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April 21, 1995     Cape Gazette
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April 21, 1995

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30 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, April 21 - April 27, 1995 Health & Fitness Goal: un00tzng" " seniors' minds, bo&'es By Kerry Kester tam ...... condmons hke scmtma, low- " 'It' s a very body, mind," and Uniting senior citizens' mind, body and spirit is an important goal for Mary Ann Fleetwood. Holistic healing is part of Fleet- wood's massage therapy con- cept. "It's a high touch, not a hig tech approach to health," she said. "It's prevention. It's low cost, and there's no medicine. It's non-invasive. It's completely pleasurable." Fleetwood said that although she doesn't limit her practice to senior citizens, she specializes in helping them. "Massage therapy really has some answers. I want to empha- size working on retired people in my practice. I think it's an excel- lent modality for our retired peo- ple because some of our older people don't get touched as much," she said. "This is a good way to enhance the immune system. It gives retired citizens the benefit of touch. Massage is a good method of preventing illness and enhanc- ing wellness. One of my particu- lar interests is wellness." "A lot of people come to a massage therapist for relaxation and to relieve stress because MARY ANN FLEETWOOD many of the chronic illnesses are driven by stress," she said. She explained that massage relaxes the body, and once it is relaxed it can begin the healing process. "I want to work with the tradi- tional medical system," she said. In fact, she has even considered becoming affiliated with a physi- cian's office. "We don't treat, but some- times massage is useful with cer- er back pain - things like that." Fleetwood has trained in sev- eral types of massage therapy: Swedish massage, neuro-muscu- lar, polarity therapy, zero balanc- ing, Reike and Traeger. The Swedish and neuro-mus- cular therapies are more tradi- tional styles of massage. Polarity therapy "is based on a five-ele- ment system similar to acupunc- ture, only without the needles," she said. Zero balancing "is sort of a combination of energy work and touch that de-stresses the body and balances energy. "I do Reike, which is a form of hands-on energy work. Traeger is a form of rocking. Your mus- cles can't hold while being rocked, and it gets clients real relaxed before working on them so they don't get hurt. "Part of the power of massage is the touch. Studies show that infants who'are touched are healthier." For example, she said, in one study, none of the children who were massaged as infants showed violent tendencies later in life, and none of the parents were abusive. spirit orientation," said Fleet- wood. "It's not working on the body - it's working with the body to affect the body, mind and spirit of the person. We don't see these as separate enti- ties." Fleetwood earned her bachelor of arts degree in English from Hood College in Frederick, Md. She attended Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. and earned her master of arts degree in Eng- lish. She spent several years as a college English teacher in Con- necticut. After that she was a technical writer and a journalist. When she learned of massage therapy and the way it could help people heal, she immediately decided that it was the career for her. She studied at the Baltimore School of Massage, where she logged 500 hours in training. She has national certification from the American Massage Therapy Association. Fleetwood's office is in the Anodos building on Del. 1. To make an appointment, call 226- 3050. Spring health fair planned next Saturday The First Annual Spring Health Fair will be held Saturday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Lewes Presbyterian Church. Those participating include Delaware State Police, Delaware Hospice, Delaware Valley Trans- plant, bicycle safety, Lewes Chi- ropractic Center, Living Wills pre- sentation, Office of Highway Safety, Visiting Nurses Associa- tion, HIV Wellness Center, Divi- sion of Aging, Lewes Physical Therapy, Lewes Fire Department, Lewes Police Department and Cape Henlopen Dermatology. Beebe Medical Center will also participate, including nutritionist, pediatrics department, women's health, Medicare questions and answers, cancer center, home health agency and diabetes educa- tion. There will be screenings for posture and blood pressure, along with face painting, clowns and story telling for children. Refreshments will be served and babysitting service will be avail- able. There Will also be a .canine demonstration and health informa- tion. Question: I recently heard about a high school student in New Jersey who committed sui- cide. How can I tell if my teenage daughter might be thinking about this without my