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5 signs you should ask your doctor about depression

A common perception of someone suffering from depression is a person who's sad and/or crying. Although you certainly may feel this way if you're depressed, the illness may also present itself in more subtle ways that you might not expect.

>> Read more trending news 

Depression is a very common illness, with about 16 million adults in the U.S. having at least one major episode of depression in the past year. Despite there being many different types of treatment available, about two-thirds of people with major depression never seek treatment

Sometimes they think they'll "snap out of it" on their own or they may be too embarrassed to address the condition. But delaying treatment could have devastating effects in every area of your life, and at its worst, could result in suicide.

RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

The following five signs are solid indicators that it could be time to talk to your doctor about depression. 

Your mind seems foggy

If you have trouble concentrating or making decisions on an almost-daily basis, Health's website says, this could be a sign of depression. It can cause fuzzy, unfocused thinking that can affect your memory and ability to make good decisions. This could make you forget work deadlines as well as tasks you need to complete at home. At its most extreme, it could even lead you to engage in unhealthy, risky behavior.

You tend to get angry

Although most people probably associate depression with sadness, it can also cause you to feel irritated or angry over things that you would normally shrug off. If you find yourself raging at little things at work and home, you may actually be depressed. This can be especially true of men, Reader's Digest says, who may find it more socially acceptable to express anger rather than sadness when they go through something such as divorce.

You have unexplained pain

The Mayo Clinic says that unexplained pain such as back pain or headaches can sometimes be the first or only sign of depression. In fact, pain and depression can create a vicious cycle. If your depression is causing pain, this can make you further depressed, which increases your pain. In addition, depression-related pain that continues over time can create additional problems such as stress, low self-esteem and difficulty sleeping. Some forms of treatment can help with both pain and depression, while others treat only one condition, so you and your doctor can talk about what's best in your particular case.

Your eating habits have changed

Depression can affect many aspects of your life, including your eating habits. Health says you may experience a loss of appetite as well as a decreased interest in food and cooking. It can also have the opposite effect, making you more likely to try to soothe yourself by binge eating on unhealthy food. In addition, if you normally eat a healthy diet, but find yourself suddenly turning to junk food, you may want to talk to your doctor about depression.

You sleep too much -- or too little

Crawling into bed and escaping into sleep is behavior that may be associated with depression, according to Health. You may find yourself wanting to stay in bed and also escaping into naps when you can during the day. Depression can also cause you to stay awake late at night as you toss, turn and worry. And like many symptoms of depression, sleeping too much or too little can create a vicious cycle. You can feel tired and sluggish from too much sleep, so you may feel even worse, which can make you likely to sleep more or have more trouble getting to sleep at night.

RELATED: Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep

Getting help

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends the following tips for getting help:

  • Call 911, go to your local emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you're feeling suicidal.
  • If you think your condition is mild to moderate, make an appointment with your primary care physician.
  • If you think your condition is moderate to severe, make an appointment with a specialized doctor such as a psychiatrist.
  • Seek out community support groups, which can serve as valuable tools for help and to know you're not alone in suffering from depression. NAMI can help you find support in your area.

Woman who got tattoo on eyeball could lose eyesight, warns others

WARNING: Graphic photos below

A Canadian woman who got a tattoo on her eyeball may end up partially blind from the procedure, and now, she has a warning to others considering the idea.

>> Read more trending news 

On Sept. 5, Catt Gallinger, 24, got a scleral tattoo -- which means that she had ink injected into the white section of her eyeball. 

Gallinger, who has a number of tattoos and a forked tongue, said the person who tattooed her was unqualified but convinced her to get the eyeball tattoo, which quickly became infected.

“I have a lot of friends who have had it done and it worked for them,” she told Global News. “I’m not jumping on the bandwagon or anything, but body modification is part of my life. I had been thinking about doing it for a while.”

On the day she got the tattoo, the purple ink ran out of her eye down the side of her face, and the next day, her eye was swollen shut, WGN reported.

“During the first two weeks, he kept telling me it was fine, but I had a feeling that it wasn’t normal,” Gallinger told Global News. “Everyone I know who had this done healed within a week. I reached out to other artists around the world and they agreed on what he had done wrong, and made me aware of how high-risk my situation was.”

Gallinger took to Facebook to warn others of the procedure, saying, “Please be cautious who you get your (modifications) from and do your research.” 

According to Gallinger, who claimed her aftercare was “good,” the infection was caused by ink that was not diluted with saline, use of too much ink, use of a needle that was too big and the needle going too deep into her eye.

Gallinger has been to the hospital three times in hopes of getting the infection cleared up.

After rushing to the hospital, she was prescribed antibiotic eye drops for about a week, but things worsened and her eye had swollen completely shut. Apparently, the medicine spread the infection, causing a clump around her cornea, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Now she has to get surgery, and the tattoo certainly won’t end up like she hoped. She told CTV that the ink will either go away completely or “stay a blurry mess.” Doctors say if the ink reaches the retina, it will cause nerve damage, which may prompt them to remove her eye.

Ophthalmologists have warned against the procedure, with some saying the only way to completely stop the pain is to remove the eyeball. Gallinger may be able to keep her eye, but the experience has left her shaken.

“I took my eyesight for granted and trusted someone I shouldn’t have,” she said in a video posted Monday. “And even if this heals, my eyesight is not going to be back.”

Gallinger plans to press charges of criminal negligence.

Read more at Global News and CTV.

WARNING: Graphic photos below

Scroll down for images.

Study: Skin patch that melts love handles in mice could work on humans 

Scientific researchers have developed a medicated skin patch that dissolves fat in targeted areas of lab mice, and future testing could reveal that the patches can treat obesity and diabetes.

>> Read more trending news 

The patch uses nanotechnology to increase the body’s metabolism and transform energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat, according to the report released Friday by ACS Nano, a publication of the American Chemical Society. During the four weeks of the study, conducted by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the University of North Carolina, the mice saw 20 percent reduction in body fat where the patch was applied.

“Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles,” said study co-author Li Qiang, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

According to Science Daily, to apply the treatment, the drugs are encased in nanoparticles, which are approximately 250 nanometers (nm) in diameter -- too small to be seen by the naked eye. The nanoparticles are then packed into a centimeter-square skin patch containing dozens of microscopic needles. When applied to skin, the needles painlessly pierce the skin and gradually release the drug from nanoparticles into underlying tissue.

"The nanoparticles were designed to effectively hold the drug and then gradually collapse, releasing it into nearby tissue in a sustained way instead of spreading the drug throughout the body quickly," said Zhen Gu, PhD, patch designer, study co-leader associate professor of joint biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.

The new treatment approach was tested in obese mice by loading the nanoparticles with one of two compounds -- rosiglitazone (Avandia) or beta-adrenergic receptor agonist -- known to promote browning in mice but not in humans. Each mouse was given two patches -- one loaded with drug-containing nanoparticles and another without it -- that were placed on either side of the lower abdomen. New patches were applied every three days for a total of four weeks. Control mice were also given two empty patches.

Mice treated with either of the two drugs had a 20 percent reduction in fat on the treated side compared to the untreated side. They also had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels than untreated mice. Even in lean mice, the treatment with either of the two drugs increased the animals' oxygen consumption (a measure of overall metabolic activity) by about 20 percent compared to untreated controls.

Genetic analyses revealed that the treated side contained more genes associated with brown fat than on the untreated side, suggesting that the observed metabolic changes and fat reduction were due to an increase in browning in the treated mice.

The patch has not been tested in humans. The researchers are currently studying which drugs, or combination of drugs, work best to promote localized browning and increase overall metabolism.

How to lose weight: Take a break from your diet for 2 weeks, study suggests

Diets are a great way to cut down on calories. But if you’re hoping to shed the pounds, taking a two-week break from your regimen could help you lose even more weight, according to a new study.

