Winter holidays prime time for depression
(Medical Xpress) -- The music playing in the background as we do our Christmas shopping may tell us its "the most wonderful time of the year. But its also prime time for depression, a UC Health psychiatrist says.
"This is the time of the year when days are noticeably shorter, and that absence of light in the late-afternoon hours really seems to affect some peoplethey feel an acute lowering of their mood, says Erik Nelson, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience who specializes in mood disorders and depression at UC Health Psychiatry in Clifton.
"Additionally, the holidays can play a role in depression. Some people might have painful memories related to loss of loved ones or stressful childhoods. These are memories with a lot of emotional and psychological significance, and the holidays tend to bring that out.
When assessing a patient for winter depression, Nelson says, its important to determine what triggers their feelings before prescribing a course of treatment.
Some people, for instance, might feel fine for most of the year but report feelings of depression as the days grow shorter. In such cases, known as winter-onset seasonal affective disorder (SAD), treatment with a light box, known as therapeutic light, can be affective.
Symptoms of winter-onset SAD include depressed mood, changes in appetite and weight, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, changes in sleep (often oversleeping) and loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities.
As with any mood disorder, Nelson says, "If the condition is interfering with your normal life, its time to seek help.
Therapeutic light involves a specially designed lamp giving off an intensity of light that mimics the full spectrum and intensity of sunlight. Such devices are generally used for about 15 to 30 minutes in the morning, with the light shining indirectly on the persons face, and can be used while he or she is involved in another activity such as reading or exercising.
The antidepressant bupropion (trade name Wellbutrin) has been approved by the FDA to treat seasonal major depressive episodes, but the proper medication for any individual case should be determined in consultation with a physician. Another treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy, a pragmatic interactive therapy that has the goal of changing specific thoughts and behaviors.
Moreover, some people who are already being treated for depression notice a worsening of their symptoms during the winter months. If this appears to be related to the decreased hours of daylight, adding light therapy to the persons current treatments for depression is often helpful, Nelson says.
For worsening of depression that appears to be related to the emotions or stress associated with the holidays, Nelson says, a change in the persons current regimen, which would typically include psychotherapy and/or antidepressant medication, would be the likely course of treatment.
"There are a lot of factors that can affect a persons mood this time of year, and it is helpful to assess the likely cause to determine the best course of treatment such as therapeutic light, medications, psychotherapy or behavioral changes that can be made.
If people have milder seasonal symptoms that do not reach the level of a major depressive episode, Nelson says, they should try exercise and getting outdoors more to see if that helps their symptoms.
Provided by University of Cincinnati
- Surviving the Christmas blues Dec 13, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- The Medical Minute: Don't be SAD over winter blues Jan 13, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- SAD affects many through winter months Feb 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Treating depression one step at a time Jul 01, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Seasonal depression may affect hamsters Nov 16, 2005 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Turns out, that old "practice makes perfect" adage may be overblown. New research led by Michigan State University's Zach Hambrick finds that a copious amount of practice is not enough to explain why people ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 17 minutes ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Individuals who learn two languages at an early age seem to switch back and forth between separate "sound systems" for each language, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.
Psychology & Psychiatry 1 hour ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
Video games that pit players against human-looking characters may be more likely to provoke violent thoughts and words than games where monstrous creatures are the enemy, according to a new study by researchers ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
New research suggests that for some hospitalized ICU patients on mechanical ventilators, using headphones to listen to their favorite types of music could lower anxiety and reduce their need for sedative medications.
Psychology & Psychiatry 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
There is a link between use of anabolic-androgenic steroids and reduced mental health later in life. This is the main conclusion of a new study on elite male strength athletes that researchers from the University of Gothenburg ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, in partnership with the University's Brain Tumor Program, have developed a new mouse model of malignant peripheral ...
7 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Older prostate cancer patients with other underlying health conditions should think twice before committing to surgery or radiation therapy for their cancer, according to a multicenter study led by researchers in the UCLA ...
4 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new diagnostic test for a worm infection that can lead to severe enlargement and deformities of the legs and genitals is far more sensitive than the currently used test, according to results of a field ...
4 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
While Huntington's disease (HD) is currently incurable, the HD research community anticipates that new disease-modifying therapies in development may slow or minimize disease progression. The success of HD research depends ...
6 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Vermont became on Monday the third US state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
34 seconds ago | not rated yet | 0
New research suggests that a compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells' "superpower" to escape death. By altering a very specific step in gene regulation, this compound essentially re-educates cancer ...
2 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |