Tips for Beating the Winter Blues – Seasonal Affective Disorder

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A Nature Bright SunTouch Therapy Lamp 

As the dreaded end of daylight saving time (Nov. 4) peaks around the corner for those who love their sunlight, it’s time for some tips to combat the winter blues.

Not everyone gets slumped down enough to qualify as having seasonal depression, but you can tell there might be a general drop in energy among your friends and family. School is ramping up during this time. Everyone working seems busy with trying to get projects finished before the Holidays. And a walk around the block becomes suddenly less appealing below 55 degrees.

If you are finding difficulty functioning as well as you used to, you may be a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Here are some medically-backed, but non-prescription, tips for surviving the winter blues and keeping your energy levels up.

A Therapy Lamp

There are so many options out there for therapy lamps on the Internet, shoppers might be confused as to what qualifies as a therapy lamp and what is the best lamp to purchase. Here are some answers based on experience and science.

Medical Literature recommends at least 10,000 LUX for the brightness. Many therapy lamps around or under the $100 range fit the bill.

NatureBright SunTouch Plus is a top seller which is also the featured picture above. When I bought one a few years ago, they sold for around $75 but now appear to be around $50.

Buy directly from the seller to avoid a fake product.

Note: Do NOT use the ionizer on the SunTouch or any lamp. While companies claim negative ionization is better, people aren’t made to breathe ionized air and its safety hasn’t been established.

The pic above shows the spectrum of light that the lamp provides but this colorful effect is only seen when using a camera. When using the lamp, the light will actually look like a white, bright, more natural light to your eyes.

If you want to go all the way in your light therapy, a friend recommends the $475 Sunsqare+. The cost may be burdensome to some but my friend reports it truly is like having a mini sun of your own in your bedroom:

SubBox SunSquare +

Vitamin D3 Supplements

Vitamin D3 is one of the most important vitamins for mental health and feeling energetic. Get a blood test at your doctor’s to find out your levels during the winter and if it’s a good idea to take a supplement.

Many people take a 1,000 IU D3 supplement in their multivitamin, which is perfectly safe. However, if your blood levels are low, your doctor may recommend up to 50,000 IU once a week.

Taking too much Vitamin D3 can cause excess calcium in your blood. Many vitamins are safe to take at high levels, but because D3 can cause hypercalcemia, a blood test is recommended to figure out how much of the vitamin should be taken.

Exercise – Either Cardio or Strength Training

There’s a debate whether cardio or strength training and weight lifting is best for depression. Honestly it doesn’t matter much as long as you’re doing it. Whatever you enjoy the most and are the most likely to continue performing is best.

Doctors might recommend cardio over strength training, but there is growing evidence for adding strength training or just doing strength training alone. The recommended time for exercise is at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week.

Many gyms such as Planet Fitness and Crunch offer monthly rates as low at $10 a month. With gyms being cheaper than ever, there’s no excuse not to join one if you don’t already have a weekly workout routine.

Hot Baths

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Hot baths can actually have a great benefit for relieving depression symptoms. There’s many inflammation theories of depression and so a warm to hot bath can have a relaxing effect on your body and lower stress hormones that may throw off your sleep cycle.

Bomb baths and fancy perfumed products can dry your skin. But you can add a teaspoon of an essential oil such as lavender with an unscented gel body wash and create your own aromatherapy bath.

Go Outside and Don’t Live in Alaska

Going outside during the day can pretty much cover all the above suggestions—a winter sport especially will get the blood pumping. The only area you might need help is for the Vitamin D. There’s a maximum amount of Vitamin D your body can produce with sunlight. Many people aren’t getting enough even if they do go outside. So get that blood work done!

Alaska and other northern and southern latitudes have Seasonal Affective Disorder rates at almost 10x higher than other parts of the world. This list may especially useful for people living in these low-light areas.

They have nice tax incentives to move to Alaska. But, if you are a person who loves your sunlight, don’t live there. Just don’t live in Alaska. There’s not much in Alaska anyway besides the Aurora Borealis.

These have been tips that work for me and I can cite references if anyone has questions.

Hopefully I’ll go on vacation to tropical island and get some sun and warm weather come December. Vacation is never a bad idea if you need a mental health break.

Be well this winter!

