Saturday, September 16, 2017

12 Ways to Help Someone With Bipolar Disorder

Take the First Step

If someone close to you has bipolar disorder, you want to help them get better. But sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start. You may feel frustrated or hurt by their behavior and don’t know what to do or say. Take a deep breath. Your loved one has a better shot at stability with your support. There are many ways you can try to be there for them.

Just Listen

You may be tempted to tell your family member or friend how to “fix” their problems. But sometimes, you need to do more listening. Your loved one may just want to be heard and doesn’t want your opinion right now. Instead, tell her that you’re there whenever she wants to talk. She may not open up all the time, but she’ll be happy to know you’re open when she needs it.

Offer Encouragement

Keep in mind that people with bipolar disorder can live full, successful lives. Let your friend know that the condition doesn’t define her. It’s not a personality flaw, and she can’t just “snap out of it.” Encourage her that she can get better with treatment -- especially when she sticks with it.

Spend Time Together

Go out for coffee, see a funny movie, or take a walk in the park. Social connections are important, especially if your loved one is depressed. She may isolate herself, which can make the problem worse. Even if she turns down your invitations, keep trying. It’ll send the message that she’s important to you. She’ll probably appreciate your efforts and may eventually say yes.

Be a Partner in Treatment

Don’t let your loved one go it alone. Your support can help her succeed in treatment. Offer to be involved in any way she wants you to be. You can help her:

o Find good doctors or therapists
o Set appointments and go along
o Track her progress

Encourage her to keep taking medications. Some people stop when they feel better or because of side effects. If the medicine is bothering her, ask the doctor if another one may help.

Keep Your Cool

During a bipolar episode, your loved one isn’t himself. He may do baffling and even outrageous things during mania. If he’s depressed, he may be nasty and irritable. If he lashes out or rants at you, resist the temptation to react. Keep in mind that it’s the symptoms of the disorder that are behind his behavior.

Monitor for Mania

Sometimes it’s hard for your loved one to spot a bipolar mood change coming on. She may say she feels great. But you can pick up the signs. Red flags for mania include:

o Sleeping less
o Talking fast and a lot
o Taking chances, like driving too fast or going on shopping sprees

Get help if you think your loved one might be headed toward mania. Her doctor and therapists may be able to stop a full-blown episode.

Watch for Depression

You can help head off a bout of depression, too. Look for these warning signs:

o Less interest in socializing
o Sleep problems (either insomnia or sleeping too much)
o No energy
o Tearful or sad
o Has aches and pains

Encourage your friend to get up and go for a walk. Stay positive: Point out good things like a great review at work. If he doesn’t get better soon, call the doctor.

Stay on Schedule

A regular schedule may help your loved one’s mood stay steady. Rest is especially important. When late nights out or jet lag disrupts sleep, it can trigger symptoms. Encourage your loved one to get to bed and wake up at generally the same times every day.

Help Ease Stress

Stressors, like losing a job or even moving, can trigger a mood swing. You can’t protect your loved one from every stressful event. But you can help her deal with them when they happen. Encourage her to exercise and try meditation or deep breathing. Take a yoga class together. It may help you both deal with the challenges of bipolar disorder.

Lend a Helping Hand

Even simple, ordinary tasks can seem overwhelming to a person living with mental illness. Ask your friend what you can do to lighten her load. Volunteer to pick up kids from school or help run errands. If you’re cooking for your family, double the recipe and bring over the second portion to her house.

Help Him Reach Out

Your loved one may feel better when he connects with others in his shoes. A support group can provide a place to share experiences and talk about ways to live well with bipolar disorder. If your loved one is hesitant to go alone, offer to go with him. In-person support groups and those that meet online can help.

Take Care of Yourself, Too

When someone in your life is bipolar, it can take a toll on your emotions. Caregivers can get depressed or have other health problems. If you don’t pay attention to your own needs, you can get burned out. Try to carve out some regular “me time” to clear your head. Paint, listen to music, or do something else you love. Have lunch or dinner with friends. And don’t feel guilty about it. You can’t support your loved one if you’re not well.

