HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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PSEUDOBULBAR AFFECT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

community’s understanding of these symptoms, these labels changed. It is estimated the prevalence of PBA, accurately diagnosed, may include as many as 2 million Americans. It can affect both men and women, young and old. The Mayo Clinic notes many cases of PBA go unreported and undiagnosed due to a lack of awareness about the condition. Helpful specialists who work with PBA patients include neuropsychologists, neurologists and psychiatrists.


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DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

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Mental health professionals have encountered pseudobulbar affect (PBA) when dealing with traumatic brain injury and some neuropsychological issues people face. Associated with this condition are frequent, uncontrollable outbursts of crying or laughing in people with certain neurologic conditions or brain injuries. This damage can disrupt brain signaling, causing a short circuit and triggering involuntary episodes of crying or laughing that may occur several times a day and can last seconds to minutes. Other symptoms of PBA include anxiety, depression and social withdrawal. PBA is not a new condition; Charles Darwin first described it in medical literature more than a century ago.


Individuals with PBA often experience episodes of loss of control best described in two ways. There are periods of uncontrollable crying or laughing inappropriate to the situations in which they occur. These are spontaneous eruptions that don’t reflect the way the person actually feels. Many PBA patients describe occasions where they laughed when they were actually feeling sad or cried when they really felt happy. These outbursts often prove embarrassing for patients and can be upsetting for people around them. Laughing episodes can be misconstrued as signs of rudeness or insensitivity. Crying episodes can be interpreted as signs of distress or vulnerability and may result in recurrent periods of anxiety.


In the past, medical and mental health professionals referred to PBA with such labels as emotional incontinence or pathological laughing and crying. As research into brain activity expanded the medical