All posts by kitamaki

Seasonal Depression

Although we are now (thankfully) entering the warmer months in MN, I know that a lot of us, including myself, have experienced seasonal depression this year. Typically it comes with the winter months, but even if it may only be temporary it can a have a very negative affect on people’s mood, health, energy level, performance in work and school, and many other aspects of their lives. It’s important to address your seasonal depression in order to improve your overall health.

Seasonal depression is also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is defined by the Mayo clinic as“...a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.” Most people who experience SAD have symptoms that begin the fall and continue into the winter months. However, there are some that also experience SAD in the spring and even early summer.

Why do most people experience it during the cooler months?

Reasearchers do not know exactly why SAD occurs but they speculate that is caused by a number of imbalances in the body which I will list below.

  1. One possible reason is due to a change in your circadian rhythm aka your biological clock. When we have less sunlight our internal clock may have trouble regulating sleep which in turn means that you may have issues regulating your mood as well.
  2. Serotonin levels in the body could also play a role because reduced sunlight can cause them to drop. Serotonin is a chemical in our brain that regulates mood so lower levels could cause depression.
  3. Melatonin levels are another factor that could be causing SAD. Melatonin is a chemical that affects our sleep pattern and when we receive less sunlight it may cause an overproduction of melatonin that leads to fatigue

Treatments for seasonal depression

Light therapy or phototherapy is one of the recommended treatments for SAD. It involves sitting in front of a special light box for the first hour when you wake up in order to mimic natural light. Not much research has been done on this therapy, but according to the Mayo clinic it seems to have a positive effect on many patients.

Of course with depression it may also require medication such as anti-depressants or psychotherapy in order to work through these stressful symptoms. Sometimes doctors may recommended patients to start on either one of these treatments when they start to experience symptoms each year

Of course it’s also recommended that you try to spend time outdoors whenever possible since sunlight helps to alleviate symptoms. I personally was prescribed a vitamin D supplement for my symptoms this winter and this another common treatment.

It’s important to take care of yourself if you experience SAD as it can have lasting effects and seek help from a professional if necessary!

Black women and Health Care

A couple semesters ago I did a research paper about the unconscious biases Black women face in business. I read through numerous sources and along the way found some alarming statistics about the level of care black women receive compared to women of other races

What is the problem?

As I mentioned before, there are disparities in healthcare for Black women that directly cause poor health outcomes and a higher maternal mortality rate.

There are many statistics that also support these claims. One issue is that Black women are underrepresented in clinical trials along with biomedical research datasets. Along with these we see that according to the Black Women’s Health Imperative, “Black women are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic white women to have high blood pressure, according to the Office of Minority Health in the Department of Health and Human Services.” However, some of the most alarming statistics are related to the reproductive health of Black women. Research shows that “Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications and 3-4 times more likely to suffer from severe disability resulting from childbirth compared to White women.” These are just a few of the disparities in health that Black women face and many of this issues are not being addressed.

What needs to change?

There are numerous changes that need to be made in order to address these health disparities, but I will highlight a few that I found to be incredibly important for the health of Black women.

  1. Many organizations agree that healthcare professionals should all receive high levels of anti-racism and implicit bias training in medical school. Along with this, state licensing boards and the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology should be taking the initiative to address these issues.

2.There also needs to be expanded access to quality, patient centered reproductive health care. Since this is one of the biggest disparities that Black women deal with, there should be a strong focus on making this type of health care accessible.

3.It has also been suggested by Piraye Beim from the Endometriosis Foundation of America that “The FDA should update its policies guiding clinical trial enrollment to better incentivize drug companies to increase enrollment of black clinical trial participants. The NIH should also revisit policies and incentives to expand research and address data disparities for People of Color.” In order to understand more about how medications and procedures affect Black women, there needs to be more involvement in trial testing.

If you are interested as a individual in how you can help this cause, there are also organization’s such as the Black Women’s Health Imperative that provide resources on how you can be involved and make changes. I have linked below how you can take action and I encourage you to read more the issues they are tackling

Differing Opinions on the Atlanta Shooting

After seeing the tragedy of the Atlanta shooting on March 17th, as an Asian American, I was overwhelmed with sadness and anger. I quickly started to see differing opinions all over social on whether this was motivated by racism or not. I decided to criticize an opinion piece from Fox news that I thought best emulated the opinions that argue that racism played no role in this shooting, which I have linked below.

Tucker Carlson: Media ignoring facts about Atlanta shooter to boost their political agenda

In this article Carlson references that the shooter denied any claims of it being a racially motivated attack and instead blamed his sex addiction. One of my criticisms is that Carlson accepted this answer in the article, saying “Instead, the usual liars are describing the massacre in Atlanta as the one thing it apparently wasn’t: A racial attack.” . Although this is what the shooter said, it is hard to ignore that six of the victims were Asian women and that there is a very real possibility that the shooter may have fetishized Asian women. It’s also hard to ignore that this happened after anti-Asian hate crimes in major cities surged 149% in 2020.

In the article, Carlson says “Robert Long seems deranged, but his obsessive and violent behavior seems sadly familiar if you follow the news closely.” I would argue that we shouldn’t pity this man, he placed the blame on this spas for his sex addiction. This article also has a tone of victim blaming, which I have seen all over the media as well. They explain, “Then there’s the very real question of sex addiction, which we should not laugh off. Why is there so much prostitution in Atlanta?”. I don’t think there is any reason to be questioning prostitution in this situation, we should instead be wondering how to stop these crimes.

