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Managing the Effects of Social Distancing on Mental Illness

Managing the Effects of Social Distancing on Mental Illness

Social distancing is important to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, it can have unintended mental health consequences. We as humans are designed to be social, to interact with one another, and even to respond to positive touch. While we don’t have a lot of studies surrounding quarantine and isolation, the few studies conducted following the 2004 SARS outbreak show an increase in anxiety and depression. As social distancing drags on, we can expect to see more people suffering from mental illness.

If we could squash the coronavirus and end social distancing today, we would. We would have ended it a month ago if that was in our power, but it’s not. We can, however, recognize what’s happening around us and take steps to care for our mental health and the health of others around us every day.

Admit the truth about our new world

Almost everyone feels a bit “off” right now. We’ve all been affected whether by losing a job, being sent home to telecommute, not being able to find the supplies we need in stores, or being directly exposed to or sick with the virus. Nothing about this situation is okay, and the first step to managing our mental health is to admit it.

Our emotions can range from fear and anxiety to depression and boredom to anger. Admit your emotions and give yourself permission to say this situation isn’t okay. Then think about what parts of the situation you can control.

Stay connected

While we may not be able to hang out with friends after work or have dinner with our extended family, we can take advantage of technology to stay connected. Plan a virtual happy hour with friends online. Video chat with family members. Text friends and check in with them on a daily basis. 

Pay particular attention to friends or family members who have suffered from anxiety, depression or loneliness in the past and older adults who live alone. These groups tend to have the hardest time managing the anxiety and depression that comes along with social distancing.

Temper your expectations

Gwyneth Paltrow suggests we use this time away from school and work to learn a new language, pick up an instrument or read a book. Those expectations set the bar pretty high. If you’re doing good to keep up your kids’ homeschool assignments while managing your telecommuting work let that be enough. Taking up a new hobby that doesn’t include monitoring the news every fifteen minutes is a great way to pass the time, but don’t expect your piano skills to be ready for Carnegie Hall in four weeks.

Creating unrealistic expectations for yourself during this time only increases your stress levels.

Create a routine

Routines won’t cure everything, but they place something back into your control. Include time for exercise and being outdoors if you can manage it while observing social distancing rules. Luckily in Mississippi, most of us can.

Staying busy keeps our minds off the news and the fears about job security, paying the bills, and access supplies.

Limit news access

Just because news is available 24/7 doesn’t mean we need to consume it during all those hours. Increased news and social media consumption lead to increased anxiety and depression. Set specific times each day that you’ll check the news and select reputable news sources.

We wish improving and protecting your mental health during these days of uncertainty was as easy as following a few bullet points. We know it’s not. These points can help you find a clear path to managing the anxiety and fear that lives among almost all of us right now. The one thing we ask you not to do is numb your emotions using drugs and alcohol.

If your depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns are affecting your everyday life, it’s time to get some help. Call our mental health clinic at 662-282-4359 to talk to a counselor about options available for you. Don’t suffer alone. Ask for help.

For additional suggestions on managing fear and anxiety during the days ahead check out this article from PSYCOM.

Teen Drug Use and Abuse Lowest in Two Decades

Teen Drug Use and Abuse Lowest in Two Decades

In a bit of good news, teen drug use and abuse is holding steady at the lowest levels in two decades! We’re excited to Gen Z leading healthier lifestyles that don’t involve alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Just because more teens than ever are choosing to avoid drugs doesn’t mean the issue has completely gone away. Parents of teens must continue to be aware of the most commonly used drugs by teens and attentive to their teen’s behavior.

Every generation has a drug of choice, usually due to ease of access and sometimes media popularity. Gen Z’s no different. According to a Monitoring the Future survey of teens about drug use, the following substances topped the list of most commonly used and abused drugs.


Although alcohol use among teens has declined steadily since 1980, it remains the most commonly used and abused substance. The majority of adults who enter treatment programs for alcohol abuse began drinking before age 17. Currently, 33% of 12th graders, 19.7% of 10th graders, and 8% of 8th graders reported having used alcohol in the last 30 days.


The next most popular substance among teens is marijuana. As states pass medical and recreational marijuana laws, the substance becomes easier to access. In 2017 (the latest year for which we have data), 22.5% of high school seniors reported using marijuana. In 2016, the number of teens using marijuana surpassed those smoking cigarettes. The younger a person is when they began to experiment with marijuana, the more likely they are to experience negative side effects over their lifetime. Although laws regarding this substance for adults continue to change, it’s important to discourage the use of the substance among teens.


