Is Facebook Causing Depression?

Story by Anna M. Park.

You come home from work. It was a fair to middling day. Your boss didn’t yell at you, you didn’t totally cheat on your diet, and Andrew still hasn’t called. You sit down with a glass of wine, open your laptop, and start scrolling through Facebook. Brian finally tried a cronut. Jessica’s baby is growing some hair. Wow, Kris is looking really good. Tran got into that grad school? Sylvia took another vacation? Grace is engaged?!

You slam shut the laptop. Now you’re depressed.

Join the club. According to a 2013 study conducted by two German universities, one in three people felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook. Users felt envy, loneliness and isolation, with the most common cause of Facebook frustration stemming from others’ vacation photos. The second most common cause of envy was social interaction — feeling a “lack of attention” from having fewer birthday greetings, comments and “likes” compared to friends.

And it wasn’t just college students. The study found people in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness, while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness. After all, what is Facebook but an online brag book for all to see? A 20-something colleague recently summed it up when asked why she posted so much food porn on Facebook: “To make people jealous.”

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These findings aren’t new. Scientists coined the term “Facebook depression” after a 2011 study found that teens could be negatively affected by using the social networking site too much. Another study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, by sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge, concluded that “those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives.” Students who used Facebook longer also agreed less with the statement “Life is fair.” Moreover, the more Facebook “friends” a person had whom they did not know personally, the more they believed that others had better lives. And in Chou’s most recent study, she found that those with more Facebook friends cared less about their work performance, and those who frequently updated their Facebook profile liked their current job less and were more likely to think about changing jobs.

Granted, feeling unhappy is not the same thing as depression, but it could be said that Facebook may not be the best thing for an already susceptible population. After all, Asians are arguably the most wired people in the world, and we also bear the ignoble distinction of having the highest rates of depression. According to a 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Asian American teenage girls have the highest rate of depressive symptoms of any racial, ethnic or gender group. In fact, Asian American girls and women aged 15 to 24 die from suicide at a higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group, and suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among Asian Americans overall (only ninth for white Americans). It’s not just young women either; Asian American women over 65 have the highest suicide rate in that demographic. And while some studies find depressive symptoms in 35 percent of Chinese immigrants, among Southeast Asians, 71 percent meet the criteria for major affective disorders such as depression.

So should we get offline altogether? Many have, or at least minimize their usage; the researchers behind the German study concluded that “users frequently perceive Facebook as a stressful environment, which may, in the long run, endanger platform sustainability.” But you don’t have to be entirely anti-social; just do it face-to-face. In her study, Chou also found that those who spent less time on Facebook and more time socializing with friends in real life were less likely to report that they were unhappy. So get out there and really like something.

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

The Truth About Mammograms: To X-Ray or Not To X-Ray?

Story by Anna M. Park. 

When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced that women should not be getting mammograms until they reach 50, it ignited controversy within the medical community. For years, doctors have insisted on mammograms starting at 40, and the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen Foundation still recommend an annual mammogram starting at the age of 40, citing early detection key to saving lives. Just do a quick search and you’ll find stories of all sorts of young women in their 40s whose lives were saved from early detection. Nonetheless, most major health organizations have concluded that the modest survival benefits of mammography in women ages 40 to 49 outweigh the risks of false positives and further unnecessary procedures. So what’s a woman to do? Dr. Maggie DiNome, chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., who specializes in breast cancer surgery, answers our questions.

Q. My OB/gyn insists I get annual mammograms starting at 40, even though I have no family history. But the new U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends mammograms starting at 50, and then every two years. What do I do?

Dr. Maggie DiNome: You would need to weigh the data to know what is right for you. The U.S. Task Force came out with their consensus statement based on their recommendations of what is most efficient for screening, meaning what has the biggest bang for the buck for the population as a whole. According to their review of the existing data, starting mammograms at age 40 only results in one life out of 1,000 being saved. That might not seem like much, but if you were that one patient, it means the world.

