Perinatal depression (previously known as postpartum depression) is seldom brought up by a new mother, so healthcare providers must screen for it carefully. However, sometimes they err on the side of caution in efforts to prevent the mother from harming herself or her baby. Experts discuss the balancing act.
Foreign Accent Syndrome
People who suddenly speak with what sounds like a foreign accent often have a brain injury due to a stroke or other trauma. Experts discuss the syndrome and chances of recovery.
Paramedics and EMTs are the first responders of the health system and often find volent, confusing situations on their arrival. A former paramedic describes the “inside story” of the job, its dangers and rewards.
The Mystery of Meniere’s Disease
Experts discuss symptoms and treatments of Meniere’s disease, an often misdiagnosed disorder producing loss of hearing and crippling vertigo.
Imagine going to the doctor with your newborn baby because you are interested in receiving help for symptoms of depression only to be taken to the emergency room by the police. This is what happened to new mother Jessica Porten who had been experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression–previously known as postpartum depression–when she attempted to seek medical treatment. While this sounds like an overreaction in this situation, Dr. Darby Saxbe and Dr. Tiffany Moore Simas both agree that the healthcare provider was just attempting to protect the mother and the child by avoiding any harm. In any situation like this, Dr. Moore Simas, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and co-chair of Maternal Mental Health Expert Work Group at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, explains that either way a physician will face scrutiny by overreacting or underreacting, so it is best to overreact when there are safety concerns. Yet, symptoms similar to Porten’s are common in new mothers, so why do these situations continue to happen?
Dr. Saxbe, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, explains that one in seven women are affected by perinatal depression, with some populations being more highly affected. But, it still remains massively undertreated because of the stigmatization of mental illness. Dr. Saxbe states that many new moms feel it is wrong to not feel overjoyed by the birth of their child, so they do not feel comfortable seeking treatment. Furthermore, Dr. Moore Simas explains that the symptoms of perinatal depression are often times not associated with depression, but instead, they are attributed to being apart of pregnancy or postpartum.
While stigmatization and confusion of the symptoms do decrease the likelihood of diagnosing perinatal depression, there appears to be another problem with the lack of training given to OBGYN’s. Dr. Saxbe explains that they often have little to no training in psychiatry, and remain unqualified in properly screening and diagnosing perinatal depression. But, Dr. Moore Simas states, recently schooling to become an OBGYN has started to introduce mental health training as a component in order to improve the care provided to women experiencing perinatal depression. With increased knowledge on psychiatry and increased accessibility to psychiatric care, women with perinatal depression will be able to receive better treatment and many of these cases will no longer go undiagnosed.
Jessica Porten, new mother diagnosed with depression
Dr. Darby Saxbe, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California
Dr. Tiffany Moore Simas, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Quantitative Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and co-chair of Maternal Mental Health Expert Work Group at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
In a medical emergency that results in a brain injury, such as a stroke, there are a number of health complications that can affect the patient afterward. One of the more well-known subsequent results is aphasia which is the impairment of speech and language. However, many people do not know that once the aphasia wears off, the patient may still be left with an accent. This sudden change in speaking is actually a syndrome known as foreign accent syndrome. However, Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Central Florida, explains that research has proven that these patients’ new way of speaking is actually not an accent. Furthermore, Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University, states that people will perceive these as foreign accents, but in actuality, people who suffer from foreign accent syndrome have only developed slight variations in how they pronounce words which indicates to those listening to them that they have an accent.
So, what happens to those who suffer from foreign accent syndrome? Dr. Ryalls explains that chances of recovery are very slim–only about 30% are able to recover their old accent because therapy has been proven to not be beneficial. Along with this, people with foreign accent syndrome are likely to experience distress. Dr. Blumstein states that how an individual sounds and speaks contributes a lot to their self-identity, so it can affect a person’s perception of oneself. This distress can be furthered, too, by a change in how they are identified in the world. Dr. Blumstein explains that foreign accent syndrome can be isolating because many people will view this person as being from a foreign country. While many people do not recover, some are able to regain their old accents. Researchers have been looking into cases of recovery in order to improve the chances of recovery for others who suffer from foreign accent syndrome.
Dr. Sheila Blumstein, Albert D. Mead Professor of Cognitive Linguistics and Psychological Sciences at Brown University
Dr. Jack Ryalls, Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Florida
Opioid drugs are a major public health threat but two new studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that legalizing pot may be a way to reduce their impact. The studies show that in states that have legalized marijuana the number of opioid prescriptions have fallen dramatically. Researchers can’t say for sure that people are replacing opioids with marijuana or whether it’s patients or doctors that are the driving force.
Therapy dogs are a welcome sight in some hospital wards but an editorial in the journal Critical Care says they’d do a world of good in the one place you wouldn’t expect them—intensive care. Doctors say trained therapy dogs can substantially ease physical and emotional suffering of the most seriously ill patients. Therapy dogs also do a good job getting patients engaged one of the more difficult tasks in the ICU.
And finally, if you lose your life savings, you’re at a much greater risk of early death. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that losing at least 75 percent of your net worth increases the odds of death by about 50 percent over the next 20 years. And if you lose your home, the risk of death is even worse. Researchers say a personal financial crash makes people put off expensive doctor’s appointments and creates intense stress that’s harmful to your health.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a first responder? We talk with Kevin Hazzard, former paramedic and author of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back, who tells us about his experiences as a paramedic and what it takes to be able to deal with emergency situations.
As a first responder, paramedics must enjoy the chaos and must be able to adjust to any situation. Hazzard explains that the practices of medicine that are taught during training are not always the most effective way to approach an emergency situation because EMTs and paramedics tend to be outmatched. Furthermore, he states that being a paramedic is often like being a detective because first responders must be attentive to the details surrounding them in order to figure out what happened and how to best treat the victim. An EMT or paramedic must be capable of listening to the victim and the bystanders, as well as making observations about the environment, because they are incapable of running tests that can provide them with answers. Hazzard describes the care provided by first responders as a primitive form of medicine because they are not able to use a lot of advanced medical techniques that medical practices have access to.
Along with these skills, first responders rely on a certain level of emotional capability in these emergency situations. Hazzard explains that it is important to be able to be detached from the victims because if not, many would be incapable of doing the job. He states that a first responder cannot think about the pain of the victim because it will hinder their ability to perform vital tasks. However, in certain situations, empathy provides the most effective care. Hazzard explains that some people call 911 because they are frightened or unsure of what is going on, and the best way to help them in this situation is to simply talk to them. Furthermore, he expresses that paramedics must be able to cope with the fact that they are almost always going to be put into compromising situations.
In the end, first responders must be dedicated to their jobs. Hazzard explains that as a tax funded field, they are not given the best supplies, and are often told to made do with what they have. Some even spend their own income to purchase better equipment. Despite the tough circumstances and compromising situations, most first responders continue to be committed to saving the lives of the American people that need their help.
Kevin Hazzard, former paramedic and author of A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back
Imagine waking up and no longer being able to hear in one of your ears. And, after losing the ability to hear, you are suddenly affected by bouts of vertigo attacks that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. This is what happened to James Raath, business consultant and author of Love Mondays, who suffers from Meniere’s disease which is a disease that is caused by a fluid imbalance in the inner ear that forces the membrane separating the chambers to rupture.
Dr. David Friedland, Professor and Vice Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at Medical College of Wisconsin, explains that this disease is commonly diagnosed, however, it is an uncommon disease to have. While the main symptoms, tinnitus and vertigo, are experienced by many people, the presence of both does not necessarily imply that the person has Meniere’s. Furthermore, Dr. Friedland explains that it is unknown whether the rupturing of the membrane is caused by the endolymphatic sac absorbing too little or too much fluid. But, the sufferer will be relieved of the symptoms once the membrane fixes itself. However, regular occurrences of this rupturing can have long term effects. Dr. Friedland explains that a person may suffer from progressive loss of hearing and increased weakness in the balance system.
So, what can be done to stop the progression of this disease? Dr. Friedland explains a few ways in which physicians can go about treating Meniere’s disease. The first, he says, is allergy medicine because allergies appear to be a trigger that can set off the fluid imbalance. Another way that he suggests to counteract the disease is to consume a low salt diet and water pills. In some cases, Dr. Friedland states some patients may get a shot that can drain excess fluid in the ear and improve the hearing loss. A final treatment that he explains is ablation which destroys the balance cells within the inner ear. The goal of this procedure is to reduce vertigo by making it so that an imbalance of fluid in the ear does not affect the balance system that causes vertigo. However, he warns that this procedure does not change the disease process, but instead, only changes the balance system so it cannot be stimulated by the disorder. While there is no cure to Meniere’s disease, there are many ways in which those who suffer from the disease can work to counteract or slow down the process.
James Raath, business consultant and author of Love Mondays
Dr. David Friedland, Professor and Vice Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at Medical College of Wisconsin
There are about 16 million cancer survivors in the United States, and in some ways many of them are never quite the same. For example, a new study finds that even years later, people who beat cancer get tired more quickly than other people. The study in the journal Cancer found that after five minutes on a treadmill, people with a cancer history were nearly twice as likely to rate their fatigue as high. Walking a 400-meter track those with a cancer history finish an average of 14 seconds slower than similar people without a cancer history.
About half of all women will experience a urinary tract infection at some point and most will be successfully treated with antibiotics. However, doctors say antibiotic resistance is making UTI’s harder to treat. but it may not take antibiotics after all. A study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that treatment with a modified sugar molecule can treat urinary tract infections by keeping bacteria from adhering to the body.
And finally, if you’re facing a high pressure situation and need to lower your stress levels a new study suggests you take a sniff of your sweetie’s used t-shirt. The study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that when women were put in stressful situations, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol were lower when they smelled their significant other’s used t-shirt. they also reported that they felt less stressed. stress levels went up when they smelled someone else’s t-shirt.