Managing Mental Health: There’s an App for That

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. struggle daily with at least one mental illness.1 In recent years, with light being shed on such statistics, mental healthcare has emphasized empowering those struggling with mental health to speak up and seek help when needed.

It is important to be especially concerned for mental wellbeing as we go into the fall and holiday season. Even if you do not struggle daily, factors such as changes in your diet or routine, alcohol consumption, the inability to be with friends or family and less sunlight can trigger “holiday blues.”2

How can technology help manage mental health?

Many apps help manage physical health by promoting dieting and exercise, but what about mental health? With more and more individuals being concerned about managing mental health, a growing number of apps can help. Medical research has not been provided for many of these apps specifically, but the basis of many of them including meditation, breathing exercises, sleep, and relaxation, are all proven techniques to help stabilize our moods. Here are 7 apps to help you focus on mental health management. (All apps were free for both Iphone and Android at the time this research was conducted unless otherwise noted.)

Happify

Do you need help to overcome stress, negative thinking and increase resilience? Happify is an app that helps to manage such feelings. According to the app, 86 percent of the users report having an improved outlook in life after two months of use. The app offers activities and games to ward off negative emotions and weekly  it calculates your “happiness” score. The app uses evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and positive psychology to help you form better habits.

Calm

In 2017,  Apple named Calm as their “App of the Year.” The goals of this app include reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and increasing feelings of happiness, clarity and peace. These goals are worked toward through meditation, breathing exercises, music and nature sounds.

Moodpath

Moodpath works as a digital mental health companion that provides insights you can discuss with your doctor by generating an electronic document detailing your assessment after two weeks of use. The app helps screen for symptoms of depression by asking you daily questions. It also has the goal of increasing your awareness of your feelings and emotions. Moodpath contains over 150 videos and psychological exercise.

SuperBetter

SuperBetter is a gaming app that focuses on increasing positive feelings and motivation to take on challenges. Research by the University of Pennsylvania found that those that played SuperBetter for 30 days reported better moods, decreased anxiety and depression and increased positive attitudes toward goal achievement.Also, SuperBetter is designed to assist with chronic illnesses, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

Pacifica

Pacifica combats daily anxiety and stress using methods such as meditation, mood tracking, CBT and relaxation. The app contains audio lessons and activities, and it assists you at tackling anxiety one day at a time by setting daily goals as well as long-term goals.

Moodnotes

Available only for Iphone for $3.99.

Moodnotes helps you learn about your “thinking traps” and how to overcome them through insights gathered from your thought journal and mood diary. Your feelings and thinking habits are assessed and improved through implementing positive psychology and CBT.

Headspace

Headspace has hundreds of themed mindfulness and meditation sessions to assist you in achieving a happier, healthier life. The app emphasizes reducing stress, building healthier relationships and finding a place of calm.

We hope you find this list helpful. However, no app will ever be able to replace medical care when you have a need. If coping seems like a battle that becomes more difficult each day, please reach out for help. You can find a list of our providers at http://www.ccmhhealth.com/providers/.

Sources
1 National Institute of Mental Health. November 2017. Mental Illness.
2 Greenstein, Laura. National Alliance of Mental Illness. 19 November 2015. Tips For Managing The Holiday Blues.
3 Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania. 2015 June. Randomized Controlled Trial of SuperBetter, a Smartphone-Based/Internet-Based Self-Help Tool to Reduce Depressive Symptoms.

Disclaimer
The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.
Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Will Elderberry Prevent or Cure a Cold or the Flu?

Elderberry has been popular among natural remedy enthusiasts for centuries. Although, it has generated much conversation on the internet in recent years. As soon as autumn hits, you can find many people mixing up this ancient concoction for daily consumption in hopes of preventing the flu, cold and other ailments. However, as with many popular medications and remedies for cold and flu treatment, you may be skeptical if elderberry really works despite having and friend or two rave about the medicinal berry.

Skepticism of such natural remedies and medications is not unfounded with companies often producing misleading advertising during cold and flu season, a time we all tend to panic a bit and try as best we can to avoid these thriving germs. Airborne, the popular “cold fighting” drug of the early 2000’s, for example, settled a lawsuit over $20 million in 2008 for their false advertising claims as a “miracle cold buster.”1 To this day, you will still see the medication on the shelves now vaguely marketed as an “immune system booster.”

What are the facts about Elderberry?

So to cut through the hype, what are the facts about elderberry? Elderberries are produced by the European elder, a native tree to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. However, it can grow in parts of the United States too. The tree produces a red variety of elderberries and a blue / black variety. Only the blue / black elderberry is used for medicinal purposes. Other parts of the tree including the leaves, bark, fruits, roots, and flowers, are also used in traditional medicine, naming the herb as a “medicine chest” by Hippocrates.2

Elderberry can also be used in wines, pies, teas and jams. When it is used for medicinal purposes, many individuals are making homemade elderberry syrup. The berries are typically boiled with honey and medicinal spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Users can purchase Elderberry in capsules, logenzes, tinctures, and other combination products. No standard dosage of elderberry exists, yet many adults consume a tablespoon or two a day in hopes of preventing a cold or the flu.

Uncooked elderberry can be dangerous, causing severe nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, weakness and need for hospitalization. Older, unverifiable records report childhood deaths from consuming American black elderberry, a related berry to the European variety used medicinally.3 It is unknown exactly how much elderberry is safe for child consumption.

Can Elderberry really prevent or cure a cold or the flu?

Are you considering Elderberry to relieve your cold or flu symptoms? Well, for most people it is probably worth a try. Little is known about how the ancient remedy works, and if it truly works. The berry contains flavonoids, chemicals which are believed to aid in reducing inflammation.

