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
A promising target for kidney fibrosis
21.04.2017 | Brigham and Women's Hospital
Stem cell transplants: activating signal paths may protect from graft-versus-host disease
20.04.2017 | Technische Universität München
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences