The weather has been cold for three or four months now, and depending on whether the “groundhog” sees his shadow, there’s still some winter left to weather. If that fills you with dread - and you’ve been filled with dread for a couple months now - you might just be “SAD,” which in this case stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” It helps provide a name and a reason to what you may be calling “the winter blues.” What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer. What are the signs? Your “winter blues” could manifest in many different ways. You may be oversleeping or really craving those high-carbs sweets more than normal. You may also describe it as being “blah” but consider whether you feel any of these possible symptoms:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Beat the Winter Blues This winter in Colorado, we’ve seen warmer winter days and less snow, but with low light levels we’re still hearing from patients that they are feeling antsy, and a little pent up. How do you curb these pent up feelings? Why not take advantage of what we have - take advantage of the warmth and get outside for your daily exercise by running, hiking, biking or taking a walk at lunch. Don’t have time to get out? Consider the following ideas:
- Go out and play! If you can't seem to muster the energy to work out this time of year, try "playing" instead. You can burn quite a few calories playing indoors or out. The best part about playing is that it doesn't feel like working out—though you can still get your heart rate up and have an excellent cardio session.
- Take up a winter sport. If you're a competitive type, why not try a new winter sport? From skiing to snowshoeing, there are many great options that burn mega calories and put a whole new twist on your cold-weather workout plans
- Get creative at home. Sure, getting to the gym can be more of a hassle when it is cold outside, but never use snowy weather as an excuse to miss your daily exercise. Instead, workout at home, where's it's cozy and warm. Whether you pop in a new workout DVD, invest in a few pieces of fitness equipment or even just use your body weight for a killer workout, exercising at home can be a convenient (and fun!) solution to staying on track. And the best part about working out from your own home? You don't have to worry about sharing a TV with fellow gym goers or possibly catching an illness at the gym. Home really is where the (healthy) heart is.
- Try something new. There's nothing like signing up for a new class or joining an indoor sports league to get you up and moving during chilly months. By trying something new, you reignite your motivation for fitness, cold weather and all! Whether it's indoor volleyball, a dodgeball league, a bootcamp class or even tennis lessons at a local indoor racquet club, participating in a regular activity that you've paid for (or have teammates counting on you to play in) is a fantastic way to stay active in the winter time. You might even make some new friends or learn some new skills.
- Set a big goal—and some little goals. If winter weather leaves your motivation to exercise colder than an icicle, heat things up with a challenging, new goal. It can be anything from losing those last 10 pounds, to running a 5K (yes, you can still run outside in the cold) or even doing a full pull-up, but choose a goal that you really want and that will stretch you beyond your comfort zone to reach it. Setting a smart goal that you then break down into smaller, achievable action steps is a great way to start. Instead of focusing on simply working out this winter, this type of goal-setting allows you to focus on the bigger picture—your dreams.
- Get excited. If you've never been a winter fan, start focusing on what you do love about it and how this time of year provides new opportunities for your fitness and health. From eating delicious in-season produce (oranges, kale, and chestnuts, oh my!), to curling up with a big mug of sugar-free hot cocoa in front of the fireplace after a long workout, there is much to love about winter when you embrace and appreciate it.
Did you know October is Depression Awareness Month? Mental health is a key component to your health. Common behavioral and mental health disorders, even suicide are extremely important to talk about with your doctor. Even if you feel that you’ve just been feeling a little “off” your doctor can help. Depression is far too common and can easily be treated. We are here to help and are helping to promote Depression Awareness Month. Depression Awareness Month is held annually in October, it is an education and screening event conducted by hospitals, clinics, colleges, and community groups nationwide. Much like the medical community screens for diabetes and high blood pressure, this awareness month offers large-scale mood disorder screenings and awareness. Screenings include depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, and we provide treatment resources for you and your family. Did You Know?
- Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
- Depression and anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
- People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
- Depression and anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Anxiety disorders are extremely common. An anxiety disorder is a medical condition that interferes with your life. It can make it difficult for you to handle your job or school responsibilities, do daily tasks, concentrate, and establish and maintain personal relationships. It might even make it difficult for you to leave your home or get out of bed. Untreated, anxiety disorders can lead to even more severe, even life-threatening conditions, including: Depression Anxiety disorder and depression often occur together. They have similar symptoms and can be difficult to tell apart. Both can cause agitation, insomnia, the inability to concentrate, and feelings of anxiety. Substance abuse If you have anxiety disorder, you are at increased risk for addiction to many substances. These include alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs. If you have depression along with anxiety disorder, your risk increases. Often, people with anxiety use alcohol and other substances to relieve their symptoms. There is no evidence that alcohol actually relieves anxiety, but the belief that it does can bring some relief. Some people report temporary relief from anxiety while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. However, long-term alcohol use can cause biological changes that may actually produce anxiety. People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social phobia are especially at risk for alcohol and drug abuse. Smoking and substance abuse are also common in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Adolescents with PTSD also have an increased risk of eating disorders. Physical illness Anxiety disorder increases your risk of developing certain illnesses. Chronic stress, which may be associated with anxiety, can compromise your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to infections, such as colds, the flu, and other viral and bacterial diseases. Stress management will probably be an ongoing concern, and symptoms may get worse during periods of acute stress. But with a combination of medication and psychotherapy, most people with anxiety disorder can control their symptoms and live a fairly normal and comfortable life. Suicide According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with mental illness. This can include anxiety. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 4 percent of adults per year in the United States have serious thoughts about suicide. These numbers are higher in people who also have depression. If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or social phobia, you are also at an increased risk for suicide. If you have one of these anxiety disorders along with depression, your risk is even greater.
The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests, stress and depression. With all of the parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, etc. it’s no wonder why people find it hard to get though. In this post, we are offering practical tips for you to minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays.
- Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s okay to express your feelings and grief.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
- Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Stick to your budget and consider the following alternatives:
- Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold onto, and be open to creating new ones.
- Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.=
- Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
- Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Studies have found, many living with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin, are twice as likely to become depressed as the rest of the population. Physicians believe the biological changes that cause psoriasis may also cause depression, and the visible symptoms associated are often additional triggers for depression as well. Depression can have a significant impact on quality of life. It's important to look out for symptoms of depression and seek treatment if you’re dealing with psoriasis. If you have any of the following symptoms, discuss them with your doctor:
- Problems sleeping
- Feeling like you cannot get out of bed
- Low or loss of energy
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Problems focusing