This Is the Leading Cause of Vision Loss

Your Macula

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss. It’s also called age-related macular degeneration. Your macula is part of your retina -- the area in the back of your eye that turns images into signals that go to your brain. It lets you see small details clearly. When the macula starts to break down, you have trouble seeing those kinds of things. For example, you might be able to see the outline of a clock, but not make out its hands.


Early signs include blurred vision and trouble seeing color and fine details. As the disease gets worse, you lose your center vision. You may have trouble reading, driving, and making out people’s faces. You will need brighter light to do daily tasks and will find it harder to judge distances or go up and down steps. Visual hallucinations -- seeing things that aren’t really there -- are also a sign.

Who Gets It?

It affects more than 10 million Americans -- more people have it than cataracts and glaucoma combined. People over 60 are diagnosed with macular degeneration the most. Whites are more likely to get it than other races, and women more than men.


Doctors don’t know exactly why macular degeneration happens, but your family history plays a part. Your chances of having it go up if you have a parent, sibling, or child with the disease. But your lifestyle matters, too. For example, smokers are twice as likely to have it as people who don’t light up.

Different Types

Most people have a “dry” type of macular degeneration. That means small white or yellow fatty deposits, called drusen, have formed in your retina and are causing it to break down. The dry kind tends to get worse very slowly. With the “wet” version, your abnormal blood vessels damage your macula and change the shape of your retina. While it’s less common, the wet type is the cause of 90% of all vision loss from macular degeneration.


Your eye doctor will put drops in your eyes to dilate (widen) your pupils. This lets him use a special device called an ophthalmoscope to look for fatty deposits and other signs of trouble in the back of your retina. If your doctor thinks you have the wet type, he’ll take a special scan of your eye that can show any problem blood vessels. Yearly eye exams can help your doctor spot early signs before you have any symptoms.

Treatment for the Dry Type

This kind of macular degeneration may best be treated with a mix of vitamins C and E, and two kinds of antioxidants. Called lutein and zeaxanthin, they’re in green leafy vegetables, eggs, and other foods, and they help filter out high-energy blue wavelengths that can harm cells in your eyes. They won’t cure the disease, but they might slow it down.

Treatment for the Wet Type

If you have this kind, your doctor may recommend a drug that blocks a chemical in your body that makes problem blood vessels in your retina bigger. This chemical is called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Every few weeks or months, she’ll numb your eye and give you a shot of the medication – this is anti-VEGF therapy. How often you’ll have the shots and how long you’ll get them will depend on the specific drug and how well it works for you.

Laser Surgery

If you have wet macular degeneration, your doctor may recommend this. He’ll point a laser at the extra blood vessels in your eye to break up them up. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is another option. A special light-sensitive drug is put into your body through a vein in your arm, then triggered with a laser to destroy problem blood vessels.

Regain Some Vision

In advanced cases of dry macular degeneration, your doctor may suggest replacing the lens of your eye with a telescope the size of a pea. This makes images larger so the healthy parts of your retina can see them. But it’s not right for everyone, including people who have had cataract surgery.


Plenty of high-tech devices can help you get through your daily life. You can get a telescope put on your eyeglasses so you can see things far away. Computer software can turn words on the screen into speech you can hear. And a closed-circuit television magnifier lets you see something like a book or needlepoint on a TV screen.

Lifestyle Changes

There’s no cure for macular degeneration, but you can make healthy choices to slow it down and keep your symptoms from getting worse: Get regular exercise, protect your eyes from the sun with sunglasses, and if you smoke, quit. Try to eat a healthy diet rich in leafy green vegetables and fish. Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check can help, too.

Emotional Support

Vision loss can have a big effect on your life. You have to change the way you do everyday tasks, such as cooking or reading, and you may rely more on your friends and family than you used to. You may feel depressed. Talking with a counselor or finding a local support group can help you work through these emotions.


Researchers are looking into many new treatments. Drugs that lower cholesterol have shown promise in cutting back on the fatty deposits that cause dry macular degeneration. And low doses of X-ray radiation might help break up problem blood vessels in the wet type. New drugs being tested may also improve your vision with fewer side effects.

This Country’s Millennials are Least Likely to Drink and Drive Than Any Other Age Group


Driving safely is now cool – at least, according to this new report on Canadian millennials.
The study, which was commissioned by Beer Canada’s Partners for Safer Communities initiative, says that British Columbian citizens between 18 and 35 years old are the least likely to drink and drive.
82% of millennials above the legal drinking age have volunteered as a designated driver at least once in the last three years, compared to 67% of Canadians between the ages of 34 and 54, and just 55% of those above 55 years of age.
Additionally, millennials may catch a lot of flack for using social media, but the study also highlighted the fact that many Canadian youngsters had been using social media to plan sober transportation for a night out. They also expressed concern about having to face social media shame in the case of being caught drinking and driving.
Almost half of the participating millennials said that social media and transportation apps help keep them safe while they’re drinking, as opposed to 21% of generations X’ers and 18% of baby boomers. 55% of millennials said that they have used transportation apps to get home, in comparison to 29% of the middle age group, and 17% of the baby boomers.
“We found that nearly one in three (34 percent) Millennials, say they’re more likely to use social media when they’ve been drinking,” says, Sean Simpson, Ipsos Canada.
“Three in ten (29 percent) Millennials admit that social media makes them do things they regret when they’ve been drinking, which likely explains why many are staying clear of mixing the two.”

Inspirational Quote – September 16, 2017

“The older I get, the less I care about what people think of me. Therefore the older I get, the more I enjoy life.”

It’s wonderful and, trust me, it does set you free. During most of my earlier life what other people thought of me really mattered and made a difference as to how I saw myself. However, with age comes a lot of unexpected blessings, one of which, is not giving a hoot what anybody else thinks of me. I love and enjoy my life just as it is, and try to live it to the full. I also do and say what I please nowadays and if other people don’t like it or agree with me well I just don’t care, so there!

Gothenburg: The World's Most Sociable City

Gothenburg, like all cities, has its pros and cons. Despite problems with segregation and reliance on fossil fuels, Sweden's second city has a lot to offer in terms of collaboration and community, being voted the "world's most sociable city" earlier this year. The nonprofit organization Kollaborativ Ekonomi Goteborg (Collaborative Economy Gothenburg) discusses the 12 ways Gothenburg is encouraging a collaborative community, improving its environmental footprint, teaching valuable life skills, and bringing people together. From programs encouraging visitors and tourists to 'meet the locals' to libraries that loan everything from books to sewing machines, Gothenburg is a great model of what is possible when people from all walks of life work together for the common good.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Eye Cancers and Their Warning Signs

How Does It Happen?

When healthy cells in your eye change -- or mutate -- and grow too quickly in a disorganized way, they can form a mass of tissue called a tumor. If these problem cells start in your eye, it’s called intraocular cancer, or primary eye cancer. If they spread to your eye from another part of your body, it’s called secondary eye cancer.


The most common sign of eye cancer is a change in your vision. You may not be able to see well, or you might see flashes of light or spots (floaters). You also may notice a new dark spot in one eye or a change in its size or shape. But eye cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms early on, and these things can happen for many other reasons.

Uveal Melanoma

This is the most common kind of primary eye cancer. It happens when cells form a tumor in a part of your eye called the uvea. It has three parts: the colored part of your eye called the iris, the ciliary body (it makes fluid and helps you focus), and the choroid layer that supplies blood to your eye. This layer is where the cells usually start to change and become cancerous.


This is the most common type of eye cancer in children, but it's diagnosed in only 200 to 300 kids in the U.S. each year. It’s usually found before age 5. It starts while a baby is in the womb, in the very back part of the eye called the retina. As the baby grows, cells called retinoblasts grow out of control and form a tumor. Sometimes it’s first noticed in a picture, when one of the pupils looks different from the other.

