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Did you know? Internet therapy apps may reduce depression

Did you know? Internet therapy apps may reduce depression

Washington DC: In a new study, researchers have found that a series of self-guided, internet-based therapy platforms effectively reduce depression. A research, led by a team at the Indiana University reviewed 21 pre-existing studies with a total of 4,781 participants. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

In the past several years, many internet-based apps and websites have made claims to treat depression. The subjects of the study were specifically those applications that provide treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing thought patterns and behavior to alleviate symptoms of depression and other mental disorders.

Previous studies had examined the effectiveness of individual Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy apps, or iCBT, using a range of methods. “Before this study, I thought past studies were probably focused on people with very mild depression, those who did not have other mental health problems and were at low risk for suicide,” said Lorenzo-Luaces, a researcher. “To my surprise, that was not the case. The science suggests that these apps and platforms can help a large number of people.”

Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy apps are an important new tool for addressing a major public health issue: that individuals with mental health disorders like depression far outnumber the mental health providers available to treat them.

“Close to one in four people meet the criteria for major depressive disorder,” he said. “If you include people with minor depression or who have been depressed for a week or a month with a few symptoms, the number grows, exceeding the number of psychologists who can serve them.”

People with depression are also expensive for the health care system, he added. By conducting a “meta-regression analysis” of 21 studies, researchers determined that internet-based therapy platforms effectively alleviate depression.

The conclusion was that the apps worked in cases of mild, moderate and severe depression. App-based therapy also has an advantage in situations where access to face-to-face therapy is limited due to logistical barriers, such as long distances in rural areas or inflexible work schedules.

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Winter pregnancy care: 5 diet and nutrition tips for expectant mothers

Diet and nutrition tips for a healthy pregnancy

New Delhi: Expecting a baby truly is one of the most exciting experiences of a woman’s life – perhaps, it’s the happiest moment in a couple’s life. But the news of pregnancy can come with a lot of physical stress. The hormonal changes combined with physical changes can take a toll on a woman’s body. A foetus is like a parasite in your body. You will be surprised to know that the foetus will take all the nutrients from your body to fulfil its needs. Hence, it is important to eat well as you need to be nutritionally fit postpartum to take care of your newborn.

Some of the nutrients that are of prime importance in pregnancy include calcium, iron, protein, vitamins, and minerals. You also need to make sure that enough vitamin D goes in through diet and sunlight. Fortunately, there are some super foods that one can consume this winter and fill stores. At the same time for your knowledge, there are some nutrients that are stored and some that are to be taken on a daily bases. Dr Parul Patni, Nutritionist- Lifestyle and Weight Management Expert, gives some diet tips that may help pregnant women eat healthy, ensuring that the baby gets the best start possible. Read – Pregnancy tips: 3 makeup ingredients to avoid when you’re pregnant

  1. Chulai/Amaranth: Seeds and leaves are a very good source of calcium. One can have ladoo made from amaranth seeds. The leaves of this plant are rich in calcium and fibre.
  2. Fish: It is loaded with protein and a rich source of vitamins which increase immunity and help to fight infections, including the ones common in the winter season such as common cold and fever. You can eat it as soup or broth form.
  3. Turmeric: A half inch of raw turmeric boiled in water can give you relief from body ache and increase immunity. Turmeric, also known as Haldi, is considered as a superfood for its incredible health benefits.
  4. Cauliflower greens: The leaves of cauliflower that we normally throw away contain the highest content of iron and fibre among all green leafy vegetables. It can be boiled and added to soup, chapatti dough, dals etc.
  5. Jaggery: Jaggery is a winter superfood. Sugarcane juice is heated in iron containers because of which it is high on iron content. Jaggery or Gur-based sweets should be our preferred option when a sugar craving strikes but in controlled quantity.

By adding these superfoods to your diet, one can achieve optimum health and wellness.

Please note that supplementation may be required in case of severe deficiencies. Also, to play safe, you should consult your gynaecologist before trying out any exercise or meditation.

