Posts Tagged ‘Winter Blues’

‘Tis the Season To Be Jolly … Or SAD? Article for Ageless Living by Helen Foster-Grimmett

December 14, 2012

‘Tis the Season To Be Jolly … Or SAD?
By Helen Foster-Grimmett

Tonight, my husband told me that this article lacked pizzazz. I said: “Sorry, my serotonin is seasonally challenged – no sparkle.” I find myself standing in front of travel agency windows mesmerized by posters of sun-drenched Hawaii, Mexico, Barbados. Mauritius looks delicious.

By Christmas – the season to be jolly – some people have been feeling sad, down, or downright depressed since the onset of autumn. And they’ll motor on through to the first buds of spring feeling the same way. If you are one of those people, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about five million Canadians experience the “winter blues,” a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder. At least two to three percent have symptoms severe enough to be diagnosed as “SAD” – an apt acronym. People with SAD often feel a sense of happiness on a cloudy day when the sun peeks through the clouds, then deflated when the clouds cover the sky again. It’s as if the clouds are a manifestation of their minds. For people with SAD, those inner clouds can be dark, and they sometimes don’t lift until the spring flowers bloom and sunshine is more constant. The Canadian Mental Health Association tells us that women are more at risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder than men: eight times as many women as men report having SAD. Although the reasons for this are not defined, one suggestion is that women may spend more time indoors with their children than men and, therefore, less time in sunlight.

Sunless and SAD
Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they generally link it to lack of sunlight. SAD is rare in those living within 30 degrees of the equator, where daylight hours are consistently long and bright. It is more common in northern countries, including Canada, where bright winter sunlight is sparse. Lack of light may upset our cycles and other rhythms. It may cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin, which affects mood. People with mild winter blues manage to cope throughout the season. However, those diagnosed with SAD could feel more severe symptoms, including:
• Depression, apathy, negative thoughts, loss of self-esteem
• Sleep problems
• Lethargy, fatigue
• Overeating or little appetite
• Difficulty with concentration and memory
• Withdrawn – finding it hard to be around people
• Anxiety
• Inability to deal with stress
If you are affected by any of these symptoms, take heart: there are remedies that work wonders for SAD.

Relief for SAD Symptoms
Millions of people with SAD have been helped by the work of Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a world-renowned psychiatrist. Rosenthal and his team at the National Institute of Mental Health pioneered research that first led to describing Seasonal Affective Disorder, and the use of light therapy to treat it.

According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association in the UK, “light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of diagnosed cases.” Light therapy is now routinely prescribed for SAD in northern countries, but at the time Rosenthal and his team first used it, the results were dramatic. In his New York Times best-selling book Transcendence, Dr. Rosenthal recalls a comment from one of his colleagues. He had noticed a remarkable change in a patient who had been having light therapy for SAD for just one week: “I don’t know what treatment she is receiving, but she’s blooming like a rose!” A vivid metaphor for our need for light from the life-giving sun.

Dr. Rosenthal’s other guide for readers who suffer from SAD is called Winter Blues. This book provides a self-test that readers can use to evaluate their own seasonal mood changes, presents remedies for SAD, research on the use of medication, and new recipes to counterbalance unhealthy winter food cravings. A cautionary caveat: if you or someone you know is seriously depressed, it is imperative to seek professional advice, as depression can be debilitating or even life-threatening.

The good news? The incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder decreases with age. So for all you seniors out there, as we approach the holiday season, ‘tis truly the season for you to be jolly!

Helen Foster-Grimmett writes on issues of health, education, and stress management. These days you may find her outside travel agency windows, looking wistful. Article references available upon request.

This is Helen’s 2nd article for the Canadian magazine, Ageless Living. You can read her first article there: The Answer To Cancer.

For more information on Dr. Norman Rosenthal, his work and books: Winter Blues, and Transcendence, visit: http://normanrosenthal.com.

