Tag Archives: depression

An Argument in Defense of Medications

-Brianna Huber

I am tired of hearing about the stigmas attached to depression, ADHD, and the use of medication to treat these conditions.

In the case of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), I feel like the disorder has become a casual label for anyone who’s overly energetic or who has trouble focusing on one thing for an extended period of time. As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD at a very young age, I feel like ADHD has developed a stereotype and had its legitimacy minimized.

ADHD is diagnosed in 3 to 5 percent of American school-aged children, and it is possible for it to continue into adulthood.  If everyone I’ve heard claim they have ADHD, or that they were “acting ADD,” actually had the disorder, I would put that diagnosis ratio closer to 20 percent at least.

In the case of depression, I know that it’s become increasingly common for people to suffer from the condition in some form.  Major Depressive Disorder affects about six percent of adult Americans each year.  Depression carries a certain stigma in western society. Many people suffer from it, but we don’t openly talk about it enough (when I type the words “stigma against” into Google, “mental illness” is the first suggestion that appears in the drop-down list, and “depression” is the third). As a result, people who may honestly be suffering from depression are reluctant to get help.

There is also a stigma against being on medication for psychological conditions. There are people who feel antidepressants are over-prescribed (and they may be), and there are people who believe it is wrong to prescribe stimulant medications to children with ADHD. In the latter case, some of these people believe that ADHD isn’t a legitimate condition and that its so-called symptoms are normal child behavior.  I disagree. Based on my own experience, I know there’s a point where childhood hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattentiveness stop being a regular part of childhood and become a problem that gets in the way of a child’s ability to learn. I was one of those children, and medication is what ultimately turned me around.

Growing up, I was a complex case (I still am). I have a unique blend of ADHD, depression, and generalized anxiety. When my mom would try something to fix one issue, it would worsen another. I saw more doctors than I can count and tried more medications than I care to remember before we found ones that worked well together. That day came when I was in fifth grade—a new stimulant medication came out called Focalin and it’s what turned me from a disruptive, inattentive child into a focused, driven honor student. (Stimulants actually have a calming effect on people with ADHD.) I’ve always been curious and eager to learn, but my various issues got in the way and kept me from realizing my potential.

I was also on two other medications at the time, one for depression and the other for anxiety. The perfect triad of those medications is what has allowed me to be the best version of myself to this day. A couple of weeks ago my doctor suggested I try getting off of my anxiety medication and I agreed with the idea because before then, I couldn’t even remember what it did that wasn’t already covered by one of the other two pills I take.  I certainly remember now.  During those two weeks without it, I felt like I was losing myself in my own head.  I couldn’t think straight, was overly emotional, short-fused, and surprisingly angry at the world.  Now that I have the medication back, I’ve leveled out again.  Apparently I’m as picky biologically as I am in everyday life.

The point of my story is, even though I’m sure there are people in this world who are on medications they don’t need to be, there are also those of us that legitimately do need the extra help to get through our days.  Therapy may be enough to help some people, and I’ve had my fair share of that too, but in other cases the problem is neurological.  I’m chemically unbalanced.  My medications shift that chemical balance in my brain.  I am confident that I have a lot to give, and if I genuinely need a bit of help to achieve that potential, I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed or guilty about that.

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Don't Worry Be Healthy: Finding the Light in Seasonal Affective Disorder

-Marissa Tomko

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but what do January showers bring? For residents of the northwestern corner of the country, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be the answer. This is a disorder that seriously affects about 6 percent of Americans ages 20-40, and this does not include the 20 percent who experience less severe symptoms. Of these percentages, 75 percent are said to be women.

It is a pretty common opinion, at least among my peers, that summertime is preferable over the winter months, and it makes sense—it’s less stressful, more fun, and the weather allows us to enjoy outdoor activities without freezing or getting soaked. Even given the financial benefits, the number of Southern California kids that decide to come to school in Eugene always throws me. Even though the majority of them love this school and the experiences they have, there is no shortage of complaints about the cold and constant rain.

This makes for a less active student population in the fall and winter months. Students become more tired, less productive, and have tendencies to veg out and and smile less. Oregon is ranked the fourteenth most depression-affected state in the nation. But why? After looking into it, I realized that it is not the cold or rain that makes us all want to snuggle up and avoid homework—it’s the darkness.

During the fall and winter, the Northwest is under pretty constant cloud cover. It’s an event when the sun decides to shine down for an hour or two in the middle of January. But the sunshine does more than spark excited small talk about the weather—it gives us the chance to soak up some precious vitamin D, which helps us feel more awake and healthy. Melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep, is produced in amounts inversely related to how much vitamin D we absorb. This causes us to experience a dramatic energy low, which serves as a basis for other SAD symptoms including feelings of depression, cravings for sweet and carb-loaded foods, anxiety, and a less-positive feeling about life in general.

Methods to avoid these symptoms are different for everyone who is affected by them. Spending as much time in the sunlight as possible is crucial. When you cannot do so, light therapy is an alternative option often prescribed. This involves a special lamp that burns ten times brighter than normal indoor lighting and has the ability to simulate a sunrise by increasing in brightness throughout your morning.

Another way to combat symptoms is to create a healthy lifestyle. This includes keeping an eye on your diet and exercise routines, cutting back on time in front of the computer, and trying to maintain a positive mental outlook. These notions may be easier said than done, but they are the main components to beating winter blues and living a sustainable and healthy life overall. If you have a hard time doing these things on your own, talk to a counselor or a friend face-to-face.

Feeling the effects of darkness is more common than you might think, especially in the stressed-out lives of university students. Just don’t forget to take a step back sometimes and focus on what makes you smile.

Dealing with SAD

pts.washington.edu

– Heather Ah San

Late fall and winter in Eugene marks the beginning of the long boughs of cold and rainy weather. Endless days of grey skies and frigid weather can make just about anyone grumpy, tired or feeling down.  But some people suffer from the winter blues a little bit more severely than others.

This might be the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that’s tied to certain seasons of the year. Most people with SAD show all the signs of depression during the fall and winter months.

In North America alone, 6 percent of the population suffers from SAD. It is most commonly seen among young adult men and women, though some people do suffer from it in the spring or summer.

Depression, anxiety, loss of energy and oversleeping are among some of the symptoms. Though it can be serious, often times SAD can be prevented or treated at home, or through therapy.

Here are some tips on SAD treatment and prevention:

– Spend at least 30 minutes outside everyday walking, running, playing a sport, or even just soaking in the great outdoors. And take advantage of the rare days filled with sunshine, it will brighten your mood instantly.

www.lampinfo.com

– Increase the brightness of your indoor light fixtures.

– Use a light box before you feel the effects of SAD (compact light boxes can be purchased online).

– Exercise can keep energy level up.

– Eat a well-balanced diet, with healthy carbohydrates and protein to keep energy high. Avoid starches and sweets.

– Be active – join a club, take a dance class, go rock climbing, whatever suits your fancy.

– Stay social – friends are the best way to keep the winter blues at bay. Rhyming helps too.

– Take light therapy classes through a health center or counseling center.

– Try counseling if SAD symptoms persist or worsen.