Health Conditions / Mental Health / Depression

When Postpartum Depression Shows Up as Intense Anger

When Postpartum Depression Shows Up as Intense Anger

“After delivery, there’s this incredible change in reproductive hormones,” Katherine L. Wisner, MD, the Norman and Helen Asher Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF. “Hormones—such as estrogen and progesterone—go from the highest they’ll ever be down to almost nothing as soon as the placenta is delivered.” And some experts believe these rapid hormonal shifts are linked to the development of PPD in people who are biologically susceptible. Plus, recovering from a vaginal delivery or a C-section is hard and can be incredibly painful. Giving birth does not always go smoothly, and some estimates suggest one-third of people who give birth experience some form of trauma while delivering their baby, which may contribute to PPD or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While trauma can include things like enduring premature labor or feeling worried about a baby’s well-being, many people report that the people in the room—their care providers, including doctors, midwives, and nurses—are responsible for these distressing experiences, say, by dismissing the severity of a birthing parent’s pain, among many other scenarios.But one of the biggest changes that will affect your day-to-day functioning as a new parent is the ability to get enough sleep. Recovering postpartum with little to no sleep is a challenge that’s underestimated by society, Dr. Wisner says. And, as you might be able to guess, studies have shown a strong correlation between sleep deprivation and emotions like depression, anxiety, and anger.In a Canadian study of nearly 300 women, published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth in 2022, 31% of moms reported feeling intense anger, while more than half said their sleep quality was poor. The researchers concluded that a parent’s sleep quality, as well as feeling angry about their infant’s sleep quality, were two major predictors of postpartum anger. A range of disparities also contributes to the rage.For Black birthing parents, in particular, the stigma anger carries can be a huge barrier to seeking necessary mental health support. “Anger and rage are widely under-recognized. There’s a natural shying away of emotions in fear of being the stereotype of the ‘Angry Black Woman,’” Lauren Elliott, the CEO and founder of Candlelit Therapy, a perinatal mental health care service for underserved new and expectant parents, tells SELF. “Black maternal health is in extreme crisis.”There are a host of systemic issues that prevent Black people and other people of color from receiving proper mental health care. Birth parents of color experience higher-than-average rates of postpartum depression, and yet, they are less likely to be diagnosed, less likely to know that the symptoms they’re experiencing are related to PPD, and are therefore less likely to be properly treated, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.“Black women are less likely to be screened in pregnancy for depression and anxiety,” Elliott says. The consequences of these disparities can be devastating. As SELF previously reported, Black and Indigenous women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

6 Signs Your Anger Issues Would Benefit From Therapy, According to Experts

6 Signs Your Anger Issues Would Benefit From Therapy, According to Experts

Not only can these emotional eruptions be harmful to yourself and others, but they likely mean you’re struggling with managing an underlying problem. Maybe you feel unnerved about your overwhelming job or your dysfunctional relationship, or maybe you’re struggling with disordered eating. It’s worth exploring how early experiences with trauma might be contributing to your anger issues too, Dr. Fedrick says. For example, if you grew up in an unstable or abusive household, you might have learned to adapt by being overly accommodating or leaving the room instead of expressing your feelings. “When there is unprocessed trauma, you might carry these beliefs (like ‘people are not safe’ or ‘I can’t trust anyone’) into adulthood,” Dr. Fedrick explains.If you’re regularly bottling up your feelings or forcing yourself to smile when you’re struggling, you may end up flipping out over seemingly unrelated things as a result, Dr. Robbins says. A therapist can help you unpack and address the roots of your rage, and they can teach you how to express your emotions in a healthier, less volcano-esque way.5. You’re showing other signs of depression.Along with more well-known symptoms like sleeping too much or too little, having difficulty concentrating, and feeling sad or hopeless, irritability and anger are also signs of clinical depression. Remember, anger doesn’t have to look like yelling or breaking things to disrupt your quality of life. If you’re experiencing any of the depression symptoms above and you also notice that you’re easily irritated over the smallest annoyances or mistakes, or that maybe you’re fixating on past failures and getting fired up as a result, talking to a professional might help, Dr. Fedrick says.As with anxiety, depression is something your primary care doctor can screen you for and discuss treatment options, including therapy or prescription antidepressant medications, to relieve your symptoms. If your anger is, indeed, depression-related, a therapist can help you identify any contributing life circumstances and develop new strategies to cope, says Dr. Robbins.6. Your personal relationships are suffering.Arguments are bound to happen in any relationship—and no one likes to be told to calm down— but if your partner, say, frequently leaves the room to escape your wrath or tells you that your rage scares them, your anger is likely masking a deeper problem, Dr. Robbins says. And if your loved ones often seem blindsided when you snap at them, that’s another red flag: a sign of misplaced anger, which can erode your bond over time. If, for example, you’re stressed about your boss cutting back on hours at work, you might take it out on your mom by speaking to her in a harsh tone or saying things you’ll later regret, Dr. Robbins says.Therapy can provide a neutral and supportive space to help you figure out what’s really triggering your anger and learn alternative behaviors that’ll promote intimacy versus making you feel further apart from the people you care about. For example, a therapist can help you learn to pause and gather your thoughts before responding, encourage you to use “I” statements (“I feel frustrated when you cancel our plans to hang out with your friends”), or suggest that you practice being more vulnerable (“I’m worried about money or losing my job”) or assertive (“I need you to call when you’re going to be late”) in the moment, instead of bottling up your feelings, Dr. Robbins explains.How to find help for coping with angerDeciding you’d like to talk to someone to help you unpack and manage your anger is one thing, but if you’re new to therapy or don’t currently have a therapist you love, finding that person might feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are quite a few resources that can make the process less intimidating.

