Sometimes an anxiety disorder feels like worry and ruminating about lots of little and big things. Other times it’s focused on a specific phobia, such as a fear of flying or being in social situations. It can also be expressed as intense feelings about separation from loved ones. What’s clear is that someone experiencing anxiety disorder symptoms isn’t alone. About 40 million American adults have one or more types of anxiety disorders, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). If you think you may be among those dealing with these issues, it is possible to get help. There are a range of treatment options for anxiety disorders. A common experience The pandemic exacerbated anxiety issues, which led the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to recommend screenings for all adults under the age of 65. “COVID has taken a tremendous toll on the mental health of Americans,” panel member Lori Pbert, a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, said when the screening recommendations were changed. “This is a topic prioritized for its public health importance, but clearly there’s an increased focus on mental health in this country over the past few years.” Anxiety disorders are so common that nearly 30% of adults will experience one at some point in their lives, according to the American Psychiatric Association…  read on >  read on >

Anxiety attacks can seem overwhelming when you’re in the middle of one, but with the right coping tools you can come out the other side. What is an anxiety attack? According to the Detroit Medical Center, an anxiety attack is a stretch of time during which you experience “intense” anxiety symptoms, especially fear. It can last anywhere from minutes to weeks. So, what does an anxiety attack feel like? A racing heart, dizziness and being out of breath are common experiences for people who are having an anxiety attack, according to Harvard Health. In addition, this “fight-or-flight” response that is triggered by worry or fear can cause more fear to develop, creating a negative loop of panic. “If you’re feeling lightheaded, your heart racing and chest tightening, it really contributes to a sense that something terrible is going to happen,” said Jacqueline Bullis, an assistant psychologist at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, told Harvard Health. “But physical symptoms themselves aren’t the problem. It’s really the way we respond to them. We want people to learn that these distressing physical sensations aren’t dangerous and they can learn ways to tolerate them.” Anxiety attack symptoms According to Harvard Health, anxiety attacks occur when your symptoms become so intense that they interfere with everyday activities. These anxiety symptoms may include: Steadily increasing feelings of fear or worry Panting or gasping…  read on >  read on >

Cutting some carbohydrates may help people with type 2 diabetes live longer — as long as they are swapping sugar for vegetables instead of steak, new research suggests. The study, of more than 10,000 U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes, found that those who ate relatively fewer carbohydrates were less likely to die over the next 30 years, versus those with a bigger taste for carbs. But the quality of those lower-carb diets was key: People who ate a moderate amount of carbs but still fit in plenty of vegetables, fruit, fiber-rich grains and beans tended to live longer, versus people with higher-carb diets. Then there were the folks with lower-carb diets that were heavy in meat and dairy. They saw no such survival advantage. Experts said the findings, published in April issue of Diabetes Care, support a familiar piece of diet advice: Limit sugar and heavily processed foods, and eat more plants. More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, the vast majority of whom have the type 2 form, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes arises when the body loses its sensitivity to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin. The disease is often related to obesity, and diet changes, exercise and weight loss are cornerstones of managing it. Low-carb diets are often promoted for weight loss and reining…  read on >  read on >

Cutting out nutrients such as carbs, fat or protein may be a popular way to shed pounds but doing so can have unintended consequences. Instead, aim for a balance of those macronutrients to fuel your life and activities, said Dr. Elizabeth Albright of University of Michigan Health-West in Wyoming, Mich. In a university news release, she offered some suggestions for a balanced diet that will fit your lifestyle and offer the right fuel. Food is necessary to live, so don’t think of it as “good” or “bad”: Just because certain foods may fuel you toward your goals more effectively doesn’t make other foods bad, Albright said. Like putting unleaded gas in a diesel engine, some foods just aren’t the right fuel for you and can damage your body. Gender, race, genetics, metabolism and hormone levels all affect nutrition needs. Change your mindset: Rather than following a “diet” that has an end date, make your food habits a lifestyle. Pass on processed foods: Reducing your intake of processed foods will improve your general sense of well-being and lead to improvements in chronic disease and often weight loss. The chemicals used to increase foods’ shelf life are often highly inflammatory to the body, Albright said, which can put stress on organ systems and, eventually, cause dysfunction. Choose these foods: Build your menu around lean meats and proteins.…  read on >  read on >

In state after state, doors are quickly slamming shut on the ability of doctors to provide gender-affirming care for transgender minors. The newest restriction is set to take effect Thursday in Florida, where that state’s Board of Medicine decided last month to ban the use of all puberty blockers, hormone therapies and/or surgeries for any patient under 18, whether or not those minors have parental approval for such care. The ban stems from an effort first launched by Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Surgeon General back in April 2022, when the pair issued a joint call for the ban. That was followed in August 2022 by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s rewriting of Medicaid coverage rules that disallowed reimbursements for any gender-affirming treatments involving both minors and adults. Minors who were already receiving puberty blockers before the new ban may continue taking them. Otherwise, the ban is complete: Florida transgender minors are no longer allowed access to gender-affirming medical care, even in a clinical trial. As a board ruling — rather than a new state law — Florida doctors who violate the ban will not face criminal charges, though they will be subject to censure, fines and the potential loss of their right to practice medicine in the state. Last week, Republican state lawmakers tabled a bill that would have gone a…  read on >  read on >