Lastly, Carlson references the election results, saying how all Hispanic counties on the Mexican border turned “red” overnight. He attributes this to the riots that occurred after George Floyd’s death last year saying, “The rise of BLM, and the riots they led over the summer, is a big part of why that is happening. Decadent White liberals loved the whole thing, but no one else did.” I also disagree with this, I believe that most people were genuinely angry and distraught because of his death and how long it took to charge Derek Chauvin. People in the Black community and even other communities wanted change and this is how they sought it out. However, I am also well aware that people chose to take advantage of the riots and that many white people engage in performative activism, which is defined as “activism done to increase one’s social capital rather than because of one’s devotion to a cause”.

Although I disagree with many of the points in this article, I’m glad that I was able to understand more of the differing viewpoints on this topic. I believe that knowing these viewpoints can open up more meaningful conversation and debate between people.

Food Deserts and Race

Since the beginning of my college education, I have learned about food deserts in several of my classes so I decided to do more research on this topic for my blog post. What I didn’t realize is how deeply food deserts are intertwined with the history of systematic racism in this country.

Food deserts are generally defined as places where residents don’t have access to affordable nutritious foods. Lower income areas are typically the hit the hardest with food deserts. It can lead to an increase in diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions.

Food deserts have a deep connection to race and racist actions such as redlining. Redlining is a discriminatory practice developed in the 1930s U.S., where banks denied mortgages to people of color, usually in urban areas, thus preventing them from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. Although this practice is illegal, large supermarkets were still allowed to not open stores in these inner city and lower income areas. They creates issues because large supermarkets typically are able to sell healthy foods at lower prices because they can purchase in bulk. In 2012, the USDA found that in all but very dense urban areas, the higher the percentage of minority population, the more likely the area is to be a food desert.

Not only this, but food deserts may be under-reported because the North American Industry Classification System places small corner grocery stores (which often primarily sell packaged food) in the same category as grocery stores like Safeway and Whole Foods. However, just providing more supermarkets will not fix inequality by itself since food inequality goes beyond location, according to experts, and extends to bigger structural inequalities around income, education, nutritional knowledge and, importantly, race. There needs to be considerations made about the culture of the community, how people will access a place without a car, the quality of the food, and education about how to buy nutritious food.

ADHD and Online Learning

I recently was looking up some information about online learning since I was interested in writing a blog post for it. I came across this article by University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences and started thinking about the benefits they listed such as:

1. You don’t need to relocate

2. It’s easier to achieve optimal school-life balance

3. It helps you develop and stick to healthy habits

4. You have more time to do the things you love

5. Online learning makes it possible to keep your job

6. You can create your own office

7. It’s easier to concentrate and participate

8. You can boost your time management skills

Although these definitely seem like great benefits I thought about how for someone like me who has ADHD, that it may be difficult to experience any of these benefits. Although I have adapted to online learning, I needed a lot of resources to make it possible and less stressful. These thoughts I had about the connection between online learning and ADHD led me to find an article by Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) about this exact topic.

I think that a lot of us can agree that online learning isn’t the most ideal choice in most cases, but it creates an even greater challenge for students who live with ADHD. In the article they discuss how it is more difficult to concentrate and easier to fall off of a schedule. It can also lead to students being less likely to communicate regularly with classmates and teachers. For a student with ADHD these things can be quite detrimental to their learning, relationship with classmates, grades, and their self-esteem.

Overall I believe that online learning can provide some great advantages to most people and some people with ADHD may even be more suited to online learning. However, it might be difficult for many students with ADHD to find a better work-life balance and schedule like the first articles suggests. Especially since many students have already struggled to adapt to in person learning through their lives, suddenly being taught online can cause a lot of distress.

The Myanmar Coup

On February 1st I was scrolling through Reddit and happened upon this video. I was pretty confused at first and then became very alarmed once I realized what was happening.

After seeing this video I started to look into what was happening in Myanmar because this was my first time seeing anything about it.

It turns out that early in the morning of February 1st, Myanmar’s military staged a coup d’etat, seizing control of the government after detaining their democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. According to Aljazeera, “Members of the military government justified Monday’s coup by alleging widespread voter fraud in a November general election that was won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy”

Myanmar has a long history of military control over the government after becoming independent from Britain in 1948. There was a couple years in the 60s where Myanmar had a democracy, but the military quickly took back full power. They then began the permanent transition to democracy between 2011-2015, but the military still held a lot of power in the country.

Then, a couple weeks ago I decided to look into more updates about the situation. I saw that hundreds of thousands of Myanmar citizens have been protesting over the last month. The military threatened protesters with the possibility of imprisonment and said that “protestors are risking their lives by turning out”. People are continuing to protest despite these threats and as I look today I see that a U.N. official reported that there were 38 people were killed this last Wednesday during a crackdown.

These protests are being compared to demonstrations on August 8th, 1988 in Myanmar, known as the 8888 uprising. The military cracked down on these demonstrations, killing hundreds of protestors and making it one of the most violent protests in Myanmar’s history.