Burnout Prevention and Treatment

Techniques for Dealing with Overwhelming Stress

If constant stress has you feeling helpless, disillusioned, and completely exhausted, you may be on the road to burnout. When you’re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care—let alone do something to help yourself. The unhappiness and detachment that burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health. But by recognizing the earliest warning signs, you can take steps to prevent burnout. Or if you’ve already hit breaking point, there are plenty of things you can do to regain your balance and start to feel positive and hopeful again.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The effects of burnout

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

Are you on the road to burnout?

You may be on the road to burnout if:

  • Everyday is a bad day.
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

Signs and symptoms of burnout

Most of us have days when we feel helpless, overloaded, or unappreciated—when dragging ourselves out of bed requires the determination of Hercules. If you feel like this most of the time, however, you may have burnout.

Burnout is a gradual process. The signs and symptoms are subtle at first, but they get worse as time goes on. Think of the early symptoms as red flags that something is wrong that needs to be addressed. If you pay attention and act to reduce your stress, you can prevent a major breakdown. If you ignore them, you’ll eventually burn out.

Physical signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Feeling tired and drained most of the time
  • Lowered immunity, getting sick a lot
  • Frequent headaches or muscle pain
  • Change in appetite or sleep habits

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Sense of failure and self-doubt
  • Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated
  • Detachment, feeling alone in the world
  • Loss of motivation
  • Increasingly cynical and negative outlook
  • Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout

  • Withdrawing from responsibilities
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done
  • Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope
  • Taking out your frustrations on others
  • Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early

The difference between stress and burnout

Burnout may be the result of unrelenting stress, but it isn’t the same as too much stress. Stress, by and large, involves too much: too many pressures that demand too much of you physically and psychologically. Stressed people can still imagine, though, that if they can just get everything under control, they’ll feel better.

Burnout, on the other hand, is about not enough. Being burned out means feeling empty, devoid of motivation, and beyond caring. People experiencing burnout often don’t see any hope of positive change in their situations. If excessive stress is like drowning in responsibilities, burnout is being all dried up. And while you’re usually aware of being under a lot of stress, you don’t always notice burnout when it happens.

Stress vs. Burnout
Stress Burnout
Characterized by over engagement Characterized by disengagement
Emotions are overreactive Emotions are blunted
Produces urgency and hyperactivity Produces helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of energy Loss of motivation, ideals, and hope
Leads to anxiety disorders Leads to detachment and depression
Primary damage is physical Primary damage is emotional
May kill you prematurely May make life seem not worth living
Source: Stress and Burnout in Ministry

Causes of burnout

Burnout often stems from your job. But anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout—from the hardworking office worker who hasn’t had a vacation in years, to the frazzled stay-at-home mom struggling to care for kids, housework, and an aging parent.

Your lifestyle and personality traits can also contribute to burnout. What you do in your downtime and how you look at the world can play just as big of a role in causing burnout as work or home demands.

Work-related causes of burnout

  • Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
  • Lack of recognition or reward for good work
  • Unclear or overly demanding job expectations
  • Doing work that’s monotonous or unchallenging
  • Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment

Lifestyle causes of burnout

  • Working too much, without enough time for socializing or relaxing
  • Lack of close, supportive relationships
  • Taking on too many responsibilities, without enough help from others
  • Not getting enough sleep

Personality traits can contribute to burnout

  • Perfectionistic tendencies; nothing is ever good enough
  • Pessimistic view of yourself and the world
  • The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others
  • High-achieving, Type A personality

Sound familiar?

Whether you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout or you’re already past the breaking point, trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage. Now is the time to pause and change direction by learning how you can help yourself overcome burnout and feel healthy and positive again.

To deal with burnout, turn to other people

When you’re on the road to burnout, you can feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. There are positive steps you can take to deal with burnout and get your life back into balance. One of the most effective is to reach out to others.

Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress

Talking face to face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to “fix” your stressors; they just have to be a good listener, someone who’ll listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.

Opening up won’t make you a burden to others. In fact, most friends and loved ones will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your friendship.

Tips for combating burnout with positive relationships

Invest in your closest relationships, such as those with your partner, children or friends. Try to put aside what’s burning you out and make the time you spend with loved ones positive and enjoyable.

Try to be more sociable with your co-workers. Developing friendships with people you work with can help buffer you from job burnout. When you take a break, for example, instead of directing your attention to your smart phone, try engaging your colleagues. Or schedule social events together after work.

Limit your contact with negative people. Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you have to spend together.

Connect with a cause or a community group that is personally meaningful to you. Joining a religious, social, or support group can give you a place to talk to like-minded people about how to deal with daily stress — and to make new friends. If your line of work has a professional association, you can attend meetings and interact with others coping with the same workplace demands.

If you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and expand your social network.

The power of giving

Being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure and can help to significantly reduce stress as well as broaden your social circle.

While it’s important not to take on too much when you’re facing burnout, helping others doesn’t have to involve a lot of time or effort. Even small things like a kind word or friendly smile can make you feel good and help lower stress—for you and the other person.

Reframe the way you look at work

Whether you have a job that leaves you rushed off your feet or one that is monotonous and unfulfilling, the most effective way to combat job burnout is to quit and find a job you love instead. Of course, for many of us changing job or career is far from being a practical solution—we’re grateful just to have work to pay the bills. Whatever your situation, though, there are still things you can do to improve your state of mind.

Try to find some value in what you do. Even in some mundane jobs, you can often focus on how what you do helps others, for example, or provides a much-needed product or service. Focus on aspects of the job that you do enjoy—even if it’s just chatting with your coworkers at lunch. Changing your attitude towards your job can help you regain a sense of purpose and control.

Find balance in your life. If you hate your job, look for meaning and satisfaction elsewhere in your life: in your family, friends, hobbies, or voluntary work. Focus on the parts of your life that bring you joy.

Make friends at work. Having strong ties in the workplace can help reduce monotony and counter the effects of burnout. Having friends to chat and joke with during the day can help relieve stress from an unfulfilling or demanding job, improve your job performance, or simply get you through a rough day.

Take time off. If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence—anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue other burnout recovery steps.

Re-evaluate priorities

Burnout is an undeniable sign that something important in your life is not working. Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? Burnout can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and to slow down and give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal.

Set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.

Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.

Nourish your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.

Set aside relaxation time. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response.