>> On AJC.com: Why this diet praised by Jennifer Aniston could work for you

Researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia recently conducted an experiment, which was published in the International Journal of Obesity, to determine ways to improve weight loss success based on eating patterns.

To do so, they assessed 51 obese men over a four-month period, breaking them off into two groups. Those in the first one were asked to follow a diet, which cut one-third of their calories, for all four months. Those in the second group were required to go on the same diet only for two weeks, taking a break from it for the next two weeks. They repeated the cycle eight times.

>> Read more trending news

After analyzing the data, they found that those who took breaks lost 50 percent more weight than those who didn’t. Those who deviated from the plan also shed more fat.

Six months after the study, both groups regained weight. However, those who took breaks were about 18 pounds lighter than those who followed the diet continuously. 

>> On AJC.com: Lose the belly pooch: 7 do’s and don’ts to accomplish a flat stomach

Why is that?

Researchers believe dieting can alter the body’s biological process, which can lead to slower weight loss or even weight gain. 

“When we reduce our energy (food) intake during dieting, resting metabolism decreases to a greater extent than expected; a phenomenon termed ‘adaptive thermogenesis’ – making weight loss harder to achieve,” co-author Nuala Byrne said in a statement. “This ‘famine reaction’, a survival mechanism which helped humans to survive as a species when food supply was inconsistent in millennia past, is now contributing to our growing waistlines when the food supply is readily available.”

Although the researchers’ method proved to be more successful than nonstop dieting, they noted that it wasn’t more effective than other popular diets. But it could provide another weight loss alternative. 

>> On AJC.com: 6 of the best apps to track your eating

“It seems that the ‘breaks’ from dieting we have used in this study may be critical to the success of this approach,” Byrne said. “While further investigations are needed around this intermittent dieting approach, findings from this study provide preliminary support for the model as a superior alternative to continuous dieting for weight loss.”

Pediatrician to parents: Treat conversations about tattoos, piercings like ‘the sex talk’

An Atlanta pediatrician says conversations about tattoos and piercings should be taken seriously and urges parents to consider treating the discussions like “the sex talk.”

>> Read more trending news 

Dr. Cora Breuner, an adolescent medicine specialist at Seattle Children's Hospital, and Dr. David Levine, a general pediatrician and professor at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, published a study Monday about health risks of tattooing and piercing in adolescents and young adults, a group that is showing an increasing interest in the body modifications, Breuner said. 

Some of the consequences include potential for keloids and infections such as hepatitis and tetanus and long-term regret or discomfort revealing tattoos in professional settings.

“Adolescents may overestimate the effectiveness of tattoo removal when having one placed and should be instructed that tattoo placement is permanent, and it is expensive and sometimes difficult to remove them,” the report reads.

Breuner told CNN she went with her daughter to get her navel pierced on her 18th birthday and she held the teenager’s hand while the piercer did his work. 

“I did my usual Dr. Mom thing and found out the person doing it had been a surgical tech before he decided to do piercings, and I watched him,” Breuner said. “I’m not saying everybody should do that, but at least for me, my sense of this whole world is that it’s changing right in front of us, and we can either have our eyes open and be supportive and help our children make informed decisions when they’re young adults, or ignore it and hope it goes away.”

Levine said conversations about tattoos and piercings are serious and important. 

“The big thing is that parents really should bring this up, to talk with their children intentionally, because the teenagers are likely thinking, ‘My parents will kill me, so I either have to hide (the tattoo or piercing), or I’ll just actually abide by my parents’ rules and get it when I’m 18.’

“Even then, 18-year-olds are still fairly impulsive. It still would be good for them to have had a discussion with their parents ...

“It’s very similar when we talk to parents about the time to do the sex talk is at age 11, before they actually need it ... Even if it's not right at that moment, it will open up the conversation and keep the communication open on these issues as kids negotiate adolescence,” he told CNN.

“It’s really our mission and our job to promote safety and healthy living for our children as our children go into adulthood,” Breuner told CNN.

