Natural winter mood boosters We love winter here in Colorado, but after long stints of cold weather at times you may long for winter to turn to summer. Here are a few ideas to boost your mood and keep you mentally healthy, and happy during this winter season. Revel in the sunshine. Luckily, we’re here in a state that gets approximately 300 days of sunshine per year. Getting enough sunshine is a simple and natural way to boost your mood. During the day, leave your curtains and blinds open as long as possible. If you can, take a walk while it’s still bright out, preferably in the morning. Sunshine may increase levels of serotonin—a natural antidepressant—in the brain. Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Sleep is crucial to feeling your best. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep (7–9 hours for most adults) and maintain a consistent bedtime. Good sleep will help you improve your mood and overall mental health Pet your pooch. A fun way to beat the winter blues is spending time with your furry friend. Petting your dog for just 15 minutes has been shown to release a flurry of mood-boosting hormones including oxytocin. Sweat it out. In the long term, exercise can help lessen the severity of depression symptoms. But it can have an immediate effect on your health too. Research has found that exercise can lift your spirits immediately following a sweat session, thanks to feel-good endorphins released during a workout, often referred to as a “runner’s high.” Opt for nutritious foods. Wintertime can make you crave unhealthy comfort foods, but good nutrition is paramount to feeling your best. Opt for a balanced mix of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Omega-3 fatty acids, like the kind found in fish, have been proven to be especially mood-boosting. Relieve stress. Leave enough time in your schedule for self-care. Pour yourself a warm bubble bath, curl up with a good novel, treat yourself to a pedicure, or work on learning a new skill, such as knitting or painting. Go to yoga! Start a gratitude journal. Every night before bed, write down three things you’re grateful for. Studies show that people who regularly practice gratitude are happier in general. Still finding it hard to beat the winter blues? Come see us, we can help.
The amazing effects pets have on mental health. Studies are continually showing that pets aren’t just fun to have around the house – there is health-boosting power among our furry, scaly or feathered friends. Everything from increasing activity to making you happier, pets have a wonderful impact on your psyche. It’s no surprise that owning a pet – particularly a dog – makes you more active, but the list of health benefits that come with that might surprise. Older adults who own a dog have a lower body mass index, make fewer visits to the doctor and do more exercise. Research also shows that the stronger your bond with your pooch, the more likely you are to walk, and spend longer walking. With all those walks, pets tend to be good for your heart too. The American Heart Association undertook a study about how owning pets affects your chance of developing cardiovascular disease, including conditions that affect your heart and blood, such as stroke or coronary heart disease. Researchers found that having a pet – a dog, in particular – is probably associated with reducing your chances of developing CVD, though they were careful not to overstate this. In a follow-up study researchers again looked at how having a dog or cat affected your health, and this time felines came up trumps. They found that having a cat is associated with a reduced chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, especially strokes. This shows that it’s not just the exercise associated with having a pet that helps you – the stress relief and companionship also have very physical benefits. Pets make you more sociable. Even though you might feel grumpy sometimes and think you like quiet, humans are social animals. It’s important for our physical and mental health to have contact with other people – and our four-legged friends are a brilliant way to get you talking. Pets increase the number of off-chance chats you have and help people trust you and are brilliant ice-breakers. Social isolation is a huge health problem, particularly for the elderly. In fact, social isolation can increase your chances of dying early. So, what may seem like a trivial chat over the garden wall when looking for your cat or in the park when walking your dog, can be hugely significant for your mental and physical health. Pets stop loneliness. It’s not just that pets help you build a wider social network – many people have pets as companions. They make you happy, give you a routine and are great company – all of which adds your quality of life and boosts your everyday mental health. Pets reduce your stress. If you want to try and control your stress levels, go and chat to your pet. Studies have shown that pet owners reacted less to stress – and recovered from it much quicker – when their pets were present. Another study took 48 people with high blood pressure and high stress jobs. Researchers measured how they responded to stress before the test. Then, some of them bought a pet and six months later researchers again measured their response to stress. The results were interesting: after 6 months pet owners had less of a physical response to stress compared with those who didn’t have a four-legged friend. Pets are great. And a lot of them need homes. Help out a pet (adopt!) while helping to improve your mental health.
Youth Suicide Prevention Week In order to bring awareness to mental health in your youth, we’d like to tell you about “Youth Suicide Prevention Week”, and awareness week happening September 9-15. Although this is just a week, this is an issue that needs to be discussed year long. As healthcare providers, we are partaking in youth mental health screenings to ensure issues are brought to light before anything serious happens. The following is a list of warning signs your youth may be in trouble and at risk for suicidal behaviors:
- Talking about or making plans for suicide
- Expressing hopelessness about the future
- Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress
- Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
- Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
- Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
- Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
- Recent increased agitation or irritability
Teens and Mental Health: The New American Academy of Pediatrics Report Did you know, as many as one in every five teens experience depression at some point during adolescence? Unfortunately, these teens often go undiagnosed and untreated, sometimes because of a lack of access to mental health specialists. Pediatricians and other primary care providers (doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, etc.) are often in the best position to identify and help struggling teens. Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published updated medical guidelines on adolescent depression. This is a two part guideline was published last month. This is the first update to the guidelines in 10 years, serving as a tool for physicians and offering recommendations for the patient and family members’ participation. This important document can be found at the following links:
- Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care:(GLAD-PC): Part I. Practice Preparation, Identification, Assessment, andInitial Management
- Guidelines for Adolescent Depression in Primary Care:(GLAD-PC): Part II. Treatment and Ongoing Management
- Providing a treatment team that includes the patient, family and access to mental health expertise
- Offering education and screening tools to identify, assess and diagnose patients
- Counseling on depression and options for management of the disorder
- Developing a treatment plan with specific goals in functioning in the home, peer and school settings.
- Developing a safety plan, as needed, which includes restricting lethal means, such as firearms in the home, and providing emergency communication methods.
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.
Alzheimer's Disease... Your mind is such an important part of your being. Many Americans often start losing their memory and all too common suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. At first, someone with Alzheimer's disease may notice mild confusion and difficulty remembering. Eventually, people with the disease may even forget important people in their lives and undergo dramatic personality changes. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia — a group of brain disorders that cause the loss of intellectual and social skills. In Alzheimer's disease, the brain cells degenerate and die, causing a steady decline in memory and mental function. Current Alzheimer's disease medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms. This can sometimes help people with Alzheimer's disease maximize function and maintain independence for a little while longer. But because there's no cure for Alzheimer's disease, it's important to seek supportive services and tap into your support network as early as possible. Starting to feel a difference in your memory and have additional questions about Alzheimer's disease? Make sure to talk to your doctor.
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