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Prevention & Wellness

When Depression Prompts Thoughts of Suicide

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The recent death of actor Robin Williams is prompting many people to take a hard look at depression and suicide. Suicide rates among middle-age Americans – once the least likely age group to commit suicide – is rising sharply. In fact, the rate of suicide among people age 35-64 rose 28 percent between 1999 and 2010.

There are many theories: Baby Boomers facing retirement may be under financial stress. People may struggle to care for both aging parents and their children. Or they may be affected by the growing use of strong pain medicine for age-related conditions such as arthritis.

Meg Durbin, M.D., an Internal Medicine doctor and pediatrician at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, offers these insights into depression, and tips on how to help someone at risk for suicide.

What puts someone at risk for suicide?
People who have a diagnosed mental disorder such as depression or bipolar disease are at higher risk of suicide. Substance abuse is also closely tied to suicidal thoughts, as is a family history of attempted or completed suicide. Suicide risk is also higher when someone has a serious medical history, prolonged pain and major life losses. The risk of suicide also increases in people who have a close association with another person’s suicide, and have access to the tools required to take their lives in a moment of despair. Read More

How to Prevent Common Foot Problems

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Did you know one foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments? It does. We cram this intricate structure into a narrow shoe. We pound it running, jumping, or just by standing all day. Is it any surprise that most people have foot pain at some point in their lives?

“People go out and often buy expensive shoes, spending a lot of money,” says Jeffrey M. Gregori, DPM, a podiatrist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. “But we don’t really think about the health of our feet – until they hurt.”

Dr. Gregori has these tips for three of the most common foot problems: bunions, flat feet and plantar fasciitis.

Battling Bunions Read More

A Mindfulness Practice to Try

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You may have heard of mindfulness but what is it exactly? Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the moment by focusing on your breath and on your senses of sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing. You observe your feelings and thoughts as if from a distance, without judging them.

There are many mindfulness techniques and exercises. One is as simple as conscious breathing – being fully aware of all your senses as you breathe in and breathe out.

Janetti Marotta, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who teaches mindfulness classes at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the author of the new book 50 Mindful Steps to Self-Esteem, offers this simple meditation on the breath to get started. Read More

Tips for Water Safety

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Whether it’s endless games of Marco Polo in the pool or jumping over waves at the beach, water is central to summer fun. Water safety requires vigilance. Children, in particular, are often completely unaware of the dangers that come with water activities. Even if they have had swimming lessons, young children can drown in only a few inches of water. Follow these tips from Palo Alto Medical Foundation Pediatrician LauraLe Dyner, M.D., to keep the entire family safe and healthy while enjoying the water this summer. Read More

Top Tips for Summer Sun Protection

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Nothing conjures up summer more than the warm, bright rays of the sun that beckon outdoors. But before you head to the pool or park, remember that good sun protection is a must. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) A and B rays may be invisible but can cause sunburns, skin damage, cancer and future wrinkles. Follow these tips from Palo Alto Medical Foundation Dermatologist Amy E. Gilliam, M.D., to safely enjoy your favorite outdoor activities all summer long. Read More

E-cigarettes Can Be Addictive and Harmful

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There’s been much in the news recently about e-cigarettes. In a new report published on April 14, 2014, a group of Congress members recommended the need for federal regulation of e-cigarettes, citing marketing efforts aimed at minors and a need for more information for consumers on the risks associated with inhaling nicotine vapors.

E-cigarettes, also called vape pens or e-hookahs, are made to resemble cigarettes. They are battery-operated, which allows conversion of liquid nicotine into a vapor which enters the lungs and is easily absorbed into the blood stream. There’s no tobacco, flame, smoke, tar or carbon monoxide which is probably the only good thing that can be said for this product, says Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

In this blog post, Dr. Hollenbeck answers some common questions and concerns regarding electronic cigarettes.

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