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Themes of the Week

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Alice,

Every winter, especially when the days are short, I feel tired, depressed, and unproductive. Then the spring comes and I start feeling myself again. Is this just a normal seasonal cycle? I've heard about SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, but don't know much about it.

— Melancholy Baby

Falling from faith?

Dear Alice,

I came to college in a big city from a small town in Nevada. I came on the suggestion of one of the elders in the church, partly as a means of becoming a stronger voice of the church and partly to become more familiar with my own faith. Over the past couple of months, I have begun to question many things the church says and does, and many of the things I believe. I find myself doing things that I never would have dreamt of doing only six months ago. I'm not sure that this process is reversible or where it is headed. I am really confused and not sure what I want. I am afraid that relations with my family will become difficult if they find out how much I have been questioning my faith. I am really confused and don't know what I want. Are there any organizations on campus that I can talk to about this? Do you have any advice?

Signed,
Falling from faith

False positive HIV test?

Dear Alice,

I recently had a routine HIV screening done for prenatal labs. It was positive. Thank GOD, western blot came out to be negative. My OB is reassuring me not to worry, that false positives sometimes come out in pregnancy, and as long as the western blot is negative — I'm negative. Could you explain a little more in detail as to why and if you agree with my doctor? I'm at very little risk otherwise and had a negative HIV test about five years ago and am with the same person (my husband).

He needs the TV to fall asleep, I need a quiet room — Help!

Dear Alice,

My new live-in boyfriend can't go to sleep without a TV on. I need a quiet dark room to go to sleep. He wants to sleep with me but he can't. He ends up getting up and falling asleep on the couch in front of the TV. How long will it take him to adjust to sleeping without the TV?

Off to college and losing touch with friends

Alice,

Help me! I left my two best friends at home when I went to college. Now don't get me wrong, I love college! I'm making new friends and I even love some of my classes. I just feel like I'm forgetting these friends. I only get to talk to them for like 15 minutes, if that, a week. I feel like we are losing touch and I don't want that to happen. Can you help me? Thanks!

— Losing touch

Alkaline water: Is it better for your body?

Dear Alice,

My friend recently bought a water filter. It's purpose is to raise the tap water's pH-level to alkaline level. She claims that alkaline water is good for our bodies because it reduces the acid level in our bodies. Is it true that waters with high alkaline (pH) level are really healthy for the human body? She paid $1000 for this water filter. Is it worth it? Please let me know soon if it's actually good for me, I'm thinking of purchasing one.

Is drinking cold water harmful?

Dear Alice,

The good drinking a lot of water does to your body is, of course, clear now to every one. I drink about 2 liters of water daily, but not cold water. I hear drinking cold water will burn more calories as the body has to warm itself to room temperature when intaking the water into the system. Is that right?

Doesn't drinking 2 liters of cold water harm the stomach, kidneys, or any other parts?

Your always thirsty reader

How drinkable is New York City’s tap water?

Dear Alice,

How bad is the water here in New York City? Do you recommend drinking filtered water, or does it really make a difference?

Thirsty

Water when on ecstasy?

Dear Alice,

I read your response to Ecstasy drain spinal fluid? in the archive, and you advised to drink water and not overheat while on ecstasy... Isn't there a danger in drinking liquid while "high" because of fluid retention that is caused by ecstasy?

Well, that's all...

Water retention in the big city?

Dear Alice,

I'm an 18-year-old college student. Recently, I visited San Francisco, and while I was there I noticed that my hands and feet swelled. When I returned to home, my body went back to its normal size. Could this be water retention? If so, will it go away after my body becomes accustomed to the new climate/altitude? How long would that process take? Are there any pills/medication I could take to prevent the swelling?

Thanks for your time!

What is sizzurp?

Dear Alice,

Is sizzurp bad? And what are the effects?

What's the difference between molly and ecstasy?

Dear Alice,

What is the difference between molly and ecstasy? On my college campus people keep saying that they take molly. I think they are just taking ecstasy because they act the same. How could they even know what is inside the pill anyway?

— High on life and life alone

PCP side effects

Dear Alice,

I just realized you have no entries on PCP, and am wondering if you could give me some information on it. I have experimented with it a few times, and since then have become very nervous on occasion and I find that I think more "out of the box." Is this common? Could you give me any other information?

— Georg

Special K and X

Dear Alice,

Lately, I have been doing a drug called Special K. I know it is a sedative/tranquilizer (what's the difference?), but very little about side effects, etc. Also, can you go over similar information about the drug X?

