Life Transitions = Depression Risk

car-clip-art-879As my son returns to college I am fighting tears and happy at the same time. It is such a big adjustment to be away from him for several weeks at a time. I am sitting here thinking about the big impact of life transitions. We all experience them.

It is common knowledge that loss of a loved one and tragedies can increase risk of depression.

Moving, marriage, child moving out, job loss, retirement, and functional changes can increase risk of depression.

Diagnosis with a chronic illness can increase risk of depression.

As age increases, these life transitions can become more frequent.

When not recognized and addressed, depression can make you feel tired with too little energy, make it hard to concentrate and cause you to lose interest in things that you used to enjoy. It can also lead to you feeling sad and hopeless.

Depression is NOT a normal part of aging.

You do NOT have to just tolerate it and think this is your new normal.

Depression does NOT mean you have done something wrong.

There is help, and there is hope! Effective depression treatment usually requires support from people and medications. Medications that treat depression take about 8 weeks to work, so please be patient and take them every day until they work.

To further complicate things, depression is common in someone experiencing memory decline. As stated above, depression makes it harder to concentrate and remember. Cognitive or memory decline often leads to depression as the decline is recognized. Professional diagnosis and treatment is imperative to sort through what is causing what symptoms and the best course of action.

Remember, you do not have to live with depression.

If you’re interested in a depression screening, contact www.medsmash.com.

Biblical Application

If you are depressed, are you a bad person? NO!

Are you a weak Christian? NO!

Have you done something wrong? NO!

Throughout the Bible there are stories of people dealing with difficult situations, life transitions, illnesses, chronic problems. These include David and Paul and Joseph. You are not alone.

Also found throughout the Bible are messages about joy and hope. You have an eternal source of this joy and hope.

I believe part of God’s design for helping you through these difficult times is medical and psychological treatment. God gave these abilities and resources to your treatment team for your benefit.

Psalm 28:7 (NLT)

The Lord is my strength and shield.

I trust him with all my heart.

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.

I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

Hebrews 6:19 (CEV)

This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls. In fact, hope reaches behind the curtain and into the most holy place.

Romans 12:12 (NLT)

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

I’ll be praying you find the eternal joy that is yours in Christ. And I encourage you to seek God’s blessing through treatment by your healthcare providers.

Blessings,

Michelle

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I have hypertension – so what, I don’t feel any different

When your bSlide1lood pressure is elevated, most often you don’t feel anything. It is a silent condition. All medications have the potential for side effects. So many people have chosen to avoid the medications and ignore the hypertension.

So what?

If untreated, high blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to heart attacksstrokesheart failure, and other cardiovascular conditions. It really is a big deal.

So what can you do if you have hypertension?

First, take your medicine every day as prescribed! If you have side effects or problems taking it, tell your doctor or pharmacist right away.

Second, if you smoke, it is truly important that you stop. Smoking greatly increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Third, if you drink alcohol, limit yourself to 1 drink per day and let your doctor know that you drink. This way your medicine regimen can be chosen with that in mind to reduce any risks to you.

Fourth, limit your salt intake. Ideally stop using your saltshaker, rinse your canned vegetables and
cook them in fresh water, watch sodium content in foods.   Many quick and easy (heat and eat) foods are high in sodium. This can increase your blood pressure.

Fifth, maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease and makes your blood pressure harder to control. Losing weight usually requires a combination of healthier eating and exercise. Check with your doctor before you start an exercise routine to be sure it is a healthy one for you with your hypertension. (You can calculate your body mass index at this link.)

Sixth, control your diabetes. Many people with diabetes have hypertension and are overweight. Metabolic syndrome is a term to describe having hypertension; obesity, especially around your middle; high cholesterol; and diabetes. Having this syndrome is another risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

So, there are several healthy steps you can take to protect your heart and lower your blood pressure.

For more information, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

Biblical Application

Choices. We are faced with them every day. Sometimes the bad choices seem so much easier than the good choices.

Where can you find the strength and willpower to make good choices?

On your own, there are definite limits to what you can do. Temptations can be great. Life changes, whether your diet, your exercise, or a host of other areas, can be a source of great frustration. Words like procrastination, justification, avoidance, and defensiveness come to mind. Have you experienced any of these?

But you do have access to infinite strength and support.

Philippians 4:13 ESV

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 20:4 ESV

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Rather than trying to make important changes with your own strength and willpower, turn to your true power source. Take that minute by minute journey with God leading you through.

