Wednesday, November 29, 2017

7 Ways to Protect Yourself from Outrageous Medical Bills

7 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Outrageous Medical Bills

Make sure the proposed test or treatment is necessary. Ask what might happen if you don't get the service right away.
Eva Bee/Ikon Images/Getty Images
A doctor offers a surgical add-on that leads to a $1,877 bill for a young girl's ear piercing. A patient protests unnecessary scans to identify and treat her breast cysts. A study shows intensive care-level treatment is overused.
ProPublica has been documenting the myriad ways the health system wastes money on unnecessary services, often shifting the costs to consumers. But there are ways patients can protect themselves.
We consulted the bill-wrangling professionals at Medliminal, one of a number of companies that negotiate to reduce charges for a share of the savings. After years of jousting with hospitals, medical providers and insurers, their key advice for patients and their families is to be assertive and proactive.
Here are seven steps patients can take to protect themselves:
  1. Make sure the proposed test or treatment is necessary. Ask what might happen if you don't get the service right away.
  2. Ask the price before the test or treatment. (Prices may not be negotiable if they're set by an insurance company contract.)
  3. Write on your financial agreement that you agree to pay for all treatment by providers who are in-network, which means they have set rates with your insurance company. (The medical providers may not accept the altered form.)
  4. If possible, get the billing codes the medical provider will use to charge you and contact your insurance provider to make sure that each code is covered.
  5. If you are having a procedure, try to get the National Provider Identifier and/or Tax ID number of the surgeons, anesthesiologists and their assistants. Contact your insurance company to see whether the providers are in-network, which results in the negotiated rates.
  6. Demand an itemized bill and then look at each specific charge. Medical bills are often riddled with errors.
  7. Ask whether the provider has a financial assistance policy, which could result in a sliding scale discount. Many people qualify, and discounts can range from 20 percent to 70 percent.

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom based in New York. You can follow Marshall Allen on Twitter:@marshall_allen. Have you seen examples of wasted health care spending? Share them with Marshallhere.

Take a Break: Try Processing Speed Training

New research indicates that a type of brain exercise-processing speed training-could reduce the risk of dementia risk by 30%.  While a lot more research is going to be needed to confirm that, in the mean have some fun by trying some processing speed training.

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Take a Break: Repurpose Candle Odds and Ends

As tomorrow begins the holiday season, there are often lots of candles that will be burned, leaving behind stubs, broken ones and the dregs of wax in candle jars. Here are a variety of ways to repurpose those odd bits.

Some suggestions for getting wax out of jars:
-       Pour boiling water in the jar and let sit over night. The wax will move to the top and makes it easier to take out. Don't dump water down the drain! Dump it outside or in the dumpster.
-       Place the candle jar in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. This will loosen the wax from the jar. Break up wax with a butter knife
-       See if the label will just peel off. If it doesn’t come off easily, soak it in hot water and try again. If there is goo left on it, a combination of baking soda and dish cleaner should do the trick. Wash the jar and lid with soap and water.

• Melt candles and create new ones. There are a variety of ways to melt wax-hot plate, microwave and even an oven. Because candles can have scents and can be made of various ingredients, I stay away from using a microwave or oven, simply because I use these appliances for cooking. A double boiler works well. If you don’t have a dedicated double boiler you can make one by using an old pot and placing a tin can or smaller pot that holds the candle dregs inside. Pour water around the sides so it creates a water bath. Boil
Double boiler method
away. If you want to learn more on different ways to melt candles check out How to Easily Melt Candle Wax Fast

 I make my own wicks by dipping 100% cotton butcher's string into the wax and let harden on wax paper. You can turn all sorts of items into candle holders-old tea cups, glass jars, tin cans. Just don’t use plastic. If you have access to sand, fill up a bucket or bowl and make sand candles.

Fill mason jar with solid candle wax. Insert a left over peeled crayon. Place in slow cooker and pour water around the jars. Cover and “cook” on high for 3 hours. Once it’s melted, put a candlewick in the jar, keep it in place by wrapping the top with a stick. Let dry/cool and enjoy!

• Seal your holiday cards by dripping hot wax on the back of the envelope. I’ve used this method to decorate a gift box.