So what is the trade-off for starting mammograms at age 40? Well, the argument is that it leads to more false positives, which leads to more unnecessary biopsies and imaging. It may also be finding stages of “cancer” (i.e. DCIS, or ductal carcinoma in situ) that truly do not need treatment, although currently we treat everyone diagnosed with DCIS because we don’t yet know who can safely avoid treatment. As a breast surgeon, I see more than one might expect of breast cancers diagnosed by routine mammograms in women in their 40s, so it’s hard for me to say “stop.” I wouldn’t necessarily argue that biennial mammograms is a bad thing though, and maybe a compromise would be biennial mammograms beginning at age 40. In Europe, it is this way.

My recommendation to you would be to start mammograms at age 40, and plan to get them every year or every other year.

 

Q. Even if a woman holds off on regular mammograms until she’s 50, should she get a baseline mammogram in her 40s?

Dr. DiNome: That’s a difficult question to answer because, if you are starting your screening at age 50, that means you agree with the U.S. Task Force data that it is not efficient to begin screening at age 40. So a baseline at that age would not make sense. There is no doubt that starting annual screening at age 40 reduces death from breast cancer, but the argument is that it is too low of a number to be considered significant. The probability of dying from breast cancer after age 40 is 3 percent. If you screen biennially between ages 50-74, you can reduce that to 2.5 percent. If you start screening annually at age 40, then you reduce it to 2.4 percent, which hardly seems significant when you talk about numbers. It’s just difficult when you equate it with a life because in my mind any life is worth saving.

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Q. I got a mammogram and was told I have dense breasts, which I believe most Asian women have. Should we insist on an ultrasound?

Dr. DiNome: Almost every premenopausal female will have dense breasts because it’s a reflection of the hormonal stimulation on our breast tissue. After menopause, there is significantly less (unless they’re on hormone replacement therapy) and the breast tissue becomes more replaced by fat. The downsides of mammograms are that they are notoriously less sensitive in a woman with dense breasts, and that’s why we don’t recommend beginning screening in a woman under age 40. The ability of the mammogram to show anything helpful in that scenario is so low it’s not worth doing. For women over 40 who have dense breasts, a mammogram should still be performed because it is the only imaging modality that will pick up calcifications reliably, and this can be one of the earliest signs of breast cancer. A screening ultrasound does have some value as an adjunctive screening test to a mammogram, but not in place of. I do think it is worthwhile for women with dense breasts to advocate for a screening ultrasound, but it is not yet a test that is covered by insurance for routine screening.

Q. The risk of breast cancer for Asian American women seems to be rising (compared to women in Asia) — is there anything in particular we should be doing to protect ourselves?

Dr. DiNome: I think this has a lot to do with adopting a western diet. Population studies have demonstrated that if you followed immigrants from Asia to America, that over two generations the risk of cancer increases significantly. Right now, the risk of breast cancer in Asia is five times less than the risk in America. My recommendation would be to adopt a more whole food, plant-based diet and to minimize the amount of animal protein, which we eat way too much of in the U.S. My husband and I went vegan a few years ago for the health effects. I have a strong family history of cancer (not the least of which is my father who died from colon cancer at age 39) and I now have 3 1⁄2-year-old twin girls. Because my husband and I had kids later in life, we feel it’s our responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that we will be around for them as long as possible. So we did a lot of research and we both independently concluded (my husband before me, mind you) that a vegan diet has the most evidence-based data for a cancer protective diet.


Dr. Maggie DiNome is the current chief of General Surgery at Saint John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. She is a board certified general surgeon, who focuses her clinical expertise on cancer surgery and advanced laparoscopic techniques. As a fellow of the Society for Surgical Oncology and a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, Dr. DiNome is particularly dedicated to caring for patients with breast and colorectal cancer. 

