Friday, September 19, 2014


Why Do You Want To Change Me?

Book Description
Accept the question of ‘change’ and let the magic and marvel unravel. The question of change is the key, which opens the doors of life-living wellness and personal excellence. The book is about unleashing your potential by simply unlocking the consciousness. Won’t you open the doors, if someone knocks to deliver the Christmas Cake! Innocence of reception is beauty. Be beautiful and bountiful.
Publisher: bhakragani - Friday, September 19, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

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Comparing depression to cancer doesn't help anyone

Comparing depression to cancer doesn't help anyone

By David Pilgrim, University of Liverpool

Robin Williams’s suicide has led many to open up about depression in an effort to raise awareness about how many people are living in misery. One of the most common themes in this public discussion has been that depression is a disease like any other.

In the days after the news of Williams’s death broke, Tony Blair’s former communications director, Alistair Campbell, wrote:

Depression has nothing to do with how popular or famous, unpopular or unknown, you are. It just is. Like cancer is. Like asthma is. Like diabetes is. Some people get it, some people don’t. It is a truly horrible illness, and must be viewed and treated as such.

But is depression just like cancer, asthma or diabetes? Making these comparisons can be useful in a personal sense, but if the analogy is not backed up by research, it may be standing in the way of helping people in need.

To be clear at the outset, some of us some of the time are so profoundly distressed about our lives that we may consider suicide or carry it through. Most of us at some time in our life will experience distress and that experience might include low mood and a pessimistic outlook. Some people inhabit that distressed state from time to time, others will experience it chronically. Some of us experience it more profoundly and more often than others.

This social-existential spectrum can be called a disease. But to call something a disease is only worthy if it illuminates our humanity rather than dims our sense of what it is to be human and if turning profound sadness into a medical condition brings with it the prospect of corrective action.

So before we medicalise misery consider the following things.

No test for depression

Depression has no blood test to validate it as a medical condition. Like other psychiatric diagnoses it is defined using presenting complaints (symptoms) to make the diagnosis. The problem is, these symptoms are then explained by the existence of the putative disease. This circular logic goes something like this:

Q: How do we know that this woman is depressed?
A: Because she has very low mood and a deeply pessimistic outlook on life.
Q: Why is she so miserable?
A: Because she is suffering from depression.

The diagnosis of depression is now so common that it has entered the vernacular, and so it has become a self-evident fact for us all. However, as American psychologist Martin Seligman famously commented, “depression is the common cold of psychiatry, familiar yet mysterious.”

The problem of definition

Depression commonly occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, especially anxiety. Some psychiatrists now argue that another diagnosis of common neurotic misery would be more valid. Until the late 20th century, neurotic misery was not even designated by many psychiatrists as a proper mental illness. Now even bereavement is being designated by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder called depression.

Depression has been framed by medicine sometimes as a form of madness (psychosis) and sometimes as common misery (neurosis).

Do the drugs work?

Depression can be treated medicinally but the outcome is unpredictable. If a person with type 1 diabetes receives insulin, their distressing symptoms disappear and their measurable blood sugar alters at once. Without insulin they soon die. If a person with a diagnosis of depression is prescribed an antidepressant it may or may not have a beneficial impact. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. Sometimes the adverse effects of the drugs make patients feel worse.

According to research, those treated with a combination of drugs and psychological therapy are more likely to improve, but relapse is common, even in optimally treated cases. Some who improve still report low grade misery in their lives.

Other ways to help

All of this suggests that human misery is common, recurring and fairly impervious to clinical intervention. It ebbs and flows, mainly because it relates to personal circumstances, such as poverty, bereavement, divorce, job loss or the development of painful illness. A simple diagnosis of depression as a matter of “brain chemistry” can render the complex politics of daily life irrelevant. Poverty, domestic violence, child abuse, insecure employment can be ignored as sources of distress and dysfunction in troubled lives.

Depression is bound up for us all in the condition of being alive among inequality, oppression and multiple forms of recurring loss. Why would we expect to convert all of that complexity into a simple disease that can be measured and manipulated by medical technology just like diabetes or asthma?

Instead of making depression a disease like any other, to be treated with a technological fix, we must stand back and find a way of appreciating the role of suffering in human life and of helping ourselves and others when we are miserable.
The Conversation

David Pilgrim does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

photo credit: Helga Weber via photopin cc
Publisher: bhakragani - Sunday, September 14, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

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Airstrikes on IS in Syria's backyard are high-risk if Assad objects

Airstrikes on IS in Syria's backyard are high-risk if Assad objects


By Ben Rich, Monash University

The expansion of airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) into Syria announced yesterday by US President Barrack Obama marks a predictable, if necessary, escalation of coalition operations against the Jihadist insurgent group. Debates over the wisdom of the operation aside, any military campaign aiming to cripple IS (also known as ISIL or ISIS) as an organisation must target its core logistical and command and control hubs. Most of these appear still to be based in Syria’s east.

The Syrian government, however, remains understandably suspicious of coalition intentions in its backyard. A senior minister in the Assad government, Ali Haidar, warned that any action undertaken without the approval of Damascus would be considered “an aggression against Syria”.

Haidar’s statement reflects a common concern among Assad loyalists. They view the prospect of any coalition activity inside Syria proper as a potential precursor to direct intervention and regime change. But after three-and-a-half gruelling years of war, is the Syrian regime still in a position to resist outside aerial encroachment and threaten coalition operations?

Down but not out

The simple answer is yes. The civil war has taken a heavy toll on the ground troops and air power of the Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAAF), but its air defences have remained largely unaffected. While not the most advanced in the world, Syrian anti-air systems still pose a considerable threat.

According to the annual defence report of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Damascus has access to modern Russian platforms. These include the Pantsir-S1, the Strela-10 and the likely culprit in the MH17 tragedy, the Buk/Buk-M2. Despite repeated discussions over the potential deployment of the formidable theatre-level S-300 system, its status in Syrian hands remains ambiguous.

Such weapons were responsible for the downing of a Turkish warplane along the Syrian periphery in 2012, sparking a minor diplomatic crisis. Closer to home and several decades earlier in 1983, the SAAF used similar platforms to down two US Navy aircraft in Lebanese airspace, much to the consternation of the Reagan administration. Last year, Israel had concerns over the deployment of the Buk in southern Syria and its potential transfer to Lebanese Hezbollah. The IDF launched a devastating airstrike near Damascus to destroy the weapons before they could reach their destination.

Syria has the air-defence capabilities to threaten coalition aircraft.
EPA/Syrian News Agency

The Syrian regime couldn’t hope to fend off a direct assault by the US and its partners. However, it could disrupt an operation against IS. This could have severe political consequences and lead to a rapid escalation and regionalisation of the conflict.

Given IS' positioning inside Syria, coalition air strikes will likely be centred on the eastern city of Raqqah, where the group has made a serious effort to establish itself. While SAAF forces have lost considerable ground since 2011, they nevertheless hold territory within 50 kilometres of the city. This counts much of the government arsenal out, but still leaves systems like the Buk as a credible threat to coalition aircraft.

As the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia showed, even the stealthiest of aircraft can be downed by relatively low-grade Russian and Soviet equipment.

Dealing with the devil

Until now, the US and its allies have been able to engage IS in Iraq with impunity. The greatest threats they face have been pilot error and equipment failure. Syria is not Iraq, however, and the replication of such invulnerability in Levantine airspace is predicated on an understanding between the Assad government and intervening forces.

Given that much of the coalition has spent the past three years calling for the regime’s immediate dissolution and has just committed to expanding support for its opposition, this is a daunting task on both sides of the aisle.

Some may bank on the regime simply taking a step back and allowing one enemy to kill another. It seems to have been more than happy to employ this strategy against warring factions in the opposition. Yet not securing some form of information-sharing relationship between Washington and Damascus leaves far greater room for mishap.

With a considerable portion of the international community now committed to direct involvement in the Syrian conflict, the possible ramifications of such avoidable errors are dire.
The Conversation

Ben Rich does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Publisher: bhakragani - Friday, September 12, 2014
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Damage to the cockpit gives a clue to loss of flight MH17

Damage to the cockpit gives a clue to loss of flight MH17


By Geoffrey Dell

Investigations into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have revealed the aircraft’s cockpit was punctured by a number of “high-energy objects”.

The Dutch Safety Board has revealed the findings this week in a preliminary report into the downing of the passenger aircraft in the Ukraine on July 17. The Boeing 777 had just left Amsterdam airport with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board, heading for Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia.

The report confirms that the flight was proceeding as planned, at 33,000 feet and above the level of the restricted airspace over the Ukraine. It was communicating with all relevant air traffic controllers until about 1.20pm local time when the MH17 air crew stopped responding.

See: MH17 Infographic

The wreckage of the aircraft was later found spread over a large area (10km by 5km) near Rozsypne and Hrabove in eastern Ukraine, an area held by separatist rebel forces.

No malfunction of aircraft

The recovered flight data and voice recorders showed no alert or malfunction in the aircraft and the report says the crew “gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight”.

So far the damage in the area of the cockpit is giving the strongest clue to what caused the accident. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the findings in the preliminary report are consistent with the Australian government’s view “that MH17 was shot down by a large surface-to-air missile”.

Part of the inside cockpit roof showing penetration by objects from outside.
DCA/Dutch Safety Board

The photographs (one above) included in the Dutch report clearly show this damage is atypical to that evident on the rest of the fuselage skin surfaces, which can be seen in other photographs of the wreckage.

These new photographs clearly show sections of forward fuselage structure with multiple holes where the skin is bent inwards around the circumference of each hole. This is consistent with the penetration of small high-energy projectiles, which would be the case with the proximity detonation of the warhead of a missile.

There is also evidence of similar penetrations in the cockpit floor. This suggests some of the projectiles from any warhead entered through the fuselage skin above the cockpit and then exited through the cockpit floor.

Under the cockpit floor

Below the cockpit floor of the Boeing 777 – as in most modern airliners – is the Electronics and Engineering (E&E) compartment, which houses most of the aircraft’s avionics, flight-management computers and other critical “black boxes”. Penetration of the E&E compartment by the high-speed projectiles would no doubt have caused catastrophic damage to critical control systems.

The evidence from the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder clearly show the aircraft operating quite normally with nothing unusual at all up to the abrupt end of the recording. This suggests that right up to the time the power supply to the recorders was terminated operations were normal.

It would be easy to jump to a conclusion from that evidence that the effect of any missile detonation was indeed rapid. Yet there is a need for the investigation to continue to provide answers to other questions.

For example, it is possible, although maybe unlikely, that shrapnel from any missile severed the power supply to the recorders, causing them to stop recording, but the aircraft may have continued flying for a short time. The penetration of the cockpit area by shrapnel from a missile may also explain why the crew were unable to get any mayday call away if that were the case.

What the pilots can still tell

Post-mortem examination of the pilots, if their bodies were among those recovered from the scene, would also shed important light on those last critical seconds.

The identification of the bodies that have been recovered from the crash site is apparently continuing. There is still no word as to whether the bodies of any of the pilots or other cockpit crew have been found, identified and examined.

While the report says the distribution of the pieces show the aircraft “broke up in the air”, the wreckage pattern itself will provide clues to those vital last few seconds.

Other parts of the aircraft have been found scattered across the crash site, including parts of the wings, both engines, landing gear and a portion of fuselage. The vertical tail was also located still attached to the upper rear of the fuselage.

The last location of the aircraft in flight taken from the flight data recorder (FDR). Wreckage distribution is grouped per section of the aircraft.
Dutch Safety Board

It is of interest too that the area map of the flight path in the report showed the main accident scene many degrees off the flight path the aircraft was supposedly on.

This may have been due to simple errors in the depiction on the map. But if the map was accurate, it opens speculation that the aircraft did not immediately or completely break up when the missile detonated.