Repair shoelace ends that are frayed, dip them into the hot wax and roll between your fingers to make sure they stick together

Fire starters: My friends with wood stoves, fire pits, and fireplaces love them. In fact we have a party at the beginning of December where we make fire starters, wreaths and swags. Collect pine cones and let dry for a few days so they open up and will crumble a bit when you crush them. Pick up pine needles, small berries or other small woodsie items.
• Purchase a tube of cotton pads from the Dollar Store. These will be in the cosmetic section as they are used for removing make up.
• Melt the wax (see above). If you have Scentsy warmer that will also work.
• Lay out wax paper, foil or parchment paper and scatter it with pieces of pine cone, needles,  bark, dried berries, herb pieces etc.
• Immerse the pad into the melted max for a few seconds until it is covered in wax and remove with tweezers or another tool. Lay on the prepared wax paper. Fip it over so both sides are evenly coated and then set aside to dry and cool.
• When cool, place as many as you want into a cellophane bag, along with a note that explains that these are fire starters.

An alternative method is take egg cartons (not plastic ones) and fill them with a mixture of pine cones, dried leaves, lint, sawdust etc. and then pour a little wax into each holder. Let dry and separate.

If you come across small pine cones, you can always make pine cone fire starters, which will look very attractive in a gift box.

Fix that drawer that’s being annoying you for months. Try rubbing your leftover candle wax wherever the wood slides. You’ll be surprised how easily the drawers move around afterwards.

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Journal Watch November 2017

Foods That May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis: Blueberries and a cup of green tea
are among the foods that could ease the pain, swelling and stiffness in your joints and even slow progression of the disease, researchers say. Dried plums, pomegranates, whole grains, the spices ginger and turmeric, and olive oil may also help. These foods appear to reduce inflammation, as well as joint stiffness and pain, according to the authors of a paper published Nov. 8 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition

Options to Opioids in the ER: As the opioid epidemic continues to sweep across the United States, a new study suggests that a combination of Motrin and Tylenol may work as well as narcotic painkillers for ER patients who suffer sprains or fractures. JAMA

Stem Cell Injection better than Placebo for Back Pain: A SINGLE injection of six million stem cells into a degenerative spinal disc can reduce back pain, opioid reliance and the need for invasive spinal surgery for at least two years, early trial results show. The Melbourne-developed treatment, an off-the-shelf stem cell product that can treat 20,000 patients from cells grown from one healthy young person, is being tested as part of an international trial. The 100-patient, double-blinded phase II trial found a greater proportion of those treated halved their pain level compared to a placebo a year after treatment. It also reduced the need for pain relief and other surgical interventions. 

Why head and face pain causes more suffering: Sensory neurons in the head and face tap directly into the brain's emotional pathways. Nature Neuroscience 

Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain By teaching patients better strategies for coping with chronic pain, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a valuable treatment alternative for the millions of Americans taking opioids for noncancer pain. Journal of Psychiatric Practice 

Noninvasive procedure is superior to steroid injection for painful knee osteoarthritis: For patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, a minimally invasive procedure called cooled radiofrequency ablation (CRFA) provides better pain reduction and functional improvement compared to steroid injection of the knee, concludes a study. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine 

White matter damage linked to chronic musculoskeletal pain in Gulf War veterans: A new study has linked structural damage in the white matter of the brain to chronic musculoskeletal pain in Gulf War veterans. PAIN

Clinical study shows positive results for two yoga poses to decrease scoliosis curves: In a 74-person peer-reviewed study, patients averaged 25% -35% reduction in scoliosis curves over 10 months (adults) and 6 months (adolescents).The curves of younger patients were more responsive to the treatment. 

• Yoga May Boost Lung Cancer Patients, Caregivers: For advanced lung cancer patients, yoga appears to help improve their overall physical function, stamina and mental health. And it appears to give their caregivers a boost, as well. The findings stem from a small study of 26 patients and caregivers. The study participants, most of whom were in their 60s, took part in an average of 12 yoga sessions. The focus was on breathing exercises, physical postures and meditation. Palliative and Supportive Care Oncology Symposium

Issued an advisory about harms tied to kratom -- an imported herbal supplement with opioid-like effects that is increasing in popularity.
• Approved new treatment to prevent bleeding in certain patients with hemophilia A
• Announced comprehensive regenerative medicine policy framework to spur innovation, efficient access to potentially transformative products, while ensuring safety & efficacy
• Approves treatment for rare genetic enzyme disorder
• Permits marketing of the first device for use in helping to reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. The NSS-2 Bridge device is a small electrical nerve stimulator placed behind the patient’s ear.
• Warns about illegal use of injectable silicone for body countouring and associated health risks
• Approves pill with sensor that digitally tracks if patients have ingested their medication.
• Clears common blood cell count test that offers faster results
• Approves first treatment for certain patients with Erdheim-Chester Disease, a rare blood cancer
• Warns companies marketing unproven products, derived from marijuana, that claim to treat or cure cancer
• Approves new treatment for adults with mantle cell lymphoma
• Issued statement on the proposal to revoke health claim that soy protein reduces risk of heart disease.
• Seeks to speed development of “regenerated” organs for medical use.

Older Women Can “Walk Away”from the grim reaper: In a new study, women who logged an average of nearly 70 minutes walking daily had up to a 70 percent lower risk of death compared to the least active women, who moved just eight minutes a day. The study also found that the benefits were significant mainly for women who participated in moderate to vigorous exercise. The study included data from nearly 17,000 women. Their average age was 72, and most were white. Circulation

Cross off that 'to do' list, study shows all daily activity can prolong life: For women over age 65, adding 30 minutes per day of light physical activity may lower mortality risk. The 6,000 women in the study, ages 65 to 99, were followed for up to four and a half years. They wore a measuring device called an accelerometer on their hip around-the-clock for seven days while going about their daily activities. The study found that 30 minutes of light physical activity per day lowered mortality risk by 12 percent while an additional 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as bicycling at a leisurely pace or brisk walking, exhibited a 39 percent lower risk.Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Group exercise improves quality of life, reduces stress far more than individual work outs: Group exercise participants showed significant improvements in all three quality of life measures: mental (12.6 percent), physical (24.8 percent) and emotional (26 percent). They also reported a 26.2 percent reduction in perceived stress levels. By comparison, individual fitness participants on average worked out twice as long, and saw no significant changes in any measure, except in mental quality of life (11 percent increase). The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

Commitment Is Key for Online Quit-Smoking Groups: An online social network designed to help you quit smoking can do just that, a new study finds. But the odds of quitting rise along with the level of active involvement, the researchers said. Plos One 

Definition of High Blood Pressure Drops: Nearly half of all adult Americans will be considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines issued Monday by the nation's top heart health organizations. The new guidelines lower the diagnostic threshold for stage 1 high blood pressure to 130/80, down from the previous level of 140/90, according to a joint statement from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. 

• Does Sex Really Trigger Cardiac Arrest: It's a common Hollywood trope -- an older guy is having enthusiastic sex with a gal half his age when he suddenly flops over dead.
But in real life, sexual activity very rarely causes cardiac arrest, a new study reassuringly reports. Sex was linked to only 34 out of more than 4,500 cardiac arrests that occurred in the Portland, Ore., metropolitan area between 2002 and 2015. That's a rate of just 0.7 percent, the researchers noted. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 

 Friends Key to a Health Aging Brain: Getting along well with others may do more than just make life less stressful for seniors. A new study suggests that warm, supportive relationships might give a big memory boost to the aging brain.  Researchers found that so-called SuperAgers -- people 80 or older with the memory powers of those 50 to 65 -- were more likely than those with average memory to report positive relationships in their lives. Plos One 

• IUD May Lower Cervical Cancer Risk: IUD contraceptive devices may reduce a woman's risk of cervical cancer by about a third, a new review concludes. Researchers think IUDs might promote an immune response that kills off human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes virtually all cases of cervical cancer. "The data say the presence of the IUD in the uterus stimulates an immune response, and that immune response very, very substantially destroys sperm and keeps sperm from reaching the egg," explained lead researcher Victoria Cortessis. "It stands to reason the IUD might influence other immune phenomenon." Obstetrics & Gynecology

Eat Well Age Well: The scientists followed close to 1,000 men and women in England, who were born in March 1946, throughout their adulthood. Those who ate more fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals -- and fewer highly processed foods -- throughout adulthood did better on three tests of physical function in their early 60s than those with less healthy eating habits. The study also found that those whose eating habits improved during adulthood did better on two of the tests, chair rise speed and standing balance time. The third test was timed up-and-go speeds. The Journals of Gerontology: Series A

  Healthier Diet, Less Salt: The Recipe to Beat High Blood Pressure: Cutting back on salt, along with following the highly recommended "DASH" diet, can beat back high blood pressure in adults, new research shows. After just a month, the results for people adopting this strategy were "striking and reinforce the importance of dietary changes" for those with problematic blood pressure. American Heart Association's annual meeting

• Nuts Prevent Heart Disease: Avoiding heart disease may be a nutty idea. That's the conclusion of a new study of more than 210,000 U.S. adults tracked for 32 years. Researchers found that those who regularly ate peanuts, walnuts, cashews and other nuts had a lower risk of heart disease. The research was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. It found that -- compared to people who never ate nuts -- people who ate walnuts one or more times a week had about a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease. Those who ate peanuts two or more times per week had about 14 percent lower risk, and those who ate tree nuts -- such as almonds, cashews, pistachios or macadamia nuts -- had a 15 to 23 percent lower risk.The investigators found no link between total nut consumption and stroke risk, but they did find that people who ate peanuts and walnuts, in particular, had a lower risk of stroke. Journal of the American College of Cardiology

• Proton Pump Inhibitors Linked to Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease: A total of 5 studies with 536,902 participants met the eligibility criteria and were included in the meta-analysis that showed a link between proton pump inhibitors and the development of kidney disease. Annual Meeting of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN)

Two Years of Teriparatide Significantly Decreases Risk of New Fractures in Women With Severe Osteoporosis: Two years of teriparatide significantly decreases the risk of a new clinical vertebral fracture in postmenopausal women with severe osteoporosis, compared with risedronate, according to a study presented here at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP). 

• Romosozumab Followed by Alendronate Bests Alendronate Alone for Fracture Prevention: In postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who are a high risk for fracture, romosozumab treatment for 12 months followed by alendronate resulted in a significantly lower fracture risk than alendronate alone, according to a study presented here at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ACR/ARHP). 

Aspirin can prevent heart attacks after noncardiac surgery in patients with prior PCI: The results of the largest randomized trial of patients with PCI will inform clinical practice. A new study has found that perioperative aspirin can prevent heart-related complications after major noncardiac surgery in patients with previous percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) such as an angioplasty or stent. The study found that for every 1,000 patients with PCI, giving them aspirin at the time of noncardiac surgery would prevent 59 heart attacks and cause eight major bleeding events. Annals of Internal Medicine 

Depressed with a chronic disease? Many find antidepressants are not working: Scientists are finding more evidence that commonly prescribed antidepressants aren't effective in people battling both depression and a chronic medical disease, raising a critical question of whether doctors should enact widespread changes in how they treat millions of depressed Americans. JAMA

Virtual Reality Training After a Stroke: Using virtual reality therapy to improve arm and hand movement after a stroke is equally as effective as regular therapy, according to a study published in the November 15, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

• Peanut Patch Found Safe, Effective for treating allergies: A 250-μg peanut patch produces a significant treatment response in peanut-allergic patients treated for a year, according to a study published online Nov. 14 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Statins Cut Risk: For patients who have experienced an atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) event, receipt of statins, especially high-intensity statins, is associated with reduced risk of major adverse cardiac events (MACE), according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.

Older people with bowel disease receiveolder medicines: Inflammatory bowel disease is common amongst older people and there are big differences in the choice of treatment for different age groups. Patients over the age of 60 often receive cortisone drugs instead of more modern medicines that target the immune system. Gastroenterology

Doctor Burnout: A Big Threat to Health Care: Complaining of burnout and job dissatisfaction, many U.S. doctors plan to reduce their work hours or leave medicine altogether, a new study reveals. The study found that about one in five doctors intends to reduce work hours in the next year. And about one in 50 intends to leave medicine for a different career within the next two years. The demands of electronic health records were among the challenges leading to job dissatisfaction. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 

Psoriasis severity linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes People with psoriasis are at a higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes than those without psoriasis, and the risk increases dramatically based on the severity of the disease. Researchers found people with psoriasis that covers 10 percent of their body or more are 64 percent more likely to develop diabetes than those without psoriasis, independent of traditional risk factors such as body weight. Journal of the American College of Dermatology

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Take a Break: Watch Notre Dame Light Show

Nov. 11 was the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. To honor this occasion, Notre Dame in Paris mounted the most incredible light show which is now available on YouTube. While it’s in French, it’s an amazing spectacle. 

The 25-minute display, "Dame de Coeur," tells the 800-year history of the cathedral through LEDs and 3D video mapping. On a battle field in 1917, the show opens with an injured American soldier who tells a young French nurse he regrets never visiting Notre-Dame. The event seeks to demonstrate the incredible history of the building, through the lens of the tragedy of WWI, and especially in homage to the American soldiers who fought in France during the country’s time of deep peril.

