, such as infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, lack of information, financial loss and stigma associated with contracting the disease.
Everyone who reads RxISK posts will know that SSRI and related drugs (some antibiotics, painkillers, antihistamines and most antidepressants) can cause sexual dysfunction. This has been known since 1961. And that they can cause suicide. This has been known since 1959. And that they can cause birth defects. The first publication by an Australian obstetrician, William McBride, on this dates from the mid-1960s, very soon after his reports about the tranquilliser thalidomide. The defining moment for SSRIs and birth defects was in 2009 when GlaxoSmithKline’s paroxetine was found guilty by a Philadelphia jury of causing Liam Kilker’s birth defects – a verdict that cost GSK over $1 billion but you’d never know it. GSK’s news management swung into operation and almost no-one heard about this outcome with medical readers of the BMJ and other major journals to this day treated with articles about the importance of treating depression in pregnancy with antidepressants.
In a recent commentary in the Herald-Leader, Dr. Kathleen Winter, assistant professor of epidemiology in the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health, had some sage advice for all of us during these unsettling times – take a hike. That’s not meant as a flip comment from either Dr. Winters or me. At a time when much of our social interaction is being curtailed due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, Dr. Winters suggests plenty of outdoor activity while maintaining as much physical distance as possible from others with the same idea. We need this. Until further notice, we can’t go for a friendly pint or a companionable dinner. We can’t see a play or go to a movie. We can’t attend church services. Sporting events – the great unifier of like-minded individuals – are out of the question.
Today, scientists have discovered there is actually natural antidepressants in the soil. Mycobacterium vaccae is the bacteria that’s under study and has been found to have a natural effect on our neurons, just like the drug Prozac. This soil bacteria is thought to stimulate serotonin production, which can make you happier, calmer and relaxed. Gardeners have long known the actual physical act of gardening can be a stress reducer and a very calming hobby to have. Another advantage to gardening, besides the pleasure we get from just growing things, is this natural antidepressant that’s found in the soil, with no adverse health effects. In today’s stressful world, everyone should be a gardener. Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Americans are practicing social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus that the Chinese regime’s lies and mismanagement unleashed onto the world. It may also be time to start practicing social — and economic — distancing from China as well. China’s dictatorship bears ultimate responsibility for the pandemic lockdown that is crushing our economy. Axios reports that if China had acted just three weeks earlier to contain the virus rather than suppress information about it, “the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95 percent and its geographic spread limited.” But the ensuing crisis has also exposed just how dependent we have become on China in key sectors of our economy. Case in point: In recent days, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua warned that if the Trump administration is not careful, China could ban pharmaceutical exports and plunge the United States “into the hell of a new coronavirus pneumonia epidemic.” The threat is real. China supplies more than 90 percent of antibiotics used here. It also produces many other drugs and biologics that Americans depend on, including heparin, HIV/AIDS medications, chemotherapy drugs, antidepressants, and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. Rosemary Gibson, author of “China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine,” told the New York Times this month, “If China shut the door on exports of core components to make our medicines, within months our pharmacy shelves would become bare and our health care system would cease to function.”
Nurses are being asked to actually reuse masks, including surgical masks, which provide no protection.😷🙅🏽♀️
Depression and anxiety symptoms are extremely common in dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). As a result of these symptoms, many people with dementia experience a decrease in their quality of life. […] Although many doctors prescribe antidepressants as a first-line treatment, guidelines do not suggest the routine treatment of depression and anxiety with antidepressants in people living with dementia. Even the best-tolerated antidepressants in older adults carry serious risks of falls, fractures, and drug interactions. Recently, researchers at Weill Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry in New York studied the effectiveness of a new home-delivered therapy called Problem Adaptation Therapy, or PATH, in participants with depression and dementia or mild cognitive impairment. […] Although research on psychosocial interventions is still sparse, this new research is encouraging, as nonmedication treatments are desperately needed. Research is also emerging on psychosocial interventions to decrease anxiety in people with cognitive disorders.
When I turned on public radio Friday morning and opened up my New York Times app, the news was dire: spreading coronavirus, global pandemic, plummeting stock market and chaos around the world. The headlines made my stomach churn and my palms sweat, so I grabbed my skate skis and headed out. […] We all know the power of nature to heal and relieve anxiety. It’s something most of us have felt intuitively all our lives, and science increasingly supports our beliefs. Studies have shown that forest bathing — a term borrowed from the Japanese practice known as shinrin-yoku, which means “taking in the forest” — lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a key indicator of stress. I certainly felt as if my stress level dropped markedly after my skate ski. Needless to say, it came back up again later in the day as friends and family texted and emailed with all the latest news on COVID-19, but my warm fuzzy feelings lingered, helping me resist my desire to panic. Furthermore, I knew that if I needed to calm down again, I just had to get back outside.
The coronavirus pandemic is creating stress in the global population. Empty store shelves, fear about the disease and quarantine or self-isolation can negatively impact depression and anxiety. The mental health implications of the pandemic will impact everyone differently, and clinical psychologists at Flow Neuroscience have offered a guide to support and manage one’s mental health and those of others during these times. “Global concern about coronavirus means it’s very important to keep the normal routine as much as possible when it comes to sleep, nutrition and exercise, particularly in people with existing mental health problems,” says Daniel Mansson, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow Neuroscience. “In the current situation, finding ways to maintain your normal routine is essential to reducing stress and potential depressive thoughts that may appear.”
There are three steps to modern psychiatry’s successful business formula: 1. Get people to think that they’re stupid even though they’re smart. 2. Train them to actually think stupidly. 3. Directly stupidify them with chemicals. Step one: Get people to think that they’re too stupid to help themselves, so that they won’t try to. For over 200,000 years, until the 1980s, humans tapped into their massive brainpower to resourcefully figure out ways to address their troubles. They learned to solve or flexibly adapt to problems they found to be upsetting them. But no longer, thanks to psychiatry’s medicalization of emotions having been imbedded into our culture: Many now instead wrongly think that if they get upset, they’re powerless to intelligently address it, since it’s due to a permanent, debilitating brain defect (“depression,” ”bipolar disorder,” etc.). In other words, they have been duped into believing that they’re stupid and thus unable to manage their own difficulties. So they won’t try to.
Daily new deaths in China (red) versus outside China (blue)
IMPORTANCE: Prescriptions for antipsychotic medications continue to increase across many brain disorders, including off-label use in children and elderly individuals. Concerning animal and uncontrolled human data suggest antipsychotics are associated with change in brain structure, but to our knowledge, there are no controlled human studies that have yet addressed this question. OBJECTIVE: To assess the effects of antipsychotics on brain structure in humans. […] CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial, antipsychotic medication was shown to change brain structure. This information is important for prescribing in psychiatric conditions where alternatives are present. However, adverse effects of relapse on brain structure support antipsychotic treatment during active illness. DISCUSSION: […] Unlike uncontrolled studies, our randomized doubleblind placebo-controlled clinical trial design provides potential evidence for causation: olanzapine administration may cause a decrease in cortical thickness in humans.
Chinese citizens showed acute posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, according to study results published in medRxiv. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was the most common psychiatric disorder to arise after the SARS outbreak, with medical staff being significantly affected. […] The researchers concluded that the risk factors identified for PTSS in the COVID-19 outbreak will be useful in defining high-risk groups, thus providing recommendations for people to cope with similar epidemics. They also noted that the prevalence of PTSS may be reduced in the study sample because the Chinese population has already experienced other outbreaks in recent decades. However, in countries without prior exposure to serious epidemics, PTSS may affect a larger percentage of the population. “When making psychological adjustment for the public during this outbreak, special attention should be put on females and those who are at high risk of infection, such as people residing in high disease-prevalent regions and having had close contact with patients,” the researchers recommended.
A single dose of the main psychoactive component in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can induce a range of psychiatric symptoms, according to results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of 15 studies including 331 people with no history of psychotic or other major psychiatric disorders, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. […] “As the THC-to-CBD ratio of street cannabis continues to increase, it is important to clarify whether these compounds can cause psychotic symptoms. Our finding that THC can temporarily induce psychiatric symptoms in healthy volunteers highlights the risks associated with the use of THC-containing cannabis products. This potential risk should be considered in discussions between patients and medical practitioners thinking about using cannabis products with THC. This work will also inform regulators, public health initiatives, and policy makers considering the medical use of THC-containing cannabis products or their legalisation for recreational use,” says Professor Oliver Howes from King’s College London, UK.
The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan, China, last year and has since caused a large scale COVID-19 epidemic and spread to more than 70 other countries is the product of natural evolution, according to findings published today in the journal Nature Medicine. The analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered. “By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes,” said Kristian Andersen, PhD, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research and corresponding author on the paper. […] “These two features of the virus, the mutations in the RBD portion of the spike protein and its distinct backbone, rules out laboratory manipulation as a potential origin for SARS-CoV-2” said Andersen.
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues its global spread and the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases continues to increase, anxiety related to the outbreak is on the rise too. As a psychologist, I am seeing this in my practice already. Although feeling anxiety in response to a threat is a normal human reaction, sustained high anxiety can undermine constructive responses to the crisis. People who already suffer from anxiety and related disorders are especially likely to have a hard time during the coronavirus crisis. The following suggestions, based on psychological science, can help you deal with coronavirus anxiety. […] Struggling against anxiety can take many forms. People might try to distract themselves by drinking, eating or watching Netflix more than usual. They might repeatedly seek reassurance from friends, family or health experts. Or they might obsessively check news streams, hoping to calm their fears. Although these behaviors can help momentarily, they can make anxiety worse in the long run. Avoiding the experience of anxiety almost always backfires. Instead, allow your anxious thoughts, feelings and physical sensations to wash over you, accepting anxiety as an integral part of human experience. When waves of coronavirus anxiety show up, notice and describe the experience to yourself or others without judgment. Resist the urge to escape or calm your fears by obsessively reading virus updates. Paradoxically, facing anxiety in the moment will lead to less anxiety over time.
Propionic acid (PA), a short-chain fatty acid, influences the multiple sclerosis (MS) disease course by an immunomodulatory mechanism, according to a study published in Cell. Short-chain fatty acids, like PA, are processed from indigestible dietary fibers by gut bacteria. PA is often used as a preservative and can be found in foods like cheeses, baked goods, or additives for artificial fruit flavors. Patients with MS have reduced PA, which is associated with an altered gut microbiome composition. The deficiency is most notable in the earliest phases of the disease. In a proof-of-concept study, researchers supplemented PA to therapy-naïve patients as an add-on to MS immunotherapy. “After 2 weeks of PA intake, we observed a significant and sustained increase of functionally competent regulatory T (Treg) cells, whereas Th1 and Th17 cells decreased significantly,” researchers said. T cells located in the gut work to stop excessive inflammatory processes and reduce autoimmune cells in diseases like MS.
Younger healthy people can also be hard hit by the new coronavirus. Emergency doctor Ignace Demeyer of the OLV Hospital in Aalst, Belgium, warns about this. No, it is not only the elderly or people who already have a medical problem who fall victim to the new coronavirus. Emergency doctor Ignace Demeyer warns about this. “We see people with a blank medical history who are very ill.” It is also not just about older generations. “We have had very few older people inside so far,” says Dr. Demeyer. “We now have people between the ages of 30 and 50 coming in. They all have the same complaints,” says Dr. Demeyer. “They have been sick for a week, stayed home with the flu. The flu attack is over, they think. They feel fine for two days. And then they report with complaints of a dry cough and shortness of breath. When we then have their oxygen saturation (level of oxygen in our blood, ed.), we see that they have very low oxygen saturation for their age. ” At that time, a clear alarm goes off to the doctors that it concerns problem patients, but people do not always realize it because they do not feel very ill at the time. “They just walk in, but they are terribly affected by the virus.” Emergency doctor Demeyer also shows scans of the lungs of such a corona patient. “The images we took yesterday are nothing short of terrifying.”
“If we make sure our children get enough sleep, it can help protect them from mental health problems,” says Bror M. Ranum […] A study of almost 800 children followed over several years shows that those who get the fewest hours of sleep are at greatest risk of developing psychiatric difficulties later, including ADHD, anxiety and depression. “We’re seeing an association between sleep duration and a risk of symptoms of emotional and behavioural disorders,” says Ranum, first author of a new article on children, sleep and risk of mental health disorders. Boys who sleep fewer hours have an increased risk of developing behavioural issues. Both girls and boys who get less sleep are at greater risk for future emotional problems. The measurements do not indicate anything about the quality of sleep. […] The study also investigated whether psychological difficulties might cause children to sleep less. The data do not indicate this to be the case. Sleep duration influences the risk of later problems, not the opposite.
Taking certain anti-inflammatory medications is associated with lower use of antidepressants and benzodiazepine-related hypnotics (BRH) among people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and other inflammatory disorders, a nationwide study from Sweden suggests. […] Although the reasons for the links to mental health problems remain unclear, a growing body of evidence suggests that communication between the immune system and the brain via molecules known as cytokines are a possible explanation. Studies have shown that anti-inflammatory medications, including those targeting cytokines, are effective in easing symptoms of depression. Therapies that block the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) protein have also been associated with lower rates of depression in RA patients. […] “Decreased rates of dispensed psychotropic drugs after the time of anti-TNF and NBS treatment initiation were seen among patients with autoimmune disorders, but not population controls,” the investigators wrote.
Babies love baby talk all over the world, says Michael Frank, the Stanford psychologist behind the largest study to date looking at how infants from across the world respond to the different ways adults speak. The study, published March 16 in the journal Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, tested 2,329 babies from 16 countries on their preference for baby talk, the sing-songy, high-pitched way that adults often naturally talk to small children. And the results are in: Little ones prefer it when grownups “ooh” and “coo.” “Overall, babies from every site preferred baby talk,” said Frank, the David and Lucile Packard Professor of Human Biology in the School of Humanities and Sciences. […] “Often parents are discouraged from using baby talk by well-meaning friends or even health professionals,” Frank said. “But the evidence suggests that it’s actually a great way to engage with your baby because babies just like it – it tells them, ‘This speech is meant for you!’”
Approximately 8% of 9- and 10-year-old children in the United States report having suicidal thoughts, and 2 in every 100 report a suicide attempt. The nationally representative observational study of 7994 9- to 10-year-old children identified a series of risk and protective factors associated with childhood suicidality. Such factors, the authors note, can be used to identify vulnerable children and plan interventions to bolster their mental health. “I think the rate of suicidality is one of our most important findings, particularly because it is more frequent than anybody anticipated,” Sophia Frangou, MD, PhD, told Medscape Medical News. “But the conditions that make suicidality more or less likely were also interesting to us, specifically because these risks and protective factors are modifiable.
As the coronavirus advances across the country, more Americans are staying in their homes. That sort of “social distancing” is considered essential to slowing the spread of the virus and easing the burden on the beleaguered health infrastructure. But for those suffering from depression, especially those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, it is definitely not what the doctor ordered. Any “isolation is so devastating to our own mood because we’re left stuck with our own thoughts,” said Emily Roberts, a Manhattan-based psychotherapist. “If you’re struggling with a mental health disease, if you are relying on therapy which requires you getting out of your house, it’s going to be very hard to motivate yourself to get the help you need. “The fact that there’s so much of an urgency to disconnect creates a lot of fear with people.” […] “It’s important for those who are infected or who feel physically ill and have depression to be in touch with their support systems,” Roberts said. “For clinicians and counselors who have clients with depression, for family members and friends of someone in isolation, especially with a history of depression, it is imperative that you check in and remain in contact with them.
Last week, my brother, who is a priest, said in our family’s WhatsApp chat that he was considering cancelling worship among his congregation at his Episcopal church in a suburb of Omaha, Nebraska, US. This would be a “huge deal,” as he put it, because people go to church (or mosque, or synagogue, or other gatherings for worship) at least partly for a sense of community. Still, given the public health risks of COVID-19, that would likely be the decision for his church. There are a fair number of older adults, who are at higher risk for the novel coronavirus, who regularly attend his services, and he faces pressing decisions about how to safely provide care and support his congregation – as well as his wife and eight-month-old daughter. […] Megan Silvestri, Program Manager of the Stability Network in Seattle, Washington, who lives with anxiety and panic disorder and is based in one of the epicentres of the outbreak in the US, described it best: “At the beginning, I was feeling almost panicked about the whole thing. I had tried working from home, and I went down a spiral of reading different news articles. I started to enter into a panic state.”
There’s a good reason to “cancel everything.” All these decisions by public officials and businesses are aimed at one goal: slowing down the spread of the virus to avoid overburdening a healthcare system that doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle a sudden surge of tens of thousands of cases at once. Without mass closings, that surge is exactly what will happen, just as it has in Italy. It’s called “flattening the curve.” And that’s exactly what it is when you see it visually. Here’s what is looks like in an illustration from Max Roser at Our World in Data, very similar to the figure in a recent Emerging Infectious Diseases study on social distancing to reduce pandemic influenza.
Basically, if you assume a certain number of cases are inevitably going to occur—which epidemiologists can somewhat predict based on how the disease is behaving—continuing business-as-usual allows cases to escalate rapidly in just a few weeks, spiking so high at once that they completely overwhelm hospitals. In such a scenario—such as Italy is facing now—more deaths are likely because there simply aren’t enough hospital beds, enough face masks, enough IV bags, even enough healthy doctors and nurses to care for everyone at once.