E-cigarettes and other tobacco products fill the number 3 and 4 spots on the list of most commonly used and abused substances by teens. Vaping is more easily concealed than smoking cigarettes and, when available, flavored e-cigarettes were an appealing alternative to other tobacco products. In the survey, 27.8% of high school seniors reported vaping in the last thirty days. In comparison, only 8% of high school students report smoking cigarettes in the last 30 days. 


We started with good news and we’ll end with good news. Opioid use among teens continues to decline. Among high school seniors, 4.7% reported misusing opioids (taking them not according to or without a prescription). This does not include heroin use. Most opioid misuse among teens is from prescription drugs not heroin. The number of teens misusing opioids does grow as teens reach 18. 

Through all this good news, we must continue to talk to our teens about the dangers of drug use. Some teens use drugs to fit in with a social crowd, while others may use it as an escape for their current situation.

Everyone’s excited to share a little good news, especially during a time when bad news is so prevalent. However, if your child is part of the percent using or abusing these or any other substances the good news can be bittersweet.

If your teen is exhibiting changes in behavior, a lack of desire to participate in activities they previously enjoyed, or you find your teen using drugs or alcohol, reach out to our counselors or a teen addiction program. Finding help for your teen and your family is the first step toward healing. 

Read more about the drugs most commonly used and misused by teens here.

Technology Makes Diabetes Care Easier

Technology Makes Diabetes Care Easier

Managing diabetes can feel like a fulltime job when you add together food preparation, activity tracking, and blood sugar monitoring. Over the last twenty years, the technology surge benefitted diabetes management in major ways. We’ve transitioned from manual monitoring of blood glucose levels and calculation of insulin to devices that do the work for us.  We’re glad to see technology remove some of the burden from our patients. If you aren’t familiar with the available technology take a look at these options.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

For decades, diabetes patients endured multiple finger pricks every day to monitor their blood glucose levels. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices now monitor a patient’s blood sugar every five minutes. No finger pricks or time out from the patient’s activities required. The CGM sensor is applied to the abdomen just under the skin and must be replaced every 10-14 days depending on the monitor type.

A transmitter attached to the monitor sends updates to a mobile or another device. These devices update the patient when glucose levels begin to rise or fall. This continuous monitoring allows patients to see the realtime effect of specific foods on their blood sugar levels.

Some CGMs require two-finger sticks each day to calibrate the device while others require no calibration.

Insulin Pumps

Insulin pumps automatically deliver insulin throughout the day and at mealtime which allows diabetes patients to reduce the number of needle sticks. The device makes calculating the correct dosage of insulin easier and more accurate. It may also help lower A1c levels. 

Some downsides to insulin pumps include having to monitor your blood sugar more closely, changing out the pump site regularly, and entering information into the pump throughout the day. The device can be helpful for patients who are ready to learn to how to use new technology. Or for patients who aren’t concerned about having a device attached to their bodies. In good news, insulin pumps aren’t permanent. Many patients use them for a while then revert to manual insulin injections. This allows the pump site to rest at times.

Close-Loop Pump and CGM

The ultimate technology for a diabetic patient is a closed-loop CGM and pump combination. This technology works as an artificial pancreas by monitoring glucose levels and delivering insulin to lower blood sugar or glucagon to raise blood sugar based on those numbers. A true closed-loop system hasn’t been completely developed, yet, but several companies are close. Many companies already offer hybrid solutions that monitor blood sugar and deliver insulin. They alert patients to low blood sugar levels but cannot deliver glucagon. 

Smart Pens

Tired of being connected to a pump all the time, but enjoy the benefits of having your glucose levels recorded throughout the day? Smartpens offer an alternative to insulin pumps. The pens connect to smartphones or other devices to store up to a year’s worth of dosing information. They work with refillable cartridges. Each pen has different capabilities based on the company that developed it. Some allow users to set reminders to check blood sugar and administer insulin. They also allow users to send dosing and blood sugar level data to multiple email addresses. 

Whether you’re techno fan or not, we can’t ignore the benefits of technology to managing diabetes and making it easier to keep doing life on your own terms while maintaining your health. Pricing for these devices and availability varies, as does whether or not a device is right for your personal diabetes management plan. As always talk to your provider about all the options available to you. And for an update on emerging technologies and a glimpse into what could be coming in the next year or two, check out this article from Healthline.

Avoid Rebound Congestion from Your Nose Spray This Allergy Season

Before you reach for your nasal spray, consider whether rebound congestion may be causing your allergy congestion to last longer than it should.

Allergy season is blooming with every flower that pops its head from the dirt. Before you reach for your nasal spray, consider whether rebound congestion may be causing your allergy congestion to last longer than it should.

Allergies inflame the blood vessels in your nasal passages. Nasal decongestion sprays such as Afrin reduce the swelling and allow you to breathe again. Ah, sweet relief. 

These sprays reduce the amount of blood flowing to these vessels. In response, it may cause those vessels to work harder to restore the blood flow. This overcompensation causes more swelling in your nose and more congestion, which often leads to using more nasal spray.

Nasal decongestant sprays include over-the-counter sprays such as Oxymetazoline hydrochloride (Afrin, Dristan, Sinex) and phenylephrine hydrochloride (Neo-Synephrine). Doctors suggest using these sprays for a maximum of three days. They also suggest using the minimum number of doses per day to reduce the chances you’ll develop rebound congestion. 

What about other nose sprays?

Steroid nose sprays such as budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief), and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR) do not work the same way as decongestant sprays and may be used for years without rebound congestion. These sprays have their own set of side effects such as headache, nosebleed, sore throat or cough. These sprays work well to reduce the symptoms of allergies, but it can take up to a week to notice the effects. If you suffer from allergies frequently, talk to your provider about starting this type of nose spray when the season changes.

What other remedies can you use?

Outside of medicine, you can do a lot to relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Saline nasal sprays and neti pots are natural, safe ways to help manage your symptoms. The neti pot flushes mucus and allergens from the nose. A note of caution though, be sure to use sterilized water and clean them well to avoid serious infections.

In short, don’t discount the help a nasal decongestant may provide as a short term solution to seasonal allergies. Just make sure you pair it with a longer-term solution. If you’ve been using these nose sprays too often for too long make an appointment with your provider to find relief from your congestion.

Four Truths About Your Fast Food Habit

4 truths about your fast food habit

After a long day at work and an evening balancing children’s activities and homework, many parents find themselves staring blankly into a refrigerator with no idea of what to cook for supper. On any given day, we can find multiple posts requesting new recipe ideas, preferably ones that are easy to prepare. It’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and dial the nearest pizza delivery service. With UberEats and Tupelo-to-Go, our food delivery options are no longer limited to pizza. But with every restaurant meal comes risks to our health. Here’s the real truth about your fast food habit.

Truth #1:

Poor nutrition from fast food meals has been discussed for more than 40 years. A report from 1978 discusses the high sugar content of fast food meals and its effect on obesity. The report also mentions the link between obesity and other health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

“Plant-based diets” may feel like a new fad, but in reality researchers, doctors, and politicians have been encouraging Americans to eat more leafy greens and fiber-rich foods for decades. 

Truth #2

Sugar isn’t the only culprit in restaurant food. Almost every meal purchased outside the home includes more than your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of sodium. We know you were trying to eat healthy with a turkey sub instead of a burger, but if you added cheese, pickles, and mayo it could equal almost half your daily allowance of sodium.

Too much sodium causes water retention and can raise blood pressure, which may result in damage to your blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. 

Truth #3

Cooking at home increases quality time with your family. In the days before fast-food joints on every corner and deliver services to our sofa, we used to cook dinner often with a spouse or children helping. In addition to an improvement in nutritional value, foods at home increase time with family. Learning a new recipe together or teaching a child to chop vegetables can create unique bonding opportunities.

Truth #4

People who cook at home consume fewer calories. No brainer, right? But the reasons behind why they consume fewer calories may not be what you think. A study at Johns Hopkins found people who cook at home more frequently also consume fewer calories when they do eat out. They’re also more likely to eat smaller portions at home, and they don’t have the readily available dessert menu taunting them.

Time for a Reminder

Most of us already knew this information, but as more and more people eat out, especially at fast-food restaurants, we thought it was time for a refresher. According to a study published The Journal of Nutrition last month revealed 20% of calories consumed by Americans come from restaurants. That’s a lot of sugar and sodium without a lot of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need.

Cooking at home takes time, which isn’t always readily available. For those of us who struggle to fit cooking into our schedule, a meal plan helps make it easier. Prepping foods on the weekend, utilizing a crockpot or pressure cooker, and cooking enough for leftovers all make cooking at home easier.

