Monday, October 24, 2016

Internet addiction linked to depression, anxiety, ADHD in college students

September 19, 2016

College students who screened positively for internet addiction had higher levels of functional impairment, depression and anxiety, attentional problems and ADHD symptoms, according to data presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress.

“Excessive use of the internet is an understudied phenomenon that may disguise mild or severe psychopathology; excessive use of the internet may be strongly linked to compulsive behavior and addiction; as the authors say, further study is needed in larger populations,” Jan Buitelaar, MD, PhD, a member of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology child and adolescent disorders treatment scientific advisory panel, said in a press release.
To assess internet addiction and its effects in college students, researchers surveyed 254 first-year undergraduate students at McMaster University on internet usage, depression, anxiety, impulsiveness and executive functioning. Study participants had a mean age of 18.5 years.
Overall, 12.5% met criteria for internet addiction according to the Internet Addiction Test and 42% met criteria according to the Dimensions of Problematic Internet Use.
Participants had the most difficulty controlling their use of video streaming services (55.8%), social networking (47.9%) and instant messaging tools (28.5%).
Participants who screened positively for internet addiction had significantly higher levels of functional impairment (P < .001), depression and anxiety symptoms (P < .001), greater executive functioning impairments (P < .001), greater levels of attentional problems (P < .001) and ADHD symptoms (P < .001).
Students with internet addiction spent more leisure time online, compared with those who did not meet internet addiction criteria.
Analysis of different dimensions of internet use indicated those with internet addiction were more likely to have difficulty controlling their use of instant messaging tools, compared with those without internet addiction (P = .01).
“We found that those screening positive on the [Internet Addiction Test] as well as on our scale, had significantly more trouble dealing with their day to day activities, including life at home, at work/school and in social settings. Individuals with internet addiction also had significantly higher amounts of depression and anxiety symptoms, problems with planning and time management, greater levels of attentional impulsivity as well as ADHD symptoms. This leads us to a couple of questions: firstly, are we grossly underestimating the prevalence of internet addiction and secondly, are these other mental health issues a cause or consequence of this excessive reliance on the internet?,” study researcher Michael Van Ameringen, MD, FRCPC, of McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, said in a press release. “This may have practical medical implications. If you are trying to treat someone for an addiction when in fact they are anxious or depressed, then you may be going down the wrong route. We need to understand this more, so we need a bigger sample, drawn from a wider, more varied population.” – by Amanda Oldt

Van Ameringen M, et al. Internet addiction or psychopathology in disguise? Results from a survey of college-aged internet users. Presented at: European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress; September 17-20, 2016; Vienna.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

13 things successful people do on Sunday nights

Most people will tell you they don't love Sunday evenings.
In fact, a whopping 76% of American workers say they get the Sunday-night blues, according to a 2015 Monster survey.
Even if you love your job and typically look forward to getting back into the swing of things, "it's easy to feel a bit of trepidation on Sundays about the stresses waiting for you on Monday morning," writes Laura Vanderkam in her book "What The Most Successful People Do On The Weekend."
Experts say there are certain things successful people do at the end of the weekend to combat those Sunday-night blues and prepare for the week ahead.
Here are 13 of them:
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They spend quality time with their families, friends, and significant others
Successful people know their weeks will be jammed and that they are likely to be unavailable, says Roy Cohen, a career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide." So they make the most of their Sunday nights by spending time with their loved ones. 
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They plan something fun
"This idea may be the most important tip," Vanderkam writes. "This extends the weekend and keeps you focused on the fun to come, rather than on Monday morning." 
Vanderkam quotes Caitlin Andrews, a librarian, who says her extended family gets together for dinner almost every Sunday, alternating houses. "It takes my mind off any Sunday night blues that might be coming on," Andrews says.
You might also make Sunday a movie or spa night, or you could join a Sunday-night bowling league.
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They organize and plan for the week ahead
Some successful people like to look at their calendars on Sunday night and set goals and deadlines for the coming week, career coach Marsha Egan says. The trick is to do this without stressing yourself out.
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They exercise
Take a walk, play a game of tennis, or go to a class at the gym, Egan suggests.
Vanderkam writes in her book that reality-TV producer Aliza Rosen does hot yoga at 6 p.m. on Sundays. "It's a great way for me to sweat out the toxins of the week and center myself for Monday," Rosen told Vanderkam.
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They eat something healthy
It might be tempting to wind down with a couple of glasses of your favorite Cabernet, but as licensed counselor and Urban Balance CEO Joyce Marter points out in an article for PsychCentral, alcohol is a depressant that will leave you feeling less energized in the morning.
"Instead, make a healthy meal and enjoy with some herbal tea or some seltzer water with lemon," she writes.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Balance Exercise