Earlier this week, I went through a process that will soon become commonplace: I quarantined myself. After going to a large journalism conference where someone later tested positive for coronavirus, it seemed like the prudent thing to do. The process is increasingly normal and medically endorsed; it’s already clear that limiting social contact is absolutely the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus. But that doesn’t make it easy. Before shaming others for going to the park or labeling staying indoors as a “minor inconvenience,” as has happened on Twitter, know that medical quarantine, and isolation in general, is associated with serious mental health effects. A recent review of research, published in The Lancet, found that quarantine is linked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, confusion, and anger, with some research suggesting these effects are long-lasting. Given that the coronavirus crisis is likely to be with us for some time, the mental health implications can’t be dismissed. […] The mental health implications of isolation do not mean we shouldn’t quarantine. It’s essential to follow medical professionals’ guidance on combating coronavirus, just as it’s important to recognize the difficulties. In times of isolation, we can support each other by recognizing mental health struggles and providing comfort even from afar.
On 4 March 2018, I explained in an article on the Mad in America website that the usage of depression pills—commonly but misleadingly called antidepressants—was almost halved among children in Denmark, from 2010 to 2016, whereas it increased in other Nordic countries. On 22 November 2018, I wrote an open letter to the National Boards of Health in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland about this very serious matter and attached my paper. I noted that depression pills double the risk of suicide compared to placebo in the randomised trials in children and adolescents, which is why health authorities all over the world have warned against using the pills since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alerted people to this fact in 2004 and again in 2006. Despite the warnings, the usage of depression pills in children continued to rise everywhere. In the summer of 2011, the Danish National Board of Health reminded family doctors that they should not write prescriptions for depression pills for children, which was a task for psychiatrists.
Ian Parker is one of the most important contemporary critics of the discipline of psychology. A prolific writer, with over 25 books to his name, he has a formidable reputation in the fields of critical psychology, Marxist psychology, and psychoanalytic theory. He is a fellow of the British psychological society, Emeritus Professor at the University of Leicester, and the managing editor of the Annual Review of Critical Psychology. Parker is also a practicing psychoanalyst analyst and a member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research and the London Society of the New Lacanian School.
While it may be somewhat common sense to many by now, it is still worth reflecting on the psychological and therapeutic value of visiting nature, and why it can have a crucial and healing effect on one’s psyche. […] when constructing asylums for patients with psychiatric issues in the 1800s, Thomas Story Kirkbride, a psychiatrist from Philadelphia, was impressively humane for his era and made recommendations for what he termed “Moral Treatment.” It was a reform philosophy ushered in by the famous advocate Dorothea Dix after she exposed the gross mistreatment of asylum patients beforehand. Moral Treatment principles indicated that additional public funding should be afforded for these asylums and that they be constructed with architectural designs (such as the noted “batwing” design) that provide greater exposure to sunlight and fresh air and pastoral settings. Numerous state hospitals were constructed in the mid-to-late 1800s in the U.S. with the “Kirkbride Plan.” Sadly, as budget constraints and political shifts became a reality in the mid-to-late 20th century, most of these buildings fell into disrepair, programs deteriorated, and many were shut down and demolished. But the fundamental idea that connection to nature is therapeutic remains a popular one, and in recent years has shifted somewhat to a wellness industry mindset as people seek ways to positively enhance the mind-body connection.
Researchers collected data from about 400 kids six times during an eight-year period from age 11 to age 18. “We had their parents report, self-report their depressive symptoms,” detailed Ehrlich. Then when the kids were 25, they were asked to report on their own ability to avoid temptations, and engage in healthy behaviors, like eating a healthy diet and exercising. The researchers also took blood samples. “We found that the accumulation of risk of living with a depressed parent across adolescence was a risk factor for the onset of metabolic syndrome at age 25,” Ehrlich told Ivanhoe. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of factors, such as obesity, elevated triglycerides and high blood pressure, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease. “We’re looking at closer to a quarter of our sample, maybe even closer to a third of the sample that will have metabolic syndrome at this point,” said Ehrlich.
Life in lockdown Wuhan: Coronavirus epicentre two months into quarantine
Jialan Cai is a Wuhan citizen who’s been in quarantine for the past two months due to the coronavirus outbreak. She gives us an insight into the her life under lockdown with her mum and grandma, where she plays badminton indoors, gardens on her balcony and practises the cello to pass the time. Jialan lives in a community of flats, where other residents are helping each other get through the lockdown by sharing items and food.
The December, 2019 coronavirus disease outbreak has seen many countries ask people who have potentially come into contact with the infection to isolate themselves at home or in a dedicated quarantine facility. Decisions on how to apply quarantine should be based on the best available evidence. We did a Review of the psychological impact of quarantine using three electronic databases. Of 3166 papers found, 24 are included in this Review. Most reviewed studies reported negative psychological effects including post-traumatic stress symptoms, confusion, and anger. Stressors included longer quarantine duration, infection fears, frustration, boredom, inadequate supplies, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma. Some researchers have suggested long-lasting effects. In situations where quarantine is deemed necessary, officials should quarantine individuals for no longer than required, provide clear rationale for quarantine and information about protocols, and ensure sufficient supplies are provided. Appeals to altruism by reminding the public about the benefits of quarantine to wider society can be favourable.
It seems more and more common for people who consider themselves mental health advocates to make some version of the argument that “mental illness is like physical illness” as they are trying to expand services, empathy and compassion. Have you heard this “depression is like diabetes” tactic? I have a hard time seeing how this is advocating for those in emotional and mental distress. I’ll assume we’ve all heard the common argument about “language”—that is, depression and diabetes aren’t really like each other because we talk about them differently. You wouldn’t say “what do you have to be diabetic about?” but people do say “what do you have to be depressed about?” all the time. I’ll take it as a given that I don’t really need to expound on that.
“The fact that GPs are the first port of call for people in distress is something I think we as a society need to question. Why do we encourage people in very low mood and typically with complicated mental and emotional struggles to seek help from a professional who has 10 to 15 minutes to try to alleviate their distress? GPs are encouraged and trained as doctors to give proactive medical responses to states of distress within this 10–15-minute consultation framework. They do this by putting people into diagnostic boxes. Each of these diagnostic boxes (for example, depression) is associated with specific drugs that the doctor will immediately call to mind – and in the case of depression, these will be antidepressants. […] In a recent survey people taking antidepressants, 55% of those who attempted to stop their medication experienced withdrawal effects, and 27% became addicted to the medication. Only one per cent of participants recalled being told about withdrawal effects when prescribed the drugs.
Sleep is precious, and yet we give it so little consideration. To many Americans with insomnia, however, sleep is extremely precious. About 10% of men and 20% of women have chronic insomnia, meaning it occurs at least 3 times per week for at least 3 months. Meanwhile, 30% of US adults struggle with occasional or short-term bouts of insomnia. It’s a very prevalent problem. […] Fortunately, insomnia is treatable, although not everyone responds well to the same approaches. The following seven steps can help sufferers conquer their insomnia, or at least diminish its hold on them. The steps go in order from the most basic to the most advanced, but it’s not exactly a stepwise approach. Some individuals may require only a few of these techniques, others may need to try them all.
New satellite images from Maxar show Iranian authorities digging large numbers of graves in the Qom area, which media reports say is due to the growing numbers of coronavirus victims in the country. The Washington Post, which noted that the graves were so extensive you can see them from space, said coronavirus caused several high-profile deaths in Iran’s leadership. “Among the dead are members of parliament, a former diplomat and even a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader,” the Post report said. “At least two dozen other officials, including a vice-president, have been affected.” Coronavirus is classified as a global pandemic, but most of the cases have been in China. Other affected countries – in most cases – have pockets of infection, according to the World Health Organization, although there are exceptions. Italy, for example, is under nationwide lockdown, according to the BBC. Coronavirus is classified as a global pandemic, but most of the cases have been in China. Other affected countries – in most cases – have pockets of infection, according to the World Health Organization, although there are exceptions. Italy, for example, is under nationwide lockdown, according to the BBC.
Ian’s thoughts: This is real folks. This insanely contagious disease, Covid-19, is looking to be much worse than China’s data let on. The first two nations outside China to see exponential growth, Iran and Italy, are suffering far far higher fatality outcomes than China reported…
Daily new deaths inside China (light red) and outside China (deep red) overlaid
Multiple aspects of quarantine can increase psychological distress in both the general public and healthcare workers, but strategies can minimize these stressors. Quarantine — the isolation of individuals exposed to an infectious agent in order to limit the spread of disease — has been employed during the recent coronavirus outbreak. In a qualitative review, these authors examine 24 studies of the psychological impact of quarantines initiated during outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola, H1N1 influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and equine influenza and identify key factors contributing to distress. The five studies with nonquarantined control groups confirmed distressing impacts on both ordinary people and healthcare workers, including anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The remaining descriptive studies documented similar characteristics, which could last months beyond quarantine. Few studies examined individuals’ vulnerability factors, but these included prior psychological difficulties and, possibly, being a healthcare worker. Quarantine-related factors included quarantine duration, inadequate information, insufficient supplies, social and familial isolation, fear of infection, financial stress, and stigmatization. The authors’ suggested mitigation strategies included minimizing duration, providing detailed information about the illness and risk for transmission, optimizing virtual connections to family and friends, providing adequate supplies to weather the quarantine (e.g., phones, WiFi, food, books, games), and appealing to altruism to validate the efforts of people undergoing quarantine.