If so, the heavy components, in particular the engines, would most likely have followed ballistic trajectories to the ground on roughly the same bearing as the direction of flight.

Lessons to be learned

For those who are only interested in bringing those who perpetrated this heinous crime to justice, the rest of the investigation may appear somewhat academic. But it is important to know exactly what took place, in order to make sure all lessons are learned.

For example, if the aircraft did fly on, for any time at all, but the recorders stopped recording due to power failure, recorder design might need to be reviewed to prevent that happening in future. Understanding what happens to airliners when attacked by missiles will also very usefully inform future airliner and aircraft systems design.

Aviation safety has evolved over the past 100 years by learning from the failures that have occurred. Learning all that can be learnt from this disaster will ensure all those lives were not lost entirely in vain.

There seems no doubt the governments involved in the investigation will allow it to run its natural course. This must include the recovery of all the wreckage from the field so that proper forensic analysis can be carried out.

The longer that takes, the less will be learned with certainty from this tragedy.
The Conversation

Geoffrey Dell does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Publisher: bhakragani - Friday, September 12, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

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Try 5 Ways Iron Can Improve a Woman's Life

Back when I was a teenager, my mother told me I had to eat liver at least once a week because women needed their iron. Bless her heart, that’s the only thing mom knew about iron for women’s health, and fortunately I went on to learn some things of my own.

Did you know, for example, that 3 ounces of dark chocolate containing 45% to 69% cacoa solids provides more iron than does 5 ounces of beef liver? If mom had known that, our relationship could have been entirely different.
But seriously, getting a sufficient amount of iron can make a big difference in a woman’s health. Similarly, if you take too much (e.g., taking iron supplements when they are not necessary) can cause problems as well.

Are you tired?

One of iron’s main tasks is to transport oxygen to your tissues, which it does via hemoglobin in red blood cells. If your iron levels are too low, you can experience symptoms associated with too little oxygen, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, problems with concentration and memory, reduced ability to perform work, cold hands and feet, paleness, and apathy.
These are symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. Women can develop this type of anemia if they do not get enough iron in their diet and/or they experience heavy menstrual flow or other types of bleeding.

Do you catch colds?

Low iron means your B vitamins will not be metabolized optimally and your immune system will not operate as well, making you more susceptible to infections. Although most people experience the common cold, you can reduce your chances by getting enough iron.

Do you exercise?

New research published in the Journal of Nutrition notes that women who took iron supplements experienced an improvement in their performance. In fact, this study represented the first time investigators have confirmed that taking iron supplements can benefit exercise performance.
Specifically, the authors found that iron supplements allowed women to do a specific exercise with greater efficiency and with a lower heart rate than those who did not take the supplement. So if you exercise (and even if you don’t), the authors have suggested you have your iron levels checked with a simple blood test.
A pregnant woman
A pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you pregnant?

A number of studies of the impact of iron intake among women who are pregnant show that
  • Pregnant women who have anemia are at greater risk of giving birth to a low-weight infant
  • Low intake of iron (but not necessarily having anemia) even before pregnancy and extending into the first trimester can have a negative effect on the developing brain
  • Women who took sufficient amounts of iron, vitamin A, and folic acid while they were pregnant were more likely to give birth to children who had better working memory, fine motor skills, and inhibitory control than those who took only vitamin A
Read about iron and pregnancy

Are you worried about Alzheimer’s disease?

Nearly two-thirds of the people with Alzheimer’s disease are women, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. One possible way to help reduce this greater risk is to not overdo your iron intake. Yes, too much iron may cause health problems beyond causing constipation.

According to the findings of a new study in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, higher intake of iron and potassium was associated with an increased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and other mild cognitive disorders. About 15 percent of people with mild cognitive impairment progress to Alzheimer’s disease each year.

How much iron do you need?

