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Is too much artificial light at night making us sick?

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It’s an emerging topic in health, one that UConn Health (University of Connecticut, Farmington, Conn.) cancer epidemiologist Richard Stevens has been studying for three decades. “It’s become clear that typical lighting is affecting our physiology,” Stevens says. “But lighting can be improved…

Prancercise: New eccentric fitness routine mimics dancing like a horse

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Move over Richard Simmons.  Johanna Rohrback has arrived, and she has a unique workout routine that is taking the Internet by storm. Known as Prancercise, Rohrback’s workout is described as “a springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse's gait and is ideally induced by elation.” Various YouTube videos showcase Rohrback “prancing” at different speeds – including the Prancercise walk, trot and gallop.   According to her instruction, all you need are a couple of ankle weights and some music to get started.  For the more intense Prancercise box, individuals can strap the ankle weights to their wrists and punch into the air while they prance. Rohrback originally introduced her unconventional routine back in 1989, but the endeavor failed to take off.  Looking to revive Prancercise, Rohrback published a book about the routine in Dec. 2012 titled Prancercise: The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence, along with the series of YouTube videos currently circulating the web. The book is described as “a recipe for fitness, health, and self-fulfillment!”source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/30/prancercise-new-eccentric-fitness-routine-mimics-dancing-like-horse/

