Archive for the 'Diseases & Disorders' Category

Driving=Stress!

Dr. Franssen was not joking when she said there is a difference in old people and younger people driving. Older people must have a lower stress than those of students. If someone cuts me off, I am angry about it for the rest of the day, easily. Older people complain while it happens then drive along and essentially forget about it. Being from New York and living in Virginia for 3 years, I have spent plenty of time on route 81 and interstate 95, for 8 hours at a time. It’s kind of funny because when I took the road rage quiz for one of the case study assignments, the results gave me 8/10, in favor of road rage. I definitely have rage when people drive like a bat out of hell. Instead of cooling down and listening to music, I yell at the people, who clearly can’t hear me. Then I call my boyfriend, who responds with “oh, what an idiot”. This disappoints me because I want someone to yell with me. So we hang up and I call my best friend who tells me about a similar story of her own and we complain about that for awhile. Then, if I am still not satisfied with the amount of attention the person who cut me off is getting, I call my mom. This works every time because she reassures me that people like that need to get off the road and that I need to drive safely. So, what should have been a 1 minute incident actually lasts half an hour. Then, I see a car the same color as the previous one and just when I am starting to cool off, I get angry all over again and start mumbling to myself “what is this drive like a fool if you have a red car day?” Driving for long periods of time is so stressful and the initial stress causes a reaction which inevitably creates more stress! Go figure. Public transportation is probably the key to road trips.

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Assignment #22: Writing to Relieve Stress

Writing to relieve stress is a method that I rarely use ( I know it is lame) but regardless, is still a effective way to help cope with stress. I have only wrote a few times when stressed, but it definately helps me clear my thoughts and get them down on paper. This works almost as if my thoughts are being plucked from my brain and discarded on a white canvas that I can later revisit. Back in the fall is the last time I became so overwhelmed with stress that I wrote out my feelings. My stress began to overtake me during exam week before winter break back in December, and I could not sit and focus on my work without my mind racing at a hundred miles per hour, focusing on what I had found out a few days before. My mom had dropped the news to me the friday before finals week that she was diagnosed with cancer and they did not know how bad it was.

 The news did not sit well with me at all; I just remember breaking down outside of a party, being taken back to my room, and lashing out at a few friends around me. I eventually talked to a few close friends, who gave me some encouraging words and reassured me that everything would be alright, but I still couldn’t shake it. I kept thinking, “What if it is worse than they think it is, or what if they caught it too late? What am I going to do if my Mom gets really sick and eventually passes away?” I eventually called up my football coach and asked to meet with him, knowing I could talk to him about anything, and maybe he would be able to help me overcome this.  The talk with him helped, but it still was not enough; I was still scared of what could happen. I don’t remember exactly when, but I think it was the sunday before exams, I just opened up Microsoft Word and started typing. I still have what I wrote saved on my desktop. I have found out over the past few years, that the less people know about what is going on in your life, the better but I don’t mind sharing what I wrote because everyhitng has worked itself out.

My mom was diagnosed with Melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, but treatable and rarely results in death. She has undergone 4 surgeries and has started chemo injections that should kill the cancer; she is doing much better now. I hope that she continues to recover and eventually all of the cancer is gone. What I wrote expresses whow I was feeling, I tended to outlash at people because I was supressing my feelings, I was beginning to take my anger out on others and during weightlifting. When I look back on what I wrote, I laugh a little at what I had written that day because it is a kinda deep. This is what I wrote:

“Is it wrong to channel pain into anger, lashing out at those around me, or should I consider the opposite; allow pain to overcome me, force me to my knees and allow it to render me helpless? Maybe I should put up a false bravado, while I repress the anger until it boils into inner rage and torment, or maybe I should ignore the pain until it slips into sadness. What if I take this point in time and use it to my advantage. I can use the pain and anger to fuel my mind and body to accomplish my goals, use this as an inner drive. I can get up and stop feeling sorry for myself and the situation that has been placed in front of me. I will make the best of my time; finally accomplish what I set out to do two years ago, but not for myself anymore. I will do this for my family, for her. But what is fueling these feelings, holding me back, and destroying my mind as you read this? Is it Fear? Maybe it is the fear of the unknown? Can I move forward after I come to terms with this demon that is staring me in the face?

