Statistics on Bullying

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Homestudy, Psychology

cyber-bullying-122156_640Bullying is not only a serious problem, it is deceptively complex. As a result, it is not easy to understand bullying problems or to determine how to respond to them. It is important to address bullying because it is pervasive and accompanied by detrimental and often subtle effects that linger after the episodes end. The dynamics of bullying go beyond the children, youth, or adults who bully or are bullied. Individual features, family and peer interactions, and cultural considerations all contribute to bullying. Making the situation more complex are new forms of bullying such as cyberbullying, which has unique implications for prevention and intervention.

Common in the schoolyard and in the workplace for decades, bullying has been a predictable, “accepted,” usually undiscussed although painful, part of childhood, youth, and adulthood. It has been said that bullying is “the most prevalent form of low-level violence in schools today.” Until very recently, bullying has been tolerated in Western society, and school-based bullying was considered a “normal” part of childhood that had a possibly good outcome through “character-building.” Although some people still see it that way, possibly because of how pervasive bullying is in the school context, bullying has recently been recognized as a public health problem that needs to be addressed.

But it has taken acts of extreme violence in which bullying appeared to be a factor for this phenomenon really to become part of the public agenda. For example, after the April 1999 Columbine killings, it was learned that one of many factors that may have contributed to the killing spree by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold was their chronic victimization by popular school athletes. Of course, this was a special case of extreme violence that doesn’t occur in the vast majority of schools. Still, Columbine was described by certain students, teachers, and parents as a place where bullying was tolerated.

Prevalence of Bullying

  •  In 2009, about 28 percent of 12- to 18-year-old students reported having been bullied at school during the school year and 6 percent reported having been cyberbullied.
  • High school students are more likely to be cyberbullied than middle school students
  •  Of all students who reported being cyberbullied in 2009, about 3 percent reported being subjected to harassing text messages (4 percent of girls and 2 percent of boys).
  •  20 percent of female and 13 percent of male students reported being the subject of adverse rumors in 2009
  • 10 percent of male and 8 percent of female students reported being pushed, shoved, tripped or spit upon
  • 6 percent of female and 4 percent of male students reported being deliberately excluded from activities

Other statistics:

  • 19 percent of students reported having been made fun of
  • 16 percent were the subject of negative rumors
  • 9 percent reported being pushed
  •  6 percent reported being threatened
  •  5 percent reported being excluded
  •  4 percent reported being forced to do things they didn’t want to do
  • 3 percent reported having their property destroyed
  •  Boys are 1.7 times as likely to bully as girls
  •  Boys are also 2.5 times as likely as girls to bully as well as be bullied
  •  Boys are typically bullied by boys, while girls are typically bullied by both boys and girls
  • 20 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys reported that they had either bullied, been bullied, or both two to three times a month or more

Learn all about bullying in our homestudy course, The Psychology of Bullying.   Check out all of our courses by clicking below.


Focus on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Homestudy, Psychology

In the United States, lifetime prevalence of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is estimated to be 6–9 percent. The highest occurrence of PTSD is associated with exposure to traumatic experiences such as terrorism (i.e., 9/11) or combat; yet rates of PTSD in impoverished, high-risk inner city populations in the U.S. may be at least as high as among veterans returning from combat or people exposed to terrorist attacks or other disasters.

PTSD_171315269PTSD is more common in women than in men. While it occurs in people of all ages, young and old persons are the most vulnerable. Other factors associated with increased risk for PTSD include low income, poor education, poor social supports, and prior psychotropic drug use.

The incidence and course of PTSD are variable and depend on various factors, including the source, type, proximity, intensity, and duration of the trauma, the patient’s subjective interpretation of the trauma, and the reaction of the patient’s relatives and associates. Factors that can contribute to a good prognosis include: prompt diagnosis and treatment, early and ongoing social support, avoidance of further trauma, absence of other psychiatric disorders or substance abuse, and positive premorbid function.