Get plenty of sleep. Feeling tired can exacerbate burnout by causing you to think irrationally. Keep your cool in stressful situations by getting a good night’s sleep.

Boost your ability to stay on task

If you’re having trouble following through with these self-help tips to prevent or overcome burnout, HelpGuide’s free emotional intelligence toolkit can help.

  • Learn how to reduce stress in the moment.
  • Manage troublesome thoughts and feelings.
  • Motivate yourself to take the steps that can relieve stress and burnout.
  • Improve your relationships at work and home.
  • Rediscover joy and meaning that make work—and life—worthwhile.
  • Increase your overall health and happiness.

Make exercise a priority

Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out, exercise is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout. It’s also something you can do right now to boost your mood.

  • Aim to exercise for 30 minutes or more per day—or break that up into short, 10-minute bursts of activity. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
  • Rhythmic exercise—where you move both your arms and legs—is a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. Try walking, running, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or even dancing.
  • To maximize stress relief, instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts, focus on your body and how it feels as you move—the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the wind on your skin.

Support your mood and energy levels by eating a healthy diet

What you put in your body can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels throughout the day.

Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these high-carbohydrate foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.

Reduce your high intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, trans fats, and foods with chemical preservatives or hormones.

Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost. The best sources are fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines), seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.

Avoid nicotine. Smoking when you’re feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.

Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol temporarily reduces worry, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off.

 

 

 

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Breast Cancer Month 2017

An Overview of Breast Cancer

By Jean Campbell, MS | Reviewed by a board-certified physician

Breast Cancer Month SSP 2017

Breast cancer occurs as normal cells in tissue start to grow and divide in an out of control manner. As they grow, the cells often, but not always, form a tumor in the breast that can be detected in a mammogram before it can be felt as a lump or thickening.

It is important to note that not all lumps in the breast are breast cancer, and not all breast cancers present with a lump. However, all lumps or thickenings in the breast need medical attention to determine whether they are one of many benign lumps that can occur in the breast or are truly a cancer.

Breast cancer is not a single disease; research evidence continues to indicate that there are a number of subtypes of breast cancer. They happen at varying rates in different groups and respond differently to treatments. Some are more aggressive than others and have very different long-term survival rates.

Common Breast Cancers

Breast cancer most often originates in the breast ducts that carry milk to the nipple.

These types, called ductal cancers, account for about 80 percent of all breast cancers. Lobular cancer begins in the glands (lobules) that produce breast milk and accounts for about 8 percent of all breast cancers.

When a cancer is confined within a breast duct or the cells of the lobules it is called in situ, meaning ‘in site.’ Cancers that break through the wall of a duct or the cells of the lobules and spread into the surrounding breast tissue are described as invasive or infiltrating breast cancers.

Other Breast Cancers

Inflammatory breast cancer is considered a rare but aggressive cancer that presents without a lump and results in the affected breast(s) having a swollen, red, or inflamed appearance.

Paget’s disease of the breast, which is also rare, involves the skin of the nipple and, usually, the darker circle of skin around the nipple.

Metastatic breast cancer, which is also known as stage IV breast cancer, is a cancer that begins in the breast and spreads to distant organs such as the brain, bones, lungs, and liver. About 6 percent to 8 percent of women and men are metastatic when first diagnosed. Metastatic cancer, when it occurs, is usually diagnosed months to years after being treated for an early stage cancer.

Who Gets Breast Cancer?

If you have breast tissue, you can develop a breast cancer. While primarily occurring in women, with 1 in 8 women in the United States developing an invasive breast cancer during her lifetime, men do get breast cancer too.

After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women living in the United States; unfortunately, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, with the exception of lung cancer.

 

Article

The Voices of Male Breast Cancer

 

Article

The Nipple, Areola, and Montgomery Glands Make up the Outer Breast

 

According to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence of breast cancer is highest in white women for most age groups, followed by African-American/black, Hispanic/Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native women.

African-American women have higher breast cancer incidence rates before 40 years of age, and higher rates of dying from breast cancer than women of any other racial/ethnic group in the United States at every age. Hispanic/Latina women tend to get breast cancer at a younger age than non-Hispanic white women.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

Aging: A woman’s chances of getting breast cancer increase as she ages.

Family History: A woman who has a mother, sister, or daughter diagnosed with breast cancer has double the risk of developing breast cancer than a woman who does not have a first-degree relative that was diagnosed with the disease. Note: About 85 percent of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.

Genetics: Five percent to 10 percent of all breast cancers can be linked to women and men with gene mutations that were inherited from their mother or father. The BRCA 1 and 2 genes are the most common. Having either of these mutations substantially increases the lifetime risk of breast cancer. These mutations also carry an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women.

Dense Breasts: Women who have a high percentage of breast tissue that appears dense on a mammogram have a higher risk of breast cancer than women of similar age who have little or no dense breast tissue. Abnormalities in dense breasts, such as tumors, can be more difficult to detect on a mammogram.

Race: In the United States, breast cancer is diagnosed more often in white women and least often in Alaska Native women.

Behaviors That Increase the Risk for Developing Breast Cancer

Weight: Studies have found that the chance of getting breast cancer is higher in postmenopausal women who have not used menopausal hormone therapy and who are significantly overweight compared to peers who are of a healthy weight.

 

Article

Does a False Positive Mammogram Indicate Future Breast Cancer?

 

 

Article

What to Know About Breast Cancer Symptoms

 

Smoking: Researchers at the American Cancer Society found an increased risk for breast cancer among women who smoke, especially those who started to smoke before having their first child.

Alcohol: The National Cancer Institute reports that over 100 studies document an increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol consumption.

Inactive Lifestyle: Women who are physically inactive throughout life may have an increased risk of breast cancer.

What Should You Know to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer?

Breast Cancer Symptoms

Remember that noticing these symptoms may not mean that breast cancer is to blame. That said, if you are experiencing any, it’s important to bring them to your doctor’s attention.

  • A breast lump
  • Breast pain: That said, breast cancer is usually painless during its early stages. Pain in the breast can be caused by a number of different non-cancerous breast conditions.
  • A noticeable change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Dimpling of skin on part of the breast (like an orange peel)
  • Redness or a rash-like appearance to the skin on the breast: It may resemble mastitis, an infection in the breast, which usually affects women who are breastfeeding.
  • Flaky or crusty looking skin around the nipple
  • Inward turning nipple
  • Nipple discharge (perhaps with blood)

How Breast Cancer Is Diagnosed

A routine mammogram or the results of a physical exam may indicate something suspicious for breast cancer. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of breast cancer is to do a biopsy and take a sample of the tissue from the area in question. The sample needs to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist who is a medical doctor to check for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, the pathologist will assess the characteristics of the cancer and write a report on the findings.

