Living with a health condition? On the PatientsLikeMe blog, find helpful health information and patient stories about being diagnosed, trying different treatments, and living day-to-day with a chronic condition.

Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

One day, you’re relaxing on the couch and notice your hand is shaking. Has it always done that, or is it new? But when you go to pick something up, you notice the shaking stops. You may have noticed other minor changes like your movement is slowing down or your limbs feel unusually stiff. You could pass all of these instances off as being dehydrated or needing more sleep, but these symptoms put together could be early indicators of Parkinson’s disease.   What is Parkinson’s disease?  Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative condition that is caused by damage to nerve cells in the substantia nigra, the area of the brain that controls movement. The disease is progressive, meaning the symptoms generally develop slowly over the course of several years. Because the disease is so diverse, not every person with Parkinson’s will experience the same progression of symptoms as others. Scientists believe that Parkinson’s is caused by certain genetic and environmental factors.   Symptoms of Parkinson’s usually start appearing in middle or late life. Because a diagnosis can take months, or even years, it’s not usually diagnosed until age 60. A diagnosis younger than 50 is called young-onset Parkinson’s. Nearly one million people in the United States have Parkinson’s disease, and about 60,000 Americans …

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8 Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Have you ever noticed your heart starting to race for seemingly no reason, started sweating before an important meeting, or maybe had an ongoing digestive issue during a time of change? Because anxiety is a mental health condition, we tend to focus more on psychological symptoms and less on physical ones. It’s easy to forget about or chalk up physical symptoms to be something else. But physical symptoms of anxiety are not something to be forgotten about. What is anxiety? Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes. People who experience anxiety tend to have reoccurring and intrusive thoughts. While it’s normal to experience anxiety from time to time, especially if it’s situational, anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, anxiety doesn’t dissipate once the triggering has passed, rather it lingers and tends to worsen over time. Symptoms can be debilitating, and interfere with day-to-day activities like work, school, relationships, and maintaining physical health. Persistent feelings of anxiety that interfere with daily life may be a sign of a diagnosable anxiety disorder. There are five main types of anxiety. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Generalized Anxiety …

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Conditions Commonly Mistaken for Multiple Sclerosis

Have you wondered why your vision got so blurry, or why you feel tired all the time? Maybe you’re having trouble remembering things, and your mind isn’t as sharp as it used to be. These symptoms can be scary, and it can be frustrating when there are no clear answers about what they may be. Your symptoms could be multiple sclerosis (MS), but they could be something else. One study found that nearly 1 in 5 people with other neurological conditions are mistakenly diagnosed with MS. Because there is no single diagnostic test to receive a definitive MS diagnosis and because symptoms often mimic other illnesses, it can take years to get a final diagnosis. What is multiple sclerosis? Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and spinal cord. With MS, the body’s immune system attacks the protective layer, called myelin, that forms around nerve fibers. When the myelin sheath is damaged or destroyed, it disrupts the flow of information from the brain to other parts of the body. The scarring left behind from inflammation to the myelin sheath is called sclerosis. There are four main types of …

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Am I Depressed? Surprising Signs of Depression

Life gets tough sometimes, and you may start to feel stressed or down. Over the last few weeks, or months, you’ve noticed you’re having more bad days than good – you’re less productive at work, spending more time alone, and haven’t been able to sleep.  Something feels different from the normal ups and downs you’ve experienced before. So you go to the doctor and tell them how you’ve been feeling, and how long you’ve been feeling that way. The doctor says it sounds like you are depressed, and that you might have major depressive disorder.  Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, with an estimated 17.3 million adults age 18 or older have at least one major depressive episode in 2017. About 1 in 6 adults will have depression at some point in their life, but anyone at any age can get depressed.  What is major depressive disorder? Also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mood disorder that affects the way people feel, think, and handle daily activities like eating, sleeping, or working.  Depression is a serious mental health condition that needs professional care. Of those who seek …

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Eating Well for Chronic Kidney Disease

When you were first diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), you may have been told you need to modify your diet. While it’s true that nutrition significantly impacts chronic illness, and eating foods that are high in nutrients and minimally processed, combined with some exercise, can help prevent and minimize symptoms of kidney disease, you aren’t limited to eating white rice for the rest of your life. What are the kidneys? The kidneys are a small bean-shaped organ that plays a primary role in the body. It’s responsible for eliminating waste and toxins, releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure, balancing fluids, and returning essential nutrients like vitamins, amino acids, and glucose back into the bloodstream. Why are there so many myths around kidney diets? CKD is a condition where damage to the kidneys results in a gradual loss of function over time. When kidneys aren’t able to do their jobs, waste and toxins build-up, blood pressure increases, and bones weaken, making you feel sick. Untreated kidney disease can lead to other chronic conditions like diabetes, hypotension, and heart disease. Damage to the kidneys is permanent. If caught in the early stages, you may be able to prevent or delay kidney …

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What You Need to Know About Living with Lupus

After months or even years of experiencing symptoms like extreme fatigue, skin rashes, pain, or swelling in the joints, you finally got a diagnosis. It’s lupus. Because symptoms differ from person to person, can come and go, vary in intensity, and mimic symptoms of various other diseases, lupus can be difficult to diagnose. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder where the immune system’s antibodies mistakenly attack the body’s healthy cells causing widespread inflammation. It can affect your joints, muscles, skin, and internal organs and affects about 1.5 million Americans. Despite the prevalence and severity of lupus, most people don’t know much about it. The lack of information can make living with lupus frustrating, difficult, and lonely. We connected with PLM members who have lupus to find out what it’s really like to live with lupus. Here are 7 things to know about living with lupus: 1.Your life will change Living with lupus is a difficult task. While you may have been experiencing symptoms for a while, once you receive a diagnosis and begin treatment, that’s when it becomes real. Your entire life will change. Those “simple pleasures in life”, like making a cup of coffee (or tea) in the morning, going …

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Health Benefits of Being In Nature

The pandemic forced many people to spend more time indoors and engaged in technology. Since the start of the pandemic, the average American spent 90 percent of their time indoors. With all this time indoors, Americans spent 7 hours and 50 minutes per day consuming media alone. Now think about how much time you spend on your computer working from home, taking classes, or paying the bills online. With more time spent indoors and increased time spent in front of a screen, it’s no wonder there’s been a significant increase in reports of mental health issues. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. That’s up 30% from 2019. In addition to negative impacts on mental health, many reported difficulty sleeping or eating, increased consumption of alcohol or other substances, and worsening of chronic conditions due to stress. Now that restrictions have loosened, it’s time to put down the phone, close the laptop screen, and take a step outside for a low-cost and effective way to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, regulate metabolism and improve overall health. A study of 20,000 people found that those who spent at least 120 minutes per week outside …

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living with irritable bowel syndrome

Living With Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a constant battle that leaves many feeling frustrated, exhausted, and emotionally drained. There are days when symptoms are so strong, it prevents you from the daily tasks you want, and need to be doing. While it’s completely normal to feel this way, it is important to learn to understand what causes your body to react and how to work with it instead of against it. Preparation is key in the successful management of your symptoms. With proper planning and awareness, you can eliminate the fear and reduce the symptoms that prevent you from being an active participant in your life. What is IBS? IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disorder that affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. A chronic and unpredictable condition with intermittent abdominal pain is accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. These symptoms can change in both intensity and frequency over time. Among those who have been diagnosed with the illness, 40% of people have mild IBS, 35% moderate, and 25% severe. IBS symptoms include: Bowel pain Changes in bowel movements: diarrhea, constipation or both Incomplete Bloating and abdominal distention Gas Indigestion Nausea The cause …

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signs of medical gaslighting

Is Your Doctor Gaslighting You?

You’ve noticed symptoms for a few weeks, maybe months or even since childhood. You visited doctor after doctor with no answer. Over time, the symptoms progress and may start to interfere with daily living. So you go to your doctor again, seeking some answers and solutions. But again, you don’t get a diagnosis or are misdiagnosed. Every year, over 12 million adults who seek medical care receive a misdiagnosis. Of these misdiagnoses, about 15% are patients with serious conditions and 28% are life threatening. Unable to provide answers, the doctor tells you “it’s all in your head” or “these symptoms don’t add up, have you considered a psychologist?” You leave feeling more confused, frustrated, even anxious and depressed. You may even start thinking it really is all in your head. Medical gaslighting happens to millions of people every year. What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that hangs on creating self-doubt and makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. Someone who experiences gaslighting often leaves a conversation or situation feeling confused, anxious and even a little ‘crazy’. Because gaslighting involves an imbalance of power between the abuser and victim, it can happen in personal, …

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women feeling depressed

8 Celebrities Who Struggle With Depression

Celebrities have it all – status, wealth, power, resources, luck – or so we think. From the outside, they don’t appear to struggle with mental or emotional health and seemingly have it all together. But looks can be deceiving. Celebrities have real feelings and mental health issues that interfere with daily living. On the inside, celebrities are just like everyone else.  Until recently, it was taboo for anyone to speak up about personal mental health issues for fear of judgement and ridicule. But the stigma of depression has slowly lifted as celebrities have bravely opened up about their stories and use their platform as a means to advocate for mental health.  The truth is depression doesn’t discriminate. More than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide, ranking it as the leading cause of disability in the world.  Major depressive disorder is described as experiencing a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities, coupled with problems sleeping, change in appetite, poor concentration, altered energy levels, isolation, and feelings of low self-worth for at least two weeks.  While there isn’t a simple cure-all for depression, the healing journey begins when we start to honestly and openly share about our battles …

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