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Caregiving-The take home points

November is National Caregiver’s Month and this year the theme is “Caregiving Around the Clock.” This has been a topic of conversation within my own family recently, so thought it might be helpful to have a “cut to the chase” post for caregivers outlining some “take home points” to consider:

You have the ability to change but you can’t change them: How you respond to situations and to others is up to you. Spending time trying to change others' behavior-no matter how good you think it is for them- leads to incredible frustration for all involved. Keep in mind that just by changing how you respond can have a greater impact than you may realize.

You aren’t alone. There are approximately 40 million Americans who are currently active caregivers. Isolation doesn’t make you better at your job. It makes you weaker and more vulnerable. Join an on-line or in person support group. Check your local hospital, health care center as well as local community resources for in person caregiver support groups. For on-line groups, check out:

You can’t do it all. You need breaks from caregiving. Many condition specific organizations  (e.g. Cancer Society) offer respite care. Take advantage of them. Some insurance companies also offer respite care options. Ask family and friends for help. Check out ACaregiver’s Guide to Creating a Respite Care Plan.

You need financial support. Keeping a job not only provides financial stability but it also can be a way to stay connected with the outside world. However, if you find you need to be a full time caregiver, check out options for reimbursement for your time. Depending on the state, Medicaid may provide it. Some insurers will cover it, particularly long term care insurance. Seniors who have life insurance policies can use them to pay for care. The Veterans Standard Medical Benefits Package may be used to provide homemaker or other care as an alternative to nursing care.  Finally, family members need to kick in if at all possible either to share the load and/or to help with costs. If this becomes a major problem, don’t try to settle it yourself. This is when a professional mediator is helpful. Check out Can I get Paid to Be a Family Caregiver?

You are not an extension of the person you are caring for. Take good care of yourself as much as possible as you are more than deserving of it. 

You may need to make decisions that you never thought you’d need to make but there are resources to help you. Whether it’s putting your charge in an inpatient long term care setting-such as nursing home, or making difficult medical and end of life choices, the book Hard Choices for Loving People  by Hank Dunn is very helpful. Check out the online video of Dunn’s one hour lecture highlighting the contents of the book. 

You don’t need to put up with platitudes- e.g.“I know just how you feel.” There are a long list of pat phrases that people say to caregivers. Well meaning though they may be, they can make you feel bad about yourself or really piss you off. As much as possible, let it go. But.... here are a few responses to consider

Call if you need help: Make it easy for people who want to help you do so by setting up a Lotsa Helping Hands website,  where you can identify what you need and people can register accordingly. This is a free site and does the work for you. If you don’t have the time or have concerns about setting up such a site, ask a friend or family member to do it for you. In some ways it’s better if someone does it for you but definitely be a co administrator. When someone says call if you need help, say Register on the Lotsa Helping Hands website and you’ll know what and when I need help.

I know just how you feel: Sometimes peoples experiences with caregiving can be useful so ask them pointed questions about concerns you may have without giving them time to wax poetic over their time as a caregiver.

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle: Don’t let this make you feel inadequate, less worthy or in some ways unfaithful. If you feel like a snappy comeback, you can say something along the lines of what Rabbi Gerald Wolpe, also a caregiver, points out. Mrs. Job, the caregiver, is disdained and disregarded, and the new children given to Job do not replace those she has lost.

I just couldn’t do what you’re doing. That’s easy, no one is asking you to do it.

You are a saint. You are like everyone else dealing with frustration, depression, anxiety, exhaustion and fear. The next time someone tells you that “you’re a saint,” tell them the halo has slipped and what you really need is help.

You worry, but chances are in your favor that your worse fears wont happen or if they do, they aren’t as bad as you fear: In fact the data shows that 97 percent of what we worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing us with exaggerations and incorrect perceptions. As Michel de Montaigne noted 500 years ago, “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” Caregivers worry about a host of issues. It’s normal but don’t over indulge.

You need your sleep: Sleep deprivation is the worse. Check out 4 Tips for Better Sleeping While Caregiving from AARP 

Your best is more than Good Enough: You will make mistakes, be upset with yourself and even feel ashamed for how you handled a given situation. All part of the process. Check out the post Your Best is More than Good Enough

More Reading/Resources

Essential Websites for the Daughterhood Journey (caregiving): Good break down of websites for caregivers by topic. This site is run by Ann Tumlinson who has spent the last two decades working on improving how America cares for its frailest, most vulnerable older adults.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Take a Break: Try Acupressure to Relax

Acupressure is an ancient Chinese healing method that involves putting pressure with the fingers or the hand on certain points of the body. Unblocking the flow of Qi can release tension. You can do this on your own to promote health and relieve stress.

