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Posts Tagged ‘Sad’

The grieving is palpable and genuine, yet many never met the Queen. How is this outpouring of grief so real? Why are so many people sad when they aren’t personally familiar with her?

2 white peace lily flowers with green stems
Peace Lily flowers

The passing of a figurehead, celebrity, or Her Majesty the Queen can stir up feelings of sadness and grief, not because you are going to personally miss the warm hug you received every morning from them, the phone call received on your birthday, or family game nights… but maybe they represented something deeper within yourself. A passage of time, an ideology, an innocence, or maybe they were that something that was consistent in your ever-changing world.

At first, you may not understand why the death of this person has brought up feelings of sadness and grief, and you don’t always have to fully unpack that baggage, but rather acknowledge the emotions, allowing yourself to feel whatever feelings that you need in that moment. It is okay to grieve the loss of someone you didn’t know personally, as it may not be the actual person you are grieving, but what that person symbolized for you.

Your grief may be your outward expression of your ability to empathize with the parents, siblings, spouses, family, and friends of the one that passed, and is a wonderful act of compassion and concern for the welfare of others.  

Grief looks different for everyone because it is a personal process that takes time, and we each address it in a variety of ways.  Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross gave us five stages of grief to better help us understand the process.

  1. Denial – Refusal to believe the loss is real
  2. Anger – Can range from frustration to furry
  3. Bargaining – Attempt to strike a deal to change things
  4. Depression – Sadness when we realize our life is forever changed
  5. Acceptance – We understand our loss has happened and we can’t change it

Grief is a non-linear process meaning that we can process through the stages several times and in any order. However, if the grief process becomes overwhelming, too difficult, or persistent, reach out to a mental health professional as you do not have to deal with grief alone.

Written by Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Reviewed by Susan Zies Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

References:

The Cleveland Clinic. (2022, March 21). The 5 Stages of grief after a loss. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-stages-of-grief/

Mayo Clinic, (2016, October 19). What is grief? Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/support-groups/what-is-grief

Parincu, Z. (N.D.). Sadness: Definition, Causes, & Related Emotions. Berkely Well-being Institute. Retrieved from https://www.berkeleywellbeing.com/sadness.html

Suttie, J. (2019). Why the world needs an empathy revolution. Greater Good Magazine, Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_the_world_needs_an_empathy_revolution

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Every time I go to the store lately I see things declaring, “Happy Fall Y’all!” or some variation. While many people love all things fall, I am not a fan. Yes, you read that correctly, I am not a fan of fall. First, the changing colors on the trees means the leaves are dying in preparation for the long, cold, dark months ahead. The marked shortening of the days means that soon it will be dark when I leave for work and dark again shortly after I get home. “Sweatshirt weather” means it’s too cold to swim or stand up paddle board, two things I enjoy. While we still have time to take our boat out, we will have to bundle up while doing so. Then there’s the dreary, rainy, blah days that are characteristic of fall in Ohio. So, while many of you are basking in the season, some of us are struggling.

Woman with hat pulled down over her face. Face has a grimace.

For many years I did not realize why I lack the excitement and anticipation of fall like so many people I know. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized I have the winter blues, a milder form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that begins and ends about the same time each year. As the name implies and as many people understand it, winter blues and SAD often occur in winter, not late summer/early fall like my symptoms. After teaching about mental health, I finally realized that my disdain for fall actually has a cause. While winter blues and SAD typically DO occur later, they can actually occur ANY time of the year, and in fact, some people experience symptoms of SAD during the summer, sometimes referred to summer blues or summer depression. Since I do not have a background in mental health, I was surprised to learn this. Besides, how could ANYONE not LOVE summer and ALL that it offers? All joking aside, regardless of when someone experiences symptoms, there are things you can do to help.

As I looked back over my blog articles from the past, it appears I am inspired to write about this topic each year around this time. I think revisiting information about winter blues and SAD helps me to be more proactive in doing things to reduce my symptoms. The American Psychological Association provides these tips:

Person walking on a path through the woods with an umbrella.
  1. Experience as much daylight as possible.
  2. Eat healthily.
  3. Spend time with your friends and family.
  4. Stay active.
  5. Seek professional help.

I find exercising regularly, ideally outside, in addition to eating healthy, getting the appropriate amount of sleep, and spending time with my family to be helpful in warding off symptoms. It usually takes me a bit to get into a groove, especially as the days get shorter and shorter. Once I am able to get into a routine, I find I can actually enjoy some of the characteristic fall activities, though summer will forever be my favorite season.

Some of the risk factors for SAD include:

  1. Being female. Women are four times as likely to develop SAD than men.
  2. Living far from the equator. One percent of Florida residents compared to nine percent of Alaska residents suffer from SAD.
  3. Family history. A family history of any type of depression increases the risk of developing SAD.
  4. Having depression or bipolar disorder. Depression symptoms may worsen with the seasons if you have another condition.
  5. Younger Age. Younger adults have a higher risk than older adults. SAD can occur in children and teens as well.