Balance exercise is one of the four types of exercise along with strength, endurance and flexibility. Ideally, all four types of exercise would be included in a healthy workout routine and AHA provides easy-to-follow guidelines for endurance and strength-training in its Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults.
They don’t all need to be done every day, but variety helps keep the body fit and healthy, and makes exercise interesting. You can do a variety of exercises to keep the body fit and healthy and to keep your physical activity routine exciting. Many different types of exercises can improve strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. For example, practicing yoga can improve your balance, strength, and flexibility. A lot of lower-body strength-training exercises also will improve your balance.
Having good balance is important for many activities we do every day, such as walking and going up and down the stairs. Exercises that improve balance can help prevent falls, a common problem in older adults and stroke patients. They can also benefit those who are obese since weight is not always carried or distributed evenly throughout the body. A loss of balance can occur when standing or moving suddenly. Often we are not fully aware that we may have weak balance until we try balance exercises.
How much do I need?
Balance exercises can be done every day or as many days as you like and as often as you like. Preferably, older adults at risk of falls should do balance training 3 or more days a week and do standardized exercises from a program demonstrated to reduce falls. It’s not known whether different combinations of type, amount, or frequency of activity can reduce falls to a greater degree. If you think you might be at risk of falling, talk to your doctor.
Tai chi exercises also may help prevent falls. Balance, strength and flexibility exercises can be combined.
Try these balance exercises:
  1. See how long you can stand on one foot, or try holding for 10 seconds on each side.
  2. Walk heel to toe for 20 steps. Steady yourself with a wall if you need a little extra support.
  3. Walk normally in as straight a line as you can.
If you find standing on one foot very challenging at first, try this progression to improve your balance:
  • Hold on to a wall or sturdy chair with both hands to support yourself.
  • Next, hold on with only one hand.
  • Then support yourself with only one finger.
  • When you are steady on your feet, try balancing with no support at all.
Examples of balance exercises:
You can do balance exercises anytime or anywhere.
  • Try standing on one foot while working in the kitchen, waiting in line or brushing your teeth.
  • Walk heel to toe around the house or office.
  • Yoga and Tai Chi do not require expensive classes or equipment. Find an instructional book, DVD or website to get started at home. Local recreation centers and senior centers may also offer free or low-cost classes.
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What if I’m recovering from a cardiac event or stroke?
Some people are afraid to exercise after a heart attack. But regular physical activity can help reduce your chances of having another heart attack.
The AHA published a statement in 2014 that doctors should prescribe exercise to stroke patients since there is strong evidence that physical activity and exercise after stroke can improve cardiovascular fitness, walking ability and upper arm strength.

If you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, talk with your doctor before starting any exercise to be sure you’re following a safe, effective physical activity program.

Monday, October 17, 2016

How medications can affect your balance

Medications make a difference — generally a positive one — in the lives of many people. But at the same time, all drugs carry side effects — and with many medications, one or more of those side effects can alter your balance. How? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common problems include vision changes, dizziness or lightheadedness, drowsiness, and impaired alertness or judgment. Some medications can even damage the inner ear, spurring temporary or permanent balance disorders.
Some of the commonly prescribed medications that can affect balance include:
  • antidepressants
  • anti-anxiety drugs
  • antihistamines prescribed to relieve allergy symptoms
  • blood pressure and other heart medications
  • pain relievers, both prescription and non-prescription
  • sleep aids (over-the-counter and prescription forms)
Sometimes the problem isn't a single drug, but a combination of medications being taken together. Older adults are especially vulnerable because drugs are absorbed and broken down differently as people age.

If you are concerned about how your medications may be affecting your balance, call your doctor and ask to review the drugs you're taking, their doses, and when you take them. It is never a good idea to just stop taking a medication without consulting your doctor first.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Is “You Can’t Change People” True?

Is “You Can’t Change People” True?
Being realistic about changing hearts and minds – theirs and yours.

