One of my readers asked me to write an article on the problem of “excess” and its effect on our health and happiness. I have alluded to our excess in past articles (refer to November 15 and December 7, 2010, “Four Letter Word” and “Suicide by Food”). Excesses in food, stressors, nutraceuticals, medications, drugs, electronics, communications and possessions have become the norm in our society. Those excesses have taken a toll on my patients and their families.
Just prior to Christmas every year, I would treat very successful middle-aged men for depression. George was successful in every aspect of his life. He had a beautiful family, four children and a wife. His family has lived in luxury as my patient was also very successful in the business world. He even shot in the low 80s on the golf course. So why was he depressed? He was affected by the Lexus commercial. The commercial showed a husband and his son waiting outside in the snow to surprise his wife with a Lexus with a red bow on the roof. My patient felt that, at his age and station in life, he should be able to give that Lexus to his wife. He saw himself as a failure despite all of his success because he couldn’t purchase a Lexus for his wife.
When is enough, enough? That is an age-old question. When you have a beautiful family, roof over your head, and food on the table, do you really need a Lexus? When you are overweight and your weight is harming your health, it’s enough. In “Suicide by Food,” I reviewed the case of a patient’s excessive food ingestion causing him to go into heart failure and be admitted to the hospital. When Barrington youth are so desperate as to commit suicide, it’s enough! In “The Four-Letter Word,” I reviewed how everything has become a “need” and how dangerous being needy is.
My patients stress over everything. In “Worried Sick,” I reviewed how worry and stress can become a disease and be more harmful than the disease you are worried about. Yesterday, I wrote about depression. Work and financial and family stresses are seriously affecting my patients. Retirement, aging, illness and moving are affecting me.
Throughout this website, I have worked to involve my patients in self-care. My patients are taking too many medications. Often, they are on too many medications because of their personal excesses. I remember working with a patient who had a “healthy” (according to the patient), 1400 calorie breakfast despite the fact that his weight had become a major health issue.
Many of my patients want to be on “all natural” supplements. Rather than eating healthy, whole foods, they look to the nutraceutical world for health. They often come in with dozens of supplements (not an exaggeration) none of which are natural. A few patients do in depth study of their supplements and the companies that manufacture them. Most do not.
The younger generations live on the internet, Facebook, and twitter. They text incessantly and are always connected. They “need” new cell phones, 5G, and Wi-Fi to be happy. They worry about computer viruses, not the common cold.
So, what can we do? Maybe I’m not the best person to answer this question. My children always say that, in the Segal house, the tenant is “Go big or go home.” I’m currently paying the cost of all of my excesses as I work on downsizing my life. It certainly would have been easier to downsize when I was healthy. One of my favorite ways of dealing with depression is making a Blessings List. (click on hyperlink)
Talking about health, wouldn’t it be great to have excess health? What about replacing Facebook and Twitter with research into appropriate nutrition and exercise. Try using your smart phone and computer to tract your weight, nutritional intake and output. What we can do is focus on “Living Wellthy”!
Also, we can all learn to be thankful for what we have! Have a great holiday season and a “Wellthy” New Year!