In 1918, the city of Philadelphia threw a parade that killed thousands of people. Ignoring warnings of influenza among soldiers preparing for World War I, the march to support the war effort drew 200,000 people who crammed together to watch the procession. Three days later, every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was filled with sick and dying patients, infected by the Spanish flu. By the end of the week, more than 4,500 were dead in an outbreak that would claim as many as 100 million people worldwide. By the time Philadelphia’s politicians closed down the city, it was too late.
A different story played out in St. Louis, just 900 miles away. Within two days of detecting its first cases among civilians, the city closed schools, playgrounds, libraries, courtrooms, and even churches. Work shifts were staggered and streetcar ridership was strictly limited. Public gatherings of more than 20 people were banned. The extreme measures—now known as social distancing, which is being called for by globalhealth agencies to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus—kept per capita flu-related deaths in St. Louis to less than half of those in Philadelphia, according to a 2007 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It seems counterintuitive, because it is. And yet, in the heat of a nationwide transgender debate, a group of “experts” has decided that puberty blockers, the same drugs linked to thousands of adult deaths, are good for kids. As part of a new Pediatrics article, three doctors claim to have found “positive mental health outcomes” for minors. That’s interesting, a group of physicians is firing back, since only 2.5% of the children they studied actually took the drugs. There are plenty of other flaws in the research, Dr. Den Trumbull told me on Tuesday’s “Washington Watch”—not the least of which is that the data actually shows “the reverse of what they’re claiming.” Even if the experts can’t bring themselves to admit that, he said, they should at least know “there’s no benefit when the results are objectively looked at.” […] Most people assume that researchers on such a controversial topic would follow the most rigorous standards for their study. “But in this situation, they have not … It’s a study based on interviews,” Trumbull says. “It’s what’s called a cross-sectional study that cannot prove causality. It can only show association. And then, finally, it’s not a longitudinal study. In other words, they didn’t take a group of adolescents, follow them over 10, 15, 20 years and see the results of the therapy that they instituted in the beginning.” Instead, they’re just interviewing these kids who identify as transgenders, asking them about their past, and whether they feel better about what they did or not.
Around eight in every 100 children (8.4%; 673/7,994) aged 9-10 years in the USA report suicidal ideation (temporarily or regularly thinking about, considering, or planning suicide), according to a new nationally representative observational study of almost 8,000 children aged 9-10 years in the USA, published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. […] The study, which is the largest of its kind in the USA, identifies important risk and protective factors associated with childhood suicidal ideation […] “While a minority (around 8%) of 9-10 year olds express suicidal thoughts, the robust associations shown in this study with psychological problems (mostly anxiety and depressive problems) and family conflict provide practitioners with important information as to how they can intervene to help children and their families,” says Dr Sophia Frangou from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA, who co-led the research. “The same applies to the protective influences which involve higher parental supervision (ie, knowing where children are, what they are doing, and with whom) and positive school engagement, which are actionable and modifiable.” […] Greater parental supervision (ie, knowing where children are, what they are doing, and with whom) and a child’s positive view of school (ie, children who liked going to school) were identified as having a strong protective effect against suicide ideation, possibly because they can aid the development of identity, self-esteem, and resilience.
Breathing dirty air takes a heavy toll on gut bacteria, boosting risk of obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and other chronic illnesses, new University of Colorado Boulder research suggests. The study, published online in the journal Environment International, is the first to link air pollution to changes in the structure and function of the human gut microbiome — the collection of trillions of microorganisms residing within us. The gaseous pollutant ozone, which helps make up Denver’s infamous ‘brown cloud’ — is particularly hazardous, the study found, with young adults exposed to higher levels of ozone showing less microbial diversity and more of certain species associated with obesity and disease. “We know from previous research that air pollutants can have a whole host of adverse health effects,” said senior author Tanya Alderete, an assistant professor of integrative physiology, pointing to studies linking smog with Type 2 diabetes, weight gain and inflammatory bowel diseases. “The takeaway from this paper is that some of those effects might be due to changes in the gut.”
Despite the many conveniences of modern-day life, not to mention the invention of anti-anxiety medication, anxiety levels still continue to soar. In fact, a 2018 survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that over half of all Americans struggle with anxiety. And almost 40% of Americans said that they are more anxious now than the year before. While a little anxiety is normal and healthy (its purpose is to keep you safe from danger), too much of it can take a toll on your life. If your anxiety gets too high, it may even interfere with your ability to function. It’s estimated that one in fice Americans may have a full-blown anxiety disorder. High anxiety may require professional intervention, but individuals with lower levels of anxiety may find relief by making a few small lifestyle changes. Here are seven things everyone can cut out of their life to reduce anxiety.
Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) intended to reduce infectious contacts between persons form an integral part of plans to mitigate the impact of the next influenza pandemic. Although the potential benefits of NPIs are supported by mathematical models, the historical evidence for the impact of such interventions in past pandemics has not been systematically examined. We obtained data on the timing of 19 classes of NPI in 17 U.S. cities during the 1918 pandemic and tested the hypothesis that early implementation of multiple interventions was associated with reduced disease transmission. Consistent with this hypothesis, cities in which multiple interventions were implemented at an early phase of the epidemic had peak death rates ≈50% lower than those that did not and had less-steep epidemic curves. Cities in which multiple interventions were implemented at an early phase of the epidemic also showed a trend toward lower cumulative excess mortality, but the difference was smaller (≈20%) and less statistically significant than that for peak death rates. This finding was not unexpected, given that few cities maintained NPIs longer than 6 weeks in 1918. Early implementation of certain interventions, including closure of schools, churches, and theaters, was associated with lower peak death rates, but no single intervention showed an association with improved aggregate outcomes for the 1918 phase of the pandemic. These findings support the hypothesis that rapid implementation of multiple NPIs can significantly reduce influenza transmission, but that viral spread will be renewed upon relaxation of such measures.
WHO: How to handwash? With soap and water
The Joe Rogan Experience #1439 – Michael Osterholm March 10, 2020
Michael Osterholm is an internationally recognized expert in infectious disease epidemiology. He is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, a professor in the Technological Leadership Institute, College of Science and Engineering, and an adjunct professor in the Medical School, all at the University of Minnesota. Look for his book “Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Deadly Germs” for more info. https://amzn.to/2IAzeLe … http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/
The mental health charity Mind says it is signposting people to street drug charities to help them withdraw from antidepressants because of the lack of alternatives available. Those affected can experience debilitating symptoms. “Within a couple of days of coming off, it was overwhelming – agitation, anxiety, akathisia [restlessness], just restlessness, can’t sleep, suicidal ideations, all that stuff going on very quickly,” Stuart Bryan tells the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. The 48-year-old has been taking anti-depressants on and off for more than two decades. “The withdrawals are far worse than the original depression, for me and so many other people.” […] While antidepressants are not addictive, just over half of those who stop or reduce their dosage experience withdrawal symptoms, according to one review of 24 studies last year. […] “The process of withdrawing from something like a street drug and withdrawing from a medicine is not that dissimilar,” he says.
Keira Bell of the United Kingdom told BBC News she was a tomboy as a child — and the sense she needed to transition to a male occurred gradually as she read about it online. Bell soon sought the assistance of medicine at age 16, went to a clinic, and after three appointments lasting an hour each she was prescribed puberty blockers, the outlet said. A year later Bell told the BBC she was prescribed the male hormone testosterone, which developed male characteristics like facial hair and a deep voice — and three years ago, she got her breasts removed. “Initially I felt very relieved and happy about things,” Bell told the outlet. “But I think as the years go on you start to feel less and less enthusiastic or even happy about things. […] I should have been challenged on the proposals or the claims that I was making for myself,” Bell told the outlet. “And I think that would have made a big difference as well. If I was just challenged on the things I was saying.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a stark warning Wednesday, citing expert estimates that up to 60 to 70 percent of the population could be infected by the coronavirus. Speaking at a news conference in Berlin alongside Jens Spahn, German’s health minister, Merkel said there was no known cure and the focus would be on slowing the spread of the virus. “When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60 to 70 percent of the population will be infected,” she said. The population of Germany is about 83 million people. “The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system by slowing the virus’ spread … It’s about winning time,” she added, according to Reuters.
Federally funded tests conducted by scientists from several major institutions indicated that the novel form of coronavirus behind a worldwide outbreak can survive in the air for several hours. A study awaiting peer review from scientists at Princeton University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted online Wednesday indicated that the COVID-19 virus could remain viable in the air “up to 3 hours post aerosolization,” while remaining alive on plastic and other surfaces for up to three days. “Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for 42 multiple hours and on surfaces up to days,” reads the study’s abstract. The test results suggest that humans could be infected by the disease simply carried through the air or on a solid surface, even if direct contact with an infected person does not occur. That finding, if accepted, would come in stark contrast to previous media reports that suggested the virus was not easily transmittable outside of direct human contact.
