The Impact of Stress on Chronic Illness

Chronic Illness in the Modern World

The leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the Western world, since the beginning of the twentieth century, are no longer infectious diseases, but chronic illnesses including diseases of the heart, cerebrovascular diseases, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and diabetes, which develop slowly over an extended period of time and tend to affect people across the lifespan disrupting their quality of life. It is estimated that one in five employees experience high levels of stress and £3.7 billion is lost, in terms of production, each year as a result.

Stress and stress-related diseases, as Vollrath points out, are the health scourge of modern times and are one of the reasons why health psychology, the purpose of which is to explain the psychological factors which give rise to the health compromising behaviours which contribute to the aetiology of such illnesses with a view to preventing them, has been one of the fastest growing disciplines in psychology since the 1980s.


Chronic Stress

If stress is chronic, in the sense that it is ongoing and longer lasting than acute stress, it can lead to longer term disturbance of the behavioural and biological processes contributing to disease development. Hans Selyes research in 1956 &1976 suggested that physical reactions to stress involve three phases which he termed the general adaptation syndrome: the alarm reaction, similar to the fight-or-flight syndrome which involves change in heart rate, respiration and perspiration as the body attempts to regulate its temperature; resistance, which occurs when stressors persist and the body works hard to produce the physical changes needed to cope with them including the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol; and exhaustion, which occurs when resources have been depleted and organ systems that were weak in the first place, or heavily involved in the resistance process, become associated with wear and tear.

Vulnerable Groups

Research by Kiecolt-Glaser et al. who are particularly at risk of experiencing chronic stress responses, have found an increased vulnerability to disease as a result of immune changes. Similarly, Steptoe et al, found higher levels of peri-natal mortality, childhood accidents, diabetes and CHD and cancers among those in lower socioeconomic groups, where chronic stress is more common.

Stress & Cancer Progression

Although caution is advised where drawing conclusions from studies into the relationship between stress and coping and cancer progression, due to mixed evidence, some human studies, such as that by Rosch in 1996, do show that stress influences tumour cell mutation by slowing down the cell repair process as a potential result of hormonal activation and the release of glucocorticoids or the production of lymphocytes. A study by Palesh et al, of women who had metastatic or recurrent breast cancer tumours, also found that those who had reported traumatic life events, experienced a significantly shorter disease-free intervals.

Preventative & Treatment Interventions

While multiple variables are involved in the onset of chronic illness, stress, if not a contributing factor, certainly has an exacerbating effect. As such, health psychology interventions which reduce the impact of stressors and help individuals to cope with stressors are of key importance in both preventing the onset of chronic illness and encouraging treatment adherence and as a means of supplementing pharmacotherapy treatments with a view to promoting more positive health outcomes for those who have already been diagnosed.

The High Prevalence of Mental Illness in Prisoners

Many studies have assessed the prevalence and types of prisoner mental disorder. Two of the most comprehensive and recent are Singleton, et al (1998) in their research on ‘Psychiatric morbidity among prisoners in England and Wales’ and Stewart in his paper on ‘The Problems And Needs Of Newly Sentenced Prisoners: Results From A National Survey’. Their results are summarised below, supporting again that essentially rates are extremely high!

Recent Facts and Figures on Mental Disorders in Prison Populations

The following is an overview of mental health conditions affecting the prison population:


  • Personality Disorder: 60.5% (Singleton) and 60.0% (Stewart).
  • Psychosis: 11.25% (Singleton) and 10.0% (Stewart).
  • Neurotic Symptoms: 58.50% (Singleton) and 36% severe, 82% one or more symptom (Stewart).
  • Drinking: 49.00% (Singleton) and 36.00% (Stewart).
  • Drug Dependence: 47.25% (Singleton) and 69.00% (Stewart).

Is Appropriate Mental Health Care Available in Prisons?

The most shocking statistics however are the small number of those offenders, who actually request or receive care for their mental disorder within the criminal justice system.

