caffeine, alcohol, and medications - wellrx blog image

By Jacob Silvers, PharmD Candidate, Class of 2020
University of Arizona

Caffeine and alcohol are two widely consumed products. Over 85% of people in the U.S. consume at least 1 caffeinated drink per day, and according to the CDC over 50% of adults are regular alcohol drinkers. Most people know not to mix alcohol and Tylenol, but both alcohol and caffeine can interact with other prescription medications in unpredictable ways.

What is a Medication Interaction?

A medication interaction occurs when two or more medications are taken at the same time, and they alter each other’s effects. Medications can act on the same part of the body or be broken down by the same enzyme. If the medications are trying to occupy the same metabolic or body process they can compete, synergize, or act unexpectedly. Many interactions with caffeine and alcohol are based results that increase the effect and side effects of your medications.

What Should I Know About Caffeine?

Caffeine is a stimulating agent. It can raise your heart rate and promote wakefulness. Medications that have stimulating effects can be enhanced with caffeine and become overwhelming for your body. This occurs because these both the medication and caffeine activate your sympathetic nervous system also known as sympathomimetic drugs. Common stimulants that may interact with caffeine include:

  • Adderall
  • Vyvanse
  • Ephedrine
  • Sudafed

Another type of interaction between a medication and caffeine might occur if both are metabolized by the same enzyme in the liver. For example, taking a medication like givosiran (used for Porphobilinogen synthase deficiency) may lower your breakdown of caffeine. Medications that might interact with caffeine through liver enzymes include:

  • Depression and anxiety medications known collectively as SSRIs or SNRIs
  • Medications for irregular heartbeat
  • Antipsychotics
  • Some asthma and COPD medications
  • Broad spectrum antibiotics known as quinolones.

What You Should Know About Alcohol

Alcohol is known to interact with a wide variety of medications, including over the counter medications. Alcohol can make you sleepy or drowsy and excessive amounts of alcohol can suppress or alter bodily functions. Medications like Xanax and Percocet (which also has Tylenol) in combination with alcohol can result in serious side effects like respiratory depression or death. The National Institute of Health has an extensive guide on mixing medications with alcohol. The list has medications from almost every category including

  • Colds
  • Anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Arthritis
  • Blood clots
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Seizures
  • Pain
  • Many others

Key Takeaways

Caffeine will interact with most stimulant medications and should be closely monitored if you are taking any stimulants. Caffeine only has a few enzyme-based interactions and is fine with most medications after a discussion with your healthcare provider. Alcohol will interact with most medication and has a handful of life-threatening interactions. Bottom line, medications and alcohol do not mix.

References:

  1. Age-Adjusted Percent Distribution (with Standard Errors) of Alcohol Drinking Status among Adults Aged 18 and over, by Selected Characteristics: United States. CDC, 2018, ftp.cdc.gov/pub/Health_Statistics/NCHS/NHIS/SHS/2018_SHS_Table_A-13.pdf.
  2. Mitchell, Diane C, et al. “Beverage Caffeine Intakes in the U.S.” Food and Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal Published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24189158
  3. “Dangers of Mixing Alcohol with Caffeine and Energy Drinks.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/caffeine-and-alcohol.htm.
  4. “Harmful Interactions.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 5 June 2019, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/harmful-interactions-mixing-alcohol-with-medicines.

how to store insulin - wellrx blog image

Insulin is a life-saving medication for people with diabetes, but it can also be hard to keep it stored correctly. Insulin that isn’t kept in the right conditions may not be effective. Here are some storage tips to keep in mind. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your specific type or brand of insulin.

Get the Right Temperature

Insulin is very sensitive to temperature. Store your vial or insulin pen in the refrigerator until you open it. The temperature should be between 36 and 46 Fahrenheit (2.2 to 7.8 Celsius); use a thermometer in the fridge to get an accurate reading.

Store insulin at room temperature once you open it. Avoid direct sunlight and extreme heat or cold (such as the freezer or a hot car). Although it can seem like a good idea to keep a back-up supply of insulin in your glove compartment, keep in mind that your car is often subject to extreme heat and cold.

Keep Track of When You Opened the Insulin

When you open a new insulin vial or pen, write down the date and dispose of it after 10 to 28 days have passed. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to confirm how long your type of insulin will last, but most have a lifespan in this range. Always dispose of insulin after the manufacturer’s expiration date, regardless of when it was opened.

Visually Inspect Your Insulin Before Every Use

As an added precaution, always inspect your insulin before you use it. Look for particles, discoloration, clumps, frost, or crystals. Make sure the insulin is clear, not cloudy.

How to Store Insulin When Traveling

It can be more challenging to store insulin when you’re traveling. Plan ahead before your vacation and be careful where you leave your diabetes supplies while on vacation. Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep in mind.

If you’re flying:

Pack insulin in your carry-on bag. Checked baggage may be subjected to more extreme temperatures. Also keep some insulin in a smaller bag or purse so that you can have it with you during the flight.

When going through airport security, be mindful of the X-ray machine. According to the CDC, the machines can damage an insulin pump or glucose monitor. People with these devices should ask for an alternative security inspection.

If you’re driving:

Store insulin in a cooler, but avoid direct contact with ice or a gel pack. Don’t leave any of your diabetes supplies (blood sugar monitor, test strips, etc.) in a hot car. If you stop for more than a few minutes, bring your supplies with you.

What to Do if Your Insulin Is Damaged While Traveling

If your insulin is frozen, exposed to extreme heat, or you notice the appearance is off, don’t use it. Locate a nearby pharmacy for a new supply of insulin. You should be able to get a prescription in a different state in most cases. It’s a good idea to take a medication order (paper copy of your Rx) with you on vacation. Alternatively, you can transfer your prescription or ask your doctor to call it in to the pharmacy.

Properly storing insulin is just one of the challenges of living with diabetes. Cost is another major concern for patients. In recent years, insulin prices have gone up.

Some patients struggle to pay for their medication. If you’re one of them, try searching for your prescription on WellRx.com. We offer discounts on many types of insulin and other diabetes medications. You may even find that our discounted price is better than your insurance co-pay!

celebrex-vs-mobic - wellrx blog image

By Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD

Over 54 million people in the United States have arthritis, and about one in four adults with arthritis have severe joint pain. Arthritis is a chronic degenerative disease of the joints that occurs when the lining that prevents the bones in your joints from rubbing together breaks down. The result is pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased mobility of the affected joint.