Posted Apr 12, 2016

I changed my mind about something this week, having discovered an inconsistency in my thinking.
I’ve long thought it absurd to say you can’t change people, but I’ve also thought it absurd to say things like “Angry? Why would I be angry? I have no reason to be,” as though emotions are controlled by reason.
I now believe we can change people including their emotions and often by reasoning with them.
Can we change people? It depends what we mean by change. First, can people change? Well, obviously. For example, we get older. Can we change in every respect? Obviously not. We change in some respects and not in others.
Do we know what can and can’t change about ourselves? Not exactly. About changing ourselves, the serenity prayer captures the challenge neatly. We quest for the wisdom to know the difference between what we can and can’t change about ourselves. We quest because we don’t want to waste effort trying to change ourselves in ways we can’t change and we don’t want to miss opportunities to change ourselves in ways that we’d like to change.
If it were always obvious what we can and can’t change about ourselves, we wouldn’t need to quest for that wisdom. We’d already always know where to focus our effort on changing ourselves. Changing ourselves is speculative investment. Sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. We quest for the wisdom by which to invest efficiently.
We do hear it said that people don’t change. Maybe what’s meant is that people can’t change in the ways that they can’t. But that’s empty circular reasoning signifying nothing. The question is what we can change, not whether we can change at all. 
About changing, we’re neither omnipotent nor impotent. We’re some-nipotent. We have some power to change ourselves. We’re also some-niscient about what we can change about ourselves. That is, we know some things about what we can change. We make educated guesses. We don’t know everything or nothing.
Second, can we change other people? It depends what we mean by changing them. How we interact with them changes them. Obviously, you alter other people’s behavior when you help or hurt them physically, mentally or materially.
People aren’t one-trick ponies. They have repertoires of behaviors. How we interact with others can change which behaviors within their repertoires they present. If someone is patient here and impatient there, how we interact with them may change whether they’re patient or impatient with us.
Perhaps what’s meant by “you can’t change people,” is that you shouldn’t try. It’s immoral to try to influence people. We hear the inverse of this argument when people say “Never care what others think or do to you.” Both are half-true nonsense masquerading as whole truths. We are social creatures, blends of independence and interdependence. We all guess where to be influenced and not influenced, and where to try to influence and not influence each other.
The argument that you can’t change other people is actually self-contradictory, meaning something like “let me persuade you that people are unpersuadable.”
We hear the half-true nonsense in the current anti-PC craze. By accusing people of being PC we try to persuade people to be less sensitive, less influenced by other people’s opinions, but in declaring PC a universal moral error, we pretend that we could live in a world where no one influences anyone. Usually we do it as a way of claiming our right to try to influence others without being influenced.
It’s like the current libertarian craze, motivated by “my freedom to say and do what I want, without getting hassled.” If you want your freedom to say and do what you want, expect the same from everyone else. The person who accuses others of being PC has his own PC sensitivities. He’s saying it’s politically incorrect for you to be politically correct. Anti-PC and libertarianism are often rationalizations for dishing it out without having to take it in.
"You can't change people; you can only love them" is the opposite half-true nonsense. It's a recipe for taking it in without ever allowing yourself to dish it out. 
To reconcile the self-serving self-contradiction of saying, “let me persuade you that no one can be persuaded,” I would say this: Let me persuade you that we are some-nipotent and some-niscient about our ability to change ourselves and others.
Does persuading others always work? Certainly not, and paradoxically, often it works least when we are intimate with the people we are trying to persuade. Trying to change others at close range can feel oppressive and threatening to them. It can change them but often in the wrong direction. They become more guarded against being persuaded precisely because at close range, persuasion is too powerful. This could explain why we hear “you can’t change people” most often espoused about spouses. What people might mean is “I dare not try to change my partner because it generates conflict.”
We also hear it from people after they leave their partners. They say, “from this relationship I learned that you can’t change people.” I’d say that’s an overcorrection. What you learned is that you were unsuccessful in trying to change your partner in the ways you tried. Taking that as evidence that you can’t change anyone ever is like concluding that all dairy products are hot after burning your tongue on hot cocoa.
It may be therapeutic to declare that all people are unchangeable. It may help us temper our tendency to try to change people. But it’s not accurate. Rather it’s us trying to change ourselves, to get ourselves to stop trying to change people. You can’t, won’t and shouldn’t stop. You will continue to place bets on how to persuade people to be different from how they are.
It’s true that we can’t change people the way we change an electronic device. We can’t upload new software or switch people on and off with a remote control. But that’s because electronic devices are deterministic cause-and-effect machines. We’re very different from determinate machines. People interpret. Interpretation is not cause and effect. For example, we interpret stop signs as reasons to stop. Stop signs don’t actually cause us to stop unless we crash into them.
This is why our bets on how to persuade people can fail or backfire. For example, sometimes we reward someone and rather than interpreting the reward as incentive to try harder, they interpret it as a sign that they can slack off and get complacent. Sometimes we discourage or punish someone, they interpret it not as a reason to give up but to try harder. We don’t have that problem with our electronic devices because as machines they don’t interpret. They’re just reliable cause-and-effect switch banks at least until they break.
Our efforts to change people will include both emotional and rational appeals. Changing people’s minds is also changing people’s hearts, and vice versa. In trying to change someone’s heart or feelings we will make appeals to reason.
We can’t help but think that some people are unreasonable or even stupid to feel the way they do. When their feelings have consequences for us, we will, and even should try to change their feelings, bringing to bear whatever we think might persuade them, including rational arguments not to feel the way they do.
Thoughts do change feelings and feelings do change thoughts, but not in some lockstep deterministic way since we’re not machines that can be switched reliably from one state to another.

