January 6, 2010

Study finds medication of little help to patients with mild, moderate depression

Posted: 01:05 AM ET

By Shari Roan via Los Angeles Times

Expert: "It looks like a lot of what gives people relief is that they're feeling whatever the opposite of neuroticism is." Only people with very severe depression benefit from antidepressants, says research published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. Others do better with nonmedical approaches.

Antidepressant medications probably provide little or no benefit to people with mild or moderate depression, a new study has found. Rather, the mere act of seeing a doctor, discussing symptoms and learning about depression probably triggers the improvements many patients experience while on medication.

Only people with very severe depression receive additional benefits from drugs, said the senior author of the study, Robert J. DeRubeis, a University of Pennsylvania psychology professor. The research was released online Tuesday and will be published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

Hundreds of studies have attested to the benefits of antidepressants over placebos, DeRubeis said. But many studies involve only participants with severe depression. Confusion arises, he said, "because there is a tendency to generalize the findings to mean that all depressed people benefit from medications."

(Read More)

Filed under: Health • Larry King Live

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January 3, 2010

Alexa Ray Joel to speak out about 'heartbreak-related depression' that led to her suicide attempt

Posted: 10:20 PM ET

Alexa Ray Joel and her mother, Christie Brinkley, hung out in the Hamptons together on Memorial Day.

BY Cristina Everett via New York Daily News

Alexa Ray Joel intends to speak out about the "heartbreak-related depression" that almost took her life last month.

The daughter of model Christie Brinkley and singer Billy Joel posted a note on Facebook to thank her fans, friends and family for their "incredible outpouring of love and support."

"It's certainly been a whirlwind of a month, but reading all of your encouraging posts has never failed to cheer me up!" wrote the 24-year-old musician, who was rushed to a Manhattan hospital Dec. 5 after swallowing a handful of homeopathic pills.

Though medical experts said it would be nearly impossible to overdose on the natural medication, Joel's roommate reportedly called 911 for help.

Filed under: Entertainment • Health • Larry King Live

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December 21, 2009

LKL: Howie Mandel & his compulsive behavior disorder

Posted: 12:02 PM ET
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December 15, 2009

'30 Rock' actor in need of kidney transplant

Posted: 08:57 AM ET

Beloved "30 Rock" cast member Grizzwald "Grizz" Chapman is undergoing dialysis treatment while on the wait-list for a kidney transplant.

The 6-foot-11, 378-pound actor who plays one-half of Tracy Morgan's security detail on the Emmy-winning show is suffering from severe hypertension that has him on a dialysis machine three times a week. Chapman must lose more than 75 pounds before he can be considered a viable candidate for a transplant. Once he loses the weight, he could remain on the transplant wait list for up to five years.

In a bid to get healthy in anticipation of surgery, Chapman is working with Dr. Mehmet Oz of "The Dr. Oz Show."

The actor opened up to Dr. Oz, who is working to create a plan that will help him shed the pounds, on an episode of the daytime program that will air on Tuesday.

Chapman admitted to Dr. Oz that he ignored his high blood pressure and even refused to take medication for it for more than a decade. "Well, in the beginning I didn't take the blood pressure medicine, because listening to my friends, my friends told me, you know, if you start taking the medicines, you'll be on the medicine for the rest of your life. ... I just kind of brushed it off and, you know, continued on my, my normal everyday life," Chapman said on the show.

Chapman was joined on the set by his television sidekick, Kevin Brown, who portrays "Dot Com" on the show.

"He's getting that transplant!" Brown said. "I'll lose the weight with him. For every 10 pounds he loses, I'll lose one pound. That's a deal!"

(Read More)

Filed under: Dr. Mehmet Oz • Entertainment • Health

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December 8, 2009

Bryant Gumbel reveals lung cancer surgery

Posted: 02:25 PM ET

(CNN) - Bryant Gumbel made an unexpected announcement Tuesday morning as a guest host on "Live! With Regis & Kelly." The host of HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" had surgery two months ago to remove a malignant tumor on his lung.

Gumbel, 61, appeared on the morning talk show to fill in for Regis Philbin, who recently underwent a successful hip surgery. Gumbel, a cigar smoker, brought up his surgery after chatting with co-host Kelly Ripa about his inability to dance.

"I can't," he said. "I have a note from my doctor."

The former "Today" show host explained to viewers that he has told few people about the surgery in which part of his lung was removed.

