Management, Control and Preventative Measures of Pleural Mesothelioma

What is Mesothelioma

You must have heard about Pleural Mesothelioma, you may have not heard about it, but you must have heard about the chest pains. It could be Mesothelioma or something associated with it, Mesothelioma has not been talked about intensively but it is in existence and has caused death in various parts of the world.

Tentatively, you may have had an opportunity to get in contact with Asbestos, you may have used it too, and it is the major cause of Pleural Mesothelioma. In this article, you will get more information regarding this rarely talked about condition, more importantly, what to do when you have similar symptoms, control and management.

Mesothelioma may sound new but a common ailment; it is a type of an infrequent cancer that affects the layers of the interior body organs. To be precise, it is commonly known to be found in the thin layers of lungs and biologically referred to as the pleural thus, medically described as “Pleural Mesothelioma”. Its name is derived from the parts that it mostly affects the thin lining of the lungs known as the “Mesothelium” hence pleural Mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma

It does not only affect the lungs, the other parts that are known to be prone to be affected by Mesothelioma include Peritoneum and Pericardium. There is a misconception about Mesothelioma, in most cases is confused with other abdominal diseases because they do share common symptoms and rarely does a doctor and health professionals discover it, this leads to victims or patients of Pleural Mesothelioma going for wrong prescriptions due to the confusion and unsuspecting medical and cancer professionals.

Causes of Mesothelioma

The major causative agent of the disease or the condition is Asbestos. It is estimated that more than 90% of the disease is caused by extreme exposure to Asbestos. What asbestos is before getting into details of the ailment? Asbestos is a combination of about six naturally occurring minerals in the form of fiber. They have one characteristic that is unique from other minerals, the ability to resist fire; it means it cannot be burnt down easily.

 

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For those people who work with asbestos, who live with people working in asbestos mining, washing clothes of someone working in an asbestos industry, exposure to products manufactured from Asbestos and working or leaving in premises containing Asbestos; should be able to go for medical checkups frequently to be sure that they are fine with their body organs.

It does not mean that Mesothelioma cannot occur in other parts of the body, it will occur but in rare circumstances. Some of the parts that one can be affected by the ailment include the lining of the abdomen, sac surrounding the heart and sac surrounding the testis. The occurrence of the disease has been gradually increasing since 1950s due to the fact that the usage of asbestos has been in the increase over the years.

Global Statistical Analysis and Fatalities

It is also estimated that in the year 2017, approximately 65,000 people had Pleural Mesothelioma and a half of them died of the disease. In 2013, the people who had been exposed to Asbestos were 130 million in total. Mesothelioma was first discovered in the year 1785, just after a few years when people started using Asbestos for building and the mining of the mineral.

According to the available medical literature, the disease or rather the condition is an exceptional type of cancer and dates back to the days when it had not been discovered. The person behind its discovery is known as Joseph Lieutaud, and he noted that the disease occurs as a formation of unwanted or dead cells in the Pleural.

The pleural is the lining of the cells, and as mentioned earlier, it can occur in the Peritoneum which is the lining of the abdomen, and the Pericardium which is the lining of the heart. In essence, the illness has been one of the diseases that have been so uncommon to the point where its diagnosis and research has not been done well simply because of the fact that its causative agent has been a rare mineral to many countries.

In this regard, it has been concluded that it is one of the rarest types of cancer, but fatal. Therefore doctors and medical professionals have so far found the causative agents of the illness; they have determined those who are at risk, Preventative measures, diagnosis and prognosis of the disease. However, it is critical to mention that the disease can be controlled, and reversing can be possible if it is earlier detected.

Types of Pleural Mesothelioma

The classification of Pleural Mesothelioma is based on the location that the tumor is likely to grow, this means that it will be found in specific areas that have a potential habitat for the tumor to grow. The linings of some of the organs in the human body are containing “Mesothelium”.

Every part of the body that has the Mesothelium lining is a potential place for the tumor to develop. As discussed below, the parts or the organs of the body contain the same lining. For instance, Pleural Mesothelioma affects the lungs because the Pleural is a tissue lining found in the lungs, Pericardial Mesothelioma for the heart and Peritoneal Mesothelioma of the abdomen, the following are some of the known types of Pleural Mesothelioma;

1. Peritoneal Mesothelioma

It is also known as the Abdominal Mesothelioma, this is because it affects the abdomen in most case thus the name. The most common symptoms of this type of Cancer are Pain in the Abdomen, pain in the other organs found in the Abdomen like the spleen and the Liver.

Another common symptom associated with it is abdominal effusion, fluid buildup in the abdomen which leads to uneasiness. The results of the prognosis will depend on individual patients, however, of late; the methodology used for its diagnosis has been improved this is due to the introduction of Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy.

2. Pericardial Mesothelioma

As the name suggests, it mainly affects the pericardium, Pericardium, is the heart lining. Pericardial Mesothelioma symptoms are similar to those of a cardiac arrest, basically, difficulty in the breath, shortness in breathing and pain in the chest are the most common types of symptoms for this type of Mesothelioma.