Jonah Hill’s Netflix Documentary Is an Actually Helpful Film About Mental Health

Jonah Hill’s Netflix Documentary Is an Actually Helpful Film About Mental Health

Jonah Hill’s new documentary Stutz, out on Netflix November 14, is a beautiful, up-close look at the power of talk therapy at its best. The film focuses on the 38-year-old actor’s relationship with his therapist, Phil Stutz, MD, and features snippets of their sessions over the years.Hill’s sessions cover everything from self-worth to grief to depression, and Dr. Stutz meets all of their conversations with practical, grounding advice (that happens to be relevant for almost anyone, not just celebrities).At the beginning, Hill explains that previous therapists weren’t as helpful as Dr. Stutz, who he’s been working with for about five years. “So, before meeting you, my experience with therapy was very traditional in the sense that I would be talking, and the person would say, ‘How does that feel?’ or, ‘Interesting,’—basically keeping me at a massive distance,” he said. “And I was thinking about how in traditional therapy, you’re paying this person, and you save all your problems for them. And they just listen. And your friends, who are idiots, give you advice, unsolicited. And you want your friends just to listen, and you want your therapist to give you advice.”Dr. Stutz adds that he too always felt there was “something missing” from the exact therapy model Hill found frustrating. That’s why he developed his own practices, which are grounded in visualization techniques that add a meditative element to his sessions.These practices are explored throughout the 1.5-hour film, and woven throughout them are intimate shots of both Dr. Stutz and Hill talking about some of the hardest times of their own lives.Hill, for instance, talks about his relationship with his body, and how the trauma of repeated fatphobic remarks took a toll on his mental health. “Meeting you and starting our process was out of desperation to get happier,” Hill said to Dr. Stutz. “I just had no healthy self-esteem. Having grown up overweight was something that sounds like not a big deal…but for me personally, it intensely fucked me up.” He adds that people often commented on his weight, which led to deep feelings of hurt and shame. “I thought if I got successful, they wouldn’t see [my weight]. And then I did, and all people did was just say more of that. And it hurt…and that still resides in me in a way that comes up.”The pair also talk at length about grief in the film, as both Dr. Stutz and Hill lost their respective brothers at a young age. “The only time I’ve had a massive experience with death, you were the person who got me through that,” Hill said to Dr. Stutz. He explains that he came to Dr. Stutz the day his brother died of a blood clot in 2017. “I went to your office that morning, and it was definitely the most intense day of my life, the most shook up I’ve ever been,” Hill said.Toward the end of the film, Hill explained that Dr. Stutz’s advice, coupled with his admiration for him, is why he wanted to make the documentary in the first place: “I’m making this movie because I want to give therapy and the tools I’ve learned in therapy to as many people as possible through film,” Hill said. He added that without Dr. Stutz’s help, his mental health wouldn’t be in the good place it’s in now: “I made this movie because I love Phil, because I love the life these tools allowed for me to have.”Related:

Psychedelics Are Super Promising—But We Need to Talk About Their Possible Harms Too

Psychedelics Are Super Promising—But We Need to Talk About Their Possible Harms Too

In November 2021, when the psychedelics company Compass Pathways released the top-line results of its trial looking at psilocybin in people with treatment-resistant depression, the stock of the company plunged almost 30%. The dive was reportedly prompted by the somewhat-middling results of the research—but also because of the scattering of serious adverse events that occurred during the trial.Amid the psychedelic renaissance, bringing up their potential harms has been somewhat of a taboo. The field, vilified for decades, has only just recently reentered the mainstream, after all. But as clinical trials get bigger—and the drugs are increasingly commercialized—more negative outcomes are likely to transpire. With the Compass trial results hinting at this, arguably now’s the time to open up the dialog about psychedelics’ potential adverse effects—even if it means tempering the hype that has built up.Those results, now published in full in the New England Journal of Medicine, represent the largest randomized, controlled, double-blind psilocybin therapy study ever done. The participants—233 of them, across 22 sites in 10 countries—were split into three roughly equal groups. One group received 1 milligram (mg) of COMP360, Compass’s synthetic psilocybin, a dose so low it served as the placebo. The next group received 10 mg and the last group 25 mg. Psychological support was also offered alongside the treatment. The results were promising, if not painting the picture of a miracle cure. In the 25 mg group, 29% of people were in remission after three weeks compared to just 8% in the placebo group. After time, the positive effects waned: After 12 weeks only 20% of the people who had a high dose were still responding—an improvement over the placebo group that wasn’t statistically significant.At the same time, 179 of the 233 people in the trial reported at least one side effect, like headaches, nausea, fatigue, or insomnia—uncomfortable, sure, but not a huge cause for concern. But 12 people experienced serious adverse events. These were defined as displays of suicidal ideation, including self-harm. Five of the people in the highest-dose group were reported to have displayed suicidal behavior, as well as six in the 10 mg group. This was compared to just one in the placebo group.“Is this expected in a trial like this? To some degree, yes,” Natalie Gukasyan, assistant professor and medical director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research, told WIRED. When you’re working with a patient group as vulnerable as those with treatment-resistant depression, higher rates of suicidal ideation are to be expected. But it’s worth noting, she said, that there were higher rates of these events in the higher-dose group, which brings up the question of whether the drug played a role. One thing she thinks would have been helpful to include in the study was the lifetime history of previous suicide attempts in the participants, which is an important predictor of future suicidal behavior. But given the general reticence to dwell on psychedelics’ downsides, the fact that Compass was upfront about the adverse events is a good thing, Joost Breeksema, a PhD candidate who studies patient experiences of psychedelics at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, told WIRED. In August 2022, Breeksema published a review that looked at how adverse events in psychedelics research have been flagged, and found that they have been inconsistently and probably underreported. Many of the trials Breeksema looked at reported no adverse effects whatsoever—an unlikely reality. The Compass Pathways research “reported adverse effects more rigorously than many of the other trials in our systematic review,” he said.

Why the Daylight Saving Time Change Might Make You Feel Crappy All Week

Why the Daylight Saving Time Change Might Make You Feel Crappy All Week

If this week already feels like a major struggle, you can probably blame the time change. Even though most of us seem to hate it, we still have to deal with daylight saving time—but hopefully only for a bit longer. The Senate recently voted to do away with the biannual time shifts, but the bill, the Sunshine Protection Act, has a few more legislative hoops to jump through before it could possibly (fingers crossed) go into effect in 2023.The clocks fell back an hour on November 6, so we technically got an “extra” hour of sleep yesterday. Though the promise of more shut-eye is always welcome, that’s not what’s actually happening for many people. In fact, according to a 2013 paper published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, “the cumulative effect of five consecutive days of earlier rise times following the autumn change suggests a net loss of sleep across the week.” (More on this in a bit.)That means your body and mind may feel the not-so-great effects of the time change this entire week. Scientists have likened the health consequences of seasonal time shifts to jet lag. When you fly to a region with a different time zone, for example, you may feel exhausted, moody, and generally out of it for a few days until your body syncs up with the new time zone. The same idea applies to changing the clocks—in either direction.Falling back an hour may not feel quite as brutal as springing forward (when we all lose an hour of sleep), but the autumn time change abruptly messes with your circadian rhythm, or the internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.In general, your body functions at its best when you stick to a consistent schedule, and any change to your circadian rhythm can throw things off and cause somewhat of a ripple effect. “Whether you’re springing forward or backward an hour, that change ends up being significant,” Kyle Baird, DO, associate medical director at the University of Colorado Department of Psychiatry, tells SELF.Studies suggest that when your circadian rhythm is disrupted, your mental health may take a bit of a hit, and you’re also more likely to have memory problems, attention issues, and slower reaction times. Again, transitioning in and out of daylight saving time can also impact your sleep, and there’s no shortage of evidence showing that when your sleep suffers, you’re more likely to feel moody.It’s widely believed that falling back equals more time to rest, but most people don’t actually sleep more or better, per the Sleep Medicine Reviews paper. When the clocks fall back in autumn, you’re more likely to have trouble falling asleep at bedtime and may wake up randomly throughout the night. Many people also tend to wake up earlier, and it can take an average of four to five days to adjust to the time change. People who are short sleepers—meaning they typically get less than 7.5 hours of sleep a night—and “morning people” experience more issues catching up to the new clock than night owls, the researchers concluded. But even people who typically sleep more than 8.5 hours a night may sleep less than they usually do when the clocks fall back an hour.

The Scientific Reason Why Rain Can Really Dampen Your Mood

The Scientific Reason Why Rain Can Really Dampen Your Mood

After an oddly dry summer, parts of the US are experiencing record-breaking rain this fall—and it’s not even November yet. Mississippi, Nevada, and Louisiana just had some of their wettest weather on record. Arizona and New Mexico are dealing with historically wet monsoons, and Hurricane Ian dumped buckets of rain on Florida before causing a week of stormy weather in the Northeast.Long story short: It’s been raining a lot, and it’s probably not going to let up anytime soon, experts say. Thanks—in part—to climate change, when it rains, it rains longer and harder than ever before.And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell us that stretches of gloomy weather can dampen our moods. After being stuck inside for back-to-back rainy days, it’s totally natural to feel somewhat lazy and glum. Though some research shows that slightly cooler weather—that 60-to-70-degrees sweet spot—can actually benefit our mental health compared to relentless heat, dark and stormy days can be a different story for certain people. People who simply don’t vibe with the rain may feel “less happy” and angrier on wet days, per a paper from the American Psychological Association. There are various factors that may influence how and why dreary weather affects your mood, but scientists believe that a lack of sunlight is mostly to blame. “Light can be thought of as a ‘drug’ of sorts,” David Avery, MD, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells SELF. When there’s too little sunshine, you’ll start to feel it—emotionally and physically.That’s because your body relies on sunlight to keep your internal clock in check; it regulates your sleep-wake cycle. A dose of morning light helps you feel alert, so when it’s raining for days on end, you might start to feel drowsy. This can mess with your normal sleep patterns, causing you to snooze more or less than you usually do—and disrupting the quality of your sleep can mess with your mood, research suggests.Sunlight may also keep your spirits high by boosting two of the body’s feel-good chemicals: serotonin and dopamine. Without this light—and adequate levels of these neurotransmitters—some people are more prone to feeling depressed, Dr. Avery says. Lack of sun (and its possible effects on your brain) is also believed to be one of the biggest triggers of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that affects millions of Americans, mainly during fall and winter, each year, per the National Institute of Mental Health.Other meteorological factors—including changes in temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure—may also trigger pain flare-ups in people who are susceptible (say, in those who live with chronic conditions like migraine or arthritis), which can understandably impact how a person is feeling emotionally. Rainy weather may also encourage you to stay home—and so you may be less active or cancel plans you were looking forward to (two things that can do wonders for your mental health). Without exercise or socialization—especially for longer periods of time—you may feel a bit more lonely or lethargic, which only feeds the bad-mood cycle.Of course, this is all very personal. Though it’s not 100% understood, there does appear to be a link between your personality and your sensitivity to the weather. Some people just hate the rain and others love it.For those who struggle mentally during rainy days, know that when the clouds lift, your mood usually will too. You can find some tips for preparing for SAD here, but the most important thing you can do, according to Dr. Avery, is to seek out some light, if you can. Even on overcast days, he says, outdoor light is significantly brighter than indoor light. So put on your cozy ’fit and venture out for a short walk, a midday coffee break, or a quick errand—drizzly day be damned (as long as it’s safe, of course). It may be just what you need to get out of that mental funk.Related:

Bryce Dallas Howard: ‘Battling Depression Has Been the Biggest Challenge to My Identity’

Bryce Dallas Howard: ‘Battling Depression Has Been the Biggest Challenge to My Identity’

Bryce Dallas Howard shared how depression has impacted her life in a candid Instagram post to celebrate World Mental Health Day earlier this week. In the caption, the 41-year-old Jurassic World actor wrote that “battling depression has been the biggest challenge to my identity.”Howard has been vocal about her mental health journey before. Over a decade ago, the actor wrote at length about what she called the “emptiness” of postpartum depression after the birth of her first son, Theo. In her recent Instagram post, Howard recalled an “existential moment” in her car alone as she left the last day on her first job as a new mom. Even though she was working, she was still in the “throes of postpartum depression” at that time, she said. Driving into an “exquisite sunset,” Howard shared: “Since no one could hear me, I asked the question aloud: What is the purpose of ALL OF THIS?!”Howard said it was then that an “anonymous voice” responded to her, saying: “The purpose of the human experience on earth is to move through obstacles with grace, and if you can do that, there will always be a sunset.” She went on to say this gave her clarity during a difficult time: “Those words are the response I received: to move through obstacles with grace, and that struggle will guide you toward the sunset. We are here FOR the obstacles, not to avoid them.”Instagram contentThis content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.Howard, who has been vocal about the benefits of therapy, also went on to write that she used to have a difficult time working through negative emotions. “I’m energetic, enthusiastic, passionate—and I have this big ole belly laugh!” she wrote. “My entire life, I had been so hyper-focused on blocking negative thoughts that I failed to embrace or appreciate that these feelings and emotions and crises were not only not to be avoided, but that they were integral to the human experience.”And that realization marked a turning point in her mental health journey: “It’s taken quite a bit, but what I’ve learned since is that my form of ‘optimism’ means having the grace to navigate both internal and external obstacles. Those challenges ARE the journey, the purpose, not an annoyance we can gaslight with militant optimism and denial.”Instead of fighting back every negative emotion that comes her way, Howard said she now tries to embrace all her feelings. “I’m not the optimist I once envisioned myself to be,” she wrote. “Instead, I’m an emotionally-charged ball of wonder and awe, practicality and possibility, with an indefatigable capacity to find humor and joy in the absurdity of whatever life serves up.”Howard said she wanted to share her experience with her 2.6 million followers in the hopes others may identify with her and feel less alone: “This is where I’ve landed today on my journey, and tomorrow may be different, but I share these musings on #WorldMentalHealthDay in case they can offer any hope or simply a ‘same, same!’”Related:

6 Signs of Burnout That May Surprise You, According to Experts

6 Signs of Burnout That May Surprise You, According to Experts

You should also keep an eye on who’s setting you off, Kali Cyrus, MD, MPH, assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medicine, tells SELF. If your energy-vampire coworker often gets under your skin, for example, that’s not necessarily a sign of burnout; you might just not like them. That’s why Dr. Cyrus recommends “paying attention to increased or consistent irritability toward people that normally don’t elicit that response,” like your best friend or partner.It’s also important to note that irritability, along with some of the other common symptoms of burnout (including lack of motivation and exhaustion), can also indicate that you’re depressed. If you’re showing signs of depression, ask your primary care doctor, if you have one, to screen you for the disorder.2. You feel overwhelmed by even small requests. When you’re burned out, you have less capacity to deal with… anything. As a result, every request, even the smallest one, may feel overwhelming or even impossible. This reaction is common in parents, too. “A lesser-known symptom of burnout is easily flying off the handle when your child or family member makes a small request of you,” Pooja Lakshmin, MD, author of Real Self Care and founder and CEO of mental health digital education platform Gemma, tells SELF. “Your kid demanding a PB&J, not a PB and banana, could be enough to drive you up a wall.” Or maybe your partner’s request to switch up your go-to Friday night show sends you huffing out of the room. Basically, if your irritation level doesn’t match the situation, and your disproportional outbursts happen more and more frequently, that can indicate burnout, according to Dr. Lakshmin. You may also find that you start turning down more requests, even ones you would normally find enjoyable. (For me, it’s often saying no to going to dinner or a movie with friends—because I just can’t do one more thing.)3. Your normal self-care routines start to fade.Occasionally feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks is totally normal in our fast-paced world, but wearing sweatpants way more often than usual or having a much messier desk or kitchen might also be a sign that you can’t find the energy to keep up your routines or take care of your household—another possible sign of work burnout. This change in daily habits might also look like “ordering more takeout rather than cooking, taking the dog on shorter walks, watching more TV late into the night instead of getting in bed at your regular bedtime, or more drinking or drug use at the end of the workday,” says Dr. Cyrus.4. You start to procrastinate on the job. When it comes to work tasks, if you notice yourself avoiding more and more items on your to-do list or avoiding important projects, it might be a sign that you’re starting to get overwhelmed to the point of burning out. In fact, in a 2019 study of more than 3,000 college faculty members, researchers found that burnout was associated with an increase in procrastination. In my experience, this could start with something as small as not responding to emails and later lead to such a pile-up of projects that you don’t even know where to begin. At that point, you might even decide not to start anything at all, as an act of defiance against all that you have to do.5. You keep forgetting things or generally feel scatterbrained.I’ve had many patients who are showing other signs of burnout tell me they’re concerned that they’re developing permanent memory loss because of experiences at work like opening up a document and forgetting why they opened it, or writing an email and never hitting send. And it makes sense: As it turns out, burnout can affect your memory and executive functioning. This is actually due to neurobiological changes in response to chronic stress, including a decreased volume in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that regulates executive functions, including working memory.6. You daydream about doing any other job.Burnout can make other types of work, even ones you would have had no interest in before, seem appealing. Maybe you once thought doing math all day would bore you to tears, for example, but becoming an accountant and clocking out at 5 p.m. sharp every day is starting to seem like a dream job. Or maybe you can’t stop thinking about working at an ice cream stand on Lanai, or running a farm even though you have zero agricultural experience.

How to Prep for Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms Before They Hit

How to Prep for Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms Before They Hit

To hold yourself accountable, consider scheduling weekly or monthly hangouts, she says. This could mean starting a book club, a dinner club, or a board game night.If hanging out inside doesn’t sound relaxing to you—for instance, if you face a higher risk of severe COVID or if you live with someone who falls into this group—consider scheduling a weekly FaceTime date with people you’d like to stay in touch with, or brainstorm ways to bundle up and meet with friends outdoors as it gets colder.Whatever the activity, the important thing here is to get something on the calendar and stick with it, Dr. Gallagher says. That way, you know that every Wednesday night or Saturday afternoon you’ll get to catch up with others and reap the benefits of that social connection.Ease back into indoor workouts.We know this one is especially painful for all you long-distance runners, but it’s better to plan for this reality now rather than waiting until it’s too icy to do the workout you love the most, Dr. Drerup says.Fortunately, there are a number of ways to prepare for the day when it’s officially too frigid to exercise outside. You could join a gym (and, to kill two birds with one stone, set up gym dates with a friend—that way you’re setting yourself up for exercise and social connection), invest in some home gym equipment, or just start looking up at-home workout routines that don’t require loads of space or special equipment.Depending on where you live, you also may be able to find other ways to move your body outdoors with an activity like skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating. If you’re able, these can be extra beneficial, Dr. Drerup says, since they give you both a workout and some much-needed fresh air.Create a list of new things you’d like to try.If your lifestyle revolves around outdoor activities in the summer—like reading in the park or picnicking with friends at a local lake—winter can seem pretty jarring. You may find yourself wondering how to fill the time when there are very few hours of sunlight each day.With this in mind, try making a list of all the indoor activities you want to explore this winter now. “Trying something new can be really good for our mental health,” Dr. Gallagher explains. These projects can be as low-maintenance or involved as you want, Dr. Drerup adds. Unsure where to start? A lot of folks find fulfillment in journaling, trying new recipes, getting into a new board game, or revisiting old hobbies (like knitting or coloring).The important thing, again, is being intentional here. Don’t wait until you’re so bored and feeling cooped up indoors that you can’t think straight. Make a plan now for how you’ll fill the time once you’re getting hit with three-day snowstorms and below-freezing temperatures.Touch base with a mental health provider, if you’re able.If you’ve been putting off the (admittedly tough) challenge of finding a therapist, consider this your sign to get going today. One of the biggest hurdles to mental health care is cost, but this guide can help you find an affordable provider. If you’re totally new to therapy and don’t know where to begin, make an appointment with your primary care doctor if you have one. They should be able to guide you to the appropriate mental health experts available near you or via telehealth.If you already have a therapist but haven’t seen them in a while thanks to all those fun summer activities that kept you busy, get your winter appointments on the books now. What you shouldn’t do is wait until February when you’re experiencing SAD symptoms…only to find out your therapist now has a three-week wait. “Be proactive about your mental health,” Dr. Gallagher says. That way, you and your therapist can have a plan in place to take care of your mental health when you need help most.Related:If you are struggling with feelings of depression and need someone to talk to, you can get support by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line. If you’re outside the United States, here is a list of international suicide helplines.

