How to Stay Well During the Cold/Flu Season

By: Dr. Rupa Natarajan 

We all know that winter time can be joyful and cozy. However, this time of year can also be accompanied by frequent illnesses, extra stress, and overindulgences. To protect yourself this holiday season, we recommend the following:

1)  Wash your hands!!! Yes, it seems obvious, but it’s all too easy to forget. This simple action, when done right, can protect you against many respiratory and diarrheal infections. Wet your hands under running water, lather up with soap, and scrub your hands (including the backs, under nails, and between your fingers) for at least 20 seconds, or for the length of time that it takes you to hum/sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Wash your hands before and after you handle food, before eating, before and after you care for a sick individual, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after blowing your nose/coughing/sneezing, after touching garbage, and after handling pets/pet food/pet waste. If you are interested in the science behind handwashing, please check out the CDC’s website here:

2)  Get your flu shot. The science behind the flu shot is robust. Getting your yearly vaccination can help avoid flu-related hospitalizations, illnesses, and transmitting the flu to others who are unable to obtain the vaccine (infants under 6 months or those with severe, life-threatening reactions to the flu vaccine). 

3)  Aim for a regular sleep schedule, and if possible for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

4)  Stay well hydrated- ideally (unless you have other significant medical conditions such as heart failure) aiming for about 6-8 glasses of water a day.

5)  Make sure you are aiming for those 4-5 fruits and vegetables a day, even during special occasions. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up, but aim for healthier, well balanced meal options in general. 

6)  Be cautious with alcohol intake. We recommend no more than 7 drinks per week in women, and specifically no more than 2-3 drinks per day. 

7)  Avoid contact with individuals that are sick to the best of your ability, and as above- make sure you wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading germs.

8)  Take time out for yourself to decompress; this may mean yoga, meditation, therapy, reading a good book, watching your favorite TV show, exercising, etc. Self-care and mindfulness is important.

Healthy Holiday Treats

'Tis the season for lots of cookies, cakes, creamy drinks, hearty meals and overall indulgence!  This is the time of year when you are faced with more temptation than ever. Let's take a few moments to think about how you can maintain your health while still enjoying the season:

1. Remember that balance is everything! 
Follow the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of the time you will eat as healthily as usual and 20% of the time you will let yourself enjoy a treat without guilt. Here is some math: There are 40 days and 120 meals between Thanksgiving and New Years. If you follow the 80/20 rule you can have a treat at 24 of those meals. Choose wisely and consider tracking on your calendar. You may find that you can't resist indulging at one event but you have no problem at another. Skip the donuts and leftover pies at work and save your 24 for a dinner or a party! 

2. "Indulge" with these healthy but tasty treats:
A) Dip your vegetables in something creamy.... Make a savory dip with plain Greek yogurt!  For a thicker consistency, strain the yogurt overnight over a cheesecloth to remove liquid, then mix the thickened yogurt with your favorite savory seasoning and top with fresh chives or scallions. (Tip: you can use Greek yogurt as a substitute for many recipes that call for cream or sour cream). 

B) Fill your house with the warm smell of baked apples and cinnamon: Slice apples in half or in to bite sized pieces. Coat with a small amount of coconut oil and cinnamon to taste. Optional: Sprinkle with almond slivers. Bake in the oven at 350F 20-30 minutes. 

C) Try making "cookie dough" balls with chickpeas! Blend together chickpeas, nut butter and a small amount of honey. Your goal is a cookie dough consistency. Toss in some chocolate chips and roll the "dough" in to bite sized balls. You can eat this raw or you can bake it to get the melted chocolate effect!

3. Ask yourself, is this making me healthy? Is it making me happy? 
If the answer is neither, why are you eating it? When was the last time somebody offered you a cookie and you took one bite and thought "this isn't very good" but kept eating it anyway? This season challenge yourself to put the not-so-tasty cookie down! Save your 24 for something worthwhile!

4. Choose this not that:
A) Choose an apple crumble instead of an apple pie
B) Choose grilled, braised or roasted instead of stuffed, smothered, or rich
C) Instead of randomly grazing at a party, choose one item you can't resist and then fill the rest of your plate with protein and produce

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O-Shot Procedure in Tatler Magazine

By: Irish Tatler Staff

A game-changing new treatment is giving women back control of their bodies as well as their sexual desire.