Blessings,

Michelle

Hypertension ≠ High Tension

I have Heart - NIHhad several clients who have interpreted the medical condition hypertension as ‘high tension’. They thought this was a condition related to stress. And then, several thought the condition was only present when they were feeling stressed.

How much stress is there in your life right now? How much stress is there in the world? Some of us feel stressed much of the time. Others take a laid back approach to life and rarely feel stress.

Is it true that the stressed people have hypertension and the laid back people don’t?

NO

Hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) is a medical condition that goes way beyond stress or tension. It is a complex condition that is related to our genes (which we can’t control), our environment (some of which we can control), our behaviors (which we CAN control), and likely other factors that are still to be discovered.

Because it is such a complex condition with so many systems in the body involved, there are many medications that are used to treat it. Each category, or type, of medicaion treats hypertension in a different way. So, for some people, hypertension can be controlled with one medication. For other people, it could take two, three, four, or more medications, each acting on a different aspect of the condition.

How high is too high? The very general answer is a blood pressure over 140/90 is too high based on current guidelines. If someone has a history of heart disease or diabetes or some other conditions, your doctor might give you a lower goal such as less than 130/80.

How low is too low? Too low is not a strict number. Rather, it is more related to symptoms. If you feel dizzy when you stand or turn, have seen a marked decrease in your energy since starting your hypertension medicine, or are having trouble catching your breath, talk with your doctor.

Blood pressure that gets too high can be dangerous. It can lead to a myocardial infarction (heart attack) or stroke.

So what can you do about hypertension if you have it?

Check back next week for a ‘prescription’ for lowering and controlling your blood pressure.

For more information, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

Biblical Application

Do you have stress in your life? Do you worry? Does your mind keep you awake at night thinking about all you need to do, or the things you are worried about?

I don’t know about you, but just watching the news can increase my stress level. It all seems so out of control.

It is at those times that we can be assured that God is in control. Ultimately, God wins. This universe, all of history, all current events, and the future belong to Him.

On Sunday our pastor mentioned that you could sum up the entire Bible in two words – GRACE and PEACE. Jesus came to provide access to both. His grace and peace are with us at all times; we just need to quiet ourselves, turn our hearts and minds to Him to experience it.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:34 ESV

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

1 Peter 5:7 NIV

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

John 14:27 NLT

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. God is in control.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image Source:  National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Stiff and Inflexible – Arterial Stenosis

atherosclerosis NIHSo why shouldn’t you eat all of the high fat foods that you want? They really do taste good. You know other people who eat those foods. So why shouldn’t you?

What can it hurt?

Your arteries are the part of your venous system that carry the clean, full-of-oxygen blood from your heart throughout your body. Your veins then carry the blood that has given up its oxygen to ‘feed’ your body and is now ready to go back to the heart to get a fresh supply.

In addition, your veins and arteries dilate (open up wider) or constrict (squeeze down tighter) based on the pressure needs in your body to keep the blood flowing. This ability to change how open they are is essential for blood pressure control, heart protection, kidney function, and more.

Arterial stenosis is a condition where those flexible, open tubes start to get thicker and less flexible. When this happens, they cannot respond to the body’s pressure needs as well. Specific areas where this thickening can be problematic is in the renal arteries (main arteries of the kidneys), carotid arteries (main arteries to the brain), and the aorta (main artery leaving the heart). This can cause quicker fatigue, decrease exercise tolerance, and increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Those fatty foods can increase the cholesterol in your blood. That cholesterol can then ‘stick’ to the walls of your arteries making them even more thick and inflexible.

Too much cholesterol, too little exercise, smoking, diabetes, and being overweight can all increase risk of and worsen this condition.

So, making those good decisions about the food you eat, getting regular exercise, and not smoking can keep your blood flowing easily. This will keep your heart, your kidneys, your brain healthy and keep you living your dreams!

For more information, contact us at www.medsmash.com.  There you can find a short movie demonstration of a clean verses a stenotic artery.

Biblical Application

How often do we become too stiff and inflexible in our lives? Has God ever compelled you to do something, and you ignored or refused?

Have you ever had your feelings hurt and shunned the person who hurt you without trying to talk it through?

Do you know anyone who has stopped going to church or attending church functions because they don’t agree with some aspect of the service, or the people in leadership, or who sits where, or whatever reason?

Why do we get so caught up in small matters that we miss the BIG PICTURE of love and grace and eternity?

