What Does Depression Look Like?

Depression is a mood disorder that millions of Americans suffer from each year. It is also the leading cause of disability in ages 15-44. Depression often presents as deep sadness, depleted energy, and suicidal thoughts. Sometimes it can be hard to identify depression, even in ourselves. Here are five lesser known symptoms that may indicate depression in you or a loved one.


● Sleep Disturbance. Changes or difficulty in sleeping patterns is a common symptom of depression. This could look like insomnia, difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. It can also look like oversleeping, or even both of these at different times.

● Apathy. Although depression can cause intense sadness, it can also cause feeling nothing at all. Many of those diagnosed with depression report feeling “blank” or numb. It may be hard to connect with displays of emotion, or hard to care about things you once found important or exciting. Loss of interest in hobbies and/or diminished sex drive are both strong indicators of this symptom.

● Difficulty in Concentrating. Some refer to this phenomenon as “depression brain”, and it feels like brain fog and struggles with memory recall. Depression may make it difficult to pay attention to forces outside of the body and brain, and can also impact short term memory.

● Anger. Increased irritability and displays of anger can also be symptoms of depression. This is especially more common in men, who may feel more comfortable displaying anger than sadness. This may look like frequent outbursts, even over seemingly small things.

● Change in Weight. Depression may cause an increase or decrease in weight, depending on the person. Some suffering from depression might find it difficult to eat, causing weight loss and further depleted energy levels. Some may find themselves eating more than usual, as a coping mechanism. Overeating and immobility from fatigue can cause weight gain.

This is not an exhaustive list of all symptoms of depression, but it can help determine a need for professional intervention. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression please call our office to set up an appointment.

Why It’s Important to Use Sunscreen in the Spring 

Springtime means gardening, afternoon walks and sunshine – but you better use sunscreenNinety percent of the sun’s ray can penetrate through clouds- meaning even on a cloudy or cool day, you can get sunburned. Here are some helpful tips to protect your skin this spring. 

Use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or greater and water-resistant with broad spectrum coverage. The number indicates that if you are using it correctly, including reapplying it every two hours, it will take 30 times longer for you to turn red. 

Re-apply sunscreen every 1.5 to 2 hours. If you’re sweating or in water, reapply more often. Yes, you can burn even if covered in water, like when swimming or snorkeling. 

Always make sure to check that your sunscreen hasn’t expired. Toss it if it’s over a year old, as your SPF starts to become less effective at blocking damaging UV rays. If your sunscreen doesn’t have a date, be sure to write the date of purchase on the bottle.  

Always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside. It takes time to absorb into your skin. To achieve proper protection, you should use approximately two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimeter of skin. This is about two tablespoons on all of your exposed areas or a nickle-sized dollop on your face. 

Don’t forget to use sunscreen on the tops of your feet, ears, scalp and lips. We often forget these area’s and therefore they are prone to a higher risk of skin cancer.  

Always use a sunscreen that is designed for your face. Increase your sun protection by wearing sunglasses, a hat and protective clothing. 

Limit sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.- as this is when the sun is strongest.  

Spring is an enjoyable time to be outdoors. Use sunscreen and you can enjoy it for more hours and more safely.  

Getting the Most from Your Medical Appointment

Being an active participant in your healthcare is essential for getting the most from your medical appointment. The suggestions below may help. Be assured that our office is committed to helping you to be as healthy as you can be!

1. Ask questions. Your appointment is all about you! Ask any questions that will clarify your treatment, educate you on your health conditions, or help you feel at ease. It’s a good idea to write down your list of questions and concerns before you visit the doctor, to ensure you are getting the most from your medical appointment.

Some examples of questions include: What symptoms should I watch for? Is there anything I should avoid during treatment? Are there other treatments available besides what you recommend?

2. Be honest. Your medical practitioner is there to help, not judge. Be honest about your habits and prepare to disclose anything that could be affecting your health. If you are forgetting to take your medication or don’t like the side effects, be honest! Your doctor will do as much as they can to work with you.

3. Discuss all health factors. Getting the most from your medical appointment requires you to be clear and specific about any symptoms or health concerns you have. Even if you may believe it’s irrelevant or insignificant, it’s important to review it with your doctor. Volunteer information even if you’re not specifically asked about it — it could still be useful. Disclose your family medical history to develop a proactive healthcare plan.

4. Ask for a recap of each appointment. A lot can be covered in one doctor’s visit. It may be difficult to keep track of all the relevant information. For getting the most from your

medical appointment, ask your doctor for a final summary of what you’ve discussed. It’s helpful to take notes in your own words. Reviewing those notes later can help you remember the important details.

