Winter / Christmas not the worst time for depression

It has long been thought that mental health suffered during the winter months, especially around Christmas time, and that the season brought a peak in the suicide rate. As it turns out, this is in fact an urban myth.

It was hypothesised that the dark, gray winters and and the lack of vitamin D from the sun caused SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder) and some of this may be true. But the fact of the matter is, suicide is more common in the warmer months, probably peaking in May.

Which doesn’t mean to say you can afford to be complacent about depression in winter either with yourself or the those around you. Some people certainly do feel worse in winter and this is worrying.

So what can be done to banish the winter blues?

Firstly, don’t worry about mild low mood. Clinical depression should be diagnosed and treated under the eyes of professionals, but worrying about feeling low can just lead you into a cycle of anxious depression.

Doing something tends to make you feel better. And if that something is active then it will probably work even better. If you can spend time outside in the countryside, especially in the brightness of the middle of the day then that will also do wonders for your mood.

Spending time with people or losing yourself in books, crosswords and sudoku are also great mood lifters. But why not use those days for something more constructive. If there are aspects of your life that are making you feel low, maybe now is the time to start addressing them.

If what you want to achieve feels to grand, and that is part of why you are feeling low, there is a simple remedy to get you going and motivated. Take a pen and paper and start planning. Get into minutiae detail about what it is you want to do, what problems you might face and most importantly how you might overcome those problems. The key is in the detail.

When you have planned in great detail what you want and how you intend to get it, the doing part will seem much easier and achievable, and this will help lift your mood. Remember, happiness is not having what we want, it’s being on the way to that achievement.

If you ever feel very depressed or suicidal, contact a health professional, tell people around you or speak to the Samaritans or a similar organisation. Tags: ,,,

Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine and Weight Gain

On this blog I have often talked about my experiences of weight gain when using the drug Citalopram / Celexa. It has been pointed out to me that these are not the only drugs that can have this side effect. Mirtazapine, which is a NaSSA (noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant) and Venlafaxine, which is a SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) have both been known, according to readers of this blog, to cause weight gain. In the case of Mirtazapine weight gain is listed as a common side effect, whereas with Venlafaxine it is listed as a rare side-effect. Interestingly, Venlafaxine also causes weight loss in some patients.

More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

Weight issues with anti-depressants can and do happen, and it is worth talking to you doctor about them if you are worried. In my case, after sometime I was able to reduce my dose and then exercise more to lose the excess weight. It did take some time. I would also like to add that doctors should be wary of prescribing the worst wight-gain antidepressants to people for whom weight is an issue, including those with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Do not stop taking medication because of what you have read here or anywhere else on the Internet. Antidepressants, whether they are SSRI’s, SNRI, NaSSA or something else, can have side effects but can also do you the world of good. There is a lot of negative publicity but that is partly because few people go on the Internet to talk about what is good, many more prefer to complain!

I welcome feedback on antidepressant use and am always on the look out for any news that would be of interest to readers of this blog. Email me on info@anxiety2calm.

Also Read:

  • Celexa – Tapering off and weight loss / gain

  • Celexa questions answered

  • Celexa and Nightmares/strange dreams

  • Celexa, citalopram – a personal experience

  • Celexa and weight gain.

  • Slow withdrawal from Citalopram (Cipramil / Celexa …

  • Existential Anxiety – more

    Over eighteen months ago I wrote a post on this blog about Existential Anxiety and, although it was only short, I got many emails in response. I think there is so little information out there about existential anxiety because it is not really taken seriously as a psychological problem. More often, it is considered to be something people suffer from when perhaps they are looking for a path in their life; something worthwhile to do. This is of course true, however existential anxiety where symptoms amount to more than just a nagging urge that there is something else can make this a much more serious problem.

    Often anxiety is related to a feeling of being out of control and our existence on this spinning planet, in this universe, here for reasons we don’t fully understand is something that really is way out of our control. The great thing about that is that we can’t really avoid it, which is the danger with a lot of anxiety disorders: you avoid triggers and end up with phobias like agoraphobia or travel phobia. Thanks for small mercies!

    So what can we do? In my previous post on this subject I recommended mindfulness meditation and I stand by that as a great aid to all sorts of anxiety conditions, indeed all stresses in life!

    More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

    Also it can be useful to find faith. It’s not something I’ve had much luck with myself, but I have been told that it’s helpful as you start to form in your mind a reason for being here, a concept of how we got here and an idea of where we go next. If you can get into a religion (hopefully not a cult!) then that is great.

    I would also, tentatively, suggest you investigate the idea of Paradoxical Intention, which for those of you who have never come across the concept before is where you try and make your symptoms worse and not better. It is a slightly tricky area, and I suggest doing some more research on it (start by clicking here to search this site for the term). By using paradoxical intention you can take away some of the fragility of the world, it’s as if you are testing it’s resilience and finding that, no matter what you think, life will continue regardless of what you do.

    It also goes without saying that other common anxiety treatments like SSRI’s and CBT can help.

    I would be grateful to hear from anyone else with tips for overcoming existential anxiety.


    A healthy lifestyle and anxiety

    There are three areas of life where we need to be healthy to help us overcome anxiety . They are diet, exercise, mental health.

    Firstly diet. I have several tips for a lower anxiety diet:

    • Keep your blood sugar levels more constant as insulin spikes and low blood sugar can lead to anxiety, panic and worse.
    1. Don’t over do the sugar, satisfy sweet cravings with fruit and a bit of dried fruit.
    2. Don’t use artificial sweeteners too much, they are confusing to the body and have a dubious health record.
    3. Don’t eat too many simple carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, pasta, pizza), they act like sugars.
    4. Instead snack on nuts and wholemeal foods (fruit can be a great alternative to wheat based products if they disagree with you.)
    • Avoid caffeine as this aggravates (sometimes even causes) anxiety and panic, disrupts sleep, and affects blood sugar.
    1. Drink Decaf coffee
    2. If you need a hot drink to replace tea go for roibush, herb or fruit. 
    3. Cola’s should be avoided full stop – why not replace them with heavily diluted fruit juice.
    4. Eating little and often helps to keep your blood sugar stable and stops you getting that over-full or bloated feeling that is linked to anxiety.
    5. Try to snack on something healthy every three hours of your waking day. 

    More Info on Overcoming Anxiety – click here

    Exercise is unpopular more often than not but the simple fact is that a healthy body is linked to a healthy mind. You will lessen your anxiety by being in better shape, I almost promise that.

    • Walk of your stress and excess weight.
    1. A brisk walk is excellent exercise but you have to do it often.
    2. If your doctor says you are fit enough try briskly walking for 30-60 minutes four times a week.
    3. Alternatively, by a pedometer and measure how much you walk during an average day (take measurements over a few days). Then try to increase that amount by ten percent.
    • Other stress-busting anxiety relieving exercises.
    1. Running
    2. Swimming
    3. Rowing
    4. Cycling
    • And four your self esteem, get a better looking body. The best ways are:
    1. Weight training
    2. Circuit training
    3. Palates
    4. Gymnastics
    5. All of the above should be embarked on only after a medical

    Focusing on your mental health and well-being means offering your mind some of the things that we all need, such as space and a time to switch off.

    • Your mental health can be greatly increased through relaxation!
    1. Learn mindfulness meditation
    2. Progressive muscle relaxation
    3. Deep Breathing
    4. Butyeko Breathing