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Pericardial Mesothelioma is also another rare type and according to diagnostic statistics, for every 10 cases of Mesothelioma, 1 to 2 cases are found to be Pericardial Mesothelioma. As it goes on, Pericardial Mesothelioma makes the heart not to perform its functions optimally and this makes it almost impossible for the heart to supply oxygen to all the other parts of the body as required hence lead to other health complications.

3. Testicular Mesothelioma

Testicular Pleural Mesothelioma is a rare type of Mesothelioma, it accounts for 2% of all the incidences of the disease meaning that it is not commonly known to the doctors and cancer professionals. In this concept, little has been done about the disease and much is yet to be done. Therefore there is no exact information on the cause and the preventative measures of the disease as of now.

Mesothelioma can also be categorized by the type of tumor

Mesothelioma can also be categorized by the type of tumor, this can sound technical but it can only be understood by the cancer professionals who have had a vast knowledge of tumors. The distinguishing factor under this category of classification of Mesothelioma under tumor types is base on the findings whether the tumor is malignant or not malignant. A malignant tumor is that which has been proven to fatal and if left it can be dangerous to the victim hence the name Malignant Mesothelioma.

The other one which is the opposite of the latter is not harmful but demands for it control so that it does not grow or develop to unmanageable or to the level of transforming to malignant tumor. It mainly affects the lining of the lungs, the Pleural hence the name Pleural Mesothelioma. It is common in the lungs because that is the organ in the body that links the external environment and external environment in terms of the quality of oxygen taken in by an individual.

It is also one of the worst in diagnosis because the symptoms of the disease are always soft in their initial stages but become severe they get elevated to other stages, this is the time when patients seek help and treatment become complicated. It is also a fact that Mesothelioma develops, and by the time it is discovered it is already malignant, the malignancy process is gradually developed if not diagnosed in time. In this case, this is not leeway to lose hope, there is still hope and the treatment can be done.

Advancements in the Treatment of Mesothelioma

Chemotherapy progressions

Chemotherapy is one of the methods that doctors apply in the control of cancer in general, and as mentioned earlier, in the past, research was being conducted to make it possible to understand the disease, improvements have been made to understand better ways of treatment and diagnosis. Chemotherapy has since then be improved to make survival of Mesothelioma patients longer and also improve the quality of their lives.

On the other hand, the doctors are also improving their confidence in the control of the disease as they add more effective drugs along with chemotherapy. Combination Chemotherapy is the latest advancement where it introduces the combination of Cisplatin to chemotherapy hence increasing the chances of remission in patients with Testicular Mesothelioma and also prolongs survival periods up to 96%.

Thirty years ago, 94% of Testicular Mesothelioma patients died within a year, but after the introduction of the new combination Chemotherapy on board, it has proven to be effective and has raised the long-term survival in Testicular Mesothelioma patients to 78%.

Multimodal Therapy

The multimodal therapy combines Surgical, Chemotherapy and Radiation which has made it possible for Mesothelioma victims to survive for a long time to more than 6 years. This is one of the latest methods of treating and controlling Mesothelioma. There are different types of patients in this regard, in the past, patients with Mesothelioma were treated according to their cases, for instance, there were patients who were considered fit for chemotherapy and others for radiation, Patients who have confirmed not to be fit for a surgery to remove the Mesothelioma tumor are considered to be fit for other methods of treatment and most preferably best for Multimodal Therapy.

Gene Therapy

This is another breakthrough where doctors have recorded trials that have proved to be of benefit in eradicating the issue of Mesothelioma in the globe. It is a promising method of dealing with Mesothelioma; having located the position of Mesothelioma Tumor, the doctor can deliver genes in the Pleural lining hence make it possible and easier to monitor the tumor and the treatment.

By the use of Suicidal Gene Therapy Technique, doctors will be able to concentrate on Mesothelioma cells rather than the rapidly growing cells in the entire body this is considered to work best on Peritoneal. Generally, the basis of this technique is the instruction of a virus that activates Ganciclovir that in the long run causes the infected cell to die; the virus released is associated with an enzyme.

Support for Victims of Mesothelioma

There is much that involves when you are diagnosed with Mesothelioma. If you happen to be either a victim of Mesothelioma or a caregiver for Mesothelioma victims, it is imperative to note that, once you have started involving in any of the mentioned activities life may take another direction altogether.

This should not be a worry; this statement basically means that as a caregiver you will realize that there is much to be done away from the day to day life activities. For the victims, life activities will revolve around trying to find out means to initiate remission.

As a victim of Mesothelioma, you have to know that the first thing that will come to your mind is the fact that you will want to learn more about the disease, the second thing that you will find yourself concentrating upon is the fact that you will try to get information from doctors on how to manage and live so as to improve your life quality and reduce the effects of the disease in your life.

The stress is an accelerator of death associated with Mesothelioma. In other words, stress among other factors there leads a Mesothelioma patient to seek and join support groups or organizations. Some of the reasons have been mentioned, but the precise reason for joining the support groups is to let the patient get more information regarding treatment, control, prevention and management.