The drugs most commonly used to treat symptoms of arthritis are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), two of which are Celebrex (celecoxib) and Mobic (meloxicam).

What Are Celebrex and Mobic?

Celebrex and Mobic are NSAIDs used to relieve symptoms of arthritis and to treat other conditions. Celebrex is available in 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, and 400 mg capsules. Mobic is available in 7.5 mg and 15 mg tablets.

How Do Celebrex and Mobic Work?

Celebrex and Mobic both work by inhibiting the enzymes that promote the release of substances (prostaglandins) in your body that produce pain and inflammation. The difference is that Celebrex only inhibits the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and Mobic inhibits both COX-1 and COX-2.

The COX-1 enzyme protects the lining of your stomach from acid. By selectively inhibiting COX-2, Celebrex is less likely to cause stomach bleeding than Mobic.

What Conditions Do Celebrex and Mobic Treat?

Celebrex can be used to treat the following conditions:

  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in patients two years and older
  • arthritis of the spine (ankylosing spondylitis)
  • acute pain
  • menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea)

Mobic is indicated to treat the following:

  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in children who weigh 60 kg (132 pounds) or more

How Fast Do Celebrex and Mobic Work?

Celebrex can reach peak concentration levels in your blood about 3 hours after taking a dose. Peak concentrations of Mobic are reached up to 5 hours after taking the medication. However, a second peak occurs about 12 to 14 hours after the first dose. This means that Celebrex works faster than Mobic, but the effects of Mobic may last longer than that of Celebrex.

What Are the Side Effects of Celebrex and Mobic?

The most common side effects seen with Celebrex include:

  • stomach pain
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles
  • accidental injury
  • runny nose
  • sinus problems
  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • rash

The most common side effects seen with Mobic include:

  • upset stomach
  • diarrhea
  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • flu-like symptoms

Although both Celebrex and Mobic have the potential to cause cardiovascular problems, including heart attack and stroke, one study showed that Celebrex is less likely to cause cardiovascular issues than Mobic.

Additionally, due to its mechanism of action, Celebrex is less likely to cause stomach bleeding and ulcers than Mobic.

What Medications Interact with Celebrex and Mobic?

You should not take Celebrex if you are taking any of the following medications:

  • cidofovir (Vistide)
  • ketorolac (Toradol)
  • thioridazine (Mellaril)

Do not take Mobic if you are taking:

  • cidofovir (Vistide)
  • ketorolac (Toradol)

You should not take aspirin or other NSAIDs while taking Celebrex or Mobic. All NSAIDs, including Celebrex and Mobic, should be stopped if you are taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), enoxaparin (Lovenox), and rivaroxaban (Xarelto).

This list does not represent all possible drug interactions for Celebrex and Mobic. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have about your medication with your pharmacist.

Which Is Better — Celebrex or Mobic?

The choice between Celebrex and Mobic depends on several factors, including which condition you are treating, what other medications you are taking, and the side effects of the drugs.

If you are seeking faster relief from your arthritis pain, Celebrex may be a better option; however, if you are looking for longer-lasting effects, Mobic may be the better choice.

If you are treating rheumatoid arthritis in children, Celebrex can be used in children as young as two years old without regard to a minimum weight.

How Much Do Celebrex and Mobic Cost?

The cost of Celebrex and Mobic varies based on your insurance coverage, where you live, and where you shop. As of the time this article was written, the average retail prescription cost for 30 celecoxib (generic for Celebrex) 200 mg capsules is about $190. The average retail prescription cost for 30 meloxicam (generic for Mobic) 15 mg tablets is about $26.

Remember to consider several factors when deciding which medication is right for you. Your healthcare provider will prescribe medicine according to your symptoms and medical conditions. If your insurance does not cover your mediation, you can use a prescription discount card to get the lowest price at a pharmacy near you.

How Do Prescription Discount Cards Work?

Prescription discount cards, or prescription savings cards, help you obtain the lowest prescription price for your medication. If your insurance does not cover your medication or the cost is too high on insurance, a free Rx savings card may save you up to 80% or more off the retail price. You can use the ScriptSave® WellRx discount card for the best prescription savings at a pharmacy near you.

Rosanna Sutherby is a freelance medical writer who has been a practicing pharmacist in her community for close to 20 years. She obtained her Doctor of Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She utilizes her clinical training in the pharmacy, where she helps patients manage disease states such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many others. Dr. Sutherby reviews and recommends drug regimens based on patients’ concurrent conditions and potential drug interactions.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/arthritis.htm

https://www.wellrx.com/hn/us/assets/health-condition/osteoarthritis/~default/

https://www.wellrx.com/celebrex/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/mobic/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/hn/us/assets/health-condition/rheumatoid-arthritis/~default/

https://www.wellrx.com/hn/us/assets/health-condition/dysmenorrhea/~default/

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=8d52185d-421f-4e34-8db7-f7676db2a226#S5.2

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=676e73fb-51d2-449a-8749-1a7bcc257b11

https://link.springer.com/article/10.2165/00002018-200629030-00009

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/celebrex/houston,%20tx%2077023,%20usa

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/mobic/houston,%20tx%2077023,%20usa

https://www.wellrx.com/

https://www.wellrx.com/rx-discount-card/enroll/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/https://www.wellrx.com/prescription-discount-card

lower blood pressure heart image- wellrx blog

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

With the current storm of attention-grabbing news headlines, it’s easy to lose track of the biggest threats to your life as an American: heart disease and stroke. These two leading causes of death in the United States are highly connected to high blood pressure, a condition that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), affects nearly half of adults in the United States.

The omnipresence of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be intimidating. However, you are very much in control of this health parameter, and you can take a number of measures to avoid ever developing the condition.

Check out the following primer on six ways to lower your blood pressure without prescription medication. 

1. Weight Loss

Your circulatory system — the network that distributes blood from your heart to your peripheral organs and then siphons blood back to your heart — is one continuous web of blood vessels. Any excess body fat can put pressure on these vessels, making it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout the system and necessitating an increase in blood pressure. Imagine the corollary of inflating a balloon: by pinching the neck of the balloon as you are blowing in air, you narrow the free-flowing stream. This means you have to blow much harder to inflate the balloon than if you left the neck unpinched.

The good news about body weight and blood pressure is that research shows even modest weight loss, classified as less than 5 percent of body weight, can reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by 23 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 9 mmHg. This means that for a person who weighs 200 pounds, it would take less than a 10-pound weight loss to drop blood pressure from 150/90 to 127/81.

2. Stop Smoking

Cigarette smoking affects blood pressure by increasing the stiffness of the arteries and activating our sympathetic nervous systems (the fight-or-flight stress response). However, these effects are reversible, and research shows that smoking cessation can reduce blood pressure readings.

There’s other great news, too, when it comes to smoking and general cardiovascular risk: 15 years after you stop smoking, your risk of cardiovascular disease will be the same as that of someone who has never smoked.

3. Exercise

Exercising undoubtedly spikes your blood pressure in the short term, but a workout can have a long-lasting positive effect on your baseline blood pressure. Many reviews have examined the impact of exercise on blood pressure. One study, in particular, found that aerobic exercise can lower blood pressure by 5–7 mmHg, and resistance training can lower blood pressure by 2–3 mmHg.

These effects may seem modest, but they rival the effects of prescription blood pressure medication and can still lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 to 30 percent. Better yet, exercising one day a week has been found to be just as effective — or even more effective — than taking prescription medication when it comes to reducing your risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. Don’t delay: lace up those shoes and get going!

4. Sleep Better

Sleep and blood pressure perform a delicate dance. Sleep challenges, such as not getting enough sleep, getting too much sleep, and having trouble falling asleep, have all been shown to drive up blood pressure.

There is a sweet spot, though: research has shown that people who get seven hours of nightly sleep have the lowest risk when it comes to sleep’s effect on blood pressure. Getting less than five hours seems to have the most negative impact. If you are struggling to sleep well at night, make sure to seek help with troubleshooting your shuteye.

5. Eat for Blood Pressure

Your daily food choices can greatly impact your risk of ever developing hypertension. Experts have honed in on certain foods and dietary regimens that are associated with lower blood pressure.

The DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, plan is one of the easiest and most effective tools at your disposal when it comes to nonpharmaceutical ways to control blood pressure. It is easy to stick with and features the following fundamentals:

  • Freely eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Freely eat fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and oils
  • Avoid saturated fat, fatty meats, high-fat dairy products, and sugar-sweetened drinks and treats

It can be intimidating to make changes to your grocery list, but ScriptSave® WellRx has you covered with our handy Grocery Guidance. This app combines nutritional science with personalized AI to help you figure out which grocery products are the very best for your lifestyle.

6. Meditate

Channeling your inner aura may not only improve your outlook, it may also help reduce your blood pressure. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials that was published in the journal Hypertension found that deliberate meditation can meaningfully reduce blood pressure readings. Nontranscendental meditation (i.e., mindfulness meditation) was found to be more effective than transcendental meditation, but both appeared to have a positive impact.

Without a doubt, hypertension is a silent disease whose long-term consequences can be devastating. Luckily, you have control in the fight against high blood pressure, even without prescription medication, and you can get started on the above tips today.

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644874/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3212429/

https://www.who.int/tobacco/quitting/benefits/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589552/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4543249/

https://www.wellrx.com/grocery-guidance/

https://journals.lww.com/jhypertension/Abstract/2017/04000/Meditation_and_blood_pressure__a_meta_analysis_of.5.aspxhttps://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-courage-be-present/201001/how-practice-mindfulness-meditation

stressed from coronavirus - wellrx blog image

By Karen Eisenbraun, CHNC

If you’re feeling flaky and exhausted these days, you’re not alone. Whether you’re isolated at home or continuing to go to work, all of us are dealing with tremendous change and uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Anxiety over coronavirus can manifest in myriad ways. Many people are experiencing symptoms such as insomnia, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, and lower energy levels. 

The situation surrounding coronavirus is likely to remain uncertain for a long time, so it’s important to establish good practices that help safeguard your mental and emotional health as conditions evolve. Try some of these approaches for protecting your emotional well-being during the pandemic. 

Practice Self-Compassion

First, understand that it’s perfectly normal to feel tired and scattered during times of uncertainty. If you find yourself being less productive than usual, don’t beat yourself up. Resist the urge to compare yourself to people on social media who claim to be using their surplus of downtime to organize their closets or learn a new language. Accept that this situation is temporary, and you are entitled to adjust your ideas of what it means to be productive.

Recognize that even small acts can be important accomplishments right now. If all you do during the day is get up, get dressed, make your bed, feed your family, and get some work done, let that be enough. Just like the changing of the seasons, we go through different periods of productivity and rest during our lives. Let this be a time of rest, and let go of the need to be constantly accomplishing something. 

Practice Good Self-Care

The term “self-care” often conjures up images of bubble baths and pedicures, but it’s much more than that. Self-care can be taking whatever steps are necessary to protect your well-being and peace of mind. That may mean blocking certain people on social media, or taking a break from social media altogether. 

Good self-care during this time may mean scheduling some time during the day to sit quietly with a cup of coffee, away from the incessant stress of the news cycle. It may mean taking the dog for a long walk and enjoying being in nature. Schedule time to engage in whatever activities help you feel more grounded. 

Create a New Routine

Many of us have had our routines upended. We may be working from home, or may be furloughed, or may have kids who need help with online classes. Even if we’re returning to our place of work, it may look very different than it did before. 

It may be a long time before things return to anything that resembles what we think of as “normal,” but we can create a new normal. Research shows that having a consistent routine is good for both physical and emotional health. 

Having a routine can help reduce stress. A set routine makes situations feel more predictable and controllable. It also helps reduce the number of decisions you have to make throughout the day, which allows you to conserve mental energy for important decisions. 

A regular routine can also help improve your sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night, and establish a nighttime routine that includes turning off electronic devices at a designated time. 

Consider creating a morning routine that helps you start the day on a positive note. Instead of getting up and going straight to the computer for work, take some time to journal, meditate, and plan your day. Identify three things you would like to accomplish for the day—but make them realistic and attainable. Being able to cross items off your list can help you feel more in control, but don’t stress if you don’t get them all done. 

Get Some Exercise

It’s well documented that physical activity reduces stress, and boosts the immune system as well. Like everything else, your exercise routine may look very different than it did before the pandemic. Rather than a high-intensity spin class, shift to gentler forms of exercise. Try yoga, which is associated with reduced stress and improved cardiovascular function. 

