Is your favorite summer activity huddling in a dark room with the AC blasting, while your friends and family enjoy the sunshine? Does the thought of a trip to the beach leave you anxious and depressed? You may feel like a party pooper, but there could well be a physical reason for your plight--each year about 1.6 million Americans suffer from summer-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition whose symptoms include depression, anxiety, and an unusual sensitivity to heat and sunlight. Unfortunately, because summer-onset SAD is far less common than its winter cousin, experts have done less research on its etiology and developed fewer treatment options. Although there’s also less public awareness of the condition, those with summer SAD tend to be more agitated and are therefore at higher risk of suicide than those who experience the winter version.
Dealing with financial issues and taxes can be difficult for all of us, but they can be espe
cially challenging when you’re experiencing depression. It can be hard to take care of your basic needs when you feel down or hopeless, let alone interact with other people, get or hold a job, or manage your money. Job loss, unemployment, and debt can compound depression or trigger an episode in those prone to it. Although it may seem like you don’t have many options, there are many stress-reducing tips and low-cost programs that can help you get your finances in order or get you back on your feet.
I first noticed our art director’s performance start to slip a few months after she came back from maternity leave. At first, she had been her usual self: sharp, dedicated, punctual, funny. She seemed to be handling the transition back to the office well. Then she began coming in late and walking straight to her office instead of chatting with the rest of us over coffee in the kitchen. When we started working on a major ad campaign with a sneaker retailer, our small firm’s biggest client, she was consistently late with the layouts and her ideas just didn’t seem as inspired as usual. Then, she missed an important internal review meeting and I really started getting annoyed. One quarter of our annual revenue was riding on this campaign. I decided I needed to talk with her about her performance and started steeling myself for the discussion.
Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression triggered by the change in seasons, primarily occurring in the late fall/early winter. For the approximately 10 million Americans with SAD, feeling sad, hopeless or lethargic for days or weeks at a time are common symptoms and a constant struggle. SAD, like any form of depression, if untreated can limit your ability to function on daily basis and enjoy your life to the fullest.
“When I was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder, I was taken aback.” said writer Marie Rudowski. “It was 1993 and ‘depression’ wasn’t quite a household word yet. People with mental illnesses were considered weak or even throwaways. I was glad to have a diagnosis, but I didn’t want to think of myself as ‘broken.’"
In an effort to get treatment to the millions of Americans suffering from undiagnosed depression, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) recently recommended that all adults be screened for the disease. Published in the January 26, 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the USPSTF recommendation places special emphasis on screening pregnant and postpartum women who are less likely to be diagnosed and treated. The USPSTF’s recommendation is a major step towards adoption of the practice nationwide.
When Valentine’s Day hearts and cupids start going up in store windows, and we begin hearing about peoples’ plans for romantic celebrations, it’s hard not to give at least some consideration to your own relationships or how far you may seem to be from having normal relationships. If you’re suffering from depression, the holiday hoopla can remind you how painful interactions with people can be, how alone you may feel, and how far you may seem to be from normal relationships. Those who are undiagnosed or unaware that they have depression may blame themselves for their intensely pessimistic feelings and for distancing themselves from relationships with friends, families, and partners.
Part three of three in our series on depression and the holidays.
Though the holidays can be a joyous time of year, they also come with seasonal stressors that can bring on the blues or trigger depressive episodes in those prone to the disease. In the last two posts, we discussed holiday stressors, as well as antidepressant medication, which is the first line of therapy for those suffering from major depression. There is also a subset of patients who do not respond adequately to antidepressants. For those who don't find relief from medication, there are now excellent non-pharmaceutical alternatives available, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a highly effective treatment with minimal side effects.
Part two of three in our series on depression and the holidays.
Holiday stress can be tough for anyone to handle, but it’s especially difficult for those of us who are prone to depression or going through personal challenges. Tense family gatherings, debilitating weather, high expectations, and the strain on our wallets can bring on the holiday blues or trigger depression.
The holidays can be a wonderful time to get together with family and friends. However, all the preparation, obligations, and unrealistic expectations can also lead to stress and anxiety. With the season stretching from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, it’s not uncommon to develop a touch of the blues along the way. And for those prone to depression, seasonal stressors can also trigger a depressive episode or exacerbate existing symptoms. While the holiday blues are temporary, depression is a serious illness that doesn’t disappear after the season is over. If you’re feeling down this winter, it’s important to recognize holiday pressures and understand the critical differences between temporary sadness and clinical depression.