What's New! - A Healthy Living Newsletter
My patients frequently ask my opinion about new health
books on the market. And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling
their advice! While many of these books are excellent, others are written
by people who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply
put - they're inaccurate.
Living with Anxiety is a practical well-written book which deals with an embarrassing subject in a constructive way. Anxiety is considered a weakness in our society - a condition that ostensibly seems to plague mostly women and seniors. This book shows that anxiety is an equal-opportunity condition. Men, and some women, just show it a different way - often by aggressive or complaining behavior.
Authors Montgomery and Morris have two main premises. One which is
reflected in the title of the book, is that anxious people will always
be anxious. Their goal should be to control the anxiety rather than
let the anxiety control them. The second is that while medications are
useful short-term; they don't change the cause of the anxiety, help
you cope or move you closer to being drug-free - which hopefully is
your long-term goal.
Then, Montgomery and Morris cover a point that is often overlooked by physicians - not all anxiety is rooted in emotional problems. Did you know that hypoglycemia, epilepsy, excessive caffeine, thyroid or adrenal gland problems, middle ear problems and heart problems (specifically mitral valve prolapse) can be physical causes for anxiety? If you are on prescription medication, did your prescribing physician test you for these possible causes?
The main thrust of the book is how to decrease your anxiety so that it doesn't affect your life. Living with Anxiety offers a systematic approach to decrease various forms of anxiety with goals and exercises. Finally, the book tells you how to wean yourself off conventional anti-anxiety medications safely to avoid rebound effect.
I really liked this book It's simple to follow, easy to pick-and-chose
sections appropriate to you, and practical.
I want to start with 2 warnings. First, this book was written by researchers. They beat every point to death before moving onto the next. I like statistics and research as well as the next person, maybe better, but enough is enough. Second, it is written entirely in a conventional medical slant. Parts of it sound like it was written by a pharmaceutical company. However, the overall premise is important - which makes the book worth reading.
We are all living longer. And with the same logic as saving money for
your retirement, Successful Aging tell you have to prepare mentally
and physically for your older years. Yes, that's right - a healthy human
body, like your savings, requires investment and attention. This preparation
is based on the following goals:
The first 4 chapters deal with aging statistics and a few of the myths of aging. You know "To be old is to be sick", "A senior citizen can't make health changes at this point" and the related point "Even if I wanted to, it's too late for my body to respond to these changes" If you need convincing, then read them - otherwise skip them.
Then next few chapters discusses the various diagnostic tests to for early detection. Mammograms to avoid breast cancer, yearly PSAs to detect prostate cancer, and aspirin for a healthy heart. (This really bugs me, as aspirin along with thinning the blood also causes tears leading to bleeding in the stomach and intestinal lining. Gingko and garlic are far safer blood thinners for most people.) They recommend 1200 mg of daily calcium supplementation to prevent osteoporosis, but fail to discuss the different absorption rates of the various forms of calcium. For example, calcium citrate is better absorbed than calcium carbonate. Also, calcium citrate decreases the risk of calcium-based kidney or gallbladder stones. To round this section out, they also include several painfully obvious suggestions such as, to avoid lung cancer, don't smoke.
Chapter Six finally discusses the role of Exercise and Nutrition in Maintaining Health. It's extremely basic advice, but incredibly important. Unfortunately, it was only 23 out of the 206 pages of the book.
Rowe and Kahn switch gears at this point and venture into "unmedical" territory by including the roles of mental function and social relationships in successful aging. Retention of mental function corresponds to retention of physical function in the senior population. And "just good old-fashioned talk therapy from friends and loved ones helps to keep the aging body vital."
Successful Aging is an important concept, but I think the book falls
quite a bit short of what it could be. I can appreciate the authors
wanted to report the MacArthur study results, but I think a far more
important task is to guide the 40-60 year-old in making healthy decisions
that will affect their mental, emotional, and physical well-being in
their senior years.
Copyright 2002 Dr. Juniper Martin, LLC