Daily new (not cumulative) deaths in China (blue) vs outside China (red), up to March 11
Deaths outside China are far worse at the start than deaths allegedly were at the peak of China’s epidemic.
China appears to have constrained transmission of COVID-19 outside of Hubei Provence through rapid and intensive containment and mitigation interventions. Most countries only attempt social distancing and hygiene interventions when widespread transmission is apparent. This gives the virus many weeks to spread with a higher basic reproduction number (R0) than if they were in place before transmission was detected or widespread. Pre-emptive, low cost, hygiene enhancement and social distancing in the context of imminent community transmission of novel coronavirus COVID-19 should be considered. Early interventions to reduce the average frequency and intensity of exposure to the virus might reduce infection risk, reduce the average viral infectious dose of those exposed, and result in less severe cases who are less infectious. A pre-emptive phase would also assist government, workplaces, schools, and businesses to prepare for a more stringent phase. Countries, and subregions of countries, without recognised COVID-19 transmission should assume it is present and consider implementation of low cost enhanced hygiene and social distancing measures.
Analysis of 31,500 photographs across 185 countries showed that images of fun activities and vacations are more likely to contain elements of nature. The economic and ecological impact of nature on humans have long been established with prevalent environmental issues such as climate change and over-exploitation of natural resources being the first to cross one’s mind. On the other hand, much less attention has been paid to the cultural and social values nature brings to humans. Even though natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Swiss Alps have been named some of the top holiday destinations, the intangible benefits people gain from experiencing nature are still difficult to quantify, and such studies typically require resource-intensive surveys and interviews. […] The team’s analysis of the photographs uploaded on social media revealed that photographs tagged as #fun, #vacations and #honeymoons are more likely to contain elements of nature such as plants, water and natural landscape as compared to photographs tagged #daily or #routines. This finding, which is consistent across different countries, provides global evidence of biophilia hypothesis — human’s innate tendency to seek connection with nature — and implies a positive association between nature and fond memories in memorable events like honeymoons.
New research in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology definitively shows that spending your cash on experiences such as travel, entertainment, outdoor activities, and restaurants will improve your happiness much more than any new gadget or outfit. Studies have previously found that people generally appreciate experiences more than things, partially because our happy memories endure while our perceived value of material items plummets. This new research closely tracked happiness before, during, and after experiences and purchases in over 7,500 adults, thereby gathering in-the-moment happiness data. Researchers at Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas at Austin ran two large studies tracking happiness via text message and found experiencers to be much happier than those purchasing any items, and also happier than those not consuming anything. This last point is key: Going out and doing stuff makes you smile! “If you want to be happier, it might be wise to shift some of your consumption away from material goods a bit and more toward experiences—that would likely lead to greater well-being,” says lead author Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.
A new study […] is being celebrated as proof that using puberty blockers in children is positive, even “life-saving.” […] ”The study, led by Jack L. Turban, a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, surveyed 20,619 transgender adults aged 18 to 36 years. Of this number, 16.9 percent said they wanted access to puberty blockers as children, and of that number 2.5 percent said they had received them. This survey was based exclusively on self-reporting. It concludes, “After adjustment for demographic variables and level of family support for gender identity, those who received treatment with pubertal suppression, when compared with those who wanted pubertal suppression but did not receive it, had lower odds of lifetime suicidal ideation.” […] Adults aged 18 to 36 were asked if they had wanted puberty blockers as children and then asked if they had received them. No other evidence appears to have been provided, including no examination of medical reports on the usage timeline nor the physical affects. It is entirely self-reported. To this end, none of the subjects could have actually received the medical intervention being studied and therefore would have no way of knowing the short-term side effects nor long-term effects.
Publicly-funded physician psychotherapy is only available to a fraction of those with urgent mental health needs in Ontario, according to a joint study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and ICES published today in CMAJ Open. The study confirms that there are far too few physicians providing publicly-funded psychotherapy in Ontario to meet the demand for it, and those physicians are concentrated in large urban areas and are rarely able to take on new patients with urgent mental health needs. “The need for innovations in mental health to improve access and quality of care is urgent,” said lead author Dr. Paul Kurdyak, Director of Health Outcomes and Performance Evaluation in the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH and lead of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Program at ICES. “But increasing the number of physicians who provide psychotherapy alone will not solve the existing problem of poor access to psychotherapy in a publicly-funded system.”
The attending physician of the U.S. Congress and Supreme Court, Dr. Brian Monahan, briefed Senate Staff yesterday afternoon in a closed-door meeting that he expects anywhere from 70 up to 150 million people in the U.S. to contract coronavirus, two sources tell NBC – @JulieNBCNews
Coronavirus has killed 5% of known cases, even higher in the worst-affected region, versus a global average of 3.5%. The coronavirus has killed more people in Italy than in China over the past week. Doctors are warning that a shortage of beds to treat the severely ill could push the Italian death toll higher still. In less than three weeks, Italy has gone from having just three coronavirus cases to the biggest outbreak after China. And the data point to a troubling trend: Those infected in Italy appear more likely to die.
Much of the current discourse on — and dismissal of — the Covid-19 outbreak focuses on comparisons of the total case load and total deaths with those caused by seasonal influenza. But these comparisons can be deceiving, especially in the early stages of an exponential curve as a novel virus tears through an immunologically naïve population. Perhaps more important is the disproportionate number of severe Covid-19 cases, many requiring hospitalization or weekslong ICU stays. What does an avalanche of uncharacteristically severe respiratory viral illness cases mean for our health care system? […] At a 10% hospitalization rate, all hospital beds in the U.S. will be filled by about May 10. And with many patients requiring weeks of care, turnover will slow to a crawl as beds fill with Covid-19 patients. If I’m wrong by a factor of two regarding the fraction of severe cases, that only changes the timeline of bed saturation by six days (one doubling time) in either direction. If 20% of cases require hospitalization, we run out of beds by about May 4. If only 5% of cases require it, we can make it until about May 16, and a 2.5% rate gets us to May 22.
Go ahead and be grateful for the good things in your life. Just don’t think that a gratitude intervention will help you feel less depressed or anxious. In a new study, researchers at The Ohio State University analyzed results from 27 separate studies that examined the effectiveness of gratitude interventions on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. The results showed that such interventions had “limited” benefits at best. “For years now, we have heard in the media and elsewhere about how finding ways to increase gratitude can help make us happier and healthier in so many ways,” said David Cregg, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in psychology at Ohio State. “But when it comes to one supposed benefit of these interventions – helping with symptoms of anxiety and depression – they really seem to have limited value.” Cregg conducted the study with Jennifer Cheavens, associate professor of psychology at Ohio State. Their results were published online recently in the Journal of Happiness Studies. There are two commonly recommended gratitude interventions, Cheavens said. One is the “Three Good Things” exercise: At the end of the day, a person thinks of three things that went well for them that day, then writes them down and reflects on them.
Cannabis use disorder (CUD) was associated with decreased risk of digestive disorders and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in people with schizophrenia, but not in sex- and age-matched controls without schizophrenia, according to a study published in Psychological Medicine. Cannabis has been used to alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea in the general population. In patients with schizophrenia, cannabis may be linked to elevated risk of all-cause mortality but decreased risk of mortality from digestive organ diseases, according to a large prospective register-based study. […] Cannabis use disorder (CUD) was associated with decreased risk of digestive disorders and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in people with schizophrenia, but not in sex- and age-matched controls without schizophrenia, according to a study published in Psychological Medicine.1 Cannabis has been used to alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea in the general population. In patients with schizophrenia, cannabis may be linked to elevated risk of all-cause mortality but decreased risk of mortality from digestive organ diseases, according to a large prospective register-based study.
The Covid-19 disease, which can cause a fever, cough and breathing problems, is spreading around the world and has already affected more than 116,000 people. The US team analysed known cases from China and other countries to understand more about the disease. Most people who develop symptoms do so on or around day five. Anyone who is symptom-free by day 12 is unlikely to get symptoms, but they may still be infectious carriers. The researchers advise people who could be infectious – whether they have symptoms or not – to self-isolate for 14 days to avoid spreading it to others. If they follow that guidance – which has already been adopted in the UK and US – it is estimated that for every 100 individuals quarantined for a fortnight, one of them might develop symptoms after being released, Annals of Internal Medicine reports.