Intraocular Lymphoma

Your lymphatic system is made of lymph nodes -- glands that help you get rid of waste and germs. They’re part of your immune system, and you have them all over your body, including your eyes. This rare kind of eye cancer starts in those lymph nodes. It can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms aren't the same for everyone.

Conjunctival Melanoma

The lining outside your eyeball and inside your eyelid is called the conjunctiva. This rare kind of cancer happens when a tumor grows in that lining -- it can look like dark spots on your eye. If it isn’t found and treated quickly, it can spread to other parts of your body through your lymphatic system.

Lacrimal Gland Cancer

This rare type of cancer starts when a tumor forms in the glands that make tears. They’re called lacrimal glands, and you have them above and on the side of each eye. These tumors tend to happen more often in people who are in their 30s.

Eyelid Cancer

This type of skin cancer shows up on or inside your eyelid. The most common form of it -- called basal cell carcinoma -- happens on your lower lid and is caused by spending too much time in the sun. People who have fair or pale skin are more likely to have it. Eyelid cancer can usually be treated if it’s found early

Secondary Eye Cancer

In most cases, cancer doesn’t start in the eye -- it spreads there from somewhere else in your body. That’s called secondary cancer, and it happens most often with breast cancer in women and lung cancer in men. It also can go to your eyes from your skin, kidney, colon, and thyroid, among other places.


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and check your vision and the way your eyes move. He also may use a light and a magnifying lens to look for signs of a tumor in your eye. If he thinks you might have eye cancer, he may want to use imaging scans like ultrasound or an MRI to get a closer look. And he may recommend a biopsy -- he’ll take a tiny amount of tissue from the growth to look at under a microscope and see if it’s cancer.

Treatment: Surgery

If the tumor is small and not growing fast -- and isn’t causing many problems for you -- your doctor may just watch it closely. If it gets larger than 10 millimeters around or 3 millimeters tall or starts to spread, she may recommend surgery to take out part or all of the eye, depending on how much of it is affected by the tumor.

Treatment: Radiation

After surgery, your doctor may use high beams of energy (usually a type of X-ray) to kill any cancer cells that may still be there. But this can damage healthy cells, too, and that can make your eyes dry, your eyelashes fall out, or cloud your vision.

Treatment: Laser Therapy

The most common kind of laser treatment, called transpupillary thermotherapy (TTT), focuses a narrow, intense beam of infrared light on your eye to shrink a small tumor. It’s used to treat eye melanoma, because those cells absorb the light energy from the laser. It doesn’t work with intraocular lymphoma. Laser therapy usually causes fewer side effects than surgery or radiation.

Can Meditation Lead to Lasting Change?

A new book reveals how long-term meditation can lead to profound improvements in our mind, brain, and body.

Mindfulness meditation is everywhere these days. From the classroom to the board room, people are jumping on the mindfulness bandwagon, hoping to discover for themselves some of its promised benefits, like better focus, more harmonious relationships, and less stress.
I too have started a mindfulness meditation practice and have found it to be helpful in my everyday life. But, as a science writer, I still have to wonder: Is all of the hype around mindfulness running ahead of the science? What does the research really say about mindfulness?
To answer these questions, look no further than Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body, a new book by journalist Daniel Goleman and prominent neuroscientist Richard Davidson. Putting their decades of research and knowledge together, Davidson and Goleman have written a highly readable book that helps readers separate the wheat from the chaff of mindfulness science. In the process, they make a cogent argument that meditation, in various forms, has the power to transform us not only in the moment, but in more profound, lasting ways.
Many people have been introduced to mindfulness meditation practices through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. MBSR has been researched extensively and tied to many positive outcomes for medical patients. But while MBSR has helped a lot of people, it’s not always clear which aspects of the training—mindful breathing versus yoga versus loving-kindness meditation—are most helpful for particular issues facing people. Nor is it always clear that the impacts of MBSR training extend long beyond when the training ends.
That’s where Davidson and Goleman come in. They aim to unveil not just the temporary effects of mindfulness training, but how practicing various forms of meditation over time affects our general traits—more stable aspects of ourselves. And they make the case that simpler forms of mindfulness training may have some benefits, but fall short when you are looking for lasting change.
According to the authors, there are four main ways that meditation—particularly when practiced consistently over time—can make a deeper impact on us.