 

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National Inflation Association Article Comment

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Inflation chart by user Monkeyman (Creative Commons SA 3.0)

Things got heated in my comments section back in 2010-2011 on

Fact Checking The National Inflation Association And its Hyperinflation Fear-Mongering.

I didn’t have the time to address all the bad information. And honestly I didn’t consider it worth my time even if did have it.

But I have some extra good free time lately, some more health care policy wisdom, and the power of hindsight. Why not?

A user named Flagrantbagel left a supportive comment on my NIA article:

The following is an unedited copy of someone’s reply to Flagrantbagel.

Left January 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Deepblue

You won’t support someone because they’re supported by Steve Forbes, but you’ll support someone financed and endorsed by George Soros?

I’d suggest you research the “Quantum fund” and find out how the “Man who broke the bank of England” made his money. Note also that this very same man, George Soros, was branded (and convicted) in Thailand as an “economic war criminal” who “sucks the blood from the people” after causing the Asian Debt Crisis in ’97. Soros, the man also behind the collapse of the Russian currency, the ruble, in ’99 and afterward publically boasted that “the former Soviet Empire is now called the Soros Empire.”(Google “Russiagate”). Just look up Soros’ *** latest conviction *** in June of 2006 in France for his attempt to takeover the Societe Generale bank.

Soros is the most notorious derivatives trader in History.. and who are we told created America’s financial crisis by every pundit? Deriviatives traders and speculators. Odd that such a speculator would be the largest financial contributor to the “just happened to inherit it” administration and all it’s various supporting “progressive” organizations, isn’t it? Yet you seem to support this all unabashedly.

Here’s a suggestion. While you’re busy NOT doing your research, you might want to glimpse at Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, also known as the Taxing and Spending Clause… a.k.a. – “The Power of the Purse.”

It declares that it is *** Congress *** and *** NOT *** The President who is in control of all spending. Even More specifically, that this power rests in the House of Representatives, where *** ALL *** spending (“Appropriations”) bills are introduced.

Fact check this. It is a list of Speakers of the House by year:

Carl Albert (D) 92nd – 94th Congress 1/21/71 – 1/03/77
Tip O’Niell (D) 95th – 99th Congress 1/03/77 – 1/03/87
Jim Wright (D) 100th – 101st Congress 1/06/87 – 6/06/89
Tom Foley (D) 102nd – 103rd Congress 6/06/89 – 1/03/95
Newt Gingrich (R) 104th – 105th Congress 1/04/95 – 1/03/99
Dennis Hastert (R) 106th – 109th Congress 1/06/99 – 1/03/07
Nancy Pelosi (D) 110th – 111th Congress 1/04/07 – 1/03/11

Now compare the Federal deficit by who controls the House (spending) on this handy dandy ‘Chart of Federal Debt’ published in the left-wing rag Esquire Magazine.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/federal-deficit-graph-071210

You will see that spending increased from the moment Democrats took control of the House in 1955 until they finally lost control of the House in 1995 and note the MASSIVE decrease which caused the “surpluses” IMMEDIATELY coincided with Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, and continued under the Republicans right up until the morning of September 11th, 2001. Wonder what happened then?

But don’t trust me. Go confirm it for yourself. Go straight to the horse’s mouth and hear Clinton tell you WHY *** HE *** shut down the Federal Government to prevent the budget from being balanced by 1997 under the Republican plan – SIX YEARS before he was willing to allow it to be done. Note once again that the President’s *** ONLY *** budgetary power is to VETO appropriations bills.

Because all spending comes from Congress, when a President repeatedly VETOES the Appropriations bills, the government runs out of money and must be “shut down.”

Source – Bill Clinton’s radio address 12/16/95 regarding the House’s proposed 96 budget:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/PresidentialRadioAddress79

According to Clinton, the *** ONLY *** possible way to balance the budget is to follow HIS plan, which is to “balance” the budget by 2003 – 3 YEARS AFTER he has left office. Balancing the budget any sooner, according to Clinton, will:
• Deny Children Health Care
• Deny them Schooling
• Eliminate the School Lunch program
• Deny Children Safe Places to live
• “Deny them Air and Water that is safe to breath and drink”
• Eliminate Head Start
• Cut efforts to keep drugs and violence out of our schools
• Undermine “Our efforts to meet educational standards of excellence”
• End the Americorp program
• Eliminate 350,000 scholarships
• Take away “the Best student loans programs”
• “will raise taxes” – Note, “raising taxes”, in this context is liar speak meaning that because government will not be able pay people’s expenses, they will be forced to pay for things themselves… i.e. Paying for things is a “tax”
• “Children will be exposed to hazardous Waste”
• There will be larger class sizes
• “10 MILLION” people will be “forced to live near toxic waste sites” that “will not be cleaned”
• Fewer children will be immunized
• Millions will be force from Medicaid and onto Medicare adding millions to the Medicare roles
• Millions will be denied adequate medical care
• “1 MILLION people will be forced into poverty”

Listen to it yourself. I entreat you.