Benefits of Joining a Mesothelioma Support Organization

There are several benefits for joining a Mesothelioma support organization, when a patient gets to mingle with the people that have a common problem or a problem that is similar to each other, they are in the best position to get ideas on the ways to deal and manage the problem. Common benefits of joining a Mesothelioma support group include the following;

  • You will get bits of advice on how to manage your life and live a satisfying life with Mesothelioma hence the stress that is associated with the disease can easily be controlled.
  • The aspect of interacting with Mesothelioma survivors will give you hope and lead to remission since you will be able to be encouraged by them and also eliminate the stigma associated with Mesothelioma.
  • Once in the groups you will get encouragement, and get hope that everything is going to be fine, in essence, you will have your hope renewed.
  • From the patient’s experience, you will be able to get information on the side effects of the Mesothelioma treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, all their procedure do have their own side effects and when in the support group you will get all this information from the specialists and you will be prepared mentally and psychologically for the side effects if any will come your way. It is imperative to note also that, the side effects from the treatments do vary from one victim to another; the side effect that you will experience may not necessarily be the same as those being experienced by the other patients.
  • Advice on the methodology on how to deal with emotional changes linked to Mesothelioma Cancer.

Frequently asked Questions about Mesothelioma

Why does Mesothelioma cause pleural effusion?

From a medical point of view, effusion basically means the aspect of fluid escaping from the blood vessels the tissue or cavities. Other words that can be used in place of effusion are exudation and transudation. In respect to Mesothelioma, effusion occurs when the lungs are infected by the tumor growth in the pleural lining.

What does Mesothelioma do to the body?

When one is exposed to asbestos, they pile in the lungs and later on cause malignancy in cells hence make it possible for tumors to grow along the linings of the Abdomen, lungs, and heart, this basically will lead to difficulty in breathing and which is the first symptom of Pleural Mesothelioma. Once the Asbestos is in the body they start damaging the DNA and make cells to cancerous, and the Cancerous cells replicate so fast forming the tumor. The tumor grows to the point of covering some of the most important parts of the important organs of the abdomen hence causing discomfort and pain.

Can Mesothelioma be caused by smoking?

Smoking does not cause Pleural Mesothelioma but exposure to Asbestos does. Asbestos can cause Lung Cancer and Pleural Mesothelioma, but smoking can only cause Lung Cancer. In general, smoking does not cause Mesothelioma but can increase the risk of getting Lung Cancer. Additionally, the combination of the two (Asbestos and Smoking) increase the chances of getting or developing Lung Cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Gonorrhoea

Sourced by: Choma Magazine (www.choma.co.za) – HIVSA Project

Gonorrhoea (pronounced goh-nuh-REE-uh) or ‘The Clap’ is a sexually transmitted illness (STI) and is caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea is passed on from one person to another through oral, vaginal or anal sex. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her infant child at birth. If you’re infected with gonorrhoea, symptoms of the infection will show up in your mouth, throat, anus, cervix fallopian tubes and uterus.

Ejaculation does not need to happen for gonorrhoea to spread. If infected fluids touch from either your partner’s vagina or penis, and then that is followed by touching your anus, mouth or even your eyes, then that can cause you to be infected.

The STI doesn’t only spread between a man and a woman, it can also spread between females who have sex with females and males who have sex with males.

Many people with gonorrhoea may not always show any symptoms (meaning they are asymptomatic) and can live up to many years without knowing they are infected, spreading the unknowingly. Having unsafe sex increases your chances of being infected by gonorrhoea. There are symptoms that you can look out for. These symptoms are sometimes confused for a urinal tract infection, so make sure you understand the difference between the two. Also speak to a nurse or doctor about your symptoms so that you don’t incorrectly diagnose yourself.

Signs and symptoms

The signs or symptoms of gonorrhoea will depend on where, on your body, you are first infected by the STI.

Signs and symptoms in the genital area can include:
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • More vaginal discharge than usual
  • Vaginal discharge that looks different than usual
  • Bleeding between periods or spotting
  • Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
Signs and symptoms in the rectum/anus include:
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Itching in the anal area
  • Pus-like discharge
  • Bright red blood on toilet paper
Signs and symptoms in the eyes:
  • Itching
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain
  • Abnormal, pus-like discharge
Signs and symptoms in the throat:
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Sore throat
What happens if I don’t treat gonorrhoea?

Gonorrhoea can cause serious health problems to a person infected even if they do not have or show any signs or symptoms. This STI can cause skin rashes or spread to the joints, which can cause swelling or pain while moving. You could also struggle to get pregnant later in your life.

Getting Tested and Treatment

You need to visit your local doctor or clinic to get tested for gonorrhoea. You will also need to get tested for other STIs such as chlamydia because that is also an STI which doesn’t always show any symptoms. Gonorrhoea can be treated by antibiotics but if left untreated, as explained earlier, this STI can leave serious health problems. Although the antibiotics can help cure you of gonorrhoea, they can’t fix any permanent injury/damage done to your body. This is why it’s important to get tested as soon as you suspect you or your partner may be infected with the STI.

In order for the treatment to work and be cured, you need to finish the treatment even if you notice the symptoms going away. You can get be re-infected with gonorrhoea, so always practise safe sex and tell your partner to also get tested for gonorrhoea.

