Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Could your prescription medicine be making you depressed?


Definition of depression: Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. – American Psychiatric Association.

The recent  suicides of two Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have once again brought  depression into the limelight.

Statistics  about suicide are staggering.  According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,  around 123 people kill themselves every day in our country. I’d rather not go into how people do it. You can look that up yourself.

About 123 people kill themselves every day in the United States

There is an undeniable link between suicide and depression, according to American Association of Suicidology.  So many of us know a family who lost a loved one to suicide. Many of us are that family. It is awful. Not only do you lose someone you love, but you suffer the guilt of not stopping it, of not recognizing the symptoms, and you imagine the pain that was so intolerable, that they could not see any reason to live.

A shocking medical study released June 12 revealed that many  common prescription medications can cause depression as a side effect.  The study was released by the Journal of the American Medical Association and reported on by NPR. I have attached links to both articles for your convenience. However, you will have to pay for the entire JAMA article, if you are interested in reading it.

I am writing about this to bring it to your attention. If you are feeling seriously depressed, or even just plain sad, check the side effects of your medications. If you find ‘depression’ is listed, please contact your doctor.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. If you are uncomfortable talking to your doctor, you can reach out to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or on an online chat at

This is a free and confidential service.




Staying Active: Keeping Purpose in Our Lives

How do career-minded people define their lives and remain alert and engaged after retiring from a demanding, all-consuming, full-time job?

I have been thinking about that question throughout 2017 following my retirement from a writing and marketing career. I have looked around to see what people in their 60s and 70s are doing, people who have left high-powered jobs and people who have left tedious ones.  I have talked to my baby-boomer peers and discovered that this question is and has been on the minds of most of them at some point. Whether they left jobs because they wanted to, or because they were downsized, it doesn’t seem to matter.

What does a career-type do when the career is over?

I am inspired after reading an article about David Harry Stewart, known as ‘the age disrupter,’ and want to share the article with you.  The article is Disrupting the Concept of Aging 

If you did not read it yet, his message (my interpretation) is that we have to energy ourselves, find a purpose and keep ourselves healthy and active while we are doing it.   Two lines out of Stewart’s comments: “To move is to live,” and “to retire is to die.”

Retirees have to find a meaning in our lives. The first thing to do it not to describe oneself as ‘a retiree!!’

Haven’t we heard the stories about people who get sick and die within a few years of retirement? I’m sure the reasons are far more complicated than what we might find in a google search. Maybe people were already sick. Or, maybe, once they gave up a stressful job, they relaxed  and ate and/or drank too much. How often have  you seen people who have gained tons of weight after they retired?  How many of them are on a handful of pills for heart, high blood pressure and painful joints taken daily? We know that a lack of exercise and over eating can lead to all kinds of diseases.

Look out the window and see the sky.  Think about what you enjoy, what you would like to do to help others.  You can find volunteer work, or a job doing something you’d never thought you’d do. You can find your creative side with art classes. You can learn about plants and dig a garden. Those of us who live in Coastal Delaware because every activity one can think of is documented in the Cape Gazette newspaper.

No matter what, get into a regular exercise program, doing whatever you are physically able to do.

The possibilities are limitless.



Sussex County, Delaware, to get its first mental health acute care hospital in the summer of 2018

  • Primary focus is mental illness with detox and substance use services also addressed

  • Healthcare professionals are being recruited

SUN Behavioral Delaware, soon to be southern Delaware’s first mental health acute hospital, is under construction in Georgetown and on schedule to open in August, 2018.


SUN Behavioral Delaware is under construction in Georgetown

Its opening will represent the first time that Sussex County residents have a local, inpatient facility focused solely on mental health and substance abuse.  Anyone in Sussex County who has dealt with mental health or substance-abuse issues knows how important it is to have a hospital nearby, especially when a loved one needs care and has to be admitted.

“Sussex County has a population of more than 200,000, is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation, and yet, has no inpatient psychiatric hospital beds,” said SUN President and CEO Steve Page.

SUN officials broke ground in November, 2016, and were flanked by several state, local, and healthcare leaders who welcome the arrival of the new hospital. The construction of the 90-bed facility is already recognizable near the intersection of routes 113 and 404 where other healthcare facilities are located. When complete, it will be two stories tall, and cover 93,000 square feet. Services will include inpatient mental health care, detoxification, and tiered outpatient services. Acute, inpatient hospitalization will be utilized to maximize patient stabilization and will include psychiatric and medical care, clinical services, group therapy, family therapy and ancillary treatment modalities. When the patient no longer needs inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient services may be utilized to assist with the need for continuum of care.

CEO Steve Page said recently that SUN is in the process of recruiting healthcare professionals, including psychiatrists, nurses, nurse practitioners, therapists and social workers, to be employed or affiliated with the new facility. It will open with a team of roughly 70 clinicians and trained individuals. Eventually, it will employ over 150 people.

SUN Behavioral Delaware will offer specialty programs for adolescents, adults and seniors. Page explained that SUN clinicians will be reaching out to local nursing homes to work with them to help their older patients who have depression and other behavioral health issues.

“We have spent some time speaking with local health providers to determine the existing need for behavioral services. Our goal is to add services that complement what exists,” he said.

SUN clinicians also will be collaborating with local hospitals. While hospital emergency departments treat patients suffering from emergency and life-threatening medical issues, SUN will provide acute behavioral and detox care once the patient’s medical situation has stabilized.  SUN will be open around the clock daily to provide mental health assessments and referral services. SUN will strive to contract with all third-party payors, including most private insurances as well as Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare.

SUN is a private operator of freestanding psychiatric hospitals, according to one of its investors LLR Partners.  In 2016, it opened a 148-bed behavioral health hospital in Houston, Texas.  It also operates a behavioral health hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and is building another in Erlanger, Kentucky, which is in the greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Area.

Page, who had seven years of experience developing and operating psychiatric hospitals before establishing SUN, candidly explained that the mental health issues in our country today inspired him to be involved in establishing a behavioral health company that provides acute care, and outpatient services.

“Every one of us is touched by mental illness, and substance abuse,” he said. “One in five people in the United States have a diagnosable mental illness; so, I’m not unique in that people close to me also have been touched.”

Page was Chief Financial Officer for Ascend Health Corp before it was acquired by Universal Health Services in 2012. He has an MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

More information can be found about SUN Behavioral by visiting the website:

More than 40 million Americans, or 1 in 5, suffer from a mental illness, and more than half have no access to mental health care, according to Mental Health America, a nonprofit established in 1909.   The nation’s opioid epidemic has exacerbated the problem.  More than 33,000 people in the United States died of an overdose in 2015, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Delaware Health and Social Services estimates that so far this year 187 people have died from drug overdose in Delaware.

The National Institute for Mental Health (part of the National Institutes of Health), provides free information to the public. Information can be accessed on the website at:

Delawareans also can learn more about mental health services in the state by contacting the Department of Health and Social Services at 800-223-9074.


It’s time to get rid of the left-over pills in your medicine cabinet

When you are done with any pills you have, please deposit them with a drug take-back program

You probably have some extra pills in your bathroom – leftovers from when you were sick, or even from when your pet was sick.

Please don’t give into the temptation to throw them into the garage or down the toilet.

Drugs contaminate our ground water.   Or, if they are lying around in your home, they could inadvertently be consumed by a pet, a child, or I hate to say it, but someone with a drug problem.

The best thing to do is to hand them in through one of the drug take-back programs.

A national, drug take-back program is coming up on Saturday, October 28.   The program is anonymous. All you have to do is have the pills in packaging, whether in a plastic bag or original containers.  No one will ask you any questions.

Collection points are conveniently located, and probably relatively near where you live.

Delaware Health and Social Services has a list posted of all the places you can drop them off.

For those of you who do not live in Delaware, the  Drug Enforcement Division of the U.S. Department of Justice also can steer you to a drop-off location. Please visit this website.;jsessionid=6A58548F36F204F13BAC829143FB3FD6?_flowExecutionKey=_c74FE92DD-AF1D-0A82-0F51-25633B6AE236_k939AE86F-4326-B272-F36C-FC7B68245ED8

I will thank you in advance for participating in this collection.

Cancer and Talcum Powder

I have seen attorney ads on TV telling me that if someone in my family died of ovarian cancer and had used talcum powder in her underwear (in the vicinity of), that I may be able to sue for a lot of money.