…”And THIS is why I William J Clinton will shut down the government by vetoing the REPUBLICAN BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT… because “I will not let them hurt our children” 12/16/1995

Note: the dramatic Medicare cuts which Clinton is attributing to child rape, torture, and murder was claimed, by Democrats, to “Slash” Medicare by *** $38.5 billion a year *** for 7 years.

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/09/16/us/gop-s-plan-to-cut-medicare-faces-a-veto-clinton-promises.html

Funny how a greatly exaggerated $38.5 billion Republican cut caused all of that, but when a Democrat (Barrack Obama) cuts over HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS – a.k.a. over FIVE HUNDRED BILLION – from an already insolvent Medicare system, it will only “add efficiency” and cut “waste”.

Liar. Thy name is Democrat.

First I want to clarify I am article OP, not the comment OP – Flagrantbagel. I personally have no love for nor advanced conceptualizations of George Soros.

I am not tricked into thinking billionaires’ have great content of character just because they own some philanthropic organizations.

> “Fact Check this”

Oh, I will.

Deepblue did a massive information dump, which is a handy trick to sound smarter than you really are in debates. I will address this by order of importance of his claims.

Medicare

Romney’s right: Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion. Here’s how.

Sarah Kliff: “The majority of the cuts, as you can see in this chart below, come from reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and private health insurance companies.”

If Deepblue wants to come back and argue about health care policy, I am more than willing to do that. I personally believe that top hospital administrators need to get paid less in order to tackle the budget problems of administrative bloat. Cutting Medicare reimbursements is a necessary step towards balancing the entitlements portion of the national budget.

I am not happy with how the think tanks lately have been discussing cutting Medicare reimbursement by 40% for Medicare-for-All. That is too steep, too fast and could potentially disrupt services.

The ACA cuts that Deepblue refers to, however, were no where near that drastic and the Medicare-For-All bill at this point is more symbolic than a hard proposal.

Bill Clinton’s Speech

I took up his offer and listened to this C-span speech he linked. From 1995. Since apparently these “Liar, thy name is Democrat” people can’t let Bill Clinton go years later.

The thing about budgets, a fact that that Deepblue skirts, is that they are mostly planned FOR THE FUTURE. Federal, state, local budgets. They are all decided on in advance and don’t kick in as soon as they are passed, except for the immediate money needed to keep services running.

All those bullet points are indeed possibilities of Republican proposed tax cuts. Both now and in 1995. Children, students, and the chronically impoverished are extremely different affected populations than those affected by Obama’s Medicare reimbursement cuts, which are mostly eaten by the hospitals and insurance companies.

“you might want to glimpse at Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution”

I have inside info that Flagrantbagel might actually be lawyer. I’m sure he HAS looked at Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution sometime at school.

You do not want to get into an argument about the case law precedent of presidential powers involving taxation with me or Flagrantbagel, Deepblue.

You will not win.

That is all for today.

NYC Allegedly Mishandles 50 Cases of DNA Rape Evidence

Sorry to go to from funny to serious in one post. But, Jesus fuck, this is outrageous.

Via NY1:

City Council Members Demand More Transparency From Medical Examiner’s Office

On top of demanding answers about that particular case, City Council members were looking for more general accountability from the ME following revelations the office mishandled DNA evidence in over 50 rape cases.

This is on top of the picture scandal in the Bronx over a dead body hanging out in a health department truck with household trash bags.

Demand transparency from your state. Demand transparency from your health care professionals.

I’ve spent too much time working in healthcare to know that providers who make mistakes are often not above covering their own tracks.

Sigh.

“Your local pharmacist is not who you think they are.”

Back before my fake freelance writing gig fell through, I tried to maneuver into a niche as a healthcare writer.

One of the articles-for-moms I wrote was about how pharmacists are vastly underutilized as health care providers.  (Tl;dr-Lifehacker edition: If you have a medical question or want a second opinion on meds, you should just go up to the counter at a store pharmacy and ask. Pharmacists have 7 years of medical education and they’re free.)

I found a TedxTalk by a pharmacist that addresses this exact underutilization issue:

Pretty good, although dry to watch if you’re not also a provider.

Pharmacists are important because doctors make mistakes. Doctors make prescribing mistakes at alarmingly high rates. If patients asked more questions and pharmacists spent more time on each individual, it would probably save a lot of lives.

One of the aspects of the profession I noted that the lecturer didn’t address is that the way corporations run retail pharmacies makes the kind of access he idealizes impossible. With immunizations and peripheral paperwork, pharmacists simply don’t have the man-hours to counsel every new patient. Any intern who has done a rotation at a high-volume chain knows this already. But I guess the Talk was already too long to go into a tangent about how for-profit-healthcare is fucking awful.

——–

Footnote on my ventures in my fake freelance writing career:  I was interviewed a few months ago by a health care education group for their company’s blog. They wanted my “expert” opinion on formal education and training for pharmacy technicians.

My answer was, “Don’t go to school because you will be automatically less hireable than precocious college kids willing to work for near-minimum wage.”

They thanked me and then totally did not publish the interview.

Fact Checking “ObamaCare Yay Or Nay? The Truth About Canada!”

This is response to the following youtube video with over a half million hits:

The video was hosted by the annoying, stand-up comedian and FoxNews commentator, Steven Crowder, for Tea Party movement pimp PJTV.

In addition to being not funny and having obnoxious amounts of dude-man-bro-awesome Dane Cook frat boy, there’s a lot of the “truth” in the video about health care in Canada that’s just anecdotal stylization about waiting.

00:06  “Socialized Health Care!  Isn’t it about time we get on board?”  First words of the video, followed by clips of people talking about universal health care.  I’m going to make probably the most relevant point of the entire America-Canada health care system debate:  Canada does not have a socialized health care system.  They have a public INSURANCE system, and private insurance and health care providers also exist.  

“Socialized Medicine” has sketchy semantic connotations, but generally refers to a health care program run by the government. In the United Kingdom’s publicly- funded National Health Service, most general practitioners are independent contractors, which means that they are self-employed but also have a contract with the government to provide specific services on certain terms.  Even the more left-wing proposed legislation (not ObamaCare) in the US, which seeks to establish universal government-backed insurance, does not reach the government involvement of UK’s NHS levels.

Conservatives have recently been attempting to label any publicly-funded (tax payer-funded) system, including insurance, as “socialized medicine.”  But with that definition, the United States already has socialized medicine; it’s called Medicare.  Medicare is available to the disabled or retired, and it has higher satisfaction and performance rates as opposed to private insurance.

2:15  Steven and his homeboys go to the Clinique Médicale Urgence St-Hubert on a weekend but it’s closed. From all the French, we can establish they are in Quebec, Canada.   Funding for the health insurance is provided by the province, not directly from the federal government, so viewers should note Canadian quality may vary by province.

2:57  “Take a number.  The nurse will call with the number.” “Triage… which means we wait and get judged by a nurse.” (3:15)  They told the staff at the the hospital that they were not urgent.  In my experience, in private hospitals in the US, prioritizing by urgency works the same way.

4:24  Steve is denied a plastic glove to play with.  Tragic.  No rooster blow up doll for you.

5:05 They get tired of waiting at the hospital and leave.  With no accompanying footage, Steve tells anecdotal stories about other people in the waiting room.

7:25  They go back to the clinic the next day and the clinician tells them that they don’t offer cholesterol blood tests.  That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.  There’s no point in getting your cholesterol checked by a walk-in clinic, because you should go to primary doctor for a chronic condition.

8:01 The clinician says that it’s $900 for a private clinic check up.  What?!  That’s about $937 US dollars.  That figure doesn’t make sense.  The woman’s English was clearly not fluent.  There are private clinics that offer MRIs for only $695.

15:22  “The average wait time to see a specialist in Canada is 17.3 weeks.”  He didn’t cite a source for that figure, or how it was calculated, if it included outliers.  Here’s a study that says 51% of Quebec patients waiting to see a specialist do so within a month.

