Making Your Home More Welcoming for the Winter

I’ve written about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that is triggered by different seasons. A small amount of people are affected by the late spring and summer, but many more are laid low by winter. What if, however, you don’t have SAD per se, but are someone with depression whose depression is exacerbated by the fall and winter darkness? Granted, when you have depression you’re frequently unaware of the weather. The most brilliantly sunny day with soft breezes can leave you cold.

But the increase in hours of night that comes with fall and winter is another matter. The lack of light, the absence of color from foliage (if you live in a region where all the vegetation dies or hibernates in the winter) makes your life more emotionally colorless somehow. Since there’s nothing you can do about changing the world outside, you might want to concentrate your energy on making your home more welcoming.

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What to Do During the Last Two Weeks You’re Waiting for Your Antidepressant to Kick In

Image: Villa Falconieri by John Singer Sargent
Villa Falconieri by John Singer Sargent

If it can be said that there is anything good about depression, this is when you’ll see it. Assuming that you are feeling much better than you did a month ago (and if you’re not, please read A Note about Antidepressant Treatment), you may feel almost as if you’ve been reborn. After having been deprived of the ability to enjoy everything your life has to offer, you’ll notice that colors are brighter, sounds are sweeter, smells and tastes have more depth. Having had a lack of interest in things you normally enjoyed before being depressed, you may find, as I did, that you are all of a sudden interested in everything, even things you never thought about before.

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What to Do During the First Two Weeks You’re Waiting for Your Antidepressants to Kick In

Image: My Room at Beau Rivage by Henri Matisse
My Room at Beau Rivage by Henri Matisse

The key words here are indulge yourself. Listen, you’re having enough trouble getting out of bed every day and going to work or school. You don’t need to push yourself. Think of yourself as an invalid recuperating from a very debilitating illness. You have to pamper yourself, body and spirit. This page is therefore all about “cocooning”, that is, wrapping yourself up in layers of comfort to protect yourself.

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Never, Ever Make a Major Life Change if You are Depressed

So let’s say that you’re dissatisfied with something about your life, and you’re thinking of making a big change. Your job isn’t satisfying, your marriage or relationship isn’t working out or maybe you don’t like where you live. You’re pretty sure there’s something better waiting for you if you change your circumstances.

If you’re feeling this way, stop! Don’t do it until you read this.

Is there any chance that you’re clinically depressed? The reason I’m asking is that one of the most useful guidelines about living through depression that I can give is this: Never, ever make a major life decision while you’re depressed.

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What’s wrong with calling depression “madness”?

“Our perhaps understandable modern need to dull the sawtooth edges of so many of the afflictions we are heir to has led us to banish the harsh old-fashioned words: madhouse, asylum, insanity, melancholia, lunatic, madness. But never let it be doubted that depression in its extreme form is madness.” – William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness

Boreas by John William Waterhouse
Boreas by John William Waterhouse

What is wrong with using the word “madness” in relation to depression? I ask because over the years I have received several indignant emails from people insisting that I stop using the word in the title of this website. According to them, I’m adding to the stigma surrounding mental illness and am being politically incorrect to the extreme.

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Keeping Your Senses Alive When You’re Depressed

When you’re clinically depressed, you may lose touch with a lot of things. Your relationships, the feeling of being present in the world that most people take for granted, and even your sense of self. Losing touch with your senses is is an almost universal experience among people with depression.

It doesn’t have to be that way. You can keep your senses alive. Below is a less than exhaustive list of possible ways to keep in touch with your senses, and all of them can be done from home (with a little shopping).

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Depression and Your Nutritional Health

Last fall I started to feel that my antidepressant medication (Wellbutrin) wasn’t working. I had noticed that I hadn’t really been getting anything done around the house for a while, but things started to get worse. I started actually having depressed thoughts, and having more issues with anxiety. I called my psychiatrist and made an appointment to talk about adjusting my medication or trying another antidepressant.

I was scheduled to meet with my psychiatrist on Christmas Eve. A couple of days before that, I was doing some errands on my lunch hour when I noticed that I was having trouble breathing and heart palpitations. I thought this was somewhat odd, as I didn’t feel at all stressed out. By the end of lunchtime, I was on the phone to my husband, asking him to bring me an asthma inhaler. A few minutes later, I was literally gasping for breath, and an ambulance was called.

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Depression: My Story (VIDEO)

Hi everybody. Cara Santa Maria here. As we’ve been discussing mental health this month, I’ve read some pretty cynical comments on my blog posts about how people with depression should “just get over it.” About how “we all get sad sometimes and it’s hard to deal…what makes you so special?” Well, for anybody watching who feels that way, I have to tell you: depression is a brain illness. It is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Read on.

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How Vitamin D Affects Depression

Two years ago, I spent nine months with sinus infections. I had one after another, and if I didn’t go to the doctor and get antibiotics, I got so sick that I would throw up. None of the doctors I saw could figure out why all of a sudden I was so prone to sinus infections. I saw an ear, nose and throat doctor and an infectious diseases doctor, as well as seeing almost every doctor and nurse practitioner at my GP’s practice. I had every test you can imagine. And no one could figure out what the problem was.

Finally, when I was on one of my (by now) bi-weekly visits to my GP to get a prescription for antibiotics to fight the most recent infection, the nurse practitioner said, “Why don’t we check your Vitamin D level.” Sure enough, I was extremely deficient. The standard range is 32-100 ng/mL. Mine was 20. I was put on prescription Vitamin D and voila! No more sinus infections.

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Nancy Foster, First Lady of Long Beach, Shares Her Story.

By Nancy Foster, Special to the Press-Telegram

Image: Simplon Pass: Reading by John Singer Sargent
Reading by John Singer Sargent

Being married to the mayor offers a marvelous opportunity to be the voice for mental illness in Long Beach, the 5th biggest city in California! Our city has embraced my story since I came out in November of 2006.

One person can make a difference and others are sharing their stories as well and getting help. It’s important for people to realize that a public figure is being open…it made a huge difference in our city…amazing response and still people are thanking me today 2010.

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