The Winter Blues

 

Outside, overcast skies hide the afternoon sun.

Summer’s vibrant green and the kaleidoscopic colors of fall have long vanished, leaving only fallen leaves to sweep across a cold, barren ground. Winter in the south may be relatively short, but its colder and shorter days can still bring in the winter blues.

Seasonal depression, otherwise known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder),

strikes up to 6% of the U.S. population and usually occurs the same time each year. Hormones, genes, age, body temperature, and overall mental state all play a role in SAD with symptoms including depression, anxiety, loss of energy, hopelessness, social withdrawal, oversleeping, the inability to concentrate, appetite changes, weight gain, and the feeling of heaviness in arms and/or legs. As reported by the Mayo Clinic, SAD can affect children, teens, men and women, with more teens being affected than children and women being four times more likely to experience SAD than men.

Dr. J. Michael Nanney, Meridian, Miss., explained that there are two common types of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the fall onset and the summer onset, with fall being more common.

“[Symptoms of SAD] are a little bit different than we usually experience with depression,”

said Nanney. For example, during SAD episodes, people tend to sleep more and gain weight. “Also, [SAD sufferers] are more sensitive to rejection during that particular time.” Nanney added that although the cause of the winter blues is unknown, decreased amounts of natural light during the winter months might certainly be a contributing factor.

Light affects the body’s circadian rhythm (24-hour cycle internal body clock),

which also controls how much melatonin the body produces. Levels of melatonin usually begin rising in mid to late evening, remain high through most of the night, and begin dropping in the early morning hours. Winter’s shorter days can cause the body to produce melatonin earlier or later in the day, which can trigger symptoms of SAD.  With age, natural melatonin levels slowly drop and some older adults actually produce little or no melatonin. Therefore, light therapy (phototherapy) consisting of a special fluorescent lamp that emulates sunlight can be beneficial. When this therapy works, depression usually improves within 3 to 4 weeks.

In addition, changes in the brain’s serotonin levels can alter a person’s mood.

While it’s perfectly normal to feel down on some days, a prolonged period of depression that has you abstaining from normal activities should be taken seriously.  Psychotherapy and medication may be necessary to help you through this period.

Children who seem to have a poor attitude may actually be struggling with SAD.

Since other medical problems, like mononucleosis, hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia, have similar symptoms, parents should seek professional medical guidance for a careful evaluation of their child. Open discussions about SAD will help children understand the reasons for their mental and physical changes.

“Taking a walk outside will help, as well as increasing light in your home,” said Nanney.

‘Set timers on your lights so that when you wake-up, the lights are already on.” Purchasing your own light for therapy can also be helpful, Nanney explained. Costs run from 200 to 500 dollars with light intensity varying between 2,500 to 10,000 watts. Light therapy, as prescribed by a physician, can require 30 minutes to two hours a day.

Currently, there is no medical test for SAD,

so a doctor depends on the patient to be upfront about symptoms and how long they have persisted.  Other exams and tests may be required to rule out other medical disorders. While symptoms often improve with the change of seasons, SAD can develop into long-term depression. If you repeatedly experience seasonal depression, seek medical counsel to learn the best steps for prevention.

To determine if you are experiencing SAD, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I had a change in appetite?
  • Have my sleep patterns changed?
  • Do I feel hopeless and heavy?
  • Have I lost interest in things I usually enjoy
  • Have I thought about suicide?
  • Have I become a loner?
  • Am I turning to alcohol for relaxation and comfort?

 “As with all mood disorders, [symptoms of SAD] are not character problems,” said Nanney.

“They are chemical problems. People shouldn’t feel guilty about seeking help and doing something about it.”

by Richelle Putnam

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), a hormone found in the pineal gland, blood platelets, the digestive tract, and the brain, acts as a chemical messenger of nerve signals between nerve cells and also causes blood vessels to narrow.

 

Melatonin, a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain, helps control sleep and wake cycles.

 

WEBSITE REFERENCES:

http://www.psychologytoday.com

http://www.medterms.com

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health  

http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/sad.html

For a Joyful New Year

 

Most of us have times when things are not pretty, when times are tough,

when it seems like the world we know is crumbling around us; we may become frustrated and it’s hard to find a reason to be joyful.

