Thursday, August 12th, 2010 at
Have you ever claimed you were sick at 99 degrees, or believed your tummy ache is the sign of something bigger? Sure, we’ve all exaggerated our aches and pains and claimed we are sicker than it seems, but these are also common signs of hypochondria. According to MayoClinic’s Web site, hypochondria is a chronic mental illness, in which people fear they have an undiagnosed serious or life-threatening disease. Experts have linked hypochondria to obsessive-compulsive disorder, because they both exhibit debilitating and overwhelming effects on the human body and mind. If you find yourself endlessly seeking medical care for a condition that doctors say you don’t have, you may be one of the many people who are suffering from hypochondria. Here are 10 signs you’re a hypochondriac:
- You’re fearful or anxious about having an undiagnosed disease or condition
Those with hypochondria believe they have an underlying disease or life-threatening condition, based on normal bodily sensations, pains or symptoms. Whether you’ve had a previous health condition or are healthy as can be, the fear of your undiagnosed disease continues to eat at you. If you find yourself excessively fearful or anxious about your health and are convinced that you have a disease, you may be a hypochondriac.
- You worry that every sensation or symptom means you are sick
No matter how minor the pain, twitch or sensation is, you think this means you may have a serious disease. For example, a headache means you have a brain tumor, or an upset stomach means you have a digestive condition or cancer. If you find yourself obsessing over certain feelings or sensations and worrying that you’re sick, you may be a hypochondriac.
- You go to the doctor and seek examinations repeatedly
In an effort to find the underlying disease or life-threatening condition you think you have, you’ll visit the doctor repeatedly to have tests, examinations and analyses done. If you find yourself visiting the doctor more often than usual and leaving their office with a clean bill of health, but continue to believe you’re sick, you might be a hypochondriac.
- You switch doctors often
When you’re convinced that you have a life-threatening disease and your current doctor tells you that you’re healthy and nothing is wrong, but you continue to switch doctors, hoping one will find something, you may be a hypochondriac. You may become frustrated with doctors and health care because you feel you aren’t receiving proper treatment, despite the doctor’s reassurance that you are well.
- You have social anxiety and strained relationships
Thinking you’re always sick takes a toll on your social life and relationships. You may find yourself staying at home a lot, avoiding social interaction and ignoring friends, family and others for various health and anxiety reasons. If you’re unable to find happiness spending time with your loved ones and all you can think about is your life-threatening disease, then you may be a hypochondriac.
- You obsess over health research
When doctors turn you away or refuse further examinations, you may do thorough health research of your own. You may go to the Internet, read health books or watch television shows that explain symptoms and diseases you think you have. After your research, you are convinced that you have an illness that you read or heard about.
- You obsessively check your body for signs
Your heightened body awareness leads you to obsessively check your body for problem signs, such as lumps, bumps, sores, bruises to support your belief that you have a condition or deadly disease. Even when your doctor says the bump is nothing to worry about, you continue to seek examinations and further consultations.
- You frequently check your vital signs
Whenever you’re not having a doctor or nurse do it, you have your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and other vital signs checked. Checking your vital signs allows you to take your health into your own hands and keep a close eye on these bodily functions. Whenever you spot any irregularities, you’ll have a reason to go to the doctor.
- You experience emotional distress
Your excessive fear and anxiety that you may be seriously ill can cause major emotional distress, such as depression, anger and frustration, as well as obsessive/compulsive behaviors and stress. If you are experiencing similar signs of emotional distress, you might be a hypochondriac.
- You have substance abuse problems
If you find yourself abusing any substance, including alcohol, illegal substances and over-the-counter medicine like painkillers, Tylenol or Advil, you may be exhibiting signs of a hypochondriac. The emotional distress, anxiety and pain that stems from this mental illness may push you towards abusing substances.
Thursday, August 5th, 2010 at
We rely on our memories every day to accomplish daily tasks, tell stories and stay organized. Despite our memory dependency, those who don’t use it will lose it. Thankfully, there are several ways to keep your memory fresh and retain important information. Here are 10 ways to improve your memory:
- Pay Closer Attention
If we all paid closer attention to the things we were told, our memories would be excellent. But, considering the amount of distractions that surround us, and the little amount of information that we retain everyday, it takes more effort to strengthen your memory. If you have a short attention span or weak listening skills, try adjusting some of your bad habits. For instance, when receiving important information in-person try to keep consistent eye contact, take notes, sit up straight and ask questions. Becoming more engaged in a conversation, lecture, interview and virtually all encounters will help you retain more information and improve your memory.
- Take Pictures
If you want to remember the important events of your life, take pictures and label them. Pictures evoke emotions and trigger memories that you may otherwise forget. One way to make memories more clear is to label pictures, noting the place, date and who’s in the picture.