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

Fall 2012 | Mind and Body: Fighting Adult Acne

DEPT Mind and Body
Issue Fall 2013
Author Anna M. Park

HED: Fight the Blight

Acne affects 40 to 50 million Americans; nearly 85 percent of all people have acne at some point in their lives. And while acne medications abound to treat this most common skin disorder in the U.S., more and more experts are recommending lifestyle and diet changes to fight adult acne.

The best explanation I have ever found on adult acne is in celebrity dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu’s book, Feed Your Face (feedyourface.com). Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Wu espouses that what you eat does affect your complexion. According to Dr. Wu, “women with adult acne also tend to have higher levels of insulin in their blood, elevated androgens (the male sex hormone), and higher rates of insulin resistance than those without.” Androgens naturally spike around ovulation, which can lead to hormonal acne, usually showing up on the chin, neck and jawline. While there’s not much you can do about PMS, there hormone associated with increased oil production and clogged pores. are things you can do to minimize the hormonal effects on your complexion.

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Fall 2012 | Mind and Body: Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast

DEPT Mind and Body
Issue Fall 2012
Author Hilal Nakiboglu

 

HED: Blast Off

When we saw Ani Phyo’s latest book, Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast, we knew we had to try it. But first, Hilal Nakiboglu grills the Korean American organic chef and self-proclaimed “eco-stylist” about her incredible 15-day claim.

Audrey Magazine: What was your relationship with food like growing up?

Ani Phyo: Well, my dad had a terminal illness. He was raised in North Korea and there was tuberculosis in the water supply. The antibiotics they distributed were too strong and Dad had kidney failure as a result. He ended up having to get a kidney transplant and then he extended his life 10 or 12 years beyond what was expected because we moved out of the city and into the Catskills, to this mountain town literally in the middle of nowhere. There was one main street, one block of stores and that’s it. We had five acres of land and my parents grew their own food.

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Spring 2013 | Mind & Body: Sweet Slumber

DEPT: Mind & Body
AUTHOR: Anna M. Park
ISSUE: Spring 2013

“According to the Family Sleep Institute, the typical adult requires between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to restore, rebalance and repair all that was depleted from our bodies during the day. To that end, Karin Shieh, co-founder of the online home goods company Crane & Canopy (craneandcanopy.com), offers some quick tips for the bedroom to maximize our sleep experience as we transition into warmer weather.”

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Mind & Body | Detox & Cleanse

Spring cleaning’s not just about the house. After a season of over-indulging followed by months spent bundled up under a pile of layers, our bodies need some serious purging and purifying if we ever want to see the light of day.

ISSUE: Spring 2012

DEPT: Mind & Body

STORY: Audrey Staff

Skin

Seaweed is known for its detoxifying and restorative properties; birch as a skin toner and swelling reducer. Both are incorporated into the Seaweed Birch Wrapat Le Posh Salon, an invigorating wakeup call of a treatment. After an exfoliating dry brushing, the seaweed birch mask is painted on and then you’re wrapped in foil. Soon, your body feels like a giant Altoid — the mask is so cooling you’re practically shivering. A hot shower offers relief and your skin is left baby soft. Details Salonleposh.com.

Diet

Everyone from celebs to co-workers tout the purported wonders of the cayenne pepper-maple syrup cleanse. Personally, I think it’s an urban legend. I mean, a spicy, sticky liquid for two weeks? No
wonder you lose weight. Chef and nutritional therapist Gurpareet Bains, has a better idea. In his new book Indian Superspices, the Indian British author of the best-selling book Indian Superfood offers more natural (and tasty) detox remedies incorporating spices that metabolizefat, boost metabolism and suppress appetite. Try his green tea augmented with fat-metabolizing cinnamon and ginger, and appetite-suppressing fennel; the protein packed Prawn and Baby Spinach Quinoa Biryani; or the rich and creamy (yet “almost bereft of fat and calories”) Ultimate Detox Soup. (Go to AudreyMagazine.com/Indian-superspices for the recipe!) Details Gurpareetbains.co.uk.