knowing? Answer: One of the more stressful events that can occur which disrupts the life of a family or individual is a completed sui- cide of a friend or loved one. Numerous studies over the past couple of decades have attempted to alert us about recognizable symptoms of an adolescent con- templating suicide and what fac- tors may predict an increased risk of suicide for adolescents. Natu- rally, this information could be helpful to identify and, ideally, successfully treat the teenager before harming himself or herself. Since studies reveal that a teenager is more likely to talk openly about suicidal thoughts with friends rather than with par- ents, parents usually have to rely upon observations of the child's behaviors. Most commonly, although not always, completed suicides are associated with depression. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to briefly describe symptoms suggesting that an ado- On suicide and adolescence HEALTH TOPICS M.A. Luchansky M.D. lescent is depressed. An adoles- cent may tell a parent that he or she is feeling depressed. If you as a parent feel that your child may be depressed, but he or she have not said anything, trust your instincts and openly ask your child frankly if he or she is depressed. You may be surprised at how can- didly the child responds. A change in appetite (either increased or decreased) or sleep pattern, an unexplained drop in grades at school, a diminished interest in spending time with friends, expressed feelings of being "stu- pid" or "ugly", and an increase in irritability and/or anger may all suggest that an adolescent might be depressed. Certainly, if a child does express suicidal thoughts, they should be addressed seriously and care should be taken to assume they are not manipulative "threats." Alcohol and drug abuse are also associated with adolescent depression. It was once thought even by professionals that asking an indi- vidual openly about suicidal thoughts or plans might actually "put those thoughts" into the minds of susceptible persons, and so it was recommended to either wait for them to tell you if they have suicidal thoughts or ascertain whether they do indirectly by their behaviors. This view is no longer held to be true; one cannot "make" a person become suicidal simply by asking them. As a parent, do not be afraid to ask your child about thoughts of hurting himself or herself; it is best to openly ask your children about their thoughts and feelings with interest and con- cern for their well-beine. Identifying risk factors for ado- lescent suicide has be, the topic of intense research in recent years, although questions remain and much still needs to be learned. Family history is important infor- mation to assess risk for many conditions, and suicide is no exception. Data clearly indicates that a positive family history of both suicide attempts and com- pleted suicides places a teenager at increased risk. This is thought to have both genetic and environ- mental influences. A history of previous suicide attempts increas- es the risk of future suicide attempts. Interestingly, adolescent girls make more suicide attempts than boys, but attempts by boys are more likely to result in com- pleted suicide. Also, girls more frequently overdose on medication and boys more often attempt suicide by hanging or with weapons, espe- cially firearms. The presence of certain psychiatric conditions such as a mood disorder (major depres- sion, bipolar disorder) or juvenile delinquency may predispose a teenager to suicidality, especially in conjunction with alcohol and drug abuse. A related issue concerns the impact of an adolescent peer's sui- cide on friends and acquaintances after the suicide. Research sug- gests that peers exposed to suicide reveal an increased chance of developing a clinical depression as well as an increase in thoughts of suicide. However, there is not an increased risk of suicide attempts in peers exposed to suicide. Fac- tors that place an adolescent at increased risk for the development of a clinical depression after expo- sure to suicide include a previous history of depression, family his- tory of depression, close relation- ship with the suicide victim, and witnessing the suicide or finding the body. The adage, "an ounce of preven- tion is worth a pound of cure," applies well to suicide. Suicide is uncommon in adolescence and rare in childhood. Still, it does occur. An awareness of symp- toms of youth depression and risk factors for suicide may promote timely referral to a mental health professional and appropriate inter- vention. Mitchell A. Luchansky M.D. is a board certified adult, adolescent, and chiM psychiatrist in private practice in Lewes. All inquires for Dr. Luchansky shouM be sent to the following address: Mitchell A. Luchansky, M.D. 1532 Savannah Road, Lewes, DE 19958. Letters will be selected and published on a monthly basis.