What would say if we told you there was a shot which you could get directly into your clitoris, which would increase your sexual desire, give you mind-blowing orgasms and even treat urinal incontinence… and all of this could be achieved on your lunch break with zero downtime? You’d probably believe us more readily if we told you we’d commuted to work this morning on a purple unicorn. But the truth is that this procedure, known as the O-Shot, does exist and is about to become mainstream. In fact, you may have already heard of it in another guise – the vampire facial (made famous by Kim Kardashian, if you happened to catch that particular episode of Kim and Kourtney Take Miami). The vampire facial is the brainchild of Dr Charles Runels, who saw that PRP (Plasma Rich Platelets) medical technology was revolutionising medicine by helping to heal musculoskeletal injuries, and that it could also be applied to the the face to encourage skin rejuvenation.

As part of the treatment, a blood sample is taken from the patient and using a centrifuge, platelet rich plasma (PRP) is isolated. This PRP’s is full of growth factors, which are injected into the affected area to activate stem cells the stem cells there. In 2010, it struck Dr Runels that this technology could be used not only in facials, but in another unlikely way. “One day a patient of mine was undergoing a facial, and asked if this procedure could, in theory, be used on her vagina. And of course I said that it could, so the idea for the O-Shot was born from this.” 

Little Understanding

Patients come to Dr Runels seeking the O shot for a myriad of reasons, from female sexual disorder (difficulty getting aroused) and female orgasmic disorder (difficulty climaxing) both of which statistics* say that one in 20 women suffer from, to hypoactive sexual desire disorder (low desire), which around 10 per cent of women suffer from. There are also physical reasons such as urinal incontinence and dyspareunia (pain during sex), both of which can be caused by child birth, menopause, or just as part of the natural ageing process. Sadly research shows that only 14 per cent of women ever talk to their doctor about sex, even though approximately 48 per cent of women are concerned about their sexual function. “Part of the reason that doctors and patients don’t really get into discussions about these kinds of disorders is that there isn’t really a proven solution, other than hormone therapies, or psychotherapy, which may not be what the woman even needs,” says Dr Runels. “Whereas on the other hand men have drugs available to them such as Viagra.” Another problem which women have revealed to him is that they don’t get much sympathy from their partner or friends, in a similar way to if she were suffering from a psychological disorder. “If a woman has pneumonia or breaks her arm, sympathy is given in abundance, but a woman with depression or severe anxiety, can be slower to share her problems and friends can be even slower to understand,” says Dr Runels. “It’s the same with a sexual disorder.” 

Feeling Good

Loss of sexual function can cause a downward spiral for women.“When a women has a positive sexual experience, she is more likely to initiate sex,” says Dr Runels. “If a woman has a negative experience – difficulty with arousal or pain – it’s more difficult for her to get aroused the next time. Her responses become less powerful, so it’s a vicious downward spiral. However after the shot, she has a positive experience, so there’s a positive spiral upwards. The effect is twofold – physical and psychological – because in addition to the tissue becoming healthier, she is also more open to future encounters.” The first O-Shot goes into the patient’s clitoris, and for those of you who didn’t get the anatomy class in school it’s worth noting that most of the clitoris is inside a woman’s body, the part that is visible is actually only the tip. When the O-Shot is injected the whole clitoris can be stimulated rather than just the tip because the nerves become more responsive. This is also how it helps with urinal incontinence because the same nerves help to control the urge to urinate, so women are better able to feel and control the musculature there. The second shot goes into the skene’s glands in the vagina, which is similar to the prostate gland in a man. After the O-Shot some women even become ejaculatory for the first time in their lives when they orgasm.[blockquote type="center"] Sexual energy is a very big part of the creative process – it energises us whether that’s in the bedroom or the boardroom.[/blockquote] 

Release the Energy

According to Dr Runels, the majority of his patients have tried all the conventional methods of improving the quality of their sex lives, from sex therapy and sex aids to self-help books, and he acknowledges that while getting to know your body better is always a good thing, there is little point if your body is not working effectively because of hormonal changes or after a procedure like an episiotomy. “I compare this to being told to read a book on how to drive a car when your engine has broken down,” says Dr Runels. “I had a patient in her twenties who delivered a large baby, and had to have an episiotomy. She hadn’t been able to have sex with her husband since because she was in so much pain, and it was really affecting their once very loving, attentive relationship.” The fact that Dr Runels can offer women an option means women begin to feel they are taking back control of their bodies and their sex lives, and this is hugely transformative. “I can see that they feel like they are getting their spark back. The ancient Chinese believed that we could transmute sexual energy into genius and creativity, and without it people become like a castrated animal. I am a big believer that sexual energy is a very big part of the creative process, and it energises us whether that’s in the bedroom or the boardroom. Even women who do not have a partner and do not want a partner, but may just want to have sexual experiences alone benefit from this resurgence in sexual energy.” 