The type of biopsy you get depends on several factors, including the tumor’s size and location, and how concerned your doctor is about it. Options include:

  • Fine Needle Aspiration: The procedure is performed by a breast surgeon or radiologist using a thin needle with a hollow center to extract a sample of cells from the area in question.
  • Core Needle Biopsy: This type of biopsy uses a larger hollow needle than one used in a fine needle aspiration to remove tissue samples.
  • Surgical Biopsy: During this biopsy, the surgeon uses a scalpel to cut through the skin to remove a piece of the tissue in question to be examined by the pathologist.

Explore our Breast Cancer Diagnosis section for more in-depth information on tests and screenings.

How Breast Cancer Is Treated

While there are several options for the treatment of breast cancer, the kind and amount used for a particular case is determined by the type of cancer and extent to which it has spread. Usually, a woman or man diagnosed with breast cancer will receive more than one treatment.

  • Surgery: Most breast cancer patients have surgery to remove their cancer. Those with an early breast cancer often have the option of having breast conserving surgery to remove the lump and a margin of tissue surrounding the lump. This surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy: When treatment requires a systemic approach to kill cancer cells that may have traveled beyond the breast or to shrink tumors prior to surgery, patients are treated with chemotherapy, which are special drugs that are taken in pill form or administered into a vein.
  • Hormonal Therapy: An oral medication that blocks cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow. It is frequently given to women and men following active treatment to prevent a recurrence.
  • Biological Therapy: Treatment that helps a patient’s immune system fight cancer cells.
  • Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. The treatment is usually administered Monday through Friday for several weeks. Treatments are brief and painless.

Our Breast Cancer Treatment section delves into each of these in greater detail, and it’s a great place to start if you’re exploring options.

Early Detection and Intervention

Finding and treating breast cancer while it is still an early stage cancer, before it spreads beyond the breast and through the lymphatic system, offers the best possible prognosis.

Women and men with an early stage cancer are often candidates for breast conserving surgery, such as a lumpectomy, and may not need to have chemotherapy treatments.

Early detection requires:

  • Knowing what your breasts normally look and feel like, and reporting any changes or symptoms to your physician
  • Seeing your physician annually for a comprehensive breast exam
  • If you are under 40 years of age and have a family history of breast cancer, speaking with your physician as to when you need to begin annual mammograms and discuss the need for genetic counseling
  • If you are over 40 with no family history of breast cancer, getting regular mammograms. Note: Mammograms can detect a breast cancer years before it can be felt, while it is easier to treat.

­

There are more than 3 million of us in the United States today that once heard the words, “You have breast cancer.” We are living proof that breast cancer can be successfully treated. When breast cancer is caught at an early stage, it can be treated more conservatively and result in a shorter recovery time.

Sources:

American Cancer Society. What is Breast Cancer? Medical Review: 09/25/2014. Revised: May 4, 2016.

Centers for Disease Control. Risk Factors for Young Women. Reviewed: March 13, 2014 Updated: March 13, 2014.

National Cancer Institute. A Snapshot of Breast Cancer. Posted: November 5, 2014

 

 

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/about-breast-cancer

http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/what-is-breast-cancer

https://www.verywell.com/breast-cancer-4014752

Heritage Day 2017

 

Heritage Day SSP 2017

The first Heritage Day was instituted in 1995, after the first free elections that spelled the end of apartheid and the beginning of a new, non-racially based democracy.

The roots of Heritage day, however, precede 1995. The 24th of September was originally simply a Zulu holiday celebrated in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. It was a remembrance to Shaka, the great chief who united the Zulu tribes into a unified nation. When a bill was being passed in 1995 by the South African parliament to establish South Africa’s official public holidays, the Zulus objected that “Shaka Day” was not included. A compromise finally kept the date but broadened the meaning to include celebration of the heritage of all South African peoples. Thus, it was renamed “Heritage Day”.

The official government definition of the “heritage” in “Heritage Day” counts it to include all that the people inherit, such as culture, history, wildlife, monuments, artwork, literature, music, folklore, languages, culinary traditions, and more. In 1996, president Nelson Mandela declared that Heritage Day would help South Africans use their “rich and varied cultural heritage“ to “build our new nation.” Each year, the government declares a special theme for that year’s Heritage Day. In 1995, for example, the theme was on Enoch Sontonga, the author of South Africa’s national anthem. His grave was declared a new national monument, and his music and life were remembered.

Should you be in South Africa for Heritage Day, you will be able to hear the president’s speech on television, learn much about the cultural heritage of various South African peoples, and enjoy the beauty of the land. Some specific things to do in South Africa on Heritage Day include:

·         Attend a “braais”, if you can get the invitation. “Braais” is the Afrikaans word for “grill or barbecue.” “Braaivleis” means “grilled or barbecued meat.” These potluck-like party dinners are indulged in all across the country every Heritage Day. It is a little like a Fourth of July picnic in the United States. Family and friends gather to grill meats, such as boerewors (a kind of sausage), kebabs, lamb chops, pork, chicken, steak, and ribs. You will also find fish and rock lobster (“kreef”) in coastal towns and pap (cornmeal porridge) in almost every town.

·         Visit Hout Bay for the reenactment of the Battle of Hout Bay held there around this time every year. The battle took place in 1795 between a British frigate in the bay and the coastal cannons and fortifications of the Dutch and French defenders. Although the British failed to take the fort at this time, they later took it and all Cape Colony with it. Afterward, they further strengthened the fort at Hout Bay.

·         Tour sites associated with Nelson Mandela’s life and career. There are many, but some of the most important ones include: the Robben Island Museum, on the island where Mandela was once held as a prisoner; the Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha and Qunu, dedicated to youth and heritage themes; the Mandela House Museum in Soweto, where Mandela and his family lived for many years; and Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg, where you can take photographs with his gigantic statute.

·         See The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg or the similar District Six Museum in Cape Town, both of which reveal the realities of the apartheid era. The contrast between then and now is stark and very much “on topic” when it comes to the purpose of Heritage Day.