Chomas, if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner shows symptoms of gonorrhoea, like an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or spotting, then visit your local clinic as soon as possible. If you have a burning question to ask me about gonorrhoea, or want to share your story then you are more than welcome to.

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What Exactly are ARVs?

Sourced by: Choma Magazine (www.choma.co.za) – HIVSA Project

By Dr Sindi

Antiretroviral treatment (ART) – what is it and how does it work?

ARV = antiretroviral. An antiretroviral is a drug that works to deal with infections caused by a retrovirus. In our setting the main retrovirus we deal with is HIV

ART = antiretroviral treatment. A combination of 3 or more ARVs taken daily to suppress HIV’s ability to replicate

Antiretroviral treatment ART is taken to slow down the life cycle of HIV.

HIV multiplies by infecting CD4 cells, and using these cells to make millions of copies of itself. These copies are what we call the “viral load”. This process destroys the CD4 cell because the cell has been hijacked and is being used for something it is not meant for.

The CD4 cells are a very important part of your immune system. They are the “soldiers” of the immune system and their job is to identify whatever is making you sick, and get the body to fight the infection.

The lower the CD4 count drops, the higher the viral load goes, the weaker your immune system becomes. You then become vulnerable to what we call opportunistic infections and if you get too ill you could die. Taking ART reverses this process and ensures that your CD4 count can go up again and that the viral load comes down.

At the onset of the HIV pandemic, people had to take many tablets twice a day to stay healthy but we have advanced to the stage where some people are taking one-pill once-a-day. This is an important advance because people are not discouraged to take medication any longer. The one-pill once- a-day is a Fixed Dose Combination (FDC) of three different tablets that have been combined into one tablet.

The FDC we are all familiar with is part of our first line treatment. The originator FDC is Atripla but because of its cost, it was not accessible to everyone. Generics then came onto the market and this is how South Africa has managed to give FDC at its public sector clinics.

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Common Mental Illnesses and Their Treatment

Sourced by: Choma Magazine (www.choma.co.za) – HIVSA Project

It’s been said that one in three South Africans experience mental illness, yet there are many people who suffer in silence. Because there is a stigma around mental illness, some people are afraid to talk about it and so they never get the help they need. Do you know anyone who has a mental illness choma? Or do you think you might have one yourself?

Mental illness isn’t necessarily something that you can see and so not many people recognize how important it is to treat. However, just like physical illness, mental illness requires treatment. Having a mental illness is not wrong or shameful so no one should be afraid to talk about it. Getting the help you need will help you to live the life you deserve.

To help you understand mental illnesses choma, here are the most common mental illnesses in South Africa.

Major depressive disorder 

Major depressive disorder (MDD) – also known as major depression, clinical depression or unipolar depression – is a disorder where the person feels low all the time.

People who suffer from MDD usually struggle with concentration, anxiety, experience feelings of worthlessness (sometimes having suicidal thoughts), sleep too much or have trouble sleeping.

Treatment: Once a healthcare professional has diagnosed you with MDD, they would recommend treatment such as an antidepressant. They would also suggest psychotherapy, behavioral or cognitive therapy, or talk therapy, to help you deal with your emotional state.

Claustrophobia 

Claustrophobia is the fear of small spaces. While it is normal to feel scared when you’re trapped or if you’re in a small space and there is danger, if you’re claustrophobic you would feel fear even if there is no real danger.

When you’re claustrophobic you go out of your way to avoid small spaces like lifts, public toilets, shop changing rooms and tunnels. People who are claustrophobic also often experience panic attacks when they are in situations where they feel trapped.

Symptoms of a panic attack include dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pains.

Treatment: Some people who are claustrophobic simply try to avoid places that might bring on panic attacks. If you’re claustrophobic or if you’re suffering with panic attacks, speak to your doctor who could help you with medication and/or recommend a mental health professional who could help you recover.

Bipolar Disorder 

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a disorder where your moods are severely affected. People with bipolar disorder often experience extreme highs (full of energy, overjoyed, feelings of being invincible), known as manic episodes and extreme lows (feeling sad, depressed, hopeless), known as depressive episodes.

Treatment: People with Bipolar disorder are usually treated with mood-stabilising drugs and/or antipsychotic drugs – which are drugs meant to control the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.

Schizophrenia 

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that causes symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.

Treatment: Antipsychotic medication is usually prescribed for someone with Schizophrenia. This medication is used to help control the symptoms of Schizophrenia.

Eating disorders 

Eating disorders relate to extreme disturbances in eating behaviour, and include anorexia (where someone stops eating entirely because of body dysmorphic behaviour; they have an unhealthy body image), bulimia (a person with bulimia also has an unhealthy body image and a desire to lose weight. Overeating through binge eating is usually followed by self-induced vomiting or not eating at all) and binge-eating disorder (where someone eats an unusually large amount of food and can’t stop eating).

Treatment: Depending on your type of disorder, treatment could include a combination of psychological counseling, nutrition education, medical monitoring and sometimes medication.

Mental Illness, in whatever form, should be taken seriously. If you or someone you know might be struggling with a mental illness, visit SADAG (The South African Depression Group).

