Health Tips – December 5, 2018


    Health-care providers and researchers with the University of Louisville are available to discuss any of the following health topics this week. Click on the headline or scroll down for more information:


    It’s not always the most wonderful time of the year. During winter festivities, many people deal with feelings of depression, known as the holiday blues. But there are ways to overcome sad thoughts this time of year, according to Jesse Wright, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UofL Depression Center.

    • Be active – If you are feeling depressed, the natural tendency is to do less. Energy may sag and it may be hard to enjoy things that used to bring pleasure. However, decreased activity can worsen depression. To break the pattern, make a short list of activities you might enjoy and incorporate them into a plan to be more active.
    • Watch for negative thinking – Sad moods can bring on negative thoughts. To counter negativity, stop and listen to inner thoughts and put them in check. Are they too extreme? Are you focusing only on the problems? Is your mind full of regret or self-criticism? How accurate are the thoughts? Is your sad mood interfering with recalling more positive or hopeful parts of your life?
    • Take care of yourself – Studies have shown that lifestyle and personal habits can make a big difference in overcoming the blues and even clinical depression. Exercising about three times a week for at least 30 minutes is an effective way to overcome depression. People who adhere to the Mediterranean diet have half the risk of depression as those who don’t follow this healthy eating plan. Avoid the temptation to party too hard during the holidays.
    • Reach out – Depression often makes people isolate themselves and spend less time with others, which usually escalates the problem. Although you may feel like hibernating and not participating in social activities, it usually helps to connect with family, friends and co-workers.
    • Get some light into your life – If your mood drops and you begin to feel depressed when daylight hours decrease, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This problem can be combatted with phototherapy from a light box. It is usually recommended that people with SAD get exposure to 10,000 lux of light for about 30 minutes each morning during the time of year when there is less natural light.

    Treatment at the UofL Depression Center begins with a comprehensive evaluation by a specialist in mood disorders. To learn more about the Depression Center or to make an appointment, call 502-588-4450.


    An estimated 44 million people are serving as family caregivers throughout the United States, many of whom are providing care for persons with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Caregiving can be a stressful experience for both the caregiver and the care receiver. Understanding how to incorporate compassion into caregiving can help alleviate some of this burden.

    Sam Cotton, Ph.D., M.S.S.W., of the UofL Institute for Sustainable Health and Optimal Aging, says caregivers can help people with AD flourish and improve their interactions with them by focusing on the physical and mental health of the person with AD. This includes neurological, cognitive, general health and psychosocial factors, as well as the physical and social environment, and their loved one’s changing needs.

    As a caregiver, how can you incorporate compassion into your caregiving for persons with AD?

    • Focus on your loved one’s emotions. Sometimes, orienting a person with AD to reality can be overwhelming for them. Instead of focusing on reality, focus on the emotions they are exhibiting.
    • Speak in a calm and reassuring voice. A soothing voice can be calming for a person with AD.
    • Use compassionate touch. When communicating with your loved one, hold her hand or gently touch his shoulder.
    • Incorporate the past into the present. If your loved one enjoyed specific music, games or other activities in the past, incorporate these into your time together.

    Here are some more general tips for caregivers from the Caregiver Action Network:

    1. Seek support from other caregivers
    2. Take care of your own health
    3. Accept offers of help
    4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors
    5. Be open to new technologies
    6. Watch for signs of depression and don’t delay professional help and support
    7. Caregiving is hard work and taking breaks (respite) is essential
    8. Organize medical information
    9. Make sure legal documents are in order
    10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can. You are doing one of the toughest jobs!

    For more resources on caregiving, reach out to the following resources:


    The James Graham Brown Cancer Center has been granted a three-year/full reaccreditation designation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a program administered by the American College of Surgeons. Accreditation by the NAPBC is granted only to those centers that have voluntarily committed to provide the highest level of quality breast care and that undergo a rigorous evaluation process and review of their performance. The Brown Cancer Center first received NAPBC accreditation in 2009.

    To earn accreditation, the center must demonstrate compliance with standards established by the NAPBC for treating women who are diagnosed with the full spectrum of breast disease and include proficiency in leadership, clinical care, research, community outreach and more.

    “A breast center that achieves NAPBC accreditation has demonstrated a firm commitment to offer its patients every significant advantage in their battle against breast disease,” said Nicolas Ajkay, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, UofL Division of Surgical Oncology, who directs the breast cancer program as a surgical oncology specialist with UofL Physicians. 

    The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 232,000 patients are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the United States annually. In addition, hundreds of thousands of women who deal with benign breast disease require medical evaluation for treatment options.

    Receiving care at a NAPBC-accredited center ensures that a patient has access to:

    • Comprehensive care, including a full range of the latest treatment services
    • A multidisciplinary team approach to coordinate the best treatment options
    • Information about ongoing clinical trials and new treatment options
    • And, most importantly, quality breast care close to home.

    For more information about the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, visit


    Betty Coffman
    Betty Coffman is a Communications Coordinator focused on research and innovation at UofL. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.