Levine’s advice on when to get your child’s earlobes pierced? Wait until the child says he or she wants it.

“My biggest advice to the parents, unless this is a cultural issue where everybody in the culture gets their kids’ ears pierced in early childhood, I’d like the kid to actually want it,” he said.

Read more at American Academy of Pediatrics and CNN.

Is light drinking while pregnant really dangerous?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. say they refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

» RELATED: Do you drink too much? 

But new findings published this week in the journal BMJ Open sought to answer whether or not research fully supports the notion that even one light drink is truly dangerous for pregnant women.

>> Read more trending news

After assessing all of the research published between 1950 and July 2016, the researchers looked closely at the studies involving drinking up to 32 grams of alcohol -- equivalent to approximately two glasses of wine or two pints of beer-- but only 24 studies met the criteria for review. 

» RELATED: WATCH: Here’s the scary reason some people turn red when they drink alcohol

“The distinction between light drinking and abstinence is indeed the point of most tension and confusion for health professionals and pregnant women,” Luisa Zuccolo, a health epidemiologist at the University of Bristol and the study’s lead author, told CNN.

“We were surprised that this very important topic was not researched as widely as expected.”

» RELATED: Is alcohol really good for your heart?

But just because the evidence for the possible dangers of light drinking during pregnancy is lacking doesn’t mean there are no risks at all, according to Janet Williams, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health San Antonio.

“Why not give the child the chance not to have this potential limitation or health risk in their life? There are so many other factors one can worry about, so how about one less concern? There are all sorts of non-risk-based beverages or ways to relax or express one's emotions that do not confer fetal or lifelong effects,” she said.

Read more from CNN.

Still, Zuccolo and her co-authors concluded that further studies are needed to better understand alcohol’s effects on pregnant women and their unborn child.

Read the full analysis from Zuccolo and her team at bmjopen.bmj.com.

But for now, the resounding answer from experts around the globe for pregnant women asking if that one light drink is safe: No.

Research shows that alcohol in the mother’s blood can pass through the umbilical cord and reach the baby, causing a variety of problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, abnormal facial features, learning disabilities and more.

More about alcohol’s effects on pregnant women and the unborn baby at CDC.gov.

Atlanta's 'third world' HIV epidemic isn't getting any better, CDC says

Black gay men are contracting HIV in Atlanta in epidemic proportions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated in 2016 that one in two black men would contract the disease.

>> Read more trending news

Christian Dacus is a youth HIV policy advisor with Georgia Equality. He said personally, the spike in the number of HIV cases for gay black men in Atlanta is not surprising to him because of the stigma.

“It's been spun in such a negative way that HIV is a punishment for your sins,” Dacus said.

Dacus cited non-acceptance from religion and family, and living a life of hiding a secret as the reason why -- despite education and advocacy efforts among gay black men in Atlanta -- numbers are not declining.

“When you're hiding something, you're less prone to go out be more careful, if you will,” Dacus said.

And though condoms are freely handed out in some nightlife venues, Dacus said for those who hide that area of their life, condoms simply don’t come into play.

Even though condoms can protect from HIV, STDs and STIs, “Condoms are used to being used as a contraceptive, as a birth control. When you don't factor in a pregnancy, you don't feel the need to use a condom,” Dacus said.

Along with condoms, Dacus said with medical advances like the PREP pill taken daily, a person can prevent HIV infection. 

“It may prevent you from contracting HIV, but there are a slew of other STIs you don't want, so I think condom usage is still something to be enforced,” Dacus stated.

A May report by WSB-TV cited research that called Atlanta’s HIV frequency an epidemic and compared the city to third-world African countries.

“Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, co-director of Emory University's Center for AIDS Research, said at the time. “We should not be having an epidemic of that proportion in a country like ours. This is not Africa, we have resources.”

>> WSB-TV INVESTIGATES: Atlanta's HIV 'epidemic' compared to third world African countries

People are urged to get screened for HIV every six months if they’re sexually active or at least once a year.