Bonta, Law & Hanson, suggest in the target of the correction service, as its name suggests is to rehabilitate deviant individuals to the point where they are deemed corrected and able to re-enter society without re-offending. As part of this rehabilitation, the underlying mental health disorders must be addressed. Mentally disordered offenders should be entitled to and receive the same quality of mental health care as the general population, however Brooker and Ullman found the reality is that serious deficits remain.

Diamond et al looked at ‘Who Requests Psychological Services Upon Admission to Prison?’ and reported only a mere 11% of individuals requested help with mental health problems upon admission. Singleton et al, found equally low numbers who actually received treatment during prison with 15.5% for men and 26.5% for women. This highlights a large gap between those identified to need help and those requesting and receiving it.

Why do Mentally Disordered Individuals end up and Remain in Prison?

Shift looked at ‘Improving Media Reporting of Mental Health’ and found that deeply ingrained prejudiced attitudes within society support the view that mentally disordered individuals are unpredictable and violent. The stigma attached to mental disorder results in individuals often being overlooked, turned away or intimidated when approaching mental health services before incarceration. Subsequently many mentally disordered offenders committing only minor non-violent offences, end up in the criminal justice system due to lack of access to alternatives.

In addition the lay view that mentally disordered individuals generally will be criminal, is the even stronger view that those who have already committed a crime once, are likely to violently reoffend. This acts to keep these individuals in prisons, further increasing numbers.

However this claim seems unsubstantiated. Firstly a reminder that many mentally disordered offenders are incarcerated for non-violent crimes to begin with. In addition Bonta, Law & Hanson, suggested that mentally disordered offenders have no higher likelihood of violent recidivism when compared to rational criminals. Also Rice and Harris (1992) studied the recidivism of schizophrenic and non-schizophrenic offenders, a mental health disorder with a particularly high level of stigma and misunderstanding against it. They found those with the mental disorder were actually less likely to reoffend.

Does Mental Disorder Predict Crime?

Stigma and irrational fears act to prevent individuals seeking treatment before incarceration, and to lower the chance of release once they enter the criminal justice system. Once inside these individuals have poor access to appropriate mental health care maintaining the figures.

So are people with mental disorders really more likely to commit crimes? Or do prevalent stigma and irrational fears explain why so many individuals with mental disorders end up in the criminal justice system, and keep them there?

The Facts about Neurontin®: Gabapentin Uses, Side Effects, Drug Interactions and Warnings

How does Neurontin® Work?

Researchers don’t know why Neurontin® works in the way that it does when it comes to nerve pain or with partial seizures caused by epilepsy. It is known that it has an effect on the calcium channels in the brain, and this may be why Neurontin® works for these conditions.

Is Neurontin® Right for You?




If there is a chance that one may be allergic to Neurontin®, one should not take this medication. If one is pregnant or planning to become pregnant, a doctor will only prescribe this medication if it is severely needed. Some women taking antiepileptic drugs have had children with birth defects. Researchers have found that Neurontin® may pass into breast milk, which could affect a nursing child. Speak with a doctor regarding any concerns regarding Neurontin® and pregnancy/nursing.

Neurontin® Drug Interactions

Taking Neurontin® with other medications could cause the effects of Neurontin® or the other medication to be different. Check with a doctor before taking any new drugs, prescription or over the counter, especially if starting to take antacids, hydrocodone, naproxen, or morphine.

Neurontin® Side Effects

Common side effects of Neurontin® include:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • unsteadiness
  • fatigue
  • vision changes
  • weight gain
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • constipation

If you experience tremors/shaking, swollen arms/legs, or loss of coordination, contact a doctor as these side effects may be serious.

Rare serious side effects may also occur, and one should contact a doctor as soon as possible. These side effects include:

  • mood/mental changes, which includes depression, suicidal thoughts, or other mental issues
  • severe stomach/abdominal pain
  • slow, fast, or irregular heartbeat
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • persistent sore throat, fever, or cough
  • pain or redness of the arms/legs
  • trouble breathing
  • hearing loss

Also watch for symptoms of an allergic reaction when first starting Neurontin®. Symptoms include shortness of breath, rash, itching, severe swelling, severe dizziness and trouble breathing. If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

All side effects may have not been reported. If a symptom develops contact a doctor or pharmacist for assistance. Side effects may be reported to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Neurontin® Warning

Do not stop taking this medication without speaking to a doctor or medical professional. One should not stop taking this medication suddenly, as it may cause seizures and other side effects. Wean off the medication slowly, exactly as advised by a doctor or medical professional.