Like thickening of our arteries, sin, greed, jealousy, strife, self-interests can thicken our spiritual life-line causing us to be inflexible and obstinate.

God’s word mentions the stubbornness of us humans from the very first book.

Genesis 16:12 ESV

He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

Psalm 81:11-12 ESV

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels.

Hosea 4:16 ESV

Like a stubborn heifer, Israel is stubborn; can the Lord now feed them like a lamb in a broad pasture?

2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Job 36:11 NIV

If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.

The only way I will keep a pliable, obedient spirit in the larger decisions is to look to Him and to obey in the smaller ones.”  Catherine Marshall

Next time you’re feeling irritable and obstinate, take a minute to reconnect with the One who can keep your spiritual arteries clean and flowing. Let His love and acceptance flow unimpeded through you with prayer, time in the Bible, and fellowship with faithful people.

Blessings,

Michelle

Image source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Vision – do we see things the same way?

Our viIMG_3357sion is so important. It helps with orientation, recognition of people and things, understanding our surroundings, keeping us safe, and so much more.

When you look at something, does everyone else see it exactly the same way?

The eye is a complex organ. It is worth protection. Following are just a few common disorders that can alter vision. Included is a brief description of how this condition can alter vision.

Color blindness – In our eyes there are rods and cones that are responsible for our vision. The cones control color vision. They are primarily red, green, and blue. Some people, 5-8% of men and up to 1% of women, inherit genes that impair their ability to see colors. The most common variety is red-green color blindness or decreased perception. People with this condition don’t see the bright versions of these colors, and in some instances can’t differentiate the colors at all. Other variations are blue-green color blindness and difficulty with all colors.

Glaucoma – This is caused by fluid build-up in the eye leading to pressure that damages vision. The added pressure can decrease vision to the point of blindness, especially if not treated. Over 2 million people in the US have open-angle glaucoma, the more common type. The incidence goes up after middle age. You often don’t notice any change until there is significant vision loss. Loss of vision around the edges usually occurs first. Testing for this is one of the key reasons for a thorough vision exam regularly.

Cataract – Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. It is a clouding of the lens of the eye making your vision look cloudy. It is treatable with an outpatient surgery, in most cases. Medicare pays for most of the surgery and follow up resources such as eyeglasses and lenses. Again, a regular vision screen can identify cataracts early and determine when the time is right for correction.

Macular degeneration – This condition is age-related and the leading case of vision decline in people over age 65. With macular degeneration, it is difficult to focus clearly on things in the central vision. This makes reading and face recognition difficult. There are few treatments for this, and the damage is permanent.

Diabetic retinopathy – This is a complication of diabetes and can be controlled and prevented with good blood sugar and blood pressure control. It is the leading cause of blindness in working adults in the US. As blood vessels in the retina of the eye are damaged, there is an appearance of dark spots in the vision.

To keep your eyes healthy, get regular (frequency guided by your eye doctor) dilated eye exams to catch problems early. Wear protective glasses when mowing, weed eating, or other activities that could cause anything to fly into your eye. Protect them with sunglasses on these bright summer days. If you are a tech junky, give your eyes a rest to reduce strain. For each 20 minutes at the computer, look away about 20 feet for at least 20 seconds.

So for many reasons, we do not all see things in the same way.

For more information, contact us at www.medsmash.com.

BIBLICAL APPLICATION

In our daily life and faith, do we all ‘see’ things the same way? Have you ever been in a Bible study or discussion and marveled at the varying insights from people reading the same passages?

What can alter our perceptions? In our lives and our faith, these factors and more impact each of us:

  • Life experiences to date
  • Bible knowledge – amount of reading and study
  • Current place in faith walk
  • Current stressors and distractions
  • Current openness to God’s message
  • The individual gifts and abilities we each have

Our spiritual eyes, like our physical eyes, can be damaged. False messages, discouragement, sin, poor choices all impact our ability to ‘see’ God.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites repeatedly made decisions in opposition to God’s messages through the prophets.  Often their ‘view’ of reality was so skewed, and that led them further and further in to trouble.  See Jeremiah 44:11-30.  People were giving tribute to their offerings for the ‘Queen of Heaven’ rather than the one true God.

Thankfully, differences in opinion are not always bad.   When shared in love with the intent to build each other up, diversity of perspective can richly enhance our understanding.

And in prayer, study, and communication with God, we can ‘see’ His plans and His answers.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

Romans 14:13 NIV

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

Praying you ‘see’ clearly God’s plans for your life.

Blessings,

Michelle