I’m still skeptical when people say “Angry? Why would I be angry? I have no reason to be,” as though anger were deterministically controlled by reason. But I’ve changed my heart and mind about our attempts to reason people out of what they feel. We do reason with feelings and sometimes it works.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Don't Push Kids into Single Sport Too Soon

Athletic specialization pre-puberty can have detrimental effects

by Ryan Basen
Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Specializing in a single sport, and engaging in intensive training for it, may cause prepubescent and adolescent athletes to suffer overuse injuries and burnout, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In a new clinical guideline, an AAP council advises clinicians on how to counsel young athlete patients and their parents regarding sports specialization and intensive training.
The council also called on the AAP, parents, pediatricians, and college athletic organizations to "advocate banning national ranking of athletes and college recruitments before the athletes' high school years."
"Current evidence suggests that delaying sport specialization for the majority of sports until after puberty will minimize the risks and lead to a higher likelihood of athletic success," wrote Joel S. Brenner, MD, MPH, of the AAP's Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness in Pediatrics, and colleagues.
"There is increased pressure to participate at a high level, to specialize in 1 sport early, and to play year-round, often on multiple teams. This increased emphasis on sports specialization has led to an increase in overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout," the authors noted.
The current report replaces a 2000 AAP policy statement, which was reaffirmed in 2014, and complements a 2007 AAP clinical report on overuse injuries, overtraining and burnout, which was reaffirmed in 2014.
In the new guideline, the council member suggested that pediatricians help counsel parents, young athletes, and coaches to understand that sports should be fun for athletes and help them develop life-long physical activity skills.
Also, participating in multiple sports at least until puberty decreases injury, stress, and burnout risk.
The authors noted that specializing beginning in late adolescence may help athletes achieve their goals in most sports, and that early sports diversification, and later specialization, makes athletes more likely to play sports and be physically fit over their lifetimes -- and possibly become elite athletes.
In addition, clinicians are encouraged to discuss athletes' goals if they are specializing, to determine if they are appropriate and realistic. Parents should be encouraged to closely monitor training and coaching within elite sports programs, and to familiarize themselves with the sport's best practices.
While playing a chosen sport, taking 1 or 2 days off weekly can decrease injury risk, they stated.
Participants should be advised to take of 3 months annually -- in 1-month increments -- from their chosen sport to help with physical and psychological recovery. However, they may participate in other physical activities during that time off, the council advised.