Courtesy of Ricky’s NYC

Hangovers

There are plenty of hangover remedies. There’s only one that’s FDA-approved. Blowfish is hangover relief in a fizzing tablet you dissolve in water. Because of the effervescent delivery system, the results are more immediate: you rehydrate, a maximum dose of aspirin fights headaches, a neutralizing agent settles your stomach, and you get a hit of caffeine without the acidity of coffee. Staffer Y. Peter Kang gives us his minute-by-minute play-by-play:

10:52 am I just downed the 16 oz of fizzy water. It was not bad.

10:55 am Three minutes. Nothing yet. Still have a monster headache.

10:57 am Whoa, feels like my headache is actually a little worse. Wha??

11:03 am The tide has turned; I think I’m feeling better than pre-ingestion. Also feeling the effects of the caffeine. I can tell because I began reading an article about gold-infused peanuts with great interest.

11:26 am I am caffeinated, but I still have my headache. Started out a 7/10 headache; it’s now down to a 5. Not out of the woods yet.

12:05 pmThe headache’s down to a 3 — it’s dull and lingering. Caffeine was nice. Interesting alternative to drinking a cup of coffee and taking two Advil. Would try again.

Of course, the best hangover remedy is to not get drunk at all. If you think you’re drinking too much too often, you may need to detoxify from drugs and alcohol to achieve a full system cleanse.

Details Forhangovers.com.

Works For Me

Tara Miko Grayless, 35, was stressed out and suffering digestion problems in her job in the fashion industry. After a health food store owner educated her about the power of hemp, she decided to try it. According to Grayless, after several weeks of incorporating the super food into her diet, not only did her digestion improve, but “I lost 10 pounds, my energy levels skyrocketed and I was no longer overwhelmed by stress. My hair took on a new sheen, my nails grew stronger and my [dry] skin had a rosy glow.”

So the Japanese-Irish American started Happy Hemp to share “this gift with the world.” Touted as “the most nutritionally complete food source in the world,” hemp seeds are vegan and gluten-free, and boast nature’s highest botanical source of essential fatty acid (more than flax or any other nut or seed oil), says Grayless. Just sprinkle on yogurt or eat straight out of the bag.

And in case you’re wondering, no, you will not get high off hemp. “Hemp seeds have nothing to do with its distant cousin, marijuana,” says Grayless. “Hemp seeds are legal and you will not test positive on a drug test.” Snack away! Details Happy-hemp.com.


Vision Shock

It seems everyone I know makes a living in front of the computer, and the American Optometric Association confirms that 45 percent of all Americans spend more than five hours per day on a computer. Such prolonged use can lead to something called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which may include eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision and loss of focus. Add to that the fact that Asian Americans have a very high prevalence of nearsightedness (myopia) — upwards of 70 percent — and are at higher risk for age-related cataracts, according to a 2011 study by Transitions Optical with Wakefield Research. In honor of Save Your Vision Month (March), optometrist Dr. Brian Chouprovides some simple lifestyle changes we can make to minimize our risk for developing eye conditions.

1. We must be aware of the harmful damage that can be caused by the sun’s UV rays. UV rays are present 365 days of the year, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. See your eye doctor annually for a comprehensive exam to check for eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration, which have been linked to UV exposure. A comprehensive eye exam not only evaluates the need for glasses, but also eye muscle coordination, color-blindness and internal and external eye health, and can help to flag other health-related conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

2. Wear protective eyewear covering the entire eye area with UVA/UVB protection, such as sunglasses. If you wear prescription lenses, try Transitions lenses, which are everyday eyeglass lenses that automatically go from clear to dark when outdoors to block 100 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

3. Drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water each day to keep both the skin and eyes hydrated.

4. Maintain a balanced diet and be sure to eat fruits and vegetables containing vitamins A, C and E and beta- carotene — important for the body and the eyes.


