Mental health experts at Cedars-Sinai shed light on seasonal affective disorder
With the Holiday celebrations to attend and family gatherings to prepare for, the winter season can be a busy and joyful time of year. But for many, changes in light and temperature combined with the stresses of holiday events and heightened expectations can increase anxiety and cause depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder associated with depression episodes and related to seasonal variations in light. Andrea Rogers, Supervisor for Intensive Outpatient Programs in the Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai, offers warning signs and suggestions to combat seasonal affective disorder this Holiday season.
“As Seasons change, there is a shift in our “biological internal clocks” or circadian rhythm due partly because of changes in sunlight patterns,” says Rogers, “These changes combined with the stresses of Holiday travel, sensitive family dynamics and managing expectations can build a recipe for depression during the winter months. Juggling these variables can be challenging and can make it difficult to enjoy the joys of the season.”
According to the National Mental Health Association, the most difficult months for SAD sufferers are January and February, and younger persons and women are at higher risk.
According to Rogers, melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, is produced at increased levels in the dark. Melatonin also may cause symptoms of depression. When daylight savings time ends, and it begins getting dark earlier in the day, production of the hormone increases, which may cause depressive episodes. These biological variables mixed with environmental conditions such as cold weather, emotional reactions to holidays and anxiety can create a recipe for depression that can cast a “blue” cloud over the holiday season.
Phototherapy or bright light therapy has been shown to suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin. The device most often used today is a bank of white fluorescent lights on a metal reflector and shield with a plastic screen. For mild symptoms, spending time outdoors during the day or arranging homes and work places to receive more sunlight can be helpful.
Rogers recommends the following 6 tips to proactively reduce or eliminate environmental stressors and symptoms of SAD:
-- Let go of the past! The holidays bring out the “traditionalist” in most people, and many of us get caught up in trying to make the holidays just like years past. The reality is, every year brings about new circumstances, surprises and colorful characters who are bound to “rock the boat” during your “perfect” holiday celebration. “Reduce your anxiety about holiday traditions by acknowledging your opportunity to maximize your current circumstances to build new traditions, build on old ones, and abandon unrealistic expectations.” Says Rogers
-- Pace yourself. Unlike any other time of year, the holiday season is a time of celebrations, family gatherings, winter activities and entertaining visitors. These variables added on to an already busy lifestyle can cause unnecessary anxiety and hopelessness when projects begin “falling through the cracks”. The key to managing additional responsibilities and social commitments during this time is to pace yourself and organize your time. Make a list and prioritize your most important activities. Accept help, and allow for quiet time at regular intervals.
-- Acknowledge your feelings. The holiday season does not automatically banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, are far from family and/or friends, or are generally affected by changes in weather and light, it is ok to acknowledge that these feelings are present – even if you choose not to express them.
-- Don’t drink too much! Excessive drinking only perpetuates anxiety and depression. If you are prone to depression around this time of year, keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.
-- Create a support system. Spend time with people who are supportive and care about you. If that isn’t your family, then spend this time with friends. If you are far from home or alone during special times, make a proactive effort to build new friendships or contact someone you have lost touch with.
-- Seek treatment. Sometimes, SAD can get the best of us, even when proactively reducing stressors. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression during the winter months that are uncommon for you any other time of year, contact a mental health professional who can provide counseling and treatment to help you “weather the storm.”
For more information Seasonal Affective Disorder or Mental Health Programs at Cedars-Sinai, please call 1-800-CEDARS-1 or 1-800-233-2771.
Sandy Van | Van Communications
How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
22.03.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences