Dr. Mehmet Oz discussed enterovirus D68, a respiratory infection that has been attacking children around the country, and talked about Robin Williams’ suicide and depression on the Sept. 17 episode of the Dr. Oz Show.
Dr. Oz said the CDC has issued a nationwide warning about enterovirus D68, which could lead to serious breathing problems. About 100 cases of enterovirus D68 have been reported in children across 12 states. No adult cases have been reported, and there have been no deaths so far.
Enterovirus D68 is a rare condition that starts off like a common cold but rapidly escalates into severe asthma, allergies and breathing problems. There is no vaccine or treatment.
Dr. Oz’s guests were pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene and Dr. Gail Shust, an assistant professor of pediatric infectious disease at Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Greene said enterovirus D68 peaks in the fall. The first cases were diagnosed in August 2014, and have spread very quickly during the past few weeks.
Children with allergies or asthma are especially vulnerable. Dr. Shust said you can get the virus just like you catch a cold. The virus can end up in your throat and then travel to your lungs, causing inflammation. It can make you get stuffed up and impede breathing, causing you to become unconscious.
If your child is having trouble breathing or has other lung-related health problems, you should call a doctor or visit the emergency room. To prevent the spread of enterovirus D68, you should remind your children to wash their hands frequently and to avoid contact with kids who are sick.
Suicide Hotlines Experienced Record Call Volume After Robin Williams Death
On a separate segment, Dr. Oz discussed the tragic suicide of comedian Robin Williams, who hanged himself at his California home on Aug. 11. Williams had suffered from severe depression and drug addiction throughout his life.
Robin, who had open-heart surgery in 2009, was diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s disease shortly before his death. Dr. Oz said this likely exacerbated his depression and suicidal tendencies. Robin’s longtime friend, comedian Rob Schneider, actually blamed Parkinson’s disease drugs for his suicide,
While Williams had spoken publicly about his alcohol and drug addictions, he rarely discussed his depression. Dr. Oz said he believed this was because of the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Dr. Oz’s guest was addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky, who said Williams’ death has sparked a national discussion about depression and suicide prevention.
The day after Robin’s death, suicide crisis hotlines around the country experienced record call volume. Dr. Drew said depression is the most common mental illness, but two-thirds of depressed people don’t get the help they need. Pinsky said women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression.
The risk factors include family history, traumatic events, chronic stress, serious illness such as cancer or heart disease, alcohol or drug abuse, and certain drugs, such as sleeping pills or high blood pressure medication. Dr. Drew said people between the ages of 45 and 65 are the most vulnerable to depression. If you need help, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or by visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
If you or someone you know is depressed, you should seek help and realize it can be managed with drugs and/or talk therapy. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or try to deny or hide your depression because it is treatable. Most importantly, you should realize you are not alone.