Stroke Diagnosis: These are Methods for Assessing Risk and for Diagnosing a Stroke

Arterial Tests

Exams can be done to check for artery blockages or hemorrhages, as well as atherosclerosis. Arteriography is done by inserting a catheter (a thin tube) into cerebral arteries such as the carotid or vertebral arteries. This test gives a better view of the brain vessels by injecting imaging dye into said arteries. X-rays are then taken.

Carotid ultrasound, another arterial diagnostic test, uses high-frequency sound waves (no radiation) to produce live and still shots of the carotid arteries, where atherosclerosis can develop. Artery stenosis, or narrowing, can be measured and blockages can be detected. Ultrasound is a good screening test to determine the risk of an ischemic stroke.

Brain Scans

Two different brain exams can detect artery blockages, hemorrhages, and artery malformations. Computerized tomography, also referred to as a “cat scan”, is a form of x-ray that captures 3-dimensional images of the head and neck. It is a good , quick test to diagnose a hemorrhagic stroke. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, uses a strong magnet (no radiation) to also get 3-D shots of the brain, showing optimal pictures of the brain tissue affected by ischemic stroke.

Heart Imaging

Ecocardiography, or heart ultrasound, works on the same principle as carotid ultrasound, by taking images with high frequency sound waves. This diagnostic test can determine heart defects such as valve malformations or irregular heart beats, that can cause clots which can travel to the cerebral arteries and cause ischemic strokes. For further reference:

When Was the Last Time You Used a Gift Card?

Nowadays it seems like gift cards are the replacement for actual physical gifts. While some criticize gift cards as being insincere and not thoughtful, others believe that the greatest gift of all is to give the recipient the freedom to choose their desired product at a discounted price. But do we actually remember to use our gift cards?

With the array of consumer benefits available from various brands, it is hard to keep up with all the gift cards, memberships, loyalty programs and miles programs. According to estimate reports from the Journal of State Taxation, the typical American home has an average of $300 in unused or “unredeemed” gift cards, as they are often mistakenly misplaced, thrown out or only partially redeemed. As a result, this leads to a financial loss for both companies and consumers, as companies lose the potential profit of consumers spending more money on products, while consumers lose their benefits simply for being absent-minded.

Luckily the startup Giift has addressed this problem by creating an online platform where consumers can manage all their gift cards, loyalty programs, memberships and miles programs. Instead of fumbling around your wallet for your latest gift card, you can upload all the benefits online and see the total financial value of them. At the moment the Giift database already includes 1,200 loyalty and card programs, as well as 500 track balance programs in over 50 countries.

Another cool feature is that you can exchange your points or values online – for example, you can exchange the points of your Starbucks gift card and turn them into miles for your next big trip. Other than that, you can also add your friends on the network to buy, sell or exchange points online.

By creating a digital platform for gift cards and loyalty programs, companies can directly engage with the consumers, as they can easily notify them of upcoming promotions, discounts or offers without spamming their email inboxes. As the website is also available in multiple languages, this eliminates cultural borders and language barriers by creating a global community. 

In the end, gift cards and loyalty programs help to build brand loyalty and give consumers more incentive to spend more money on the given brand. However, if the benefits go unredeemed, this defeats the purpose of creating a win-win situation between brands and consumers. As long as consumers remember to use their gift cards and loyalty programs, this will keep both parties satisfied.

The Increase of Allergy Illnesses: The Rise of Asthma and Eczema in Modern Society

This has triggered much study on the relationship between the environment and health and illnesses caused by modern industrialized living. The impact of allergies has resulted in new diagnostic procedures and therapeutic treatments and it has created a new market for the pharmaceuticals and food industries. Prescription and over-the-counter anti-allergy medications are one of the most common drugs purchased.

Allergies and Asthma Increase in Industrialized Society

Allergies and related diseases have become a global problem with the progress of industrialization, pollutions pumped into the air and the increased use of chemicals in both the developed and developing world. By the mid-1900s, asthma had become an epidemic among children living in many major North American cities and there were rising rates of hay fever, asthma and eczema in most industrialized areas. A wide variety of immunological sensitivities continue to emerge as scientists and clinicians struggle to understand the causes and mechanisms of allergic and autoimmune reactions. Disorders involving food intolerances are also steeply rising as our food becomes more and more processed and laden with additives. Food and cosmetic companies have used the public awareness to market items in sometimes less than accurate methods.

Increase in Mortality Due to Asthma in Children

Preventable deaths from asthma occur due to a lack of awareness of the seriousness of the disease and its triggers, particularly in children. Since 1960, rates of deaths caused by asthma has risen steadily in all age groups, though it is highest among children. By 1966, asthma mortality in the US had become the fourth most common cause of death among children, after vehicle accidents, cancer and respiratory infections. Some researchers linked the increase in cases of deaths due asthma among children to the popularity of the medication corticosteroids, which suppresses the immune system, nine years earlier.

Although not all asthma is caused by allergies, the rise in asthma caused doctors to reconsider the severity and nature of allergic diseases at that time. In Western Europe, the prevalence of asthma, hay fever, allergic dermatitis and drug allergies doubled in the early 1980s. Comparisons between countries is difficult due to varying health care systems and socio-economic organization, similar patterns of asthma and other allergic diseases are reported in diverse areas of the world from Nigeria to Japan and Kuwait.

Travellers’ Diarrhoea: Advice on How to Avoid Food Poisoning on Vacation

Travellers’ diarrhoea (often simply called ‘food poisoning’) is the most common medical problem in holidaymakers. Changes in diet, or even the stress of the journey, can alter bowel habit, but most cases result from an infection of the intestine acquired through ingesting contaminated food or water. The usual cause is a bacterium, though viruses, protozoa and parasitic worms are occasionally responsible.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

The diarrhoea usually begins within the first week of the holiday, though the incubation period can vary depending on the infection. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence and bloating.

The risk of developing travellers’ diarrhoea is greatest in residents of Europe, North America or Australia who visit Latin America, Africa, the Middle East or Asia. It is less common in holidaymakers who stay and dine in five-star hotels and more common in those who travel overland and eat from local street vendors.

The risk is also increased in the young and the elderly, in people who have diabetes or an existing problem with their immune system, and in those taking certain drugs. If you have any concerns at all about intestinal infections abroad, and particularly if your group includes children or seniors, be sure to speak to your doctor well before you leave for your holiday.

Reducing the Risk of Travellers’ Diarrhoea

  • Avoid uncooked fruit and vegetables that you have not peeled yourself. Do not eat salads, unless you know for certain that they were washed in sterilized water.
  • Use bottled water for drinking and cleaning teeth, and avoid ice in drinks.
  • Water purification tablets can be used if you have no bottled water. These kill most bacteria, though the cysts of parasites may survive. To be certain that water is clean, boil it for ten minutes.
  • Avoid eating reheated food that has been left standing without refrigeration.
  • Avoid undercooked meat and seafood, unpasteurized milk and dairy products, and mayonnaise.
  • Always wash your hands before eating or preparing food, to avoid transferring organisms from fingers to mouth.
  • If you are camping, take particular care with personal hygiene and always make sure your cookware is clean before use.
  • Take care not to swallow water when swimming in pools or the sea, and especially in freshwater lakes.

Managing the Symptoms

In an otherwise healthy adult, the symptoms of travellers’ diarrhoea usually disappear within a few days without any specific treatment. If you are unfortunate enough to develop diarrhoea while on holiday, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. An oral rehydration solution may be taken, or add a spoonful of sugar to a salty drink made with Bovril or stock cubes. Be sure to use clean water for making drinks.