The feeling that hits you like a train steaming full speed through a cardboard box, and you are the box. It is the pit in your stomach that cripples you, making it impossible to do what you set out to. You feel the pressure crush your lungs, as you gasp for air. The feeling is Fear. Adrenalin and cortisol is released into the blood stream, resulting in: rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, tightening of muscles, sharpened senses, dilatation of pupils, and increased sweating. Fear is necessary for survival, but too much fear in the wrong situation can be detrimental, it can cripple you, and be the source of your downfall. Or you can use Fear as a way to push yourself. I may Fear the unknown and what may happen in the future, but I fear failing and letting those around me down more, so I will use this as motivation, as inspiration to push myself, to turn this situation into a positive. I won’t let this slow my momentum, but rather fuel it.”

I am doing  a lotbetter today than the past me that wrote what you read above, and all the built up anger actually did fuel me over the past few months to do a lot of good things: I had the best grades in the fall that I have ever had in school and I got significantly stronger in the weightroom. I had a lot help and support from my friends and coach, which helped significantly. There is a cool video about Fear that I want to share, it is different than what I was talking about, but it can easily be related. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVZ9zSRf39U

SAD

So, often times people complain that they have the winter time blues, which is a lighter, less serious case as what is known as  Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a condition that occurs when the days become shorter in the wintertime. Wintertime blues will cause people to have a reduced quality of life with less “sparkle”, less fun, less productivity… what it will not do is impair their work or relationships.

SAD, however, will provide those who suffer from it with similar symptoms and then some… they will have low energy and difficulty waking up in the mornings. They will also become more sad and depressed. For the worst cases, symptoms can have drastic effects on a person’s life. People will become unable to work.

So… it is evident that there actually are cases of wintertime blues… but what about summertime blues, perhaps for those of us that love the snow and winter sports. Personally, I love to ski both downhill and cross country, as well as snowboard. I also enjoy snowmobiling and ice fishing. There are tons of things that I miss about winter when the summer comes around (don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the summer days), and

I was curious to see if there are any people that suffer from the “summertime blues”… turns out, there is!

It is referred to as Reverse SAD or Summer SAD. I found that it is more common than people may think, but

it is also very unknown.

That being said, I don’t think I have SAD… or Summer SAD, but maybejust an unhealthy obsession with snow sports?

Depression and Counseling

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This year, counseling has been the reason that I have made so much improvement in dealing with stress and depression. Without going to counseling I don’t think that I would have been able to start learning how to cope with the symptoms of depression.
Not only has going to counseling taught me how to cope, seeing a counselor has made me understand what changes I need to make in my life to make me a more mentally and emotionally stable person. In February, I had a bit of an emotional breakdown. I had never felt that depressed and hopeless in my life. It felt as if I had no control over my state of being. I really had no idea how to recover from this breakdown. However, I did recover because of the help of my counselor, who I have been seeing every week since February. I have made a huge amount of progress. I’m being more social and getting out of my room more. I don’t mope around the way that I did last year. Even though I have made progress, I still have much more to improve upon. For instance, even though I am being more social, I tend to sleep when I don’t have anything to do or anyone to hang out with. It hard for me to go out and do something on my own. I’ve always hated going places or doing things by myself, but I feel that being ok with being alone is part of growing up. This is one aspect of my life that doesn’t necessarily have to do with depression, but is still an important issue in becoming an adult.
While people may think that you only go to counseling if you have serious mental problems, marital problems or etc, going to counseling can help anyone, no matter their mental state. I think that everyone should visit a counselor atleast once in their lives. It may make more of a difference then you think.

Depression: Is There an Anecdote?

