Living with Summer Depression: ‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder’

summer sky shadow over woman

When people talk about seasonal depression, we usually think of the “wintertime blues.” But there are those who live with a rarer form of Seasonal Affective Disorder known as “summer SAD.”

What was previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is now under the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder with a specifier for a seasonal pattern. Referred to as “wintertime blues,” those living with seasonal depression report episodes of fatigue, depressed or sad mood, and a host of other symptoms. For most, this occurs when the days are shorter, darker and cooler, usually during the fall and winter months.

What is less common — yet still valid — is summer SAD. Much like it’s wintertime counterpart, summer depression leaves those living with the condition feeling fatigued, hopeless, and lethargic. The difference is it has this effect during months when people are expected to be bright, happy, and excited. This can be frustrating for those with summer sadness. The pressure to seem well can exacerbate the depressive symptoms they may be experiencing. Continue reading Living with Summer Depression: ‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder’

How to Maintain Your Motivation While Depressed

depressed man sitting in bed

Most of us take action because we believe it will bring about a concrete benefit or result in future happiness. These prospects are what motivate us. Clinical depression, however, can change your brain in a way that makes it difficult to experience a sense of pleasure or reward. When depression makes you unbearably sad, numb, or exhausted, you might not feel like there is a reason to do anything. If nothing has satisfied you lately, you might think, “What’s the point?”

Fortunately there are mental techniques and strategies you can employ to gradually regain the motivation needed to live a full life. You can try them on your own or by working with a therapist. The latter, however, will most likely yield better, faster results.

Below are some strategies recommended by therapists who have worked with clients to restore their motivation during severe depression. Most of these solutions focus on incremental steps, so change is more manageable and easier to commit to. Continue reading How to Maintain Your Motivation While Depressed

Dating With Depression: 8 Tips For A Great Time

couple wearing hoodies leaning on bridge railing

Millions of people around the world suffer from depression and many of them are actively dating, often using online dating sites. No doubt dating can be difficult when you suffer from depression, but it can also be a tremendous source of happiness when you meet someone special.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are dealing with depression and trying to find love — or maybe just trying to enjoy a few fun dates!

1. Think About Professional Help

Dating can be challenging, even more so if you are suffering from depression. If you are considering getting out there, or already dating, you could seek professional advice from a therapist who will help you get the most from the experience. Working with a therapist is a great way to identify and manage mental health issues that come up with dating and relationships. Continue reading Dating With Depression: 8 Tips For A Great Time

Why Aren’t We Talking About Postoperative Depression?

woman in hospital bed hands over face after surgery

Surgery can be a life-changing event, whether you’re treating an emergency medical condition or finally getting a procedure that changes the way you look and feel about yourself. In the whirlwind of presurgical paperwork and meetings and consultations, though, there’s one issue a care team may skip over: postoperative depression.

It’s a strange problem for people to forget to mention, because it’s not uncommon. In a 2000 feature for Harvard Magazine, surgeons described it as an “understandable complication.”

So why aren’t we talking about it? The answer is complex, and it involves a number of stops along a rabbit hole of twists and turns that leave patients unprepared for the emotional aftermath of surgery. While depression may be “understandable,” that doesn’t mean it should be ignored; and refusing to acknowledge that it’s a risk doesn’t resolve the problem.

It’s also very treatable. Prepared patients, particularly those with underlying mental health conditions, can be more proactive about managing it if they’re forewarned.

Clinical Health Psychologist Steven Tovian, who works at Northwestern University in Chicago in addition to maintaining a private practice, told Talkspace one reason postoperative depression falls by the wayside is limited research into the subject. Theories about what causes it may abound, but they aren’t backed by detailed, substantial research that explores the phenomenon and delves into ways to treat it.

Without that information, it’s both harder to treat and more difficult to convince surgical care teams that advising patients could be advantageous for recovery. Cultural attitudes within the medical profession also create a barrier to frank discussions about mental health for surgical patients, which is bad news for those at risk. Continue reading Why Aren’t We Talking About Postoperative Depression?

5 Things You Should Know About Depression and Christianity

man praying church bible

“Why doesn’t the church know what to do with depression?” That’s the question I’ve been asking myself since the moment I experienced my depressive episode. The perspectives about mental disorders vary greatly throughout the church.

This isn’t to paint the church with broad strokes, but generally, depression is a topic Christians tend to avoid in the community. Misconceptions about mental illness are pervasive throughout all aspects of our culture. Nonetheless, some of the “church-y” misconceptions about clinical depression come from a genuine desire to understand them through the scriptures. There are things, however, that well-meaning Christians tend to get wrong.

To sort out the conflicting rhetoric and misconceptions, here are a few things you should know: Continue reading 5 Things You Should Know About Depression and Christianity

What Critics Got Wrong About ‘13 Reasons Why’

cassette tapes headphones desk

13 Reasons Why, the newest Netflix success, is still causing controversy. Critics welcomed the show with warm reviews on March 31st, but, as the series’s hype increased, there was some backlash and disapproval of the depiction of the main character’s depression and ultimate decision to end her life. The show, however, was responsible for bringing awareness to mental health problems, mainly those most common with teenagers.

The show is based on a 2007 book of the same name by Jay Asher. The story is about Hannah Baker, a 17-year-old girl, who, after struggling with depression, psychological and physical abuse for over a year, decides to kill herself. Before dying, Hannah records 13 tapes in which she discloses the 13 reasons why she killed herself. The reasons, however, are all people.

Critics questioned the way the Netflix show depicted the aftermath of Hannah’s suicide. Some said the series expressed the idea that suicide is inevitable because the people surrounding Hannah felt a sense of helpless about her situation. They were not able to help her or prevent her from killing herself because she was already dead by the time they understood she needed help. Instead, Hannah’s acquaintances were only able to agonize over her tapes and feel guilty for being one of her “reasons.” Continue reading What Critics Got Wrong About ‘13 Reasons Why’

How Depression Strengthened My Relationship With My Son

black father comforting son

Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health. To celebrate Men’s Health Week we highlighted issues specifically related to men and their mental health.  

It was my worst fear. I missed the opportunity to help my 15-year-old old son when he most needed me.

In 2015 I faced the worst depression of my life. It felt like I was in a dark and bottomless pit. I felt distant from myself and my family. Days went by and my most significant family interaction was sitting silently at the dinner table with my hoodie pulled over my head.

One of the oaths I swore to myself when I was younger was that I would use the lessons from my early experiences with depression to make life better for my kids. At the same time I was facing my depression, however, my son faced his own depression as a result of being bullied at school.

Thinking about that season of my life, I wish now that I had been able to think a little more clearly. Maybe I could have picked up on his signs and supported him? Maybe he would have had an easier time if we had talked more? Continue reading How Depression Strengthened My Relationship With My Son

How I Overcame Depression And Traveled To My Bucket List Destinations

depressed man traveling head in hand

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

When it came time to actually book the flight, things started to break down. To picture myself trying to make a tight connection, rebook a flight, overcome jet lag, suffer homesickness, not able to speak the language? It was paralyzing. I felt myself spinning into that familiar, desperate cycle of blaming myself for not being able to do the things I dreamed of and not being able to do the things I dreamed of because of my depression. Each application deadline — Prague, London, Paris, Cádiz, Perth — that passed would send me back to bed, missing classes, ignoring friends, and feeling miserable. Continue reading How I Overcame Depression And Traveled To My Bucket List Destinations

Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

woman sunset depression

On cold, rainy days, you’re allowed to be miserable and lazy. It’s totally acceptable to stay in, nap, and watch Netflix all day. From the months of May through September, however, you’re supposed to get outside, enjoy the weather and be happy. You’re supposed to have the time of your life in summer! But what if your depression is so bad that you can’t get out from underneath your covers? What good will the sun do you then?

Though summer marks a victorious finish line for sufferers of seasonal depression (or, seasonal affective disorder), the new season brings little to no relief for people with major or clinical depression, since triggers and causes usually run deeper than lack of sun or daylight hours. In fact, I’ve probably been at my very worst during certain summers, when the only time I felt like my mood was matched was when I’d lock eyes with a fellow distressed commuter at 8:30 AM on a Monday in a packed subway car reeking of body odor. Depression is extra lonely in the summer.

Confession: I envy people with seasonal affective disorder. It even has a cute acronym, SAD — unlike MDD (major depressive disorder) which doesn’t discriminate when it comes to seasons. Not to minimize a very real and difficult condition, but personally, I’d trade my MDD for SAD any day. To know that my depression symptoms were limited to a specific time frame would make them more manageable. Plus, SAD often occurs during a season when it’s more socially acceptable to feel such things. People can understand depression in the winter (and love to say, “Wow, this weather is so depressing”), but it’s difficult for them to grasp how someone can be down in the dumps when it’s nice out. Continue reading Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

Talkspace Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression

depressed man airport red suitcase

I always wanted to travel. In college I attended information sessions in stuffy rooms and echoing lecture halls, for at least five different study abroad programs. I dutifully filled out the paperwork, scheduled doctor’s appointments, even met with the other folks I’d be spending time abroad with. It was exciting. But something always held me back.

My depression.

Traveling opens our minds and keeps us young. Women who vacation every two years have a significantly lower risk of heart attack than women who vacation only ever six years. Men who don’t take an annual vacation have a 20% higher risk of death (30% higher risk of heart disease). However, for those of us with depression, travel can pose many challenges or even make it impossible.

Immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture –– and actually getting there –– can be challenging. Between long flights and layovers, short connections, cancellations, not understanding the language, being unfamiliar with the cuisine, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, altitude changes…there are many variables that can pose issues even for the most seasoned traveler among us. Layering in mental illness can exacerbate these situations.

Just because traveling guarantees a disruption of your normal schedule and poses a variety of potential challenges, does not mean you have to abandon your travel plans, give up exploring new areas, or forego trips to visit those you love. There are ways for all of us with mental illness to maintain our mental wellness, while hitting the road. Continue reading Talkspace Online Therapy is the #1 Tool for Travelers With Depression