·         See the world’s largest free-flight aviary in Plettenberg Bay. This is a part of the “natural heritage” of South Africa. It is a mesh dome built over the top of nearly 6 acres of natural forest. Inside, there are literally thousands of bird species.

South Africa has a rich and diverse heritage, and scheduling your visit for Heritage Day is one of the best ways to appreciate it. The history, people, and wildlife of South Africa hold endless variety, and you will never regret the trip.

Suicide Prevention Day 2017

 

How to Help Someone who is Suicidal and Save a Life

1

A suicidal person may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that help isn’t wanted. People who take their lives don’t want to die—they just want to stop hurting. Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

Understanding suicide

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die each year from suicide. What drives so many individuals to take their own lives? To those not in the grips of suicidal depression and despair, it’s difficult to understand what drives so many individuals to take their own lives. But a suicidal person is in so much pain that he or she can see no other option.

Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable. Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to suicide, but they just can’t see one.

Common misconceptions about suicide
Myth: People who talk about suicide won’t really do it.

Fact: Almost everyone who attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Don’t ignore even indirect references to death or suicide. Statements like “You’ll be sorry when I’m gone,” “I can’t see any way out,” — no matter how casually or jokingly said, may indicate serious suicidal feelings.

Myth: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy.

Fact: Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.

Myth: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them.

Fact: Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.

Myth: People who die by suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help.

Fact: Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.

Myth: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea.

Fact: You don’t give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true—bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Source: SAVE – Suicide Awareness Voices of Education

Warning signs of suicide

Take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide—it’s a cry for help.

Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognize these warning signs and know how to respond if you spot them. If you believe that a friend or family member is suicidal, you can play a role in suicide prevention by pointing out the alternatives, showing that you care, and getting a doctor or psychologist involved.

Major warning signs for suicide include talking about killing or harming oneself, talking or writing a lot about death or dying, and seeking out things that could be used in a suicide attempt, such as weapons and drugs. These signals are even more dangerous if the person has a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder, suffers from alcohol dependence, has previously attempted suicide, or has a family history of suicide.

A more subtle but equally dangerous warning sign of suicide is hopelessness. Studies have found that hopelessness is a strong predictor of suicide. People who feel hopeless may talk about “unbearable” feelings, predict a bleak future, and state that they have nothing to look forward to.

Other warning signs that point to a suicidal mind frame include dramatic mood swings or sudden personality changes, such as going from outgoing to withdrawn or well-behaved to rebellious. A suicidal person may also lose interest in day-to-day activities, neglect his or her appearance, and show big changes in eating or sleeping habits.

Suicide warning signs

Talking about suicide – Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”

Seeking out lethal means – Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.

Preoccupation with death – Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.

No hope for the future – Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped (“There’s no way out”). Belief that things will never get better or change.

Self-loathing, self-hatred – Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden (“Everyone would be better off without me”).

Getting affairs in order – Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.

Saying goodbye – Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again.

Withdrawing from others – Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.

Self-destructive behavior – Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a “death wish.”

Sudden sense of calm – A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to attempt suicide.

Suicide prevention tip 1: Speak up if you’re worried

If you spot the warning signs of suicide in someone you care about, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to say anything. What if you’re wrong? What if the person gets angry? In such situations, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable or afraid. But anyone who talks about suicide or shows other warning signs needs immediate help—the sooner the better.

Talking to a person about suicide

Talking to a friend or family member about their suicidal thoughts and feelings can be extremely difficult for anyone. But if you’re unsure whether someone is suicidal, the best way to find out is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing that you care. In fact, giving a suicidal person the opportunity to express his or her feelings can provide relief from loneliness and pent-up negative feelings, and may prevent a suicide attempt.

Ways to start a conversation about suicide:

“I have been feeling concerned about you lately.”

“Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.”

“I wanted to check in with you because you haven’t seemed yourself lately.”

Questions you can ask:

“When did you begin feeling like this?”

“Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?”

“How can I best support you right now?”

“Have you thought about getting help?”

What you can say that helps:

“You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.”

“You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.”

“I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”

“When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.”

When talking to a suicidal person

Do:

Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.

Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.

Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.

Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.

Take the person seriously. If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.

But don’t:

Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”

Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.

Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.

Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.

Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

Source: Metanoia.org

Tip 2: Respond quickly in a crisis

If a friend or family member tells you that he or she is thinking about death or suicide, it’s important to evaluate the immediate danger the person is in. Those at the highest risk for suicide in the near future have a specific suicide PLAN, the MEANS to carry out the plan, a TIME SET for doing it, and an INTENTION to do it.

The following questions can help you assess the immediate risk for suicide:

  • Do you have a suicide plan? (PLAN)
  • Do you have what you need to carry out your plan (pills, gun, etc.)? (MEANS)
  • Do you know when you would do it? (TIME SET)
  • Do you intend to take your own life? (INTENTION)
Level of Suicide Risk
Low – Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.
Moderate – Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn’t very lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.
High – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won’t attempt suicide.
Severe – Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will attempt suicide.

If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911, or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives, and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.

Tip 3: Offer help and support

If a friend or family member is suicidal, the best way to help is by offering an empathetic, listening ear. Let your loved one know that he or she is not alone and that you care. Don’t take responsibility, however, for making your loved one well. You can offer support, but you can’t get better for a suicidal person. He or she has to make a personal commitment to recovery.

It takes a lot of courage to help someone who is suicidal. Witnessing a loved one dealing with thoughts about ending his or her own life can stir up many difficult emotions. As you’re helping a suicidal person, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Find someone that you trust—a friend, family member, clergyman, or counselor—to talk to about your feelings and get support of your own.

Helping a suicidal person:

Get professional help. Do everything in your power to get a suicidal person the help he or she needs. Call a crisis line for advice and referrals. Encourage the person to see a mental health professional, help locate a treatment facility, or take them to a doctor’s appointment.

Follow-up on treatment. If the doctor prescribes medication, make sure your friend or loved one takes it as directed. Be aware of possible side effects and be sure to notify the physician if the person seems to be getting worse. It often takes time and persistence to find the medication or therapy that’s right for a particular person.

Be proactive. Those contemplating suicide often don’t believe they can be helped, so you may have to be more proactive at offering assistance. Saying, “Call me if you need anything” is too vague. Don’t wait for the person to call you or even to return your calls. Drop by, call again, invite the person out.

Encourage positive lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and getting out in the sun or into nature for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise is also extremely important as it releases endorphins, relieves stress, and promotes emotional well-being.