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Poor Posture Hurts Your Health More Than You Realize: 3 Tips for Fixing It

Didn’t listen when your mom nagged you to sit or stand up straight? You should have. If you’re a serial sloucher, you can probably trace your neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and aching back right back to your posture.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Ignoring advice on good posture can affect your health overall, and set you up for neck and shoulder strain, back pain and even joint damage. You may dismiss the discomfort for a while. But it’s your body’s way of getting your attention.

“Having poor posture may lead to aches and pains, but having it over the long term is when you get real damage,” says chiropractor Andrew Bang, DC.

Think of it this way: If you went to the gym and did strenuous leg exercises five days a week, your legs would feel overworked and sore. Sitting at a desk every day can bring similar results.

Poor posture forces you to overwork the muscles in your neck and back. Your immune system’s efforts to heal those muscles spur inflammation that — over time — can lead to arthritis in nearby joints.

So, how can you tweak your habits to remedy the problem? Dr. Bang offers a few suggestions.

1. Pay attention to your desk setup

When you sit at your desk to work, hold your shoulders and arms at a 90-degree angle. Position your monitor straight ahead at eye level. (Most people place it so they’re looking downward, but this greatly increases neck strain, notes Dr. Bang.)

2014 study on text neck — also called tech neck, a problem caused by constantly looking down at your phone or tablet — found that when you hold your head in line with your shoulders, it only weighs about 10 pounds.

“But for every inch you tilt it forward, the amount of weight it places on your spine nearly doubles,” he says.

Standing poorly prompts similar problems for your neck and back. If you have access to a standing desk at your office, that’s a nice option. But you’ll still need to watch your posture.

Keep your spine in a neutral position. “Don’t jut your butt backward or lean too far forward,” cautions Dr. Bang. Standing in those positions can cause low back pain.

And, again, position your computer screen high enough to avoid looking downward.

2. Move around as much as you can

Whether you sit or stand at work, Dr. Bang recommends working in regular movement.

Take a short break and walk around about once every hour if you can. But even when you’re stuck at your desk, you can vary your motion.

“The body loves variety, so don’t allow your muscles to get too fatigued,” he says. “If you have a standing desk, you still need to move. Sway a bit, or step forward and backward for a while, throughout the day.”

3. Try these exercises to improve your posture

Changing your daily routine can help you feel better quickly. But making a habit of good posture may take some time, says Dr. Bang. As with any other exercise routine, it takes about four to six weeks to see real change.

He recommends the following types of exercise to strengthen muscles to improve your posture:

  • Superman. Lie on your stomach, and simultaneously raise your arms and legs just a couple inches off the ground. Hold, relax, and repeat.
  • Core. Crunches, planks and leg extensions all help strengthen your core muscles.
  • Neck extension. Sit comfortably, and press your head firmly backward into your chair (or car) headrest, or into your hands. Hold for 30 seconds multiple times to build strength.
  • Shoulder blades. Work your trapezius and rhomboid muscles to help pull your shoulders back. Hold an exercise band in front of you at shoulder height, then stretch it across your chest, bending your arms slightly. Return to starting position, and repeat.

If you think bad posture is causing your neck, shoulder or back pain, talk to your doctor about additional tips or therapies you can try to ease your symptoms.

Take steps to improve your posture now — you’ll be glad you did later on. (And your mom will be proud of you.)

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Holiday health tips – watch what you eat | Health





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HEALTH TIPS: For the holidays, give yourself a friend – Sarasota Herald

For many of us, especially those without family nearby, spending time with friends can be a meaningful way to celebrate the holidays. As fewer people opt for marriage, friendships have become more than social relationships: Friends are proxy families, and they may be better than the real ones. 

Researchers have found that these personal connections may be more beneficial to one’s health and well-being than family relationships. According to the Mayo Clinic, these bonds can help reduce stress, increase happiness and bolster self-confidence. 

Finding time to nurture these relationships can be challenging. But the holidays provide an opportunity to renew these bonds, giving us a chance to deepen what friendship expert Shasta Nelson calls frientimacy: the intimacy between friends where both people feel acknowledged in a satisfying way. 

“Three requirements for healthy friendships are positivity, consistency and vulnerability,” Nelson said.

