Let’s talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)! Most of us love this time of the year due to the holidays, spending time with family and loved ones. However, the change of seasons can cause significant alterations in your mood. Less sun, colder temps, and decreased social engagements/turn-ups can impact your mood if you are not careful. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can resemble depression, and you should be aware of the following signs.
- Feelings of fatigue and being tired all of the time
- Excessive sleeping or decreased ability to sleep
- Weight gain due to overeating or loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not wanting to engage in activities or be around people that you once enjoyed
- Increased agitation, irritability, or anxiety
What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
- Serotonin Levels- Serotonin keeps us happy! With decreased sunlight comes decreased levels of the “happy” chemicals our brain naturally makes. Low levels of serotonin equal depressed mood.
- Disruption in sunlight affects our circadian rhythm/our internal clock! If your body’s biological clock is disrupted, sadness may pursue.
When should you seek help for SAD?
- Problems at school and work as a result of your symptoms
- Social withdraw from family and loved ones
- Increased use of substances to cope
- Thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or others
LET’S TALK ABOUT PTSD AND HOW IT IS NOT JUST A “MILITARY ” THING
BY DR. DANA HUBBARD, DHA, LCSW-C
June is PTSD awareness month. Most of us in the black community lack the understanding of what specifically is PTSD. Please believe me it is not just a military disorder. Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is when someone has experienced, witnessed, or had a close encounter with an event that may have caused significant harm, danger, helplessness, or intense fear. This article will help you understand what 5 things you should know and look out for.
1.HAVE YOU WITNESSED OR PERSONALLY HAD A TRAUMATIC EVENT. If the answer to this question is yes, you have one of the requirements of PTSD. Some of us in the black community may have experienced trauma (traumatic events) before we reached adulthood. Some of these traumatic events include witnessing domestic violence, experiencing childhood sexual or physical abuse, or if you from the inner city have witnessed a few folks getting their a** beat or even killed.
2. THE EVENT HAS HAPPENED MORE THAN 6 MONTHS AGO, NOW WHAT. If the traumatizing event has happened six months ago and you are experiencing the following things, you should seek support
3. YOU ARE EXPERIENCING THESE SYMPTOMS PERIODICALLY. PTSD affects the body’s trauma response/nervous system significantly. Our body gives us cues that “we are not ok“ and most individuals lack the awareness of what should be concerning.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Outburst of Anger/Irritability that you cannot control
- Nightmares and/or trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Avoidance of people or things that make you think about the event
- Lack of interest in activities that used to bring you joy
- anxiety, extreme sadness out of nowhere, neglect of personal appearance, decreased hygiene
- Difficulty maintaining and establishing HEALTHY AND EFFECTIVE relationships.
4. YES, I HAVE ANSWERED ALL THE ABOVE NOW WHAT? Many of my clients have had PTSD for years and have gone undiagnosed and sometimes misdiagnosed/being treated as something else
(ADHD, ANXIETY). If you go untreated, by not seeing a mental health therapist or medication (if you desire), PTSD can significantly disrupt your life. It can cause extreme distance and detachment in intimate/loving relationships, impair your work and social life.
5.WHAT SHOULD I DO NEXT DR. D contact or consult with a mental health therapist. These professionals are equipped with tools that can help ups navigate through your PTSD symptoms. PTSD is not a curable disorder. However, you can live a healthy and effective life if you seek proper treatment. Please do not think medication is the only way to manage your symptoms. As someone who has a personally been diagnosed with pTSD, it does not define you or your capabilities. You have options and can choose the best treatment plan for you with a licensed professional’s assistance.
- DREAMS ABOUT THE EVENT
- REOCCURRING ANXIOUSNESS OR DISTRESSING ACCOUNTS OF THE EVENT INCLUDING IMAGES, THOUGHTS, OUT OF NOWHERE
- FLASHBACKS OR INCIDENTS THAT CAUSES YOUR BODY TO RESPOND AS IF THE DANGER IS AROUND AGAIN (PANIC ATTACKS, RACING HEARTS, FEELINGS OF INTENSE FEAR)
- You’ve been feeling low or irritable for most of the day, every day for two weeks or more. You might have found yourself worrying about past or future events for long periods of time, or simply feeling sad, cross or tearful. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a gradual change – have others noticed that you don’t seem your usual self?
- You’ve lost interest in activities that you used to enjoy. Perhaps you have been seeing less of your friends or family recently, have stopped going to the gym, or cooking balanced meals. This is really about recognizing changes in what’s normal for you – no one is saying you have to exercise five times a week or eat your greens, but changes in your routine can offer concrete indications that your mood is changing.
- You are struggling to concentrate. You might notice that you struggle to focus when reading or watching television, for example, or to follow the thread of a spoken conversation. This could be affecting your performance at work, or limiting your ability to perform routine tasks such as food shopping. Again, we are looking for a change in what’s normal for you, so if concentration has always been something you find tricky there is little cause for concern.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
– Robert Frost