1. Meditation improves our resiliency to stress

According to neuroscience research, mindfulness practices dampen activity in our amygdala and increase the connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, both of which help us to be less reactive to stressors and to recover better from stress when we experience it. “These changes are trait-like: they appear not simply during the explicit instruction to perceive the stressful stimuli mindfully, but even in the ‘baseline’ state’” for longer-term meditators, which supports the possibility that mindfulness changes our ability to handle stress in a better, more permanent way.

2. Meditation increases our compassionate concern for others

While many of us may espouse compassionate attitudes, we can also suffer when we see others suffering, which can create a state of paralysis or withdrawal. But studies have shown that practicing loving-kindness for others increases our willingness to take action to relieve suffering. It appears to do this by lessening amygdala activity in the presence of suffering, while also activating circuits in the brain that are connected to good feelings and love. “The cultivation of a loving concern for other people’s well-being has a surprising and unique benefit: the brain circuitry for happiness emerges, along with compassion,” write the authors.

3. Meditation augments our capacity to focus and pay attention

It’s not too surprising that meditation would affect attention, since many practices focus on this very skill. And, in fact, researchers have found that meditation helps to combat habituation—the tendency to stop paying attention to new information in our environment. Studies have shown that improved attention seems to last up to five years after mindfulness training, suggesting trait-like changes are possible. This outcome of meditation is particularly important, because it “undergirds a huge range of what makes us effective in the world—everything from learning, to realizing we’ve had a creative insight, to seeing a project through to its end.”

4. Meditation helps us to feel lighter and less self-focused

<a href=“ 0399184384”><em>Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body</em></a> (Avery, 2017, 336 pages)Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body (Avery, 2017, 336 pages)
Though related to compassion, this is a more specific finding about how mindfulness helps you to stop seeing yourself as the center of the universe. According to studies, activity in the “default network”—the part of our brains that, when not busy with focused activity, ruminates on thoughts, feelings, and experiences—quiets down in longtime meditators, suggesting less rumination about ourselves and our place in the world. Long-term meditators also seem to have a smaller nucleus accumbens—a part of the brain associated with pleasure, but also addiction. According to the authors, “These regions very likely underlie what traditional [Buddhist] texts see as the root causes of suffering: attachment and aversion, where the mind becomes fixated on wanting something that seems rewarding or getting rid of something unpleasant.”
Meditation leads to some improvements in markers of health. Many claims have been made about mindfulness and health; but sometimes these claims are hard to substantiate or may be mixed up with other effects. For example, when it comes to pain—where our psychology plays a clear role in our experience of pain—it’s now clear that meditation can lessen pain without directly addressing its physiological source. However, there is some good evidence that meditation affects physiological indices of health, too. For example, practicing meditation lessons the inflammatory response in people exposed to psychological stressors, particularly for long-term meditators. Also, meditators seem to have increased activity of telomerase—an enzyme implicated in longer cell life and, therefore, longevity. 
The authors outline other possible benefits of meditation which have less robust findings. But, while the evidence for these can be fascinating, Davidson and Goleman dutifully report the counter evidence as well, trying to employ “the strictest experimental standards” to avoid making unfounded claims. They even question some of their own findings, such as Davidson’s research on changes in the brain for meditators, which they later decided didn’t have great experimental controls.
“The differences found [between meditators and non-meditators] could be due to factors like education or exercise, each of which has its own buffering effect on brains,” they write. “Then there’s self-selection: Perhaps people with the brain changes reported in these studies choose to stick with meditation while others do not.” In other words, use caution when championing results.
In general, the authors lament the poor quality of many studies and the way these are used to justify mindfulness applications in many arenas. They worry that too many studies lack rigor or that some well-done studies are never published because they don’t have positive findings. These and many other caveats about the research affirm that we are in the hands of experts who know their stuff. The result is a book that both enlightens those interested in the topic and calms the skeptics. For those who may be on the fence about meditation, I suggest reading the book and coming to your own conclusions. Perhaps, it will do the same for you.