Shrinks, critics face off over psychiatric manual

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In the new psychiatric manual of mental disorders, grief soon after a loved one's death can be considered major depression. Extreme childhood temper tantrums get a fancy name. And certain “senior moments” are called “mild neurocognitive disorder.” Those changes are just some of the reasons prominent critics say the American Psychiatric Association is out of control, turning common human problems into mental illnesses in a trend they say will just make the “pop-a-pill” culture worse. Says a former leader of the group: “Normal needs to be saved from powerful forces trying to convince us that we are all sick.” At issue is the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, widely known as the DSM-5. The DSM has long been considered the authoritative source for diagnosing mental problems. The psychiatric association formally introduces the nearly 1,000-page revised version this weekend in San Francisco. It's the manual's first major update in nearly 20 years, and a backlash has taken shape in recent weeks: - Two new books by mental health experts, “Saving Normal” and “The Book of Woe,” say the world's most widely used psychiatric guide has lost credibility. - A British psychologists' group is criticizing the DSM-5, calling for a “paradigm shift” away from viewing mental problems as a disease. An organization of German therapists also attacked the new guide. - Even the head of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health complained that the book lacks scientific validity. This week, the NIMH director, Dr. Thomas Insel, tried to patch things up as he and the psychiatrists group issued a joint statement saying they have similar goals for improving the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. The manual's release comes at a time of increased scrutiny of health care costs and concern about drug company influence over doctors. Critics point to a landscape in which TV ads describe symptoms for mental disorders and promote certain drugs to treat them. “Way too much treatment is given to the normal `worried well' who are harmed by it; far too little help is available for those who are really ill and desperately need it,” Dr. Allen Frances writes in “Saving Normal.” He is a retired Duke University professor who headed the psychiatry group's task force that worked on the previous handbook. He says the new version adds new diagnoses “that would turn everyday anxiety, eccentricity, forgetting and bad eating habits into mental disorders.” Previous revisions were also loudly criticized, but the latest one comes at a time of soaring diagnoses of illnesses listed in the manual - including autism, attention deficit disorder and bipolar disorder - and billions of dollars spent each year on psychiatric drugs. The group's 34,000 members are psychiatrists - medical doctors who specialize in treating mental illness. Unlike psychologists and other therapists without medical degrees, they can prescribe medication. While there has long been rivalry between the two groups, the DSM-5 revisions have stoked the tensions. The most contentious changes include: - Diagnosing as major depression the extreme sadness, weight loss, fatigue and trouble sleeping some people experience after a loved one's death. Major depression is typically treated with antidepressants. - Calling frequent, extreme temper tantrums “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder,” a new diagnosis. The psychiatric association says the label is meant to apply to youngsters who in the past might have been misdiagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Critics say it turns normal tantrums into mental illness. - Diagnosing mental decline that goes a bit beyond normal aging as “mild neurocognitive disorder.” Affected people may find it takes more effort to pay bills or manage their medications. Critics of the term say it will stigmatize “senior moments.” - Calling excessive thoughts or feelings about pain or other discomfort “somatic symptom disorder,” something that could affect the healthy as well as cancer patients. Critics say the term turns normal reactions to a disease into mental illness. - Adding binge eating as a new category for overeating that occurs at least once a week for at least three months. It could apply to people who sometimes gulp down a pint of ice cream when they're alone and then feel guilty about it. - Removing Asperger's syndrome as a separate diagnosis and putting it under the umbrella term “autism spectrum disorder.” Dr. David Kupfer, chairman of the task force that oversaw the DSM-5, said the changes are based on solid research and will help make sure people get accurate diagnoses and treatment. Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the psychiatry association's incoming president, said challenging the handbook's credibility “is completely unwarranted.” The book establishes diagnoses “so patients can receive the best care,” he said, adding that it takes into account the most up-to-date scientific knowledge. But Insel, the government mental health agency chief, wrote in a recent blog posting that the guidebook is no better than a dictionary-like list of labels and definitions. He said he favors a very different approach to diagnosis that is based more on biological information, similar to how doctors diagnose heart disease or problems with other organs. Yet there's scant hard evidence pinpointing what goes wrong in the brain when someone develops mental illness. Insel's agency two years ago began a research project to create a new way to diagnose mental illness, using brain imaging, genetics and other evolving scientific evidence. That project will take years. The revisions in the new guide were suggested by work groups the psychiatric association assigned to evaluate different mental illnesses and recent research advances. The association's board of trustees decided in December which recommendations to include. Advocacy groups have threatened Occupy-style protests and boycotts at this week's meeting. “The psychiatric industry, allied with Big Pharma, have massively misled the public,” the Occupy Psychiatry group contends. Organizers include Alaska lawyer Jim Gottstein, who has long fought against overuse of psychiatric drugs. The new manual “will drastically expand psychiatric diagnosis, mislabel millions of people as mentally ill, and cause unnecessary treatment with medication,” says the website for the Committee to Boycott the DSM-5, organized by New York social worker Jack Carney. Committee member Courtney Fitzpatrick, whose 9-year-old son died seven years ago while hospitalized for a blood vessel disease, said she has joined support groups for grieving parents “and by no means are we mentally ill because we are sad about our kids that have died.” Gary Greenberg, a Connecticut psychotherapist and author of “The Book of Woe,” says pharmaceutical industry influence in psychiatry has contributed to turning normal conditions into diseases so that drugs can be prescribed to treat them. Many of the 31 task force members involved in developing the revised guidebook have had financial ties to makers of psychiatric drugs, including consulting fees, research grants or stock. Group leaders dismiss that criticism and emphasize they agreed not to collect more than $10,000 in industry money in the calendar year preceding publication of the manual.source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/16/shrinks-critics-face-off-over-psychiatric-manual/

