Posts filed under emotional health

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Cold, cloudy, rainy weather or, where I live, dense grey blankets of fog day after day!
The colder months can cause many of us to have low energy, lack motivation, seek comfort of the indoors, eat more carbs and feel down, “winter blues.”  However,  there is a condition that is beyond having the “winter blues” called Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD). 

 "Many people feel sluggish and down because of the weather, but Seasonal Affective Disorder is not the same as the 'winter blues,'" said Blake Casher, DO, psychiatrist and medical director of the geropsychiatric program at McLaren Greater Lansing. "The depression associated with SAD is often severe enough to require treatment."

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real condition that affects many people.  SAD is a biological and psychological condition caused by lack of sunlight, shorten days, and gloomy weather. The reduced light causes a lower production of “feel good” hormones in the brain, less serotonin, dopamine and  circadian rhythms are thrown off. It usually occurs during the winter months and subsides in the spring, although, fewer, there are some occurrences during other seasonal periods. It’s more prevalent the further away from the equator. More women than men are affected, however men are not immune to it. Telling someone with SAD to “Snap out of it” or “Be happy” doesn’t help. They can’t just turn it off.  Symptoms include excessive sleeping, avoidance of others, low self esteem, negative thinking, sadness. Women are diagnosed more with Seasonal Affective Disorder, 4 times as often as men. It is often seen in young adults, but can occur at any age. 


Light Therapy  Many have found relief from using special lights. Phototherapy treatment does require a one time purchase of special lights and having exposure to the light daily, usually 15 minutes to an hour. 

Go Outside    SAD is about the amount of light we take in daily. Even though it’s cold and cloudy, there are sun rays peaking through that are beneficial.Try to get outside for 10 - 20 minutes to get the benefits of natural light. Mornings are the best time for SAD; however any time will help.

Exercise  Better yet, exercise outside - double the benefit! This does not have to be an hour long exhaustive workout. Bundle up and go for a walk or bike ride. Exercise releases endorphins which are natural “feel good” hormones. 

Therapy   Speaking to a therapist can help you manage SAD. As with clinical depression, a therapist will listen to what you’re dealing with, design a individualized treatment plan and provide tools to help reduce the negative effects of SAD.

Socialize   The last thing you may want to do is be around people. However, adding a social activity or two around positive people or experiences during your week can help lift your mood. Meet with a friend for coffee, attend an event, join a small group. Check your local to find an interest group that you may like.

Medication Some may need to go on medication or other supplements. See a doctor that has knowledge of SAD that will work with you to find the best medication/supplements to meet your needs. 

Vitamin D  Research has shown boosting our intake of Vitamin D has been helpful. Exposure to sunlight causes our body to produce Vitamin D. Naturally, lack of sunlight reduces our body’s ability to produce it. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with depression.

Eat wisely  A unique symptom of SAD is you crave carbohydrates, sweets, starchy foods. Instead, eat complex carbs that will still satisfy the craving. Foods like beans, high fiber grains and brown rice. Add foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to boost serotonin (the chemical in the brain that regulates moods). 

You can get help with Seasonal Depression and feel better. Call me at 559-577-3994 for a free 15 minute consultation to talk further and decide if therapy might be right for you. 

Posted on January 30, 2017 and filed under depression, emotional health.

5 Minutes Can Make a Difference

5 Minutes a Day Can Make A Huge Difference

You Can't Live Without This - 5 minutes a day can make a HUGE difference. 

Busy schedules, fast paced life, the unexpected  - keeps you in "ON" mode all the time. Stressed, distressed, living in survival mode,  just trying to make it through the day.  If that's you, you’re not alone and believe me, I can relate. There was a time (and to be truthful, there still are times) when I was in total survival mode, just trying to keep my head above water . . . sometimes not doing very well at that!  As a single mom, only parent(widowed), with 3 active children, I felt I was running from one event to the next, soccer, gymnastics, swimming, practices, games, meets, school, meetings, juggling a ton of things except the balls were all tumbling down. Costco became my best friend for food with their easy frozen prepared meals. Funny thing, I use to make almost everything by scratch wanting the best for my family. But that was before . . .

Then, one day, my body said stop. I felt physically ill, nauseated, all my joints screamed with pain and were swollen. I had little to no energy. I was sinking below the surface. It was time to make some changes.

It is possible for you to make changes that will help you right now. What I didn’t know back then, is you can train your brain to let go of the stresses, be calm and transform. 

Neuroplasticity is a fairly recent word in neuroscience. Basically it means the brain can change. Good news since not too many years ago, we were told the brain could not change. So what does that mean for you and I? We can change and get unstuck. Here’s  a technique called Quick Coherence from Heart Math that starts the positive change in motion. 

5 Minutes a Day Makes a Difference

  1. Set aside 5 minutes a day - right now put a time on your calendar or on your phone.
  2. Find a place a free of distractions (just for 5 minutes). Try your bedroom, your car, your yard, somewhere convenient with few distractions. It you don’t make it easy, it probably won’t happen.
  3. Place your hand over your heart (near the center of your chest/sternum). Picture your heart as you breathe into it and breathe out of it for the 5 minutes.
  4. Bonus Step Think of someone, something or an event that is positive. NO negative attachments to it. For me it's my dog, Nicky, who is always happy to great me.

This simple exercise allows your heart and brain to work congruently to gain calmness internally It has cumulative effects as you continue to do this exercise. Here’s a resource for further information.   

For helpful tips