As the new year begins, many of us may be thinking that no new year’s resolution (even if followed) has the power to help us to survive the year ahead. It’s true that life is going to be difficult in new and complex ways. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the uncertainty for the coming year, it may be helpful to consider a new perspective for coping. Coping requires clarifying your thinking, adjusting your expectations, finding the good that is present in the world and growing from our misfortunes.

First, it’s important to distinguish Joy from Happiness.

Happiness suggests that you are free of trouble, worry and care.  However, that feeling is temporary. You’re happy when things go as you think they should but when things change toward the negative, your happiness is gone. Joy is about shifting your focus to what is good and right in the world. So, happiness is fleeting, but joy sticks around. Joy is there if you look and think hard enough. When you do, you’ll find something for which to be thankful that will help you to keep on keeping on.

Start with the basics.

Be thankful for something, no matter how small: for another day, for the beauty of nature; for the smile of a stranger; for the love of those who care. Then, this is harder to accept for most people but you can be thankful situation that’s causing you pain. Tough times help us to grow our character and preseverence. People grow very little when they are happy. However, when we have hard times, when we’re in the midst of struggles, when we’re at the end of our rope, our survival instinct kicks in, we get tough, creative and ready to tackle the situation head on. Trials are no fun, but they make us stronger. Happiness won’t get us through hard times in the long run but Joy will.

We have entered a period of profound changes for ourselves and our nation, both the goodness and the difficulty need to be acknowledged.

So, how does a person go about being joyful during these difficult times?

Psychologists draw on an ever-expanding body of scientific knowledge about how we think, act and feel and they apply the information to help make things better for us all. Here are some tips for having a more joyful new year.

What’s A Person To Do?

  1. Decide how you want to be a part of the solution rather than using your time complaining about the things that are causing pain.

  2. Select the things you can change and set realistic, attainable goals for changing them. Let go of the rest.

  3. Embrace change. Things will not always be as you want them to be. Keep a journal and evaluate your progress this time next year.

  4. No matter what happens find good in it. And find the good in each person you meet.

 

© Rachell N. Anderson, Psy. D. December 21, 2016

 

Dr. Rachell Anderson is a native of Tunica, a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emeritus and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for many years. She now lives in Tunica and writes with the Tunica Chapter of the Mississippi Writers Guild in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at www.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.

 

Photo: “Primary Students Visit The Zoo, In The Jul 27, 2016. Bangkok Thailand” courtesy of tiniroma and freedigitalphotos

Stepping into a New Year

 

“Solvitur ambulando—it is solved by walking.” –Saint Augustine

With a new calendar on my wall and thoughts of resolutions, I know I must put on my walking shoes again and get this body moving. The first step out the door after over-indulging through the holidays is the hardest for me to make.

While wishing to be back in my cozy corner sipping cocoa, I’m inspired by my friends, Nancy Ellis and her dad, Sonny Evans, who get up at 4 A.M. on week-day mornings several times a week to exercise at the gym before going to their places of business. I’m thinking that if they can do that, surely I can manage to drag myself out of bed at sun-up and get back on a schedule of walking on the gym treadmill at least three times weekly.

I’m told that physical exercise also benefits mind as much as body.

According to an online article produced by AARP, “How Walking Buffs Your Brain,” research shows that, “Aerobic activity releases hormones like adrenaline in your body. These hormones are key players in your nervous system and in boosting your mood. Endorphins also release in your body during activity. They help relieve pain and create a sense of well-being.

Many people believe that a brisk walk can also help you tap into your creative side, boosting your power to think of new ideas and to solve problems. Author, Julia Cameron, who has written more than a dozen best-selling books on creativity, considers her daily outdoor walks a necessary discipline for both creativity and peace of mind. Cameron says, “It is on these walks that my best ideas come to me. It is while walking that difficult clarity emerges. It is while walking that I experience a sense of well-being and connection, and it is in walking that I live most prayerfully.”

In her book, Walking in this World, Julia Cameron shares:

“It was during a time in which my life felt directionless both personally and creatively that I discovered the solace and direction to be found in walking. I would walk a forty-five minute loop. As I walked, emotions would wash through me. I was grieving a lost marriage and the death of my father. I would walk and pray for guidance. A day at time, a walk at a time, even a simple step at a time, my sad and tangled life began to sort itself.”

Creative writing instructor, Brenda Ueland, advised her students who were suffering from writer’s block: “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five-or six-mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

The American Heart Association recommends:

“Walk more, eat better, and live a more healthy life.” They tell us that exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day can reduce our risk of heart disease. 

I need new ideas and problem solving techniques. I need to stretch my legs, stretch my mind, and gain new strength for my body. So, here I go, stepping into a New Year, walking in this world.

by Virginia Dawkins

 

Photo “Runners On The Street During Adidas King Of The Road 2012 Run…” courtesy of Sura Nualpradid and freedigitalphotos

Antebellum Days (Part 2) – Social and Religion

RELIGION

Religion played a huge part in “taming” the wild country, but it wasn’t easy with settlers scattered throughout the terrain and travel being difficult. From 1817 to 1860 religion grew rapidly, but because most early churches were on preaching circuits, the clergy couldn’t perform adequately.

Baptists grew in numbers, but disagreed on many issues.

The Mississippi Baptist Association, formed in 1806, witnessed the pulling away of several churches to form the Union Association in 1819. The next year, other Baptist groups formed the Pearl River Association.  Still some were divided on the question of missionary work, some firmly believing that it was God’s duty to convert the heathen. Many refused to join the State Convention, which had been organized at Clear Creek Church in Washington. There were more divisions in the Baptist denomination than any other. Disputes within the church started from its inception over such things as doctrine and practices and matters such as whether or not to use instruments in church or the controversial issue of Freemasonry.

By 1860, according to Mississippi: A History, the Methodist denomination had the largest number of churches in the State of Mississippi with the Baptist Denomination having the largest number of members.

Mississippi’s antebellum period ushered in the birth of the camp meeting,

now known as the revival, and temperance societies who fought against sinful vices. In 1854, the Mississippi Legislature, according to A History of Mississippi, Volume I, passed a local option measure forbidding the allowance of retailing liquor in any police town or district, unless approved by a legal majority vote.

Baptist and Methodist Churches began sprouting up in Lauderdale County around 1838, becoming the center of family life and setting rules that would prohibit unbecoming behavior such as drinking whiskey, gambling, fighting, dancing, fiddling, or doing business on Sundays, such as bartering livestock. Even allowing stock to trespass on a neighbor’s property was an offense in the church’s eye. If a church member violated one of the many rules, he or she could be brought before the congregation to defend the accusation or ask forgiveness for the “sin.” If the church didn’t pardon the wrongdoing, said member could be expelled from the church and face public disgrace.

EVERYDAY/SOCIAL LIFE

The community of Marion grew politically, economically, and socially as the county seat. Concerts and cotillion parties held at the Mansion House roused the environment with lively entertainment. West of the square, in the big gray barn, square dances were held. Outside the village, bets were placed at the horse track. Along the square, women shopped at Harper and Banes (Bains) store and purchased medicinal products from the Ragland and Company Drug Store, such as Jacob’s Cordial, morphine, and even fine brandy and Spanish cigars.  The billiard hall with card tables and the tavern stayed packed. Close to election time, political rallies lured large crowds from miles around and festivities included feasting, drinking, and horse-racing.  Travelers checked into the Banes Hotel where they dined before going out for entertainment. If the Banes proved to be too pricey, the Preston House at Old Marion better accommodated the pocketbook.

Lack of medical care sparked home remedies from plants and roots,

many prepared by slaves. Lauderdale Springs was an area of natural springs known for its “curative properties” and was a gathering place for the early Native Americans and Mississippi settlers. White sulphur springs produced water “good for the stomach”, while the water from the spout springs allegedly healed kidney problems and arthritis. Skin diseases and constipation were also treated here.

Around 1854, with the increase of visitors to the Lauderdale Springs area,

a resort complete with two-story hotel, cottages, bath houses, and a dance pavilion, and resort was opened in the area under the management of B. B. Smith.  A “first class” stage line provided by the resort ferried guests to and from the hotel to Lauderdale and Marion Stations. The railroad’s spur line ran from “Spring Depot” at Lauderdale to the resort.