If weather and your location allow, simply going for a walk is also associated with numerous benefits, including improved mood and lower risk of chronic disease. 

Above all, allow yourself to find joy and peace where you can without feeling guilty about it. Focus on the things you have to be grateful for, whether that’s steady income, a safe place to shelter, or healthy family members. If you feel anxious or depressed to the extent that you could benefit from professional health, seek out a support group or find a therapist who offers telehealth services. You don’t have to face the uncertainty alone. 

Karen Eisenbraun is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She holds an English degree from Knox College and has written extensively about topics related to holistic health, clinical nutrition, and weight management.

References: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/health-benefits-of-having-a-routine

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/stress/physical-activity-reduces-st

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-benefits-of-yoga

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

https://www.prevention.com/fitness/a20485587/benefits-from-walking-every-day/https://www.psychologytoday.com/us

loved ones fighting coronavirus - wellrx blog image

By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC

It is highly likely that you know someone who is working the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. When you think of frontline workers, you may envision a nurse in scrubs or a doctor with his stethoscope. It’s important to remember that many other individuals are tirelessly working during the pandemic who are not doctors or nurses. These people include grocery store workers, delivery drivers, food service workers, EMTs, police officers, and janitorial staff.

From doctors to grocery store employees, workers are being traumatized on a daily basis and may be struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Essential Workers

What characterizes an essential worker is highly debatable among Americans. One thing we know for certain is that over the past several months, many people have been forced out of their jobs through furloughs and layoffs, while others have been expected to report to work as usual with the added risk of contracting the coronavirus. In fact, across the United States, more than 2 million grocery store workers have reported working in some of the most hard-hit cities across the country, and many of them have lost their lives to COVID-19.

Police officers, janitors, delivery drivers, food service workers, and EMTs are deemed essential and are unable to perform their duties through the screen of a Zoom call. People in these professions also risk their lives and expose themselves to the possibility of contracting the virus and potentially bringing it home to their families. For example, as of April 2, 2020, the Detroit Police Department had quarantined over 600 employees, and 78 had tested positive for the virus. Police officers have to respond to 911 calls as part of their oath to serve, and the same goes for EMTs. Janitors are needed to sterilize and sanitize places such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other high-risk places without the option of refusing.

Healthcare Workers and COVID-19

As of April 15, 2020, as many as 9,300 healthcare workers have been infected with the coronavirus, and 27 have died from it. Each day, healthcare workers are interacting with people who are sick and highly contagious. They have to make life-altering decisions within seconds, and the toll that takes on their mental health can be astronomical. The pandemic’s effect on the mental health of healthcare workers may not be fully realized until after the pandemic.

Mental Health Toll on Frontline Workers

It is no surprise that many essential workers (and nonessential workers) are reporting an increase in mental health problems such as anxiety, stress, burnout, and fear. Each day, essential workers interact with other people who either already have the coronavirus or could potentially have it. Fears about catching the virus, becoming ill, bringing the virus home to family members, and potentially losing their own lives are real concerns that essential workers live with each day.

Every shift, our front line and essential workers risk their lives and the lives of their families to help their community and their fellow human beings. These workers face unrelenting and daunting tasks each day and jeopardize their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Related Content: Anxiety and Depression Medications in the Global Crisis

What You Can Do

You probably know or love someone who is an essential worker. The worry and concern you have for them is valid and understandable. However, you can take several steps to support them during this time.

First and foremost, be patient and compassionate. Your loved one is highly likely to be experiencing extremely high stress, anxiety, and/or depression, which may make them more irritable, frustrated, or sad. Try to remember that you are not the cause of their increased stress and irritability. Additional things to consider include:

  • Make them a favorite meal: Making someone you love a meal is one way to show your love and care for them; also, most people find comfort in food.
  • Validate their stress and other emotions: Verbalize that you understand they are stressed out, and acknowledge that what they are doing is in fact very difficult. Validate that any emotions they are feeling are okay and make sense given the circumstances.
  • Positively reinforce them: Acknowledge how hard they are working. Have conversations that focus on things your loved one wants to do when the pandemic slows down and they have time off; this includes talking about and planning a vacation.
  • Let them know you love them: Send a text, make a phone call, leave a message, or mail a card. Sometimes the simplest acts can have the biggest impact.
  • Lighten their burden: Offer to do something for them that makes their life easier. Examples can include picking up their groceries, making and dropping off cookies, or folding laundry that has been sitting on the kitchen table.

It is important that we all do our best to support our essential and frontline workers. The pandemic and the threat of COVID-19 can take a toll on everyone’s health and wellness. Remember that this situation is temporary, and, together, we will get through it.

Jacquelyn Buffo is a licensed professional counselor with experience and expertise in substance abuse and mental health issues. She received her MS in mental health counseling from Capella University and is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the state of Michigan. She is also in the process of receiving her certification in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Jacquelyn has experience working with clients suffering from addiction and mental health issues on an in-home, residential, and outpatient basis. Currently, she works with adolescents and adults with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through Henry Ford Health System.

References:

https://www.brookings.edu/interactives/meet-the-covid-19-frontline-heroes/

https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2020/ask-the-expert-protecting-police-and-first-responders-during-covid-19/

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/04/15/834920016/at-least-9-000-u-s-health-care-workers-sickened-with-covid-19-cdc-data-showshttps://time.com/5817435/covid-19-mental-health-coronavirus/

depression from coronavirus - wellrx blog image

By Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD

The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected the physical health and the mental health of millions worldwide. Nearly half of American adults report in a recent poll that their mental health has been negatively affected by stressors related to COVID-19, and the use of support hotlines and other mental health resources has drastically increased compared to a year ago.

If you are experiencing new or resurgent symptoms of anxiety or depression due to the current global crisis, you are not alone. Reaching out to a healthcare provider can help you obtain the care and support needed during these difficult times.

A conversation with your provider will help you determine if you need medication to help relieve your symptoms. The following are some common medicines used to treat anxiety and depression.

Medications That Treat Anxiety

The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes, like increased blood pressure.” If you need medication to treat your anxiety, your doctor may prescribe any of the following:

  • antidepressants
  • buspirone (Buspar)
  • benzodiazepines

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are the first line of treatment for anxiety disorder. Two types of antidepressants used to treat anxiety are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SSRIs and SNRIs work by increasing the amount of chemicals in your brain that help regulate your mood. SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, and SNRIs increase both serotonin and norepinephrine.