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Health Risks of Smoking Cigarettes

Sourced by: Choma Magazine (www.choma.co.za) – HIVSA Project

Unlike food and water, the body doesn’t need tobacco in the system. So, why then do we start smoking chomas? Is it because we think it looks cool? Do we do it to fit in with the popular crowd or do we do it because one of our relatives smokes? Some people smoke their first cigarette never thinking that they may end up as regular smokers. But, are we aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes? Continuous tobacco smoking may result in health problems and in serious cases, may be fatal. I’ve slightly touched on the dangers of cigarette smoking and how bad it can be for your health, but not in detail. Here are the health risks of cigarette smoking chomas.

Health effects of smoking tobacco

1. Change in appearance on the face

Smoking negatively affects the appearance of your face causing you to age quicker and get deeper wrinkles. Smoking damages your skin which could be due to the heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin. It also yellows your teeth which is caused by tar and nicotine. Nicotine is a colourless chemical which turns yellow when mixed with oxygen. When the tobacco is placed in your mouth or inhaled, the nicotine and tar will settle in the front of your mouth and these substances will then try and get into your teeth causing your teeth to turn yellow.

Your skin will also start sagging and have more wrinkles which may be caused by the chemicals found in tobacco. The chemicals damage collagen and elastin which are fibres that give your skin its elasticity and strength.

2. Lung damage

If you remember smoking your first cigarette, you may have felt a pain or burning in your lungs and throat right? Others may have felt sick or even threw up the first few times of smoking a cigarette. This is your body defending itself against poisons from entering.

The chemicals in tobacco interfere with your body’s method of cleaning out air and your lungs. When the smoke gets into your lungs, it can lead to your body overproducing mucus – that’s why some smokers cough a lot to clear their throat.

The walls of your lungs have many sacs that hold the air. The smoke then damages these sacs and will end up in less oxygen getting into your blood.
That’s why smokers have a shortness of breath. This will eventually end up as lung disease if the smoking continues. In most cases, lung cancer is caused by cigarette smoking. And if you have asthma, the tobacco smoke can trigger an attack or make the attack worse.

3. Heart and blood vessels

The chemicals found in tobacco may harm your heart and blood vessels in many ways, namely:

  1. Increase the blood pressure (which leads to a stroke) and heart rate (which makes your heart work harder than normal).
  2. Damage the blood vessel walls, making them stiff and less elastic. Smokers are at a higher risk for clogged arteries in the legs because there’s not enough blood flow going to the leg muscles. This may cause pain in the legs when walking, for example, and if it’s not treated the lack in blood flow can lead to the legs being amputated/removed.
  3. Increase your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease (which may lead to a heart attack) or a stroke (when the part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood due to a clot or a burst blood vessel).

Tobacco found in cigarettes is dangerous chomas, and sometimes deadly. It is addictive, so it makes it harder to quit. Do you have any other risks you think I might have left out? Share in the comments below.

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How to Prevent Strokes and Heart Disease

Sourced by: hi4LIFE (www.hi4LIFE.co.za) – HIVSA Project

South Africa has 6.3 million people are living with heart disease. It is not necessary to be one of them. Learn to look after yourself and live a longer, healthier life.

Here are 7 problem areas that encourage heart disease and stroke and 7 solutions:

Problem Area – Age. The older you are, the more susceptible you are to heart disease

Solution – You can’t change your age, but you can respect your age and look after yourself.

Problem Area – Family Genetics. If you have family members who have heart diseases, you are more susceptible.

Solution – You can’t change your family genetics, but you can learn from it and be aware.

Problem Area – Body weight. If you are overweight, you need to reduce your weight.

Solution – Eat healthier food. Include more fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet.

Problem Area – Smoking. Smoking is bad for your health

Solution – If you are a smoker, you need to quit. It is also important to stay away from second hand smoke. Let the smokers in your house smoke outside.

Problem Area – Stress. Stress and worry are not good for you.

Solution – Avoid people and situations that cause you worry and stress. Teach yourself to walk away. Go somewhere where you can calm down.

Problem Area – No Exercise.

Solution – You need to exercise Go for small, brisk walks. Dance more. Move your body more.

Problem Area – Too much salt. Too much salt is your enemy.

Processed food is packed with salt. Cook your own food and use very little or no salt. Learn to add fresh herbs and spices to make your home-cooked meals more interesting.

If you fall into any of these problem areas, go to the clinic and have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. If the clinic prescribes medicine, take your medication regularly and make sure that you fill your prescription so that you do not run out.

Your body – and your health – belong to you. You are in charge, You are the one responsible. Take your heart medication. Eat healthily. Stay away from nicotine. Go for an energetic walk with a good friend. Talk out your worries. Have a good laugh. Have a deep, restful sleep

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Understanding Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADHD, is being diagnosed in more and more children. However, Adult ADHD seems to go mostly unnoticed or highlighted. There is an estimated 4.4% of adults with ADHD, about four in every 100 adults, while the majority of these adults go undiagnosed.