Scientist who are funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) study the antioxidant effects of elderberry. They hope to discover if the plant helps cure infection. Currently, the NCCIH reports, “Although some preliminary research indicates that elderberry may relieve flu symptoms, the evidence is not strong enough to support its use for this purpose.”4

Israeli scientists may disagree. After studying the effects of an elderberry extract that is commercially available known as Sambucol®, Israeli research reported the growth of influenza viruses in lab dishes were suppressed when the elderberry extract was introduced. This research team also reported that patients with confirmed cases of avian flu, H5N1, who were given the extract recovered faster than those in the study’s placebo group.5

An Australian study from 2016 may also suggest that extract from the European elder may shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms. A group of 312 participants was divided into two groups, one taking a placebo and the other taking elderberry extract. The group given elderberry recorded a decrease of symptoms days sooner than the placebo group.6

Although the research presented seems promising, most health authorities will agree that more research is needed to confirm the health benefits of Elderberry. Some studies suggest that combination products consisting of elderflower along with various herbs may be helpful for sinusitis. Due to the usage of multiple ingredients, the role elderflower plays in their effects, if any, is unknown.4

Are there any dangerous interactions between Elderberry and medication?

At this time, there are no negative interactions reported between the usage of elderberry supplements combined with other medications.7 Unknown interactions could exist. You should always discuss the possible risks and benefits of supplemental usage with your doctor.

What are the best ways to avoid a cold or the flu?

To reduce the risk and spread of cold and flu, remember to follow the suggestions reiterated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for decades: avoid contact with those who are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after no longer having a fever controlled by medication, clean surfaces that may be contaminated, wash your hands often, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.8 Also discuss the possibility of receiving a flu shot with your doctor.

Are you experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms and do not have a general practitioner? Visit ccmhhealth.com/providers to search for one of our providers.

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Sources

1 CNNMoney. 4 March 2008. Airborne settles lawsuit for $23.3 million.
2 Jaret, Peter. 29 February 2016. Health. Immunity Boosters for Cold and Flu Season.
3 Center for Disease Control (CDC). 6 April 1984. Poisoning from Elderberry Juice — California.
4 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). September 2016. European Elder.
5 Blackburn, Nicky.Isreal 21C. 29 January 2006. Study shows Israeli elderberry extract effective against avian flu.
6 Tiralongo, Wee & Lee. 8 April 2016. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.
7 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. 4 June 2016. Elderberry.
8 Center for Disease Control (CDC). 1 August 2018. CDC Says “Take 3” Actions to Fight the Flu.

Is the Keto Diet a Safe Way to Lose Weight?

Every time you turn around, there seems to be a new fad diet that is all the buzz leading Americans to fuel a weight loss industry worth $66 billion.1 With so much for this industry to gain, it is wise  to consider if a fad diet is really in our best interest before beginning on a new path of cutting carbs, eating only raw fruits and vegetables or whatever the diet’s rules may be.

Some of the unsafe methods to weight loss that actually caught on in past decades may shock you. With individuals willing to consume sedatives to sleep more and avoid eating or consuming tapeworm eggs to decrease the amount of calories absorbed by the body, it is obvious that the nearly 3 in 4 overweight American adults1 are desperate for that quick and magical cure to better manage their weight.  Be sure to consult with your physician and ensure the results of a new diet plan do not produce new health concerns.

What is the Ketogenic diet?

If you have enjoyed the bacon loving craze in recent years, you may have been excited to learn of the Ketogenic (Keto) diet. Historically, Keto has been a successful means of controlling drug- resistant epilepsy and seizures in children since the early 20th century. Although, recently it has caught on as a new means to weight loss.

Keto is a high fat and very low carb diet. It encourages its followers to consume fewer than 50 grams of carbs a day (less than four slices of bread). Normally, the body burns carbs to produce energy. Since the body has few carbs available for energy when following a Keto diet, the body is forced into a state called ketosis and burns fat. Using ketosis to amp up weight loss is not a new concept.  Atkins, the popular diet of the early 2000’s, is another method which consists of a period of ketosis.

What are the benefits or side effects of the Keto diet?

As with any popular diet, research of the benefits and side effects of following the Keto diet are sure to continue for years to come. Although, such research is often difficult to conduct since many individuals will not stick to the diet long term. Current research by the Mayo Clinic reports that there is little evidence to show that this type of eating is safe or effective long term unless the benefits of preventing epilepsy or seizures is a factor.2

Patients of kidney disease in particular are discouraged from following this diet as it may worsen their condition. Very low carb diets also have higher rates of side effects such as headaches, constipation and bad breath as well as vomiting, tiredness when beginning the diet, and difficulty sleeping.3 To meet Keto’s requirements, many healthy foods are eliminated such as root vegetables, fruits, and legumes, making it difficult to meet daily nutritional needs.

It will be interesting to see if the ketogenic diet is a common alternative to treat certain medical conditions in the future. Generally, the diet is not recommended by practitioners as it is hard to follow and heavy on notoriously unhealthy foods such as red meat, fatty, processed, and salt-filled foods. Until a quick and magical alternative emerges that is also healthy, the same rules for weight loss apply that practitioners have been recommending for decades. To lose weight, individuals should consume a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and lots of water while exercising regularly. This seems to be the best tried and true method to maintain a healthy lifestyle while controlling weight.

If you’re struggling to manage your weight, we want to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle. You can find out more information at mmgbariatrics.com. You may also call Dr. Sawyer’s office at (580) 510-7042 to learn if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery.

 

Sources

1 Time Magazine. 5 June 2017. The Weight Loss Trap: Why Your Diet Isn’t Working.

2 Mayo Clinic. 8 March 2018. The truth behind the most popular diet trends of the moment.

3 Harvard Health Publishing. 6 July 2018. Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you?

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

1 2