                                                                          Japanese Method to Relax in 5 minutes

                                                 Acupressure Heart 7

Not interested in today’s activity, go to the Take a Break Pinterest and pick out something else.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Life with a Chronic Condition: Anxiety!!! And How to Control It

If you have a chronic condition of any sort, chances are you’re more hyper vigilant than most to every ache, pain or passing troubling thought. For some this can be more of a problem than the chronic condition itself. Today’s post is about “general” or “free floating” anxiety often referred to as “general anxiety disorder” (GAD) and what you can do about it.

General or Free Floating Anxiety: In and of itself, anxiety is a good thing as it triggers an immediate response to danger. Without this mechanism our ancestors would have been eaten on the Savannah's of Africa thousands of years ago. However, GAD refers to that type of anxiety where worry and apprehension is out of proportion to the circumstances.

What Causes it? Genetics, upbringing, experiences, stress, diet (vitamin deficiency, dehydration) and exercise can play a part in creating anxiety.  Research shows that when changes in the brain occur, due to things like stress, diet etc., it impact how you think and feel. Neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, linked to anxiety include norepinephrine, serotonin and GABA.

Do I Have It? Pretty much everyone has some type of anxiety. My mom and her mother were natural “fretters,” as they always seemed to have something they were concerned about. Every age brings it’s own challenges-20 some things are trying to figure out what they should be doing with their lives; 30s take on a whole new meaning as far as relationships, families etc. Then there is mid life crisis and ultimately the oldest in society are often pissed that they spent so much of their life obsessing and worrying over non issues.

While there are various symptom lists out there, the key here is if anxiety and worry are getting in the way of your well being. It could be impacting sleep, increasing fatigue or restlessness, headaches, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, muscle tension (especially in the shoulders, neck and back). In short, general anxiety can lead to a number of symptoms, not all of which may appear to be connected to the disorder. Symptoms will vary from individual to individual depending upon their coping abilities, temperament, and life circumstances.

If you identify with any of the following 7 signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:
1. Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
2. Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
3. Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
4. Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
5. Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
6. Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
7. Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?

How to Deal with it: Because this is a blog for those affected by chronic conditions, check with your medical provider to see if there could be an underlying issue. With that in mind, below are various strategies to try:
• Learn about anxiety and understand how it affects you.
• Exercise releases neurotransmitters that create a calmer mood, burns off excess energy and stress hormones. Even taking a walk outside for 20 minutes can make a difference. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.
• Get a massage or other forms of body work
• Practice relaxation using techniques such as controlled breathing, mindfulness, meditation, visualization, and self hypnosis
• Increase exposure to light, particularly sunlight. Be outside during the day for at least 30 minutes. If you live in northern climates, where sun exposure is limited during the winter months, take a vitamin D supplement.
• Eat healthy foods, avoiding sugars and simple carbs. Opt for complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, apples, blueberries, carrots, and garbanzo beans. Eating foods rich in L-tryptophan, such as chicken, turkey, salmon, beef, nut butter, eggs, and green peas, can also raise brain serotonin levels.
• Don’t isolate. Connect with others face to face. Join a support group, visit with friends
• Eliminate or significantly reduce smoking, drugs, alcohol and caffeine (coffee, sodas): Instead of calming you down they become stimulants, which is why they are so addictive in the first place
• Make time for fun and relaxation.
• Change your thoughts. No matter how much you might want to center yourself to control anxiety, if you find it just doesn’t work, consider “changing the channel.” Go for a walk, eat a healthy snack, take a nap, color a picture, look out the window, count something (trees, tiles or whatever), read a book, watch a movie, pet your pet. In short, just do something different.

Because anxiety and depression can go hand and hand, making each of them worse, seek help for depression symptoms as well as anxiety you can’t control. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most widely used therapy for anxiety disorders. 

Additional Resources

National Alliance on Mental Illness Information Helpline – Trained volunteers can provide information, referrals, and support for those suffering from anxiety disorders in the U.S. Call 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 am-6 pm, Eastern time. (NAMI)

Psychotherapy and Other Treatments – Overview of therapies and complementary treatments for anxiety. (University of Maryland Medical Center)