Archive for the “Mood Disorders” Category

Posted on 17 Feb 2011
Mood Disorders

Am I Really Bipolar?

You may ask yourself the question how do I know if I’m bipolar? Many people do not really understand the difference or are they able to distinguish the difference between blues and happiness in comparison to severe depression and bipolar disorder. Many bipolar patients that have been diagnosed will think themselves other people have problems too. I can think of many friends and family members that have been sad, mad, happy, angry, upset and many more emotions all in the same day. What makes me any different than these individuals and everyone else in the rest of the world?

So to begin understanding the difference between what we call normal people and other individuals that have been diagnosed with bipolar, must understand that everyone has shifts in moods that enable them to experience happiness, sadness and many other emotions. What really distinguishes the difference between people who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also known as being manic-depressive, is that these individuals have unusual and drastic shifts in moods, energy, behavior and thought patterns that are not seen inside a normal individual.

Many of these mood swings or shifts in thought and behavior comes very quickly and abruptly with bipolar disorder patients. The manic episodes that are associated with bipolar disorder can cause people to become extremely happy at different times especially when it is not related to any environmental cause. For example, an individual with bipolar disorder may be extremely happy all of a sudden when a dramatic or sad event has taken place for no apparent reason. At the same time, a normal individual will experience some form of sadness or sorrow for the event that has taken place.

It is not uncommon at all for bipolar patients to be extremely happy one minute and then extremely sad the next. These are called mixed episodes and happen in bipolar disorder patients. This enables them to go from one end of the spectrum to another all within a matter of minutes, hours and even days. There is no one calls for a bipolar patient to go from one end of the spectrum to the other. There are many different triggers and causes, such as daily stress, the food you eat and many other factors, but these shifts in moods are very chronic and recurring over time. The intensity of the symptoms and how often they have been in an individual is what distinguishes someone who has bipolar disorder and someone who just has what we call the normal mood shifts or mood swings.

Posted on 23 Dec 2010
Mood Disorders

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a psychiatric disorder. It is a strange type of depression that is related to the winter season. As the days become shorter during the fall and winter, the depression pursues in people suffering with this disorder. It is also called as ‘winter depression’, ‘winter blues’ or the ‘hibernation reaction’. It is also represented as SAD for Seasonal Affective Disorder.


This disorder is more frequently found in individuals who live in areas farther away from the equator, affecting women more than men. People suffering with the seasonal affective disorder react adversely to the colder temperatures and the falling levels of sunlight.

This disorder is found more frequently related to the winter season, but may also be sometimes associated with the summer season.


Till now, the exact cause for this disorder is unknown. Studies are being carried out to know the exact cause. The proposed theories describe the lack of sunlight to be a common factor responsible for this disorder.

Sunlight has shown to cause a change in certain chemicals present in brain. It has also been found that persons having a low vitamin D level in blood are more susceptible to developing this disorder. It must be pointed out here that sunlight plays a major role in activation of the vitamin D present in the body. Thus, somehow, sunlight and vitamin D may be a factor, yet studies are still under progress and no exact cause can be told with certainty.


The symptoms of seasonal affective disorders are like those of depression. These persons suffer with the complaints of fatigue, irritability, concentration defects, muscle pains, increased spells of crying, insomnia and over eating thereby leading to obesity.

People suffering with this disorder during summer show some opposite symptoms like loss of appetite and weight loss; but insomnia is a common complaint.


The treatment lies in provision of light to the affected individuals. This is called as ‘phototherapy’. For this treatment, it is the quantity of life which is important and not the quality. Thus sunlight is not necessary; instead exposure to special light boxes for at least 30 minutes daily is the requirement.

Change of climate is also helpful. Moving to the areas which are hot during the winter season in one’s own environment can increase the light exposure and thus reduce the symptoms.

Medical treatment includes certain medications which inhibit the re uptake of serotonin. This performs an anti depressant effect on these individuals.

Meanwhile consulting a good psychiatrist also proves to be beneficial. Currently there are no specific medical tests or investigations available to diagnose the seasonal affective disorder. The whole diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms. Yet, once diagnosed, providing treatment in the form of phototherapy, medicines and psychiatric consultation gives good results.

Posted on 11 Dec 2010
Mood Disorders

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of winter. Understatement! Come October I turn into a bit of a bear (metaphorically speaking) and all I want to do is hibernate. Wake me up on the first of May when the earth comes alive; when I can see the world in multicolour, hear the birds sing, feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and I can walk around in shorts and flip-flops! No amount of Halloweens, Christmases or Easters could ever make up for my beloved summer.

Never mind the flues, colds and other wintry ailments, it’s the short grey days and long dreary nights that hit me like a ton of bricks. Come 9pm I’m ready for bed, and if you let me I’ll happily sleep until 10am. The problem is I can’t do that. I have a job, a husband, and a life to live!

Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms range from: depressing thoughts, lack of energy, mood swings, social withdrawal, decreased interest and concentration in work, increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings, increased sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness, sluggishness and lethargy… these can profoundly affect work and relationships.

Not everyone is affected though, and to some this may seem like a bit of a melodramatic shpill, but I know I am not alone! If you, like me, also get hit by S.A.D, if you get low and grumpy, and want to do nothing but sleep and eat, do not despair, there are ways to combat this without resorting to chemical cocktails or antidepressants.

Here’s what I find works best and why:

1. Eat plenty of happy foods

Alcohol, aspartame, caffeine, mercury, lack of light, stress, poor diet, lack of DHA, lack of exercise and genetics, all deplete Serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter. The right nutrition can result in big improvements in your health as well as in your mood.

90% of the Serotonin in your body is in your gut. When you raise the levels of this neurotransmitter in your gut, you’ll notice your mental constrictions dissolve.

So, if you think it’s ok to eat bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cake, think again. It’s vital you avoid these at all cost if you want to start to feel better. The rewards? Feel more energetic, be in great form more of the time, think more clearly, perform better, and… fit into your clothes more comfortably.

So, make sure you eat plenty of happy foods, as much as you can in their raw form: lots of berries, season vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh fish, good quality oils such as coconut oil, Udo’s oil and extra virgin olive oil, and plenty of clean water.

2. Get your dose of Vitamin D

Essential for optimal health, yet, if like most people you work indoors all day, you may be deficient and as a result feeling low in energy. To make things worse, the long dark nights cause an overproduction of Melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep.

So, the best way to counteract this is to get enough sunlight. It is harder to get it in winter, but you can still get some of the benefits by spending time outdoors every day. Get outside and go for a walk, a run or a cycle… or at least sit by a window. Eat your lunch outside. Even if it’s cold and cloudy, the natural light will do you a whole lot of good.

Other things that can hugely benefit you are supplementation with Vitamin D3 and UVB Light Therapy.

3. NLP yourself Happy

The fact is that bad nutritional habits, lack of exercise and not enough light negatively affect your neuro-chemistry; that is the quality of your thoughts. So, once you’re eating right, exercising regularly and getting out in the fresh air more often, you are bound to feel better and think more useful thoughts.

This is a good time to put your NLP skills into practice! Use the STFU mantra to shut up the self-deprecating inner-dialogue. Use self-hypnosis to get into whatever frame of mind you prefer to be in, or get hold of a professionally made CD, listen to it every day for a few weeks and notice the difference.

Set yourself a WWFG; a winter well formed goal! Something you can work on and look forward to. I know I have! So I may not be able to lie on a beach for the next few months but I am going to make sure I do that asap and that when that happens I am in the best physical and mental shape ever.

If I can you can, turn the winter blues into your own winter wonderland!