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Happy person with arms up in field

Let’s talk… about hope, help, and suicide prevention

By | CMH Blog

Kate Hurley, Staff Writer

Note: September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Suicide affects every one of us — whether it’s someone we know or someone in our community, whether it’s a completed suicide or an attempt, whether we hear about it on the news or worry that someone we know and love might be in danger of hurting themselves.

Personally, I have been impacted by suicides like my high school boyfriend’s dad; an ex-boyfriend; a dear friend. Even though it was years ago, I still remember the death of my boyfriend’s dad. It devastated the family and the community, and it created shock waves that continue to ripple today. We all wish we could have prevented a suicide and wonder if we missed signs or could have done more.

A friend of mine and a suicide-survivor, Randy*, recently shared his story with me. Not only was it a powerful wake-up call for me about the need to learn the risk factors and warning signs for the risk of suicide, it gave me hope that help was out there, that I could actually do something.

Randy had gone to a bridge to commit suicide. He walked back and forth for hours. Tourists streamed past him, but nobody stopped him to ask if anything was wrong. Finally, he raced to the railing and jumped over. And as soon as his hands left the railing, he was filled with regret.

Eventually, he realized that his pacing back and forth was actually a silent plea for help. He thinks that if just one of those people who passed him on the bridge that day had asked if something was wrong, he wouldn’t have jumped. It moved me to realize one small act or word from even a stranger could have changed his life’s story.

How many lives could we save if we all knew the risk factors and warning signs of suicidal behavior?

Risk factors don’t cause or predict suicidal behavior, but people suffering from them may be more likely to consider or attempt suicide. The following is a short list of some of the risk factors associated with the possibility of suicidal behavior:

RISK FACTORS FOR SUICIDE (courtesy of suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

  •  Mental health issues
  •  Alcohol and other substance use and abuse
  •  History of trauma or abuse
  •  Major physical illnesses
  •  Previous suicide attempt(s) or family history of suicide
  •  Loss of relationship(s), job, or financial loss
  •  Lack of social support and sense of isolation or hopelessness
  •  Stigma associated with asking for help
  •  Lack of healthcare, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  •  Local clusters of suicide or exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Knowing the warning signs may help you determine if you, a friend, or loved one is at risk for suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following warning signs, please call The Center for Mental Health Crisis Line at 970.252.6220 (locally) or Colorado Crisis Services at 1-800-493-TALK (8255) (statewide).

SUICIDE WARNING SIGNS (with thanks to suicidepreventionlifeline.org)

  • Expressing the desire to die or to kill themselves
  • Researching ways to kill themselves
  •  Talking about feeling hopeless, trapped, in pain, or having no reason to live
  •  Expressing concern about being a burden to others
  •  Behaving recklessly
  •  Increasing alcohol and substance use
  •  Sleeping too little or too much
  •  Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  •  Extreme mood swings

Randy experienced major behavioral changes before attempting suicide. He talked about wanting to die and feeling hopeless. He began drinking heavily, often blacking out; he also acted recklessly and took major risks. Looking back, he realizes his behavior was a cry for help.

And there is help.

The Center for Mental Health can help by phone, online, or in person.

By phone
If you are in crisis, please call our Crisis line at 970.252.6220 or text 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor.

Online
Using our confidential, free, and quick self-screening tool, you can assess your own mental health situation online.

In person
The Center for Mental Health has locations across the Western Slope — you can make an appointment or walk-in for help.

The Crisis Walk-in Center in Montrose provides urgent behavioral health to anyone in our region. If you think you or someone you know is in danger of hurting themselves, walk in 24-hours a day, 365 days a year for help. No insurance is needed. It will open on September 16, 2019.

Know the risk factors, know the warning signs, know where to go for help, and together we can all help prevent suicide.

Resources

*Name changed

Hindered – A Poem

By | CMH Blog

Hindered

The sky was layered in a thick blanket of billowing mass.

The world surrounding was concealed in a lonely blackness.
The moon, saddened by its silencing.

