When dizziness is dangerous
June 17, 2012
Dizziness is linked to dozens of medical conditions, but the cause may be tough to determine. Here are two definitions of “dizzy,” possible causes and ways to find relief.
Feels like: You’re about to faint. If it happens when you stand up after sitting or lying down, it could be caused by a form of low blood pressure called orthostatic hypotension. When it lasts only a few seconds after standing and rarely occurs, it’s typically not something to worry about. Even so, you should still see your doctor.
Feels like: You’re spinning. Inside your ears are tubes that contain fluid and sensors that help the brain maintain your balance. When calcium crystals in your ear dislodge and float within the tubes, the brain is sent confusing messages. The most effective treatment is a procedure that consists of several slow maneuvers for positioning your head, which helps move the crystals.
What you don’t know about depression
Depression has been called the common cold of mental illness, probably because it affects so many people: Statistics show about 20 million Americans have it. Even so, many misconceptions persist. Some people think that it’s just a bout of the blues, that it’s a sign of weakness and that you can simply snap out of it. Here are three things you may not know:
Working long hours may raise your risk. In a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers followed more than 2,000 middle-aged government workers for six years; those who logged 11-hour or longer days were twice as likely to have depression. Other things could increase your risk: a family history of depression, stressful events or having a serious illness. In some cases, a depressive episode may occur without an obvious trigger.
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Men and women experience depression differently. Women tend to display the more classic symptoms — they’re sad, or they’re oversleeping and overeating. Men tend to be angry, irritable and sometimes abusive; they also turn more often to drugs and alcohol. Women are likelier to seek treatment for depression; men try to “tough it out.”
Shock therapy is still in use. It’s called electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) now, but it’s still effective at providing relief for severe depression when no other treatment works. People may be leery about ECT, in which electrical currents are passed through the brain, but you don’t consciously feel the impulses, and side effects, including confusion and memory loss, are usually temporary.
• The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check http://www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.