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Mental Health



Your Seasonal Depression is Real and it’s Easier to Deal with SAD Than You Think

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.

SAD

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.
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Hiking Everest and 450 Miles Across Spain Helps Kay Cherryholmes Find Her Way to Health

By Kay Cherryholmes

One day I googled myself and I was caught off guard by a blog link that had me tagged as one of his Top 10 Most Inspiring Athletes of 2010! I had met the guy while hiking and considered him a dear friend. At first I smiled; feeling like I had somehow been a positive in his eyes, then almost immediately it read that he met me while hiking in Nepal to base camp of Mt. Everest and that my BMI was that of a mack truck!

everest kay

Instantly real tears fell. Not tears of his writing, but tears of truth about my struggle to achieve fitness. Who was I kidding? Mostly myself it seems. I grew up a competitive gymnast. I was always on a scale and measured my success based on a number that ranged between 114 and 119.

Fast forward from age 14 to age 44 and I had been married, divorced, raised two children as a single mom, and was completely disconnected from the fitness I knew as a young adult. My mind, however, continued to crave challenges, even in a 230-pound body. For all the struggle that it took to walk up into the Himalayan mountains 80 pounds overweight,it never began to stop me. He wrote that it was my perseverance that got me on his Top 10 Athlete list.

I always describe myself from the shoulders up as a ‘Michael Phelps type‘ and from my shoulders down more of a ‘John Belushi type’. I am part extreme athlete, part party girl. Too much brie and wine and not enough cardio.

After more than a decade of athletic events where I have fought with the struggle of weight in competition I decided that my next adventure would be a 450-mile walk across Northern Spain; the Camino de Santiago. It is a spiritual pilgrimage that took me through the heart of many regions in Spain. Once again I would carry the extra weight on my body and an additional 30-pound backpack with all the necessary gear I would need in my 40 days of hiking.

camino santiago

I wanted to remove myself from all of the excuses at home that get between me and a stronger, more fit body. I left behind the wine, cheese, friends, family, dishes, laundry, job, dog, television and my comfy new couch. They’d all become specks of home reality in my rear view mirror as I landed on Spanish soil. I would be forced in to my own mind and body for hundreds of miles and countless days. I wanted answers and to be accountable to myself. I would have no other choice but to face the dragons in my head, that for decades have defined my mindset and impacted my choices.
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Take a Chill Pill, Too Much Stress Can Make You Miserable

Odds are you’re reading this article on your phone while standing in line somewhere. Or maybe you’re skimming it while waiting on an email from a colleague to come through. Perhaps you’re sitting on the couch, TV on in the background, checking your phone periodically and browsing this in your pre-scheduled free time. If any of those scenarios sounded accurate, then congratulations, you’re just like the majority of people who can’t help but try to multitask.

stress

Unfortunately for multitaskers, and if I’m being honest I’m one of them, studies show multitasking is a myth. The human brain cannot do many things simultaneously. Instead, focus is shifted from one thing to another extremely quickly. So what does it mean if instead of focusing on many things at once you’re really changing focus rapidly? It means that you are not paying as much attention to everything as you think. Tasks may not be completed as well as if you had focused your attention on them entirely. Beyond the risk of producing shoddy work, the myth of multitasking, and cramming as much as possible in to every day, may be hazardous to your health.


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We Love Yoga Jones and How Orange is the New Black Highlights the Benefits of Prison Yoga

Amidst the cat fights, mind games, racial tension, and sexual promiscuity, there stands one prisoner in Orange is the New Black who seems to bring a much needed zen to the chaotic environment. Yoga Jones is one of our favorite characters on Netflix’s hot new series, which gives a seemingly painful depiction of life in a minimum security women’s prison.

The women are often free to moderately pursue their passions during their incarcerations, and for Yoga Jones, that’s following the tenants of Buddhism with regular yoga practice. And like any good yoga instructor, she shares that practice with all who will join her.

yoga jones orange is the new black

The juxtaposition of the serene yoga practice against the hardened, extreme prison environment may be a surprising scene for viewers of Orange is the New Black, but it’s actually a reality in prisons throughout the country.

Bo Cox told us the benefits of yoga in prison were very evident. Incarcerated in an Oklahoma prison for nearly two decades, the author of God is Not in the Thesaurus, said, “I can say that people who did [yoga] were above and beyond model prisoners. Peaceful and serene in a world anything but. And, not pushovers or victims either. Good examples of quiet strength.”

Litchfield’s women’s prison, the setting for Orange is the New Black, is not the only place where inmates can be found practicing yoga. It’s something available to some prisoners in the US and abroad, like in these Mexican prisons, and coincidentally is being lauded with some exciting new research out this month.
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Binge Eating is Now a Diagnosable Mental Illness in DSM-5

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.

Binge Eating

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.
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