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 2008—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 2011, 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 2008. 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…)