16:05 “It’s proven to be terribly inefficient.”  Using what standard?  Certainly not cost.  The per capita health care spending of Canada is nearly half that of the United States.

17:05 “Socialism creates a safety net…”  Followed up by footage from a Subway.  Canadian sandwich shops are Socialist because they cost more?  I think I missed the sandwich-standard definition of Socialism in school.

19:58 “Do you still think Obama is moving us in the right direction here?”  Thanks, Steve, for actually talking about ObamaCare anywhere in the video.

Most parts of the video I didn’t address were just a series of medical horror stories from random interviewed Canadians.  You can find stories like that anywhere about any health care system.

Recap:  Canada is not Socialist.  Health care in Canada sucks, but health care in America still sucks more.  Everyone wants free, efficient doctors.  No one still knows anything about ObamaCare.  And Steven Crowder is about as funny as Dane Cook and Michelle Bachman’s lovechild.

HIghDEA #1: Health Care Reform

I smoked a bowl and was thinking about our health care system.

I think the key to making government-insured health care work is through a transition by consumer demand.   McCain was right about moving health care benefits away from employer-sponsored plans:  give tax breaks/credits to those that do move away from employment based insurance.  BUT:  this will then raise premiums for people with pre-existing conditions or ill health that are dependent on current plans.

To compensate for this, the government  should create a baseline guide for insurance encompassing premiums/deductibles/co-pays.  Those with shitty primary plans that fail to meet the all of the criteria, will qualify for a cheap, single-payer co-pay assistance plan as secondary insurance insurance.  Those that have this co-pay assistance will, after one year, qualify for a premium deduction for a Medicare buy-in.

It will keep primary, private insurance costs in check, and fix the problem of people feeling like they don’t have a choice.

The main problem with this plan, as always, is funding… I need to buy another eighth and read about the economics of health care.

On being one of the 46 million uninsured Americans.

I’m 21 and a part-time student.  The only time I’ve had medical insurance in the last 10 years was accident and sickness insurance from my college, which was bundled into my massive $43,000 private school tuition costs.  This insurance, had I needed it, would have covered a couple clinic visits, only a couple thousand in hospital bills (maybe an MRI, anything else and I’d be fucked), and $100 worth of Rxes. (My Ambien CR alone was $180 for 30 tablets.)

When I was in high school, my high school referred my mom to NJFamilyCare but we had too much in assets– my parents were living off borrowed money for years.

Things I’ve learned since turning 18 about how to survive without insurance:

1.   Get a reasonable primary care doctor.  Mine’s a dick and will only give me a month refill at a time so I’d have to spend $100 to go in just so he could write me a new script for the same stuff.  If it’s a maintenance medication that you’ve been on for a while, unless you’re being monitored for changes, you should get a 6 month supply.

2 . Planned Parenthood for gynecological health.  I was a little worried I would get sub-par care at an abortion factory, but Planned Parenthood turned out to be the shit.  They were quicker and more professional than my regular gyn, and I will never go back to that lame office (2 month wait for an annual exam, wtf?) again.

Prices vary per clinic, but I went to one for an exam, comprehensive testing (pap, HIV, Chlamydia), and birth control.  I got a 2 months supply of a low-hormone generic birth control right at the clinic and the total bill at the end of the day  $98.

Also, they were able to get me on a prescription assistance program and I was able to get my first shot of the HPV vaccine for only $31.

3.  On that note, you can ask your physician about prescription assistance programs, for certain medications.  They’re usually offered by the pharmaceutical company and go by the federal poverty line for income.

4.  AAA prescription discount.  If you cant afford insurance, most likely you can’t afford a motor club plan, but in case you do, you can get Rx discount.

5.   Keep your eye open for free deals.  Some hospitals offer free clinics for routine procedures like breast exams and pap smears.  I’ve seen flyers for these clinics in doctor’s offices.

The dentist I switched to offered a free exam and free Xray to all new customers, so I coupled that with a cleaning, all for $90.

6.  Ask questions and avoid unnecessary testing.  Every time a doctor recommends a procedure, ask how much it will cost.  If you don’t understand why you need it, ask why.

If you’re in the ER, ask if your doctor is a resident, what year (first years have the least experience), and if they cleared all procedures with their attending.

Doctors are not infallible human beings.  Thousands of mistakes are made each year and sometimes people die as a result.  If something really doesn’t feel right, get a second opinion.