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Tips for Dealing With Isolation During Covid-19

By: Ariel Warden-Jarrett, M.D., FAAFP

People are meant to be together. Relationships and community are an important part of our lives, and we need meaningful connections to be happy and healthy.

To stay safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been forced to cut ourselves off from some of our normal connections: family, friends, coworkers and social activities. This enforced social isolation is more than unpleasant, it can result in emotional and physical problems.

The Health Effects of Isolation

Changes to our daily lives can be unsettling, and the extended isolation we’re experiencing can lead to negative health effects, such as:

  • Sadness: Being deprived of our regular routines and social contacts can cause feelings of loss and sadness.
  • Depression. Being isolated and lonely can lead from sadness to depression, and depression can, in turn, make you want to withdraw further from others.
  • Anxiety. Loneliness and isolation can cause anxiety, and if anxiety increases you may suffer from irrational fears.
  • Lack of sleep. Socially isolated people tend to have more restless sleep, insomnia, or not enough sleep. This leads to fatigue, lack of focus and concentration, irritability and mood swings.
  • Heart disease and stroke. There is a strong link between emotional and physical health. Isolation can result in heart disease or stroke due to the lack of support to promote healthy lifestyle choices.


Tips to Maintain Connections

Quarantining is necessary during the pandemic, but there are simple things you can do to maintain your social connections and stay healthy. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Make a call. Have daily check-ins with close friends and family. Make a list of people to call, text or video chat. Try iPhone Facetime, Skype or Google Hangouts for face-to-face chats.
  • Use Zoom or another platform to have a “party” with friends. Zoom allows you to connect with several people at once, so it’s ideal for occasions such as happy hours or birthdays.
  • Get the popcorn. Watch your favorite shows or movies with family, or with friends over video platforms.
  • Share a meal. Make time to connect as a family over dinner. Or schedule a time to eat with a friend via video chat.
  • Take up a hobby. Hobbies can fill the hours while enriching your life. Rediscover an old interest, such as art, music, writing or try something new. There are many hobbies you can do with a family member or while Facetiming with a friend.
  • Exercise. Exercise is a great way to release natural endorphins and relieve feelings of anxiety. Take a walk with a family member or socially distanced friend. There are also many free online workouts you can do indoors with someone else. See the article in this issue to get started.
  • Give back. Think how you can support neighbors, friends, family, your community or coworkers. Make a contribution to your local food pantry. Clean out your closet and set aside things for donation. Bake something or make a meal for a friend and drop it off at their front door.
  • Foster a pet. Having a furry friend keep you company helps ease anxiety and depression from isolation. If you already have a pet, make time for walks and play. If not, check with your local animal shelter to learn about fostering or adopting.

Being quarantined hasn’t been easy for any of us. If you find that your feelings of loneliness and sadness are interfering with your life, reach out to your MPCP provider. We can help with advice or treatment to see you through the hard times.


Ariel Warden-Jarrett, M.D.Dr. Warden-Jarrett is a Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC partner and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She holds her medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and sees patients in the Bowie office.

Finding Help for Depression

I’m Doctor Ariel Warden-Jarrett. I’m one of the board-certified family physicians here at Maryland Primary Care Physicians.

Did you know that by the year 2020 depression is projected to be the number two cause of disability in the U.S.?

You may also be surprised to know that depression is something that your primary care doctor can effectively treat and help you to overcome.

Depression can have many causes. It can begin with a life situation that causes unusual sadness. It can also be a byproduct of hormone imbalances in the brain and other organs. Or it can accompany heart disease and chronic pain.

In fact, many chronic health conditions can put you at higher risk for depression – things like MS, diabetes, or a previous heart attack. And the normal response to trauma or loss can also be a trigger.

But when sadness leads to a loss of normal functioning, depression may be the diagnosis.

You and your doctor can begin to work together to help you restore, what I call, your “joy bubbles.”

And remember, discovering that you might be depressed is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it can be the first step on the path to finding a happier, healthier life for you and your family.

To help make that a reality, your doctor may prescribe medications or refer you for counseling, but these are just part of the treatment story:

  • Lifestyle is also important – Regular exercise can make a big difference.
  • Getting more exposure to sunlight and fresh air.
  • Listening to music that you enjoy – All of these things can help.
  • And the right diet can also have a big impact on your mood and outlook on life.

So, talk to your primary care physician. Take that first step. Together, we can get your balance back, and those “joy bubbles” popping again. You’ll find that you can get plenty of help from the doctor you already know and trust.

For more information, contact Maryland Primary Care Physicians.

Ariel Warden-Jarrett, M.D.Dr. Warden-Jarrett is a Maryland Primary Care Physicians, LLC partner and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She sees patients in the Bowie office.


Cheers! Tips for Safe Alcohol Use During the Holidays

By: Ariel J. Warden-Jarrett, M.D., FAAFP

The holidays are a time for family, friends and celebration. Unfortunately, it’s also when people sometimes drink too much, with consequences ranging from fights and falls to serious traffic accidents.