Wax Eloquent

All of spring’s filmy, sheer clothes are going to make an extra smooth body all the more important. Rose Wu of Oasis Day Spa in New York offers some tips for waxing after a long winter break.

  • Prep time: You have to take care of your skin before andafter waxing. If you’ve been shaving, you have to let the hair grow to a certain length so the wax can grip the hair. Exfoliation is very important, as well as personal hygiene, so that there are no ingrown hairs or buildup of dry skin.
  • Constancy: Once you start waxing, it’s best to stick to waxing. Don’t shave in between your waxes — it’s bad for your skin and makes it harder to wax in the future.
  • What’s trendy: For bikini waxes, the best “style” depends on the client and her preferences. Lately, women are leaning towards leaving some hair, as opposed to a full Brazilian.

Details Oasisdayspanyc.com.

Feature Story | Booze Control

BOOZE CONTROL

Studies indicate that nearly 40 percent of Asian American women drink alcohol and, while that’s less than the 55.2 percent national average, we are at a higher risk for all sorts of medical issues due to our binge drinking. So why do we do it? Editor Janice Jann investigates.

ISSUE: Winter 2011-12

DEPT: Feature Story

STORY: Janice Jann

As I lean over the toilet bowl, my hair grazing the rim, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the water. “Who is this puke-strewn girl, bleary-eyed and green-faced, with her pajamas on backwards, staring back at me?” I think to myself. I mutter, “Never again, never a—,” before nausea sweeps in.

There have been many morning afters like this in the years I have been drinking, each time steeped with more regret than the last. Most of my peers have stories like mine. Many laugh, “Who hasn’t gone through it?”

As normal as binge drinking has become, new studies indicate that Asian American women may want to hold off on that second cocktail the next time they drink for reasons more than just avoiding the toilet bowl the next morning.

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You May Be Digesting this Deadly Ingredient Right Now (and Not Even Know It)

Author: Eugene Sung

Raise your hand if you were under the impression that the majority of the products sold at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s is good for you.  *Raises hand* Yes, I’ll admit it…I’m a Whole Foods whore. While there are a lot of healthy and nutritious items at these stores, don’t be so quick to believe that everything you’re buying is good for you. A perfect example of this is a common food additive called carrageenan, which can be found in items sold at ‘organic’ supermarkets.

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Elemis Spa Treatment

The end of the year is a ton of fun. Lots of holiday parties to attend, lots of family and friends to see. But it can also be a lot of stress. Lots of Christmas shopping to get done, lots of last-minute deadlines to finish up.

I’ve been feeling the grunt of hard work lately, with my entire body wounded tight like a knot.

That’s when you know it’s time to go to the spa!

I checked in at Bliss Spa at the W Hotel in Hollywood and was hooked up with an Elemis Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow for my entire body. It was (for lack of a better word) bliss.

After changing, I was offered some yummy champagne and crackers and cheese.  Then, I was led to the massage room where the treatment began.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m kind of a newbie at this whole body treatment stuff and it’s definitely a vulnerable state to be in.

Think about it, you’re naked and a specialist is dripping warm oil luxuriously all over your body.  Then, the exotic lime and ginger salt glow scrub is brushed on.  I kind of felt like a chicken getting ready to get baked.  (But in the best way possible!)

All of my anxieties subsided once I got on the massage bed.  Elemis is known for some of the most exotic and indulgent spa-therapies for face and body and it was definitely an unbeatably relaxing experience.  Catering to all my senses, I got to smell and feel the tranquility of the Elemis spa treatment for an entire hour.  It was far too short, if you ask me!

Bliss is also offering take-home versions of Elemis’ skin and body treatments available in all of its 15 U.S. locations and internationally in its London spa. I walked away with a goody bag full of them which I will be trying out over the next couple of weeks.  Updates coming up!

For more information on Bliss and Elemis spa treatments, check out here and here.