PTSD may be caused by exposure to a severe traumatic stress that threatens death or serious injury or threat to personal integrity; for example:

  • physical abuse
  • rape
  • sexual and physical abuse in childhood
  • car accidents
  • fires and industrial accidents
  • being in a war zone or terrorist activity zone
  • being in an earthquake or another natural disaster
  • receiving a serious medical diagnosis
  • being subjected to invasive, painful treatment of medical problems

A number of factors increase the likelihood that a patient will develop PTSD in response to a given stress, including the following:

  • lack of social support (in children, lack of parental support)
  • prior exposure to traumatic incidents
  • a pre-existing psychiatric disorder
  • repeated trauma
  • trauma caused by a trusted person rather than the result of an accident

PTSD is not a fatal disorder. Nevertheless, it frequently leads to conduct disorder, substance abuse, depression, anxiety disorders, and risk-taking that pose considerable danger. Approximately 80 percent of those with PTSD have at least one comorbid psychiatric disorder.
Younger patients, in particular, in addition to the symptoms of numbing, hyperarousal, and recurrent recollections of the event, often become unable to participate in the normal developmental experiences and fail at school and work. They often develop a host of emotional and behavioral problems, such as disruptive behavior disorders, eating disorders, sexual acting out, other risk-taking activities, depression, the full range of anxiety disorders, dissociation, mood lability, violence, and difficulty concentrating.

Learn more about PTSD in our homestudy course, Brain and Stress: PTSD & Adjustment Disorder.   Explore all of our homestudy courses by clicking the image below.


What Exactly is High-Fructose Corn Syrup?

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition

sugar-485045_640High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was first developed in the mid-1960s.  It starts out as cornstarch, which is chemically or enzymatically degraded to glucose and some short polymers of glucose.   Another enzyme is then used to convert varying fractions of glucose into fructose.  Because of its unique physical and functional properties (e.g., stability in acidic foods and beverages, such as soft drinks), it was widely embraced by food formulators.  Its growth has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, principally as an attractive replacement for table sugar.  Today, HFCS serves as a visible marker for foods that are highly processed and refined.

Fructose comes from three main sources:

  • natural sources such as fruits, some sweet vegetables, and honey;
  • sucrose, or common table sugar (which is 50 percent fructose); and
  • high-fructose corn syrup or HFCS (which is up to 55 percent fructose).

While some argue that the addition of fructose to foods and beverages is “natural” because fructose is found naturally in fruit and other foods, the clear difference is that the quantity of fructose that we get from fruit pales in comparison to the amount we get from processed foods.   Another difference is that fructose in fruit serves as a “signal” for sweetness, energy, and nutrition.  This sweet taste encouraged our ancestors to seek out fruit for both pleasure and good health. In contrast, when we consume processed and refined foods sweetened with HFCS, we get the sweetness and calories, but little else.  We are essentially being short-changed on nutrients.

Although HFCS is chemically similar to sucrose (though HFCS has a slightly higher percentage of fructose), concerns have been raised that our bodies react differently to HFCS from the way our bodies react to other types of sweeteners.

All of these nutritive sweeteners are composed of approximately 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose (though the amount of fructose may be slightly higher in HFCS).  All are absorbed similarly, have similar sweetness, and have the same number of calories per gram

Clearly, more research is needed to  understand fully the metabolic effect of dietary fructose in humans.  And more research is needed to determine whether there are any unique attributes of fructose or HFCS that make these substances a problem.  Until we know more, it may be best simply to focus on reducing ALL added sugars from our diet because too much of any caloric sweetener can pose a problem (whether the sugars are derived from corn, sugar cane, beets, or fruit-juice concentrate). Excessive consumption of any sugar can promote weight gain and a range of metabolic abnormalities.  Excessive consumption can also bring about adverse health conditions  as well as inadequate intake of essential nutrients.


Migraines In Women

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Pain, Seminars

woman-565132_640Migraine headaches are usually characterized by throbbing, severe pain (usually on one side of the head), an upset stomach, and — sometimes — disturbed vision.

