We know about celebrities’ dating lives, but we don’t always know about their struggles with mental illness. Gina Rodriguez (anxiety), John Hamm (chronic depression) and Demi Lovato (bipolar disorder) have been willing to talk about what it takes to manage their disease. That’s enormously important, because stigma against mental illness keeps many people from getting the treatment they need to manage it and to accomplish their life goals.
Can you imagine a boss or family member saying to someone: “You have psoriasis? Well, pull yourself together and stop being so self-indulgent!” But that’s often said or implied to folks who are coping with emotional-health issues.
So, how do you dodge the negative effects of stigma?
1. Talk openly about your condition when appropriate. Hiding it only fosters shame and self-doubt. Mental illness, like chronic physical illness, is a disease.
2. Don’t go it alone. Seek professional help to manage the physical and emotional aspects of the disease. Remember, safe medicines and psychosocial treatments are highly effective.
3. Replace “I am bipolar,” with “I have bipolar disease.” You are not your condition.
4. Join a support group and find a buddy.
Managing any chronic disease is tough enough without having to fend off people’s ignorance. So take a stand and make sure someone (doctors, counselors, support group members, family) is standing alongside you. You’ll help your buddy as he or she helps you; the reward of helping someone makes everyone younger and healthier.
The healing touch
When “The Big Bang Theory’s” Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) finally capitulates to girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler’s (Mayim Bialik) insistence that he hold her hand, he can’t help but list what he says are the downsides of such unseemly personal contact: sweatiness, deficient hygiene and, well, “It just looks dumb.”
Just goes to show, understanding string theory isn’t much use when it comes to uncovering the powers of intimate human contact. Luckily, research scientists from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and University of Haifa in Israel were fascinated by the power of pain to disrupt relationships — and the power of touch to heal them. In their new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 22 committed heterosexual couples, 23-32 years old, were tracked before and after the woman was exposed to mild pain. The researchers found that the twosome’s brain waves fell out of sync when the woman experienced pain, and back in sync when they held hands. The brain-syncing touch eased the woman’s perception of pain.
So-called interpersonal synchronization happens when people who are close mirror one another’s physiology. But say the researchers, it appears that pain totally interrupts interpersonal synchronization between couples — and, amazingly, touch restores it.
Your touchpoint? Chronic pain disrupts the life and brainwaves of the person experiencing it; but it’s also disruptive for those near and dear. Hugs, gentle massage, holding hands, simple gestures of touching affection between various partners (how about kids and parents?) can help the person in pain feel better.
Turn off your phone
to stay in the here and now
In a “Funny or Die” PSA, Will Ferrell plays a man with his face buried in his smartphone while at his family dinner table. When his daughter announces she drew a horse that day, Ferrell responds “Good for you, son.” His son then declares, “I’m selling bongs out of our minivan.” As the overblown “confessions” snowball, Ferrell never looks up to acknowledge his crestfallen family. Funny, but sad ... and not uncommon. Almost 90 percent of you told the Pew Research Center that you used your cellphone during your most recent social gathering.
We’re pretty sure that the oblivion and disrespect that often accompanies cellphone use in social situations inflicts harm on the phone user and those nearby. A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology indicates that we’re likely right. Researchers had participants go to dinner with friends and family in groups of four or five. Half were told to leave their cellphone on the table to receive and respond to a research question. The other half were told to stash their phones, and answer a research question on paper. Turns out the phone-using group was bored and had a lousier time than the folks who interacted without digital distraction.
This comes on the heels of studies showing that a phone in a classroom dumbs kids down and notifications trigger ADHD-like symptoms of inattention. So it’s pretty clear: In social situations, turn off, tune in and take notice. The rewards are real and immediate: Developing 3-D relationships is more fun.
The ups and downs of standing desks
On opening day, March 29, all 30 MLB baseball teams will start off with the same standing. The Detroit Tigers (W-64, L-98 in 2017) will have the same standing as the Cleveland Indians (W-102, L-60). But it’s a long way to the season’s end in October, and through the season the standings probably will change many times.
According to Australian researchers, when standing positions change, that’s a good thing. As harmful as it is to be sedentary and sit down a lot (it leads to heart disease, obesity, anxiety and depression, and certain cancers) standing for too long isn’t a good idea either.
In their study, published in the journal Ergonomics, the researchers found that doing computer-related work at a standing desk for two hours caused participants’ feet to swell, and their reaction time and mental state to deteriorate. This comes on the heels of a 12-year study that found that people who had “standing” jobs (everything from being a waitperson to a coal miner) had a two-fold increase in their risk of heart disease compared with folks who got to sit down while working.
So what should you do? Lie down on the job? Well, naps do help some folks (Google allows it), but the real lesson is that standing, sitting and moving around should all be part of every day. Using adjustable desks that allow for various positions is a great idea. Stretching and moving every hour is another one. Incorporating movement into every opportunity (stairs not elevator, bike not drive, walk not sit) is brilliant!
Better advice needed
for healthy gestational weight gain
Singer Pink gained more than 55 pounds while pregnant, as did celebrity Kim Kardashian. Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson packed on over 60, and chronicled her battle to lose that weight on her reality show, “Kendra.” Each gained more weight than is recommended for her health and the health of her baby, both while pregnant and after birth. Seems even celebrity and riches don’t help women get the advice and guidance they need for a healthy pregnancy. (Apparently they didn’t read our book, “YOU: Having a Baby.”)
In fact, according to a recent study from the University of Alberta in Canada, only 30 percent of health care providers — and that includes family physicians, obstetricians and nurses — are discussing healthy gestational weight gain with their pregnant patients.
That matters, because gaining too much weight can lead to gestational diabetes, babies being born prematurely, emergency C-sections and post-pregnancy obesity, plus it can program your child in utero to become overweight later in life.
The solution? Be your own best pregnancy patient advocate and talk with your doc about your weight goal! The Institute of Medicine guidelines say that underweight women (being underweight can increase the odds of the child being underweight and also delivering prematurely) should gain from 28 to 40 pounds during pregnancy; normal-weight women, 25 to 35; overweight women, 15 to 25; obese women 11 to 20 pounds. You can determine your best weight using a BMI calculator online.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.