I have used powder after a shower or a bath. It makes me feel fresh and wonderful, especially when it is hot and humid on a summer’s day.  My mother always covered her body in powder after a shower. White fell everywhere in the bathroom.  The room smelled like flowers and I had to be careful or I tracked powder down the hallway. My mother  died of heart failure (Was there any connection between powder and heart failure?).

The ad struck me as one encouraging us to  go after deep pockets – you know, like falling at a restaurant and suing the restaurant.  With no universal health insurance, someone has to pay.  It’s the American way. My friend got a mountain cabin, paid for in cash,  thanks to a lawsuit following a car accident.  She was lucky because the car accident wasn’t her fault.  The cabin  definitely helped  how badly she felt.  Families won millions of dollars because a woman in their life died of ovarian cancer and at some point had used powder after a bath.

The ad bothered me. Maybe because I am jealous of my friend with a cabin.  It is beautiful, and worth a fortune now.  I know that jealousy is bad. Maybe because I felt  it is  a stretch to say that powder caused ovarian cancer. How did the powder get all the way up into the ovaries? Was it carried by sperm? A tampon? I know that genetic research is showing that ovarian cancer is hereditary, and that risk increases with age, obesity, diet, if and at what age the woman had children, and use of hormone therapies.

Then, in the last few days, I’ve noticed that judges are tossing out huge settlements against Johnson &Johnson for J&J talcum powder causing ovarian cancer.

The American Cancer Society  has come out with a statement on the connection between talc and cancer.  Please read it carefully.  I am not sure what it says, except that if you are worried, don’t use talcum powder in your underpants or on a menstrual pad.  I think it is still safe under your arms and on your breasts and abdomen. Or, stick to powders made of corn starch. That hasn’t been connected to cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I have received a message from Delaware Department of Health and Social Services about Breast Cancer Awareness. According to the CDC, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer. And, your risk increases with age.  All women over 40 should get annual mammograms. Younger women who are at risk will need them earlier so please consult a physician.

I have copied and pasted the Delaware message below.

“Most females who have one or more breast cancer risk factors never develop the disease. Some females who develop breast cancer have no apparent risk factors other than being a female and growing older. Even when a woman with one or more risk factors develops breast cancer, it is difficult to know how much these factors might have contributed to the development of the disease. [1]

The following are lifestyle risk factors, which a woman can modify to reduce her risk of getting breast cancer:

  • Alcohol use (two to five drinks daily)
  • Obesity or overweight status, especially after menopause
  • Reproductive history (breast cancer risk increases among females who have never had children or who had their first child after age 30)
  • High-fat diet, low intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Smoking or being exposed to secondhand smoke.

There are also nonmodifiable risk factors (these cannot be changed). Some of these risk factors are listed below:

  • Gender
  • Increasing age – Only one out of eight invasive breast cancers is diagnosed in females under 45; two-thirds of invasive breast cancers are in females 55 and older.
  • Family history – Having a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer doubles a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer; having two first-degree relatives triples the risk.
  • Gene defects or mutations – Five to 10 percent of breast cancer cases may result from gene defects or mutations inherited from a parent. The most common inherited mutation is the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, found mostly in Jewish females of eastern European origin.
  • Dense breast tissue is thought to increase risk because it makes it more difficult to detect potential problems on mammograms.

To protect against breast cancer, individuals should maintain a healthy weight; consume a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; limit calcium intake; and engage in regular physical activity.

Get screened.
It’s no secret that screenings save lives. A mammogram can detect breast cancer early, at a more treatable stage. Become familiar with when and how often you should be screened. And encourage others to do the same.

Women 40 and older should have a mammogram annually. 
Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel, and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Females with an increased risk for breast cancer should discuss with their health care provider the benefits and limitations of beginning mammograms when they are younger, having additional tests, and/or having more frequent exams.

Schedule a screening today. 
Talk with your health care provider. Whether or not you have insurance, a nurse navigator can schedule a cancer screening for you. If you’re uninsured or underinsured, Delaware’s Screening for Life program makes it possible to get the screenings you need — when you need them. Find out if you’re eligible for a FREE screening.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you’re already dealing with so much. Our team of Cancer Care Coordinators can help you and your family with resources and information related to your cancer diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. If you’re uninsured, the Delaware Cancer Treatment Program can help pay for the treatment(s) that you need.