People often put themselves at risk because they believe myths about alcohol use ─ common but incorrect beliefs. Let’s look at some of the most common alcohol myths, and then we’ll tell you how to safely enjoy a few drinks during the holidays.

Alcohol myths

I’m in control. At first, alcohol acts as a stimulant, and you may feel happier and confident. But at this stage, alcohol has already reduced your inhibitions and impaired your judgment. As you drink more, you are likely to underestimate alcohol’s effects, making you feel “bullet proof” while seriously eroding your ability to think clearly and control your behavior.

It’s okay, I’m just drinking beer. One 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor have the same amount of alcohol. It’s not what you drink, it’s how much you drink that matters.

I can still drive. You may think you are safe to drive as long as you’re not slurring your words or acting erratically. However, the coordination needed for driving is compromised long before the signs of intoxication are visible. Plus, the sedative effects of alcohol increase your risk of nodding off or losing attention behind the wheel.

I stopped drinking, so I’m fine. It’s easy to misjudge how long alcohol’s effects last. After you stop drinking, alcohol in your stomach and intestine continues to enter your bloodstream, impairing your judgment and coordination.  Your liver can only process about one standard drink every hour, so the effects of drinking can drag on for hours.

I can sober up quickly if I need to. It’s widely believed that coffee, a cold shower or fresh air will get you sober. It’s also wrong.  These things may help with drowsiness, but not with the effects of alcohol on decision-making or coordination. There are no quick cures; only time will help.

I ate a big meal, so I won’t get as drunk.  Eating before drinking can slow the absorption of alcohol by the body, but it can’t prevent you from getting drunk. Eventually, the stomach will empty from dinner and alcohol absorption will pick up again.

Tips for safe alcohol use

Whether you’re attending or hosting a holiday party, here are ways to consume alcohol safely.

  • Pace yourself. A standard drink is one 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor, and you should have no more than one per hour. And no more than four drinks per day for men or three for women.
  • Slow down. Sip your drink.
  • Space your drinks. Make every other one nonalcoholic, such as water.
  • Eat food before and while you drink to slow down your absorption of alcohol.
  • Make plans to get home safely. Remember that a designated driver is someone who hasn’t had any alcohol, not simply the person in your group who drank the least.

If you’re a party host:

  • Offer a selection of non-alcoholic beverages and plenty of food.
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends.
  • Don’t serve alcohol to an intoxicated guest.
  • Don’t let anyone who is drunk drive home.

For more information on celebrating the holidays safely, visit http://www.RethinkingDrinking.niaaa.nih.gov



Ariel Warden-Jarrett, M.D.Dr. Ariel Warden-Jarrett is an MPCP partner and is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She practices in the Bowie office.

Colorectal Cancer is Common But Can Be Prevented

A Q&A with Dr. Ariel Warden-Jarrett

Q: What is colorectal cancer?

A: Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, occurs in the colon or rectum. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Most colon cancers develop first as polyps, which are abnormal growths that may later become cancerous.

Q: How common is colorectal cancer?

A: It is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S. and is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It is expected to cause about 49,700 deaths this year.

Q: Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?

A: People of different ages, genders and races can get colorectal cancer. However, the Mayo Clinic lists several factors that may put you at higher risk:

  • Age: Most people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50.
  • Race: African-Americans have a greater risk than people of other races.
  • Family history: You’re more likely to develop the cancer if you have a parent, sibling or child with the disease.
  • Diet: People who eat diets low in fiber and high in fat and calories are at increased risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: If you’re inactive and don’t exercise, you’re more likely to develop the cancer.
  • Obesity: People who are obese are at increased risk. They are also more likely to die of the cancer.
  • Bad habits: People who smoke cigarettes or drink heavily may increase their risk.

Q: What can I do to help prevent colorectal cancer?

A: Since lifestyle is linked to colorectal cancer, improving your diet and getting more exercise can help reduce your risk. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit your intake of red meat and alcohol. And since obesity may increase your risk, it’s important to eat a diet that allows you to achieve a healthy body weight. Also, studies suggest that regular physical activity reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.

The good news is, when colorectal cancer is discovered early, it is highly treatable. The best way to do that is with a colonoscopy, a simple screening procedure that examines the inside of the colon and rectum, and removes polyps which may become cancerous. It is recommended you have a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 – at 45 for African-Americans ─ or every five years if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. Learn more about colonoscopies here.
If you’re under 50, make lifestyle changes now to reduce your risk. If you’re 50 or older, ask your doctor how to arrange a colonoscopy or any questions you have about colorectal cancer.


Ariel Warden-Jarrett, M.D.Dr. Ariel Warden-Jarrett is an MPCP partner and sees patients in the Bowie office. She received her medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and completed her residency program in Family Medicine at Howard University Hospital. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.