Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Everyone’s well-being can be tested at times, their abilities to cope challenged, times when being productive can feel impossible. Mental health is equally important to maintain as our physical health, though often goes untreated to a degree than can manifest as a mental illness. Mental illness can range from anxiety to mood disorders like depression, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, eating disorders, or addictive behaviors.

Studies have shown the economic costs of untreated mood and anxiety disorders among mothers exceeds $14 billion dollars through the first five years of a child’s life alone, and fewer adults experiencing

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Who decides what months/weeks/days are health awareness dates? It’s often nonprofit or public health organizations, but sometimes states or the federal government can name an observance period. The month of May is observed as over a dozen awareness months, overlapping awareness weeks, and several awareness days. Several of our own partners are observing awareness months.

ALS Awareness Month

May was named ALS Awareness Month in the United States by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the function of nerves and muscles that eventually leads to wasting paralysis. It affects as many as 30,000 in the U.S., with 5,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Estimates suggest that ALS is responsible for as many as five of every 100,000 deaths. There is no cure for ALS.

The NeedyMeds website features a Diagnosis Information Page for ALS that links to

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(This is Part 2 of a 2-part series. You can find part 1 here.)

Almost everyone is susceptible to self-diagnosis from well-meaning searches, but some people are more prone than others. When I was in medical school 39 years ago, before the internet took off, we called it Medical Student Disease. It usually involved one or more of us, depending on what ordinary symptoms we had that day, wondering if we had the disease we were studying. It usually subsided when we got into enough detail about these diseases to realize we didn’t have them. I’m sure it’s a side-effect of the training of any healthcare professional. 

Possible Hazards

Using Dr. Google to make a self-diagnosis in order to avoid seeking medical care, second-guess your primary care provider, or seek alternative treatments can cause a lot of problems.

Delaying the Correct Diagnosis and Treatment

Using Google to make a diagnosis may lead to a misdiagnosis and delay the correct diagnosis. It can be further delayed for those who have difficulty surrendering their self-diagnosis after seeing their healthcare provider.

Cyberchondria

Cyberchondria is a form of illness anxiety disorder (formerly called

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CONTENT WARNING: This blog discusses rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Over recent years, the #MeToo movement has grown to bring sexual violence, abuse, and toxic behavior into awareness within American culture, but there is still much misinformation and stigma to combat to ensure the health and safety of everyone affected. Rape is the most under-reported crime with only 36% of rapes, 34% of attempted rapes, and 26% of sexual assaults reported to law enforcement. Despite misconceptions, the prevalence of false reporting is low — between 2-7%. The consequences of sexual assault reach far into the lives of survivors, families, and communities and have a major effect on public health.

Victims of sexual harassment and assault are often thought of as women, but men can also be affected. Statistically, one in five women and one in 67 men are raped at some point in their lives. Nearly 50% of women and 20% of men experience sexual violence other than rape.

LGBTQIA communities are disproportionately affected by sexual violence:

  • 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women compared to 35% of heterosexual women;
  • 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men compared to 21% of heterosexual men;
  • 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

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This is Part 1 of a 2-part series.

The internet is full of medical information. Much of it is accurate and current, but some of it is inaccurate, out of date, misleading, biased, or downright advertising. Moreover, sometimes weird-sounding things actually work (for example, fecal transplants for C. difficile infections). On the other hand, there are perfectly seemingly logical solutions that are not effective (such as antibiotics for most ear infections).

However, accuracy is not the major problem with online medical information. The problem is that too many people use Dr. Google for self-diagnosis. While it may be tempting to use the internet as a way of avoiding going to a healthcare professional, it’s not really up to the task.

Many people seeking a diagnosis search their symptoms and look at the results as confirmation of their condition. In addition to possible misinformation, this eliminates the crucial role of the medical history and physical examination in the making of a diagnosis.

This approach is fraught with danger. While incorrect results can be falsely reassuring, they will more likely be

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