Thanks,
— Crankin'

Non-tobacco versus tobacco hookah smoking

Hi Alice,

I smoke hookah on occasion, but am not a regular hookah smoker. Recently some of my friends have expressed interest in smoking hookah but are concerned about the health side effects; needless to say, for very legitimate reasons. However, non-tobacco shisha, made simply of herbs and molasses, claims to be a healthier alternative to regular shisha that contains tobacco. Though I can assume it is not without its shortcomings, is it still healthier then regular tobacco products, as it claims?

Showerhead fun: Safe?

Dear Alice,

Recently I have discovered if I change the settings on my shower head so the water pressure is harder and faster it works wonderfully as a tool for masturbation. My question is, is there any health risks for using water for self pleasure? My main concern is getting water in my vagina...could that cause issues? Thank you so much!

— Fun in the Shower

Masturbating stats: Are there gender differences and why?

Dear Alice,

I have searched your files for the answer to a question that has long been bugging me. It has to do with masturbation. I can see by the questions there are many men who masturbate, but I don't see many from women. Do many women masturbate? Are they just more shy about talking about it? Can you give any specifics on the percentage of women, versus the percentage of men, who masturbate?

— Wants to learn more

Beatless in Seattle: Masturbation stops when relationship begins

Hello Alice,

I have been seeing a girl now for almost eight months, and we have been sexually active for a good while. At a point in our sexual relationship, I came to a conclusion (no pun intended); I was going to stop masturbating. It just seemed silly, what with a girlfriend that was so much more satisfying than self-gratification. This has been going on for about two months, and I haven't felt "the need" for almost as long. I feel very satisfied with my sex life with my girlfriend, and I don't have that post-orgasmic sort-of shame that came with most masturbation for me. It's not much of a question after all that, I guess. I'd just like your thoughts, and maybe just pose it as a possibility for all the guys out there reading this page while they're waiting for the smut to load. And also, thanks for providing your page as a resource.

Sincerely,

Beatless In Seattle

Masturbation while being sick?

Hi, Wondering if there are any negative effects to masturbation while being sick. I hear it could be a cause of lower immunity levels, is that true? Thanks, R

History of dildos

Dear Alice,

When was the first dildo invented and what was it originally used for?

Stress at the start of school

Dear Alice,

How can I reduce stress as school begins?

College parties: Where's my invitation?

Dear Alice,

I am a freshman who has just moved into the "social dorm." It's only been a few days, but I already feel like my place in the social strata is being cemented — I'm somewhat overweight, and although I can be very talkative and can force myself to make the effort to meet people despite being nervous, I feel like I'm already being classed as one of the straight-edge less popular types. I don't mind that I'm not the type who makes 500 friends instantly; I'm still managing to make a few good acquaintances/potential friends.

The problem is that the people I make friends with aren't really the party types, and while I'm not a huge party person either, I still want to get to go to some and have the whole "college experience." How is it that other people are "in the know" about parties and stuff like, as soon as they get here? What are the qualities that make them seem to bond so instantly? How do I get myself invited to at least some of these events?? I don't want to crash the parties and show up alone...

Homesick and having trouble adjusting to college life

Dear Alice,

I'm having a tough time adjusting to college. I miss family, friends, and home. On top of that, I feel like I am failing socially. Any ideas to get me out of this funk?

Sincerely,
Home Sick

Off to college and losing touch with friends

Alice,

Help me! I left my two best friends at home when I went to college. Now don't get me wrong, I love college! I'm making new friends and I even love some of my classes. I just feel like I'm forgetting these friends. I only get to talk to them for like 15 minutes, if that, a week. I feel like we are losing touch and I don't want that to happen. Can you help me? Thanks!

— Losing touch

Healthy test prep

Dear Alice,

What is the best way to prepare, health wise, before a big test such as the SAT, LSAT, MCAT? What foods do you recommend to keep my "brain moving?"

Considering diet teas and meal-substitute shakes to lose weight

Dear Alice,

I've been trying to diet for over two years. My goal is to lose about 25 pounds, but the most I've been able to get is 15, and I can hardly keep it off. I concentrate on eating very little and since exercise is so hard to keep up, I pretty much starve myself to death. I manage to maintain the weight for a month, and then I lose control again. I've been thinking about the various diet products in the market, such as diet teas, herbs, meal- substitution shakes, and other medical products. I'd like to know what kind of side-effects they have, and how effective they are. (Some boast a seven-day plan, but that seems hardly believable.) Also, I'd like to know how well-researched the information is on these products (i.e., are they long-term enough to cover all the side-effects?) As for aspartame, is it really harmless, or is it just not researched yet?

— Trying to Diet

Enough nutrients on a gluten free diet?

Dear Alice,

I have celiac disease and am on a gluten free diet. How do I know if I'm getting enough nutrients on the gluten free diet?

Effects of the diet patch?

Dear Alice,

I really need to lose some weight because I am unhappy with the way I look. I have been about the same weight and the same size as long as I can remember, but I know if I can get the weight off, I can keep it off. I exercise regularly and eat a fairly good diet and I don't understand why the weight won't come off. I read about these new diet patches that are ephedera-free and free of harmful substances. They contain fucus vesiculosus and I was wondering if it is harmful and if it will negatively affect my birth control pill. Please write back soon.

Thanks a lot,
BR

Asthma and special diet?

Alice,

Can asthma be controlled with a special diet?

— Breathe easy

Switch to organic foods?

Dear Alice,

I've been thinking about switching to organic food because of the supposed drawbacks of inorganic food, but I'm having trouble finding unbiased information on the subject. What are the advantages and disadvantages of eating, buying, and producing organic food versus inorganic food? Should I make the switch to organic?

Thanks,
Concerned Global Citizen

Afraid of shots

Dear Alice,

I am really afraid of shots. What should I do? I feel really embarrassed asking this. HELP!

Cut by rusty metal! Do I need a tetanus shot?

Dear Alice,

If you step on a nail and have not had a tetanus shot in the last five years, how soon should a person be vaccinated? 24 hours? 48 hours?

Should I get a flu shot?

Dear Alice,

Since winter is approaching soon and it is the time for sniffles and sneezing, what do you think about getting a FLU SHOT as an ounce of prevention?

— Achoo, cough, cough

Gardasil... Can I get it if I already have HPV?

Alice,

I was reading several sites about Gardasil and the other shot that is given to people to prevent genital warts from occurring if they come in contact with HPV. I am a 29 year old male, and I was wondering if I could get the vaccine even though I have HPV already? I have had two warts in the past (which were burnt off) on the head of my penis. The procedure was excruciating and I don't want to go through that again. I'm told they will eventually come back some day. (sigh)

My girlfriend is the one who gave this to me and she was treated with the Gardasil shot, doctor knowing she already had HPV... This has stirred up a lot of confusion in me.

Please help!?!?

Seattle, WA

Allergic to one vaccine, allergic to all?

Dear Alice,

If I had a serious allergic reaction to the meningitis vaccine, will I be allergic to the flu shot?

How to find a therapist

Dear Alice,

I am trying to find a therapist. I have to go in-network for my health insurance to cover it, so I have this long list of therapists, but I don't know anything about them. Do you have any suggestions as to how to go about choosing one and/or questions to ask? Is there a "Go Ask Alice!" answer I could read for this info? I found my last therapist through the recommendation of a colleague at work and another through my school's counseling service. Now I need to spread my wings and find a professional therapist on my own! Yikes!

Thanks for any help you can give me!!!!!!!!!!!

How long should I be in therapy?

Dear Alice,

How long is psychotherapy supposed to take? I was in therapy for twelve years and felt much worse coming out of it than I did going in. My obsessive compulsive disorder remained unchanged, my socially avoidant behavior was the same, I was still depressed. In fact, I really think I felt worse because I was now angry at therapists. And yet the word on the street is that therapy really works, and I think it is supposed to take less than twelve years. Please answer me, I think this is an important question.

Soothing therapy tensions

Dear Alice,

My partner gets nervous every time I see my psychotherapist because she doesn't like the idea of me talking about our relationship. For her, it's anxiety-producing because she fears there are things I tell my therapist that I don't tell her. For me, it's anxiety-producing because I feel like my therapy sessions should be a safe and confidential space for me and because I feel like having that space has made our relationship better overall. How can I assuage her fears and anxieties without feeling like I have to, a) tell her everything I say in therapy, or b) lie and say that she doesn't come up?

Disappointed with therapist?

Dear Alice...

All year I have been wondering about my stress level and what I perceive as unusually heavy mood swings. I'm sure I'm not the only first-year on campus who has noticed new changes in her or his psyche as of "the first year at college." I had a hard time doing it, but I finally decided to see a therapist about my psychological condition, the development of which continues to this moment. I am experiencing some amount of sexual frustration, and I have managed to find my way into plenty of stressful situations all year.

Alice, I'm disappointed. My "health services" therapist is not listening to me (i.e. remembering things that we have discussed in past sessions), and I am feeling only worse. I feel lost. I'm an actor, and I have been in theatre since seventh grade. My mind is always in the theatre, and I feel as though my acting pervades my life. I have lost myself in a sea of specifically self-engineered "parts" which I "play" in differing situations which call out for differing personae. I feel as though hardly anyone really knows me, and I feel like an idiot for identifying with this pseudo-artistic complaint.