- Eat Right
Most people underestimate the role of diet in intelligence and memory. Low blood glucose can cause fatigue, not just physically, but also mentally. A good strategy to avoid this type of fatigue is to eat several small meals throughout the day to maintain a steady blood glucose level and ensure your energy level does not dip between meals. This will help your brain to function at its best throughout the day and improve your memory and deductive skills.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Like diet, sleep is an often underestimated part of brain functionality. When we sleep, our brain waves shift and our mind enters a state of rest and recuperation. Deep sleep is particularly helpful because it allows the brain time to form new neuronal connections and organize memories for easy retrieval when awake. Dreaming is also an integral part of the stress-relief process, which will clear your mind and allow for quicker learning and retention. Don’t underestimate the role of a good night’s sleep. Getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night can be crucial when trying to remember vast amounts of information.
If your desk is cluttered with meaningless junk, chances are your brain is dealing with the same problem. In order to avoid clutter that can interfere with normal cognitive processes, organize the important things around you. Sometimes, even separating things to remember by general subject (i.e. to do or bills) is enough to keep things straight in your mind. Also, organizing will not only help you eliminate clutter, but it can also provide an easy way to save your brain the trouble of remembering tedious and unimportant information.
The brain is very efficient at recognizing and categorizing patterns. The best way to reinforce a pattern is through repetition. Repeating the same task or phrase over and over again is one of the most efficient ways to memorize. This happens because the brain registers this information as a top priority and stores it in an accessible part of the brain. Flash cards, questioning and good old-fashioned talking to yourself, remain some of the best methods of memorizing and improving memory.
- Sign Posting
One way to improve your brain’s ability to recall information is to attach a sign post to that information, which is easy to recall. What is a sign post? It can be a pneumonic device (an easily remembered phrase which helps to recall information), or a simple image that is attached to a given set of information. When you need to recall that information, simply remember the sign post and your brain will link that sign post with the information you need. Sign posting is a very effective technique and with some practice anyone can use sign posting to recall information quickly and accurately.
- Talk and Ask Questions
One of the best ways to improve your memory and keep it fresh is to talk and ask questions. Talking with friends and family about old memories and past events will keep your long-term memory in-check. If you’ve lived a long, full life, share it with children, grandchildren, friends and others through storytelling. Talking about historical events or emotional experiences is beneficial to your memory and state of awareness, as well as the memory and education of those listening.
- Brain Exercises
In order to improve your memory, you’ve got to exercise your brain. Brain exercises can be in the form of reading, playing trivia games, crossword puzzles or writing.
- Keep Learning
Whether you take a cooking, painting or world history class, learning is one of the best ways to exercise your memory and store new information. You don’t have to be enrolled in a class to keep learning either; you can take up a new hobby, attend lectures and read instead.
Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at
It can mend a broken heart, lift your spirits and bring lovers together with its aphrodisiac qualities. Chocolate, as we know, is an emotional, feel-good snack, but what experts can’t seem to agree on is chocolate’s positive health benefits. As studies continue examining the effects of indulging in this sweet substance, we’ll continue to support the old and new-age theories of chocolate’s goodness. In moderation, chocolate has been thought to support a healthy heart, mood and prevent certain illnesses. Here are 10 illnesses you can cure or prevent with chocolate:
- High Blood Pressure
Chocolate and cocoa contain flavanols, which have both antioxidant qualities and heart-healthy qualities. One of the vascular benefits of eating flavanols is lowering blood pressure.
- High Cholesterol
When consuming chocolate, you’re ingesting flavanoids which have major antioxidant power known to lower the bad kind of cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol. Oxidized LDL-cholesterol damages the arteries and can increase your chances of heart disease or heart attack.
- Liver Disease
Liver disease patients can snack on chocolate because its antioxidant-rich compounds have been found to reduce high blood pressure in the liver and reduce damage to liver blood vessels.
Eating dark chocolate in moderation has been found to improve processing of blood sugar, which may reduce the risk of diabetes.
Chocolate has mood enhancing qualities, as well as stress-busting benefits. Experts have found that chocolate may the ticket to reducing levels of unwanted stress hormones, resulting in happier, healthier people.
Got a persistent cough? Experts have found that theobromine, a compound found in cocoa, can reduce a cough, by affecting the sensory nerve endings of the vagus nerve that run through the airways in the lungs.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Instead of drinking a soda or coffee when you feel fatigued, eat a square of chocolate to boost your energy level. In small doses, the caffeine in chocolate will give you a healthy jolt of energy to prevent chronic fatigue.
- Blood Clots
Those who eat chocolate have been found to have slower clumping of blood platelets, which aids in the prevention of blood clots that can cause a heart attack.
The flavanol compound found in chocolate, called epicatechin, has been found to guard against the damage of a stroke.
While chocolate isn’t going to cure cancer, it may have preventative benefits like reducing cell damage that can cause tumor growth.