Finally, clinicians should closely monitor the physical and psychological growth and maturation, as well as nutritional status, of athletes pursuing intensive training.
The council found that even though athletes in early entry sports, such as gymnastics and figure skating, tend to peak before full physical maturation, there are still unanswered questions about the effects of specialization on these athletes' long-term health and well-being.
The authors also pointed out that it's not known what the exact amount of training athletes should strive for to succeed, and that the threshold to avoid injuries, burnout, and attrition has not been established. Also, niche programs that focus on technique or conditioning have not been shown to help athletes succeed, "despite their increased time and financial investment," they stated.
The council called for longitudinal studies of early specialization and intensive training that quantify injury and burnout rates, as well as data to confirm if and when young athletes should specialize.
Based on their literature review, the council found that "athletes who engaged in sport-specific training at a young age had shorter athletic careers.... Evidence is lacking that specialization before puberty is necessary to achieve elite status, and in fact, specialization before puberty is more likely to be detrimental."
The guideline will likely counter the belief held by many parents, coaches, and athletes that specializing maximizes a child's chances of becoming an elite athlete. Many parents and young athletes specialize because they want to earn college scholarships and/or become professional athletes, the council members noted, but only three to 11 in 100 high school athletes play at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) level, while one in 100 earn scholarships to do so. In addition, from three to 50 in 10,000 ever turn pro.
They pointed out that young people who show talent for a particular sport are ranked nationally as early as sixth grade.
"As colleges start to look at middle school and early high school athletes, more pressure is created for the athlete and parent to do everything possible to succeed," the council cautioned. "This situation may push athletes into playing year-round and possibly on multiple teams simultaneously to get more exposure and specializing in a single sport sooner for fear of missing their opportunity to impress a college coach. Given what is currently known out early sport specialization, this changing paradigm should be discouraged by society."

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The 7 Worst Pieces of Health Advice We Always Hear


SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 9:00 AM

Most of us know not to believe every piece of health advice we read in the news. But some tips are so persistent they we hear them everywhere, even if they're dead wrong. And since medical knowledge changes over time, many of the healthy living tips we assume are cold hard facts are actually under debate within the medical community—or even considered downright bad. Here are the current trendy pieces of advice that professionals most vehemently disagree with.
1. Go easy on soy to prevent breast cancer.
You might've heard that foods like tofu and tempeh contain phytoestrogens, which mimic estrogen, potentially leading to cancer and hormonal imbalances. But while some forms of breast cancer are tied to estrogen-related problems, soy will not likely have this effect, says registered dietician Edwina Clark. In fact, soy has actually been shown to protect against cancer. Even on the off-chance that a lot of soy could be risky, consuming one or two servings a day definitely won't hurt you.
2. Eat a high-fat, low-carb diet to optimize workouts.
Some athletes are told to avoid carbs to perform at their peak, but this could actually be sabotaging them. "Carbohydrate remains the most important fuel during high-intensity exercise, and there are countless studies to prove it," says Clark. Lowering carbs may work for certain elite athletes during endurance training, but it's not something everyday people should be doing, especially without the guidance of a trainer.
3. Supplements don't work.
While you should aim to get all the nutrients you need from food, that's really hard to do when you don't have a dietitian planning your meals, and vitamins and other supplements can help pick up where your food leaves off. Registered dietitian Samantha Bielawski recommends multivitamins, Omega-3, magnesium, and probiotics.
4. Start your day with whole grains.
You might've heard that whole grains leave you feeling full, but they could actually have the opposite effect, says Bielawski. Since they make your blood glucose levels spike, they could lead you to crave carbs just hours into the morning. If you want a breakfast that holds you over until lunch, eggs are a better option.
5. Eat lots of small meals.
At some point over the past few years, it became popular to advocate eating many small meals or snacks throughout the day rather than just three meals. But while you can do this, it isn't best for everyone, and it's definitely not necessary. "Some people do better eating more frequently, while others do better eating their three square meals per day," Bielawski explains. "Some do better with occasional intermittent fasting. Do not force yourself into the often inconvenient routine of eating every two hours if that's not a sustainable option for your schedule."
6. You'll lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume.
Counting calories is not an effective weight-loss strategy, says Bielawski. "The caloric value on the label is not equal to the caloric value of the food once it’s in our body," she explains. For example, some foods can speed up or slow down your metabolism. Plus, if you plan to cut calories, you need to make sure you're still getting the nutrients you need and eating foods that leave you satisfied, or else you can end up in an unhealthy cycle of weight loss, weight gain, and general poor health.

7. Get outside to get your vitamin D.
While going out in the sun can up your vitamin D levels, the risks outweigh the benefits, says dermatologist Delphine J. Lee, M.D. "Ultraviolet light is a carcinogen, like cigarette smoke," she explains. "Think of it this way: if someone said you could get vitamin D or some other nutritional supplement from smoking a cigarette, would you take up smoking?" Instead, make sure to apply sunscreen when you're out in the sun, and if you're deficient in vitamin D, a supplement is a far safer option.