Eat a light, bland diet including salty soup, bread, rice or pasta. Bananas contain plenty of potassium to help replace lost salts, and yoghurt can help settle the stomach. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and cola, as these can worsen the dehydration.

Anti-diarrhoeal treatments may be bought from pharmacies and reduce the amount of diarrhoea by slowing the action of the gut. They can have side-effects, however, and may even prolong the diarrhoea because they slow the clearance of harmful bacteria from the gut. If you choose to use such a product, always follow the instructions on the packet.

If the symptoms are prolonged or severe, or you have a fever or see blood in the diarrhoea, seek medical attention at once.

Take Simple Precautions for a Happy Vacation

Travellers’ diarrhoea is so common that most people are likely to suffer from it at some time or another. You can help reduce the problem by always taking care with what you eat and drink while overseas.

Roleplaying in Relationships: Choosing the Right Toys for the Submissive Man

But a lot of men are nervous about broaching the subject, and particularly the specifics of their fantasies. They don’t want to frighten away their lovers, and also don’t want to script the entire scenario. So if a man brings it up at all, it might be up to his partner to press further, or to try different things. Basically, to choose different toys.

There are many different sex toys to choose from, from the simple to the extreme. When starting to explore, it’s best to start with simple items. In fact, at first a woman can begin with things she already owns.

Roleplaying With Clothing

When taking control of a boyfriend or husband, a woman can order him to wear something of hers – a pair of panties, or perhaps stockings. Wearing the clothing of a partner can be very erotic. And it shows the man right away that his partner is taking control. Submissive men generally fantasize about assuming what is traditionally the female role, and so wearing their partners’ clothing helps fulfill that fantasy.

Fur Toys

Whenever possible, add the sensual aspect to your play. Instead of metal handcuffs, choose fur-covered handcuffs. They’re just as strong – after all, they’re metal underneath the fur – and one can choose a favorite color or pattern. They are readily available in rabbit and fox fur, or in faux fur, in a wide variety of colors. There are other furry toys available as well. Stroke your partner with a large fur glove while he’s restrained. Even an unadventurous mate can enjoy the feel of a fur glove against his skin.

Whip It, Whip It Good

When men say they like to be whipped, that doesn’t necessarily mean the use of a real whip. A real whip will cause real damage. And while it’s true that some men do want that, the majority are looking for something like a flogger. A flogger will give the same effect – the feel of it hitting the skin, the loud SNAP sound – but without drawing blood. But men like to hear the word “whip.”

Talk to Your Partner

It’s not all about the toys, remember. Talk to your submissive man, remind him who’s in control. Hearing “I’m going to whip you” can be just as erotic as the actual flogging.

A submissive man doesn’t want to have to ask for these things. He’s hoping his partner will figure it out on her own, that she’ll read his thoughts and make his every fantasy come true. This isn’t likely, but remember that submissive men basically want their partners to enjoy taking control. They’re hoping that their submissive fantasies are complemented by their partners’ dominant fantasies.

So instead of trying to read his mind, and instead of asking him what he wants, a woman can simply act out her own fantasies. These may not be specifically what the man had in mind, but they will most likely be even more exciting and erotic because he didn’t have to think about them. In these cases, the woman truly is taking control, and that’s what he’s wanted all along.

Roleplaying Toys

Because submissive men fantasize about taking the role considered traditionally to be the female one, they do often wish to be penetrated. But women, when purchasing a strap-on, think small. Men don’t want to be cleft in two – not at first. When starting out, it’s not about the pain, but about the loss of control. That’s the thrill – giving up control to the woman. So pick out a small strap-on.

Also, there are a variety of plugs and other toys for penetration. At first, use these only during sex. But test his limits, push his boundaries – this will probably excite him – and order him to keep a plug in at other times, perhaps while you’re out and he’s at home.

And of course, it’s about sharing the experience, realizing each other’s fantasies. If the woman too has submissive fantasies, she can simply hand her partner the flogger. He will understand, and perhaps make some of his own fantasies come true for her.

