Thursday, December 10, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Understanding phobias

By Dr. Anthony Policastro Many people have phobias such as a fear of germs, enclosed spaces or public speaking. Phobias, which usually develop over time, represent a form of acquired anxiety. There are also forms of induced anxiety. An example is something called xenophobia, which is a fear of strangers or foreigners. Recently, this has been demonstrated in the United States. Suddenly, there is a fear of refugees from Syria. Some of that is based upon the events in Paris. Some of that is also based upon how those events were reported. The result is that individuals have become fearful of foreign terrorists. There is far less concern about the "terrorists" who live in our own country. These individuals may attack schools. That has been the case in Columbine and Newtown, Connecticut. They may attack colleges. That has been the case at Virginia Tech, a community college in Oregon and other colleges across the United States. They may attack military installations. That has been the case at a Texas military hospital and a Chattanooga recruiting center. They may attack movie theaters. That has been the case in Aurora, Colorado and Lafayette, Louisiana. They may attack a church in Charleston, South Carolina, assassinate police officers sitting in their cars, attack news reporters in Virginia during their morning broadcast and attack co-workers in San Bernadino. The current movement is to perform proper vetting of individuals who are refugees from other countries. While there is also some concern about performing proper vetting of homegrown terrorists looking to gun down our citizens, there has been a lot less action on that front. The reasons are pretty simple. We have raised the level of xenophobia in our citizens to a very high level. However, there is much less concern about people who already live here even if they are not mentally stable. A few weeks ago I wrote about health insurance companies being unwilling to recognize mental illness as brain health instead of mental health. Therefore, we continue to not pay for necessary resources. We need to add our desires for better care for people with brain health issues to any conversations about gun laws. We all have phobias. However, we need to realize that some of these phobias are naturally developed while other phobias are generated by outside events. The latter phobias are often overblown. The result is that we do not often fear the things that are right in front of us and far more dangerous.

Breastfeeding support group On Monday, Dec. 14 at 10 a.m., Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold The Mom's Circle, a free breastfeeding support group, in the Nursing Conference Room. The Mom's Circle is a safe place for moms to come for support, advice and friendship from both experienced nursing moms and new moms. Registration is not required. For more information, contact Jacalyn Bradley, lactation consultant, at 629-6611, ext. 2234.

Lymphedema Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a lymphedema support group on Thursday, Dec. 17 from 1:30-3 p.m., at the Seaford Library and Cultural Center. This free support group is open to anyone affected by lymphedema including patients, caregivers, and relatives. Meetings will consist of a lecture by health care professionals and medical equipment providers followed by refreshments and an open question and answer session or discussion among participants. This month's meeting will focus on the topic "Pharmacy." Registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Robert Donati at 629-6224 or

Parkinson's Support Group Nanticoke Health Services, in conjunction with CHEER and Care DE and The Methodist Manor House, will hold a Parkinson's education and support group on Thursday, Dec. 17 from 9:30-11 a.m. at the Methodist Manor House in Seaford. This support group is free and open to the public. This group is helpful for the individual diagnosed with PD, caregivers, friends and family. Guest speakers present a variety of subjects related to PD and members support each other through small group discussions. Tara Trout, LPN, Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, co-facilitates the group with Kathy Landis, Care Giver Resource coordinator at CHEER in Sussex County. For more information, contact Tara Trout at 629-6611, ext. 3838.

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a stroke support group on Tuesday, Dec. 15 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at the Seaford Library & Cultural Center.

The two-hour support group meeting includes guest speakers and breakaway sessions in which caregivers and stroke survivors meet in groups to discuss concerns, providing support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, call 629-6224.

Weight Loss Seminars Nanticoke Physician Network General and Bariatric Surgery will host a free weight loss seminars on Saturday, Dec. 19 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. These seminars are designed to provide education to individuals considering weight loss surgery to help them make informed decisions on whether surgery is an appropriate option. The weight loss seminars will consist of presentations by Dr. Tarek Waked to inform individuals about the many benefits of weight loss surgery. Patients and their spouses, family members or friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. For more information about this seminar or about weight loss surgery, contact Shelly Geis at 629-6611, ext. 8810.

Bariatric Support Group Nanticoke Physician Network General & Bariatric Surgery will host a bariatric support group from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 17, at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This free group is designed to provide education and support to patients before and after their bariatric weight loss surgery. Meetings will consist of guest speakers and presentations to provide useful information about nutrition, supplements, exercise and behavior modifications. Patients and their spouses, family members and friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. For more information, contact Shelly Geis at 629-6611, ext. 8810.

Hospice Lunch Bunch Lecture "Resiliency: The Art of Bouncing Back" will be the topic of Delaware Hospice's Lunch Bunch Lecture with Dr. Judy Pierson on Friday, Dec. 11. Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds - the loss of a loved one, a traumatic experience, a breakup, etc. It is not the denial of adversity but a way of moving through it that allows you to regain your footing in life. While most people adapt over time, some seem to be able to master challenges more effectively. Learn the resiliency strategies used by those who fair better and build your own personal skills for enduring hardship. Lunch, which is $5 per person, is from noon to 12:30 p.m. The free presentation is from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome. Registration is required as seating is limited. Register by Thursday, Dec. 10, by contacting Michele August at 302-746-4503 or

Cold weather season means residents should review plans, check supplies Since the winter season is fast approaching, Delmarva Power and the American Red Cross of Delmarva recently held a joint news conference to remind the public that it's time to prepare for the possibility that harsh weather could hit the region any time over the next few months. "The National Weather Service warns that warmer than normal ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific will result in an above-average number of winter storms that will affect the mid-Atlantic region," said John Allen, Delmarva Power region vice president."It is essential that all of us remain vigilant and be prepared for the possibility of severe winter weather. We want our customers to know that we are committed to an emergency response system that makes safety a priority, restores power as quickly and safely as possible and provides customers with information on how to prepare for and deal with weather-related outages." Delmarva Power suggests that customers assemble an emergency kit that can be used at home and, if necessary, take with them if they're ordered to evacuate. Each kit should include a flashlight, battery-powered clock and radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, manual can opener, bottled water and a list of important phone numbers. All items can be placed into a large cooler which is easy to grab if a person has to leave home quickly. A "Storm Preparation Handbook" that can be downloaded at or customers can call Customer Care at 1-800-375-7117 to request a copy by mail.