Even light physical activity among adolescents was linked to better mental health as they got older, new research shows. Recent research on the link between physical activity and depression risk in adults has suggested that exercise may offset the genetic tendency toward depression. Adults with genetic risks who exercised regularly were no more likely to develop depression than those without the genetic propensity. There’s good evidence that this same association holds in adolescents, a group with a generally high risk of depression, and with concerningly high suicide rates. But adolescence is also a time when physical activity often becomes less common, especially among girls. The World Health Organization recommendation is for an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every day for adolescents, in addition to whatever they do in school — that means activity that gets you sweating and breathing hard. But many adolescents don’t exercise anywhere near that much. […] Even if children exercised only one to three days a week, he said, there was a strong correlation with lower rates of anxiety and depression — and there was no significant difference between them and those who exercised four to six days a week. Good sleep duration and extracurricular activities were also associated with better mental health. In fact, physical activity may improve sleep quality, which is closely linked to mental health.
For many dog owners, thunderstorms are a source of angst, a walk to the dog park can be a fraught experience, and New Year’s celebrations are particularly stressful. According to a new study of thousands of pet dogs, anxiety and fear-related behavior problems are widespread. Certain breeds are particularly sensitive to loud noises or being left alone. Other breeds may engage in compulsive behaviors such as biting themselves or urinating, suggesting a genetic component to the activity. James Serpell, an ethologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, says that the problem stems from owners failing to properly socialize their dogs. Many canines rescued from shelters may have been inadequately trained when they were young, and the problem is compounded when new owners are overly cautious with them. “It’s a sort of helicopter-parenting concept applied to dogs,” he says. “Animals are not getting enough exposure to normal social interactions, play behavior and roughhousing with other dogs. That’s asking for trouble.”
⚠️#COVID19 “is the most frightening disease I’ve ever encountered in my career…because of the combination of infectiousness & a lethality that appears to be many-fold higher than flu.” Dr. Richard Hatchett, leading efforts to find a #coronavirus vaccine.pic.twitter.com/WFoVqSSeKW
With the outbreak of Covid-19, health care professionals are urging people to regularly refrain from touching their face. Is that too much to ask? There’s no question it’s easier said than done. According to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Infection Control, people touch their faces more than 20 times an hour on average. About 44 percent of the time, it involves contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. From picking up objects to turning doorknobs, we’re constantly touching surfaces contaminated with pathogens. These pathogens can be picked up by our hands and get into the body through mucous membranes on the face — eyes, nose, and mouth — that act as pathways to the throat and lungs. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is believed to be spread mostly by inhaling droplets released when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. But these droplets can also land on surfaces that we touch with our hands. “Some pathogens can last for about nine days on surfaces, so we are constantly coming in contact with potential pathogens that can cause an infection,” said Jennifer Hanrahan, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Mothers who used more acetaminophen (Tylenol) while pregnant were more likely to have children with a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry. The researchers were led by Xiaobin Wang at Johns Hopkins University. All mothers in the sample used some acetaminophen. However, the researchers separated the amount used into three groups of “acetaminophen burden.” Mothers who used more acetaminophen were more likely to have a child with ADHD and/or ASD diagnosis. Compared to those who used the smallest amount, mothers who used a medium amount found their risk more than doubled for having a child with an ADHD diagnosis (2.26) and an ASD diagnosis (2.14). For mothers who used the most acetaminophen, the risk increased by almost three times (2.86) for ADHD and by more than three-and-a-half times (3.62) for ASD. “These findings suggest in utero exposure to acetaminophen is associated with increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder in children,” the researchers write.
Shame is the great leveler, the emotion that knocks down the mighty as well as the rest of us. It is a biologically built-in red stop light that can prevent us from achieving our most creative and even loving goals. Shaming has become a mainstay of politics and a tool for ruining the identities of boys and girls before they achieve adulthood. It drives students on campuses to believe they cannot handle “triggers,” instead of standing up to them. We often feel too ashamed to even recognize that shame is holding us back in our personal relationships and our broader ambitions. This presentation will show you identify this emotion that lurks in all of us without exception. I describe the origins of shame in evolution and childhood, and how to triumph over it. One of my best-ever presentations, it is based on my book Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Your Negative Emotions.
I haven’t read Dr. Simon McCarthy-Jones’s latest book yet, Can’t You Hear Them? The Science and Significance of Hearing Voices—can it be two years since it came out?—but as a sort of preparation, I wanted to share some notes I made as part of an old book of mine that I first wrote and then almost immediately withdrew a few years ago, largely because I don’t believe in a biological model of voicehearing any more, no matter how finely it’s been dressed up, and even though it would have been useful to have a discussion about the possible physical and “evolutionary” causes of voicehearing, it would have taken so long to explain to people that, No, I don’t actually believe voicehearing is just neurological, etc., etc., etc., so I just decided to scrub the whole book, regardless of what other merits it might have had.
Tea, a simple elixir of boiling hot water and leaves, is the world’s most socially accepted beverage. It has been sipped by royalty and commoner alike and was so important that Britain made it a priority to get tea to the front lines during World War II. As an essay on the Boston Tea Party Museum website reports, “Tea was the great ‘cheerer-upper’ of the war….The water burners were lit in mobile tea canteens even before the flames of burning buildings were extinguished so that fire brigades and ambulance drivers might have a cup of tea as they completed their horrific tasks….Tea canteens followed the Allied troops as they crossed France and marched into Germany. Grateful communities from Wisconsin to Ceylon raised funds to sponsor these rolling tea wagons that brought a bit of home comfort to battle-weary soldiers.” […] Tea’s power against anxiety and depression is due partly to its mood- and energy-boosting caffeine and antioxidant contents, with the added benefit of helping to fight disease-causing free radicals. It contains thousands of natural chemical compounds that bestow both its soothing aroma and nutritional value: polyphenols, amino acids, enzymes, and minerals to name but a few. Tea also retains an intangible, ancient aura of the posh, spiritual, and ritualistic in today’s society. Consider the complex symbolism of the Japanese tea ceremony, inspired by Zen Buddhism, with its mindful performance of steps to create a beautiful and peaceful mood.
Dog breeders need to take action to improve canine mental health, scientists have said, after research found almost three-quarters of pet dogs have highly problematic anxiety-related behaviour. While physical problems such as breathing difficulties and other health concerns relating to squashed-nosed breeds have become a hot topic, the study suggests breeders also need to focus on dogs’ behaviour. “Behavioural problems are the leading cause for the relinquishment or euthanasia of the dogs,” said Prof Hannes Lohi, a co-author of the study from the University of Helsinki. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, is based on a survey of owners of more than 13,700 pet dogs in Finland, spanning 264 breeds and ranging from young pups to elderly hounds. […] “We observed some differences such as male dogs being more often aggressive and impulsive, while female dogs were more fearful,” said Lohi.
Mental fatigue is a psychobiological state caused by prolonged periods of demanding cognitive activity which results in slower reaction times and attention deficits. It affects the ability to focus and impacts the capacity to make optimal decisions during a given task. Mental fatigue is often responsible for accidents in traffic or the workplace and can lead to poor study efficiency. We know that mindfulness has been shown to have a positive effect on stress-coping and cognitive performance. There is also cumulating evidence suggesting that listening to binaural beats may increase sustained attention. Binaural beats is an auditory illusion which has been framed as a class of cognitive and neural entrainment (Kirk et al., 2019). Even though there are different tones of different frequency (165Hz in the left and 179 Hz in the right) presented in each ear the participant will hear one tone, which is the amalgamated difference between the two tones (beta range of 14 Hz). […] Therefore, the study demonstrates that just 12 minutes of binaural beats and 4 weeks of mindfulness training were effective recovery strategies to counteract the negative effects of mental fatigue on sustained attention.
Regular exposure to secondhand smoke is more common among nonsmoking teens with depression symptoms, according to a survey across 22 low- and middle-income countries. While there has been plenty of research suggesting a direct link between smoking and depression in teenagers, little is known about how passive smoking might also be linked to depression, said study coauthor Louis Jacob of the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France. […] After adjusting for age, family poverty level and other factors that might influence depression risk, researchers calculated that kids exposed to secondhand smoke on 3-6 days a week were 38% more likely to report depression symptoms compared to kids who were not exposed. Kids exposed 7 days a week were at 68% higher risk.
In a national NNU survey of over 6k #nurses, only 30% reported having the supplies they need to safely care for their patients.
Autopsies show severe damage to COVID-19 patients’ lungs and immune system, according to a doctor in Wuhan reached by the Global Times, who called for measures to prevent fibrosis of the lungs at an early stage of the disease. “The influence of COVID-19 on the human body is like a combination of SARS and AIDS as it damages both the lungs and immune systems,” Peng Zhiyong, director of the intensive care unit of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, told the Global Times on Friday. […] “The autopsy results Liu shared inspired me a lot. Based on the results, I think the most important thing now is to take measures at an early stage of the disease to protect patients’ lungs from irreversible fibrosis,” Peng noted. If irreversible damage is done, other measures, like those to prevent patients from oxygen deficit, will not be of much use, he said. Liu’s team published a paper on an autopsy they conducted in the Journal of Forensic Medicine on Tuesday. […] He warned that the number of deaths may rebound as he knows many critical patients in Wuhan have held out for one month but are still in danger and could die anytime. There were 6,775 critical patients in Wuhan as of Thursday and the number of deaths Wuhan authority reported on Thursday was 28, according to NHC.