New Rotavirus Vaccine

Rotavirus is an important cause of diarrhea worldwide.

In May 2013, researchers reported that this virus causes 111 million cases of diarrhea each year in our world. Rotavirus can cause children under the age of 5 to become severely dehydrated. If not treated this dehydration can lead to death. Rotavirus infection results in 25 million visits to a clinics, places 2 million patients in the hospital and kills between 352,000 and 592,000 people each year worldwide. By age 5 every child will have had one episode of rotavirus diarrhea. One in 5 of these children will visit a clinic, 1 in 65 will be hospitalized and 1 in 293 will die. They were also able to demonstrate that 82 percent of the children that die are from the poorest countries in the world. This virus kills and is especially deadly to young children. At one time it was thought that rotavirus infections would be a thing of the past. That was because a vaccine, called RotaShield, had been developed that protected nearly every child when taken properly. In fact my youngest child took this vaccine when just a baby with no problems at all. Unfortunately, the vaccine was removed from the market in 1999 because it was associated with a severe but rare complication called intussussception. Intussussception is a condition in which the bowel telescopes into itself and can cause life-threatening bowel blockage.

Researchers have come up with a new rotavirus vaccine that is taken orally and does not appear to cause intussusseption. This vaccine is a live attenuated viral vaccine. A live attenuated rotavirus vaccine is a modified rotavirus that can infect the cells of the intestine however it does not cause disease when it infects. The body will mount an immune response to the infected cells so that when a person immunized with this vaccine is exposed to a disease-causing rotavirus they eliminate the virus before it can cause disease. The vaccine called RIX 4414 is being tested in 11 countries in Latin America and in Finland. So far 30,000 children have gotten the vaccine with no severe complications. The vaccine appears to protect up to 90 percent of patients from severe rotavirus infection. The vaccine is given orally in two different doses.

There are a few more studies that need to be conducted but in the not to distant future we may again have a vaccine that could potentially, if used worldwide, save around 290,000 lives per year.

Flu Vaccine Helps Prevent Sickness: Vaccination Can Thwart or Lessen Symptoms of Influenza

The influenza vaccination can decrease the risk of contracting the flu, even when the vaccine is received late in the flu season.

Old Man Winter brings snow, colder weather – and flu. The fever, aches, sore throat and cough can dampen any enthusiasm for colder weather, but the flu vaccine can help prevent this cold-weather menace.

The vaccine has been shown to be effective in preventing flu, according to the CDC. Typically, the vaccine is given in October or November, but vaccinations can be given even after December. The flu season can begin in October and go as late as May.

“Vaccination is recommended for anyone who wants to decrease their risk of getting the flu,” said Dr. Jeanne Santoli, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Immunization Division. “And while anyone can get sick with influenza, the flu is especially serious for certain groups of people who are at high risk of complications from influenza, including infants and young children, pregnant women, children and adults with chronic medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes, and adults age 50 and older.”

Influenza, commonly called flu, is a virus spread by droplet – that is, contact with drops of an infected person’s cough or sneeze, including touching something contaminated with drops. Flu is a serious illness and can result in hospitalization or even death. Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized with flu, and about 36,000 people die each year from it, according to the CDC.

“Most deaths and hospitalizations are a consequence of complicating respiratory disorders, especially pneumonia,” said Dr. W. Paul McKinney in an interview with Medscape Today. McKinney is a professor of internal medicine and associate dean at the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky.

The vaccine can help prevent the illness, however. There are two types of vaccine – the shot and the nasal spray, according to the CDC. Both help prevent flu, but the nasal spray is approved only for healthy people age 2 to 49. Others, including pregnant women and infants age six months and older, should get the shot. Infants under six months old cannot receive the vaccine; Santoli recommended that their caregivers receive it to protect them.

The vaccines cause the body to develop antibodies to the flu virus. Usually, the antibodies are developed about two weeks after vaccination, according to the CDC. Then, if a person is exposed to flu, the antibodies can fight off the disease.