Coming Soon

On this side of the Atlantic, currently Dr Sherif Elwakil, is the only doctor offering the treatment in Europe at his cosmetic clinics in Harley Street and Baker Street, London ( “I have patients who come specifically for this treatment from all over Europe and I expected it to be successful, but I had no idea it would be this successful. So far I’ve had four patients come to me from Ireland, who have even come to me in the morning and flown home that evening.” But why is this treatment not available more widely if it’s going to revolutionise how we treat sexual disorders for women? “I think old-school medical practitioners in Europe are slow to get on board with new treatments like this from the States. But the feedback is so good that more and more people will begin asking for it. I think women’s sexuality has been underestimated for too long. I have actually trained with Charles Runels in the US in how to teach other doctors how to administer this treatment and I’m going to start holding training sessions around Europe from January, so I expect next year that this treatment will really take off.” 

What to Expect

There will be a nurse present with the doctor throughout the procedure, which takes about 35 to 40 minutes in all and will set you back £1,000. First the doctor or nurse applies a numbing cream to the vagina and the arm. Blood is drawn from the arm in the same was as with any blood test. While the PRP is being prepared, which takes about ten minutes, the doctor can talk to you and answer any last minute questions you might have. Then, using a very thin needle, the PRP is injected the clitoris and into the upper vagina into an area most important for the sexual response. Because these areas have been numbed with the anesthetic cream, you feel little or no pain and the actual injections themselves takes no more than five minutes. “The best this about this treatment is that you’re using the growth factors you have in your own body to stimulate vaginal and clitoral rejuvenation, so it’s a completely natural treatment, with no downtime afterwards,” says Dr Elwakil. “Some of my patients have even had sexual intercourse the same day after treatment.” 

It Doesn’t End There

When it comes to PRP medical technology both Dr Runels and Dr Elwakil emphasise that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg as regards its potential. “Stem cell research is in its infancy, which is why a lot of the money I make from the O-Shot I put back into research for its other potential uses,” says Dr Runels. “Imagine a keychain which holds the key to every room in the body – bone, hair, collagen – this keychain is the PRP and science hasn’t unlocked this stem cell technology fully yet. There are many doors still to be opened.” Another condition which has responded well to treatment with PRP has been lichen sclerosus, which is a long-term skin condition which can affect the genital and anal areas. “I am currently talking to the Lichen Sclerosus and Vulval Health, Association here in the UK,” says Dr Elwakil. “I have personally injected five patients with lichen sclerosus who have reported that it has improved the condition. I have also had patients come to me, who haven’t lost sexual function and don’t suffer from

Which is the best IUD for me?

By: Susan Geiger, DNP, MS, WHNP-BC

Hormonal contraceptives offer women of all age’s protection against unintended pregnancies through suppression of ovulation, thinning of the uterine endometrium, and/or inhibition of sperm motility and decreased sperm dispersion through the cervical canal and into the ovum. Many reliable, effective, and safe contraceptives are available for women, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) for women who are not candidates for estrogen-containing birth control or who prefer continuous protection for extended intervals.

Hormonal IUCs release progestin, a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone. The levonorgestrel impregnated IUC releases progestin into the uterine cavity, thickening cervical mucous, and causing thinning of the lining of the endometrium. There are four approved devices in the U.S., to include the Mirena, Kyleena, Skyla and Liletta. These are small, plastic, T-shaped contraceptives, that are placed inside the uterus and prevent pregnancy more than 99% of the time. The progestin IUCs start working about seven days after insertion and may be left in place, depending on the type, from three to seven years. All are inserted by a trained healthcare professional and can easily be removed at any time. At RWWC, we currently have both the Liletta and the Kyleena.

Liletta slowly releases 52 mg of a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel. This is the same kind of hormone that is often used in birth control pills. Only a small amount of levonorgestrel enters your bloodstream. Neither the Liletta nor the Kyleena contain estrogen. Approved for use in the U.S. in 2015, it measures 32 mm x 32 mm. Kyleena, approved in 2016, contains 19.5 mg of levonorgestrel and measures 28 mm x 30 mm. It works the same way as the other progestin containing IUCs, slowly releasing levonorgestrel over time. Both are effective against unintended pregnancies for up to five years.