Make a safety plan. Help the person develop a set of steps he or she promises to follow during a suicidal crisis. It should identify any triggers that may lead to a suicidal crisis, such as an anniversary of a loss, alcohol, or stress from relationships. Also include contact numbers for the person’s doctor or therapist, as well as friends and family members who will help in an emergency.

Remove potential means of suicide, such as pills, knives, razors, or firearms. If the person is likely to take an overdose, keep medications locked away or give out only as the person needs them.

Continue your support over the long haul. Even after the immediate suicidal crisis has passed, stay in touch with the person, periodically checking in or dropping by. Your support is vital to ensure your friend or loved one remains on the recovery track.

 

 

Risk factors

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, at least 90 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from one or more mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or alcoholism. Depression in particular plays a large role in suicide. The difficulty suicidal people have imagining a solution to their suffering is due in part to the distorted thinking caused by depression.

Common suicide risk factors include:

  • Mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse
  • Previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, or history of trauma or abuse
  • Terminal illness or chronic pain, a recent loss or stressful life event
  • Social isolation and loneliness

Antidepressants and suicide

For some, depression medication causes an increase—rather than a decrease—in depression and suicidal thoughts and feelings. Because of this risk, the FDA advises that anyone on antidepressants should be watched for increases in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Monitoring is especially important if this is the person’s first time on depression medication or if the dose has recently been changed. The risk of suicide is the greatest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment.

Suicide in teens and older adults

In addition to the general risk factors for suicide, both teenagers and older adults are at a higher risk of suicide.

Suicide in teens

Teenage suicide is a serious and growing problem. The teenage years can be emotionally turbulent and stressful. Teenagers face pressures to succeed and fit in. They may struggle with self-esteem issues, self-doubt, and feelings of alienation. For some, this leads to suicide. Depression is also a major risk factor for teen suicide.

Other risk factors for teenage suicide include:

  • Childhood abuse
  • Recent traumatic event
  • Lack of a support network
  • Availability of a gun
  • Hostile social or school environment
  • Exposure to other teen suicides

Warning signs in teens

Additional warning signs that a teen may be considering suicide:

  1. Change in eating and sleeping habits
  2. Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  3. Violent or rebellious behavior, running away
  4. Drug and alcohol use
  5. Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  6. Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  7. Frequent complaints about physical symptoms, often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  8. Not tolerating praise or rewards

Source: American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Suicide in the elderly

The highest suicide rates of any age group occur among persons aged 65 years and older. One contributing factor is depression in the elderly that is undiagnosed and untreated.

Other risk factors for suicide in the elderly include:

  • Recent death of a loved one, isolation and loneliness
  • Physical illness, disability, or pain
  • Major life changes, such as retirement or loss of independence
  • Loss of sense of purpose

Warning signs in older adults

Additional warning signs that an elderly person may be contemplating suicide:

  1. Reading material about death and suicide
  2. Disruption of sleep patterns
  3. Increased alcohol or prescription drug use
  4. Failure to take care of self or follow medical orders
  5. Stockpiling medications or sudden interest in firearms
  6. Social withdrawal, elaborate good-byes, rush to complete or revise a will

Source: University of Florida

Suicide Prevention Day SSP 2017

 

World Humanitarian Day – August 19

World | Cause

World Humanitarian Day was established by the United Nations in 2009 to honor humanitarian aid workers throughout the world, both those currently providing humanitarian assistance and those who have lost their lives in their humanitarian work. It’s held on August 19 each year to commemorate the anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Iraq, in which 22 people lost their lives, including the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. Humanitarian aid workers provide life-saving assistance to people in need all over the world who are suffering for a number of reasons, but especially those who live in conflict zones or have been affected by a natural disaster. Anyone and everyone can be a humanitarian, so read on to learn more about the day and how you can help.

Why World Humanitarian Day is Important

A. It celebrates unsung heroes
Humanitarian aid workers are some of the most heroic and honorable people alive: they put themselves at great risk by traveling to conflict zones and disaster areas to help alleviate the suffering of strangers, and are almost never acknowledged for it. World Humanitarian Day is a sobering reminder of how many lives have been lost in the name of this valiant cause, as well as a celebration of those who are out there doing the work right now.

B. It highlights the need for humanitarian work
For the reasons outlined above, “humanitarian aid worker” isn’t an extremely popular profession. Simply put, there can never be enough humanitarian aid workers out there. Every year, millions of people need humanitarian assistance as a result of disasters both preventable and unpreventable. As much as we hope that some of the man-made conflicts that result in suffering can be resolved, there is always going to be a need for more humanitarian work.

C. It’s an international event
A big part of World Humanitarian Day is drawing importance to the need for international cooperation on humanitarian issues. Humanitarian aid workers might be helping people in their home countries, or they might be dispatched to help those in need in other countries. Having international cooperation between countries is essential to maintaining the safety of humanitarian aid workers while enabling them to help those who are suffering.

 

How to Observe World Humanitarian Day

Human Trafficking

South Africa is a hotbed for the billion dollar human trafficking industry.

Even worse, experts say parents often play a role in the modern-day slavery of their own babies and children.

People are sold for muti and organ “donation”, babies and children are used for sexual exploitation, cheap labour and even forced marriage.

In Durban, police have found girls as young as 12 years old selling their young bodies on the streets.

The Centre for International Policy’s Global Financial Integrity programme estimated last year that global human trafficking accounted for R230 million of illicit trade, only one third behind drugs and counterfeit goods.

In 2000, social workers and officers of the Child Protection Unit estimated there were 28 000 child prostitutes in South Africa.

Joan van Niekerk from Childline says they are still trying to assess exactly how many people have been caught up in the human trade.

“However, it is a significant problem in South and Southern Africa and is fed by our high levels of poverty, orphanhood and parental irresponsibility,” she says.

According to Barbara Ras, founder of the Atlantis Women’s Movement and a shelter for trafficked victims in Atlantis, there has been an increase in numbers.

“In 2009, we had 16 trafficking victims, in 2010, 35, and last year we had 67,” she tells the Daily Voice.

“I think the reason for this spike is that no one is making a noise about it, our courts are too quiet.”

Recently a Joburg teenager told of how she escaped a child trafficking ring.

The 16-year-old girl was kidnapped in Bramley last year by four men.

After being drugged, she was taken to Khayelitsha where she was raped, beaten, threatened and told she would be put to work as a prostitute.

After two months, she managed to escape and was reunited with her family.

The Hawks are currently investigating the case.

Barbara says traffickers especially target women and children from rural areas, and often lure them away under the pretext of jobs in the big city.

“These people are poor, there are no jobs, some parents are alcoholics and don’t take care of their children,” says Barbara.

“These are innocent girls who go away to work because they think they can get a better life and escape the poverty cycle.”

She says trafficking rings are more sophisticated than people think.

“There’s a whole network of people involved – recruiters, taxi drivers, the person waiting in the city, etc. There are even women that help with the trafficking of children and other women,” she explains.

“However, girls are also taken from malls, bus stops and taxi ranks.”

Barbara says traffickers treat the girls well in order to gain their trust.

“The girls are drugged – it’s placed in their food and drinks – so by the time they realise they are in trouble, it is far too late,” she says.

“While they are drugged, they are raped and photos are taken of them, which is used to blackmail them.

“Their clothes and shoes are taken away, so that they don’t escape.

“Some of these girls don’t even have breasts yet.

“They are brought into Cape Town and dropped off in places like Athlone and Goodwood for domestic work where they are treated like slaves.”

Barbara adds: “In other cases, they are taken to clubs and brothels where they are kept drugged, beaten and abused.

“They are kept prisoner and are constantly watched.

“Some girls are even sold from person to person – this problem is bigger than we realise and this came to light through the active work of the City’s Vice Squad.”

Barbara says trafficking is done by both local and foreign perpetrators.

“One of the biggest contributing factors to trafficking is that there is too much free access to our borders,” she says.

“We need more border control and national government must make sure we get our specialised units back – we really need them.”

Meanwhile, organisations have called on Parliament to finalise the Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Persons Bill, also known as the TIP Bill.

Currently offenders are charged with sexual abuse, rape and kidnapping.

According to Molo Songololo, a large number of cases gets dismissed in court due to lack of evidence, poor investigations, poor cooperation from witnesses (victims), and the length of the prosecution process.

“Another danger is when these perpetrators are arrested but not convicted, they come back and search for these girls because they know too much,” adds Barbara.

“The scars never heal for these children, many are so damaged that they go back to the streets and prostitute themselves.

“Traffickers are unscrupulous people and they must be brought to book. And if people know about it, they must speak out.”

* Getting help to abused victims

Joan van Niekerk of Childline urges everyone to be vigilant against traffickers.

“Be alert – keep an eye on children in your community and, in keeping with the spirit of Ubuntu, see every child as your child,” she explains.

Look out for signs of abuse, bruises and a fear of different people.

If you are worried about a situation, contact:

* The South African Police – 10111

* Childline/Lifeline – 08000 55555

* Molo Songololo – 021 448 5421

* Safeline – 08000 35553

* Cape Town Child Welfare – 021 638 3127

* The Trauma Centre – 021 465 7373

* Molo Songololo, Patrick Child Line – 08000 55555

* The Child Trauma Centre – 021 556 9556

* Jelly Beanz Inc – 082-jelly-00 (082 5355 900)

* The Salvation Army – 021 761 8530/1/2/3/4/5

* Rape Crisis – Athlone 021 447 9762 and in Khayelitsha 021 361 9085.

* How these sinister syndicates operate

A victim of human trafficking is defined as someone who is being forced or being lied to and then moved (from their home) in order to be exploited for sexual purposes (rape, porn, prostitution), cheap labour or their body parts, among other purposes.

In some cases, the person can be trafficked without being moved, “ownership” of the person changes from trafficker to trafficker at a fixed location.

Parents act as traffickers of their own children by allowing others to sexually exploit them for financial reasons such as paying off debts.

In rural areas, parents are found to sell daughters as child brides.

The Network Against Child Labour estimates that there are 400 000 children working in South Africa.

According to the Human Rights Committee, child labour is everywhere, from taxi ranks to farms and coal yards.

They are forced to work brutal hours that adults are protected against simply because they have no recourse to the law.

Their average pay is R10 a day.

Sex exploiters pay anything from R10 to R150 to traffickers for access to a child’s body.

Reports say human trafficking is mostly TO South Africa and it is organised by international crime syndicates from Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/crime-courts/shocking-reality-of-sa-human-trafficking-1224202

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2017

The United Nations General Assembly in 1987 decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) selects themes for the International Day and launches campaigns to raise awareness about the global drug problem. Health is the ongoing theme of the world drug campaign.

The South African government and its partners are implementing the National Drug Master Plan, 2013-2017, which is a collective effort towards a South Africa that is free of drug abuse. The drug master plan is a single document covering all national concerns regarding drug control; summarising national policies authoritatively, and defining priorities and allocating responsibility for drug control efforts (United Nations Drug Control Programme). The National Drug Master Plan prioritises strategies on demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction.

The Master Plan serves as the country’s blueprint for preventing and reducing alcohol and substance abuse and its associated social and economic consequences on South African society, and builds on the foundation laid down by government’s Programme of Action on alcohol and substance abuse.

The key outcomes of the five year National Drug Master Plan are:

  • reduction of the bio-socio-economic impact of substance abuse and related illnesses on the South African population
  • ability of all people in South Africa to deal with problems related to substance abuse within communities
  • recreational facilities and diversion programmes that prevent vulnerable populations from becoming substance dependents
  • reduced availability of substance dependence-forming drugs and alcoholic beverages
  • development and implementation of multi-disciplinary and multi-modal protocols and practices for integrated diagnosis and treatment of substance dependence and co-occurring disorders and for funding such diagnosis and treatment.

Harmonisation and enforcement of laws and policies to facilitate effective governance of the alcohol and drug supply chain.

The Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Act (Act 20 of 1992) and the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act (Act 70 of 2008), provides for the establishment of programmes for the prevention and treatment of drug dependency.

The Central Drug Authority was established as an advisory body in terms of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act (Act No. 70 of 2008) and is mandated to assist in the fight against substance abuse in the country.

Alcohol abuse is a complex socio-economic issue that requires a multi-stakeholder and integrated approach towards a drug free society, captured in the National Drug Master Plan. Creating awareness of dangers of the substance abuse in society and effecting behavioural change are integral parts of the National Drug Master Plan.

What you can do

Government calls on all South Africans to join hands in the implementation of the national programme of action against substance and alcohol abuse.

  • Community support is extremely important to prevent, treat, rehabilitate and accept those addicted to substances. Help break the stigma and promote faster recovery.
  • Be a good role model and empower young people to deal with life challenges to buffer substance abuse.
  • Be a messenger – provide factual information on the negative socio-economic effects of substance abuse to bring about behavioural changes.
  • The carnage on South Africa’s roads can be reduced drastically if adults drink responsibly.
  • Don’t drink and drive – Arrive Alive!
  • Celebrate year end festivities soberly and responsibly:  Don’t turn a night out into a nightmare.
  • Say NO to drugs.
  • Partner with government volunteer and support rehabilitation programmes to increase access to information for affected individuals and communities.

 

Facts

  • There is a burden of “secondary risks”, including injury, premature non-natural deaths, foetal alcohol syndrome (FASD).
  • Research indicates that social costs of alcohol related trauma and accidents far exceed those of other countries and that intoxication was a major factor in road accidents. According to the South African Revenue Service the known direct cost of drug abuse in 2005 was roughly R101 000 million.
  • The social cost of illicit drug use was calculated using international data and is approximately R136 380 million annually.
  • The relationship between alcohol and illegal drugs, crime, and violence is both direct and complex. In 2007, more than 47% of victims of homicide tested positively for alcohol at the time of death. Alcohol makes people vulnerable to crime.
  • 8.4 per cent (2.2 million) of the South African population used cannabis in 2004 as against the global norm of 4 per cent; 8.9 per cent (2.5 million) used cannabis in 2005/6 and 3.2 million used in 2008, an increase of nearly 20 per cent.

 

The Effects of Smoking on the Body

Body

Tobacco smoke is enormously harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you avoid the health risks associated with tobacco products.

Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients. When they burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them can cause cancer. Many of the same ingredients are found in cigars and in tobacco used in pipes and hookahs. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigars have a higher level of carcinogens, toxins, and tar than cigarettes.

When using a hookah pipe, you’re likely to inhale more smoke than you would from a cigarette. Hookah smoke has many toxic compounds and exposes you to more carbon monoxide than cigarettes do. Hookahs also produce more secondhand smoke.

In the United States, the mortality rate for smokers is three times that of people who never smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s one of the leading causes of preventable death.

Central Nervous System

One of the ingredients in tobacco is a mood-altering drug called nicotine. Nicotine reaches your brain in mere seconds. It’s a central nervous system stimulant, so it makes you feel more energized for a little while. As that effect subsides, you feel tired and crave more. Nicotine is habit forming.

Smoking increases risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and poor eyesight. It can also weaken your sense of taste and sense of smell, so food may become less enjoyable.

Your body has a stress hormone called corticosterone, which lowers the effects of nicotine. If you’re under a lot of stress, you’ll need more nicotine to get the same effect.

Physical withdrawal from smoking can impair your cognitive functioning and make you feel anxious, irritated, and depressed. Withdrawal can also cause headaches and sleep problems.

Respiratory System

When you inhale smoke, you’re taking in substances that can damage your lungs. Over time, your lungs lose their ability to filter harmful chemicals. Coughing can’t clear out the toxins sufficiently, so these toxins get trapped in the lungs. Smokers have a higher risk of respiratory infections, colds, and flu.

In a condition called emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs are destroyed. In chronic bronchitis, the lining of the tubes of the lungs becomes inflamed. Over time, smokers are at increased risk of developing these forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Long-term smokers are also at increased risk of lung cancer.

Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause temporary congestion and respiratory pain as your lungs begin to clear out.

Children whose parents smoke are more prone to coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks than children whose parents don’t. They also tend to have more ear infections. Children of smokers have higher rates of pneumonia and bronchitis.

Cardiovascular System

Smoking damages your entire cardiovascular system. When nicotine hits your body, it gives your blood sugar a boost. After a short time, you’re left feeling tired and craving more. Nicotine causes blood vessels to tighten, which restricts the flow of blood (peripheral artery disease). Smoking lowers good cholesterol levels and raises blood pressure, which can result in stretching of the arteries and a buildup of bad cholesterol (atherosclerosis). Smoking raises the risk of forming blood clots.

Blood clots and weakened blood vessels in the brain increase a smoker’s risk of stroke. Smokers who have heart bypass surgery are at increased risk of recurrent coronary heart disease. In the long term, smokers are at greater risk of blood cancer (leukemia).

There’s a risk to nonsmokers, too. Breathing secondhand smoke has an immediate effect on the cardiovascular system. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease.

Skin, Hair, and Nails (Integumentary System)

Some of the more obvious signs of smoking involve the skin. The substances in tobacco smoke actually change the structure of your skin. Smoking causes skin discoloration, wrinkles, and premature aging. Your fingernails and the skin on your fingers may have yellow staining from holding cigarettes. Smokers usually develop yellow or brown stains on their teeth. Hair holds on to the smell of tobacco long after you put your cigarette out. It even clings to nonsmokers.

Digestive System

Smokers are at great risk of developing oral problems. Tobacco use can cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) or infection (periodontitis). These problems can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, and bad breath.

Smoking also increases risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus. Smokers have higher rates of kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer. Even cigar smokers who don’t inhale are at increased risk of mouth cancer.

Smoking also has an effect on insulin, making it more likely that you’ll develop insulin resistance. That puts you at increased risk of type 2 diabetes. When it comes to diabetes, smokers tend to develop complications at a faster rate than nonsmokers.

Smoking also depresses appetite, so you may not be getting all the nutrients your body needs. Withdrawal from tobacco products can cause nausea.

Sexuality and Reproductive System

Restricted blood flow can affect a man’s ability to get an erection. Both men and women who smoke may have difficulty achieving orgasm and are at higher risk of infertility. Women who smoke may experience menopause at an earlier age than nonsmoking women. Smoking increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer.

Smokers experience more complications of pregnancy, including miscarriage, problems with the placenta, and premature delivery.

Pregnant mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also more likely to have a baby with low birth weight. Babies born to mothers who smoke while pregnant are at greater risk of low birth weight, birth defects, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Newborns who breathe secondhand smoke suffer more ear infections and asthma attacks.

 

Source: http://www.healthline.com/health/smoking/effects-on-body

 

About Malaria

Malaria SSP 2017

 

There are many sources of information on the internet that cover extensively all aspects of malaria. We have only attempted here to answer the main questions people have. Links further down the page will direct you to further information sources.