Utter darkness.

Not the type of dark that comes
When the moon rises
And the sun elegantly creeps away.
The type of dark that intertwines with the grass,
the shivering branches,
And the very air intoxicating a perky lung.

This heavy mass, inky black,
The deep corner of a gloomy junkyard
And I was the rusting locket
Long lost and buried in the chaos of fading memories.

Once mocking, the stars lingering in the heavens
Hindered.
Like a wild candle light
Smothered and suffocated under a bushel.
Their  unwavering bliss and streak of danger
Deafened.
As if the lungs of the glowing balls of fire
Violently gasping for breath,
Were my own.

I was the army of angered luminosity,
illuminating the limitation of Earth
And I was the darkness smoldering over their being
I was the light fighting to be seen
And I was the thick mustering cloud
stubbornly adhering

I was the moon
And I was the sun.
I was the stars
And I was the clouds.

I was my own darkness
And I was my own light.

-Haylee R. Curry

 

There is always hope, and we’re here for you. Reach out, get help. 
Our 24-hour crisis line is available 7 days/week at 970.252.6220 or 844.493.8255
Colorado Crisis Services
Center for Mental Health Crisis Services

depositphotos.com

5 Facts Every Resilient Person Knows

By | CMH Blog

Resilience, or our capacity to withstand painful and disruptive life experiences (and even catastrophes), is taking on more importance than ever in the uncertain world we live in today. Surviving dysfunction, disappointment, and devastation in love and work has always been a part of our lives. But these days, the day-to-day news cycle seems to create a never-ending barrage of anxiety and sadness. The foundational belief that we live in a relatively safe, sane, and predictable world has been shaken to the core.

Let me be clear about one thing: Resilience doesn’t mean you don’t feel devastated or that you’re not affected deeply; it means you can handle the losses and pain life delivers, recover, and thrive again. For decades, researchers have wondered about resilience. After thousands of studies and years of research, we have found five essential facts about the quality of resilience.

1. Resilience can be learned.

We know that there are several components to recovery after a painful event: Remembering who you are even as life falls apart, having a strong support system, and being able to imagine life getting better even if it isn’t so great right now. Resilient people believe we are a part of something larger than ourselves, whether we call that humanity, nature, or give it a religious name. Resilient people know how to bend but not break, how to ask for help, and how to remember that who they truly are is not what happens to them. Rather than numbing themselves to their pain, they find positive ways to manage their distressing emotions and feelings: meditation, exercise, proper self-care, pets, family and friends, and pursuit of their passions.

2. Having a larger community base and support system builds resilience.

Years ago, there was a lot written on the phenomenon of “super kids,” or children who had every imaginable problem at home but who still found a way to thrive. The single quality they all shared was having at least one person in their lives who believed in them. It could be an aunt, a coach, or a woman who lived down the hall, but that person reminded them that they were more than the poor cards they were dealt. Research continues to support the theory that people with better relationships have higher emotional intelligence, think more creatively, and are more likely to ask for help. Being a part of a community also means we have other people to pay attention to, nurture, and remind us that we are not the only ones who are suffering and rebuilding.

3. The more we feel all of our feelings, the more resilient we are.

The focus on “being positive” has gotten a lot of press recently, but we are hardwired to remember painful experiences and negative events. We need those memories for protection. We also need ALL of our emotions. Repressed grief, anger, and fear lead to both psychological and physical problems.

People who are resilient know how to grieve their losses, express their anger and fear, and rebound from those feelings by going through them rather than denying them. Through doing this, they can truly embrace ways to find the gifts of compassion, wisdom, and inner strength that painful events have to offer.

4. Resilient people don’t deny their human responses to loss and pain.

We know many stories of heroes and heroines who have gone through unimaginable losses and come out with tales of wisdom learned and a deepening of soulfulness. It is easy to think they went through their experiences almost smiling. This is not true, of course, and it’s normal to feel like giving up, to doubt one’s ability to recover, and to wonder if you will ever have a night free of sorrow and sleeplessness. Passages of birth and death of any kind are full of excruciating moments, exhaustion, and momentary losses of faith in our own recovery. Resilient people can accept this as a part of the whole, and they know when to reach for the phone, grab an inspirational book, or go to the gym. They do this even when it doesn’t seem like it will help.

