March 29th, 2011
06:51 PM ET
Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.
Asked by RN, Central Washington
I am having significant memory problems that my M.D. thinks are due to depression, but I wonder if such severe problems can be accounted for by depression. I have had dysthymia my whole life. I admit I have a lot of stress in my life and may even be more depressed than I have been in the past, but I have never had these problems before. Here are some examples of things I forget on a daily basis (multiple times a day, actually) : not knowing why I'm in the car driving, not able to remember longtime friends' names, my dog's name, can't remember the names of common objects, putting keys, laundry, etc. in the refrigerator. This is affecting my professional and personal life. Could this really be just depression?
March 29th, 2011
04:45 PM ET
Cantaloupe contaminated with salmonella has sickened 13 people in five states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
Five people in Oregon, four in Washington State, two in California, one in Colorado, and one in Maryland have become ill. Of the 13 patients, three have been hospitalized; none have died, according to the CDC's website.
March 29th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
Getting enough sleep and reducing stress may help you lose weight more effectively.
Investigators at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research asked almost 500 participants to lose at least 10 pounds during a six-month period and found that those who were getting an ideal amount of sleep – between six and eight hours per night – coming into the study and those who had the least stress were the most successful.
March 29th, 2011
10:55 AM ET
Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.
Sleep medications are notoriously ineffective or cause dangerous side effects and dependency. Psychological therapies, much research reports, are as effective in the short term and more effective in the long run than hypnotic medications.
Unfortunately, there are few providers of the cognitive behavioral therapies that have shown to help treat insomnia.
The good news is that there is hope that alternative, non-pharmacologic approaches can improve sleep and daytime function. The term that we use for non-traditional, often non-Western approaches to healing is CAM, complementary and alternative medicine.
A recent review by Sarris and Byrne published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, April 2011, looked at all the randomized, controlled trials published in English and scrutinized the studies for their methodologies and outcomes data.
It turns out that there are some good data proving the efficacy of three CAM treatments: acupressure, yoga and tai chi. The evidence for acupuncture was mixed, as was the use of L-tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that acts as a precursor to serotonin, which in turn can be converted to melatonin. The most studied herbal remedy, valerian, shows very weak evidence of improving sleep and cannot be recommended at this time.
Melatonin studies were not included in this review but from my own recent review of the literature as well as my clinical experience, the effectiveness of melatonin as a hypnotic agent is very unpredictable. Some people find it extremely useful in getting to sleep and most find it does nothing at all.
If you are going to try something like L-tryptophan or melatonin, one tip I have is to buy products manufactured in Germany, where a lot of research into phytomedicines has been conducted and where the production of these substances is overseen and regulated in much the same manner as pharmaceuticals. Therefore, you know that there is research showing that the substance is safe and effective, and you know that the bottle contains what it says it does in a pure form.
Acupressure uses the same pressure points as acupuncture but instead of needles, it employs gentle pressure from the fingers, or sometimes the feet. You can even learn to do some of the pressure points on yourself.
Both tai chi and yoga, as they are commonly practiced in the West, are slow, gentle forms of exercise that can benefit many chronic health conditions as well as help improve sleep quality and duration.
The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.
March 29th, 2011
10:21 AM ET
In the Human Factor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship –- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. Isaac Lidsky was told by doctors at 13 that he'd go blind one day, but Lidsky hasn't let not being able to see get in the way of his success. Here is his story in his own words.
I find great peace in the knowledge that I will see my children.
When I was 13, a vision specialist told me I was slowly going blind. He explained I had a genetic disease of the retina that would cause my photoreceptor cells to cease functioning and then expire. There were no treatments or cures, he stressed, and he dispassionately suggested I should not hold out hope that any would be developed in my lifetime. I was left searching for the right way to deal with it all.
A parade of angels showed me the way. It began with my parents. Devastated by the news, they somehow found the strength to seek out the leading medical researchers in the field. This led us to University of Miami Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, where we found Dr. Samuel Jacobson.
He rescued my family. Dr. Jacobson explained that he and other researchers had made much progress discovering treatments and cures, and in light of his apparent devotion to his work and obvious brilliance, this optimism gave us great hope. Generous and caring, Dr. Jacobson has remained my treating physician to this day. With his support, we gained the counsel and friendship of many of his peers—geniuses like him laboring to eradicate blindness.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.