Popular in high school? You may be miserable as an adult, study says

Were you the cool kid in high school? Adolescent popularity may take a toll on your mental health later on, according to a new study

» RELATED: Study: White teachers less likely to see black students as gifted

A group of researchers from the University of Virginia recently conducted a study, which was published in Child Development, to determine how teenage relationships can affect adulthood over time. 

To do so, they examined 169 racially and socioeconomically diverse individuals over a 10-year period starting at age 15. They assessed their mental health by surveying them annually on their friendships, anxiety, social acceptance and symptoms of depression. They also checked in with participants’ close friends and peers to measure quality of popularity and friendship. 

>> Read more trending news

They defined popularity as the number of peers in the teen’s grade who ranked them as someone they'd hang out with. And high-quality friendships were defined as close friendships that had a degree of attachment and intimate exchanges.

After analyzing the results, scientists found that those who had close-knit relationships at age 15 had a better overall well-being at age 25. Those individuals reported lower social anxiety, increased self-worth and fewer symptoms of depression.

On the other hand, those who were popular in school reported higher levels of social anxiety at age 25.

»RELATED: Study: Instagram spots depression better than general

"Our study affirms that forming strong close friendships is likely one of the most critical pieces of the teenage social experience," Joseph Allen, lead researcher, said in a statement. "Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships. And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later.” 

»RELATED: Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

While scientists noted that their study was relatively small and did not factor in an individual’s personal characteristics, they believe their findings reveal important information about the significance of fostering relationships.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

“As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority,” Allen said.

Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

Mobile users in the U.S. searching for “depression” in Google may notice a new test option that tells them whether or not they’re really experiencing clinical depression.

>> Read more trending news

The new “check if you’re clinically depressed” feature, Google announced in a news release Wednesday, is a private clinically validated screening questionnaire called PHQ-9.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

The test aims to help determine a person’s depression and his or her need for an in-person medical evaluation.

While the PHQ-9 is not meant to be a singular tool for diagnosis, it can be someone’s first step, Mary Giliberti, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, wrote in the news release.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression.

» RELATED: Study: Vegetarians twice as likely to suffer depression

And it affects more than 15 million American adults (approximately 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population) each year.

» RELATED: Feeling depressed? Hot yoga could help

People experiencing symptoms of clinical depression usually delay treatment for 6 to 8 years after the onset of symptoms.

» RELATED: Is it safe to take ketamine for severe depression?

“We hope that by making this information available on Google, more people will become aware of depression and seek treatment to recover and improve their quality of life,” Giliberti wrote.

Users can find the feature inside the Knowledge Panel, a section that pops up at the top of Google search results and includes key facts, photos and more for any given subject.

Read the full news release from Google.

Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

Do you work at night? It may be healthier to work while the sun is up, because a new study has found a link between night shifts and breast cancer.

»RELATED: Hair dyes and chemical relaxers linked to breast cancer 

A group of researchers from Harvard University conducted an experiment, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, to determine how levels of light can impact the disease. 

To do so, they examined 110,000 women and data from nighttime satellite images of each participant’s residential address. They also factored in night shift work.

>> Read more trending news

Scientists found that women exposed to the highest levels of outdoor light at night had an estimated 14 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to those exposed to lower levels. 

They also saw a stronger link among women who work at night. 

“In our modern industrialized society, artificial lighting is nearly ubiquitous. Our results suggest that this widespread exposure to outdoor lights during nighttime hours could represent a novel risk factor for breast cancer,” lead author Peter James said in a statement.

»RELATED: Study: Daily glass of wine or beer can increase breast cancer risk 

Why is that?

Light affects melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and plays a role in reducing tumor growth. However, exposure to artificial light lowers melatonin levels, preventing it from operating at its full ability. 

Researchers noted that the association between outdoor light at night and breast cancer was only prevalent among premenopausal women and current or past smokers.

They also acknowledged that more research needs to be done to clarify their results and methods. 

»RELATED: Study: Cancer partly caused by bad luck

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