5. Yes, you can grow your resilience.

Since we have identified many of the qualities that cultivate and contribute to resilience, we can all find ways to grow, learn, and practice those qualities. Stress and challenges will not go away, but our capacity to mitigate their impact can grow. We can each learn to feel sadness and loss but not let them define who we are, rebuild our lives after painful events, and live happier and healthier lives.

We never find total closure; the scars become a part of who we are. As author Daniel Gottlieb said, “that’s what happens in our hearts. The holes do not disappear, but scar tissue grows and becomes part of who we are. As our hearts grow larger, and we learn that scar tissue is not so ugly after all, we accommodate what we had thought would be unendurable. And we realize that the wisdom we have gained would not have been possible without the losses we have known, even those that seemed impossible to bear.”

 

By Linda Carroll, M.S. via 5 Facts Every Resilient Person Knows, According To A Psychotherapist

 

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a mental health crisis, please visit our Crisis Services page

If you would like more information about the services the Center provides, please visit our Services page

If you would like to complete a free, anonymous mental health self screening, please visit centermh.org/help.

Unspoken

The Unspoken, by Brianna Parcell

By | CMH Blog, Guest Blog

The Unspoken
A real and relatable description of the unspoken pain within

People think depression is sadness. People think depression is crying. People think depression is being “emo” or dressing in black and being a moody loner. But people are wrong. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. Being numb to emotions, being numb to change, and the world around you. Being blind to everything that is beautiful, important, and unique about you. You feel nothing, and everything is gone, but the emptiness still feels heavy, and the silence is too loud.

Even the simplest tasks become painful, and things that used to bring you joy are worthless. You begin to lack motivation because why would you keep on trying if it means nothing? When you start to believe that life won’t go on for you, you suddenly stop caring for yourself. Sometimes the most joyful and confident looking people are hurting the most. You wake up in the morning and just want to go back to bed, but then once you try to sleep the thoughts keep you awake, and you lay for hours either crying or staring at the ceiling, leaving you feeling empty. The emotional distress of this state tires you physically. Everybody just pushes away the uncomfortable conversation of how you are doing because they only want to think about your future. But how am I suppose to worry about a future if I don’t know for sure that I will even survive through tonight?

Days don’t feel meaningful; they are just annoying obstacles that need to be faced. And how do you face them? Through medication, through doubt, through drinking, through drugs, through cutting. Self-harm is a way of expressing your self-shame on your own body; almost like punishing yourself for being this way. While it can simultaneously release all of the pain that builds up inside from the external and internal hate. It can be a punishment, while it also makes you feel better and begins to cradle and comfort you in these times. Every cut lets out all of the tears and pain that build up in your throat making you unable to breathe or think. Then there is one cut that goes too deep, and maybe you weren’t ready, or perhaps you let it happen, and you are free from the fight. Words always hurt, and we have scars to prove it. But then you feel like you cannot hide your story when it is carved into your body and engraved into your skin, so the whole world knows, “oh, watch out, she is unstable, and she must be a sad girl.”

When you’re depressed, you grasp onto anything that can get you through the days, which are filled with the words “slut” “dumb” and “ugly,” and to make it worse, the people saying this is who you thought were your friends and supporting peers. Then when you stand up for yourself, they brush it off saying it was a joke and that you are too sensitive. The vicious cycle of trying to be strong, getting shut down, and then feeling like the only way to cope is to take it out on yourself, never stops. When in this state of mind you feel as if you have a million people that you can tell, but not enough that listen. When they may be “listening” nobody knows what to say or how to respond to the heaviness. Why am I blaming myself for what you said? Well, you should have thought of that before you opened your mouth. The most interesting thing is that these days it is funny to tell people to kill themselves as a “joke.” Really? Are you serious? You are so funny! Take a trip to the hospital and tell the kids on the 6th floor with scars up their arms and liver damage your jokes.

Depression is like watering flowers that are already dead. Depression is like the rotting flesh hiding underneath the soft, pretty velvet. It is a suffering so profound it will never show; I’m dying, and they will never know until I’m lying 50 stories below all they are gonna have to say is “what a shame, she was so beautiful.” This is not a choice; it is a plague and a disease that has no at-home remedy. It is impossible just to flip a switch and be happy and see the world in color again, which is what most people that you open up to ask you to do, assuming it is that simple. That’s what depression is, not sadness or tears; it’s the overwhelming sense of numbness and insignificance through all aspects of life. The whole world seems like it hates you, and convinces you to hate yourself too.

Love,

Brianna Parcell

 

There is always hope. If you’re experiencing any of the feelings that Brianna wrote about, or any other mental health crisis, we’re here for you. Reach out, get help. 
Our 24-hour crisis line is available 7 days/week at 970.252.6220 or 844.493.8255
Colorado Crisis Services
Center for Mental Health Crisis Services

 

Anxiety

Changing Colors

By | CMH Blog

As supple greens turn to mesmerizing golds, the changing of colors and seasons can also bring a change in people’s moods and emotions. Some look forward to autumn and welcome the cool weather with a smile and a cozy sweater. But for others, their pumpkin spiced beverages are topped with a sense of anxiety.

These anxious thoughts and feelings can arise from shorter days and longer lists of what needs to be accomplished. Or, a sense of loneliness may begin to build due to less time scheduled to see friends. Perhaps there is a realization of the ceasing time to go on summer adventures. Others may have an unwavering discomfort and distaste for change altogether. No matter what an individual’s reason may be, anxiety can begin to take its toll this time of year. It can be easy to miss the true bliss and beauty of the season.

To keep thoughts focused and controlled, try taking a moment to identify what and why something is triggering anxiety. In anxious ridden moments, acknowledge those feelings. However, be careful not to let the anxiety take control. Get to the root and face it head on. Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a break and realize these thoughts and feelings are valid. Being anxious can be the body’s way of signaling that something may not be quite right. It is important to pay attention. Once the reasons become a little clearer behind why anxiety rears its head, it may allow for better preparedness the next time an attack begins.

If anxiety attacks become debilitating, perhaps reaching out to a professional or another trusted individual may help ease some of the suffering. Sometimes, it takes a little more than internal reflection to find a way to cope and overcome. It may be helpful and beneficial to speak about the anxiety. Saying the words out loud, even if it is difficult to identify the reason, could lead to some relief. This method may help in dealing with those anxious moments. With the help of another, there could be guidance and coping mechanisms which were not obvious alone.

The Take Away

The most important thing to remember is that support is available. Take a deep, steady breath. Be forgiving. Show patience to yourself and others during this beautiful, autumn season. Acknowledge thoughts and feelings to see if finding the root of anxious moments is possible – this may lead to an unforeseen solution. Reach out to a trusted individual if feelings of anxiety become overwhelming and incapacitating. Anxiety doesn’t have to be something someone must suffer alone. Even if anxiety is not personally familiar, there are sufferers all around. So it is important remember that a kind smile every season can make a difference.

Follow this link for additional help or for more information about services that are available www.centermh.org/services/

If you are interested in a self-screening regarding mental wellness, please follow this link www.centermh.org/services/self-screening/

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from a mental health crisis, please call 970.252.6220 or visit this link www.centermh.org/services/crisis/

Here’s to a happy and healthy autumn,

Ashley

Suicidal Thoughts

20 Things Suicidal People Wish They Could Tell You

By | CMH Blog

Suicidal Thoughts

Having suicidal thoughts can be a scary and lonely experience, especially if you’re afraid of being honest with others about how you’re really feeling. But it’s important to talk about and get support for suicidal thoughts — even passive ones. Because although it’s scary, it shouldn’t be shameful, and it’s certainly not something we should hide.