SSRIs used to treat anxiety include the following:

SNRIs used for anxiety include the following:

There are some common side effects seen with antidepressants, including:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • restlessness
  • changes in appetite
  • problems with sleep
  • problems with orgasms or decreased interest in sex

If you are taking antidepressants to treat your anxiety, let your healthcare provider know if your symptoms worsen or if you do not feel better. It may take a few weeks before you feel the effects of SSRIs or SNRIs. Call your doctor if you suddenly feel agitated, anxious, or aggressive while taking your medication.

You should avoid drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants because it can interfere it the action of the medication.

Buspirone

Buspirone (Buspar) is an antianxiety medication that your doctor may prescribe for long-term treatment of anxiety. The most common side effects reported by those taking buspirone include:

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • headache
  • nervousness
  • lightheadedness

Be sure to maintain your regular appointments with your healthcare provider to evaluate your progress while taking this medication.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are generally used for short-term treatment of anxiety symptoms. They work quickly at reducing anxiety but should not be used regularly or long-term since they can be habit-forming.

Benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety include:

Side effects related to benzodiazepines include the following:

  • drowsiness
  • blurred vision
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • confusion

You should not drive or engage in activities that require alertness while you are taking benzodiazepines. Do not drink alcohol or take other medications that cause drowsiness if you are taking benzodiazepines.

Medications That Treat Depression

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a leading cause of disability around the world. Over 264 million people worldwide, including 16 million Americans, are living with depression.

Depression is a condition that causes prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest. Treatment for depression includes several modalities of psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication.

Medicines that your doctor may prescribe to treat depression include the following:

  • SSRIs
  • SNRIs
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

SSRIs

Healthcare providers usually begin medication treatment of depression with SSRIs. These newer medications have fewer side effects than older drugs and are generally safer to use.

Drugs in the class of SSRIs include the following:

SNRIs

SNRIs are similar to SSRIs; they work by increasing the amount of norepinephrine as well as serotonin in your brain. Examples of SNRIs include:

  • venlafaxine (Effexor)
  • duloxetine (Cymbalta)

SSRIs and SNRIs have similar side effects, which include the following:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • restlessness
  • changes in appetite
  • problems with sleep
  • problems with orgasms or decreased interest in sex

You may not feel the effects of SSRIs or SNRIs during the first few weeks of treatment. This is normal. It generally takes at least two weeks before the medication starts working. Seek immediate help if your depressive symptoms worsen or if you have feelings or thoughts of hurting yourself.

Atypical Antidepressants

Other antidepressants work by different pathways and are sometimes added to treatment with SSRIs or SNRIs. Some atypical antidepressants include:

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants include medications such as:

  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • protriptyline (Vivactil)

These are older antidepressants that have been largely replaced by SSRIs.  Due to the high incidence of severe side effects, these medications are generally used only if treatment with SSRIs was unsuccessful.

MAOIs

MAOI antidepressants, such as phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and isocarboxazid (Marplan), are used rarely because they have dangerous interactions with foods and other medications. MAOIs cannot be combined with SSRIs or SNRIs.

How to Get the Lowest Prescription Price for Your Anxiety and Depression Medication

Whether you are taking one prescription or several to treat your symptoms of anxiety or depression, always compare prescription prices before heading to a pharmacy near you. You can use your prescription savings card to obtain the best price for your medication.

Rosanna Sutherby is a freelance medical writer who has been a practicing pharmacist in her community for close to 20 years. She obtained her Doctor of Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She utilizes her clinical training in the pharmacy, where she helps patients manage disease states such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many others. Dr. Sutherby reviews and recommends drug regimens based on patients’ concurrent conditions and potential drug interactions.

References:

https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/

https://news.wellrx.com/2020/05/18/may-is-mental-health-awareness-month/

https://www.apa.org/topics/anxiety/

https://www.wellrx.com/escitalopram%20oxalate/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/paroxetine%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/duloxetine%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/venlafaxine%20hcl%20er/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/buspirone%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/alprazolam/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/clonazepam/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/lorazepam/drug-information/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

https://www.nami.org/nami/media/nami-media/infographics/generalmhfacts.pdf

https://www.wellrx.com/hn/us/assets/health-condition/depression/~default/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356013

https://www.wellrx.com/fluoxetine%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/citalopram%20hbr/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/sertraline%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/bupropion%20xl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/mirtazapine/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/nefazodone%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/trazodone%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/

https://www.wellrx.com/rx-discount-card/enroll/

covid drug shortages - wellrx blog image

By Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in numerous ways, including disrupting the supply of some medications. You may have wondered why the pharmacy near you is short on supply of some of your medicines. Drug shortages are the product of many factors, including manufacturing issues and shortages in critical ingredients necessary to produce the drugs.

Your medications are composed of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), which is the part of the drug that does the work, and excipients, which many people refer to as “fillers.” About 80% of APIs used to make drugs sold in the United States are manufactured abroad.

The majority of suppliers for active ingredients are located in China and in India, and worldwide shutdowns of manufacturing plants have interrupted the supply of ingredients essential in the production of many drugs.

What Causes Drug Shortages?

Several factors may contribute to drug shortages, including the following:

  • manufacturing problems
  • shortage of active ingredients, or APIs
  • increased demand
  • drug recalls
  • natural disasters
  • business decisions
  • regulatory issues

Many of the current drug shortages are due to manufacturing problems, shortage of APIs, and an increase in demand for drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19.

China and India are the two top suppliers of active ingredients and generic medicines, which account for 90% of the medications sold in the United States. Forty percent of generic and over-the-counter drugs used in the United States is supplied by India.

The shutdown of manufacturing plants in both China and India has interrupted the production of active ingredients necessary for the development of many medications in the United States and other parts of the world. Even as some of these plants begin to reopen, they will operate with limited capacity for some time, and shipments of raw materials will be slow.

What Medications Are Affected by COVID-19 Drug Shortages?

