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"Worry wart" syndrome, fish oil supplements

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January 5th, 2016

Q. Can being a “worrywart” make you unhealthy?

A. So-called “worrywarts” are often described as people who excessively worry about insignificant things, but whether or not you feel stressed over things that other people deem unworthy, it can still affect your physical and emotional health. While researchers aren’t 100% sure of all of the reasons your physical health can suffer, it is in part related to the ongoing effect of stress-related hormones on your tissues and organs. Resulting symptoms often include sleeplessness, digestive disturbances, and irritability. 

Knowing why it happens, however, is not as important as learning how you can stop this process. First, see your doctor and express your concerns. There may be underlying medical conditions, emotional disorders, or medications contributing to the cause. In addition, you may need to learn some new coping mechanisms such as daily exercise, seeking support from friends and family, and scheduling time for relaxing activities. If you feel that worrying is becoming unmanageable, seek additional help from your doctor or a mental health professional.

Q. Can fish oil supplements lower my cholesterol?

A. To date, there is a lack of evidence-based research that consistently shows a link between taking fish oil supplements and lowering blood cholesterol. This has been a hot topic of study since scientists discovered that people who eat fish (especially cold-water fish) a few times a week tend to have few markers of heart disease such as high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Thus, most research shows that for fish oil to have a benefit, it must come straight from the source and not from a capsule. Further, dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA so the amount of fish oil in a capsule may vary widely from bottle to bottle. They may also contain high amounts of mercury. Regardless, your best way to combat high cholesterol is to consult with your doctor and make lifestyle changes, including increasing exercise, eating whole grains, having several servings of colorful fruits and vegetables every day, and of course, adding fish to your meal plan a few times a week. 

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Health and wellness experts practice exclusively at Erickson Living communities all over the U.S. This month our expert is

Myla Carpenter, M.D.

Senior Medical Director,

Dr. Carpenter received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and her medical degree from the University of California’s Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento. She completed her residency in internal medicine at the Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. Board-certified in internal medicine, Carpenter joined Charlestown in July 1998.

 

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