To get a conversation started, we asked our mental health community to share with us one thing they wish others knew about their suicidal thoughts. For those of you who may be feeling this way, know you are not alone.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Just because I’m feeling suicidal doesn’t mean I’m planning to take my life. I just need help.” — Morgan S.

2. “Understand selfishness isn’t what drives those thoughts.” — Marjorie R.

3. “The difference between passive and active suicidal ideation… I don’t want to end my life, I just have moments where the exhaustion is too much.” — Erin N.

4. “The biggest misconception about suicidal thoughts is that people do it for attention.” — Melanie B.

5. “It’s not something I can just snap out of.” — Valerie R.

6. “I am not the boy who cried wolf. These thoughts and feelings are real each and every time.” — Stevie S.

7. “It hurts to feel this way, I don’t enjoy it.” — Olivia R.

8. “The thoughts exploit every weakness, every argument, even every triumph to make it something it shouldn’t be. The intrusive thoughts torment you until all you can think about is silencing them and that thought is quickly consumed by suicidal ideation.” — Abby W.

9. “It’s so much more common than people realize. Suicide doesn’t have a face. It can be anyone.” –Kellyn R

10. “What I truly want is to be saved — to not feel like suicide is the only option I have.” — Abi T.

11. “If we could use a switch to turn [off] the unwanted suicidal thoughts, we would.” — Natalie M.

12. “My thoughts aren’t caused by others. It’s not their fault.” — Wesley C.

13. “Suicidal thoughts aren’t [confined] to a specific time of when they start and end. [For me,] they are a constant feeling that never leaves.” — Emma J.

14. “ It’s not something I can control. The thoughts come from nowhere and are nearly impossible to will away.” — Christina L.

15. “ Just because I smile and laugh doesn’t mean my suicidal thoughts are me being silly… My smiling is for your benefit so you can’t see how much it’s hurting me to simply exist on a daily basis.” — Monica E.

16. “It’s not about dying, it’s about escaping the noise in my head at the time.” — Meghan B.

17. “I wish people knew that when I seem distracted or in my own world, I’m fighting an internal battle. Some days it takes every fiber of my being to keep going and a kind word can make all the difference.” — Sean H.

18. “Working through these thoughts and feelings is hard, be patient with me.” — Becky B.

19. “I’m torn between wanting to end the pain and not wanting to hurt my loved ones.” — Wade D.

20. “I wish others knew that sometimes these thoughts are just as scary and frustrating to me as they are to you.” — Jessica L.

By Juliette Virzi via https://themighty.com/2017/03/suicidal-thoughts-what-i-wish-i-could-tell-you/ 

Body Image

Dear Body, I’m Sorry

By | CMH Blog

Body Image

For many years, my body image has been the main subject of my New Year’s resolutions. For me, this only ever led to disappointment and a sense of failure due to the impossible goals I held in my head and the ridiculous time frames I gave myself to achieve them.

Recently, I had a little personal revolution and decided I was worth more than being reduced to tears while looking in the mirror poking at bits of me that refused to shrink.

My one resolution this year is to continuously try and accept myself just the way I am. Living in a society that makes money from women’s lack of self-worth and insecurities doesn’t make it easy, but it’s a challenge I have accepted!

I decided to write apology letters to my body and here’s what I wrote:

Dear Tummy

Dear tummy, I am sorry for each time I ignored your empty grumbles and left you hungry. Sorry for prodding and poking you wishing you would shrink and for sucking you in with all the effort I could muster. I love you.

Dear bum, I am sorry for all those times I have hidden you away because I said you were “too big.” I love you.

Dear arms, I am sorry for every time I said I hated you and wished you were different. You give the best hugs. I love you.

Dear feet, I am sorry for ever complaining about how small you are. Sorry for declaring you must be the reason my balance is so appallingly bad. You are small but perfectly formed and you get me cheap shoes in the sale. I love you.

Dear skin, I am sorry for every time I cursed you because of a spot and for hurting you with a number of lotions and potions to try and get rid of said spot. I’m sorry for wishing you wouldn’t make my cheeks turn so red so easily. I love you.

Dear body, I am truly sorry for each and every time I have wished certain parts of you were different. Thank you for housing me regardless of my moaning. You are doing a good job and I don’t give you enough credit. You are perfect just the way you are.

By Ellyse Rafferty via https://themighty.com/2017/03/apology-letter-to-my-body/

Eating Disorder

A Letter to My Unbeloved Eating Disorder

By | CMH Blog

The Reality of Eating Disorders

My unbeloved eating disorder,

When I first met you, I thought you were going to be my new best friend. I felt so strong and capable with you by my side. I thought I was completely in control. In a short matter of time we became closer and closer and I started to notice things weren’t as perfect as I had once believed. But you were quick to convince me I was overreacting, that everything was perfect, that everything would be perfect forever — as long as I stayed with you.

But you lied to me. I wasn’t overreacting. I was right. The control I found in you had now been completely taken by you. My original confidence faded as you hurled word after word of insult and hate at my thinning skin. I started to crumble, but I was far too late. You had me right where you wanted me.

All the while you were quick to deceive, somehow appearing immaculate in front of me. I could never get away from you because I felt like I was no one without you. You spoke for me, you acted for me, you became me. As much as I hated you, I also loved you. For all the things I saw you do to hurt, I somehow found many more that were meant to help. However, you took my control. You ruined my relationships. You destroyed my trust. And I couldn’t do anything but watch it all slip away.

But now, I see you for you. All your lies and covers can no longer disguise you. My eyes are cleared from the haze and I no longer want you. Instead, I want what you took. I want my friendships back. I want to be trusted and to trust. I want a life outside of pain, hurt, disgust and you. As cliche as it may sound, I want to love and be loved. I want to run — really run — until I feel my heart beating against my chest. And now I know I can have these. As hard as you tried to keep me down, I broke free and I see. I feel. I know who you really are and I don’t want you. I am leaving you behind. And just so you know, I am much happier without you. I am so much better. I’m more kind, more accepting, more loving. I can laugh and enjoy things. I am better because you no longer control me.

So I’m leaving you. I’m leaving you for so much more and I could not be more excited to see you off. It’s been too long that I’ve held on to you and admired you, but that time is over and I have a real life to live.

No longer yours,
Hannah

From: https://themighty.com/2017/03/breaking-up-with-eating-disorder/ Photo from contributor

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder

By | CMH Blog

It is winter yet again. The beautiful colors of the autumn leaves have disappeared and have been replaced by barren tree limbs and icicles sharp and brittle. The harsh winds rattle the window frames and the cold air seems to sing a cruel song that frightens away birds to warmer climates. The daytime gives way to the moon, and darkness sets in way before supper. So, you see, while some perceive winter as a festive time when their worlds are blanketed by the purity of snow, others feel that they are being suffocated by a literally colorless existence.

It is estimated that half a million Americans are negatively affected by the changing seasons and darkening of the summer light. They feel depressed, irritable, and tired. Their activity levels decrease, and they find themselves in bed more often. This depression disorder not only affects their health, but it also affects their everyday life, including their job performance and friendships. This disorder is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately acronym-ed, SAD.

What is SAD Exactly?

SAD is a mood disorder that affects an individual the same time each year, usually starting when the weather becomes colder in September or October, and ends in April or May when the weather becomes warmer. People with SAD feel depressed during the shorter days of winter, and more cheerful and energetic during the brightness of spring and summer.

“Hey, Einstein! I knew that already! Tell me something I don’t know!”

Jeez, okay, okay. Irritability is a sign of SAD, so I understand your bitterness, Crankypants. Here are—

10 Things You May Not Have Known About SAD

1. Did you know that between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women? It’s true. If you are a female between 15 and 55, you are more likely to develop SAD. Great, so not only do women have PMS, Menopause, and child labor to worry about, add SAD to the list, too.