Migraines were recognized as early as the 7th century BC—when the usual treatment involved trephining, or creating a hole in the skull to relieve the headache pressure, and release the “evil spirits or demons” thought to be causing the pain.

Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraine headache. Hormonal changes and the patient’s stage of life may play a role in women’s higher susceptibility to migraine. Even in ancient history, women with migraines probably greatly outnumbered men with the disorder.

Throughout history, a number of myths about migraine in women have flourished. Migraines in women were often attributed solely to PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) or hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menopause. Another myth was that headaches in general — and headaches in women, in particular — were due to psychological problems, rather than being a biological condition. Consider some facts about migraines and women:

  • In the United States, almost nine million women suffer from migraines each year, and over three million have more than one migraine attack per month.
  • Sixteen out of every 100 women suffer from migraine headaches.
  • The highest prevalence for migraine in women occurs between the ages of 35 and 45, a time when many women are at the height of their professional careers and have the most family responsibilities and social obligations.
  • Half of all women with migraines report having 24 or more migraine attacks each year, and over 25 percent report having such headaches every week.
  • In women who have migraines, 60 percent experience headaches during menses as well as at other times of the month. Just 14 percent of women have migraine pain only during their menstrual period.

Headache is one of the most common conditions seen by clinicians today. Migraine headaches can be especially troublesome for patients and can cause symptoms that include significant pain as well as neurologic symptoms. Fortunately, there are now many effective treatments for migraine and other headaches, including medications and lifestyle changes.

In women with migraines, hormonal changes can play a significant role in the severity of symptoms. Thus, successful treatment of female migraineurs requires knowledge of neuro-endocrine changes from menarche to menopause. With such knowledge, clinicians can help female patients find relief from this challenging condition.

A thorough medical history and careful physical examination are essential to rule out less common but serious causes of headache. The best treatment always starts with the right diagnosis.

INR offers continuing education courses such as Women’s Health: Migraines and Headaches.  Click below for this and more from our library.


Signs of Heat Stroke

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Seminars, Webinars

thermometer-501608_640Blizzards, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes make headlines. They result in many tragic deaths each year. However, all of these natural disasters together do not kill as many people as heat stroke.

Heat-related illness often progresses from heat cramps, to heat exhaustion to fulminant heat stroke. Heat cramps are exertion-induced muscle contractions that develop during or after exercise in high temperatures.

Heat exhaustion is a clinical syndrome of fatigue, weakness, nausea, dizziness and malaise. Syncope or fainting may occur, but mental status usually remains normal. Heat Stroke is life-threatening hyperthermia which provokes a severe systemic inflammatory response with multiple organ dysfunction or failure. Simply put, heat stroke is deadly.

The clinical presentation of heat stroke typically falls into two categories: (1) classic and (2) exertional.

  • Classic heat stroke often evolves over 2 to 3 days of exposure to extreme temperatures during a heat wave. Infants and older, sedentary, frail people without access to air- conditioning and adequate fluids are at greatest risk. Classic heat stroke was responsible for hundreds of deaths in Europe during the severe heat waves in 2003. A similar situation has recently occurred in India.
  • Exertional, heat stroke develops more abruptly in healthy, active people like athletes, people working outdoors or military recruits. High level exertion in extreme heat overwhelms the ability of the body to regulate internal temperature. Muscle tissue breaks down, renal failure develops, brain functions are severely compromised, and clotting disorders develop.

People with heat stroke are often confused and agitated. They can injure themselves & others before they collapse into seizures and comma.

One of the most important early clues to the recognition of heat stroke is the cessation of sweating despite exertion in extreme heat and humidity. The skin becomes hot & flushed but dry.

This is a very worrisome sign since perspiring is a crucial part of regulating internal body temperature. At this point, the pulse and respiratory rate are usually elevated.

Initial treatment of heat stroke in the field involves evaporative cooling by constantly wetting the skin with water (ice water is not necessary). Cold packs can be applied to the groin and axillary area.

Seizures, vomiting, and aspiration can develop during cooling, so the airway must be protected. Curiously, typical fever-reducing medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen are ineffective in lowering body temperature in heat stroke. Transport to the nearest hospital and ICU (Intensive Care Unit) are essential.

Preventing heat stroke is obviously much easier than treating it. Common sense measures such as avoiding exertion in high heat and humidity, staying well- hydrated and remaining in an air- conditioned environment are key. Special attention should always be paid to infants, children, the elderly and chronically ill. If ever there were a condition where an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure, it would surely be heat stroke.

Learn more about heat stroke and other heat related illnesses in our homestudy courses.


The Importance of Sleep

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Homestudy, Psychology

sleeping-child-812181_640When you’re scrambling to meet the countless demands in life, cutting back on sleep might seem like the only answer. Although you realize that getting a good night’s sleep is important, you might not realize the vital role sleep plays in our physical and emotional health. Not getting enough shuteye can have serious and even devastating consequences.

Unfortunately, sleep problems are quite common, and over 60% of Americans report having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep at least a few nights a week. More troubling is the fact that over 40% of American adults report daytime sleepiness severe enough, at least a few days each month, to interfere with their daily activities.

During sleep, the brain is preparing itself for the next day—and even forming new neural pathways that help with learning, memory, and problem-solving. For teenagers and children, deep sleep actually stimulates the production of growth hormone which supports normal growth and development.

Sleep is also important in maintaining a healthy functioning heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and immune system. Emotional well-being—especially during times of stress—is also tied to getting enough sleep. The ability to react to stress without mood swings and undue anger, as well as the ability to get along with others, is affected by whether or not one gets enough sleep.

Lack of sleep causes not only fatigue, but also a wide range of health problems and disease. Chronic sleep deficiency can causes immune system dysfunction, making it difficult to fight infections. Insomnia can also lead to problematic changes in the endocrine system, which may exacerbate diseases such as diabetes. And sleep problems can lead to abnormalities in the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Children and adults who don’t get enough sleep, for instance, are at increased risk for a host of emotional ailments, including depression, mood swings, impulsivity, and anxiety.

Below are just a few of the health problems that can result from lack of sleep:

  • Obesity
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Chronic Pain

Many people think they can function well even with sleep deficits. But scientific research reveals that the opposite is true. After just several nights of not getting enough sleep—with a loss of 1 to 2 hours of sleep per night—your ability to function declines as much as if you hadn’t slept for a day or two.

Research has also shown that people who don’t get enough sleep take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and are more likely to make mistakes. They also have difficulty making decisions, are less creative than those who get enough sleep, have a hard time controlling emotions and behavior, and suffer declines in their problem-solving abilities. So not only does lack of sleep compromise alertness and physical health, it can also reduce productivity at work and decrease one’s ability to weather life’s stresses.

When sleep is compromised, the body’s ability to heal, repair, and restore itself can be impaired. Blood pressure fluctuations, adrenaline production, and hormone synthesis are affected —and impede our ability to bounce back from the physical stresses of normal life. When sleep deficits persist for an extended length of time, these disruptions in normal bodily function can push a vulnerable organ system from health into disease.

The bottom line is that we live in a sleep deprived world. Sleep is good for your mind, body, and spirit. In the words of Homer — “There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”


Rheumatic Diseases

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Pain

marseille-142394_640Rheumatic diseases have been with us for centuries—since at least the early Bronze Age. According to the Arthritis Foundation, American Indians living in 3000 BC showed signs of rheumatoid arthritis.

The symptoms of rheumatic disease were first formalized in 1680 by the British physician, Thomas Sydenham. At the time, he described the pain of acute gout flares in his patients as “so exquisite and lively…it cannot bear the weight of bedclothes nor the jar of a person walking into the room.”

As Sydenham observed, many types of arthritis can be painful and even disabling. Today’s treatments, including new pain relievers, Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs), and biologic agents can help reduce symptoms and slow the progression of arthritis. Surgery can repair joints, bones, and tendons damaged by arthritic disease. Lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise and assistive devices, make it possible for many people with arthritis to live fully functional, even active lives.