We can’t avoid eating out altogether. When you know you’ll be eating out check the menus ahead of time for nutrition information and choose wisely. Also, order your meal first. You’ll be less likely to be swayed by other diners’ poor choices if you’ve already ordered your meal.

Need help planning healthy meals? Our registered dietician, Erica Witcher, is available for appointments. So also runs our Witcher Weightloss Warriors, a weekly group that teaches how to lose weight the healthy way and includes cooking demos, meal plans, snack ideas, and exercise tips.

Increase Consumption of Red Meat Linked to Early Death

increased red meat consumption linked to early death

The cows had it right all along with their “Eat more chikin” campaign. Last summer, a study released by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) gave us the bad news that an increased red meat consumption is linked to an early death.

The research funded by the US National Institutes for Health and the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center included researchers from the Harvard TH Chan school of public health in the US, with one researcher from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. Researchers studied diet changes in 50,000 women and 27,000 men over sixteen years. 

Participants who increased their red meat by 3.5 servings per week experienced a 10% increased rate of death over participants who did not change their diet. Participants who exchanged one serving of red meat for a serving of another protein source like poultry, fish, nuts, dairy, eggs, whole grains, or legumes lowered their risk of death.

What does this mean for our nutrition?

If you’re interested enough in your health and nutrition to read this far, it’s time to make some practical applications. Lowering your number of servings of red meat lowers your risk for numerous health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. This article from Harvard Health suggests not exceeding two to three servings of red meat or processed meat of any kind per week. 

Your husband’s weekend steak, mama’s Sunday roast, and a hamburger at lunch aren’t the only limitations in the red meat category. Red meat includes cow, but also pig, horses, goats, and bison. White meat typically refers to poultry or fish. The study also connects processed meat such as hotdogs and deli meat to increased health problems.

We always advocate for creating a meal plan for the week. This allows you to better control what you cook and to see possible substitutions. 

Substitutions to consider

  • Ground turkey in chili or vegetable soup
  • Shredded chicken nachos or tacos
  • Tuna steak 
  • Grilled salmon
  • Turkey bacon
  • Chicken sandwhich instead of a hamburger
  • Oven-roasted chicken instead of deli meat

This study did not find that red meat caused early death, but rather it linked increased consumption of red meat to an early death. If you find yourself stopping for a burger multiple times a week, it’s time to break the red meat habit. Our nutritionists and medical providers can help you create a plan to introduce flavorful white meat and vegetables back into your diet. Make an appointment today to get your health on a better trac.

Is 50 Too Late to Start Colon Cancer Screening?

colon cancer screening

Colonoscopy. It’s a rite-of-passage for 50-year-olds that supplies an endless array of memes, birthday cards, and jokes. All jokes aside, the recommended testing often identifies colon cancer long before symptoms start, in stages where it is most easily and successfully treated. Some oncologists suggest reducing the age of colon cancer screening to 45 instead of 50.

Why Test Early?

Sharon Osbourne, wife of legendary rocker Ozzy Osbourne was 49 when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. She’s not alone. For years, colon cancer was mostly diagnosed in people over the age of 50. A recent deep analysis by the American Cancer Society found a rising number of colon cancer diagnoses in people between 45 and 50.

Colonoscopies find polyps and detect cancer often before a patient has any symptoms. Early-stage cancer is easier to treat and responds more effectively to treatment.

Your Less Invasive Testing Options

While colonoscopies are the standard in diagnosing colon cancer, they are expensive and invasive. Our clinic offers stool-based screenings such as Fecal immunochemical test (FIT), Buaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), Stool DNA test. (Click here to learn more about these tests.)

The American Cancer Society updated its recommendations in May 2018, but the US Preventative Services Task Force which oversees federal guidelines hasn’t updated its recommendations. This means insurance may not pay for your screening before you turn 50 unless you’re experiencing symptoms or fall into a high-risk group. Another reason to consider the less expensive stool-based screenings.

Risk Factors

Screening recommendations are based on average-risk patients. If any of the following statements apply to you, it’s recommended that you start colon cancer screenings even earlier.

  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
  • A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

Start Here

If you’re 45 or older and have never had a colon cancer screening or you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer, it’s time to make an appointment with your medical care provider. Together you can make decisions about the right screenings for you. Screening for cancer sounds scary, but not screening won’t make any bad news go away and early treatment often gives you many more years of life ahead.