The Copper-T 380A IUD (intrauterine device) was introduced into the United States in the late 1980’s. It is a small, (36mm vertically x 32mm horizontally) plastic “T” shaped contraceptive placed in the uterus by a trained health care professional. The approved duration for use of the Copper IUC is twelve years. Otherwise known by the brand name Paragard, this IUC is the only nonhormonal IUC approved for use in the U.S. Paragard does not contain hormones, instead using the copper that surrounds it to halt sperm from getting to the egg as well as possibly creating an immune response within the reproductive tract that interferes with fertility before an egg reaches the uterus. IUCs prevent fertilization but are not abortifacients, which had been a common myth. The Paragard IUC works as soon as it is placed inside the uterus and can be used for emergency contraception if inserted within five days after unprotected intercourse. The Paragard is easily removed whenever you want and is safe to use while breastfeeding. Common side effects after placement include heavier periods and cramping for several months, both alleviated with over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. We do offer the Paragard IUC at RWWC.

Hormonal contraception also offers many health benefits besides prevention of an unintended pregnancy. The hormonal intrauterine contraceptive (IUC) may reduce the risk of some cancers, including cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus), cervical, ovarian, and even colon cancer. Many women benefit from menstrual regulation and decreased cramping, while others have a lighter period-or no period at all. Both the hormonal and non-hormonal IUCs are over 99 percent effective, cost-effective, long-lasting, and decrease the possibility of user error that comes with taking a pill every day or using condoms.

There are a few risks involved with the IUCs, as well as contraindications, that should be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to insertion. Please schedule a consult beforehand, if you have not already discussed the appropriateness of IUCs at your annual gynecologic visit. Problems can be managed, and most women are happy with their choice. Continuation rates for intrauterine contraceptives are generally higher vs. other forms of contraception for women.­ 

We also offer Nexplanon. The Nexplanon is considered a contraceptive implant - it is a very small rod inserted under the skin of a woman's upper arm to provide birth control. It's invisible and prevents pregnancy for up to 4 years.

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YOGA HIVE Philly's mission is to increase awareness throughout our community of the powerful benefits associated with regular yoga practice. YOGA HIVE Philly offers a warm and welcoming environment to our students, allowing them to learn yoga at their own pace and feel comfortable on their yoga journey. At The Hive, we welcome beginners and first-timers, while also offering a variety of challenging classes for the more experienced yogi. The Hive offers something for everyone; our classes range in difficulty and are always updating and expanding to accommodate your practice.

Yoga has no end: we will never be perfect yogis and there is always room for continuous improvement and progress. The practice of yoga has always represented hope, transition, and growth. The benefits of yoga are boundless and the possibilities of practice are endless. At YOGA HIVE Philly, our founders know first hand the transformative power of regular yoga practice. Welcome to your healing journey!

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Philadelphia, PA

Endometriosis: Everything You Need to Know

By: Reproductive Medical Associates

If you don't have endometriosis, you've probably heard of it – it affects about one in ten women of reproductive age. Although the condition's two main symptoms are pelvic pain and infertility, both are treatable, and women with endometriosis often go on to have healthy pregnancies.

If you are having pelvic pain or trouble getting pregnant then you should schedule an appointment with your practitioner and we can refer you, if necessary, to a specialist.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition where cells from the endometrial lining implant and grow outside of the uterus (including on the ovaries, the pelvic cavity and the fallopian tubes), causing inflammation and scar tissue that can lead to pelvic pain and infertility.

What are the causes of endometriosis?

There are several potential causes, including:

• Retrograde menstruation: During menstruation, while most of the blood and tissue flows out of the vagina, a small amount of blood and tissue travels up backwards through the uterus and fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity. In most women, the immune system gets rid of that blood and tissue. By contrast, the immune system of women with endometriosis is unable to fully eliminate the backflow. Therefore, tissue from the uterine cavity is able to stick to and invade areas outside of the uterus. This is the most common cause of endometriosis.

• Blood or lymphatic system spread: endometrial cells can spread to other parts of the body (the pelvic cavity in particular) through blood.

• Coelomic Metaplasia: in this case, cells in other parts of the body unrelated to the uterus turn into endometrial cells.

What are the symptoms?

Pelvic masses, pelvic pain and infertility are the main symptoms of endometriosis. All of them can be treated, but not necessarily at the same time. In some cases, women with endometriosis have no symptoms at all and are diagnosed only after they seek a reproductive endocrinologist's help in getting pregnant.