Like humans, some dogs suffer from anxiety. They might show fear or excitability toward strangers. Loud noises might result in “accidents.” They may get destructive when you leave home. The cause of their distress could lie in their brain makeup, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium say. For the study, published March 15 in PLOS ONE, researchers Yangfeng Xu and Emma Christiaen recruited 25 healthy dogs and 13 anxious dogs. They then used a type of noninvasive brain imaging called fMRI. The researchers discovered the anxious dogs had different features in their brains, with stronger connections between a component of the brain known as the amygdala and other regions of the anxiety network. The amygdala is responsible for emotions and behavior, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Although animals, including rodents, are often studied to aid in understanding anxiety disorders, the investigators said the dogs’ larger brain and bigger cortex could aid research into neural networks associated with anxiety. The researchers looked at the resting state of dogs with and without anxiety, comparing network metrics and connectivity between the groups. With the resting-state fMRI, the study team could see that functional connections between the amygdala and other parts of the anxiety circuit, particularly the hippocampus, were stronger than normal in anxious dogs. Certain other measurements known as global and local efficiency were also…  read on >  read on >

Your eyes close and your mind shuts down the second your head hits the pillow, but you wake up 10 hours later still feeling tired. Many people complain about sleeping too little, but some struggle with the opposite problem: oversleeping. Oversleeping, or hypersomnia, is a sleep disorder characterized by complaints of excessive daytime sleepiness occurring regularly or often, even after sleeping 10 or more hours a night. “Healthy sleep encompasses three major things,” Marishka Brown, a sleep expert at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), said recently. “One is how much sleep you get. Another is sleep quality — that you get uninterrupted and refreshing sleep. The last is a consistent sleep schedule. If you’re sleeping more than nine hours a night and you don’t feel refreshed, there may be some underlying medical issue.” If you are asking yourself, “Why do I need so much sleep,” here are the most common reasons for that and some tips on how to revamp your sleeping routine. While individual sleep needs may vary depending on age and conditions such as illness, stress or physical activity levels, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that experts recommend that schoolchildren get nine hours of sleep per night and teens get eight to 10 hours, while adults may only need seven hours or more. Some adults, known as long sleepers,…  read on >  read on >

Don’t rely on TikTok for accurate health information about mpox, the virus once known as monkeypox, a new study says. An international group of researchers who watched and analyzed videos about mpox on the social media site found them to be often inaccurate, incomplete and of poor quality. Study findings were published May 14 in BMJ Global Health. A global outbreak of mpox made headlines last year. It’s usually spread by close contact and involves fever, swollen lymph glands and painful skin pustules all over the body that last several weeks. “Overall, the material on the recent mpox outbreak shared through TikTok videos was frequently unreliable and incomplete, hindering public health efforts to share accurate information on mpox,” the authors said in a journal news release. They include Dr. Ao Shi from St. George’s University of London. Researchers determined overall quality was higher when the videos were made by doctors and science communicators rather than institutional users, nurses and the general public. Still, the overall average score for the videos was 39.56 out of 80 using DISCERN, a tool used to help consumers gauge the reliability of health information; and 1.93 out of 4 using criteria from the Journal of the American Medical Association. No video met all the JAMA criteria. “Our quality-of-information results emphasize the need for developing instructions on health information videos on…  read on >  read on >

Black patients are dying of pulmonary fibrosis, a devastating disease marked by progressive scarring of the lungs, at significantly younger ages than white patients. A new study probes factors contributing to earlier onset of disease, hospitalization and death in Black patients. The disease involves a thickening and scarring of lung tissue, making it hard to breathe. It could come from exposure to toxins, medications or autoimmune disorders. About half of patients die within five years of a pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis. “Pulmonary fibrosis is a deadly disease, and people are often diagnosed right around the time they retire,” said lead author Dr. Ayodeji Adegunsoye, assistant professor of medicine at University of Chicago Medical Center. “You can imagine how devastating it would be, to work diligently all your life and then as you are about to retire, you’re diagnosed with a disease with a life expectancy of around three years,” he said in a center news release. The researchers looked at data from four U.S. hospitals, following outcomes of more than 4,500 patients between January 2003 and April 2021. On average, Black patients were diagnosed at 57.9 years of age, white patients at 68.6. Black patients were more likely to be female and more likely to be hospitalized than white and Hispanic patients, researchers found. Black patients were consistently younger at the time of their first hospitalization,…  read on >  read on >

U.S. water utilities will be required to remove certain “forever chemicals” from drinking water as the Biden administration sets first-ever limits on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, better known as known as PFAS. Nearly all Americans have PFAS in their bloodstream. The toxic chemicals are found in an enormous range of goods from dental floss to waterproof clothing. The chemicals are also a threat to wildlife. “EPA’s proposal to establish a national standard for PFAS in drinking water is informed by the best available science,” Michael Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said in an agency news release. It “would help provide states with the guidance they need to make decisions that best protect their communities,” he added. “This action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants.” The EPA aims to limit these chemicals in water to near-zero levels. About 200 million Americans may now be exposed to PFAS in their water, according to a 2020 study. No level of exposure to the chemicals is considered safe as it was found last year that they cause harm at levels much lower than once understood. Previously, advice was that drinking water contain no more than 70 parts per trillion of PFAS chemicals. Now, that advice has been…  read on >  read on >