When adult ADHD goes undiagnosed or untreated, it threatens to have some serious effects such as; impaired relationships, increased rate of unemployment or underachievement at work, social and driving destruction, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. Unfortunately, only 11% of adults with symptoms that meet the criteria of ADHD are currently being treated for it, while the rest go unnoticed.

Adult ADHD

Adult ADHD Symptoms

  •     Inattention:
    – Quickly distracted, quickly bored
    – Struggle to complete tasks
    – Switching from one activity to another
    – Poor ability to plan, organise and choose
    – Struggle listening and taking in information
    – Easily lost in details and loses sight of the broader outline
    – Forgetfulness
  •   Hyperactivity:
    – Always busy (inability to stop talking or carrying out activities)
    – A feeling of inner restlessness or agitation
    – Inability to relax peacefully
  •    Impulsivity :
    – Impatient
    – Acting without thinking (spending too much money, spending money quickly blurting things out, gambling, stealing, impulsive binges and decision making)
    – Impulsive starting or leaving relationships and jobs

How to get help?
To speak to a counselor for FREE telephonic counselling, information and referrals – call the ADHD Helpline on 0800 55 44 33 between 08:00 and 20:00. They are open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Self-help tips & online resources at www.sadag.org

Warning Signs of Bipolar disorder

Understanding Bipolar1

Bipolar Disorder: What Is It?

Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is a disorienting condition that causes extreme shifts in mood. Like riding a slow-motion roller coaster, patients may spend weeks feeling like they’re on top of the world before plunging into a relentless depression. The length of each high and low varies greatly from person to person. In any given year, bipolar disorder affects more than 2% of American adults.

Depressive Phase Symptoms

Without treatment, a person with bipolar disorder may experience intense episodes of depression. Symptoms include sadness, anxiety, loss of energy, hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating. Patients may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable. They may gain or lose weight, sleep too much or too little, and contemplate suicide.

Manic Phase Symptoms

During a manic phase, patients tend to feel euphoric and may believe they can accomplish anything. This can result in inflated self-esteem, agitation, reduced need for sleep, being more talkative, being easily distracted, and a sense of racing thoughts. Reckless behaviors, including spending sprees, sexual indiscretions, fast driving, and substance abuse, are common. Having three or more of these symptoms nearly every day for a week may indicate a manic episode.

Bipolar I vs. Bipolar II

People with bipolar I disorder have manic episodes or mixed episodes and often have one or more depressive episodes. People with bipolar II have major depressive episodes with less severe mania; they experience hypomania, a condition that is less intense than mania or lasting less than a week. Patients may seem like the “life of the party” — full of charm and humor. They may feel and function fine, even if family and friends can see the mood swing. However, hypomania can lead to mania or depression.

Mixed Episode

People with mixed episode experience depression and mania at the same time. This leads to unpredictable behavior, such as sadness while doing a favorite activity or feeling very energetic. It’s more common in people who develop bipolar disorder at a young age, particularly during adolescence. But some estimates suggest up to 70% of bipolar patients experience mixed episodes.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes bipolar disorder. A leading theory is that brain chemicals fluctuate abnormally. When levels of certain chemicals become too high, the patient develops mania. When levels drop too low, depression may result.

Bipolar Disorder: Who’s At Risk?

Bipolar disorder affects males and females equally. In most cases, the onset of symptoms is between 15 and 30 years old. People are at higher risk if a family member has been diagnosed, especially if it’s a first degree relative, but doctors don’t think the disorder kicks in based on genetics alone. A stressful event, drug abuse, or other unknown factor may trigger the cycle of ups and downs.

Bipolar Disorder and Daily Life

Bipolar disorder can disrupt your goals at work and at home. In one survey, 88% of patients said the illness took a toll on their careers. The unpredictable mood swings can drive a wedge between patients and their co-workers or loved ones. In particular, the manic phase may scare off friends and family. People with bipolar disorder also have a higher risk of developing anxiety disorders.

Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

About 60% of people with bipolar disorder have trouble with drugs or alcohol. Patients may drink or abuse drugs to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of their mood swings. This is especially common during the reckless manic phase.

Bipolar Disorder and Suicide

People with bipolar disorder are 10 to 20 times more likely to commit suicide than people without the illness. Warning signs include talking about suicide, putting affairs in order, and inviting death with risky behavior. Anyone who appears suicidal should be taken very seriously. Do not hesitate to call one of the Suicide Helpline (0800 567 567) and the Destiny Helpline: (0800 41 42 43). If you have a plan to commit suicide, go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

A crucial step in diagnosing bipolar disorder is to rule out other possible causes of extreme mood swings. These may include brain infection or other neurological disorders, substance abuse, thyroid problem, HIV, ADHD, side effects of certain medications, or other psychiatric disorders. There is no lab test for bipolar disorder. A psychiatrist usually makes the diagnosis based on a careful history and evaluation of the patient’s mood and other symptoms.

Medications for Bipolar Disorder

Medications are key in helping people with bipolar disorder live stable, productive lives. Mood stabilizers can smooth out the cycle of ups and downs. Patients may also be prescribed antipsychotic drugs and anticonvulsant drugs. Between acute states of mania or depression, patients typically stay on maintenance medication to avoid a relapse.