[1] Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware, 20092013.”

It’s time to get your flu shot

Besides hospitals and health clinics, local pharmacies and supermarkets are giving free flu shots. Acme was even announcing a discount on groceries!

Prevention is critical to maintaining good health

Flu season officially begins each October 1st. And, in case you might have forgotten, the obvious ‘free-flu-shot’ signs are everywhere to remind you.

I noticed the other day my local Acme supermarket in the Rehoboth Beach is offering a 10% discount on your grocery bill, up to $200, if you get your free flu shot at its pharmacy.  Now that’s great PR.

Emily Knearl, section chief of the Office of Health and Risk Communication with Delaware Public Health, said all flu shot programs in Delaware, whether at a supermarket, pharmacy, clinic, or through a hospital, are strictly regulated by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  So, you don’t have to worry about your safety if you get your shot at a convenient location.  There are lots of convenient locations.

Besides local pharmacies, Delaware Public Health has clinics all over the place. You can check out the state’s flu clinic schedule at or you can find out by calling (800) 282-8672.  Beebe Healthcare in Lewes also is offering free flu shot clinics, as well as free shots at the hospital in Lewes every Monday through mid-November.

If you do not live in Delaware, you can find the nearest flu clinic by visiting Emily explained that under the Affordable Care Art (Obama Care), we all get shots for free, whether our insurance pays or the government pays.

Flu shots are important!

One thing I learned while working in public relations at a hospital is that flu shots help prevent flu. CDC estimates that your risk of getting sick with flu drops from between 40% to 60% if you get the shot (Yes, some people get it anyway, and no, it doesn’t give you the flu).

The incidences of flu usually peak in December and January.

People with compromised immune systems (and with chronic illnesses that include cardiovascular disease, COPD, diabetes) can get seriously ill if they get flu. And, people die of flu. Last year, 15 people died of flu in Delaware. A few years ago, nearly 30 people died of flu in Delaware.  In fact, the CDC estimates that somewhere between 12,000 and 56,000 people in the United States have died of the flu since 2010.

Of course, there are people who cannot get the shot because of allergies to eggs and some other ingredients. You know who you are, or should find out if you are concerned. But the majority of us have a better chance to stay healthy this winter if we get the shot.

I’m not trying to scare anyone. I realize there are the believers and disbelievers. I’m a believer in vaccinations. I am old enough to remember when a boy in my class at elementary school had braces on his legs that had been damaged by polio, and when I had to stay in my room for a week as a young child with measles because the doctor was worried about my eyes.

I spent two weeks in isolation as a parent when my one-year-old son got mumps! He was so sick that he had convulsions. I dipped him in a cold bathtub and that helped.

A few days ago, a woman in her 60s told me she doesn’t get the shot because it gave her the flu when she was 14 years old. I didn’t want to argue with her because I felt it was rude, and hope she doesn’t end up suffering this winter.

It’s never too late in the season to get the shot, though earlier is better. It takes about two weeks before it is effective. I got mine at Rite Aid a few days ago before I heard about Acme’s discount.

While this season’s flu hasn’t shown up yet in the United States, it has been creating some issues in Australia, where there has been two-and-a-half times more lab-confirmed cases this year than last. Flu hits Australia before the North American continent so U.S.  health officials are predicting higher numbers here, too. Nothing is for sure.

A new vaccine formula is made every year to target the flu anticipated to hit. The CDC also is NOT recommending the flu nasal spray, which doesn’t seem to work.

You can get all the details about this season’s flu by checking the CDC website

Other helpful tips to avoid getting sick this winter are:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
    • Wash your hands before you eat
    • Wash your hands before you eat after you have gone to the bathroom, touched handrails, handled money, picked up library books, and pushed the cart at the grocery store.
    • Keep your hands away from your face
  • Cough into your arm rather that into your hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Get enough rest, think positive, and smile




A 92 year old’s secret to longevity

Sara is wonderfully optimistic and at 92, is still a bundle of warmth and energy

“Finding my own peace in the midst of chaos.”