Inspirational Quote – September 15, 2017

“The best angle to approach any problem is the try-angle.”

Clever play on words don’t you think? Makes a lot of sense too. If you have a problem surely the best and most efficient way to deal with it is to actually be prepared to tackle it head on! What’s the alternative, pretend it’s not there? It won’t go away just because you’re ignoring it! In fact, in order to get your full attention, it will stand in your path and make itself as big and nasty as it can, ooo ‘er! So, don’t you think that the very sensible thing to do would be to try and make it go away while it is still small enough not to be as scary as it could be if you continue to ignore it? This is where the “try” comes in and the clue is in the word! Next time a problem rears its ugly head, try it and see.

Spaceman: Mark Massimino's First Spacewalk

As Mark Massimino shuttled through space to the Hubble Telescope, 350 miles above Earth, our planet looked like "a gigantic, bright blue marble set against the blackness of space...Everything had a clarity and a crispness to it. It was like I was seeing things in their purest form, like I was seeing true color for the first time." Read this riveting excerpt from his book, 'Spaceman'.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

This is Your Brain on Walking


The general wellness perks of getting fresh air and exercise might be reason enough for you to tie up your shoes and get some steps. But here’s more good news about walking: a new study shows walking can benefit the brain. In research findings presented at Experimental Biology 2017, scientists found that the foot-to-ground impacts created during a walk may send pressure waves surging through your arteries, and ultimately increase the amount of blood sent to the brain.

Foot Impact Increases Blood Flow to the Brain

Previously, researchers weren’t really sure how much movement affected blood flow. Using ultrasound to measure internal carotid artery blood velocity waves, as well as arterial diameters to determine blood flow to both brain hemispheres, they were able to see what sorts of exercise mattered most. In 12 adult participants, they saw running increased blood flow to the brain more than walking, but walking was better than cycling, so foot impact made a difference.
Walking may be one of the simplest exercises around, but it can lead to significant health gains. According to Lynn Cialdella Kam, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, a lot of the concerns affecting heart impact also affect brain health. “Brain health and blood flow can be altered by the inflammation associated with obesity, by hypertension, by glucose intolerance and more,” she explains.
Blood oxygenates vessels, which prevents cell death, improves cognitive functioning, and keeps conditions like dementia at bay. If the brain isn’t “breathing” well enough, you may see long-term problems. “Those health issues, that can affect the delivery of blood to the brain, may lead to more concerns like cognitive decline or stroke,” Kam says. Simply walking on a regular basis can help counter those problems.

Walking May Improve Cognitive Functioning

In addition, Kam says walking and exercise may increase levels of a critical protein in the brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (or BDNFs). “These BDNFs play a big role in the development of within-cell communications in the brain,” she explains. “If you can increase BDNFs, you can improve your cognitive functioning.”
Kam also thinks it’s impossible to dismiss the mental wellness effects of walking and regular exercise—even if you’re not training for a marathon, trying to make an Olympic team or in any way intense about it. “That change of pace, in taking a walk, can take you out of your regular environment and help you feel better,” she says. “You also get a rush of ‘feel good’ chemicals. People always talk about dopamine, but there’s also serotonin and norepinephrine.” That hormonal cocktail is like a calming, energizing pick-me-up shot that can power you through the remainder of your day.

Walk for 30 Minutes a Day, 5 Days a Week

So, walk. It’s easy, requires no equipment, and science is continuing to prove the endless ways stepping can benefit body and mind. “The standard recommendation is 30 minutes a day, five days a week, of moderate intensity exercise—of which walking would fit,” says Kam. “Just that, and you can feel like you’re doing something good for yourself, for your body, and making healthy choices. From a well-being perspective, feeling stronger and more capable can also lead to a higher quality of life.”