Change of seasons can change your mood

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People are effected in all kinds of ways with the change of the seasons. Today is blustery, windy, cool, dark with the promise of rain, lots of rain. It’s fall. That means there will be less sunlight in the day, more cold weather, more darkness. I don’t mind the fall. I love Halloween, the change of colors, the cooler temperatures.

Some people dread the fall. It means the beginning of a season of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), now called Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern in the DSM 5, is the onset of depression at the beginning of a specific season, like fall or winter, which disappears at the onset of a specific season, like spring or summer. Yes, it could happen the other way around, though rare. If you start to feel more sad, irritable, sleepy or anxious and your desire to do your usual activities wanes in the shorter days. You might have SAD.

Like “regular” depression, the brain chemicals that regulate mood, serotonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine, seem to dip during the shorter days. The theory is the decrease in sunlight impacts circadiam rhythms, causing sleepiness, disruptions in sleep and drop in serotonin. Therefore, theoretically, using a UV light should help! Light therapy has been demonstrated to work well for people with seasonal patterns of depression. I have seen it work with clients who used it properly. Getting an at home UV light can be tricky. Not all light therapy boxes are created equal. Be sure to get one with full spectrum UV/UB lights. One that won’t burn you like the sun, but will give you the advantages of the light.

Depending on the severity of one’s depression, light therapy and being active socially and physically, can make all the difference. Some others may need medication to alleviate the seasonal sadness. Some people just head south and spend the winter in warmer climates.

Here is some information from NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) on SAD.

http://nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Seasonal_Affective_Disorder_(SAD).htm

Mental Health awareness

May is National Mental Health Awareness month.

May mental health

Mental Illness is grossly misunderstood. Many people go by what they have heard on television or seen in movies, or by a neighbor’s grandparent, uncle or distant cousin. You might be amazed at how many people you know who have struggled with a mental illness. One in 4 (25%) people in the United States deal with a mental illness every year.(NAMI.org)

A mental illness is not just “crazy” people. Some crazy people don’t have a mental illness, just extreme beliefs. One of the most popular first films about mental illness is “One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest.”  I also saw one from 1948 called “The Snake Pit” where a house wife was hospitalized due to a mental break down. Which today we might just call “Monday.” 😉

The reality of mental illness is a long way’s from the media. I had a client fear telling people she had bipolar disorder because recently a grandmother had killed her grandchildren and the news announced that she had bipolar. She feared that people would think she was dangerous. Even clients I have worked with who have been diagnosed with a disorder for years, do not really understand it. It’s part of my job to help them understand the disorder, how it works and impacts them, and what they can do to manage it effectively.

Education is the key to control and compassion.

Mental Illness is any diagnosable disorder in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). These include depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, ADHD, autism, schizophrenia and many more. Some need medication, some don’t. ALL of them run on a scale from mild to severe.

If you don’t understand, have never had experience with, or encounter someone with a mental illness, don’t trust your judgement on this. Research it and get informed. We get incorrect, skewed, and misrepresented information from too many places. Also, don’t assume that every person who has PTSD will be just like your nephew after he returned from the war. Everyone’s experience with mental illness is unique.

Here are some sites to get information on some common mental illnesses:

http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/default.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health

http://www.typesof-mentalillness.com/

You can also contact your local NAMI chapter for community resources and information.