At 92 years old, Sara Sherman drives a car, walks to the shops around the corner from her home on Santa Monica, California, and flies across the country to visit family.

Sara is an inspiration. She is soft spoken, witty and knows more about healthy eating than anyone I know.  In the 1980s, she earned her PhD in clinical nutrition. She was ahead of the popular trend of gluten-free, whole grains, fiber and ‘shopping the edges of the supermarket.’

I wanted to find out her secret of longevity and happiness so that I could share it. I sent her a list of questions as she said it would be easier for her to answer them in writing than it would be to over the telephone.  Included here are the questions and her answers.

Question –   To what do you attribute your health and longevity?

Sara –  I am not sure. I am still discovering why. My father died at 85. He was always active, but believed in cat-naps, and laughter. I have tried to follow his example in both, and try to see the humor or benefit in most situations.

Question – What life practices do you think are the most important?

Sara –  Being a nutritional counselor, I know what I eat is important. But I also know that what I put in my into my thoughts is much more important that what I put in my mouth.

Question – What has brought you the most joy in life?

Sara – That’s easy — the relationships with the people that I love – more joy than anything I could have in the bank or in my possession.

Question –  Please tell us about one of your most favorite experiences.

Sara – It was the one year traveling alone in Greece where I had no one else to please and no one to advise me. I was able to focus on my own intuition. That resulted in one year of amazing changes and wonderful growth.

Question – How have you sought joy and peace?

Sara –  The old-fashioned way! I work at it. I have learned I have a choice in the way I feel. I first have to become aware of my negative feelings so that I can work to change my thoughts, which ultimately changes my feelings. I call it, “Finding my own peace in the midst of chaos.”

Question – How do you handle grief?

Sara –  Healing from grief involves forgiveness. That’s really important. First, I must find a way to forgive myself for whatever my mind can imagine. We all do the best at any time. I find journal writing about my grief and loss and regrets eases the pain. Part of the pain goes into the book, making it feel heavy. Or, I put the sadness away on an emotional shelf.  Then, I take it out it bits and pieces when I feel able.

Question –  Do you get anxious? If so, how do you handle it?

Sara –  Of course I do but I have learned to become a monitor of my thoughts. For 10 years after my father died, I heard (imagined I heard) his voice over my left shoulder, commenting or advising or asking me questions. Gradually, I replaced him, becoming the monitor of my own thoughts, looking for the gifts in what is happening, knowing that anxiety or peace is my choice.

Question – What makes you laugh?

Sara – Life makes me laugh. The older I am, the more fun I have, the more I realize almost everything we worry about never happens.  Everything else is very temporary, working itself out if you believe it will.



Initiating a new path

Susan Towers reading at the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild event
Susan Towers reading at the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild event

Life is made up of the mundane, of memorable events, crises, transitions, and then, hopefully, self-discovery that leads to our personal growth and continued fulfillment. Even as we take actions that redirect our lives, we wait and wonder what will happen next. Change in life is so predictable, in fact, that accomplished author Gail Sheehy, in 1976, published the book Passages that delineated what happens to each of us according to our age.

 Passages presented a hopeful message =  Crisis gives us the opportunity to be creative and to find a new and better path for ourselves – the Library of Congress deemed it one of the most influential books in modern times.

As a 20-something married to a non-monogamous Norwegian and living thousands of miles from family, I read the book with enthusiastic anticipation to find out what more could happen in my life and how I was going to make the most of it, or create something different.

In 2000, when my employer’s CEO was escorted from his office, I enthusiastically read Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese? for some new direction in my career – and life. Johnson also promoted creative thought. As the company spokesperson, I interpreted a probable pending layoff as a motivator to be creative.

Today, the road map in the face of constant change seems to be captured in the concept of ‘mindfulness.’   Mindfulness means we should think about what we do in the moment, to experience its importance, and to listen to our hearts. It requires us to practice healthy behaviors and to be true to ourselves.

For me, mindfulness has initiated a different sort of transition. Unlike the others, which were initiated  from the outside, this one comes from my desire for personal growth and accomplishment.  I have chosen, in the not to distant future, to leave one career path for another.  I anticipate this journey to be exciting and challenging, and one that  I surely will never forget.