Shining a Light on Seasonal Affective Disorder

January 11, 2018

January 2018 ushered in some of the coldest weather on record – 90 continuous hours of sub-zero temperatures. Couple that with short days and long nights, and anyone from children to adults can find themselves with seasonal affective disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. Anyone can be affected by it as more children and teens are reporting experiencing SAD symptoms. SAD is not a separate form of depression; instead, it is a type of major depression that manifests during the seasons. The symptoms of major depression include: Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day Feeling hopeless or worthless Having low energy Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed Having problems with sleep Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight Feeling sluggish or agitated Having difficulty concentrating Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide. If you notice the following symptoms in winter, you may have the winter pattern of SAD: Low energy Hypersomnia (sleepy all the time, sleeping long hours or able to fall asleep anytime, even while driving) Overeating Weight gain Craving for carbohydrates Social withdrawal According to NIMH, there are certain risk factors for SAD that can increase your chances of having it. These include: Being female. SAD is diagnosed four timesmore often in women than men. Living far from the equator. SAD is more frequent in people who live far north or south of the equator. For example, one percent of those who live in Florida and nine percent of those who live in New England or Alaska suffer from SAD. Family history. People with a family history of other types of depression are more likely to develop SAD than people who do not have a family history of depression. Having depression or bipolar disorder. The symptoms of depression may worsen with the seasons if you have one of these conditions (but SAD is diagnosed only if seasonal depressions are the most common). Younger adults have a higher risk of SAD than older adults, and SAD has been reported even in children and teens. How can you treat SAD? After you talk with a healthcare professional about your symptoms and she or he diagnoses you with SAD, there are some ways to combat it. Those include: Medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which is a common depression medication that enhances the function of your brain’s nerve cells that regulate emotion. Light therapy, which replaces the amount of natural sunlight lacking in the autumn and winter months. According to NIMH, light therapy administers bright, artificial light to increase the amount of daily exposure a person with SAD receives. Symptoms of SAD may be relieved by sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning each day during the early fall until spring. Most typically, light boxes filter out the ultraviolet rays and require 20-60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white fluorescent light, an amount that is about 20 times greater than ordinary indoor lighting. Psychotherapy, which helps the person with SAD identify her or his sad thoughts and replace them with more positive ones. Vitamin D, which helps regulate the messages nerves receive from the brain and deliver to the body. Vitamin D also fortifies the immune system so the body can combat bacteria and viruses that can cause illness. If these freezing days and long nights are making you feel sadder than you remember feeling before, contact your doctor for a check-up. If you notice your child or teenager is having a trying time during the autumn or winter months, you can contact any Methodist Health Foundation Counseling Clinic at for an assessment and guidance.

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Grief and the Holidays

December 5, 2017

Janet Breen, LPC; Program Coordinator, Kaleidoscope Grief Center The Holidays are upon us and if you are dealing with the death of a loved one, grief at its best, is an unpleasant journey. It is a trip we try to avoid but death comes to us all at one time or another in our lives. It is a trip we all must take. Sometimes it is difficult to believe that you will ever feel better or that you will be able to move on with your life. No doubt, you have been forever changed by your loss and are on a path to try to make sense of things and begin a new way of life. It helps to know that what you choose to do now in your time of grief is something you may not have chosen last month or last week. Your process is continually changing as you are on this journey to attempt to deal with your loss. During this holiday season, it might help to consider the following grief tips that many grief experts advise including Dr. John Canine of Maximum Living Consultants, Inc.: Tell yourself that you are ok and focus on your good traits. Avoid thoughts that begin with “if only”. Tell yourself that you will get better. Talk about your loved one’s death and tell their story. Understand that the grieving process includes progress and set backs. Live one day at a time. Understand and express your feelings. Exercise and eat nutritious foods. Be open to new experiences. Let the children have a place in planning family holiday activities. Light a candle in honor of your loved one. Grief is best expressed through rituals. Lighting a candle gives you permission to sit down, reflect, look at pictures, and release emotions. It is a lesson we have learned well at the Kaleidoscope Grief Center. We light our community memorial candle at the start of every grief group in honor of our deceased loved one. Please consider contacting Kaleidoscope Grief Center for grief services for you and your family if you are struggling with the support you need at this difficult time. It is good to have a plan for your grief in anticipating the holidays. Take time this season to consider one or more of these ideas and then, do it!