Heart Health and Marijuana Use

Heart Health and Marijuana Use

As of January, Illinois joins the growing number of states where recreational use of marijuana is legal. Eleven states allow adults over the age of 21 to purchase weed for recreational use, and thirty-three allow it for medical use. While Mississippi doesn’t fall into either of those categories, many residents use the substance illegally and others will experiment when visiting states where it is legal. We urge caution for all our patients, but particularly those with heart problems.

Studies have shown marijuana use increases heart rate, dilates blood vessels, and forces the heart to pump harder. This effect increases the risk of heart attack in the hour after smoking pot. 

A more recent study in England found an enlargement of the heart in regular marijuana users. Former users who stopped consumption of pot had normal-sized hearts leading researchers to believe the effect is reversible.

Because marijuana is still illegal in many states and countries, few studies about the long term effects exist. More studies are needed to understand the effects of both medical and recreational use of weed on the body.

Heart Health

Just because you don’t use marijuana doesn’t mean you’re in the clear for heart disease though. Almost everyone has some risk factors for heart disease. Some we can’t control such as:

  • Male sex
  • Older age
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Race (African-Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have heart disease than Caucasians.)

Other risk factors we can control:

  • Smoking
  • High LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and low HDL, or “good” cholesterol
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity (having a BMI greater than 25)
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High C-reactive protein
  • Uncontrolled stress, depression, and anger
  • Poor diet
  • Alcohol use

We have a doctor, nurse practitioners, and a dietician on staff to assist you as you work to decrease your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. 

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Overdose Not Only Risk Factor in Opioid Crisis

Every day 130 people in the United States die from an opioid-related overdose. While the numbers of new opioid prescriptions have declined in the last two years, we’re still experiencing fall out from years of unchecked opioid prescriptions. A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry reveals the far-reaching effects of the opioid crisis on the health of an abuser.

Researched pulled data from 124 previously published studies and compared that data with the general population of the same age and sex. The study revealed in addition to increased death from overdose, opioid addicts also have increased deaths due to non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases, suicide, and unintentional injuries. The most common non-communicable diseases include cancer and cardiovascular disease.  


While deaths due to HIV/AIDS have declined due to more effective treatment in the overall population, AIDS deaths among opioid abusers have remained steady. Research shows 10-20% of those who misuse prescription opioids move on to inject opioids or heroin. Shared needles between drug users increase the chances of blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. For the first time in two decades, HIV infections from injected drug use increased in 2015 for the first time in two decades due to the opioid crisis.

Opioid abuse affects a person’s entire life, from their overall health to risky behavior. Overdose continues to be a major concern for opioid abusers, but it’s not the only concern. Their behavior and health problems don’t just affect them, it affects their entire family.

Available Resources

If you’re struggling with an opioid addiction take action now. Don’t wait for the drugs to ruin your health. Seeking treatment is an act of strength not weakness. 

At Mantachie Rural Health Care, we treat all aspects of drug addiction from the addiction itself to underlying mental and behavioral health issues. We’ll help you find the right treatment program, and we provide therapy for families as well.

Overdose, while a major concern for drug abusers, isn’t the only increased threat of opioid abuse. You only have one body. Take care of it. We can help. Contact our mental health facilty to learn more at 662-282-4359.   

Mantachie School Students and Staff Benefit from School-Based Clinic

Mantachie School Based Clinic

The opening of a school-based health clinic in November at Mantachie schools represented more than a year’s worth of work. The clinic, staffed by Amy Floyd, FNP-C, and Casey Pounds, MA, sees both children and school staff. Hours of operation run from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. during school days.

School-based health centers started in 1970, but gained popularity in the 1990s. Today, more than 2000 SBHCs care for the health of more than two million students.

Students with access to school-based clinics miss fewer days of school due to illness. More days in the classroom along with better overall health means these students retain more knowledge and score better on tests.

Parents benefit from school-based clinics because they miss fewer days of work to attend appointments with their children. Increased work attendance and productivity improves a family’s financial outlook.

Our school-based clinic treats the usual urgent care illnesses such as colds, sinus infections, strep throat, and the flu, as well as managing health conditions like diabetes. Providers may also conduct vision and hearing screenings for students. Students experiencing depression or other mental illness may receive earlier intervention when a medical provider is on campus every day.

The benefits of consistent health care for students stretch into a lifetime of healthy choices, which benefits the entire family and community.

To be seen in the school-based clinic, parents and staff must complete the permission and insurance form available in the school office. The clinic bills visits to the student’s Medicaid or private insurance.   

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