April Wellness Corner

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year. Although it can occur in spring or summer, it typically begins in late fall and lasts through the end of winter.

We all might feel sad at times, but there is a difference between feeling down and being depressed. Here is how to recognize depression.

Depression, also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily life. Symptoms include:

    • Persistent sadness, anxiety, or empty feelings
    • Consistent hopelessness and pessimism
    • Irritability
    • Fatigue
    • Loss of interest in hobbies/activities
    • Difficulty concentrating or sleeping

Those experiencing depression may have some or all of these symptoms. What points to depression over a bad day is the frequency. If you are experiencing these symptoms most of the day almost every day for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression.

The good news? Depression is treatable with psychotherapy and medication. Reach out to your doctor to find out what treatment is right for you. If you are struggling and need help now, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or visit https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/.

If you prefer to text with a crisis counselor right away, you can text HOME to 741741 for free, 24/7 crisis counseling.

SOCIAL HEALTH

Volunteering in your community can be a great way to improve your mental and overall health. Volunteering can help reduce stress and boost self-confidence. Research has shown that volunteering can also decrease the risk for depression. Volunteering gives a sense of purpose and teaches valuable skills. Depending on the specific volunteering activity, it can also support you in staying physically and mentally active.

According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering may enhance your social networks to buffer stress and reduce risk of disease. By savoring time spent in service to others, you will feel a sense of meaning and appreciation, both given and received, which can have a stress-reducing effect. Aside from the potential to meet new people with similar interests, you can also live longer by volunteering! An analysis of data from the Longitudinal Study of Aging found that individuals who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who do not, even when controlling for age, gender, and physical health. In addition, several studies have shown that volunteers with chronic or serious illness experience declines in pain intensity and depression when serving as peer volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain.

We understand that the current pandemic limits your options for volunteering, but be sure to keep in mind that there are still virtual volunteer opportunities available! You can visit: Volunteer Match to learn more about various opportunities about causes you are passionate about. Many of the opportunities let you volunteer from the comfort of your own home and on your own schedule.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Know a coworker or friend on South Beach or a vegan diet? Fad diets like these claim to achieve quick weight loss while also being healthy. Diets such as ketogenic, paleo and Atkins are always on the weight-loss radar, but with so many options and rumors, it is hard to discern which will work and which are truly unhealthy fads.
While all dieting should be done with the approval of a doctor or health practitioner, it is also important to find the diet that fits your lifestyle and that is sustainable. Diets meant for significant weight loss like the keto diet and South Beach are best practiced in the short term, while going vegan or cutting calories can be integrated into your daily life for the long haul.

South Beach. The South Beach diet is a three-phase low-carb, low-fat and high-protein diet created in the mid-90s. The first phase is extremely low in fat and carbs. However, restrictions lessen during the next two phases, which opens the dieter up to the option of adding processed foods as long as the protein intake remains high. Caveat: The restriction of saturated fats along with the use of processed vegetable and seed oils could lead to health problems.

Atkins. A staple of weight-loss culture, Atkins has been around since the 1970s. It is comprised of four stages and a two-week introductory period. The first two weeks limits carbs to 20 grams a day. Following that, dieters can add carbs back into their diet 5 grams at a time to help discover their body’s ideal carbohydrate level for losing and maintaining weight. Atkins is thought to be one of the most effective ways to lose weight. However, keep in mind that many foods allowed on the Atkins diet are high in saturated fats.

Vegan. The vegan diet can be both healthy and unhealthy depending upon how it’s implemented. Since vegans cut out all animal products, it can become easy to rely on processed foods and beverages, which makes losing weight difficult and unlikely. However, if the vegan diet is undertaken with whole foods, the amount of weight loss can be impressive and sustainable — in addition to the proclaimed ethical benefits.

Keto. Going keto has become increasingly popular. The ketogenic diet aims to promote weight loss through the lowering of insulin levels and making ketones, acidic chemicals made in the liver, the body’s primary fuel source as opposed to sugars. The keto diet could also reduce inflammatory markers and disease risk factors in people who are overweight. However, too much ketone buildup in the blood can be dangerous, so you shouldn’t switch to a keto diet for long periods of time.

Before starting any new diet, talk to your doctor to see what’s right for you.