I want to make films, but first I have some major issues to work out, and health services is not helping me. I feel intimidated by my therapist, and I feel unable to change therapists within the university system. I want a therapist that I feel will see through the guise that I think I put up automatically. I'm sorry to be cliché, but I need some help finding myself. Meanwhile, my stress level and periodic depression is keeping me from being alert in class (I'm perpetually tired) and pulling me behind in my studies. I have lost the will to work, and I want to find it again. Sorry that it's so long.

Signed,
Loose ends

How do you know if therapy is working?

Dear Alice,

I can't tell if, or when therapy is working. What are reliable signs of effective therapy?

Need help to start dating

Dear Alice,

I am beginning my sophomore year in college. Last year, I was disappointed to not become friendly with any women. I have been back a week and I'm looking to turn my situation around. I would like to start dating once and for all. Any suggestions?

— More for the Sophomore

To be or not to be... single?

Hi Alice,

I am a 23-year-old college student who has been in a five-year relationship. For the last year, our relationship has been long distance (three states away). We have been on a constant five-year emotional roller coaster and now I am tired of it. I deeply love this man of mine; he was my first love and I've known him for nine years. Some days I feel I want to salvage the relationship, but other days I just want to be single and enjoy life. Just recently, I have been noticing and finding myself flirting with this guy in one of my classes. I find myself daydreaming about this guy and sometimes I think I'm in love.

My situation is that I want to experience a single lifestyle, but I don't want to lose my boyfriend in the process because he might be the man I want to marry... someday... Can you give me some friendly advice about my situation?

Sincerely Single?

Too short to date?

Dear Alice,

I am a twenty-three-year-old man, and I haven't had any kind of sexual intercourse for the last year and a half. I have gone this long because I am intimidated by women. Even though friends and women tell me that I am attractive, I am still very self-conscious about my physical appearance. I always feel that women will not take me seriously because of my height (5'5"). What should I do?

— Self-conscious

Woman wants to initiate date

Dear Alice,

What is the best way for a woman to ask a man out on a date for the first time?

— Perplexed

Sober and looking for a date who understands

Dear Alice,

I am an ex-hardcore drug user — speed and cocaine to heroin — with 25 months of sobriety from drugs and alcohol. Now that I do not go out to clubs or party, I am finding difficulty in relationships.

Women do not understand why I do not drink. When they ask, I tell them where drugs and alcohol have gotten me in the past. This always seems to scare them off.

I feel guilty not telling them that I used to be an intravenous drug user, but when they ask about the tattoo on my arm that symbolizes a promise to myself never to inject again. I am honest about what it stands for. I never shared needles, I have been tested for AIDS/Hep-C and all of the tests have returned negative.

I am having difficulty finding someone that understands.

Drug rehab on the cheap-er

Dear Alice,

If you have little resources (i.e., money) left, can you get some help in drug rehabilitation centers?

Supporting a loved one after drug rehab

Dear Alice,

I want to thank you and Columbia for this wonderful service! I have been browsing your archives for some help, here is the situation: I want to know what I can do to support my significant other when he is released from Drug Rehabilitation. Please help me!

Sincerely,
Keeping Clean After Rehab

 

How can I help my family member who struggles with alcohol?

Dear Alice,

My granddad has been an alcoholic for ages — way before I was born. I am really worried about my granddad’s drinking. My father doesn't like me to see him when he is drunk, but that is kind of hard. What are the best groups for alcoholics? And most importantly, what should I do?

Thanks,
Needing A Lot of Help

Quitting smokeless tobacco

Alice,

How can a person get help quitting the use of smokeless tobacco? All of the resources in this general area are geared toward helping smokers stop smoking, but a smokeless tobacco nicotine addict does not have a similar usage ritual as a smoker, but does have a similar, or worse, addiction than a smoker because the nicotine absorption levels are many times greater. Any suggestions as to how a smokeless tobacco user can get help stopping this addiction would be greatly appreciated.

— Snuff head

Quitting smoking = depression?

Dear Alice,

I quit smoking cigarettes seven days ago. I've quit before and I understand that this horrible loneliness and depression are just some of the withdrawal symptoms, but I don't know how to lessen the depression. Most of my friends are smokers, so I'm not going out much and I live alone. Is there a treatment for this kind of depression? How long does this last? It lasted over a month the last time I tried to quit smoking.

Can’t find information on the site about your health concern or issue?