Choices

What can drive someone to insanity? Certainly, insanity is something that is commonly understood (or misunderstood) and usually carries some sort of stigma in the popular consciousness. If you believe in modern psychology and psychiatry, there are literally thousands of forms of insanity that a person can end up developing over a lifetime. Some of them, like depression, are temporary, while others, like social anxiety, require more work for a person to get through.

However, there appears to be some commonality as to what actually brings about most of the forms of insanity that people go through. Which brings the question to bear: is there a common, underlying trigger that compromises the stability of a person’s mental health?

Things like stress and anxiety are often cited, as most of the common (and several uncommon) mental health issues are triggered by one of the two. Continued exposure to stress can eventually push someone beyond their “breaking point,” with the form of insanity afterwards being affected by external factors. This is often a long, strenuous process because most people have some level of resistance to such things, allowing them to at least survive the stressful period with their sanity intact. Additionally, the process may not even really result in insanity, with most of the population serving as proof of this theory. Prolonged stress can affect a person’s behavior and outlook, but it is also known that several other factors can increase or reduce the impact of this. In some cases, stress and anxiety can merely even have the opposite effect, depending on the person’s personal outlook.

Emotions are also said to play a critical role in driving or pushing people into insanity, with feelings being so closely tied to mental health. A person’s emotional state can often be a reflection of a person’s relative state of mental stability, but may also become an effect of fractured sanity. There is no doubting that emotions can disrupt and affect a person’s thought processes and make them do things that they normally would not do. It has also been noted that extremely emotional situations and heavy emotional trauma can permanently affect a person’s mind, often resulting in a condition that requires therapy to eventually overcome. However, it is rather arguable that emotions are merely augmenting the effects of stress and pressure, not a factor in itself.

Trauma is also frequently cited as having drastic effects on a person’s sanity, particularly if it occurs during the formative years. The extreme psychological and emotional impact that trauma victims have to endure can often force some past the breaking point, having permanent effects on their mental health. However, it should be noted that trauma tends to be little more than a combination of stressful and emotional factors, usually mixed in with extreme circumstances. The vulnerability of the person’s psyche plays a larger role here than in other potential causes of insanity, which explains why trauma encountered later on in life does not have the same general effect as similar events encountered during childhood.

Ultimately, insanity is something that, like sanity, must be defined on an individual basis. What is sane for one person in a given society may not be considered such by a different person within the same society. Insanity is a matter of context in this case, which is the assumption that some psychological texts make.

Our stomach is one of the parts of the body that receives the harshest treatment and the least appreciation. Think about it. When is the last time you were really thankful that your stomach was working properly? Perhaps it takes seeing a friend or family member who has a rough stomach for us to really be grateful for our stomach health. But it shouldn’t. We should be consistently treating our stomach with care so that it can do it’s job well without causing us pain.

Being good to your stomach can be simple. Maybe you are already making wise choices for your stomach or perhaps you will have to make some severe lifestyle changes in order to really be good to your stomach. Whatever it requires, you should commit to being good to your stomach from this point forward.

What does it mean to be good to your stomach? Basically, to be good to your stomach means watching the things you put into it and the things you do. Surely everyone has experienced the pain of eating a meal that is too spicy or too greasy or too full of acid. Our stomachs do so much in the process of breaking down our food choices. Many times our stomachs are able to cover up some of our eating “sins,” but other times they let us know that we have made a poor choice. I’m convinced that we owe it to our stomachs (not to mention to the rest of our bodies) to make healthy eating choices that are easy on our bodies and good for our health.

Take some time to evaluate the things you are putting into your stomach each day. Are you being kind or harsh? Do you notice any patterns that could perhaps be harmful to your digestive system? If so, consider changing them. You only have one stomach, and therefore it requires your upmost attention and care. Different stomachs have different levels of tolerance for spices, acids, and foods. You may not be able to eat everything your neighbor or even your spouse can eat. It is important that you learn, if you haven’t already, what is good for you and stick to it.

The great thing about learning to eat based on the reaction of your stomach is that you will end up making good choices not only for your stomach but also for the rest of your body. The chances are high that what is good for your stomach will also benefit your body and your overall health. So be intentional about what you eat and drink and don’t hesitate to pass up things that aren’t good for you or your stomach.

In today’s beauty-conscious society, women have so many options to choose from when it comes to the means of looking physically perfect. They can choose in the variety of treatments and products that promise appealing, yet oftentimes superficial, beauty benefits.

But you see, you don’t really need to spend a lot of money just to have a smooth and flawless skin. Availing different kinds of treatments and beauty products to make your skin look healthier and younger is vey expensive, especially if your budget is only limited. Why spend thousands of dollars in conventional beauty enhancement regimen when you can pamper yourself with natural skin care treatments at the comfort of your home?

Homemade skin care treatments as an alternative beauty regimen

If you are one of the gals who enjoy using natural concoctions as an alternative for expensive facial treatments and products, then homemade skin care is a perfect beauty option for you. Apart from the fact that homemade skin treatments are inexpensive compared to the ones offered at spas and salons, these treats are also safe and easy to do. It is also actually fun doing this type of beauty regimen, especially if you try it with friends. Homemade beauty treats also save you a lot of time as you no longer need to go the salon or spa for skin care treatments.

Must-try homemade skin care recipes

So if you haven’t tried any homemade skin care treatment before, the following are some of the widely known natural skin care recipes that are worth checking out:

1. Facial mask – cucumber/honey/oatmeal

For a must-try natural skin care moisturizer, one of the most popular homemade treat is the facial cucumber/honey/oatmeal mask. What you need are the following ingredients:

* One to two teaspoons of uncooked oatmeal

* One tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

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Let’s suppose that you have been diagnosed as having a pinched nerve in your neck, also known as cervical radiculopathy. If so, you probably have pain in the neck and one shoulder. The pain might radiate into your arm and you might have weakness or numbness in the arm as well. Moving your neck in certain positions probably worsens the pain.

If you’re a younger adult, the pinch could be due to a herniated (slipped) disc. Discs are the soft spacers that separate each pair of stacked neck-bones (vertebrae). If you’re an older adult, the pinch is more likely due to a bony spur (spondylosis). In either case, you’re in good company. A survey in Sicily showed 3.5 active cases at any one time of cervical radiculopathy per population of 100,000. In Rochester, Minnesota, another survey showed 85 new cases each year of cervical radiculopathy per population of 100,000.

Let’s say that your doctor has evaluated you thoroughly by taking a history of your symptoms and performing a physical examination. Perhaps with the additional help of an MRI of your cervical spine (neck) and electrical tests of nerve and muscle function (nerve conduction studies and electromyography) the diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy is deemed definite. Furthermore, there is no sign that the spinal cord itself is pinched. Now what?

Now what, indeed. Choosing a treatment for this condition is far from straightforward. Out of hundreds of published medical reports concerning treatment of cervical radiculopathy, most are case reports or case series. A “case series” translates roughly as: “We gave six patients in a row the same treatment and five of them got better.” What can be concluded from a study of this kind? Did the treatment make the patients better or would they have improved anyway? We don’t know.

The missing ingredient here is a comparison group of untreated or differently treated individuals known as a control group. The other mark of a quality study is that the chosen treatment is randomized, meaning that the research subjects agreed in advance to be assigned to one treatment group or another based on the equivalent of a coin-toss. So out of the hundreds of published studies involving treatment of this common condition, how many were randomized controlled trials? Unfortunately, the answer is just one.

Liselott Persson, Carl-Axel Carlsson and Jane Carlsson at the University Hospital of Lund, Sweden, randomly allocated 81 patients who had symptoms of cervical radiculopathy present for at least three months to any of three treatments — surgery, physical therapy or a cervical collar. The patients ranged from 28 to 64 years old and 54% of them were male. The surgeons used the so-called Cloward procedure, removing fragments of protruding discs and spurs through an incision in the front of the neck, and then fusing two neck-bones together by means of a bone-graft. Physical therapy involved 15 sessions over a span of three months and consisted of whatever the physical therapist considered appropriate, variously including any of the following: heat application, cold application, electrical stimulation, ultrasound, massage, manipulation, exercise and education. In the cervical collar group, patients wore rigid, shoulder-resting collars every day for three months. Additionally, some of the subjects wore soft collars overnight.

How did the study turn out? Three of the subjects who were assigned to surgery refused the procedure because they had already improved on their own. For statistical purposes their outcomes were included with those who actually received the operation. After three months the surgery and physical therapy groups reported, on average, less pain. After an additional 12 months patients in all three groups had less pain than at the beginning of the study and the outcomes of each treatment were statistically alike. Measurements of mood and overall function following treatment were likewise equal among the groups.

So, over the long haul, no treatment was better than the others. Of course, within each group some patients did better or worse than others and this spread of outcomes was not reflected in the overall averages. In fact, five patients in the collar group and one patient in the physical therapy group went on to receive surgery owing to lack of satisfactory improvement. In addition, eight patients in the surgery group underwent a second operation that in one case was due to a complication of the first operation.

With this Swedish study representing the only rigorous investigation of treatment outcomes in cervical radiculopathy, there are a number of unanswered questions. For example, what are the effects on cervical radiculopathy of painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs, local injections, systematic traction or other forms of surgery? We don’t know. What happens if there is no treatment whatsoever? We don’t know the answer to that question either.

Thus, in the care of individual patients there is a yin-yang balancing act between the medical edict of “Above all, do no harm” and the practical dictum of “Do what you have to do.” This balancing act usually means starting with less intrusive treatments like drugs and physical therapy. If symptoms fail to improve or become unbearable, an operation may be helpful.

(C) 2006 by Gary Cordingley

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