Monday, November 5, 2007

We all feel down sometimes

We all feel down and have bouts of the blues from time to time, but for people with depression this feeling can last for months. They become so low in spirits that they can’t work or keep up their routine. Mixed depression and anxiety is the most common mental disorder in Britain, affecting an estimated 9% of the population.

We asked Dr Cosmo Hallstrom, a psychiatrist and specialist in depression, what he would want to know if he was diagnosed with depression

How should I tackle my depression?
If you went to the doctor because you were feeling low, a diagnosis of depression will probably come as no surprise. Remember, you are not alone. Depression is a common condition with wide implications, so concentrate on the options put forward by your GP to help you deal with it.

If you went to the doctor complaining of physical symptoms, such as back pain, chronic tiredness or headaches and your GP spots that you're depressed, it may take some time to accept this. Try to understand your problem and work out why you're depressed. When you’re feeling low, the world looks bad. Maybe you’re blaming it on your lifestyle when it is, in fact, your internal chemistry. All these things are interlinked.

Do I need to take medication?
If your depression is sufficiently severe to cause problems in your daily life, you should consider taking medication under the advice and guidance of your GP. If your depression is linked to problems in your lifestyle, you should seek counselling.

I'm feeling better. Can I stop taking my tablets?
It's very important to take the full course of tablets. They won't have an instant effect, and may not be the only remedy you’re prescribed. You may also want to consider cognitive behaviour therapy.

Will I suffer depression for the rest of my life?
Most people with depression make a full recovery, with or without treatment, and live full and productive lives.

I don't feel like doing anything. Can't I just stay in bed?
It's important to keep going at whatever level you can, and not to give up work and social activities. It's best not to stay in bed all day, or to punish yourself or give up on life. Take your recovery in stages and work out where the problem lies.

Health Care System Delivery

Primary health care is the foundation of the health care system. It is the first point of contact people have with the health care system. It could be through a doctor, a nurse, another health professional, or perhaps through phone or computer-based services.

Primary health care involves providing services, through teams of health professionals, to individuals, families and communities. It also involves a proactive approach to preventing health problems and ensuring better management and follow-up once a health problem has occurred. These services are publicly funded from general tax revenues without direct charges to the patient.

A patient may be referred for specialized care at a hospital or long-term care facility or in the community. The majority of Canadian hospitals are operated by community boards of trustees, voluntary organizations or municipalities. For the most part, health care services provided in long-term institutions are paid for by the provincial and territorial governments, while room and board are paid for by the individual; in some cases these payments are subsidized by the provincial and territorial governments.

Alternatively, health care services may be provided in the home and/or community. Referrals to home care can be made by doctors, hospitals, community agencies, families and potential residents. These services, such as specialized nursing care, homemaker services and adult day care, are provided to people who are partially or totally incapacitated. Needs are assessed, and services are coordinated to provide continuity of care and comprehensive care.

The provinces and territories also provide coverage to certain groups of people (e.g., seniors, children and social assistance recipients) for health services that are not generally covered under the publicly funded health care system. These supplementary health benefits often include prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, medical equipment and appliances (prostheses, wheelchairs, etc.), independent living and the services of allied health professionals, such as podiatrists and chiropractors. The level of coverage varies across the country. Many Canadians have supplemental private insurance coverage through group plans, which covers the cost of these supplementary services.

Health Canada's Role

The federal government, the ten provinces, and the three territories have key roles to play in the health care system in Canada. Health Canada's mandate is to help Canadians maintain and improve their health. Among other activities, Health Canada's responsibilities for health care include setting and administering national principles for the health care system through the Canada Health Act and delivering health care services to specific groups (e.g., First Nations and Inuit). Working in partnership with provinces and territories, Health Canada also supports the health care system through initiatives in areas such as health human resources planning, adoption of new technologies and primary health care delivery.

Care for people with diabetes improving

The care of people with diabetes is improving, with more people having the key tests and measurements they need to help keep their diabetes under control, says a report carried out on behalf of the Healthcare Commission by the Information Centre for health and social care.

The National Diabetes Audit, published today, is an ongoing audit designed to monitor care and assure consistent quality in services for people with diabetes across the country.

The 2005/2006 audit shows the number of people having all the recommended key tests and measurements is increasing each year, but there is still room for improvement.

The report shows that young people and the elderly are not getting the care they need, which can have serious consequences for the control of their diabetes.

The full National Diabetes Audit, executive summary, abridged report and paediatric report are available on the Information Centre website at

National Arbor Day Foundation

UnitedHealthcare Helps the National Arbor Day Foundation Replant Pike-San Isabel National Forest

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (June 12, 2007) UnitedHealthcare is supporting The National Arbor Day Foundation's effort to plant more trees and help replenish America's national forests and promoting greater use of electronic customer transactions to reduce paper waste.

Through a $10,000 donation - a dollar a tree - UnitedHealthcare is helping the Foundation plant trees in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, where, in 2002, nearly 138,000 acres burned in the Hayman fire, the largest recorded wildfire in Colorado history.

In addition, UnitedHealthcare is encouraging its customers to receive the company's communications - including business-related and health care benefit updates - via email instead of paper. Employer customers that choose to receive emails instead of paper are enabling UnitedHealthcare to support The National Arbor Day Foundation to have trees planted in a national forest that has been damaged by fires, insects or other natural causes.

UnitedHealthcare, based in Minneapolis, is a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company that provides and administers health insurance plans for more than 26 million commercial health plan members nationwide. The National Arbor Day Foundation, based in Nebraska City, Neb., is a nonprofit, environmental education organization of nearly 1 million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.

"UnitedHealthcare's support of tree-planting and paperless programs are making a wonderful, positive impact on the environment in many ways - by saving trees, reducing paper waste in landfills, and by planting thousands of trees in America's national forests," said John Rosenow, president of The National Arbor Day Foundation. "The company's efforts will help replant damaged areas and restore the treasured Pike-San Isabel National Forest to its previous grandeur."

According to Rosenow, 2006 was the nation's worst forest fire season on record, burning more than 9.6 million acres of land and creating a need for planting millions of trees in forests nationwide.

UnitedHealthcare has invested billions of dollars in technology to offer more online customer and physician services that reduce paper waste, potentially saving thousands of trees and protecting the environment. Last month, the company announced a real-time claims adjudication program via that enables physicians to submit their claims online and avoid excess, time-consuming paperwork.

"Part of our overarching commitment to heal health care, together, is to simplify access to information for our customers by providing real-time, online information that curtails paper waste and reduces our impact on the environment," said Elizabeth Soberg, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Colorado. "We are encouraged that many of our employer customers are working with us to become less dependent on paper and are supportive of our commitment to reduce waste and help restore America's forests. By opting for paperless communications, together we can significantly reduce even more paper use and save more trees while helping plant new trees in national forests.

UnitedHealthcare's online services and its support of The National Arbor Day Foundation dovetail with the company's commitment to help the environment. For example, UnitedHealthcare recently lowered its members co-payment for chlorofluorocarbon-free asthma inhalers. Chlorofluorocarbon-containing albuterol inhalers, once the industry standard for 25 years, are being phased out because of their harmful effect on the earth's ozone layer. The new CFC-free brand-name inhalers are just as effective but have a higher cost.

In addition, UnitedHealthcare's parent company, UnitedHealth Group, will begin construction on a new environmentally responsible 10-story building adjacent to its Minnetonka, Minn., headquarters. Planned for completion in 2008, the building is slated to be among the first LEED-certified buildings in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. LEED, or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, is the most respected and widely used environmental standard for commercial buildings and a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of environmentally responsible architecture.