Talk Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Talk therapy can help patients stay on medication and cope with their disorder’s impact on work and family life. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors that accompany mood swings. Interpersonal therapy aims to ease the strain bipolar disorder may place on personal relationships. Social rhythm therapy helps patients develop and maintain daily routines.

Lifestyle Tips for Bipolar Disorder

Establishing firm routines can help manage bipolar disorder. Routines should include sufficient sleep, regular meals, and exercise. Because alcohol and recreational drugs can worsen the symptoms, these should be avoided. Patients should also learn to identify their personal early warning signs of mania and depression. This will allow them to get help before an episode spins out of control.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy can help some people with bipolar disorder. ECT uses an electric current to cause a seizure in the brain. It is one of the fastest ways to ease severe symptoms. ECT is usually a last resort when a patient does not improve with medication or psychotherapy.

Educating Friends and Family

Friends and family may not understand bipolar disorder at first. They may become frustrated with the depressive episodes and frightened by the manic states. If patients make the effort to explain the illness and how it affects them, loved ones may become more compassionate. Having a solid support system can help people with bipolar disorder feel less isolated and more motivated to manage their condition.

When Someone Needs Help

Many people with bipolar disorder don’t realize they have a problem or avoid getting help. If you’re concerned about a friend or family member, here are a few tips for broaching the subject. Point out that millions of Americans have bipolar disorder, and that it is a treatable illness — not a personality flaw. There is a medical explanation for the extreme mood swings, and effective treatments are available.

If you would like to speak to a Counselor for free telephonic counselling call the Substance Abuse Helpline 0800 21 22 23/Destiny Helpline 0800 41 42 43, or SMS 31393. SADAG is open 7 days a week, every day of the year from 8am-8pm. SADAG provides FREE telephonic counselling, referrals to Support Groups, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Clinics, etc. We also have brochures, self-help tips & online resources at www.sadag.org

Depression Tips: Exercise, Diet, Stress Reduction, And More In Pictures

1

Let Your Pet Nuzzle Blues Away

Sometimes your pet really can be your best friend, and that’s good therapy. When you play with him, you take your mind off your problems. And when you take care of him, you’re focused on something outside yourself, which can be therapeutic.


2

Eat Smart to Lift Mind and Body

No specific foods treat depression, but a healthy diet can be part of an overall treatment plan. Build your meals and snacks around plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


3

Choose Foods to Boost Your Mood

Some studies say omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 may ease the mood changes of depression, especially for people who may not get enough of these nutrients. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel have omega-3s. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood is a good source of B12, but vegetarians  can get it in fortified cereals, dairy products, and supplements.


4

Try Low-Fat Carbs for a Pick-Me-Up

Carbohydrates raise your level of the brain chemical serotonin, which enhances your sense of well-being. Go for low-fat options like popcorn, a baked potato, graham crackers, or pasta. Carbs from vegetables, fruit, and whole grains are even better choices — they also give you fiber.


5

Drink Less Caffeine

Do you really need that third cup of coffee? Anxiety often happens along with depression. And too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery, or anxious. While scientists haven’t found a clear link between caffeine and depression, cutting back on it may help lower your risk for the condition and improve your sleep.


6

Treat Your Aches and Pains

When you hurt, it’s hard to stay in a good mood. Work with your health care team to treat your depression and your pain.


7

Work Out to Change How You Feel

Exercise works almost as well as antidepressants for some people. And you don’t have to run a marathon. Just take a walk with a friend. As time goes on, move more until you exercise on most days of the week. You’ll feel better physically, sleep better at night, and boost your mood.


8

Choose an Exercise You Enjoy

If you don’t like to run, you won’t last long training for a 10k race. But you will stay with an exercise plan you like. You can take walks, go golfing without a cart, ride a bike, work in your garden, play tennis, or go swimming. The important thing is to pick something you like. Then you’ll look forward to it and feel better when you do it.


9

Exercise With Others for Support

Connections with other people can help you overcome the sluggish, lonely feelings of depression. Join an exercise group or work out with a friend. You’ll stay in touch and have support to keep yourself on track.


10

Be Sure You Get Enough Sunlight

Do you feel more depressed during darker, cold months? You may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s most common in the winter, when there’s less sunlight. You can treat SAD with light therapy, antidepressants, and talk therapy.


11

Explore Your Creativity

Painting, photography, music, knitting, or writing in a journal are all ways you can explore your feelings and express what’s on your mind. The goal isn’t to create a masterpiece. Do something that gives you pleasure. It may help you better understand who you are and how you feel.


12

Make Time for Mindful Relaxation

Stress and anxiety can add to your depression symptoms and make it harder to recover. Learn to relax and you can help restore a sense of calm and control. You might consider a yoga or meditation class. Or you could simply listen to soothing music while you take a long, warm bath.


13

Get Involved in Your Community

When you spend time with people or causes you care about, you can regain a sense of purpose. And it doesn’t take much to get started. You can volunteer with a charity. Or join a discussion group at the library or at church. You’ll feel good about yourself when you meet new people and do new things.


14

Keep Friends and Family in Your Life

The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out, they can’t. If you let them in, you’ll feel a lot better. Call a friend and go for a walk. Have a cup of coffee with your partner. You may find it helps to talk about your depression. It feels good to have someone listen.


Get the Sleep You Need

Depression makes it hard to get good rest. Some people sleep too much. Others can’t fall asleep easily. As you recover, relearn good nighttime habits. Start by going to bed and getting up the same times each day. Use relaxation techniques to help you drift off. Quality shut-eye makes your mind and body feel better.


16

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

They can slow your recovery from depression or stop it in its tracks. They can also make the condition worse and keep antidepressants from working well. If you have a problem with substance abuse, ask for help now. You’ll have a far better chance of getting past depression.


17

Stick to Your Treatment

Exercise, a healthy diet, and other good habits may help you feel positive about your life. But they won’t replace medical treatment or talk therapy. Depression is a serious illness, and it carries a risk of suicide. If you are thinking about harming yourself, get help right away. And never stop or change your treatment without discussing it with your doctor.

If you would like to speak to a Counsellor for free telephonic counselling call the Substance Abuse Helpline 0800 21 22 23/Destiny Helpline 0800 41 42 43, or SMS 31393.  SADAG is open 7 days a week, every day of the year from 8am-8pm. SADAG provides FREE telephonic counselling, referrals to Support Groups, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Clinics, etc. We also have brochures, self-help tips & online resources at www.sadag.org

6 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Bipolar Disorder

By Jenise Harmon, MSW, LISW-S

According to NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) more than 10 million people have bipolar disorder.

How much do you know about it?

If you’re like most people, you probably assume that you have a basic idea of what the disease is about. You’ve seen or read about celebrities who have acknowledged their illness.

Some of  you may know that Demi Lovato learned in 2010 that she is bipolar. Ms. Lovato also has struggled with an eating disorder, depression, and addiction; disorders that often go hand in hand with bipolar disorder.  Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the original Star Wars, struggled with drugs and alcohol for years before she learned that she is bipolar. Jean-Claude Van Damme has revealed that he has bipolar disease and noted that it is under control because of medication. Catherine Zeta-Jones revealed in 2011 that she has bipolar II.

For all the publicity surrounding the disorder, there are many facts that are simply not known. Here are the top six that I’ve noticed as a therapist.

1. FICTION: When people with bipolar disease are manic, they are always happy and energetic.FACT: Mania can often come out looking like anger and rage, or being irritated and edgy. I’ve had clients describe their mania as “painful,” “feeling out of control,” or “reeling with emotion.” Mania can ruin relationships. It’s like a runaway train that threatens a person’s work, family, and livelihood.

2. FICTION: Bipolar disorder consists of two states: manic and depressed, and people go between these two states without a break. FACT: With both bipolar I and bipolar II, there is a middle space where a person is not manic/hypomanic and not depressed. Some people will switch rapidly from manic to depressed and back to manic, while others can go from one extreme to a more middle, healthier state.

3. FICTION: Bipolar disease causes everyone’s moods to switch dramatically throughout the day.FACT: The reality is that some people stay depressed or manic/hypomanic for months, if not a year or more. This is one reason that bipolar disease is often missed for years and people are misdiagnosed as having major depressive disorder.

4. FICTION: The only important parts of treatment are medication and psychotherapy. FACT: Medication and psychotherapy are both very important parts of treating those with bipolar disorder. However, there is a misconception that these are the only parts of treatment, which devalues the importance of things such as diet and exercise. The truth is that many symptoms of bipolar disorder can be helped or minimized by eating healthy and getting exercise.http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/features/8-myths-about-bipolar-disorder?page=4

5. FICTION: It’s impossible to live a happy, normal life with bipolar disease. FACT: People who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder can have wonderful relationships and a happy, fulfilling life. What is crucial is identifying that a person has the disease and finding a treatment or treatments that work. Treatment could involve mood stabilizers, examining lifestyle components such as building or rebuilding relationships, diet, exercise, and stress reduction.

6. FICTION: Bipolar disorder consists of two moods – depressed and manic. FACT: Bipolar disorder comes in two categories: Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Bipolar I is what most people think of when they hear the word bipolar. Bipolar I has mania as one of its criteria. This mania is severe enough to cause serious problems in the life of the person who has it. When someone is manic, they may do things that end up being harmful, such as risky sexual behavior, repeatedly spending much too much money on items that are not needed or cost more than the person can afford. Bipolar II consists of hypomania and depression. Hypomania is the state where a person’s mood fluctuates greatly, but it is not severe enough that their lives are drastically disrupted. There is a great deal that we don’t know about bipolar disorder, but there are some very effective treatments, and research continues to find newer medications and treatments to help. There is hope out there.

Photo from Shutterstock

If you would like to speak to a Counsellor for free telephonic counselling call the Substance Abuse Helpline 0800 21 22 23/Destiny Helpline 0800 41 42 43, or SMS 31393. SADAG is open 7 days a week, every day of the year from 8am-8pm. SADAG provides FREE telephonic counselling, referrals to Support Groups, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Clinics, etc. We also have brochures, self-help tips & online resources at www.sadag.org