Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center
Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. We strive to deliver high quality, cost effective healthcare in the communities we serve.
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Is mental illness like any other illness?

The social stigma surrounding mental illnesses is nothing new. In some cultures, mental illness was perceived to be the result of demonic possession. And in decades past in America, the mentally ill were kept isolated and were subjected to ineffective or dangerous “treatments.” In recent years, there has been a shift toward the public perception that a mental illness is just like any other illness—like diabetes or heart disease. But is this a fair or even accurate representation of an incredibly broad and complex range of conditions? The concept remains controversial, but at Los Robles Regional, one thing is for certain—each of our patients always receives the compassionate, evidence-based treatments they need to live life well.

The biological basis of mental illnesses
Researchers have made amazing strides toward better understanding mental illnesses, but there’s quite a lot that’s still unknown. It’s still unknown exactly what causes depression, for instance, although there are a lot of contributing factors that can play a role. One of those factors may be low serotonin levels.

Research in this area seems to support the idea that mental illnesses can have a biological basis. But the question of what causes depression can’t be answered by low serotonin levels alone, as this provides an incomplete picture. If a biological basis alone can’t explain mental illnesses, would it be accurate to call them just like any other illness?

The risks of grouping together mental and physical illnesses
There are a few reasons why some experts have balked at the idea of classifying mental illnesses just like any other disease. One is that it implies that an individual patient’s experience with mental illness can be downplayed, but the same mental illness won’t necessarily affect two people in the same way. As an example, not everyone with depression has suicidal thoughts or would even appear to be depressed to the casual observer.

Another potential risk of this concept is that it could lead to overdependence on the medical treatments of mental illnesses, namely, medications. Some patients might be led to assume that, if their condition has a biological basis, they can exclusively use medical treatments and skip more involved, long-term interventions like psychotherapy. In fact, most providers would likely agree that a multidisciplinary approach tends to be most effective.

You’ll find highly trained and genuinely caring healthcare providers at Los Robles Regional Medical Center . Our modern medical facility in Thousand Oaks combines cutting-edge technology with a friendly, patient-focused approach. You can get in touch with a registered nurse any time of the day or night by calling (877) 888-5746.

When will your doctor recommend surgery for lower back pain?

Lower back pain can be a minor, temporary inconvenience, or it can be intensely painful and debilitating. It can also keep you from doing the things you love and enjoying your life. You deserve to live a pain-free life, so talk to your doctor about the treatment options that may help you. Depending on factors unique to you, you might be referred to an orthopedic surgeon at The Spine Program at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks.

When you’ve already tried other back pain treatments
Usually, back surgery isn’t recommended as the first course of treatment. The surgeon will consider whether you’ve already tried nonsurgical treatments, like taking prescribed medications, staying active and working with a physical therapist. Patients who are overweight may also find that losing weight lessens back pain.

Discuss the other treatments you’ve tried. Ask the surgeon whether there are any other nonsurgical options still left available to you. If not, then it may be time to consider surgery.

When your doctor determines that surgery can help
Back surgery can only help you if it’s able to correct or minimize the underlying cause of your pain. For example, if your back pain is caused by a problem with an intervertebral disc, then it’s possible that disc replacement surgery may help. You can hear more about this surgery when you watch the accompanying video, which features an orthopedic surgeon who treats patients at Los Robles Regional.

When you’re healthy enough to tolerate surgery
Given that surgery is intended to improve one’s health, it seems counterintuitive that good overall health would be a requirement for having surgery. But not everyone is healthy enough to withstand the stress of surgery. Your doctor can make this decision after reviewing your full medical history and evaluating your overall lifestyle.

You may be asked to make some changes before having surgery. If you smoke, you’ll likely be asked to quit. This is because smoking increases the risk of complications both during and after surgical procedures.

You’ll receive personalized, compassionate care as a patient at The Spine Program at Los Robles Regional Medical Center . Our team of surgical specialists genuinely care about your quality of life, and will work to help you get back on your feet as quickly as possible. You can request a referral by speaking with a registered nurse in Thousand Oaks at (877) 888-5746.

How depression can influence stroke recovery

One of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. is stroke. Stroke care goes well beyond the Emergency Room. In fact, stroke recovery can last for years, and some stroke survivors may never fully recover from their disabilities. Many factors can influence a patient’s recovery from stroke, including how quickly the patient arrived at the Emergency Room at Los Robles Regional Medical Center—a Comprehensive Stroke Center. Mental health is another factor that can affect a patient’s recovery.

The prevalence of post-stroke depression
Stroke rehabilitation programs are comprehensive, involving treatment modalities like physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and nutritional guidance. And in many cases, it should also include behavioral healthcare.

Post-stroke depression is quite common, and it may be underdiagnosed. According to the National Stroke Association, over one-third of all stroke survivors may develop post-stroke depression. Every patient’s experience with depression is a little different, but many report these associated emotions:

  • Hopelessness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Frustration
  • Anxiety

The consequences of post-stroke depression
Stroke survivors are at an increased risk of suffering a recurrent stroke. To combat this problem, specialists can incorporate preventive medical interventions and lifestyle modifications into the stroke rehabilitation program. These often include:

  • Doctor-approved exercise
  • Dietician-designed meal plan
  • Smoking cessation
  • Alcohol abstinence or moderation

The problem with post-stroke depression, other than the fact that it lowers quality of life, is that patients with depression often have trouble following through on healthy lifestyle changes. It’s challenging to find the motivation to exercise or prepare a healthy meal when feelings of hopelessness and sadness persist.

