February 2013 Health Beat

If you’re feeling sad, it might be SAD!

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!

Now that the holidays are over, are you feeling sad? Many people also feel sad this time of the year due to the short winter days and the cold winter temperatures.

The “winter blues” are very common. Winter blues are often related to something very specific like a stressful holiday season, a slump after the activities and fun of the holidays have ended, or reminders of loved ones that could not be with us for the holidays. The winter blues usually clear up in a short period of time without any treatment.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a clinical diagnosis that is related to the shortening of daylight hours. It occurs more often in women than in men and usually develops in a person’s early twenties. SAD follows a regular pattern appearing each year as the seasons change and going away several months later, usually in the spring or summer. SAD is more common in northern parts of the United States. SAD can lead to a very gloomy outlook. People can feel worthless, hopeless, and irritable. They may lose interest in activities they have previously enjoyed. People with SAD tend to have low energy levels, sleep a lot, crave comfort foods high in carbohydrates, and gain weight. With children, watch for feelings of low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating on school work, and low grades.

Begin by discussing your symptoms or your child’s symptoms with your doctor. Light therapy is often recommended for treatment of SAD. Try to begin light therapy in the fall before the symptoms of SAD begin. Light therapy does not work for everyone. Certain antidepressants and counseling have been shown to be effective for the treatment of SAD as well.

Other things you can do at home include eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, trying to get outside more-even on cloudy days, trying to exercise more often, and spending time with friends and in group activities.

If you notice symptoms of SAD in yourself or symptoms of depression in your child, TAKE IT SERIOUSLY!! Get help RIGHT AWAY if you or your child have any thoughts about harming yourselves or others. Call the toll-free Suicide Prevention Crisis Lifeline at 1-888-568-1112.

For more information about the winter blues, SAD, or depression in children visit www.nih.gov, www.aarp.org, www.maine.gov/suicide/help, or www.healthychildren.org.

Webmaster’s note: For those in the local area, we have a great local suicide prevention resource in the JD Foundation located in Abbot, Maine. Check out their website, find them on Facebook, or give them a call!

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