China makes the active ingredients for the majority of the antibiotics sold in the United States, as well as vitamin C, hydrocortisone, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, heparin, antidepressants, drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS, birth control pills, diabetes medicines, and more. India imports 70% of active ingredients from China to supply the United States with antibiotics, pain medication, hormones, antiviral drugs, and vitamins B1, B6, and B12.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) maintain lists of drugs that are in short supply. Although both lists are long, not all drug shortages are due to COVID-19 worldwide shutdowns. The following is a sample of some of the drugs with supplies affected by the coronavirus outbreak. A full list is available from the FDA and ASHP.

  • Albuterol sulfate metered-dose inhalers. These inhalers have an increased demand for patients with COVID-19. Several manufacturers are allocating their supplies to high-need areas.
  • Azithromycin tablets (Z-Pak): Azithromycin is one of the drugs studied in clinical trials for the treatment of COVID-19. Its shortage is a result of increased demand.
  • Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil): Manufactures report a delay in shipping as the reason for the shortage. This drug is also under study for COVID-19 treatment.
  • Fentanyl citrate injection: Fentanyl injection is used as a sedative and treats severe pain in patients on ventilators. Manufacturers report an increase in demand as the reason for the shortage.
  • Midazolam injection: Midazolam is used as a sedative in patients on ventilators. Manufacturers report increased demand as the reason for the shortage.
  • Vecuronium bromide injection: Vecuronium is used as a muscle relaxant during ventilation. This medication is in short supply due to increased demand.

What Is the United States Doing to Address Drug Shortages?

Although the United States relies heavily on supplies from overseas for drug manufacturing, government agencies are taking steps to address drug shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Strategic National Stockpile was created in 1999 to ensure the United States has an adequate supply of drugs and other resources in the case of public health threats, such as natural disasters, national security threats, and disease outbreaks. The Operational Logistics Branch is responsible for obtaining medicines and supplies for the stockpile, ensuring there is an adequate amount of medications and supplies to respond to emergencies, and ensuring the stockpile can supply states and public health agencies when medications and other supplies are needed.

As of May 13, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has increased staffing in the stockpile operation center and partnered with private industry to help with the medical supply chain and product delivery.

Additionally, the DEA has allowed increased production of controlled substances in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA has also proposed an initiative to lengthen expiration dates on drugs to increase the current supply.

How Can Pharmacies Help with Drug Shortages?

Your pharmacist can discuss alternatives with your doctor if your medicine is in short supply at your local pharmacy. The medication may be available in different strengths. Your pharmacist can explain if you need to increase the number of pills that you take or cut them in half. Sometimes, your doctor may change the medication to another one in the same class. The name of the drug, the strength, and the directions may differ, so be sure to talk to your pharmacist about taking your new medication.

Remember that you can use your free Rx savings card to obtain the lowest prescription price on your new or existing medications at a pharmacy near you.

Rosanna Sutherby is a freelance medical writer who has been a practicing pharmacist in her community for close to 20 years. She obtained her Doctor of Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She utilizes her clinical training in the pharmacy, where she helps patients manage disease states such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many others. Dr. Sutherby reviews and recommends drug regimens based on patients’ concurrent conditions and potential drug interactions.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3278171/

https://www.cfr.org/in-brief/coronavirus-disrupt-us-drug-supply-shortages-fda

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/24/us-drug-shortage-fears-grow-as-india-locks-down-due-to-the-coronavirus.html

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/drugshortages/default.cfm

https://www.ashp.org/Drug-Shortages/Current-Shortages/Drug-Shortages-List?page=CurrentShortages

https://www.wellrx.com/albuterol%20sulfate%20hfa/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/azithromycin/drug-information/

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-begins-clinical-trial-hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin-treat-covid-19

https://www.wellrx.com/hydroxychloroquine%20sulfate/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/fentanyl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/midazolam%20hcl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/vecuronium%20bromide/monographs/

https://www.phe.gov/about/sns/Pages/about.aspx

https://www.phe.gov/about/sns/Pages/responses.aspx

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2020/04/07/dea-takes-additional-steps-allow-increased-production-controlled

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-supply-chain-update

https://www.wellrx.com/family-prescription-savings

https://www.wellrx.com/

memorial day mishaps - wellrx blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

Our Memorial Day celebrations might look a little different this year as we attempt to integrate festivity and social distancing. However, some aspects of the summer holiday will remain constant. If you are planning on spending any amount of time outdoors, face masks and six-foot radiuses will not protect you from the five most common Memorial Day medical mishaps. Here’s how to stay safe and prepared.

1. Animal Bites and Insect Stings

Outdoor Memorial Day celebrations are often multispecies melting pots. Children are particularly vulnerable to animal bites and insect stings. In fact, after accidental falls, animal bites and insect stings are the second and third leading causes of nonfatal injuries resulting in emergency department visits in children ages 0 to 9, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Here’s what to do:

  • To limit the possibility of an animal bite, supervise your children around any unfamiliar animals. Any pets that tend to get overstimulated in new situations should be leashed or tucked away indoors.
  • To stay prepared in the fight against insects—particularly if you live in an area inhabited by fleas, ticks, and mosquitos, all of which transmit unseemly diseases—dress the family in hats, long-sleeve tops, and long pants, and don an insect repellent before heading outside.
  • Make sure to keep a supply of Benadryl and calamine lotion in stock for any insect contacts that do occur. And, if you or a loved one have a known insect allergy, you should always have an EpiPen within close range.

2. Heat-Related Illness

After being cooped up indoors for weeks on end, our bodies may be a bit shell-shocked by the first hot day of the summer. If the weather forecast predicts Memorial Day will be a scorcher, make sure to properly hydrate prior to any outdoor activities—particularly exercise—and keep up with fluid and electrolyte replenishment while you are outside.

Staying hydrated is particularly important if you will be drinking alcohol, which, as a natural diuretic, will work against your hydration efforts. If you or a loved one becomes extremely hot, tired, achy, dizzy, lightheaded, or confused, immediately seek a cooler environment and call for help because these may be signs of a medical emergency known as heat stroke.

3. Drowning

The swimming pool is a central aspect of life during the summer, and many community pools celebrate their grand opening over Memorial Day weekend. Though public pools may not be opening with full gusto this summer, backyard pools and even shallow play tubs still pose considerable risks for unsupervised children. According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children ages 1 to 4. To avoid potential calamity, children in this age group should always be supervised around standing water of any kind.

4. Sunburns

A bad sunburn could spoil your entire Memorial Day. If it’s bad enough, it could spoil many of the days following, and leave you vulnerable to downstream consequences like premature skin aging and skin cancer.