So, as I remember all the fun summer activities that are no more, I will focus on things I can do to help me make the most of the changing seasons. Just don’t expect to see any fall decorations at my house until mid-October!

As always, if you or someone you love is struggling, don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional or a primary care physician.

Written by Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by Roseanne Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Seasonal affective disorder. American Psychological Association. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder.

Harmon, M. D. (2019, October 21). Fall: A sad time of year. Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/10/21/fall-a-sad-time-of-year/.

Harmon, M. D. (2020, December 11). What’s so great about fall ya’ll? Live Healthy Live Well. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/10/08/whats-so-great-about-fall-yall/.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, October 25). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) | Michigan Medicine. (2020, September 23). Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw169553.

Site-Name. (n.d.). Chestnut Health Systems. Get Help Now. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from https://www.chestnut.org/how-we-can-help/mental-health/learn-the-facts-mental-health/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/.

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About a year ago, I wrote a blog titled Fall: A SAD Time of Year. I talked about my experience with the winter blues, a milder form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I contrasted symptoms of winter blues versus SAD, and I reviewed things you can do to alleviate symptoms. As I write this today, once again I find myself struggling with the change in the seasons. The shorter days, overcast skies, colder temperatures, dying plants, and turning leaves make me yearn for the long, hot, sunny days of summer. I know many people love fall, football, pumpkins and pumpkin spice everything, sweaters, cool temps and everything else this time of year brings, but I dread it.

dark foggy autumn woods

I don’t remember exactly when I started to loathe fall, but it was likely in my early 30’s. Research suggests winter blues or SAD usually begins between the ages of 18 and 30 but can begin at any age. I knew I dreaded fall more and more each year but I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally realized why I dislike fall so much, and it made so much sense. While symptoms of winter blues or SAD usually start in late fall to early winter for most people, I start noticing the effects in late summer to early fall. Summer is my favorite season, so I knowing it is ending likely adds to my earlier onset of symptoms.

man running along the roadside in the country

By the time winter sets in, I have taken steps to help reduce the effects of the winter blues. Once I quit resisting and dreading and loathing the change in seasons, and start being proactive, I notice a marked improvement in my mood, energy, motivation, and overall well-being. One critical component for me is exercise. I use exercise all year round to help with my mental health and overall well-being, but it’s even more critical during the fall and winter months. Running outside is my favorite, which is a win-win, if I can run during the day, since exposure to bright light can also help with symptoms. I worked as an exercise physiologist for 22+ years, so I am well-aware of the benefits of exercise but finding the motivation and energy this time of year is still sometimes a challenge. I am presenting a webinar on November 4th at 11am titled No Gym? No Problem where I will provide tips and tricks to work activity and exercise in to your day with little or no equipment.

This year, I notice that I am more tired than usual as the seasons are changing. I have tried sleeping more and sleeping less, but I have yet to find my sleep sweet spot right now. As I am adjusting, I am giving myself grace and permission to be OK with not being OK. We are all living in unprecedented times, and everyone has struggled in one way or another. This season is a struggle for me even in a good year, so there is no reason to beat myself up, especially this year! I hope you will give yourself and those around you some grace and allow yourself and others to be OK with not being OK. Of course, if you feel like you need professional help, please don’t hesitate to seek out that assistance. Mental health is critical to overall health and well-being and I want us all to have both now and well into the future.

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

Sources:

Harmon, M. (2019, October 21). Fall: A SAD Time of Year. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/10/21/fall-a-sad-time-of-year/

Rush University Medical Center. (n.d.). More Than Just the Winter Blues? Retrieved from https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/more-just-winter-blues

Robinson, L., Segal, J., Ph.D., & Smith, M., M.A. (2019, June). The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise. Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. (2020, September 11). Personal and Social Activities. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/personal-social-activities.html#event

Bohlen, A. (2020, September 17). Pizza for dinner again! Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/09/17/pizza-for-dinner-again/

Carter, S. (2020, August 31). Beating the Pandemic Blues. Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/08/31/beating-the-pandemic-blues/

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It wasn’t until recently that I came to realize that I most likely experience the winter blues, which is more mild than Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I have never been a fan of fall (I know all of you fall-lovers just took a collective gasp) or winter. In fact, it is more accurate to say I despise them. Up until a few years ago, I never really connected the dots of my dislike of fall and winter to the possibility that I have the winter blues, or perhaps SAD.

In 2017 I became a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Instructor. MHFA is designed to help regular people be able to recognize and better understand if someone they know is developing a mental health issue and how to help them. MHFA also teaches how to respond to someone having a mental health crisis. It wasn’t until I started teaching MHFA that I realized that the symptoms of SAD are similar to things I experience as fall approaches.

