Tips to Improve Your Resilience

If you’d like to become more resilient, consider these tips:

  • Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support and acceptance in both good times and bad. Establish other important connections by doing volunteer work, getting involved in your community, or joining a faith or spiritual community.
  • Make every day meaningful. Do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose every day. Set goals to help you look toward the future with meaning.
  • Learn from experience. Think back on how you’ve coped with hardships in the past. Consider the skills and strategies that helped you through rough times. You might even write about past experiences in a journal to help you identify both positive and negative behavior patterns — and guide your behavior in the future.
  • Remain hopeful. You can’t change what’s happened in the past, but you can always look toward the future. Accepting and even anticipating change makes it easier to adapt and view new challenges with less anxiety.
  • Take care of yourself. Tend to your own needs and feelings, both physically and emotionally. Participate in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get plenty of sleep. Eat a healthy diet. To restore an inner sense of peace or calm, practice stress management and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing or prayer.
  • Be proactive. Don’t ignore your problems or try to wish them away. Instead, figure out what needs to be done, make a plan and take action. Although it can take time to recover from a major setback, traumatic event or loss, know that your situation can improve if you actively work at it.

–Mayo Clinic

Benefits of Support Groups

If you’re facing a major illness or stressful life change, you don’t have to go it alone. A support group can help. Find out how to choose the right one.

Regardless of format, in a support group, you’ll find people with problems similar to yours. Members of a support group typically share their personal experiences and offer one another emotional comfort and moral support. They may also offer practical advice and tips to help you cope with your situation.

Benefits of participating in support groups may include:

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated or judged
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment and control
  • Improved coping skills and adjustment
  • An opportunity to talk openly and honestly about your feelings
  • Reduction in distress, depression or anxiety
  • A clearer understanding of what to expect with your situation
  • Learning about new medical research
  • Getting practical advice or information about treatment options
  • Comparing notes about resources, such as doctors and alternative options

–Mayo Clinic

Mental Health in Schools Act

Mental illness affects millions of youth across America, with 1 out of 5 children and adolescents suffering from some form of mental illness. Most go untreated because they either cannot afford care, lack access, or do not know anyone they can turn to for help.

Investing in preventive mental health could give these young people a better future. Without help, youth with untreated mental illnesses are more likely to fall victim to crime, drugs, imprisonment, or suicide later in life.

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano’s Mental Health in Schools Act is part of the solution. By providing increased federal funding for therapists and mental health services in our schools, this bill will help youth with preventable mental illnesses get access to the services they need.

The silence has continued long enough. Learn more about the Mental Health in Schools Act and help give our young people the future they deserve.

–Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano

Study Links Parasite in Cats to Suicide Risk in Humans

But don’t rush to evict your pet. Most people infected with T. gondii probably got it from undercooked meat.

A wily parasite well known for influencing the behavior of its animal hosts appears to play a troubling role in humans, increasing the risk of suicide among women who are infected, new research shows.

Chances are you or someone you know has been infiltrated by the parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii. Researchers estimate that T. gondii is carried by 10% to 20% of Americans, who can get it by changing litter used by infected cats or eating undercooked meat from an animal carrying the bug.

Despite its prevalence in humans, the protozoan is most famous for the strange effect it has on the brains of rats and mice.

The parasite’s optimal host is the cat — it can fully complete its reproductive cycle only in the feline intestinal tract. So T. gondii has developed an ingenious, and as yet unexplained, mechanism for ensuring survival: It turns rodents into willing cat food.

When a rat or a mouse is infected, it suddenly flips from being petrified of cats to being attracted to them. Studies have shown that the cells in the rodent brain that regulate sexual arousal become active when mice and rats get a whiff of cat urine, suggesting the smell turns them on. As a result, they drop their guard, the cats eat them — and the parasite wins the day, reproducing at will.

But studies in humans have suggested that rats and mice are not the only animals to undergo worrying behavioral changes in response to T. gondii infection.

The parasite has been linked to an increased risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in humans. A few small studies have also suggested a relationship between suicide attempts and infection with T. gondii.

By Jon Bardin at the Los Angeles Times,0,6408832.story

For Young Children With Autism, Directing Attention Boosts Language

NIH-supported study confirms that pointing, gestures to focus attention improve later language

An intervention in which adults actively engaged the attention of preschool children with autism by pointing to toys and using other gestures to focus their attention results in a long term increase in language skills, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

At age 8, children with autism who received therapy centered on sharing attention and play when they were 3 or 4 years old had stronger vocabularies and more advanced language skills than did children who received standard therapy. All of the children in the study attended preschool for 30 hours each week.

“Some studies have indicated that such pre-verbal interactions provide the foundation for building later language skills,” said Alice Kau, Ph.D., of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch of the Eunice Kennedy ShriverNational Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute that supported the study.“This study confirms that intensive therapy to engage the attention of young children with autism helps them acquire language faster and build lasting language skills.”

–National Institutes of Health (NIH)

When Does An App Need FDA’s Blessing?

Some [apps] measure blood pressure and blood sugar and send the readings off to the doctor.

“Mobile technology is a true game changer for health care,” says Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, founder of the Center for Connected Health in Boston. “It enables us to use that tiny computer in your hand to connect with you at any moment when we need to.”

But does somebody need to check these things to make sure they work?

After all, we’re not talking about apps that help you find a good restaurant or calculate your mortgage. These apps sometimes help make important decisions — sometimes life-and-death decisions.

“The ones that worry me are ones for instance where you can take an image of a skin lesion and then map it back to a database in the cloud and be told whether it should be evaluated for a melanoma or not,” says Kvedar, a dermatologist by training. “It just seems a little scary right how to have software making decisions about moles.”

Others calculate how much blood thinner to give heart attack patients, interpret blood tests in the emergency room — even help read X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans.

As a result, the Food and Drug Administration has concluded that at least some apps should undergo review by the agency before being permitted on the market. “There are many mobile apps that are on the market that are medical devices,” Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, who heads the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “There are apps today that change a mobile platform into an EKG machine. When it’s being used to diagnose patients, it’s a medical device we believe subject to FDA oversight.”

But Shuren stresses that the FDA has no plans to review most apps, such as those that help with wellness, healthier lifestyles. Same goes for thoseused to help patients manage their medical conditions. “The risk to patients are very, very low,” he says.

by ROB STEIN at National Public Radio (NPR)

TEXANS: We Need You to Take a Quick Survey and Get Your Input on Disability Policy!

Committee will make recommendations to the governor and legislature based on your input.

Online Survey (See below for other ways to take this survey)

One of the important functions that the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities is charged to do in its enabling law is to make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature every two years on issues related to Texans with disabilities.  The Committee structures its work into ten broad issue areas.  They are: Access, Communication, Education, Emergency Management, Health, Housing, Recreation and the Arts, Transportation, Veterans and Workforce.

The Committee wants to hear from its citizens with disabilities, family members, caregivers and professionals in the field of disability issues.  We want to know what YOU think are the major needs and issues facing Texans with disabilities.  Your feedback is needed and welcomed.

If you have any data that you want to include with your comments that helps bolster your feedback, please do include it or a link to it with your comments.  The survey will be available until September 30, 2012.  The information will then be consolidated and considered as the Committee drafts its policy recommendations for the 83rd Legislative Session which will begin in January 2013.

This survey is anonymous.  Thank you for your participation in this important survey.  YOUR OPINION matters!

Please DISTRIBUTE WIDELY to your communities.

This survey is available in Word, in large print,  Braille and by telephone.  Call our office at 512-463-5739 for assistance or accommodation or email us.

Six Governors Say They Will Opt Out of Medicaid. How Long Will They Hold Out?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared Monday his state would not participate in the health law’s Medicaid expansion, becoming the sixth Republican governor to make such a promise. Taken together, those governors opting-out would single-handedly shrink the Medicaid expansion by nearly 4 million people.

While the stakes are high for the White House, the territory is by no means uncharted. Washington has twice faced off with states over federal health care expansions, when Medicaid initially launched in 1965 and with the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997. In both cases, all 50 states ultimately signed up – but not without some wrangling.

Senior administration officials look to that history with optimism. “When Medicaid was enacted with a much smaller federal share…the states all ultimately came in,” White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew told ABC’s This Week.

Some Medicaid experts, however, see a different history lesson. They say that previous experience shows expanding coverage to be a difficult endeavor that could take years to complete. “It may take a little bit of time,” said Charles Brecher, a professor of public and health administration at New York University.

by Sarah Kliff at The Washington Post

When You Leave Someone with a Mental Illness

To those appalled I say this: be abused by an individual for years at a time. Have him hit you. Have him steal from you. Have him vandalize your home. Have him refuse treatment. Have him call the cops on you. Have him get addicted to drugs. Have him rage at you when they see you. Have him endanger your children.

Only then can you start to judge the people who have lived this reality daily. Only then can you understand what it’s like to truly need to protect yourself from another human being.

To Those Who Have Left a Person with a Mental Illness

I think it’s important to remember that you deserve safety, sanity and happiness in this life. It’s important to remember that just because someone insists on dragging his own life to the bottom of the ocean, doesn’t mean that you have to let them drag you there too.

Yes, I said “insists.” That is because when we’re an adult we have to take some responsibility for the choices that we make. Yes, some of those choices are deluded by illness, but we still choices: treatment or not, abuse someone or not, pick up the crack pipe or not. No one lives an entire life without the wherewithal to make a different choice. Ask anyone with a serious mental illness. They did it. Others can too.

by Natasha Tracy at Bipolar Burble

Recognizing Mimics of Depression: The ‘8 Ds’

This mnemonic helps recall conditions that may make medically ill patients appear depressed

Many psychiatric and medical illnesses—as well as normal reactions to stressors—have symptoms that overlap with those of depressive disorders, including outwardly sad or dysphoric appearance, irritability, apathy or amotivation, fatigue, difficulty making decisions, social withdrawal, and sleep disturbances. This cluster of symptoms forms a readily observable behavioral phenotype that clinicians may label as depression before considering a broader differential diagnosis.

To better understand what other conditions belong in the differential diagnosis, we reviewed a sample of 100 consecutive medical/surgical inpatients referred to our consultation-liaison psychiatry practice for evaluation of “depression.” Ultimately, only 29 of these patients received a depression diagnosis. Many of the other diagnoses given in our sample required attention during inpatient medical or surgical care because they were potentially life-threatening if left unaddressed—such as delirium—or they interfered with managing the primary medical or surgical condition for which the patient was hospitalized.

Hurried or uncertain primary care clinicians frequently use “depression” as a catch-all term when requesting psychiatric consultation for patients who seem depressed. A wide range of conditions can mimic depression, and the art of psychosomatic psychiatry includes considering protean possibilities when assessing a patient. We identified 7 diagnoses that mimic major depression and developed our “8 D” differential to help clinicians properly diagnose “depressed” patients who have something other than a depressive disorder. Although our sample consisted of hospitalized patients, these mimics of depression may be found among patients referred from other clinical settings for evaluation of possible depression.

by Michael J. Bostwick, MD and Sandra Rackley, MD at Current Psychiatry