Mental health has a high profile at the moment, thanks particularly to the brave openness of Prince Harry in raising awareness by discussing his own personal mental health issues around the death of his mother.
A recent survey of school teachers has highlighted that more children have mental health issues than two years ago. Poverty, poor housing, unemployment and financial insecurity are important causal factors. More than one in six teachers surveyed believed that at least a quarter of students in their school or college were affected by mental health problems. The teachers and schools are poorly equipped to provide the necessary support and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are overwhelmed.
In addition to the causes already mentioned, could social media be an additional cause of mental health issues in young people?
Social media has dramatically changed the way we communicate and young people spend their time.
Social media is a powerful positive tool for young people; it provides a platform for their voices to be heard and for them to voice opinions on matters that affect and interest them. It also is very effective in bringing together voices of concern about particular issues, raising awareness and bringing about change. However, it has also transformed our culture into one of over-sharing. Nowadays, many only look at how many pictures they can post or what is the next thing they should post but they don’t look at the effect of social media on mental health. Taking Facebook and Instagram as examples, they allow us to present our own filtered sense of reality, showing only what we want to show.
This can lead to a person critically comparing their life with other people’s and using others’ posts as measures for successes and failures in their own life. The result can be hopeless feelings of low self-esteem and depression. Body dysmorphia is another area affected by social media, body image insecurity can also lead to depression.
Some signs of the negative effect of social media are low self-esteem, feeling low when seeing others images and lifestyle, envy of other people’s lives, using social media as the first and only choice of activity done for enjoyment, not having face to face conversations with friends and family and a feeling of isolation and disconnection.
Recently I read : “The same way second-hand smoke harms the lungs of people around the smoker, smartphones harm the attention and focus of people around the smartphone user. It hijacks our senses. It forces us to pause our conversations and redouble our thoughts unnecessarily. It causes us to lose our train of thought and forget that important point we were constructing in our head. It erodes at our ability to connect and simply be present with one another, destroying intimacy in the process.”
We are probably all guilty of overuse of our devices. Awareness is half the battle. Parents, teachers and friends can look out for the possible signs of mental health deterioration and seek appropriate help.
The latest hope for MS sufferers is a medication called Ocrelizumab - see BBC article on a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine MS ARTICLE
Apparently the medication is promising because it can slow down the progression of the disease. The clinical trial directly implies that the process of de-myelination, is caused by a person's B-cells (B-lymphocytes) attacking the myelin cover of the neurones, a large part of one's central nervous system. Only a couple of weeks ago, schizophrenia hit the headlines, for also being identified as an "auto-immune" condition - news pretty unsettling for the psychiatrists!
To many clinical allergists who are trained to think "outside the box" this is not a new concept; it confirms that MS is yet another "immune" problem and explains why so many patients with MS seem to benefit from using modern methods of detoxification, from radical changes in their diet, from using natural nutrients oral or intravenously and from assessing their metal load and removing as much of it as they can. This is often being dismissed by neurologists as a "spontaneous resolution", oblivious to the so-called MS crisis, when these patients remove their metal fillings without due protection or when they relax their strict dietary regimes.
It is a great pity that, in spite of so many modern day conditions attributed to our immediate environment and unhealthy life styles, Healthcare policies in the western world, rarely consider investing more on assessing the role of these factors in such disabling health issues. Pills are only a short term option to customised analysis and treatment of these conditions and they never come without a risk of side effects.
Watch and listen to this podcast given by Dr. Chatterjee - it's fascinating and can be life-changing.
Personalised medicine, that's what we offer at our clinics. How to Make Disease Disappear
The Guardian wrote the following interesting article about treatment being offered in the Netherlands to young M.E. patients. Definitely help is needed for the many sufferers who are often mis-diagnosed and misunderstood.
Although counselling interventions have not been very successful in adults, the trial in Holland has shown clear benefits in children.
It is good to hear another psychologist clarifying that CFS/ME is not a psychological syndrome because most people do seem to respond to biological interventions, aiming to improve their immune system, cell chemistry and nutritional status. Several studies published over the last few decades have highlighted biochemical anomalies in these patients, most of which are reversible.
Our Medical Director, Dr. Econs, says “I believe the stated percentage of children with CFS (2-3%) is an underestimate. Many youngsters suffer with recurrent infections, tummy problems and suboptimal levels of energy, although their fatigue is not the primary symptom investigated. Assessing their energy levels with an "activity scale" often shows poor performance. Somehow the real issue is being overlooked. The effects on achieving their best results in their exams are immediate and palpable.
This is yet another field where life-style interventions seem to play a serious, causal role.
Well done to Donna, the Administrator at our Keighley clinic, who has a heart for others and is very compassionate and caring. Donna was part of the Jamba Samba band that led the three kilometre fund-raising walk for Dementia Friendly Keighley. See Donna in the photograph in this link.Dementia Support
Keep up the great work Donna, we're all very proud of you!
Lifestyle Medicine To Save The NHS Billions and Halt Healthcare Crisis
A group of doctors demand from medical schools and the Health Secretary to make training for Nutrition and Life Style interventions mandatory for medical students and doctors.
The public's awareness of gluten intolerance, coeliac disease and various diets has grown enormously. Is a food allergy or intolerance just a fad? Dr Econs is quoted in this article in the Sunday Telegraph. :
The UN (United Nations) and WHO (World Health Organisation) wrote a serious report about the dangers of certain chemicals commonly used in a multitude of consumer items such as cosmetics, pesticides, plastics, flame retardants and canned foods, one of them being Bisphenol A (BPA). These chemicals alter the hormones of people and wildlife. The report speaks of it as a global threat that should be addressed.