How is the condition diagnosed?

While checking for symptoms and performing a physical exam is an important first step, the only real way to diagnose endometriosis is through a biopsy obtained during surgery. There is no blood test for endometriosis.

How is endometriosis treated?

When treating endometriosis, it is important to first identify whether a patient is mainly concerned with addressing her pain or treating infertility. It is not always possible to simultaneously relieve a patient's pain and also help her to become pregnant. If a woman is not looking to conceive and just wants to alleviate her pain, over the counter pain killers like Advil or Motrin, as well as hormonal treatments like birth control pills or the Mirena IUD, can help.

Patients whose main concern is pregnancy will likely require treatment with fertility medications and either artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is the most effective treatment for infertility in patients with endometriosis because it bypasses pelvic scar tissue and enables the sperm and egg to meet in a controlled environment. However, even in IVF, women with endometriosis have slightly lower pregnancy rates than other individuals with infertility.

So I can get pregnant if I have endometriosis?

Yes, you read that right! You might need a little help through IVF, but you can get pregnant.

Mammograms: What to Know Before You Go

By: Allison Andrews, WHNP

At what age should I get my first Mammogram?

Women with an average risk of breast cancer should undergo regular, annual screening mammography beginning at age 45 years, with women having an opportunity to choose to begin annual screening as early as age 40; women 55 years and older should transition to screening every other year.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a form of radiology imaging that is used to find changes in breast tissue. Conventional digital imaging typically gives the radiologist one look at overlapping breast tissues, but 3D mammography tomosynthesis takes pictures of the breast from all different angels providing a clear, accurate view.

Always let your provider or technologist know if you have any breast changes or concerns. Also, review any medical history that could affect your breast cancer risk such as; surgery, hormone use, breast cancer in your family, or if you have had breast cancer before.

Before getting any type of imaging, it is important to tell your technologist if you are breastfeeding or if you think you might be pregnant.

Where do I go for a mammogram?

It is important to find a clinic that specializes in mammograms as they meet FDA standards of health and safety. You want to try and go to the same facility every time so that your mammograms can easily be compared from year to year. If you need to switch facilities, bring a list of the places and dates of previous mammograms, biopsies or consultations.

What to wear during a mammogram?

Arrive at your appointment wearing a two-piece outfit, as you will have to remove your shirt for the exam. Do not apply any deodorants, powder, ointment, or lotions the day of your mammogram.

What to expect during a mammogram?

You will have to undress above the waist to get a mammogram and you will be given a wrap to wear. A technologist will position your breasts for the mammogram. To get a high quality pictures, your breast must be flattened between two plates. The whole procedure takes about twenty minutes, the actual compression only lasts for a few seconds. Most women feel discomfort when your breasts are compressed, and for some women it can be painful. It is important to tell your technologist if you are in a lot of pain.

What to expect if I need a diagnostic mammogram?

First it is important to note that a diagnostic mammogram is often done if a woman has breast changes/concerns or if a change is seen on a routine mammogram. During a diagnostic mammogram more pictures are taken with a focus on the area of concern. Your images are then immediately reviewed by the radiologist so that more imaging or consultations can be done if needed.

How will I get my mammogram results?

A full report of the results of your mammogram will be sent to your health care provider as well as mailed to all women. If you have any questions about your mammogram, please do not hesitate to call or schedule an appointment.

What Will It Be, City Or Country?

By: Dr. Maria Mazzotti

Even though I am a city girl at heart, I have to admit there are some good things about living in the country.  I grew up in the suburbs (my parents hated the city) and once I went to college in the city, I never left.  The biggest thing I miss is sitting outside in the summer, staring up at the sky and listening to the sounds of nature.  But this isn’t about me - so I would like to present the pros and cons of city vs suburban living.

City life provides more options for anything you need at a moment’s notice. This can be a great thing, unless you have a hard time making decisions.  The city offers multiple choices for essential things like different health systems as well as less important things that only seem essential like coffee shops.  Sometimes finding alternative foods when you have food allergies/sensitivities may be more cumbersome in the country - while it is easier to find local produce in the country. However you may be lucky enough to have access to an open market in the city where you can get locally grown products.  

The landscape of where you live does not discriminate on the types of sicknesses you can catch. Believe it or not, you can still get Lyme disease in a city.  On the other hand, if you need medication or help from a neighbor, these things are more accessible in the city.  Frequently there are fewer choices for medical specialists in the country and patients may need to travel further to get better care.  Equally you can spend a lot of time in a car travelling from one point of the city to another or from one town to the next.  Pick your poison.

