Saturday, January 19, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Do you feel a little blue in the winter?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression triggered by the shorter periods of light in winter. Annual episodes usually begin in the fall and end in March or April, with the coming of spring. according to NIMH estimates, some 10 million Americans have SAD. Sufferers feel helpless and guilt-ridden and have difficulty thinking and making decisions. They typically crave carbohydrate-rich foods and gain weight during the cold months, and spend many more hours asleep, yet feel chronically exhausted.

Symptoms of SAD

  • Sleep problems: Desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake, but in some cases disturbed sleep and early morning wakening.

  • Lethargy: Feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine.

  • Overeating: Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, usually resulting in weight gain

  • Depression: Feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem, sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes apathy and loss of feelings

  • Social problems: Irritability and desire to avoid social contact

  • Anxiety: Tension and inability to tolerate stress

  • Loss of Libido: Decreased interest in s*x and physical contact

  • Mood changes: In some sufferers, extremes of ood and short periods of hypoania (overactivity) in spring and autumn.

Most sufferers show signs of a weakened immune system during the winter, and are more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses. SAD symptoms disappear in spring, either suddenly or with a short period (4 weeks) of hyperactivity, or gradually, depending on the intensity of sunlight in the spring and early summer. SAD may begin at any age, but the main age of onset is between 18 and 30 years. Daily exercise has been shown to be helpful, particularly when done outdoors. For tose who tend to crave sweets during the winter, eating a balanced diet may help one's mood. Conversely, as the mood improves, craving for sweets may abate. Briht Light Therapy is one of the most common ways to counteract the symptoms of SAD. There are many lights on the market, but here are a few things to look for when searching for a lamp:

  1. UV-shielded for safety

  2. EMF- shielded for safety

  3. Flicker free

Friday, January 18, 2008

When is it more than a "bad day"

In the school district where I work it is Depression Edcation and Awareness month. The next 2 posts are taken from an article in the district monthly newspaper.

What is Depression?

Everyone at one time or another has felt depressed, sad or blue. Being depressed is a normal reaction to loss, life's stuggles, or an injured self-esteem. But sometimes the feeling of sadness becomes intense, lasting for long periods of time and preventing aperson from leading a normal life. Depression that has these characteristics is a treatable medical condition called Major Depressive Disorder, one of a number of depressive illnesses. According to a report from the National Institutes of Mental Health, nearly 18.8 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from major depression Suicide, closely linked to depression, is the third leading cause of death in 10-24 year olds. Unfortunately, most people never seek treatment. Left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can worsen, lasting for years and causing untold suffering and possibly even resulting in suicide. Serious depression does effect all ages, even children. Watch for syptoms of depression. If you observe someone close to you with symptoms of depression, contact someone that can get them the proper medical intervention. With proper medical intervention, depression is very treatable, especially in children.

What are the symptoms of depression (in children as well as adults)?

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of depression that you should be aware of:
  • Sadness
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Loss of enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Stomache and digestive problems
  • Decreased s*x drive
  • S*xual problems
  • Headaches
  • A change in appetite causing weight loss or gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Attempting suicide

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression, seek your health care provider's advice for treatment or referral to a mental health professional. All mentions of suicide or violence must be taken seriously. If you or someone you know has a plan to commit suicide, go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Life with depression

Today starts a series of posts on depression, anxiety, panic attacks and the like.

The alarm clock goes off, waking you from the sleep that took you most of the night to find. You rub your eyes and try to stretch, but stretching just makes you aware of how tired you really are. You rub your eyes again trying to clear the sleep induced fog from them. Maybe a shower will help.

After your shower, you rub your eyes again. Must be the steam from the water. Maybe breakfast will wake you up. You stand in front of the cupboard looking for something to eat. You don't want to eat, but you have to, your stomache is protesting being empty. You have a bowl of oatmeal, you hate oatmeal. You used to like food, didn't you?

Teeth are brushed and makeup on, you didn't have to think about them, they are automatic movements like breathing or you might never do them. They really take a lot of energy. You are so tired and just want to go back to bed, but life is calling. Go away and leave me alone, I just want to rest, you have to tell that voice to leave, you have life. Clothes. Pick jeans, any shirt will go with jeans and one more decsion that you don't have to make.

You wipe at your eyes again. Why does everything still look like a sleep induced fog?

Gotta go to work. Paste on the fake smile, the life is good mask. The, I am so blessed to be alive lie. Step into the big plastic bubble that you walk through life in. And wipe your eyes again.

Kids, work, questions, reports, filing, driving, bills, phone calls, e-mails to answer, I just want to go to bed, I am so tired.

Oh, the floor needs mopped- again. You are too tired to lift the mop, you'll get it tomorrow.

Is it time for bed yet? Rub your eyes.

Finally, everyone is in bed and the hotspots of the home are out, you can go to bed. You lie there, exhausted, but sleep is playing hide and seek again and you just cannot find him. Why won't he ever play a quiet, laying in the bed dreaming game?

The alarm clock goes off, waking you from the sleep that took you most of the night to find...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sabbath days

Wow, it has been two months since I posted here. I had a bad case of depression and it took a lot out of me. It seems to be lifting, though. January usually does bring the beginings of the end of the seasonal depression.

I was thinking today about the because of things. Our Sunday School teacher asked us what we would miss if we took away The Book of Mormon from our religion. I stated that, flaws and all, I would miss me because almost everything I am and do is because of my faith and knowledge of the gospel. Without it, I would be someone else. And so with that, I am going to post a somewhat different "Because of You" post.

Because of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I can repent and try to right my wrongs.
Because of my Savior, I can be better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.
Because of Him, I can return to live with my Father in Heaven.
Because of Him, I can be with my family forever.
Because of Him, I will again be able to see my friend that died on New Year's Eve.
Because of Him, someday my pain will be gone and I will be able to understand why I went through it
Because of Him, I have 7 wonderful children
Because of Him, when I am sad or lonely or depressed, or in pain, I know that I can pray and ask for help. The help may not be the taking away of the pain, or sadness, but a giving of strength to help me make it through. And that is ok-- eventually.

So, thank You for giving me this knowledge and this life. I may not always like it or appreciate it, but, because of You, it will be ok.