Foetuses, babies and young children are the most vulnerable to hormone-altering chemicals. However, over the past decade there is greater awareness that chronic diseases, ones related to the endocrine system, are increasing globally. These diseases include infertility, diabetes, hormone-dependent cancers, obesity and brain development. Many factors can cause these diseases but the report concludes that ,given how fast some are rising, environmental chemicals are likely to be playing a role. There are known to be 800 of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
The secret report called “Impact Assessment” assesses the impact of regulations to this group of chemical pollutants. Whole sectors of industry will be affected by regulation, billions of euros are at stake. The prospect of restrictions or even bans, raises serious concern among manufacturers and the pesticide industry is hostile to the European regulation.
In 2009 the European Parliament agreed there was to be special treatment of pesticides that were known as endocrine disruptors and criteria was to be laid down to identify these substances. Seven years on and nothing has changed!
European parliamentarians are furious and have been writing and keeping up the pressure on the European Parliament. The estimated cost of diseases related to exposure to these endocrine disruptors in Europe is between 157 billion and 208 billion euros per year.
The authors wrote “The vast majority of chemicals in current commercial use have not been tested at all..”. “We seem to be accepting as a society that it’s acceptable to load up our next generation with chemicals in an unregulated manner and hope they’re not bad.”
We are all too aware that they are bad - very bad.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) produced in February 2016 an enlightening and thought provoking report entitled “Every Breath We Take”.
Some key points in the report are as follows :
▪ Each year in the UK around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution. It has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and changes linked to dementia.
▪ An unborn child is not safe from the effects of pollution and we know that older adults are also vulnerable. The effects are across a lifetime. In addition, we are only too aware of the effects of our planet.
Although our environment has changed since the Industrial Revolution, coal burning has reduced dramatically, exhaust fumes have increased enormously. Road traffic in 2012 was 10 times higher than in 1949. Half of our cars in the UK run on diesel as well as almost all buses, vans and lorries.
⁃ Particulates - small specks of matter such as soot, primarily from traffic, especially diesel engines
⁃ Nitrogen oxides - gases generated by vehicles or by chemical reactions in the atmosphere
⁃ Ozone - this gas is formed when other pollutants react in the atmosphere
Indoor Pollutants :
⁃ Tobacco smoke, probably the most serious cause of harm
⁃ Carbon monoxide from faulty boilers
⁃ Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) are chemicals that start off as solids or liquids but readily evaporate, such as air fresheners, personal care i.e. spray deodorants, hair sprays and cleaning products.
⁃ Formaldehyde vapour emitted by certain furniture, furnishings, fabrics, glues etc
⁃ House dust mites, mould, pollen and animal dander.
Health Related Problems:
There is good evidence that outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer. It is likely that long term exposure is linked to the development of asthma and those who already have it air pollution can make it worse.
The RCP suggest it could be associated with the appearance of diabetes and also could damage the brain’s thinking abilities over time. There is a strong link between air pollution and heart disease and strokes.
The evidence is so convincing that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified air pollution as a known cause of lung cancer. As this condition is thought to take many years to develop, exposure in childhood could be linked to lung cancer in adults.
LONG TERM BENEFITS
Gestation, infancy and early childhood are vulnerable times because the young body is growing and developing rapidly. Heart, brain, hormone systems and immunity can all be harmed by air pollution. Research is beginning to show the effects on growth, intelligence and development of the brain and coordination. Harm to babies and children will have an impact that lasts far into the future. So the air quality improvements we make now will have long lasting benefits.
Similarly, improving air quality will help older people and adults with long-term conditions to remain independent and well, easing the pressure on the health system.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP
▪ Find alternatives to travelling by car i.e. public transport, walk or cycle
▪ Aim for energy efficiency in our homes
▪ Keeping gas appliances and solid fuel burners in good repair
▪ Learn more about air quality and stay informed
For all those who believe that the current health regulatory system is objective, purely "scientific" and serves the health priorities of the individual, well, listen to what an eminent Oncologist (Prof Angus Dalgleish of the Imperial College, London) has to say on BBC News-night http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b073gy58/newsnight-10032016 (minutes 28.00 - 31.54 - need to paste link on your browser)
Dr Econs' comment: This will come as no surprise to all those who have observed how the NHS system works, based on so-called "evidence", ie documentation of clinical trials, purely designed to assess the efficacy of one medication against placebo in a group of patients with only one medical condition. It does not take a great intellect to work out that such studies only assess medications designed to suppress a specific symptoms, rather than to work out the pathophysiological mechanisms, which could lead to causal factors being identified and managed more efficiently. This is left to very few academic centres, mainly working on epidemiological studies, which take very long time, decades, before they are accepted as "factual evidence" in Medicine.
In my view, this is precisely the reason why the NHS is facing ever increasing costs of delivering its care: its methods are frequently based on flawed "evidence" and the objectives are fixed on "reactive" rather than preventative interventions.
By the way, did you notice what Prof Dalgleish wanted to do, but was stopped?
The tailor-made vaccine to attack cancer cells he talked about is now becoming a reality: lymphocytes from the cancer-patient or from a donor, are nurtured and infused in a form of immunotherapy, to destroy cancer cells. It is not a coincidence that many so-called auto-immune disorders, such as colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, gluten-related problems and others have a higher incidence for cancer later on in life and shortened life expectancy.
President Nixon once remarked: "it is the Economy, stupid!" A version of this, on matters of Health: "it is the lymphocytes,..............!"