Typically the city offers more resources in every category - whether you are considering a psychotherapist, yoga studio or the best French bakery.  Often times the hours are more flexible/longer in a city which makes it more accommodating for working people.  But sometimes, because people are more likely to know each other better in the country, people may be more likely to be to help out.  Have you ever tried stopping someone in the city to ask for help or ask a question?

One big advantage to living in the country would be larger living spaces and more green space.  This allows for kids, adults, pets and dogs to roam around.  Generally the trend is that you get more bang for your buck when it comes to housing.  The space that the country provides creates a lot of possibilities for your property, like a pool! Who doesn’t love that in the summer?

There are more employment options in the city, but often times the employer is more likely to be larger in size which has its own set of pros and cons.  On the flip side, sometimes in a smaller entity, it may be easier to communicate and achieve your task.  You can get lost in a large group, but smaller employment groups may be stifling.  

The city comes with a lot of action. Entertainment, culture and groundbreaking events are more likely to occur in the city.  For someone that does not like crowds, traffic or noise, the city may not be for them.  Violence tends to be more prominent in cities. Some upkeep is questionable -  having tripped and fractured my elbow three years ago, I would always be aware of uneven payments when walking around on any side walk, especially in Philadelphia.  

With more cars, buses and trucks come more pollution.  When it is windy/cold the city may be a few degrees warmer and less likely to have roads covered in snow.  Smaller city streets make it harder to clear away snow when there is a large accumulation.  Parking can be a challenge in the city.  City dwellers do tend to walk a lot in comparison to people living in the county, but at times whether it is for work or a consequence of where someone is living, people in the country may need to walk more to get somewhere on their property or to get to work if they do not own a car.  

It is difficult deciding where to live when you are just taking yourself into consideration and the variables grow exponentially when making the right decision for a spouse or family.  There are a lot of things to consider when choosing where to call home. Some are lucky enough to live close to the comforts of a city with the positive attributes of residing in the country.  The best option is what fits best for the individual or family. 

Signs You Are Overworking Yourself

By: Dr. Rupa Natarajan

It's summer, the weather is (mostly) beautiful, but you're too tired or stressed out to enjoy it. Sound familiar? Fatigue that is unremitting, mood swings or depressed/anxious mood, changes in appetite, and feelings of detachment can all be signs that you are working too hard, and on the pathway to burnout. Other symptoms can include memory and concentration impairment, dizziness, frequent illnesses (or an illness that persists), palpitations, headaches, chest pain, gastrointestinal distress, labile/angry mood, and lack of productivity/motivation. If you have the above symptoms, it is important to get checked out by your medical provider, but you may also need to reconsider whether or not you are overburdened by demands of work and home.
Why does this matter? Long term stress and burnout (which is now recognized as a medical condition) can put you at risk of increased health problems, such as obesity or malnutrition, anxiety, depression, heart disease, chronic insomnia, and digestive problems, to name a few! Burnout is not just due to working too hard or too many hours. It can happen when the demands of your job/day overwhelm your body's capacity to handle stress.

Why does this happen? When your body initially encounters a stressful event, your senses send signals to a part of your brain called the amygdala, which plays a role in processing of memory, emotions, and decision making. A condition called "amygdala hijack" can occur in times of increased stress, where your amygdala is constantly activated rather than calmed by your prefrontal cortex, causing a cascade of biochemical triggers that lead to the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline (fight or flight response). Instead of your body regulating its response to stress, it learns to exist in a hyper stressful state, putting your overall health at risk. In studies, individuals who identified as burned out were noted to have enlarged amygdalae, demonstrating that chronic stress leaves a mark on your brain and can restructure how you cognitively function.

Can this be reversed? Early evidence suggests yes, but the best treatment is always prevention. Make sure you try to take time out for yourself whenever possible- whether it is healthy habits such as yoga, cardiovascular exercise, meditation, and eating fresh fruits/vegetables. If you cannot reduce your work hours, mitigating your stress at work and concentrating on the parts of your job that bring you pleasure (or looking for a new job) can be helpful. Speaking to a therapist, or to a career coach can also be ways you take time out for yourself and recharge. Aiming for a regular routine or sleep pattern nightly can be helpful, and exercise/meditation/decreased caffeine intake can support this as well.
We look forward to supporting you on your journey to health, and encourage you to talk to your provider more at your next visit about ways to reduce burnout.

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