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Friday, June 28, 2019

Summer-Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder

seasonal affective disorder
The seasons and weather have an effect on us all in myriad ways. For most people, the summer and the warm, sunny climes that come with it elicit feelings of joy. Conversely, the colder winter months tend to bring men and women down emotionally.

The days are shorter in the winter which means we are exposed to less sunlight thus depriving us of vitamin D. Researchers believe that vitamin D deficiency impacts our mood; if true, people in recovery need to be cautious from fall to spring.

Many individuals eagerly await the arrival of more welcoming weather. Day after day of being cooped up inside can take a toll on humans. Come summertime, Americans descend upon the great outdoors eager to soak up all the rays possible.

As the summer comes to a close, it’s only natural that men and women begin to dread the return of brisk weather. While the majority of people prefer summer over winter, some do because of psychological reasons. Perhaps you are familiar with seasonal affective disorder or SAD? It is a type of depression that arises from changes in seasons.

The subject of seasonal affective disorder is typically discussed during the colder months of the year. However, SAD can strike during the warmer months as well! With the summer solstice behind us, it is vital that men and women who are susceptible to weather-related changes in mood take steps prioritizing their well-being.

Those in recovery need to keep watch of their feelings. Symptoms of depression that are left unchecked can disrupt one’s program and potentially lead to a relapse. The sections below will cover the characteristics of SAD and what you can do to protect your sobriety from the “summertime blues.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder in Recovery


Regardless of the time of year, experts associate depression, anhedonia, hopelessness, and sleep problems with SAD. The Mayo Clinic points out that there are symptoms specific to winter-onset and summer-onset SAD.

People who struggle during the winter months are more likely to experience:
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy
The symptoms that are specific to summer-onset SAD include:
  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety
During the summer, the days are significantly longer; the sun creeps around the edges of the bedroom window shade much earlier. Lack of sleep affects people’s mood, and that can negatively impact the day. Those who are sensitive to light can benefit from purchasing blackout curtains. Naturally, hot temperatures can also influence both sleep and one’s overall comfort throughout the day. Persons with a low tolerance to heat should take steps to stay cool.

Sleep deprivation and general discomfort may not be a big deal to the average individual, but that is not the case for those in recovery. Since many people with substance use issues also contend with co-occurring mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, it is crucial that the effects of SAD are not ignored.

Seasonal affective disorder can be even more punishing to men and women living with mental health disorders. SAD can induce or amplify symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mania. It’s vital when feeling uncomfortable, irritable, or sleep deprived, to talk about it with therapists, sponsors, and support networks. Keeping things to one’s self isn’t beneficial.

SLO County Addiction Treatment Center


Talk with your support group if you are struggling right now. A peer is likely dealing with the same issues, and they can offer some helpful advice. Most importantly, stick to your regular routine as best you can to avoid causing further complications by letting your program slip. Meeting with a professional to talk about summer-onset SAD can also yield effective methods of countering and coping with symptoms.

Please contact the Haven at Pismo if you require assistance for alcohol or substance use disorder. Our highly trained staff can also assist individuals who are struggling with co-occurring mental illnesses.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Change Direction on Mental Health

mental health
Nearly two years ago, the vocalist of the band Linkin Park committed suicide at his home in Southern California. Despite the band’s massive success, Chester Bennington, 41, had struggled beneath the surface with trauma, depression, and addiction.

May and June are great months for raising awareness about mental health disorders. June is PTSD Awareness Month and May was Mental Health Month. Bennington’s struggles and ultimate suicide are tragic; however, both serve as a catalyst for encouraging more people to talk about the importance of mental health.

Depression is the number one cause of poor health around the world. It affects millions of people in the United States and hundreds of millions around the globe. Substance abuse affects an estimated 25 million Americans. Post-traumatic stress disorder disrupts the lives of about 7.7 million Americans.

When addiction and co-occurring mental illness present in a patient, the result can be deadly. Imploring celebrities and average Americans to talk about mental health can save lives. When people disregard the stigma attached to mental illness and open up, it erodes some of the fear men and women have about seeking help.

Raising Awareness of Addiction, Depression, and PTSD


During PTSD Awareness Month, we can use social media to reach large audiences about the treatable mental health condition. The National Center for PTSD provides resources for anyone who would like to spread the message that treatment works. The organization states that:

“Everyone with PTSD—whether they are Veterans or civilian survivors of sexual assault, serious accidents, natural disasters, or other traumatic events—needs to know that treatments really do work and can lead to a better quality of life.”

This month, Chester Bennington’s widow Talinda is calling on everyone to share with the world why mental health is essential. She has asked for and received the support of many celebrities and some experts in the field.

The Campaign to Change Direction is “a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to change the culture about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.” Last week, Talinda challenged people to take part in the campaign’s “A Week to Change Direction.”

“I challenge you to do a 30-second video on why mental health is important to you,” Bennington said on Instagram. “For me it’s very personal. And I’ve dedicated my life to change the culture surrounding mental health.” 


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Even though the Week to Change Direction Challenge is over, many individuals are still posting videos with the #ChangeDirection. Notable figures who have published videos about mental illness include Dr. Jennifer Ashton (ABC Chief Medical Correspondent), actor Ken Jeong (“Hangover”), and bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses).

SLO County Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment


If you are struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental illness, then we invite you to reach out to The Haven at Pismo. Conditions like depression and PTSD accompany alcohol and substance use disorders regularly. It is vital that men and women living with mental illness seek evidence-based treatment immediately.

At The Haven, we can help you or a loved one lead a productive, fulfilling life in recovery. Begin recovery today: 805.202.3440.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Addiction and "Deaths of Despair" in America

addiction
In 2015, a paper was published regarding rising mortality rates in the U.S. involving drug overdose, alcohol, and suicide. The groundbreaking article appeared in the National Academy of Science’s magazine.