A few intentional behaviors can help give these relationships a boost:

• Acts of kindness as gifts: Consider giving friends nonmaterial gifts. Nelson suggests leaving a heartfelt voice mail, making plans to spend quality time together or attending a friend’s holiday event, like their child’s winter recital. 

Studies reveal that these generous acts can increase joy and emotional well-being. Acts of kindness have also been shown to produce oxytocin, the hormone responsible for cultivating attachment. 

“Showing up tells friends that we’re thinking of them and adds positivity to their lives, making them feel loved,” Nelson said. 

• Extend an invitation: The holiday season also can be an opportunity to foster closeness with a newer friend. But stretching beyond our more intimate social circles can feel uncomfortable. If we’ve invited a new acquaintance to socialize, and they haven’t responded, we may assume that they’ve written us off. But unlike dating relationships, this isn’t an indication that the burgeoning friendship may be doomed.

“Friends may hesitate to contact each other because they believe that initiation needs to be 50/50. This is rarely the case,” Nelson said. 

Take advantage of the season by making plans to shop together, watch a holiday movie or grab a cup of tea. 

• Write a letter: If distance makes it tricky to see each other, old-fashioned letter writing can be one way to reconnect. 

“Digitally created holiday cards may be cute, but they hardly feel special. Instead of seeing curated photos, friends want to hear about your personal experiences,” said empathy researcher and social worker Kelsey Crowe.

Get personal and specific. Tell your friend how much they’re missed. If a certain holiday song or movie reminds you of them, mention that, too. 

“Being vulnerable in this way can encourage frientimacy, even with friends we don’t see regularly,” Nelson said. 

• Ask intentional questions: ”Instead of updating friends on your holiday plans,” says Nelson, ”ask thoughtful questions like, ‘What was a holiday tradition in your family when you were growing up’ or ‘As a child, what was your most memorable holiday gift?’ “

Open-ended questions such as these can help transform chitchat into deeper dialogues.

— Juli Fraga, The Washington Post

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Holiday Health Tips from Best Fitness

While the holiday season is magical and fun, it can also be a stressful time for many as delicious feasts and foods can lead to weight gain. Fitness professionals at Best Fitness, with locations throughout the Northeast region, encourage nutrition mindfulness and they hope that everyone keeps moving through exercises they enjoy. Best Fitness provides their ideas on how to keep things in check this season and forgo the average of 4,500 in calories consumed on holidays.

According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, Americans only gain approximately a pound or two during the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Even though this doesn’t sound like a lot, the study also found that the subjects did not lose that extra weight. Over the years, those extra pounds continued to add up. This is why fitness professionals believe it’s important to try to stay on top of your health all year round.

However, Director of Group Training Rob Wood doesn’t want anyone to stress too much this time of year. “Don’t stress about nutrition! Unless you are preparing for a body building show or have to drop weight for a very specific time, relax and enjoy the holidays. Stress can create triggers that cause you to overeat or eat aimlessly. Don’t let eating be one of those stressors this holiday season. You can be mindful and make smart choices,” he said.

Rob Wood’s Best Fitness Tips For Staying Healthy Through the Holidays: 

  1. Get active! Nothing helps wipe away the guilt of a big meal better than a great workout! There are loads of turkey trots and jingle bell 5k’s this time of year.  Spend time with friends and family burning some calories before the holiday festivities or make sure to gobble up a spot in your favorite class at the gym that morning.
  2. Try not to let the holiday meals last three days! If hosting, buy some plastic to-go containers and make sure everyone leaves with some leftovers so you’re not tempted to eat extra over the few days that follow the holiday. If you’re a guest, bring a healthy veggie option to the party like roasted butternut squash or roasted artichokes. When leaving, load up on the protein and vegetable leftovers.
  3. Kick the habit of showing up hungry only to overdo it on appetizers. Prepare a good healthy snack and eat 30 minutes to an hour before you leave your home. If you’re already somewhat full you can forgo the extra appetizers and eat a smaller meal.
  4. At dinner, fill you plate with vegetables first. Fill half your plate with salad and veggies then protein and finally, carbohydrates. This goes for any day, but it’s super helpful when you know you want to save room for holiday desserts!
  5. Eat slowly and enjoy the meal. Put your fork down after each bite. Talk with your friends and family and slow the meal down. Eating slower allows the body’s satiety, or feeling of fullness, to set in. This is a great way to feel too full for a second helping!