Norman Rosenthal spoke in Chicago on Light and Transcendence—alternative modalities to reduce stress, optimize health

September 11, 2012

Norman Rosenthal, M.D., was in Chicago September 5-7 to deliver a series of talks at various medical, educational, and public venues. His main theme was using Light and Transcendence as alternative approaches to reduce stress and optimize health. Dr. Rosenthal addressed 200 people at the University of Chicago Gleacher Center Wednesday evening, spoke on Thursday with staff and students at Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola, and talked with health care and other professionals as a guest of the Chicago Lakeshore Hospital at a Friday luncheon.

Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal is the world-renowned psychiatrist and author whose research in describing seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pioneering the use of light therapy has helped millions of people. The New York Times best-seller, Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation, is out in paperback this month (September 2012), with a Foreword written by Mehmet C. Oz M.D., and a new concluding chapter, After Transcendence.

At the same time, Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat SAD, which the New York Times called “a landmark book,” is being released in its revised and updated fourth edition. It includes a chapter, Meditation for the Winter Blues.

Stressful times affect health and happiness

Economic challenges, the feeble job market and information overload, not to mention the drought, conspire to stretch people to the breaking point. Everyone is experiencing some degree of stress and anxiety in their lives. In fact, the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) estimates that 40 million adults, one in seven, have some type of anxiety disorder.

Dr. Rosenthal pointed out the current epidemic of stress has resulted in cardiovascular disease as well as psychiatric disorders. It effects everyone from war veterans to the general public. “Having witnessed the mental and spiritual anguish of many hundreds of people,” he said, “I find the potential clinical power of this technique (TM) amazing.”

Transcendental Meditation—a simple effective solution

A Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, Dr. Rosenthal was initially very skeptical about the effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation technique for beating stress and anxiety. After examining the research, however, he said, “I came to scoff and remained to pray,” paraphrasing a famous line from Irish writer, playwright, and physician Oliver Goldsmith‘s poem The Deserted Village.

Dr. Rosenthal at University of Chicago Gleacher Center explained three different categories of meditation and how they effect the brain producing different results

The former NIMH researcher explained three different categories of meditation and how they effect the brain. He said having the right instruction in meditation can make a world of difference in the results.

Dr. Rosenthal described research examining the Transcendental Meditation program resulting in hard evidence not seen with other meditation techniques. He cited improvements in cardiovascular health, reduced drug, alcohol and tobacco use, reduced PTS symptoms in veterans, and studies showing significant reductions in health care costs and utilization resulting from twice daily TM practice.

Mr. Ulrich Sandmeyer, co-owner with his wife Ellen, of Sandmeyer’s Bookstore, an independent Chicago bookseller, brought Dr. Rosenthal’s books to every event. He does this service for speakers 3-4 times a week and has done so for 20 years.  He said that Norman Rosenthal was the most compelling speaker he has ever encountered. Coming from Mr. Sandmeyer that says a lot!

Thanks to Carla Brown, Ed.D., co-director of the Transcendental Meditation Program in the Greater Chicago Area, for organizing these events for Dr. Rosenthal and for sending us some highlights of the tour.

Click on Transcendental Meditation Visualized [Infographic] to see this new post on Dr. Rosenthal’s blog. He says, “The infographic below is brought to you as a resource and extension of the book ‘Transcendence,’ which features some of the main points about Transcendental Meditation that I highlighted in the book.”

Related posts on this topic

Dr. Norman Rosenthal gives an engaging talk to medical staff at Northern Westchester Hospital

PsychCentral reviews Norman Rosenthal’s book Transcendence: Transcendental Meditation: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Dr. Catherine Ulbricht interviews psychiatrist and author Dr. Norman Rosenthal for Natural Standard

A Transcendental Cure for Post-Traumatic Stress by David Lynch and Norman E. Rosenthal

Additional information on Norman Rosenthal, Transcendence and Winter Blues are listed below and available in his Press Kit.

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