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Doing Life Together

Breaking free anorexiaWhen we hear anything about eating disorders, we tend to think of girls and women. Yet, some of you are familiar with the term “manorexic,” referring to boys and men who also struggle with a clinical eating disorder some time in their life.  In fact, 10 million men suffer according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Robert was one of them. He came to my office incredibly thin and confused about his identity. Robert’s fear of assuming the role of a man and taking on responsibility pushed him to restrict his eating and take on a more child like look.  Family members then organized to take are of his illness. His dependency for care helped him avoid more independent living and decision-making.  The family was stuck and needed help to respond to his food restriction and fears.

Last week was National Eating Disorders Awareness week. While women still suffer with eating disorders at double the rate of men, men feel the pressure to be ripped, lean and muscular. If not treated, both genders are in danger of dying from these psychiatric disorders.

However, eating disorders are treatable. Healing and recovery are very possible but most often need the help of a multidisciplinary professional team. So if you know a boy or a girl, man or woman, who is struggling with an eating disorder, encourage the person to seek professional help.

 

For more helps: Breaking Free from Anorexia and Bulimia by Dr. Linda Mintle

Not every person who is depressed can tolerate the side effects of antidepressants, nor are the medications always effective. So if a treatment with few side effects that targeted a specific region of the brain was available, would you be interested?

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) may be that treatment. In 2009, TMS was approved by the FDA as an alternative form of treatment for treatment resistant patients. It uses technology to alter brain functions similar to what happens with medications and even electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). It’s being used to treat depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, and other cognitive disorders. The Mayo Clinic reports that TMS works best for people with moderate depression who have not been able to tolerate antidepressants. But keep in mind, this treatment doesn’t work for everyone, especially those who have not responded to electro-convulsive therapy (ECT).

According to Eastern Virginia Medical School, a TMS device generates a magnetic field that passes through the brain. The magnetic field is a powerful electric current that causes a therapeutic effect on the cortex of the brain. The current rebalances dysfunctional brain circuitry like a reset button on a computer. In terms of depression, the magnetic field stimulates nerve cells that improve depression.

The beauty of this treatment is that it is generally pain free and rarely shows any side effects.  In some cases, patients have noted mild headaches and muscle pain after the procedure.  A few patients have reported persistent ringing in the ear, and in very rare cases, seizures have resulted. The number of treatments needed varies with diagnosis. Drawbacks are that it can take several weeks to work and can be expensive.

Although there is more to learn about this procedure, it is a promising tool as an alternative treatment. For those who have not found success with medications, other therapies, or cannot tolerate side effects of medications, this is one more advance that might have real promise. In the case of any new treatment, however, we need time to evaluate if there are any long-term side effects and how to best use the treatment.  If you consider this treatment, talk to your physician about potential risks and benefits so you can make an informed decision and decide if it is worth the cost.

When I would visit my mom in the nursing home, I would visit the Alzheimer’s unit  and ask my mom to come sing with me while I played the piano for the patients.  What was remarkable was that the Alzheimer patients, who couldn’t remember who I was from time to time, would join mom and me in singing the words to many old songs. And after we sang, they seemed to converse better.

What I didn’t know at the time was what was discovered in a November 2013 study in the Journal of Neurolinguistics. In the study, researchers had Alzheimer  patients choose familiar music . When they listened to familiar music for two minutes and then were asked to do a conversational memory task, they did better than a group who sat in silence and then did the task. The familiar music enhanced the grammar, meaningful words and content of what was spoken. Music improved their conversational skills.

Alzheimer patients experience a decline in autobiographical memory that affects their sense of identity. The thinking is that familiar music may help with recall of deep memories and strengthen the patient’s sense of identity.

Little did mom and I know that our enjoyment of music and playing the old tunes  could actually be helping in other ways. We saw the smiles, we heard the joyful singing, we noticed they remembered the words, but we didn’t know that music could do even more.

 

ID-100151605When it comes to losing weight, all the tricks we know help! So here is one to add to your bag.

If you want to eat less of an item, buy it individually wrapped rather than loose in the bag. For example, let’s say you could buy individual wrapped candies and put them in a bowl, or put loose candies in that same bowl. Go for the wrapped candies because you will eat more of the loose candy. I noticed this at Christmas. I had peanut M&Ms in a candy dish. Every time someone would walk by the dish, he or she would grab a few. When I switched the bowl to individually wrapped candies, they lasted longer.

It appears that anything that slows down our availability to food helps us eat less of it. Wrapped foods slow us down! A study in Appetite found that the availability of food influences our eating. If we have a bit of a physical imposition in getting that food, it affects how much we eat.

Not only did the researchers test the difference between unwrapped and wrapped candies, but they also tested the difference between eating candies with your hand versus using a tong. Again, the tong slowed things down and that group ate less. 

The take away. If you are going to have candy around the house, buy the wrapped pieces! A little physical effort slows down the snacking! And most of us need all the tricks!

 

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