I’m not afraid to admit I get a little bummed out as summer transitions to autumn, and then to winter. The perfectly named Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is an affliction of which I’ve always suffered, but for the longest time I thought I was being an overly sensitive wimp. After a mild and jovial summer, the cool air that gusts melancholy over the Midwest in early September had me wondering if I was about to get SAD again, if it was a legitimate condition, and if so, what I could do fight it.
I shot our resident mental health expert, Brooke Randolph, LMHC an email asking her about SAD, and she revealed that after two decades of speculation, SAD had officially been classified as a common disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In 2023—before SAD was an official diagnosis—Brooke wrote, “Our natural response to the seasonal changes only becomes a disorder when the distress is in excess of what would be expected from the stressor (seasonal change) and/or when it interferes with functioning in more than one key life area.” For example, if seasonal change begins to negatively impact your responsibilities as an employee, student, or partner, you probably have SAD. (more…)
Remember the last time you ate so much that you felt sick, and with dried marinara on your chin you decried, “I’m in a food coma!”? You had been binge eating, and you could be mentally ill.
On May 18, the American Psychiatric Association released the DSM-5, the most recent update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. For the first time in the manual’s 60-year history, binge eating was included. For mental health professionals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, and the legal system, this handbook acts as the official and standard criteria for classifying mental disorders. Since everyone occasionally overeats, the designation of binge eating as a legitimate mental illness almost seems imprecise and excessive, but binging is associated with seriously negative psychological symptoms.
The inclusion of binge eating in the DSM-5 is a contentious issue in the mental health community, because some feel it will be over-applied or linked to common problems with overeating.
To illustrate my point, let’s go back to that food coma. After you’ve overeaten, you didn’t feel well, and you were bummed out, confused as to why you thought six slices of pizza and a two liter of soda was a good idea, and you probably wanted to turn back time and eat a salad. Those feelings are light-hearted representations of depression, guilt, and lack of self control, which are all manifestations of a mental illness. (more…)
A study from the American Academy of Neurology has found a link between sweetened drinks and a higher risk of depression, with diet soda being the highest risk. Conversely, unsweetened coffee got kudos for appearing to decrease the depression risk.
“Sweetened beverages, coffee and tea are commonly consumed worldwide and have important physical — and may have important mental — health consequences,” said study researcher Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., an investigator in the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Researchers studied the drinking habits of 263,925 people between 50 and 71 years old for a year. After a decade they checked back in with them and found 11,311 participants were diagnosed with depression. Frequently consuming sweetened drinks was linked to a modestly higher risk of depression. (more…)
The holidays are undoubtedly a stressful time of year and many folks become highly vulnerable to anxiety and depression when the sleigh bells start to ring.
Instead of reaching for food, try rolling out your yoga mat. Studies have shown that a regular yoga and meditation practice can reduce stress and help fight depression.
The following is a short list of three must-do yoga poses that beat the holiday blues. Practice them at least once a day or as needed. This short series will help tame your tension and get you back in to a cheerful holiday spirit.
When you are ready to take a mental vacation from the mayhem, begin your yoga practice with child’s pose.
Come down on to your hands and knees, reach your hips back over your heels, and rest your forehead on the mat, your stacked forearms, or on a pillow. Close your eyes and stay in the pose for up to ten long, slow, deep breaths.
Child’s pose will instantly induce a state of calm and help get you feeling centered and ready to face any challenges that may lie ahead. When you are ready to exit the pose, do so slowly. Coming up too fast will negate the benefits of the pose and could be agitating to your state of mind. (more…)
Sometimes life can catch us off guard, whether for good or worse. Julie Ragland (right, in the photo) can testify to this truth. Her journey through weight gain and weight loss were not in her original life plans, but she’s managed to give this story a happy ending. With many positive changes since spring 2023, Julie has gone from depressed and weighing 243 pounds to being a spirited, happy woman who weighs 189 pounds. She says she’s not done losing weight (with 25 more pounds to go), but her weight loss to date has given her back much that she lost.
Julie admits that life was good leading up to 2023. Weight was not an issue for her, she had been an athlete playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, and was also a cheerleader. However, this all changed when her family was overwhelmed with many tragedies. Julie admits to falling into a depression that came with “a huge weight gain.” This weight gain manifested in struggles through many areas of her life.
Julie told us, “I struggled with my body image and the way that I thought that others perceived me because of my weight. I didn’t hang out with friends much because I was ashamed of my weight gain and I thought I was being judged.”
Julie stopped shopping for clothes because it only fueled her depression. She said she’d only buy shoes or purses, but never clothes. However, it was the clothes that caused Julie to see things differently.
“My Ah-ha Moment came when my size 18 jeans started getting tight on me and I REFUSED to put a 2 in the front of my size!” (more…)
I’ve always joked that exercise is the medicine for everything, much to my husband’s displeasure. But now there may be a little more scientific evidence behind this idea. A new report from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology is suggesting that exercise may provide just as much relief as medication for people with heart disease who are also depressed.
To conduct the study, researchers examined 101 heart patients with signs of depression. Participants were asked to exercise for just 90 minutes per week in addition to taking the depression medicine Zoloft, and those who complied saw noticeable improvements compared to those who took a placebo pill instead.
More specifically, 37 participants were assigned three exercise sessions per week, 40 were prescribed Zoloft, and 24 were given a placebo. Over the course of the 4-year study, results were collected every four months to gauge which intervention method was most effective.
Researchers used a scale of 0-68 to monitor depression levels; 0-8 was considered normal, and higher scores equaled more severe depression. Before treatment began, each group’s score averaged 13.5 to 14.5. And by the end of the study, scores decreased by 6.1 points in the Zoloft group, 7.5 points in the exercise group, and 4.5 points in the placebo group. In addition, the exercise group was also less likely to report tiredness and sexual problems. (more…)
Ever suspected that your food may be affecting the way you feel? Namely, your mood? Well new research out of Spain has confirmed a link between fast food consumption and depression. Even though fatty foods can temporarily boost our mood, the longterm affects are doing more harm than good on our mental – and physical – health.
The study observed 8,964 participants over the course of six months, especially taking into account their eating habits. Researchers found that those who consumed fast food were 51 percent more likely to develop depression. And among that group, those who ate more fast food were at even greater risk for suffering from depression.
The study also revealed the type of person who is most likely to be a junk food eater. Researchers found a trend among single, inactive people with poor eating habits, such as eating minimal fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables and olive oil. This demographic, said researchers, also tended to be smokers who worked more than 45 hours a week. (more…)
Unknown to many, Amanda Beard silently struggled with bulimia and depression for years. The multiple Olympics medal winning swimmer and successful model agonized for years over her physical appearance. Even though everyone else saw a thin beautiful and successful woman, Beard thought of herself as fat, ugly and a failure.
In her college years she had begun cutting herself to deal with the extreme agony she was going through. Along with the cutting, she became bulimic as a way to cope with all the pressure and her low self-esteem. Through the years, no one suspected a thing because on the outside she appeared to be so successful.
She told Today’s Ann Curry, “I felt like an idiot saying I was struggling so much inside because I was an Olympic athlete. I was having a great career. I had my own house. There were all these great things going on in my life, but on the inside, I was hating everything about me.”
Beard began to feel the pressure at a young age. She won her first medal when she was only 14 years old. She said that it was a lot for a teen to take in, that she felt the constant need to look beautiful, thin and perfect. The pressure was magnified when during her second Olympics in Syndney in 2000, the media began saying she had put on weight. (more…)
You have heard of postpartum depression. You may have heard of post-nuptial depression. You might have even heard of post-adoption depression syndrome. Today, I am introducing the idea of a post-Super Bowl depression. There are hormonal changes involved with postpartum depression, but there are other contributing factors that all of these share, as well as factors unique to each. Below are six things you can do to help you recover from Super Bowl XLVI and avoid post-Super Bowl depression, whether you were cheering for the Giants or the Patriots.
Eat Healthy Food – Let’s face it you probably have not been eating the purest diet in the last couple of weeks. You have likely ended up eating a lot of snacks and food on the go. I saw a tweet from @EatThisNotThat that said Americans eat more on Super Bowl Sunday than they do on any other day, except Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this probably includes low nutritional value items high in processed ingredients. The more nutritional your food is the more physical energy you will have and the more emotional energy you will have as well.
Find Something to Anticipate – After such an exciting week and intense game, getting back to the daily grind is likely to feel like a grind. Some may feel accomplished in being productive again, but others may be left thinking “now what?”. Investing so much energy into planning an event is one of the reasons that post-anything-depression exists. My secret to making it through the winter is to plan for and celebrate the next thing. I can find a holiday or special even every couple of weeks. Valentine’s Day may or not be something for you to anticipate, but Mardi Gras is coming up or the more creative may enjoy the lists of something to celebrate every day. (more…)
According to a recent study published by a joint venture of the University of Texas Southwest’s Medical Center and the Cooper Institute in Dallas, having low levels of vitamin D can be linked to depression.
What is Depression?
Major depressive disorder (MDD) or depression, as it is widely known, is a mental disorder where extreme feelings of sadness persist for months or even years. People that suffer from depression can’t seem to shake the feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair that they experience. They also tend to lose interest in the activities that they once enjoyed and withdraw from loved ones and friends.
The study followed 12,600 adult men and women over a four year period. Participants were divided into groups based on whether they had a past history of depression or not. Their vitamin D levels were tested in addition to taking into consideration whether or not they were currently exhibiting symptoms of depression. (more…)
While the mortality rate of women with breast cancer is decreasing, the incidence of depression in women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer is on the rise. As many as 50% of all women who are affected with the disease will experience some kind of post-recovery melancholy. Thankfully, researchers from the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri have brought to our attention a specific meditation technique, and suggest how it can help breast cancer survivors revive their zest for life.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a type of mindfulness training that uses the mind to combat anxiety and bring about a sense of wellbeing. It includes mental practices that heighten physical awareness, as well as yoga and time spent in quiet, reflective meditation. Developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, MBSR helps people foster their own mind-body connection, as well as create a deeper awareness of how thoughts and feelings can affect physical and emotional health.
The MBSR program consists of eight to ten week group sessions including practice in meditation skills, stress response and coping techniques. The University of Missouri’s team of researchers gathered data from the participants during and after the group sessions. Measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate were recorded. Not surprisingly, the participants’ physical responses to MBSR were favorable. Blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate all decreased, suggesting a lowered stress response. In addition, the subjects said their mood improved and their level of mindfulness increased.