According to the Food and Nutrition Board, women ages 19 to 50 need 18 milligrams (mg) daily and 27 mg if they are pregnant. Women age 51 years and older need 8 mg. The Board also recommends women who are vegetarians or vegan increase those figures by 1.8 times since the iron in meat and fish (called heme iron) is more available to the body than is non-heme iron (found in plants).
If you are looking for food sources of iron, be sure to add these iron-rich items to your diet. For women who want to avoid red meat and other animal products, there are plenty of great plant-based sources of iron from which to choose.

Cherbuin N et al. Dietary mineral intake and risk of mild cognitive impairment: the PATH through Life Project. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 2014 Feb 4: 6:4
Pasricha S-R et al. Iron supplementation benefits physical performance in women of reproductive age: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Nutrition 2014 Jun 1

photo credit: Lorenia via photopin cc
Publisher: bhakragani - Sunday, September 07, 2014
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Lifestyle factors including eating baked or boiled fish promote brain health

There has been a great deal of hype surrounding reports that eating a lot of fish is good for your cardiovascular health. There has also been interest surrounding reports that eating fish is good for your brain health. It has generally been conjectured that the positive health benefits of fish are due to omega-3 fatty acids in fish. New research shows baked or boiled fish is good for your brain independent of omega-3 fatty acid content.

Brain health may be affected by modifiable lifestyle factors

It has been observed that brain health may be affected by modifiable lifestyle factors and that eating fish and antioxidative omega-3 fatty acids may decrease brain structural abnormality risk reported the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers decided to investigate whether dietary fish consumption is associated with brain structural integrity in cognitively normal elders.

Consumption of baked or broiled fish was positively associated with gray matter volumes

The researchers found that weekly consumption of baked or broiled fish was positively associated with gray matter volumes in various critical regions of the brain. These findings were not altered when omega-3 fatty acid estimates were included in the analysis. The researchers came to the conclusion that eating baked or broiled fish is associated with larger gray matter volumes in the brain independent of omega-3 fatty acid content. It has been suggested by these findings that a confluence of lifestyle factors influences brain health.

Consuming baked or boiled fish weekly boosts brain health

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have stated that consuming baked or boiled fish weekly boosts brain health regardless of the omega-3 fatty acid content reports the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. These findings, which have been recently published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine support growing evidence that lifestyle factors contribute to brain health later in life.

Greater than 80 million people will have dementia by 2040

It has been estimated by scientists that greater than 80 million people will have dementia by 2040. There have been predictions by some studies that lifestyle changes including a decrease in rates of physical inactivity, smoking and obesity could lead to significantly fewer cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of cognitive impairment in elderly people.

Anti-oxidant effects of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in large amounts in fish, seeds and nuts, and certain oils, also have been associated with improved overall health and particularly improved brain health. This study shows that people who ate a diet which included baked or broiled, but not fried, fish have larger brain volumes in regions of the brain which are associated with memory and cognition.

Lifestyle factors instead of biological factors contribute to structural changes in the brain 

The researchers noted that in this study there was no relationship found between omega-3 levels and these brain changes. Lead investigator Cyrus Raji, M.D., Ph.D., who now is in radiology residency training at UCLA, and the research team pursued an analysis of this data from 260 people who provided information on their dietary intake, had high-resolution brain MRI scans, and who were cognitively normal at two points during their participation in the study.

The research group concluded that there are a more general set of lifestyle factors which are affecting brain health of which diet is just one part. Senior investigator James T. Becker, Ph.D. said these findings suggest that lifestyle factors, in this case eating fish, instead of biological factors contribute to structural changes in the brain.

Dr. Becker has made significant observation that a confluence of lifestyle factors are likely to be responsible for better brain health. This is a very important point in view of the fact that the American psychiatrists have taken the position that what they label as mental illness is due to structural defects and not functional impairments of the brain.

The finding that lifestyle factors, including diet, influences brain structure and brain health raises serious questions about the generally defeatist positions of the American psychiatrists that their patients suffer from structural defects of the brain and therefore can never actually be cured. The position of the psychiatrists becomes totally unacceptable with this more refined scientific understanding of brain health.
source: EmaxHealth
photo credit: libraryman via photopin cc
Publisher: bhakragani - Sunday, September 07, 2014


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