Post-stroke depression can even exacerbate other problems that linger after a stroke, such as:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Incontinence

The coping strategies for post-stroke depression
It’s important for family members of stroke survivors to be aware of the potential signs of post-stroke depression, and to encourage the survivor to talk to the doctor or a counselor. Depression isn’t easy to cope with, especially with the combined challenges of stroke rehabilitation, but there are many talented healthcare providers who are ready and eager to help stroke survivors. Some coping strategies include:

  • Support groups
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Social engagement
  • Realistic goal-setting
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Medications, including antidepressants, may also be appropriate for some stroke survivors.

Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks is Ventura County’s first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center . If you think you’re having a stroke, call 911 immediately—don’t try to drive yourself to the Emergency Room. General questions about our superior, patient-centered medical services can be directed to a registered nurse at (877) 888-5746.

Understanding what nurses do in the hospital

Nurses are the backbone of the hospital. They are rigorously educated and trained professionals who work in every department—from the Emergency Room to the surgical suites. Nurses provide a full spectrum of services for patients, ranging from patient assessments to education to discharge coordination. Los Robles Regional Medical Center would like to extend our sincere gratitude to our dedicated nursing staff.

Patient assessments
Nurses are some of the busiest people in the hospital. They’re always on their feet, moving from patient to patient. But while they’re with any given patient, nurses put their full focus on that individual.

Nurses are often responsible for assessing patients. They can do physical exams, take health histories and communicate with patients to get detailed information about the nature of their medical complaint.

Patients who are hospitalized require periodic, ongoing assessments. Nurses who work with the inpatient population will make scheduled rounds. During each patient visit, the nurse will chart the patient’s vital signs, make a note of any abnormalities and perhaps adjust medications if necessary.

Patient care
A great deal of the care patients receive in the hospital is provided by the nursing staff.

During a typical day, a hospitalized patient might need assistance getting out of bed or repositioned in bed. He or she may need toileting assistance, feeding assistance and linen changes. Nurses also provide wound care, administer medications and follow through on any doctor-ordered changes to the patient’s treatment plan.

Patient counseling and education
Nursing is arguably as much of an art as it is a science. The profession draws genuinely caring individuals who know how to connect with people. Part of a nurse’s typical day is devoted to counseling and educating patients about the following issues:

  • What the diagnosis means
  • What the treatment options are
  • The benefits and risks of the treatment options
  • What the medications do and how they are taken
  • How to provide self-care at home

Nurses also routinely update family members about patients who are critically ill or recovering from surgery. They offer a shoulder to lean on when families are dealing with very difficult situations.

Each nurse at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks is a highly compassionate individual who works tirelessly to support our patients’ health. We invite you to explore our Nursing Recognition Program , which allows patients to nominate an extraordinary nurse who went above and beyond the call of duty. If you’d like to speak with a friendly member of our nursing staff, you can call (877) 888-5746.

How autism can influence your child's health

Autism is a difficult developmental disorder to manage. And sometimes, children with autism also have co-existing health problems. You can count on the caring physicians and nurses at Los Robles Regional Medical Center to direct your family to the resources you need. Your child may also be referred to a specialist at our hospital.

Sleep disorders
One problem many parents encounter is the difficulty convincing a child with autism to stay in bed and go to sleep. Some parents have to bring their child back to bed multiple times each night. Some children with autism experience frequent nighttime awakenings, or they awaken far too early in the morning.

A child’s sleep disorder can affect the entire family’s health. For both the child and the other family members, sleep deprivation can result in:

  • Poor concentration
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Decline in immune function
  • Poor judgment

Additionally, children with autism who are sleep deprived are more likely to display hyperactivity, aggressive behaviors and inattentiveness.

Gastrointestinal disorders
A diagnosis of gastrointestinal problems often goes hand-in-hand with an autism diagnosis. Children with autism are more likely to suffer from the following:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Food sensitivities

In addition, many children with autism are extremely selective eaters. Some of them will only consume a very limited list of foods.

Picky eating can result in nutritional deficiencies, which may worsen gastrointestinal symptoms. A deficiency of fiber in a child’s diet, for example, can exacerbate chronic constipation.

Anxiety disorders
Every child deserves to have a happy and healthy childhood. But many children with autism suffer from anxiety. Some common anxiety problems include:

  • Social phobia
  • Excessive worry
  • Separation anxiety
  • Extreme phobias
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Behavioral interventions can help children with anxiety disorders learn how to manage their symptoms.

At every stage of life, Los Robles Regional Medical Center is your family’s partner in health. From our Emergency Room to our pediatrics services, we focus on providing superior, family-centered care that improves quality of life. Call a registered nurse in Thousand Oaks at (877) 888-5746 to request a physician referral.


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