I think most people aren’t aware of the risk of systemic healthcare failure due to #COVID19 because they simply haven’t run the numbers yet. Let’s talk math. 1/n
Click through that tweet to read the full thread with an important analysis by Liz Specht, who has a PhD from UCSD and Bachelors from Johns Hopkins. She runs conservative-estimate models on the potential impact of Covid-19 on the U.S. health-care systems.
1/25 Part 1 – Why does soap work so well on the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus and indeed most viruses? Because it is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. A two part thread about soap, viruses and supramolecular chemistry #COVID19pic.twitter.com/OCwqPjO5Ht
Antidepressants, a type of medication used to treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, can cause serious withdrawal symptoms when quit cold turkey, according to research published in the The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. “I think we have a real problem with patient care management, when it comes to prescribing antidepressants,” the study’s lead author Mireille Rizkalla, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Midwestern University Chicago in the U.S., said in a statement. “We tend to put patients on an SSRI and more or less forget about them.” Lauren Slater, a science writer, spent almost 30 years on serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — a common, effective antidepressant, and other types of psychotropic medication. In her book, Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs That Changed Our Minds, Slater stated that though antidepressants took away her mental health symptoms, they left her with failing kidneys, diabetes, obesity, and memory loss.
A congressman has written to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after it appeared the agency had removed U.S. data on the outbreak of the deadly new coronavirus from its website. Mark Pocan, who serves Wisconsin’s Second District, wrote to director of the CDC Dr. Robert Redfield on Monday to express his concern that the national public health institute seemed to have stopped reporting how many Americans had been tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Until Sunday night, the Congressman wrote, the CDC publicly reported on its website the number of cases in the U.S. involving individuals who had travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot, the number of cases involving person-to-person spread, the total number tested for the virus, and total deaths. “Inexplicably, today, the CDC’s public webpage dedicated to COVID-19 data no longer displays how many persons have been tested for, or who have died from COVID-19. I would like to know why,” Pocan wrote.
This is unacceptable.
I just sent a letter to @CDCDirector demanding answers to why their website removed public data on the number of patients tested in the United States.
CDC fails to arm USA frontlines with Covid-19 tests
Frontline medics testify to the CDC’s abject failure to facilitate testing for them as they face and encounter the fast-moving Covid-19 pandemic, over one month after it began ravaging China and spreading internationally. In this video EMR Doctor Matt McCarthy, author of ‘Superbugs’, gives his firsthand account along with the President of National Nurses United Deborah Berger, from https://www.nationalnursesunited.org/… and see also a letter from the NNU to a CDC office complaining about policies that are putting nurses and patients at risk in the face of an international health emergecny: https://act.nationalnursesunited.org/…
Recent research shows that benzodiazepines are responsible for a high number of emergency department (ED) visits across the United States – being implicated for 9.9% of all ED visits involving adverse medication-related events. Additionally, the majority, or seven out of eight, of ED visits related to benzodiazepine use involve nonmedical use and self-harm. Furthermore, 80% of benzodiazepine-related ED visits involve the simultaneous use of other drugs such as alcohol. These findings suggest that the prescription of benzodiazepines by healthcare professionals should be limited, if not avoided altogether. Medscape Medical News, quoting Daniel S. Budnitz, MD, MPD, director of the Medication Safety Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in communication with Medscape Medical News, reports: “Although benzodiazepines are typically not problematic in terms of acute overdoses when used alone, patients often don’t take them as prescribed or use them with other substances in a self-harm attempt.”
Clozapine – often reserved for difficult to treat cases of schizophrenia – can lower people’s white blood count to dangerous levels and can also lead to fatal constipation. Other antipsychotics can cause weight gain, type 2 diabetes and raised cholesterol. Yet despite this, severalstudies indicate that patients taking antipsychotics aren’t always told about the side-effects by their doctors. Clozapine was previously withdrawn from use after several patients treated with the drug died with very low white blood counts. But it was bought back into use in the 1990s after a six-week trial of 268 patients to check its safety. People who take it today have to have mandatory and regular blood tests to check their white blood counts. Recently though, the US Food and Drug Administration has highlighted another issue with the drug. Untreated constipation caused by clozapine can lead to serious bowel problems, resulting in hospitalisation, surgery or even death in some cases.
Two conditions that CBD is mostly used for are pain management and anxiety. I’ll try and explain why people are using CBD oil for pain so much.[…] Through meddling with our intrinsic system of receptors, CBD decreases the levels of inflammatory cytokines. It also soothes the part of our brain associated with pain. Lastly, it raises the levels of serotonin (something antidepressants also do) in the brain, thus reducing the anxiety, which affects the perception of pain. There are a significant number of pre-clinical (animal) trials that testify on the effectiveness of CBD oil for pain treatment. A study published in Pain journal (2017) affirmed that CBD prevented osteoarthritis pain and joint neuropathy in rats. In Canada, a THC and CBD based drug called Sativex was approved in 2005 for the treatment of central neuropathic pain in multiple sclerosis, and in 2007 for intractable cancer pain. Numerous trials report on the effectiveness of Sativex. Another study published just a couple of months ago in Postgraduate Medicine Journal, investigated the impact of full hemp CBD oil extract on opioid use in chronic pain patients. After 8 weeks of using CBD oil for pain, more than half (54%) of patients eliminated their opioids. The vast majority (94%) reported quality of life improvements.
After struggling with his mental health for most of his adult life, Steven Upton was desperate to find a way to help manage his depression and social anxiety. And when Steven’s former classmate, from Wallbottle Campus, Steve Goldie advertised that he was completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, Steven decided to give hiking a go. Now, the 34-year-old cites walking for improving his mental wellbeing and has joined with Steve, his brother Dean Upton and Daniel Smith to set up a community hiking group. Steven, who runs his own dog walking business, said: “I was in a bad place mentally and hiking was something I had always wanted to do so I decided to give the three peaks challenge a go and it was an absolute godsend.”
A cute lower back pain is defined as pain in the lower lumbar region for up to 6 weeks. Subacute lower-back pain is pain in the lower lumbar region from 6 weeks up to 12 weeks, and chronic lower back pain is pain that lasts for 12 or more weeks. About 80% of people will experience lower-back pain at some point during their lives.1 It is the most common reason for disability and the second most common reason why adults see a physician.2 Lower-back pain is also a very common reason for an opioid prescription. Opioids may mask pain in the short term, but they do not treat the underlying problem.2 Non–evidence-based treatment of lower-back pain, such as opioids, can actually cause serious problems.
More Global COVID-19 Outbreaks, Vitamin D May Aid Prevention
In 2004 the FDA added a “black box” warning label to antidepressant prescriptions due to increased risk of suicide in children and adolescents taking the drugs. This came after evidence of higher suicide rates surfaced in placebo-controlled trials of the drugs. However, since then, the warning label has been controversial. Critics have suggested that it may have resulted in decreasing antidepressant prescriptions and increased suicide rates. A new study investigated these claims. Did the black box warning label cause harm by preventing antidepressant prescriptions to children? Not according to the researchers, who write: “The Black Box warning is rooted in solid data, whereas attempts to claim the warning has caused harm are based on quite weak evidence.” The researchers, led by Glen Spielmans at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. According to Spielmans and his co-authors, antidepressant prescriptions have continued to increase, along with the rise in suicide attempts in young people. “Recent data suggests that increasing antidepressant prescriptions are related to more youth suicide attempts and more completed suicides among American children and adolescents,” the researchers write.
Specific fibers known as prebiotics can improve sleep and boost stress resilience by influencing gut bacteria and the potent biologically active molecules, or metabolites, they produce, new University of Colorado Boulder research shows. The research could ultimately lead to new approaches to treating sleep problems, which affect 70 million Americans. “The biggest takeaway here is that this type of fiber is not just there to bulk up the stool and pass through the digestive system,” said Robert Thompson, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology and lead author of the study, published today in the journal Scientific Reports. “It is feeding the bugs that live in our gut and creating a symbiotic relationship with us that has powerful effects on our brain and behavior.” […] “We know that this combination of dietary fibers helps promote stress robustness and good sleep and protects the gut microbiome from disruption. […] “Our results reveal novel signals that come from gut microbes that may modulate stress physiology and sleep,” said Fleshner.
Children with ADHD who live in poor areas may be significantly more likely to receive medication for their disorder than children with ADHD who live in affluent areas, according to a study conducted in the U.K. and published in BJPsych Open. “This finding is important because it has implications for those in clinical practice and for policymakers,” Samuel P.T. Nunn, MBChB, MPH, of St. James University Hospital in England, said in a press release. “Further research would inform development of possible interventions to tackle the effects of social deprivation, though progress may be difficult unless the broader social determinants of health are addressed.”
The importance of the microorganisms that live on and in our bodies has long been recognized, and their complex synergistic impact on our systemic health is elucidated. Now, researchers from Japan have shown the importance of normal eating for the composition and balance of our individual oral and gut microbiota. In a study published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology in December 2019, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) have shown the importance of normal feeding for establishing and maintaining appropriate bacteria in the mouth and the gut.
Claire Dinneen’s daughters thought that worsening dementia was causing her growing confusion, but her doctor suspected something else. Dr. Pei Chen asked them to round up medicines in the 89-year-old woman’s home and they returned with a huge haul. There were 28 drugs ordered by various doctors for various ailments, plus over-the-counter medicines. Chen spent a year sorting out which ones were truly needed and trimmed a dozen. To her daughters’ surprise, Dinneen got better, able to remember more things and to offer advice on what to wear and how to raise their kids. Her symptoms were from “medication fog,” not her dementia getting worse, Chen told one daughter. “I was just stunned,” Debbie Dinneen said. “No one had taken a look at the big picture” to see if medicines might be addling her mom, who lives near Berkeley, California. […] “It’s very easy to miss medication side effects because they masquerade as all these other symptoms,” said Dr. Michael Steinman […] These drugs might be fine for a younger person, but “once someone is having even the tiniest difficulty with thinking and memory, then the effects of these drugs are just huge,” said Dr. Andrew Budson of Boston University’s Alzheimer’s disease center.
Anxiety thrives on uncertainty. And, as the coronavirus spreads, our unanswered questions can make us feel vulnerable or fearful. “Will it come to my community” or “Am I at risk?’ “We’ve got national anxiety at the moment, a kind of shared stress, and we are all in a state of extreme uncertainty,” says Catherine Belling, an associate professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, who studies the role of fear and anxiety in health care. And here’s a catch-22: The more you stress, the more vulnerable you can become to viruses, because stress can dampen your immune response. But there are steps you can take to push back against the communal anxiety. …
The coronavirus outbreak in the Seattle area is at a critical juncture and could see explosive growth in cases much like Wuhan, China, if public officials don’t take immediate, forceful measures, according to a new analysis of genetic data. The author of the analysis, a computational biologist named Trevor Bedford, said there are likely already at least 500 to 600 cases of Covid-19 in the greater Seattle area. He urged health authorities and the public to immediately begin adopting non-pharmaceutical interventions — imposing “social distancing” measures, telling the sick to isolate themselves, and limiting attendance at large gatherings. “Now would be the time to act,” Bedford, who is at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, told STAT. […] On Capitol Hill, Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D) expressed deep frustration with the situation.“The failure to develop and distribute working test kits to public health agencies has really cost us valuable time. I am hearing from people personally across our state who are frustrated,” Murray said. “They believe they have been exposed, they are sick, they want to get tested, they have nowhere to go,” she added. “People want to be safe and protected, they do not want to spread this, they want to take care of themselves but we don’t have the capability right now to do it with the policies we have in place.”
Coronavirus Epidemic Update 29: Testing problems, mutations, COVID-19 in Washington & Iran
The most dangerous thing you will ever do is see a psychiatrist. Why? Because there is a near certainty you will be given a neurotoxic psychiatric drug or even electroshock; and because the information given to you will totally mislead you about your real problems and how to overcome them. Without realizing what is happening, you will be seriously at risk of becoming a lifelong prisoner of psychiatric drugs and the demoralizing misinformation provided by your doctor. I am a psychiatrist and I have been watching my profession deteriorate for many decades. This is my most direct written statement about the dangers of stepping inside a modern psychiatrist’s office. My conclusions are the culmination of mountains of research authored by me and by an increasing number of other psychiatrists, scientists and journalists. …Read more
Heightened inflammatory reactivity to social stress appears to increase the risk for depression in adolescent girls, according to the results of a study published in Depression and Anxiety. These findings provide further support for the Social Signal Transduction Theory of Depression, as proposed by Michael Irwin, MD, and George Slavich, PhD […] Depression frequently emerges in adolescence and over the lifetime is associated with an increased risk for serious immunologic-related disorders such as asthma, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. Following the onset of puberty, the rate of depression increases 5-fold and compared with boys, girls have twice the risk of developing major depressive disorder. In adolescent girls, interpersonal life stress is a strong predictor of depression. […] Slavich et al concluded, “To the extent that interventions can be developed to modify negative stress-related cognitions that drive inflammatory reactivity, such interventions may be helpful for reducing inflammation‐related depression and physical disease risk.”
Cultivating more control over our lungs can bring many benefits to our mental and physical health. Is it time to relearn breathing? Within a mere 10 seconds of being born, the shock of the brave new world startled your lungs into action as you gasped your first breath. And they haven’t stopped working since, averaging around 16 breaths a minute for a resting adult – or 23,000 a day. By the time you reach 30, you will have inhaled and exhaled roughly 250 million times. You’d think, with all that practice, we’d all be experts at respiration. What more could we learn about this most basic instinct? […] According to practitioners, those slow, deep breaths set off a cascade of physiological responses that accelerate your descent into a more complete state of relaxation, compared to more passive mindfulness exercises. “It acts as a speed ramp into the meditation practice, helping to calm the mind quicker so that you get more bang for your buck while meditating,” explains Richie Bostock, a breathwork coach based in London whose book, Exhale, will be published later this year. “In fact, I call some of the routines I teach ‘Meditation on Rocket Fuel’ because of the profound effect it has on calming the mind quickly and getting you to that place of no-thought.”
Many older adults enjoy “brain games” such as crosswords, sudoku and computer brain-training games. But can they help improve memory? Well, it’s complicated. […] Aging experts explain that there’s absolutely no harm in doing puzzles (jigsaw included) or other so-called brain games. […] The Global Council on Brain Health, in conjunction with AARP, found in 2017 that the evidence for long-term health benefits of brain games is weak. Still, another study, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry last year, looked at 19,100 people and found that the more people engaged with word and number puzzles, the better they did on attention, memory and reasoning tests. However, the research did not study whether these activities might prevent cognitive decline. […] “People ask, ‘I’ve got an hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, what can I do?’” Hayes said. “I recommend a physical fitness activity over cognitive exercises.”
Adherence to Mediterranean Diet (Med-Diet) has been associated with a lower incidence of chronic diseases and may be associated with lower risk for depression. The aim of the present study was to investigate (i) the association of adherence to Med-Diet with depressive symptoms and multimorbidity in a cohort of geriatric medical outpatients, and (ii) the role of Med-Diet in mediating the association between depressive symptoms and multimorbidity. […] These findings (i) add to the accumulating evidence that Med-Diet may have a positive impact on mental health in the elderly, and (ii) suggest that Med-Diet may contribute, at least in part, to protect geriatric patients with multimorbidity from the development of depressive symptoms, ultimately promoting healthy aging.
A coronavirus is so tiny that 1,000 of them could be stacked in the thickness of a sheet of paper. It is an invisible threat, and it is making vivid the shortcomings of our health care systems. The world is a “a playground” for viruses like the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, infectious disease experts wrote last week in the New England Journal of Medicine. “We must realize that in our crowded world of 7.8 billion people, a combination of altered human behaviors, environmental changes, and inadequate global public health mechanisms now easily turn obscure animal viruses into existential human threats.” There is still a chance that the outbreak, which has now spread to six continents, will stall out. China’s willingness to impose draconian, unprecedented quarantines has bought everyone time. […] “Our savior here is going to be our technology,” Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner, said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.” “And we need to make a really robust effort to try to develop a therapeutic.”
Covid-19 deaths – left axis: Worldwide (outside China) / right axis China
Expert: Coronavirus Pandemic Could Kill Tens of Millions
Pulitzer Prize winning health expert Laurie Garrett reveals the potential scope of a coronavirus pandemic from China and how you can stay safe and healthy to prevent an outbreak. Recorded 2/25/20. Garrett is a former senior fellow @ the Council on Foreign Relations and her career has been focused on infectious-disease epidemics and how nations can prepare for them. She was in China during the SARS 2003 epidemic covering that, and also in Africa on ebola outbreaks. She’s very big-picture informed on this topic.
People with mild traumatic brain injury who are exposed to early morning blue light therapy may experience a decrease in depression and other concussion symptoms, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020. “Patients with mild traumatic brain injury, like concussion, often develop persistent problems associated with sleep, concentration and depression,” said study author William D. Killgore, Ph.D., from the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. “Morning blue light exposure has been shown to lead to improved circadian rhythm of the body’s sleep-wake cycle, which is linked to improved sleep, better mood and daytime alertness.” […] The improvement in depression scores among the people in the blue light group was also linked to improvements in other concussion symptoms such as sleep disturbance, fatigue, concentration, restlessness, and irritability, while there was no such relationship for the people in the placebo group.
Before a Pandemic
Store a two week supply of water and food.
Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
Most psychiatric drugs can cause withdrawal reactions, including life-threatening emotional and physical reactions. So it is not only dangerous to start psychiatric drugs, it can also be dangerous to stop them.