‘I’m an Psychologist and These Are The Light Therapy Treatments I Recommend for Seasonal Affective Disorder’

If you’re finding yourself cursing the reality of darker mornings and even darker, longer nights, you could be dealing with the pangs of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a very real type of depression that becomes more severe as winter approaches.

a man that is standing in the dark: Chances are you're not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here's how you can push back

© Mint Images – Getty Images
Chances are you’re not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here’s how you can push back

Despite how it may feel, you’re not the only one — it’s thought that around 10-20 per cent of people in the UK experience “mildly debilitating” symptoms of seasonal affective disorder as the weather gets colder and six per cent of adults will experience “recurrent major depressive episodes with seasonal pattern”. Currently, the average age at which seasonal affective disorder symptoms present themselves is 27-years-old in both men and women. Both genders are equally affected.

Despite enjoying an extra hour in bed, most of us will, especially at this time, be spending the majority of daylight hour indoors. For many, this could impact mental health — a 2019 YouGov poll found that 29 per cent of UK adults will experience some kind of depressive symptoms this winter, while six per cent of us will suffer seasonal affective disorder to the point where they’re unable to work or to function properly.

Worried about SAD? Don’t be. We’re here to help with our digestible guide on seasonal affective disorder including expert advice, study commentary, actionable advice, product information and more.

a sunset over a grass field: Cold Dawn Sunrise

© George W Johnson
Cold Dawn Sunrise

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

A form of depression that’s directly related to the changing of the seasons, seasonal affective disorder is experienced most commonly when summer transitions into winter. As it’s as seasonal issue, seasonal affective disorder is often experienced every 12 months. “Patients often begin experiencing symptoms of depression during autumn and often do not feel an improvement in mood until the spring,” explains Dr. Chun Tang, general Practitioner at Pall Mall Medical.

But how is seasonal affective disorder caused?

The research is sporadic, but one cause, it’s believed, is the correlation between the reduced exposure to sunlight and shorter days in winter. That’s because the hormone melatonin, responsible for controlling our sleep cycles, becomes “phase delayed” by people experiencing seasonal affective disorder, leading us to feel sluggish, tired and irritable — regardless of how many espressos have bene imbibed. Stress levels will rise, too, thereby impacting our mental wellbeing, immunity and overall health.

Similarly, serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety, happiness and mood, could have a bigger impact than previously thought. Due to winter having shorter days and darker weather, there typically isn’t enough natural daylight, which causes a drop in serotonin levels in our brains. On a biological level, this increases the likelihood of someone experiencing a depressive episode.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Are The Symptoms?

According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:

  • A persistent low mood
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and
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Add-On Psychotherapy a Win in Bipolar Disorder

Adding psychotherapy to pharmacotherapy benefits patients with bipolar disorder (BD), particularly when delivered in family or group settings, results of a new meta-analysis confirms.

Outpatients with BD receiving drug therapy “should also be offered psychosocial treatments that emphasize illness management strategies and enhance coping skills; delivering these components in family or group format may be especially advantageous,” the investigators, led by David Miklowitz, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, write.

The study was published online October 14 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Drugs Alone Not Enough

It’s increasingly recognized that drug therapy alone can’t prevent recurrences of BD or fully alleviate post-episode symptoms or functional impairment, the researchers note in their article. Several psychotherapy protocols have been shown to benefit patients with BD when used in conjunction with drug therapy, but little is known about their comparative effectiveness, the authors point out.

To investigate, the researchers conducted a systematic review and component network meta-analysis of 39 randomized clinical trials (36 involving adults and three involving adolescents).

The trials involved 3863 patients with BD and compared pharmacotherapy used in conjunction with manualized psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy [CBT], family or conjoint therapy, interpersonal therapy, and/or psychoeducational therapy) with pharmacotherapy delivered in conjunction with a control intervention (supportive therapy or treatment as usual).

Across 20 two-group trials that provided usable information, manualized psychotherapies were associated with a lower probability of illness recurrence (the primary outcome) compared with control interventions (odds ratio [OR], 0.56; 95% CI, 0.43 – 0.74).

Psychoeducation with guided practice of illness management skills in a family or group format was superior to these strategies delivered in an individual format (OR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.02 – 0.94).

Family or conjoint therapy and brief psychoeducation were associated with lower attrition rates than standard psychoeducation.

For the secondary outcome of stabilization of depressive or manic symptoms over 12 months, CBT and, with less certainty, family or conjoint therapy and interpersonal therapy were more effective than treatment as usual.

The investigators note that the findings are in line with a network meta-analysis published earlier this year that found that combining psychotherapy with pharmacotherapy is the best option for stabilizing episodes and preventing recurrences of major depression.

“[T]here is enough evidence from this analysis and others to conclude that health care systems should offer combinations of evidence-based pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy” to outpatients with BD, the researchers note.

“When the goals center on prevention of recurrences, patients should be engaged in family or group psychoeducation with guided skills training and active tasks to enhance coping skills (eg, monitoring and managing prodromal symptoms) rather than being passive recipients of didactic education,” they write.

“When the immediate goal is recovery from moderately severe depressive or manic symptoms, cognitive restructuring, regulating daily rhythms, and communication training may be associated with stabilization,” they add.

A Call to Action

The coauthors of an editorial in JAMA Psychiatry note that the findings “further reinforce extant treatment guidelines recommending medication management and adjunctive evidence-based psychosocial treatments for individuals with

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Parents of Boy with Brain Disorder That’s ‘100 Percent Fatal’ Raise Money for Gene Therapy Clinical Trial

gofundme Connor

The parents of a boy with a rare, fatal brain disorder are raising money so he can participate in a gene therapy trial that has potential to stop the disease.

Marisa DiChiacchio and Mike Dobbyn’s 12-year-old son Connor has Sanfilippo Syndrome Type C, which is a rare degenerative brain disorder that is “like Alzheimer’s, but in children,” according to a GoFundMe campaign created earlier this month.

According to the campaign, the syndrome is “100 percent fatal” and has no cure.

“As the degeneration rapidly progresses, Connor will stop walking, stop talking, stop being able to feed himself,” the GoFundMe campaign says. “He’ll develop movement disorders and seizures, suffer severe dementia, endure a lot of pain and suffering, and then he’ll die.”

But Connor’s family is raising money for the Cure Sanfilippo Foundation and a gene therapy clinical trial that needs funding at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas.

gofundme Marisa DiChiacchio, Mike Dobbyn and their sons Keenan and Connor

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“Research for this gene therapy has shown in pre-clinical models that it can stop the disease,” the campaign says. “This clinical trial is the crucial step of determining whether earlier research is able to show the same therapeutic benefits in children.”

“It was like a bomb was dropped on us in the geneticist office,” Connor’s dad told CBS Philadelphia of the moment they learned of his diagnosis. “I just remember it was a life-shortening condition, the geneticist actually told us at the time, ‘Don’t Google this yet because we don’t have a 100 percent conviction on this diagnosis yet.’ “

gofundme Marisa DiChiacchio, Mike Dobbyn, Connor

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“We knew Connor obviously was special and loved and adored by so many people, but sometimes you just don’t realize until something devastating like this comes out,” Connor’s mother added. “And just everybody comes out of the woodwork trying to help and wanting to help. So he’s like our local community rock star.”

As of Wednesday, the campaign had raised $172,210 of its $3,000,000 goal. 

Source Article

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Histrionic personality disorder: Definition, symptoms, and more

Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is a condition that causes a person to demonstrate behavior that is highly emotional and dramatic. A person with this condition may also excessively seek attention from other people.

Originally, people believed that women were more likely to receive a diagnosis of HPD. However, research now suggests that it affects all genders equally.

Keep reading to learn more about HPD, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

HPD is one of several cluster B personality disorders. Cluster B personality disorders often involve behavior that is overly emotional, erratic, and dramatic.

People with HPD may feel disheartened or dismissed when they are not the center of attention. They may often seem to be vibrant or overly seductive, and other people may describe them as “the life of the party.”

People with HPD will likely demonstrate some of the following symptoms:

  • feels discomfort at not being the center of attention
  • exhibits oversexualized behaviors
  • has shifting and shallow emotions, such as jealousy or greed
  • uses their appearance to get attention
  • has impressionistic speech that lacks detail
  • experiences emotions that often appear exaggerated and dramatic
  • is suggestible
  • believes that relationships are more intimate than they actually are

One 2018 study also suggests that people with HPD may have alexithymia. This refers to a trait wherein a person is unable to recognize or describe emotions that they or others experience.

Defense mechanisms are unconscious mental processes that protect a person from becoming overwhelmed by anxiety. People with HPD may often use repression, dissociation, or both as forms of defense mechanism.

Repression refers to when a person keeps painful stimuli such as memories, thoughts, and feelings out of conscious awareness.

Dissociation refers to the mental process wherein a person becomes disconnected from their thoughts, feelings, memories, and sense of identity.

The exact causes of HPD are currently unknown. However, some researchers believe that it may develop due to a combination of learned behaviors and inherited factors.

For example, some mental health professionals believe that a person may inherit HPD, as it can affect multiple members of the same family.

Parenting styles may also play a part in a person’s chance of developing HPD. For example, if a child observes their parent or caregiver engaging in volatile, inappropriate, or oversexualized behavior, they may be more likely to develop HPD.

Another possible explanation is that HPD develops as an adaptation to traumatic childhood experiences.

In the United States, there is no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medication for the specific treatment of personality disorders.

Psychotherapy is usually the primary treatment for HPD. This involves a person discussing their feelings and experiences with a therapist. The therapist can then help the person determine the reason behind certain actions and behaviors.

Some examples of psychotherapy that may be useful for people with HPD include cognitive analytic therapy (CAT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CAT is a talking therapy that focuses on the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. Older research suggests that this type of

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