2. Even though the harsh chill in the air might bring you down, SAD is believed to relate more to daylight, not the temperature. Some experts believe that a lack of sunlight increases the body’s production of a body chemical called melatonin. Melatonin is what helps regulate sleep and can cause symptoms of depression.

3. SAD can be treated. If your symptoms are mild, meaning, if they do not interfere in and completely ruin your daily life, light therapy may help you beat SAD. Using light therapy has shown highly effective. Studies prove that between 50% and 80% of light therapy users have complete remissions of symptoms. However, light therapy must be used for a certain amount of time daily and continue throughout the dark, winter months.

4. Some say that light therapy has no side effects, but others disagree. We think it simply depends on the person. Some people experience mild side effects, such as headaches, eyestrain, or nausea. However, these light therapy users say that the side effects are temporary and subside with time or reduced light exposure. Most scientists agree that there are no long-term side effects, but remember to consult your physician before any treatment decisions are made.

5. There are some things to consider if you want to try light therapy in your home, otherwise you will not receive all the benefits that this type of therapy offers.

When purchasing a light box, do not skimp as far as money is concerned. Buy a larger one so that you will receive enough light to be beneficial.
The best time for light therapy is in the early morning. (If used late at night, it could cause insomnia.) So, even if it means waking up earlier, set aside some morning time to relax and use your light box.
Many people are not aware of this, but you must have your eyes open and face the light during therapy. Do not stare at the light. That would be silly. Simply face the light, eyes open.

6. It takes more than just one winter depression to be diagnosed with SAD. Individuals must meet certain criteria:

The symptoms and remission of the systems must have occurred during the last two consecutive years.
The seasonal depressive episodes must outnumber the non-seasonal depressive episodes in one’s lifetime.

7. SAD can be treated with certain medications that increase serotonin levels in the brain. Such medications include antidepressants, such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.

8. There is actually a device that conducts light therapy and allows you to walk around while treated. The device is called a light visor. Just wear the light visor around your head and complete your daily chores and rituals. A light visor still can potentially have the same side effects as the standard forms of light therapy, so only simple activities, such as watching television, walking, or preparing meals is advised. We do not recommend you operate heavy machinery while wearing a light visor. (You would look pretty silly with it on out in public, anyway.)

9. If you have a friend or loved one who suffers from SAD, you can help them tremendously.

Try to spend more time with the person, even though they may not seem to want any company.
Help them with their treatment plan.
Remind them often that summer is only a season away. Tell them that their sad feelings are only temporary, and they will feel better in no time.
Go outside and do something together. Take a walk, or exercise. Get them to spend some time outside in the natural sunlight. Just remember to bundle up!

10. Although not as common, a second type of seasonal affective disorder known as summer depression can occur in individuals who live in warmer climates. Their depression is related to heat and humidity, rather than light. Winter depression does cause petulance in many cases, but summer depression is known to cause severe violence. So, it could be worse.

There are times in this article, in which I seem a bit blithe. However, please, do not take my somewhat lighthearted approach to SAD the wrong way. SAD is a serious disorder that disrupts the lives of many people, worldwide. It is nothing to laugh at. Sneeze at, perhaps—it is winter, after all. But laugh at? No, not at all.

The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

By | CMH Blog

Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for the body. But exercise is also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.

What you can do
1. Learn how physical activity can improve your mental health
2. Discover how reaping the benefits takes less time and effort than you think
3. Learn how to overcome the barriers to exercise
4. Plan to take the first step to a more active lifestyle
5 Find ways to stay motivated—even if you’re anxious or depressed

What are the mental health benefits of exercise?
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active.

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.

Exercise and depression

Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise and anxiety

Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.

Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.

Exercise and stress

Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

Exercise and ADHD

Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Exercise and PTSD and trauma

Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of thinking about other things, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing—are some of your best choices.

Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.