To avoid a burn, apply sunscreen liberally to any exposed areas of skin, especially if you plan to be outside during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a water-resistant product with broad spectrum coverage (UVA and UVB) that is 30 SPF or higher. Apply 15 minutes before heading outside, and reapply every two hours. For any spots that you inadvertently miss, aloe vera gel can help with damage control.

5. Barbecue-Related Injuries

Ah, the barbecue. This timeless symbol of summer and patriotic liberty also symbolizes many lurking hazards. Here’s how to avoid the top barbecue backfires.

  • Cuts and Scrapes. Will your patio spread be including a bountiful display of fruits and vegetables? All it takes is one misplacement of the knife and you may be serving up the tip of your finger along with the sliced watermelon. Make sure you do your chopping prior to imbibing, preferably in the area of your home where you normally prepare food. If you do sustain a scrape or slice in the line of duty, clean copiously with soap and water, wrap the wound with a pressure dressing, and keep it elevated. If it has been more than five years since your last tetanus shot, you will need to head to your local healthcare provider for a booster dose. If you’re up to date on vaccines and your bleeding is well-controlled, you can likely manage at home with Neosporin.
  • Food Poisoning. The first rule of barbecuing has been pretty well publicized: Don’t eat undercooked meat. However, side dishes pose dangers, too. If you absentmindedly go for a second helping of a mayonnaise-based salad after it has been incubating in the sun for hours, you may be in for a bout of gastrointestinal distress. In general, you should be suspect of any food that has been sitting in the sun for more than two hours, or one hour if the outside temperature is warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Burns. In the event of an unpredictable blaze, the master griller should have a prepoured bucket of water ready nearby in to rapidly douse any body part that accidentally gets too close to the flame. For any burns beyond first-degree skin redness (look for signs like blistering, skin whiteness, or exposure of underlying tissue), follow up with your healthcare provider. He or she can prescribe a burn medication, such as silver sulfadiazine, to help with inflammation and infection prevention. This medication can be expensive, so use a ScriptSave WellRx savings card to find the lowest price.

From all of us at ScriptSave, we wish you a happy Memorial Day. We hope that these guidelines will help you stay safe and enjoy celebrating the holiday in a novel way.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/child_injury_data.html

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0501-vs-vector-borne.html

https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you

https://www.wellrx.com/benadryl/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/epipen%202-pak/

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html

https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/aloe%20vera/

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001652.htm

https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2017/07/avoid-food-poisoning-during-summer-picnics/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/silver%20sulfadiazine/

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

mental health green ribbon - wellrx blog image

By Jacquelyn Buffo, MS, LPC, CAADC

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With the emergence of COVID-19 and the added financial, social, educational, and occupational stress, many people across the country are finding themselves dealing with increased emotional and mental distress. In fact, the national hotline designed to support people in psychological distress has increased 891% compared to this time last year.

What Is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental health has a controversial history. Hollywood’s depictions of insane asylums, questionable treatment practices, and lack of scientific research have contributed to the stigma that historically accompanied mental health. Thankfully, mental health has made its way into mainstream media and is becoming normalized and accepted more today than ever before. Our favorite athletes and celebrities are discussing their mental health diagnosis, challenges, and treatment and are encouraging others to do the same.

One out of every 5 American adults experiences a mental health disorder, and 1 out of 25 experiences a severe mental health disorder. Mental health disorders are an undeniable facet of reality, and it is crucial that the stigma and prejudice with mental health be eliminated. Treating and overcoming mental illness is possible, and the more we feel comfortable discussing our mental health issues, the more willing we are to receive treatment for it.

Unfortunately, only 43.3% of people with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2018. Many factors can account for this low number including apprehension about coming forward with a mental health disorder, lack of awareness as to possible treatment options, and lack of resources (insurance, financial, transportation) to get help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a big advocate for May being Mental Health Awareness Month. The goals of Mental Health Awareness Month are to raise awareness, reduce stigma, advocate for public health policies, provide support, and educate the public.

How You Can Support Mental Health Awareness Month

We all play a part in reducing the stigma and normalizing mental health and mental illness. Sharing your story with others is a great way to advocate and connect with people who are struggling with mental health issues. You can share your story on NAMI’s website and read others’ stories of challenges and triumphs.

In addition, you can take NAMI’s StigmaFree pledge. Making a pledge to be stigma-free means committing to intentionally use empowering words and actions that encourage acceptance and support for people with mental illness. Making this commitment is a way to advocate for mental health, and it empowers you to make a difference in ending the stigma associated with mental illness.

As the saying goes, money talks! Raising money for your favorite nonprofit or philanthropic endeavors is an effective way to provide support and resources. You can raise money in many different ways for NAMI or any other mental health organization. Some options include competing in a physical event while raising money for the event, creating your own campaign to raise support, celebrating your birthday by encouraging donations to your favorite organization in lieu of gifts, creating a memorial page for a person you have lost, or making a single or recurring monetary donation to your favorite mental health organization.

If you are short on coins, that’s okay. You can help in other ways that don’t cost money. Along with pledging to be StigmaFree and sharing your story with others, you can volunteer your time to a local mental health agency or community center. Donating your time to volunteering is an invaluable way you can advocate for mental health and contribute to ending the stigma.

Events that Support Mental Health Awareness Month

NAMI sponsors walks across the country throughout the summer to raise money, spread awareness, and increase advocacy for mental health. A list of walks (most of which are being done virtually in 2020) can be found here. It is not surprising that the list of events in 2020 is up in the air due to COVID-19. To stay up to date, you can follow NAMI on many social media platforms. They include:

  • Facebook: facebook.com/nami
  • Twitter: twitter.com/namicommunicate
  • Instagram: instragram.com/namicommunicate

Remember, you are not alone in your mental health journey. Millions of Americans experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Asking for help is key to managing mental illness. Having the courage to talk about your journey and to get treatment can help encourage others to do the same and help normalize the experience of mental illness.

Jacquelyn Buffo is a licensed professional counselor with experience and expertise in substance abuse and mental health issues. She received her MS in mental health counseling from Capella University and is a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the state of Michigan. She is also in the process of receiving her certification in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Jacquelyn has experience working with clients suffering from addiction and mental health issues on an in-home, residential, and outpatient basis. Currently, she works with adolescents and adults with Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through Henry Ford Health System.