Top 10 Questions

  1. What are the statistics on malaria? …1-3million people die each year, 70% children under 5.
  2. How do you get malaria? …By being bitten by a malaria-carrying mosquito.
  3. Why are children under 5 particularly susceptible? …They are yet to build up a resistance.
  4. Where does malaria occur in the world? …The Tropics, broadly speaking.
  5. Is malaria treatable? …Yes, but only if caught early.
  6. What strategies and actions are used to fight malaria? …Prevention and treatment.
  7. Can malaria be eradicated? …Yes, but not easily and not without money. It would take decades.
  8. What is the malaria infection cycle? …See below.
  9. What is the origin of the word ‘malaria’? …‘Mala aria’ means ‘bad air’ in Italian.
  10. Where do I find out more about malaria?These links may be helpful.
  1. What are the statistics on malaria?
  • At least a million people die from malaria each year. Some put the estimates as high as 2.7 million.
  • 90% of the deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • 70% of the deaths are of children under 5.That’s equivalent to one child dying of malaria in Africa every 30 seconds. Put another way, 7 jumbo jets full of children disappear because of malaria every day.
  • Malaria deaths are the hardest to count (WHO March 2006)
  1. How do you get malaria?

By being bitten by malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Not all mosquitoes carry malaria. Mosquitoes of the Anopheles genus do, particularly Anopheles gambiae. Malaria is spread by pregnant females that need blood to develop their eggs. The organism that causes malaria is the Plasmodium parasite. There are four types but one type, Plasmodium falciparum, accounts for almost all fatal cases.

  1. Why are children under 5 and pregnant women particularly susceptible to malaria?

Young children take time to build up resistance to malaria. If they get malaria when very young their bodies are often not strong enough to beat it and they may die. However, if a child survives and is bitten repeatedly by infected mosquitoes they gradually build up some resistance to the malaria parasite. The older, stronger child has a much better chance of fighting the disease and not dying.

  1. Where does malaria occur in the world?

Malaria occurs in many parts of the tropical world and in some parts of the subtropics. It is most common between the latitudes of 23.5 degrees north (Tropic of Cancer) and 23.5 degrees south (Tropic of Capricorn). Cases (often seasonal) also occur outside of these latitudes.

  1. Is malaria treatable?

Yes, but a malaria infected patient needs to be reached quickly. That’s part of the problem. The remote nature of many parts of Africa and other malaria affected regions, the difficulty of recognising that a patient has contracted malaria and not some other disease and the lack of available medicines all contribute to effective treatment not starting quickly enough. The result: many people die. Prevention, for example using bednets, and treatment go hand in hand in combating malaria.

  1. What strategies and actions are used to fight malaria?

No one action will beat malaria. We could distribute as many bed nets as we like, but on their own, they are not enough. Prevention and treatment are complimentary tactics used to fight malaria.

Prevention is achieved through:

  • the use of bednets, preferably treated with an insecticide
  • removing areas of water where mosquitoes breed
  • house spraying with insecticide
  • educating people as to the value of all of these actions to help prevent malaria and
  • monitoring mosquito populations to understand which insecticides they are sensitive to.

All these tactics dramatically reduce incidents of malaria.

Treatment includes: The use of drugs and ensuring the availability of those drugs in a timely fashion, something that is a constant challenge given the remoteness of many parts of Africa. Unfortunately the malaria parasite has become resistant to many drugs, such as chloroquine, which have been used to treat it successfully in the past. Substantial research is needed to find new drugs that can be used in the fight against malaria.

  1. Can malaria be eradicated?

Yes. But certainly not easily, and not for many years in Africa. What’s required is money. Even if not eradicated, malaria can certainly be reduced to dramatically lower levels than exist today. Malaria has already been successfully eradicated or brought under control in some countries.

The Netherlands: In the 1960’s malaria was a problem in the The Netherlands. Many people died of malaria between 1960-69. By the early 1970’s there were no malaria deaths. This was achieved through spraying of a chemical called DDT. Use of DDT to control malaria is controversial because the insecticide has harmful environmental effects. However, its use is still allowed for malaria control in special circumstances such as a recent epidemic in South Africa. It was possible to eradicate malaria in the Netherlands because the scale of the problem wasn’t so large that it required extraordinary amounts of money and the money that was required, whilst substantial, was available.

Vietnam: Here the number of malaria deaths in 1991 was 5,000. In 1999 it was 190. Whilst not eradicated in Vietnam, malaria is under control.

Malaria being brought ‘under control’ is an important point. In Africa the malaria problem is ‘out of control’ because it is so widespread and Africa as a continent is poor and does not have the resources to fight it successfully on its own. One of the elements required to help bring it under control, or ‘roll back malaria’, is money.

We don’t know whether it will ever be possible to eradicate malaria from areas where the infection is entrenched such as in tropical Africa. Some believe that advances in technology may allow this. For example, progress is being made on the development of vaccines to prevent malaria but this work is difficult and slow. Others believe that by genetically altering the anopheline mosquito it may be able to create a mosquito that can no longer transmit the infection. However, finding ways that would ensure that this modified mosquito took over from wild mosquitoes across Africa is a daunting task.

These difficulties will not stop researchers trying but with the information we have today we cannot assume such a solution will be found. We have to fight malaria in other ways.

  1. What is the malaria infection cycle?

Mosquitoes breed in water. Different species, including those that can transmit malaria, have different choices of breeding site. For example some anopheline mosquitoes prefer small puddles whilst others prefer flowing streams. They bite an infected person sucking up the malarial parasite and then, when they bite someone else, the parasite is transferred and, if the victim has acquired no immunity over the years, he or she will develop malaria. Most kinds of mosquitoes that can transmit malaria bite mainly between dusk and dawn.

  1. What is the origin of the word ‘malaria’?

From the Italian ‘mala aria’, meaning bad air. It was once thought that ‘bad air’ was the cause of the disease.

Malaria Info Sheet SSP

10.Where do I find out more about malaria?

The following links may help: Roll Back Malaria Partnership Global Fund UNICEF London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: Malaria Centre Gates Malaria Partnership Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Malaria Consortium Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine UN Foundation PSI Malaria Foundation International Swiss Tropical Institute   Useful background information: Global Health Reporting Learn about malaria Global malaria initiatives List of organisations involved in fighting malaria Types of bed nets The successful fight against malaria in Vietnam The intolerable burden of Malaria (Part 2): What’s New What’s Needed Mapping Malaria Risk in Africa Malaria Atlas Project