Ask Dr. Annie K: Legitimizing Mental Illness

I recently felt the need to take a mental health day off work. I had to tell my boss I was also feeling physical illness symptoms in order to justify my absence. Why does society act as if leave from work is only justified if I am physically ill?

– Anonymous

Dear Reader,

You have touched on a very sensitive topic for me. What you are describing is having to “legitimize” your illness by adding physical complaints. 

Unfortunately, even in this day and age, mental illness is treated differently than other illnesses. It is considered a weakness to have a mental health problem. People expect you can just “get over it.” Just eat healthy, exercise, breathe and it will go away.

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Ask Dr. Annie K: Post-Menopause

 

I am 5 years post menopausal and feel like crap. Going through menopause was/is one of the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I went through at the early age of 43 🙁 I haven’t felt like me in years. I have always exercised and I eat a very healthy diet comprised mainly of veggies, but I’m fatter then I’ve ever been and gaining by the years. I am so tired of people telling me this is a normal part of aging! I have seen plenty of older women that still look and feel amazing. How do I know if my hormones are out of whack? What can I do if they are? I don’t like to take any medications if possible.

Love+Medicine

Thank you for asking about this very important issue, one that troubles many women. Our knowledge and understanding of menopause is pretty pathetic, considering all women go through it!

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Hello darkness, my old friend.

I can appreciate the change of season by the end of summer. I am drawn to the orange, brown, maroon tones of fall fashion. I love to climb up on a chair to retrieve the crockpot that has been stored over the summer. Pumpkin, sweet potato and squash replace the tomatoes, zucchini and corn in the basket in the kitchen. Logs are collected and stacked up by the fireplace. The paddle board and outdoor furniture are tucked safely away from the elements. The outdoor shower pipe is shut off, hopefully in time for the first freeze.

This is the time of year when darkness sets in early, before we get home from work. The temperature is cold. The predominant color is gray. The decrease in hours of natural sunlight is dramatic.

All of these external changes effect us internally. Humans and other animals are extremely sensitive to changes in the environment. This is a good thing, we want to be in tune with nature. We need to recognize the changes and adjust.

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Why We Need To talk About Sex

Love+Medicine Pillows

The Pelvic Health Collaborative invited me to present a lecture about the importance of talking about sex with patients. I passionately believe it should be an integral part of an evaluation of an individuals’ overall health and well-being. Any discussion with adult patients tends to be site/disease specific, i.e., after prostate surgery or heart attack. But what about patients with Crohn’s disease, arthritis, anxiety or obesity that are not considered directly related to sex? Are we asking these patients about their sex lives? We need to be. Because everything can affect sex and sex can affect everything.

An article was published in the New York Times entitled “When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?” Kids are not talking to their parents, their friends, or their doctors, so they turn to the Internet. The access is so easy and anonymous – straight from the smart phone. This is where they are learning how it is done. Is it any wonder performance anxiety is on the rise? What happens to expectations after watching internet porn? While some strides were made during the last administration in promoting comprehensive sex education, it was removed from the 2018 federal budget.

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The Chosen People?

TEVYE: I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in awhile, can’t You choose someone else?

Jewish people are roughly divided into two main groups; Ashkenazic and Sephardic. Simply stated, Ashkenazic Jews are from Central or Eastern Europe while Sephardic Jews are from Spain and the Middle East. While people from any ethnic group can develop genetic disease, Ashkenazic Jews are at higher risk of certain diseases because of specific genetic mutations. They are, in general, a more genetically homogenous group compared to the Sephardic Jews.

A study done in 2014 and published in Nature Communications found that today’s population of 10 million Ashkenazic Jews descended from a core group of 350 people 600-800 years back. This small group, referred to as a population “bottleneck”, passed on the same genes to the next generations, putting them at higher risk of certain genetic mutations. Scary thought. 75-90% of American Jews are Ashkenazic. The Ashkenazic Jewish population are at a higher risk of over 100 different diseases. 

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