Dad aims to change views of Down syndrome in new book

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For George Estreich, the decision to write a book about his daughter, Laura, and her diagnosis of Down syndrome came naturally. A college writing professor and former poet, Estreich started documenting his life with Laura in 2001, when she was 3 ½ months old, shortly after she had undergone heart surgery.  This month, he released his book “The Shape of the Eye,” in which he aims to change the negative connotations associated with Down syndrome. When Estreich looks at Laura’s face, he doesn’t see her disability, he sees his lovely daughter – and wants others to see the same thing. Laura wasn’t diagnosed with Down syndrome until she was 2-weeks-old. At the time of her birth, doctors noticed that she had almond-shaped eyes, which are often a characteristic of Down syndrome. But Estreich brushed off their concerns, attributing the feature to his  Japanese ancestry. Still, doctors wanted “peace of mind.” “For those first two weeks, we just didn’t know,” Estreich, 48, told FoxNews.com. “We were just waiting for the results.” Estreich, and his wife Theresa, had an older daughter, Ellie, who is now 17 – and at the time, life seemed pretty good. Estreich had stopped teaching to focus on raising Ellie, while Theresa worked full-time as a scientist. But upon Laura’s diagnosis, their lives changed. “Things were difficult at first,” Estreich admitted.  Unknown territory  Laura had a congenital heart defect, which was ultimately fixed during surgery, and a feeding disorder that required her to be fed through a tube in her nose about six months, which was difficult for Theresa, who had wanted to continue breastfeeding. Once they got through those challenges, Estreich and his wife had to figure out how to cope with Laura’s developmental issues. With Ellie, Estreich and his wife knew what to expect – they had an idea of when she would crawl or walk or say her first words. With Laura, it was all unknown territory. Estreich set out to research and learn everything he could about Down syndrome, which was named after Dr. John Langdon Down, who first recognized the genetic condition in the 19th century. Individuals with Down syndrome develop a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21 at conception, which causes subtle changes in development, according to Estreich. Physical traits of Down syndrome may include low muscle tone, small stature, a slant to the eyes and a single deep crease across the center of the palm; however, each individual is different and may have varying degrees of these characteristics, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. The Society estimates one in every 691 babies born in the U.S. have Down syndrome, or approximately 400,000 Americans. Though the risk of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome increases with a mother’s age, doctors don’t know exactly what causes Down syndrome. With recent advancements in medical technology, the lifespan of individuals with Down syndrome has gone up tremendously: As many as 80 percent of adults with the condition reach the age of 60 or older, according to the National Down Syndrome Society. This is largely due to corrective heart surgeries, like the one Laura had in her first year of life. The Estreichs, who now live in Corvallis, Ore., opted not to do any prenatal screening during Theresa’s pregnancy; they figured it was pointless since false-positive rates are so high, and they didn’t want to have an amniocentesis, which can increase the chance of a miscarriage. Theresa insisted no matter what a test discovered, she wouldn’t have terminated the pregnancy anyway. Still, the diagnosis was a shock to the couple. By 21 months old, Laura was able to walk, crawl and eat. As she grew older, she continued to thrive, even if it was at a slower pace. Now, at the age of 12, Estreich said she’s pretty much like any other girl on the verge of being a teenager. She enjoys playing video games, especially Minecraft, Halo and Just Dance. She loves going out to eat – especially if it involves pizza, and she participates in a national program called Girls on the Run. Laura has completed three 5K runs in the past few years, improving her time with each race. And, much to Estreich’s delight, she enjoys assisting him in house renovations, something he talks about throughout the book. “I don’t know what it is for boys; it’s therapeutic to break things,” Estreich said of his obsession with home-renovations. 'There are no special needs' At school, Laura is included in mainstream classes about 60 percent of the time, Estreich said, adding that she has a wide variety of friends – including those with disabilities and those without. Asked whether Laura knows she has Down syndrome, Estreich said he isn’t sure. “As far as she’s concerned, it’s Tuesday, she’s going to school, and she’s putting on a tutu and a tiara. I’m not even sure how she gets away with that.” Estreich said he doesn’t think she really identifies with the condition – but doesn’t think it matters too much. “The term special needs – well, someone made a point – there are no special needs,” Estreich said. “For my older and younger daughter, the needs are the same: to thrive and belong, and the way they go about that will be different. We’re trying to help her the best we can, (to) be what she can be. If we have to address Down syndrome to do that, we do. Otherwise, it’s ‘do your homework.’” As for the future, Estreich hopes Laura can hold down a job, have friends and live with as much independence as possible. Estreich said he believes that Laura will even be able to live on her own someday. And when people read his book, Estreich wants them to take away this message: They should see a person first - as opposed to the disability. Laura isn’t defined by the shape of her eyes, but rather her cheerful personality. “I’d like people to think about who belongs in our society, and the obstacles to belonging,” Estreich said.  “And (the book is) not just about (Laura) developing and getting through her medical troubles – but about my development as a parent.”source : http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/11/dad-aims-to-change-views-down-syndrome-in-new-book/