The research paper, interestingly, did not come from leaders in public health, but instead from two economists. Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton found that the mortality rate was most pronounced in one specific demographic: middle-aged non-Hispanic whites without a college degree.

In 2017, Case and Deaton followed up on their findings; they suggested that a large portion of America never recovered from the 2008 recession, The Guardian reports. Families that were no longer able to earn a living without a college degree were linked to rising overdose, suicide, and substance use-related deaths. In their update, Case and Deaton coined a phrase that stuck: “deaths of despair.”

While drugs, alcohol, and mental illness are driving forces in premature death, the crisis many people face is that of despair. When someone experiences the complete loss or absence of hope, they are likely to want to escape. Others too, have conducted similar research on why people turn to drugs and alcohol when life becomes exceedingly harder and harder to bear.

The author Johann Hari published a book called “Chasing the Scream” that dealt with drivers of addiction. He writes that environment and life-circumstances (e.g., stable home life and employment) play a significant role in the development of addiction.

When men and women feel cut off from society and the American Dream, they are more likely to engage in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors. Naturally, this subject matter is nuanced—many factors play a role in the alarming trends.

Deaths of Despair are Up Nationally


Alcohol and substance use disorder and other forms of mental illness are treatable. Millions of Americans are working programs of addiction recovery and receiving mental health services. However, accessing care continues to be a severe problem in several areas of the United States.

The Commonwealth Fund, which tracks health performance in each state, found a correlation between deaths of despair and poor scorecards. The data shows that suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths have reached an all-time high; and, understanding why could lead to solutions.

The organization analyzed 47 factors that have an impact on health outcomes for a new report, NBC News reports. Insurance coverage and access to doctors were two of the elements. Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, Connecticut, and Vermont ranked the highest. Arkansas, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, and Mississippi received the lowest rankings.

“When we look at what’s going on in mid-Atlantic states — West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania — those are the states that have the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country,” said David Radley, a senior scientist for the Commonwealth Fund. “The rate of growth in drug overdose deaths in West Virginia is absolutely mind-boggling.” 

Health care coverage is what separates the states with the highest score from those with the lowest, according to the article. The states at the bottom of the list all had the highest number of uninsured residents. California ranked 14th.

 “We really think of health care access of being the foundation of a high-performing health care system,” Radley said.

SLO County California Addiction Treatment

 

The Haven at Pismo can assist men and women who are struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental illness. We offer many different programs to cater to the unique needs of each client. Our evidence-based addiction treatment center is the perfect place to renew your best today.

Please contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about The Haven difference.

Friday, June 7, 2019

12 Step Recovery: Founders Day

12 Steps
Millions of Americans and many more people around the globe are grateful for the birth of 12 Step recovery. While there are several different modalities (e.g., SMART Recovery), programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have the largest following by far.

There is a reason why most evidence-based addiction treatment centers encourage their clients to work the 12 Steps while in rehab and after. Having a fellowship of men and women who share a common goal is exceedingly beneficial. A support network is of the utmost importance to any person desiring to heal from alcohol or substance use disorder.

What’s more, unlike many therapists and counselors, each person in the rooms of recovery has first-hand experience with the disease. Having the common bond of past experiences enables people to relate, and they can guide each other through the challenges of life. Since there are not any hard mandates short of abstinence, men and women have the freedom to work their own program.

Even a casual observer has to acknowledge the remarkable nature of 12 Step recovery programs. Those who were at the brink of total despair and looking up at the bottom can rebuild their lives by practicing a set of principles. Member of Alcoholics Anonymous take what they learn, leave what they don’t need behind, and carry the message to newcomers 365 days a year. This is the way it has been for 84 years since the founding of AA.

84th Anniversary of 12 Step Recovery: Founders Day


Most of those working a program in 12 Step recovery know a little history about its origins. They know the names Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Ebby T.; even some are familiar with the Oxford Group, a precursor to AA. For those who are not familiar with the humble beginnings of Alcoholics Anonymous, we’d like to share some the program's lineage.

AA was the brainchild of two seemingly hopeless alcoholics who met in Akron, Ohio in 1935: Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services writes:

“Bill had gotten sober and had then maintained his recovery by working with other alcoholics, though none of these had actually recovered. Meanwhile, Dr. Bob’s Oxford Group membership at Akron had not helped him enough to achieve sobriety. When Dr. Bob and Bill finally met, the effect on the doctor was immediate. This time, he found himself face to face with a fellow sufferer who had made good. Bill emphasized that alcoholism was a malady of mind, emotions and body. This all-important fact he had learned from Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York, where Bill had often been a patient. Though a physician, Dr. Bob had not known alcoholism to be a disease. Responding to Bill’s convincing ideas, he soon got sober, never to drink again. The founding spark of AA had been struck.” 

If you would like to read more about the lifesaving fellowship’s origins, please click here.

This weekend is Founders Day Weekend, an annual observance to acknowledge the birth of AA. There could be as many as 12,000 who will descend upon Akron in the coming days to celebrate the program. Events will be held at the Gate Lodge, which is where the founders first met to lay out the steps for recovery.

Across the country, events are being held this weekend and next week. For example, in our area there will be a Founders Day event on June 16, 2019.

 

Addiction Recovery


The Haven at Pismo would like to wish everyone in recovery a happy Founders Day Weekend. Each day in recovery is a remarkable achievement worth being proud of; we hope that you have time to celebrate with your support network.

Please contact us if you are struggling with drugs and alcohol and would like to take steps to improve your life. At The Haven, our team of experts utilizes evidence-based therapies to help people make necessary changes and learn how to excel in recovery.