For more information, visit


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5 surprisingly dirty things you touch everyday

5 dirty things you touch everyday


New Delhi: Every time you get sick, you think back on what you ate that made you sick. But have you ever thought it could be because of something you touched? The number of things you touch everyday is innumerable, and if you go by the advertisements on TV, it’s just your sick friend’s handshake that is making you sick. That may be true to an extent, but there are things that you touch during the day that are way more dirtier and may be the reason you get sick if you don’t wash your hands properly.

Here are some of the scary things you touch everyday that could be as dirty as a public toilet, or even worse. Read - Five simple tips to avoid germs in public washroom


Though no one is allowed to watch you while you enter your ATM pin or withdraw cash, doesn’t mean people are not allowed to touch it with their dirty hands. Hygiene experts say that public ATMs are almost as dirty as public toilets. The ATM pad is believed to harbour various germs that can cause communicable diseases like cold and diarrhoea.

Elevator Buttons

Arizona researches have found that an elevator button is nearly 40 times dirtier than a public toilet. A single square centimetre has 313 “colony forming units”. Cooking food after touching an elevator button and not washing your hands can lead to serious diseases like hepatitis A.

Chopping Board

The board you use to cut vegetables you cook and eat, is a breeding ground for germs. According to a study by the University of Arizona, there are 200 times more faecal bacteria on the average cutting board than on a toilet seat.  Read - Beware of these top 10 disease-ridden public places when you go out


As much as you want money, you don’t want the germs that come your way with it. Money can become another reason that you get sick. A study at NYU found 3,000 different types of bacteria on a few 1$ bills.

Fridge handles

Door knobs are an easy guess, but who could have thought that fridge handles are this dirty? Fridge and almost all appliance handles are breeding ground for bacteria. After you touch that dirty fridge handle to open the fridge door, you touch your food items and put yourself at risk of various diseases that can be caused by dirty hands.

Shower toys

You will be surprised to know that your child’s shower toys have the most germs inside them. The study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois, counted microbes inside shower toys and found that when the toys were squeezed, the liquid coming out of them contained “potentially pathogenic bacteria” in four out of the five toys that were studied.m contained “potentially pathogenic bacteria” in four out of the five toys that were studied.

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Digital health care tool tips for seniors | Life

In today’s world, technology allows people to control various facets of life at the tip of their fingertips.

Like social networking and banking, the health care industry is utilizing online tools to give members an opportunity to manage their health care and receive wellness guidance in a quick, convenient way. During the 2019 open enrollment period and beyond, consider ways to save time and utilize digital health care tools.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is a broad term that refers to health care services that utilize telecommunications technology. It provides general wellness guidance, tips on preventive care and can cater to specific health goals. Telemedicine may substitute an in-person encounter between a patient and the healthcare provider when using the appropriate technology. Here are some quick tips to make the most of convenient, budget-friendly digital health care tools.

How to Enroll Online

Those looking to enroll in a health care plan can get started by visiting on a computer, tablet or mobile device. Many health insurers also offer free mobile apps, which can be downloaded through a smart devices’ app store and will walk a potential member through the process step-by-step.

How to Find a Doctor

Telehealth has become a resource for health insurers to assist members in finding a fitting health care team. One example of this is the Find-A-Doctor tool, which gives individuals the opportunity to get to know their health care options, see which providers are in-network, find or change their primary care physician and view cost estimates for services, to compare and potentially save. Members can review a doctor’s experience, specialty and location.

How to Manage an Account

After enrolling in an insurance plan, members can view records, schedule appointments and make payments with the click of a button through an online account. All it takes is verifying name, birthdate and enrollee ID to access personal account information.

How to Use Digital Tools to Treat Minor Illnesses

Colds, flus, seasonal allergies, sore throats and sprains can all potentially be treated using mobile apps, online tools or remote doctor communications. Many patients are unaware that health questions and concerns can be addressed 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the phone through a nurse line. If you need more after-hours advice than can be provided by the nurse line, consider connecting with a doctor or certified nurse practitioner through an online visit.