5. Don’t forget to follow up. It’s important to regularly check in with your healthcare team, especially after your visit. You may have follow up labs, x-rays, tests, therapy, or medicine. This is also a good time to notify them of progress in your treatment, or if necessary, get another appointment so that they can reevaluate and fine tune the treatment plan for even better results.

Call our office if we can help. As a healthcare provider, we are committed to help you toward being your healthiest self, including getting the most from your medical appointment.

How Can I Reduce My High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects about half of adults in the United States. Hypertension may not initially cause noticeable symptoms, so you should regularly monitor your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure levels in adults fall under 120/80. The first number is systolic blood pressure. This number measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart beats. The second number refers to diastolic blood pressure. This measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart is resting. According to the American Heart Association, you are considered to have high blood pressure/hypertension when your systolic value is over 130, and your diastolic value is over 80.

If you are experiencing headache, shortness of breath or nosebleeds that can indicate severely high blood pressure. These symptoms may require emergency medical services. Hypertension increases your risk for other serious health complications like heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, and dementia. High blood pressure can damage your arteries and limit your oxygen and blood supply. Unchecked high blood pressure may eventually lead to poor memory and reduced brain function. To discuss or test your blood pressure levels, please schedule an appointment at our office today.

If you suffer from hypertension, normal blood pressure levels can be achieved through lifestyle changes. To help reduce your high blood pressure you can incorporate:

● Regular exercise. Increasing your exercise and activity levels will strengthen your heart, allowing your blood pressure to lower as it takes less effort to pump blood. Exercise can also help to reduce weight. If you are overweight, losing the extra pounds will help stabilize blood pressure levels. Regular exercise will also help with stress management, an important component of achieving a normal blood pressure.

● Stress Management. Strategies to reduce stress can include meditation and breathing exercises, counseling, or even your favorite hobbies. Listening to soothing music, spiritual counsel, and seeking out laughter can also help. Our world has gotten increasingly stressful and demanding, so it’s important to find tactics that work for you and your lifestyle.

● Diet Change. Changing your diet to limit sodium and increase potassium can help mitigate hypertension. Some potassium rich foods include kidney beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, among others. Reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine consumption is also proven to improve blood pressure levels. You may also consider diet change to help with weight loss.

● Eliminate tobacco use. Smoking causes temporary spikes in blood pressure. Tobacco use can damage your blood vessels, increasing inflammation and narrowing your arteries. When your arteries are constricted this increases blood pressure as the blood flow is reduced.

These strategies are just some that have proven effective to reduce your high blood pressure. As always, contact your doctor or call Shenandoah Community Health Clinic if you would like to be checked or treated for hypertension.

Why We Request Our Patients Bring All Their Medications To Every Appointment

Dr. Damewood Explains…

I request my patients bring all medications, including prescription, over the counter, herbal, and home remedies, they are using to every visit. Many patients ask why I can’t refer to a list and/or why they have to bring the actual pill bottles, even when they brought them their last visit. All of these are great questions, given the inconvenience of having to gather and remember them all. However, after reviewing medications directly from the pill bottle each visit, it is rare that I don’t find at least one potential problem. But why is this?


Medication Variety and Availability

We have seen an explosion in the number of medications our patients are taking. Our patient population is also becoming older, with more medical problems. The pharmaceutical companies haven’t been far behind this boom in developing new drugs. Pills now come in a bewildering number of shapes and colors, and the individual strengths differ in their presentation, making identification almost impossible. Many of these medications are also now available in generic forms or have been combined with other pills to create even more variety and complexity.


It is not unusual to have patients refill their medications through different pharmacies at different times or use different generics for the same medications. I have actually seen different generic forms of the same medication in the same bottles and the same medication being taken from different pill bottles at the same time. I have even found some patients taking both the generic and brand name form of the same medication together. 


There are also many different pills within the same class of medications, and it is not unusual, because of cost and insurance, to have to change medications within the class. This may result in taking too much of a similar medication for the same reason.


Confusing Instructions

Occasionally, instructions on a pill bottle may be misunderstood, making the visit an opportunity to verify proper use.


Multiple Doctors, Multiple Medications

Some patients have more than one doctor involved in their care. Although doctors try to communicate, this can create confusion. Not precisely knowing what medications each patient is taking from all their doctors could make prescribing medications potentially dangerous, due to drug interactions.


Complications and Refills

Having one’s medication bottles at each office visit also allows me to review complications with their medications, and at the same time ensure that refill prescriptions are written, saving the patient and staff unnecessary work.