Adults Should Be Screened for Anxiety, New Draft Recommendation Says

Adults Should Be Screened for Anxiety, New Draft Recommendation Says

A mental health crisis has been swelling in the United States—and far too little has been done on a national level to improve how we identify, diagnose, and treat people who are living with conditions like anxiety and depression. Now, public health experts are taking a step toward getting people the care they need. In a draft recommendation published in late September, the US Preventive Services Task Force, a national panel of medical experts, said plans should be made to screen adults under the age of 65 for anxiety.In many ways this recommendation—which is the first of its kind—makes sense, given everything we’ve all had to cope with in the past couple of years. Even before the pandemic hit, feelings of mental and emotional distress were becoming more common, especially among young people and marginalized communities. Then, COVID happened, and the effects of the unrelenting stress that came with it were hard to ignore. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the pandemic fueled a whopping 25% increase in anxiety and depression globally. An estimated 31% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, per the National Institute of Mental Health, while roughly 8% of adults experienced a major depressive episode in the last year.Yet, many people living with mental health conditions continue to go undiagnosed, in part because the symptoms are more difficult to recognize and come to terms with than, say, a physical issue like a broken bone or a heart attack, David Spiegel, MD, associate chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford University, tells SELF. Stigma is another huge factor; people often feel “ashamed to come forward with what’s bothering them,” he adds.That’s why the idea of routine anxiety screenings is appealing; these exams could help health care providers ID people who are struggling much earlier so they can get the care they need to avoid “preventable suffering,” Dr. Spiegel says.The draft recommendation suggests that screenings should be done by primary care doctors. People would fill out questionnaires that explore mental health symptoms, the draft says. If they “screen positive,” they would then move on to a more thorough assessment to gauge the severity of the situation. Primary care doctors may then recommend and prescribe medication, if necessary, or they may decide to refer their patients to a licensed mental health professional.Of course, that process is overly simplified in many scenarios. Mental health care should be individualized because what works for one person may not work for another—but even just starting the conversation about what kind of help a person may need is a step in the right direction, experts say.The task force also acknowledged in the draft that there are a few key barriers to address to make these screenings feel worthwhile. First, even though primary care doctors are a go-to source for most health concerns, they usually aren’t specialists. That means they may not have the in-depth knowledge needed to help people with complex mental health circumstances, or they may simply not feel comfortable doing these screenings. On top of that, systemic issues like racial bias can absolutely interfere with effective screening and reaching an accurate diagnosis, the draft notes. (Only one in three Black adults who have a mental illness get the care they need, per the National Alliance on Mental Illness; they’re also less likely to receive consistent, culturally competent care, and they’re underrepresented in mental health research.)Many experts have also called out a major hole in this recommendation: As a country, we simply may not have the resources to keep up with a significant rise in mental health diagnoses, which seems to be a given if regular screenings are implemented. Sure, we can identify people who need help—but we also need enough helpers. Right now we’re facing a national shortage of mental health care workers; even when people can find a licensed mental health professional near them, there’s often a lengthy wait list that prevents them from getting timely care.The draft recommendation is a solid first step, and it will be considered for final approval after October 17—but we can’t just stop at screening. There needs to be a clear plan for next steps in place too. If we can pull that off, then many people will benefit from regular check-ins, says Dr. Spiegel, and hopefully, a plan that gets them the support they need.Related:

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