Approximately 50 million U.S. adults—about one in five—have physician-diagnosed arthritis. However, nearly one in three adults have arthritis or chronic joint symptoms. Arthritis is the most prevalent cause of disability in the United States, and results in upwards of 66 million physician visits each year.

As the population ages, the incidence of arthritis will rise dramatically and is expected to increase to 67 million by 2030.  Arthritis will create an important public health problem as well as tremendous personal suffering.  The societal costs of arthritis are immense. The estimated yearly medical care costs for arthritis total nearly $81 billion in the U.S. The cost of medical care plus lost work productivity is even larger—approximately $128 billion.

In general, rheumatic diseases are characterized by:

  • Inflammation
  • Redness and/or heat in a joint
  • Swelling in the joints
  • Recurring or constant pain
  • Decreased range of motion in joints
  • Stiffness
  • Fever, weight loss, and fatigue — in some types of rheumatic disease.
  • Loss of function in connective tissues
  • Involvement of joints, tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles

Rheumatic diseases are systemic and often involve internal organs.  Though arthritis is a growing problem by virtue of demographics, the disease is also becoming increasingly manageable. With improved screening and today’s treatments, people with arthritis may live active, independent lives. Every effort should be made to protect sleep, preserve functional independence, and provide for effective pain management.

New research is also pointing the way toward increased knowledge about the causes of arthritis, which will ultimately improve available treatments. Appropriate diagnosis, comprehensive treatment, and prevention of complications will continue to improve in the next decade, enhancing quality of life for millions.

Rheumatic Disease and Arthritis are just two of the topics covered in our Homestudy Courses.  Click below for more information.


Insulin Resistance in Women

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition

insulin-resistanceWhen you say “insulin,” most people think of diabetes. But problems with insulin go far, far beyond diabetes. In fact, science is just beginning to understand how important insulin is. Insulin throws many important switches in the body. In fact, some sources have gone so far as to refer to insulin as the master controller of health and disease. But the real problem is that so many of us have become resistant to insulin—we’ve developed a condition called insulin resistance, which is a concern not only because this condition is quite common, but also because it is associated with some of the biggest killers. This is the case because if cells, organs, and tissues become resistant to insulin, the pancreas responds by cranking out more insulin to compensate. And this can overwhelm the rest of the body, putting us at risk for a whole range of ailments besides diabetes: heart attacks, stroke, liver disease, certain cancers, and even declining cognitive function.

You are at the highest risk for developing this condition if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes or if you have suffered from gestational diabetes, hypertension, or are seriously overweight.

Women who tend to gain most of their weight around their abdomen, show less tolerance for insulin. Most are shocked when they learn they either already have the condition or are well on their way to developing it. Experts estimate that 25% of all Americans suffer from insulin resistance. We believe the percentage is much higher among peri-menopausal women. To assess risk, measure around the smallest part of the waist (don’t hold your stomach in!) and the biggest part of the hips. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. A ratio bigger than 0.8 for women (or 1.0 for men) indicates that your abdomen is obese and you are at risk for developing insulin resistance.
The health effects of insulin resistance — also called Syndrome X — are dramatic. Besides leading directly to diabetes, it’s been implicated in heart disease, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and many more diseases. It also often accompanies, and contributes to, related problems of hormonal imbalance such as adrenal fatigue.

Because insulin is one of the “major” hormones, it’s also impossible for your body to balance its “minor” hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone among them) until your insulin metabolism is balanced first. To put it simply, if you have hot flashes and you are insulin resistant, it’s going to be nearly impossible to cure the hot flashes without first healing the insulin resistance.

The good news is that insulin resistance can be healed. What many women don’t realize is how nutrition is integrally connected to the web of hormonal balance. If you change your diet, you can change your hormones. This can be achieved by eating balanced meals, including complex carbohydrates and high quality protein and fats. You can regulate the insulin your body releases and keep estrogen and testosterone in balance.

To learn more about insulin resistances and other diabetic related issues check out our Homestudy Courses and Seminars.