Dr. S. George Kipa, M.D., is a deputy chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health tips, visit

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Breast cancer self-exam tips | Health

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Michigan women. A National Institutes of Health study found more than half of breast cancer survivors detected abnormalities outside of a mammogram, through self-exams or by accident. While regular doctor visits and screenings should not be dismissed, self-exams are an important line of defense against breast cancer.

How to Self-Check

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, becoming familiar with your breasts is an important first-step in detecting abnormalities. Some additional self-exam tips include:

• Lie Down: Breast tissue more evenly spreads along the chest when lying down, which may make abnormalities more evident than when sitting or standing. Start by placing a pillow under the right shoulder, resting one arm behind the head and begin the exam one breast at a time.

• Be Thorough: When performing a self-exam, move fingers around each breast in circular motions with light, medium and firm pressure. Be sure to check the whole breast and armpit area, then move on to the center region and nipple. Repeat these steps for the left breast and perform the examination without distraction.

• Use a Mirror: In addition to feeling for irregularities, it’s important to also look for changes in the breasts during a self-exam. Face a mirror and keep an eye out for signs of discoloration, changes to the skin or visible lumps and/or swelling on and around the breast/armpit region.

• Stay Calm: With any screening, it’s important to remember everyone’s body is different. When it comes to breasts, none are typical. The look and feel can also be affected by a woman’s menstrual cycle, childbirth, weight loss or gain, certain medications and even age.

• Report Back: Sharing changes or irregularities with a primary care doctor following a self-exam is critical. Though the conversation may seem uncomfortable at first, don’t shy away from details or questions. It’s also important to schedule doctor-designated screenings, such as a mammogram, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or clinical breast exam.

What to Look For

The signs and symptoms of breast cancer can present differently in every individual. While some women may not show any symptoms, others could find any of the following in a self-exam or doctor screening:

• Changes in the size or shape of breast.

• Dimpling of breast skin.

• Lump(s) in breast (with or without an underarm lump).

• Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.

• Pain, discomfort or inversion in the nipple.

• Redness or flaky skin on breast.

• Thickening or swelling in breast or nipple.

When to Screen

Self-exams are a great first line of defense because women are more familiar with their bodies than anyone else. However, The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 50 to 74 get a mammogram every two years at a clinic, hospital or doctor’s office. Those between the ages of 40 to 49 should consult with their primary care physician as to the best time to begin screenings, especially those with a family history of breast cancer.

Dr. Patricia Ferguson, M.D., is an associate medical director and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan provider. For more health tips, visit

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Human brain responds to aggressive voices more quickly: Study

Human brain responds to aggressive voices more quickly: Study

London: Human brains notice a voice much faster when it is considered threatening or aggressive than when it is perceived as normal or happy in an auditory environment, according to a new study. The study demonstrated that in a few hundred milliseconds, our brain becomes sensitive to the presence of angry voices. 

Sight and hearing are the two senses that allow human beings to detect threatening situations. “We are interested in how fast our attention responds to the different intonations of the voices around us and how our brain deals with potentially threatening situations,” said Nicolas Burra, researcher from the University of Geneva in Switzerland. 

The researchers presented 22 short human voice sounds (600 milliseconds) that were neutral utterances or expressed either anger or joy to a small group of people while an electroencephalogram (EEG) – diagnostic test - measured electrical activity in the brain down to the millisecond. 

The findings, published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, revealed that when the brain perceives an emotional target sound, N2ac activity is triggered after 200 milliseconds.  However, when it perceives anger, the N2ac intensifies and lasts longer, which is not the case for joy.

N2ac is a component related to the focusing of attention within an auditory scene. Also, LPCpc activity - a cerebral marker of auditory attention – is also stronger for angry than for happy voices, findings revealed. 

This rapid detection of the source of a potential threat in a complex environment is essential as it is “critical in crisis situations and a great advantage for our survival”, noted Leonardo Ceravolo, researcher from the varsity.

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