While I experience many of the symptoms of SAD, I am still able to enjoy my life and carry out my daily activities. The milder form of SAD is often called the winter blues. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms someone with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may experience include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

While fall and winter SAD are the most common, some people have symptoms during spring and summer. According to the Mayo Clinic the symptoms related specifically to fall and winter SAD , also known as winter depression, are:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

The symptoms most often associated with spring and summer SAD, also known as summer depression, are:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety

While the exact cause of SAD is not known, there are some factors that may come in to play. According to an article by Rush University Medical Center, these are some of the possible mechanisms:

  • Dips in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood.
  • Disruptions in circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock), which help control sleep-wake cycles.
  • Alterations in melatonin, a hormone associated with both mood and sleep.

Some risk factors for SAD include:

  • Family history.
  • Having major depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Living far from the equator.

Some treatments for SAD include:

  • Exposure to sunlight.
  • Light therapy.
  • Psychotherapy.
  • Antidepressants.

In addition to these treatments, a University of Rochester Medical Center article gives these steps you can take to help ease symptoms:

  • Get help.
  • Set realistic goals in light of the depression.
  • Try to be with other people and confide in someone.
  • Do things that make you feel better.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Expect your mood to get better slowly, not right away.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Stay away from alcohol and drugs.
  • Delay big decisions until the depression has lifted.
  • Realize that people don’t often snap out of a depression.
  • Try to be patient and focus on the positives.
  • Let your family and friends help you.

So, if you or someone you know experiences either the winter blues or SAD, there is hope beyond the longer, sunny days of spring and summer. Anyone who has severe symptoms should seek professional help, especially if there are ever any thoughts of suicide or harm. I have not sought professional help, as I do not have any severe symptoms. My symptoms mainly involve lack of energy, sluggishness, mild agitation, and cravings. I have made it a point to get more exposure to light, especially earlier in the day, and I try to eat as healthy as possible and be as active as possible. Being proactive in these ways is enough to help ease my symptoms.

Written by:

Written by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Photo Sources:

https://pixabay.com/photos/man-face-confused-head-depression-416473/

https://pixabay.com/photos/desperate-sad-depressed-hopeless-2100307/

References:

More Than Just the Winter Blues? Rush University Medical Center. Retrieved on 10/20/19 from: https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/more-just-winter-blues

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). (2017). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Found on 10/20/19 at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved 10/20/19 from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=85&contentid=P00755

National Council for Behavioral Health. (2019). Retrieved on 10/20/19 from: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

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post-95090_1920

For many people, the cold winter months bring an onset of what is described as the winter blues.  The colder, darker winter months can cause a change in our moods and our behaviors.  Some examples are sleeping more, becoming more irritable, eating more, and avoiding friends or social situations.

Dr. Emma Seppala, Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University and Co-Director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project at Yale University, offers these tips for beating the winter blues:

  • CONNECT
    • One great way to connect to others in the winter months is to volunteer, at a shelter, a food bank, a nursing home, or at an after school program.
    • Another way is to stay active.  Join a fitness class.  Invite some friends to go on a walk or meet at a gym to shoot some hoops.
  • BREATHE
    • Practice mindfulness activities, like yoga or meditation, to help center your thoughts and help you to relax.
  • SAVOR
    • Be present in whatever activity you are engaged in. Turn off the cell phones and focus on where you are and who are you are with.
    • Curl up with your loved ones (spouse, childen, grandchildren) under a warm and cozy, blanket and read a book or watch a funny movie.
    • Eat healthier meals and take time to eat at a leisurely pace.

If you find that the winter blues are interfering with your daily activities for a period longer than two weeks, please consult your family physician or a mental health professional.  Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that is categorized as a type of depression and occurs during months where individuals have less exposure to natural sunlight that can be treated with appropriate medical help.

Written By: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Hardin County, Ohio State Extension, dellifield.2@osu.edu

Reviewed By:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Fayette County, Ohio State University Extension, brinkman.93@osu.edu

SOURCES:

Sepalla, Emma M. PhD, “3 Definitive Ways to Beat The Winter Blues”, Psychology Today. Web January 20, 2016 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201601/3-definitive-ways-beat-winter-blues

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/mood-disorders/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.html

REFERENCES:

Roecklein, Kathryn A., Rohan, Kelly J., PhD, “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview and Update”, Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2005 Jan; 2(1): 20–26. Published online 2005 Jan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004726/

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/dealing-with-winter-blues-sad.aspx

“Information from Your Doctor: Seasonal Affective Disorder”, American Family Physician. 2000 Mar 1;61(5):1531-1532. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0301/p1531.html

PHOTO CREDIT:

https://pixabay.com/en/post-light-lamp-outside-95090/

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