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Seasons for Growth, Living with Grief, Loss and Change in Life

November 9, 2017

J. Breen, LPC It is not possible to be human and avoid the normal and often valuable experience of loss and grief. Loss and grief are issues which affect all of us at some stage in our lives. Learning to deal with these issues is central to personal wellbeing and happiness. There are many different losses that occur in one’s lifetime. The one that people automatically think of when grief is mentioned is death, but there are many others such as illness, disability, adoption, abuse, workplace change, unemployment, cultural dislocation, marriage separation and divorce. Experiences such as these bring about change, both for the individual and for the family as a whole. Seasons can represent a series of phases or stages within the lifecycle and the grief cycle. Change goes on within each season, and a transition is required for the shift from one season to the next as we go about our grief process. In the “springtime” of our lives, nothing matters but what our future holds. Loved ones may be healthy or successful and relationships stable. In summer, we may see new possibilities and experience little pain. Everything feels just right during the “summertime” of our lives. The fall or “harvest” time often greets us with challenges for which we aren’t prepared. This time challenges the very core of everything understood. We redefine our lives and ourselves, adjust goals and make changes. Sometimes the season feels like eternity, especially for people experiencing repeated loss and grief. The “winter” time of life is cold. There is nothing left and you simply feel burned out. You have little hope, motivation and desire. You experience one loss after another. You struggle with loved ones, relationships and change. You aren’t accepting of anything in your life. Many families feel this way while experiencing a season in which a loved one has slipped into a depression. We all face pain, grief and loss at some point or season in our lives. The key is what we choose to do with these experiences. Perhaps we can deal with these seasons of our life through “surrender, self-care and hope.” Change is inevitable and it is best not to fight it. Sometimes we have to accept the season we are in. With acceptance comes greater awareness and knowledge. Take care of yourself during a season in which you are unprepared, taking time to reflect, organize your thoughts and challenge negative thoughts. Look for hope and a new experience in the things around you. What could your current position in the world be saying to you? Is there something you need to change in this season of your life?

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Calvin Klein Gives Back this Holiday

November 8, 2017

WHO: Methodist Family Health, Dillard’s and Calvin Klein WHAT: Calvin Klein Gives Back shopping event at Dillard’s in Arkansas  WHEN: Each event is December 3-9, 2017 (week-long) WHERE:        Dillard’s Park Plaza Mall in Little Rock and McCain Mall in North Little Rock Dillard’s Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville and Pinnacle Hills Promenade in Rogers Dillard’s Hot Springs Mall in Hot Springs Dillard’s The Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro Dillard’s Central Mall in Texarkana BACKGROUND:  Shop ladies’ Calvin Klein sportswear December 3-9 and for every $100 spent in Calvin Klein, $10 will be donated to Methodist Family Health, which provides quality, compassionate psychiatric, emotional and behavioral healthcare to children and families throughout Arkansas. MFH serves thousands of clients in inpatient, residential and outpatient venues of care. Its mission is to give the best possible care to those who may need its help and to treat the whole person: behaviorally, emotionally and spiritually. Since 1899, Methodist Family Health has been rebuilding the lives of children and families in Arkansas. Our continuum of care includes an acute and subacute, inpatient hospital; residential treatment centers (RTCs) to help children and adolescents struggling with chronic mental, emotional and behavioral issues; group homes provide a family-like setting in the community while providing emotional and behavioral treatment; and an emergency shelter, which offers a nurturing environment for children in the custody of the state’s Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS), and serves as a temporary placement for children in DCFS who are waiting for a permanent placement, either with family members, foster homes or group homes; therapeutic day treatment, which consists of two schools that work with children who are unable to perform in a regular academic setting and may need additional educational, behavioral and emotional support; Arkansas Center for Addictions Research, Education and Services (CARES), a residential substance abuse treatment center and mental health service for mother and their children up to age 12; school-based counseling and outpatient counseling clinics;  and the Kaleidoscope Grief Center, the state’s only grief center for children and their families.

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