References:

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/calls-us-helpline-jump-891-white-house-warned/story?id=70010113

https://www.nami.org/mhstats

https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Month

https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Month/Share-Your-Story

https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Pledge-to-Be-StigmaFree/StigmaFree-Me/StigmaFree-Pledge

https://www.namiwalks.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.eventList&eventType=C,I,P,T

insomnia from coronavirus - wellrx blog image

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep during the current pandemic, you are not alone. According to the Sleep Foundation, millions of Americans suffered from insomnia prior to the onset of the pandemic, and the current climate is likely increasing the number of people who are having difficulty sleeping. This may be due to a multitude of factors, such as altered routines, decreased access to exercise facilities, decreased exposure to natural light, increased screen time, and excessive worry. 

However, quality sleep is critical, now more than ever. Sleep is connected to improved immunity, better mental health, and higher stress resilience. Read on to learn more about how to improve your sleep during these uncertain and anxiety-ridden times.

Revamp Your Sleep Hygiene

The concept of “sleep hygiene” refers to the rituals that impact your nightly sleep routine, some of which occur long before your actual bedtime. If you have changed your schedule during the pandemic, it is quite possible that the comfortable circadian rhythm that previously drove your sleep schedule has been rudely disrupted. In order to get back on track, you can give yourself a sleep hygiene makeover by doing the following.

  • Reduce or eliminate your evening alcohol consumption, as booze can wreak havoc on your sleep quality, and lead to increased awakenings during the night.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake, particularly if you are in the habit of having an afternoon pick-me-up dose.
  • Remove any screens from your bedroom, and try your best not to engage with screens for at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
  • Expose yourself to more natural light during the day to increase your production of melatonin (a naturally occurring hormone involved in regulating the sleep cycle) and therefore recalibrate your circadian rhythm.
  • Try a calming activity before bed, such as a bath, aromatherapy, soothing music, or even a sleep meditation.
  • Try to stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time, preferably without too much variation from your normal pre-COVID routine.
  • Try to avoid naps; it is easy to pass out on the couch during the mid-afternoon when you are not otherwise occupied, but snoozing during the day can reduce your “sleep debt” and sabotage your attempts to fall asleep at night.

Exercise in the Morning

A daily bout of exercise can go a long way toward improving your sleep. Exercise boosts your endorphins, giving you a more optimistic outlook and more energy, and it also helps you “tire yourself out” so that you can sleep better at night. However, if you exercise too late in the day, your body and brain may be too activated to fall asleep. If you feel that a nighttime exercise session is causing you to have difficulty falling asleep, trying shifting your workout to the morning.

Eat Sleep-Friendly Foods

Certain eating behaviors–such as ingesting a large meal right before bedtime, or eating spicy or acidic foods—can definitely disrupt your sleep. However, the following foods are notorious for improving your sleep. 

  • Foods containing tryptophan can make you drowsy after ingesting them. Tryptophan is an amino acid that boosts serotonin and melatonin production. High tryptophan content foods include poultry (post-Thanksgiving turkey nap, anyone?), dairy, and eggs.
  • Foods that have a natural melatonin content can also help improve your sleep, as higher melatonin levels give your brain a stronger “sleep cue.” High melatonin foods include cherries, grains, and nuts.
  • Foods that contain high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, in particular, can improve your sleep quality, increasing your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep. Try a banana, dark leafy greens, or a handful of pumpkin seeds before bed to improve your snooze.

Consider a Sleep Supplement

To reduce your nocturnal angst, a sleep supplement may be helpful as well. Research has shown that supplementation with melatonin can decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, increase your amount of total sleep, and improve your quality of sleep. Many different formulations of melatonin are available over the counter. Check in with your healthcare provider about what regimen is right for you.  

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About a Prescription Medication for Sleep

Despite the above tips and tricks, it can still be difficult to manage insomnia on your own. If your attempts at troubleshooting your sleep woes have failed, it may be time to check in with your healthcare provider about other medications that can be helpful for sleep. After a review of your medical history and current medical conditions, your provider may recommend a trial of one the following sleep medications.

  • A short-term benzodiazepine, which can have a sedative effect. Examples include Lorazepam (Ativan) and Temazepam (Restoril)
  • A non-benzodiazepine sedative, such as Eszopiclone (Lunesta) or Zolpidem (Ambien)
  • An antihistamine, such as Doxepin
  • A melatonin receptor agonist, such as Ramelteon (Rozerem)
  • An oxerin receptor antagonist, such as Suvorexant (Belsomra)
  • A combination serotonin and histamine antagonist, such as Trazodone

If your healthcare provider prescribes you a sleep medication, make sure to use a ScriptSave WellRx savings card to find the lowest price. After initiating a prescription for sleep, your provider will likely recommend reevaluation within a few weeks to see how your sleep is progressing. If you continue to struggle with insomnia, your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for further improvement.

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

References:

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

https://www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-treatments/sleep-apps/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23691095

https://www.wellrx.com/melatonin/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/ativan/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/temazepam/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/lunesta/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/zolpidem/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/doxepin hcl/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/ramelteon/

https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/belsomra/https://www.wellrx.com/prescriptions/trazodone%20hcl/

operation relief - wellrx blog image

More than 33 million Americans have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. Many without jobs are now also without health insurance.

Sriptsave WellRx has created Operation Relief, a completely free-to-use program that will provide deeper discounts to bring even lower prices to all consumers, regardless of their employment, insurance or financial situation. No enrollment, email or sign-up is required. There are no fees or subscriptions required from any patient wishing to use the program, and no need to enter any debit or credit card details to get started. With the new program there are:

  • 6,000-plus drugs under $20
  • more than 4,572 drugs under $10
  • over 2,500 drugs under $5!

Just visit WellRx.com/Relief and download a card, search for the medication price and show the card at the pharmacy.

You can also get our free prescription discount app from the Apple Store and Google Play. Just download and use the invite code RELIEF for heavily discounted prices on your medications during the pandemic*.

Related content:

Out of Work and Health Insurance?

Best Ways to Save Money on Healthcare without Insurance

* Savings average 60%, with potential savings of up to 80% (based on 2019 national program savings data). All prescriptions are eligible for savings. Cannot be used in conjunction with insurance. To price your medications and to find participating pharmacies near you, visit: www.wellrx.com/relief.