"They opened up my chest; they took a malignant tumor, part of my lung and some other goodies," he said. "The pathology on most of the stuff came back benign but enough aggressive cells had escaped the tumor that it warranted some treatment."

Gumbel kept the treatment close to the vest. "We had told a few people. We told my family, obviously," Gumbel said. "I even kept it from my staff at 'Real Sports.' "

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in the United States, but it's also the most preventable, according to the American Cancer Society. Gumbel said he and his doctor are hoping his treatment is complete.


Filed under: Health • Sports

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December 4, 2009

Understanding OCD

Posted: 02:26 PM ET

Editor’s note: Tonight on LKL, Comedian Howie Mandel opens up about his life-long struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder. He talks to Larry about his phobias, why he won’t shake hands and how it all has affected his private and public life. Plus, Larry speaks to two woman featured on the A&E documentary series, “Obsessed,” about their conditions and treatments for OCD. Therapist John Tsilimparis joins Larry to explain what OCD is, how it can be treated and why we need to understand it better.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
By John Tsilimparis, MFT

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD is a serious, chronic psychiatric disorder that is characterized by the presence of obsessions and compulsions which are very distressing and time consuming. The illness is so pervasive that left untreated, it can cause significant, progressive deterioration in social and occupational functioning. OCD is also a very common condition that affects people of all walks of life and often goes undiagnosed and untreated for many years due to the negative stigma that unfortunately is still attached to it.

As a former anxiety disorder sufferer since the age of 8, I have dedicated my work as a therapist to offering safe, compassionate treatment for people struggling with anxiety.

As a therapist, I especially enjoy working with patients who suffer from panic disorder and social phobia, but I mostly find working with patients suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) most rewarding because the treatment that is available is so effective.

And as a clinician and former sufferer, it is very fulfilling to watch patients recover and subsequently, improve the quality of their lives.

The treatment is a combination of two cutting edge behavioral techniques, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and ERP (Exposure Response Prevention). The techniques allow for a collaborative effort between therapist and patient which ultimately gives individuals the empowerment to take charge of their illness and be a big part of their own transformation.

To understand the disorder we need to really break down the obsessions and compulsions separately. Obsessions are persistence and recurring, unwanted thoughts, images, ideas that are usually very irrational and extremely negative and have a doom-like quality to them.

The compulsions are little mental preoccupations or ritualistic behaviors that are performed in response to the obsessions in hopes of somehow controlling and eventually decreasing them. The problem is that the compulsions or rituals do in fact provide some relief which is the reason why people continue to perform them. This debilitating mental exercise adheres to the following command: Pain + Relief = Repetition.

As mentioned earlier, OCD causes individuals a great deal of personal shame, which in the end causes them to isolate and suffer alone. One of the reasons is that OCD, as well as other anxiety disorders, are still not recognized and respected by mainstream society as legitimate illnesses. They are still considered by many to be the result of human weakness or some kind of moral failing.

My firm belief is that the TV Documentary series, "Obsessed" that I was fortunate to be a part of, as well as high profile celebrities like Howie Mandel coming forward and opening up publicly about their personal struggles with OCD, may help to begin a slow process of erasing the negative stigma around this disorder.

The process will gradually heighten public awareness and deepen social understanding and will help put it on the map of illnesses to be reckoned with. It will also encourage the many thousands of anxiety disorder sufferers out there to come out from hiding and seek help.

Filed under: Health • LKL Web Exclusive

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December 2, 2009

Model's death highlights plastic surgery risks

Posted: 03:17 PM ET

By Mark Tutton, CNN

London, England (CNN) - Following the death of a former Miss Argentina after complications arising from plastic surgery, questions are being raised about the risks of cosmetic surgery.

Solange Magnano, 37, died in hospital, after being transferred from a clinic where she underwent an elective surgery on her buttocks last Wednesday.

Nigel Mercer, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, last month described the cosmetic surgery industry an "unregulated mess" in the journal Clinical Risk.

Following revelations of Magnano's death, he told CNN, "Unfortunately, the things we're saying about this type of surgery keep being proven right by people having major disasters."

Magnano is reported to have died from a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of the blood supply to lungs.

It is currently not known if Magnano's death was a result of her surgery and there is no suggestion that it came about through surgical error, but there are risks associated with buttock-enhancement surgery.

Mercer said Magnano may have had a solid implant in her buttocks, a relatively low-risk procedure, but he said it's possible that she had liquid silicone injected into her buttocks - a "highly unpleasant" procedure that is banned in most countries. An alternative would have been to extract fat from another part of her body using liposuction, and then inject the fat into the buttocks.

"With a pulmonary embolism something blocks blood supply to the lungs and circulation literally stops dead," Mercer told CNN.

"The lump in the lungs can be stuff you've injected into the patient - their own fat or a lump of silicone - or it can be clots from leg veins as a result of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)."

While DVT is not common with cosmetic surgery, Mercer said that operations on the pelvis, buttocks and legs carry a much higher risk of causing the condition.

"No cosmetic surgery is totally risk free," Mercer told CNN. "Even having botox and fillers is not risk free. There's a chance of infection, bruising or bleeding with any procedure."

(Read more…)

Filed under: Health

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December 1, 2009

The Comeback of AIDS Activism

Posted: 08:40 PM ET

What was once an American crisis is now a national afterthought. But there may be new life in the AIDS movement.

By Kate Dailey


After the first case was reported in 1981, America soon found itself in the middle of an AIDS crisis. For the next several years, the country was on high alert: men and women were dying quickly and painfully. Activists groups like ACT UP made headlines with disruptive and shocking protests demanding better care. TV shows devoted very special episodes to safe sex, and the global health community seemed united in its effort to eradicate AIDS.

But 28 years is a long time to be in crisis mode. And thanks to the 1996 development of the antiviral cocktail, a combination of drugs that largely stemmed the fatal and fast-moving elements of the disease while eliminating many of its highly visible indicators, the feeling of immediate danger that spurred so many people to action is now gone.

"When I was diagnosed, I was told I had a year left and I would have done anything if I thought it would've saved my life," says Regan Hofmann, the editor in chief of POZ magazine, who received her diagnosis in 1996. "But then three months later they said, 'You're going to be OK, you might even have a normal life span'. . . I was no less adamant about wanting to fight HIV/AIDS, but the urgency was gone."

Since that time, free condoms have largely disappeared from bars; red ribbons, once so ubiquitous at awards ceremonies, are rarely seen, and other health issues—from obesity to cancer—have taken up space in the public consciousness.

"In my early days as a board member and earlier, there was a great deal of concern, worry, angst about HIV that has settled into this kind of benign complacency," says Marjorie J. Hill, CEO for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. Many people, she says, thinks AIDS can be treated with a pill, and that living with the disease is now similar to living with diabetes or heart disease.

Of course, HIV/AIDS is not nearly under control: it affects 33 million people worldwide, and in America, it's the No. 1 killer for women under 35, according to the MAC AIDS fund. The Centers for Disease Control reports that new infections have not declined in the past decade, and while people under 30 are at the greatest risk, so are those in their 50s and 60s. As patients living with HIV/AIDS get older, more potential side effects of the drug cocktails become apparent, including premature aging and dementia. And while many people think AIDS as a medical condition is no big deal, people are still afraid to confront it. "The stigma against people with HIV is still so strong," says Hofmann, who notes that fear of social consequences has kept many patients silent.

(Read more…)

Filed under: Health

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November 21, 2009

Senate Healthcare vote scheduled for today!

Posted: 10:19 AM ET

To debate or not to debate the Senate's health care reform bill; that is the question.

The legislative body on Saturday is expected to vote on whether to begin debate - also known as invoking cloture - on its version of the health care bill, which was introduced Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Reid says the 2,074-page bill would expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans at an estimated cost of $849 billion over 10 years. A House bill was passed nearly two weeks ago.

Proceedings begin at 10 a.m. and will last through the early evening.  Around 8 p.m., the Senate will hold a roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture.

Reid needs 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to overcome a certain GOP filibuster attempt and open the chamber's debate on the bill. It would take another 60 votes to close debate that could last for weeks, while final approval of the bill would require only a simple majority.

(Read More)

Filed under: Health • Politics is King

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November 18, 2009

Sebelius: Keep Having Mammograms

Posted: 05:19 PM ET

NOTE: We will be discussing the advisory board's recommendation tonight on LKL.

Washington (CNN) - A federal advisory board's recommendation that women in their 40s should avoid routine mammograms is not government policy and has caused "a great deal of confusion," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday.

"My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer, and they still are today," Sebelius said in a statement.

"Keep doing what you have been doing for years - talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions and make the decision that is right for you."

Sebelius waded into the controversy over Monday's announcement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that women in their 40s should not get routine mammograms for early detection of breast cancer.


Filed under: Health

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