HEALTHY LIVING

ICYMI Health: How Kendrick Lamar Could Change The Face Of Depression And Why Dressing Better Might Improve Your Work Life

05/09/2015 07:00 am ET | Updated May 21, 2015

ICYMI Health features what editors at The Huffington Post are reading this week.

This week, we focused on reading stories about the high cost of medical expenses, including an in-depth essay on what researchers call “low-value care" -- the unnecessary tests and procedures that burden America's health care system and can harm patients' health. In a different report, the escalating and high costs of medical rescue helicopters, an unexpected expense that isn't covered by insurance, have left some airlifted patients wishing they'd never been rescued at all.

And in the wake of an unexpected death on the medical drama "Grey's Anatomy," a psychiatrist explains why we grieve TV characters who we know aren't real -- intellectually, at least.

Read on and tell us in the comments: What did you read and love this week?

1. You or Someone You Love Menstruates -- Here's What You Need to Know About It -- Quartz

Everything about how women in developing countries deal with menstruation in "girl-unfriendly schools" to period myths to the high financial costs -- sometimes called the pink tax -- associated with feminine products.

Quote: "How can a normal, natural function be associated with shame, stigma, distaste, untouchability, taboo?"

2. Overkill -- The New Yorker

Unnecessary medical care is likely harming Americans -- and the country's bottom line.

Quote: "We've assumed, he says, that cancers are all like rabbits that you want to catch before they escape the barnyard pen. But some are more like birds -- the most aggressive cancers have already taken flight before you can discover them, which is why some people still die from cancer, despite early detection. And lots are more like turtles. They aren't going anywhere. Removing them won't make any difference."

3. Pushing LSD Therapy In Drug-Averse Norway -- The New York Times

A Norwegian researcher is convinced that LSD has health benefits, and formed an advocacy group to try and bring the psychedelic drug to the public.

Quote: "'We are not in the 1960s anymore and have moved on,' said Mr. Johansen, a clinical psychologist, adding, 'This is a question of basic human rights.'"

4. Why We Grieve Fictional Characters -- The Huffington Post

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The death of a favorite TV character can feel personal if you are a long-time fan. The good news? There's a psychological reason for that, and it's totally normal.

Quote: "I was a sophomore in high school and I was sitting cross-legged on my flower-printed bedspread. I was on the phone with my best friend when it happened. 'How can this be?!' I screamed in the phone through tears. 'It isn't fair.' 'You're crying over a TV character on 'Grey's Anatomy,'' my friend gently reminded me."

5. Air Ambulances Offer a Lifeline, and Then a Sky-High Bill -- The New York Times

The number of helicopters used for medical emergencies has grown exponentially since the 1980s, leaving some patients with nearly $50,000 bills that aren't covered by insurance.

Quote: '"That initial bill nearly gave me a heart attack,' he said. 'I thought they'd have to come and get me again.' Mr. Kendall has not paid the charge, which he said was equivalent to a year's income. As a result, Air Methods, the nation's largest air ambulance operator, with over $1 billion in revenue last year, is suing him."

6. These Men Found an Innovative Approach to Work/Life Balance -- Trick the Boss -- Vox

Some men, who may benefit from the stereotype that they are ideal workers, achieve balance between work and family by pretending to be on the job when they aren't.

Quote: "One man described going skiing with his son five days in one week while managing to appear to be working full-time. By being on his mobile and email and available at night, he was able to give the impression that he was enacting the sort of devotion the firm implicitly required. This man was described by others in the company as a 'rising star,' eventually receiving a top performance evaluation and promotion. He successfully passed as a devoted worker."

7. Hip-Hop's Blue Period: How Rappers Are Tackling Depression -- The Guardian

Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar wrestles with depression and self-doubt in his new album "To Pimp A Butterfly," which is refreshing territory for a genre where artists have traditionally shied away from vulnerability.

Quote:"Considering his previous albums, his collaborations with the oft-mopey Tyler the Creator, and the fact that Earl is 21 years old (a traditionally introspective age), this vein isn't surprising, but it's indicative of a hip-hop landscape where rappers are no longer shy about crying on the listener's shoulder."

8. Dressing Better Can Change The Way Your Brain Works -- The Huffington Post

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Wearing formal clothing to work leads to better big-picture thinking, according to a new study. Turns out the old "fake it til you make it" adage might apply to your wardrobe.

Quote: "'Formal clothing made people feel more powerful, which in turn made them more likely to adopt high-level, abstract thinking,' Slepian said, pointing out that 'the suit is a symbol of power.'"

9. A Cancer Survivor Designs the Cards She Wishes She’d Received From Friends and Family -- Slate

LA designer Emily McDowell's authentic (and irreverent!) line of empathy cards gently pokes fun at the platitudes to many cancer patients hate to receive.

Quote: "When life give you lemons, I won't tell you a story about my cousin's friend who died of lemons."

  • Summer Weather
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    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is most commonly associated with winter blues, and it afflicts about 5 percent of Americans. But for less than 1 percent of those people, this form of depression strikes in the summer. Warm weather depression arises when the body experiences a "delay adjusting to new seasons," says Alfred Lewy, MD, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland. Instead of waking and enjoying dawn, the body has a hard time adjusting, he says, which could be due to imbalances in brain chemistry and the hormone melatonin. More from Health.com: 10 Tips for Dating With Depression The Most Depressing States in the U.S. Depressing Jobs: Career Fields With Hight Rates of Depression
  • Smoking
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    Smoking has long been linked with depression, though it's a chicken-or-egg scenario: People who are depression-prone may be more likely to take up the habit. However, nicotine is known to affect neurotransmitter activity in the brain, resulting in higher levels of dopamine and serotonin (which is also the mechanism of action for antidepressant drugs). This may explain the addictive nature of the drug, and the mood swings that come with withdrawal, as well as why depression is associated with smoking cessation. Avoiding cigarettes -- and staying smoke free -- could help balance your brain chemicals.
  • Thyroid Disease
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    When the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone, it's known as hypothyroidism, and depression is one of its symptoms. This hormone is multifunctional, but one of its main tasks is to act as a neurotransmitter and regulate serotonin levels. If you experience new depression symptoms -- particularly along with cold sensitivity, constipation and fatigue -- a thyroid test couldn't hurt. Hypothyroidism is treatable with medication.
  • Poor Sleep Habits
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    It's no surprise that sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, but it could also increase the risk of depression. A 2007 study found that when healthy participants were deprived of sleep, they had greater brain activity after viewing upsetting images than their well-rested counterparts, which is similar to the reaction that depressed patients have, noted one of the study authors. "If you don't sleep, you don't have time to replenish [brain cells], the brain stops functioning well, and one of the many factors that could lead to is depression," says Matthew Edlund, M.D., director of the Center for Circadian Medicine, in Sarasota, Fla., and author of "The Power of Rest."
  • Facebook Overload
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    Spending too much time in chat rooms and on social-networking sites? A number of studies now suggest that this can be associated with depression, particularly in teens and preteens. Internet addicts may struggle with real-life human interaction and a lack of companionship, and they may have an unrealistic view of the world. Some experts even call it "Facebook depression." In a 2010 study, researchers found that about 1.2 percent of people ages 16 to 51 spent an inordinate amount of time online, and that they had a higher rate of moderate to severe depression. However, the researchers noted that it is not clear if Internet overuse leads to depression or if depressed people are more likely to use the Internet.
  • End Of A TV Show Or Movie
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    When something important comes to an end, like a TV show, movie, or a big home renovation, it can trigger depression in some people. In 2009, some "Avatar" fans reported feeling depressed and even suicidal because the movie's fictional world wasn't real. There was a similar reaction to the final installments of the Harry Potter movies. "People experience distress when they're watching primarily for companionship," said Emily Moyer-Gusé, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, in Columbus. With "Avatar," Moyer-Gusé suspects people were "swept up in a narrative forgetting about real life and [their] own problems."
  • Where You Live
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    You can endlessly debate whether city or country life is better. But research has found that people living in urban settings do have a 39 percent higher risk of mood disorders than those in rural regions. A 2011 study in the journal Nature offers an explanation for this trend: City dwellers have more activity in the part of the brain that regulates stress. And higher levels of stress could lead to psychotic disorders. Depression rates also vary by country and state. Some states have higher rates of depression and affluent nations having higher rates than low-income nations. Even altitude may play a role, with suicide risk going up with altitude.
  • Too Many Choices
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    The sheer number of options available -- whether it's face cream, breakfast cereal or appliances -- can be overwhelming. That's not a problem for shoppers who pick the first thing that meets their needs, according to some psychologists. However, some people respond to choice overload by maximizing, or exhaustively reviewing their options in the search for the very best item. Research suggests that this coping style is linked to perfectionism and depression.
  • Lack Of Fish In The Diet
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    Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and vegetable oils, may be associated with a greater risk of depression. A 2004 Finnish study found an association between eating less fish and depression in women, but not in men. These fatty acids regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, which could explain the link. Fish oil supplements may work too; at least one study found they helped depression in people with bipolar disorder.
  • Poor Sibling Relationships
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    Although unhappy relationships with anyone can cause depression, a 2007 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that men who didn't get along with their siblings before age 20 were more likely to be depressed later in life than those who did. Although it's not clear what's so significant about sibling relationships (the same wasn't true for relationships with parents), researchers suggest that they could help children develop the ability to relate with peers and socialize. Regardless of the reason, too much squabbling is associated with a greater risk of developing depression before age 50.
  • Birth Control Pills
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    Like any medication, the pill can have side effects. Oral contraceptives contain a synthetic version of progesterone, which studies suggest can lead to depression in some women. "The reason is still unknown," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University, in New York. "It doesn't happen to everyone, but if women have a history of depression or are prone to depression, they have an increased chance of experiencing depression symptoms while taking birth control pills," Dr. Hutcherson says. "Some women just can't take the pill; that's when we start looking into alternative contraception, like a diaphragm, which doesn't contain hormones."
  • Rx Medications
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    Depression is a side effect of many medications. For example, Accutane and its generic version (isotretinoin) are prescribed to clear up severe acne, but depression and suicidal thoughts are a potential risk for some people. Depression is a possible side effect for anxiety and insomnia drugs, including Valium and Xanax; Lopressor, prescribed to treat high blood pressure; cholesterol-lowering drugs including Lipitor; and Premarin for menopausal symptoms. Read the potential side effects when you take a new medication, and always check with your doctor to see if you might be at risk. More from Health.com: 10 Tips for Dating With Depression The Most Depressing States in the U.S. Depressing Jobs: Career Fields With Hight Rates of Depression
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