I was slightly put off by Newsweek article about depression and placebo drugs. The alarming number of people who claimed medication worked for depression but actually got a placebo shocked me, especially since I know many people who claimed medication has helped them get through their own depression. But, I have learned in my Personality/Treatment that this is the same for therapy as well. Half of the time that people schedule appointments for therapy, they cancel before the appointment and claim that they no longer need it. This is because the simple thought of going to therapy and getting better makes them more optimistic. This is similar to the placebo effect because people are anticipating feeling better and therefore are in good moods thinking about the future. If I were going to receive drugs for depression and I were given a placebo, I wold not be upset. I would rather think that I am getting better without the altering of any neurotransmitters.

Sick For Class? DON’T DO IT!

Im sure many of you can completely agree with this title of this blog.  Especially for upper level classes that are for your major, it is impossible to miss class.  Not only is it a terrible idea because it puts you behond academically, but it puts you behind with the professor.  I know many professors out there will say that you get two or so free misses and it won’t count off for your grade; however, we all know that it is kept in the back of their heads who has missed and who has never missed a class at all.  For example, in my anatomy and physiology class, 6 people were absent for class the other day.  My professor emailed all of is, even those who were in class, a wanted poster for the people who had missed that day.  Also, the other day in my lab my professor came up to me and asked if I had missed any classes.  I replied no and he answered back with a sigh of relief and a very firm, “good”.  Although the syllabus says there is a free day to miss if you are on your death bed, everyone knows that if you want to stay on his good side, you better attend every single class and make sure he knows that you are there.  Not being able to miss classes is extremely stressfuli; when I know that I’m sick and I have an important class that day, I start to freak out because I know I should go to the class but if I’m sick than it does me no good.  This sends me in another loop of stress which doesn’t make me feel better and actually makes me even more sick. causing me to potentially miss more days.  Basically, if you’re sick, you better suck it up and go to class or there will be more consequences than just not feeling well for a day. 

This is the email that my professor sent all of us…

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“When Kids Get Life”

This is just some food for thought!

I recently had a very stressful debate in one of my classes about whether or not children under 18 should receive the death penalty. It reminded me of a frontline release of When Kids Get Life, which also brought up the argument of whether or not children under 18 should get life sentences.

We all know that adolescence is often characterized by increased independence and a desire for knowledge and exploration, it is also a time when brain changes can result in a myriad of high-risk behaviors, such as extreme sports without protective equipment, unprotected sexual encounters, drug and alcohol addiction, and in extreme cases, even murder. But what a lot of people don’t know is that different parts of the adolescent brain matures at different rates, and that brain development extends at least into a person’s twenties.

I once watched a film called Inside the Teenage Brain, which indicated that adolescents have an immature frontal cortex, which is responsible for their in ability to make good decisions and evaluate and understand consequences and circumstances. This immature frontal cortex, which is going through rapid changes during adolescence, is also responsible for teenage impulsivity, rapid and intense fluctuations in mood and behavior, and their inability to properly identify and understand the emotions of others. They also found that their emotional/gut responses are more activated than adults, and they are unable to organize information from the outside world. Teenagers also experience changes in their cerebellum which is involved with coordination and thinking processes.

Based on the intense and rapid brain development during adolescence, and its effect on cognition and behavior, I do not believe that children (under the age of 18) should be tried and sentenced as adults, as they do not have an adult’s ability to make proper decisions, regulate emotions, assess consequences, and organize their actions, and the information from the outside world. I also believe that sentencing minors as adults and giving them life or even the death sentence deprives them of the chance to demonstrate maturity and reform. The minor should be given the opportunity to achieve maturity of judgment and self-recognition of human worth and potential. In essence I believe that minors should be sentenced as juveniles, and given time fit by the court while allowing brain development to occur and for them to be able to demonstrate this maturity. Compared to adult offenders who have reached optimal brain development, children have a great capacity for change and rehabilitation, and sentencing them as adults ignores the scientific evidence of the reasons behind their offenses, and their ability to become a better person.

However, after my debate a lot of people felt otherwise, and believed that there is nothing wrong with children being sentenced as adults and given life or the death penalty… What do you guys think?
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