What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that often begins during the fall, continuing through the winter before subsiding during the spring and summer seasons. Some cases of SAD, however, can follow an opposite schedule, occurring during the spring and summer and ending during the fall and winter.

Millions of people may potentially experience SAD without realizing they have this condition. People who experience SAD can present many symptoms typically associated with other forms of depression such as moodiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. SAD that occurs during the spring and summer is particularly associated with irritability and anxiety. Symptoms of both forms usually begin during young adulthood.

Several factors may contribute to your risk of developing SAD, including low serotonin levels, disrupted melatonin levels, changes in sunlight exposure, and family history. Additionally, people who experience bipolar disorder or major depression are at an increased risk of developing this disorder. SAD is also much more common in women than men, and is more frequently experienced by people living in northern regions that receive less sunlight during the winter.

SAD is often treated through a variety of approaches. Many people may experience improvement in symptoms from regular exercise and adjusted sleeping schedules that ensure adequate sleep and increased exposure to sunlight. Light boxes also often improve symptoms within days or week with few side effects.

People who experience severe symptoms associated with SAD or who also have a condition such as bipolar or major depressive disorder may require treatment through psychotherapy and medication. These can help you develop strong coping mechanisms, build healthy habits, and manage physiological factors that may contribute to your symptoms.

You can receive mental health care for SAD at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 670-5562. If you begin to contemplate suicide or self-harm, please dial 988 immediately to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How to Cope with Holiday Depression

While the holiday season is a typically cheerful time of year, many people may feel the opposite, particularly those who suffer from mental health conditions such as chronic depression. However, even people without existing mental health problems may feel the “holiday blues” for two common reasons: loneliness and stress.

A variety of factors may cause many people to isolate themselves from friends and family during the holiday season. This can take a toll on someone mentally, particularly if they are repeatedly subjected to social media posts, movies, and other imagery depicting other people enjoying their own holiday gatherings.

Even people preparing for gatherings with large numbers of loved ones, however, may find themselves experiencing symptoms of depression, particularly if they’re responsible for hosting their group. Whether you’re striving to meet the high expectations of your family, friends, or yourself, cleaning, preparing food, and picking out the right gifts can create a significant amount of stress. If this stress builds up too much, it may cause you to start feeling depressed as you take on a negative view of yourself or look for an escape.

Regardless of the causes of your holiday depression, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and enjoy the season to the best of your ability. These include:

Getting out of the house: This may be your first holiday season without some or all of your family and friends. However, this does not mean you have to spend it alone at home. Whether it involves contacting family members or friends you haven’t spoken to in a long time or treating yourself to a restaurant dinner, make a plan that involves being in the company of other people during the holidays.

Accepting your best instead of “perfect:” If you’re preparing to join or host a gathering of loved ones for the holidays and are responsible for any part of the celebration, don’t judge yourself or your efforts according to the expectations of others or a “perfect” image of your results. Instead, treat both yourself and others with kindness and patience; you are making the best effort you can as an act of love to the people around you, and that is good enough.

Check in on friends and family members: You are most likely not the only person experiencing symptoms of depression during this time of year. Certain friends and family members, even those who appear happy and content, may be feeling the same way you do. Remind them you care by contacting them to find out how they are doing and wish them well for the holidays.

If your depression symptoms worsen during the holiday season, you can talk to a mental health professional at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic by calling (718) 670-5562.

If you are experiencing severe mental health symptoms such as thoughts or actions of self-harm or are contemplating suicide, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s confidential, 24/7 National Help Line at 1-800-662-4357 immediately.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tardive Dyskinesia

The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) defines tardive dyskinesia (TD) as, “a movement disorder that causes a range of repetitive muscle movements in the face, neck, arms and legs.”

TD often develops as a side effect of long-term use of certain medications (most commonly antipsychotic medications used to treat schizophrenia and other mental health disorders). Tardive dyskinesia may also develop as a result of prolonged use of medications used to treat nausea and neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

The symptoms of TD are beyond a person’s control and can affect their quality of life.  Symptoms may include uncontrolled:

  • Jerky movements of the face
  • Neck twisting
  • Smacking or puckering the lips
  • Tongue movements
  • Chewing
  • Frowning
  • Eye blinking
  • Hand and leg movements

Some people are more likely to develop TD than others. You may have a higher risk if you:

  • Are born female at birth
  • Misuse drugs or alcohol
  • Are Asian American or African American
  • Are of the age of 55
  • Have gone through menopause
  • Have a family history of TD

If you are experiencing symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, your healthcare provider may run a series of tests to rule out other movement disorders.

Treatment for TD involves monitoring medications and making adjustments when needed. In some cases, your physician may recommend that you stop taking certain medications. If symptoms persist, other treatments such as botulinum toxin injections, deep brain stimulation, or medications used to treat movement disorders may help.

 

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Building Mental Resilience

The American Psychological Association defines resilience as, “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences.”  In other words, it is our ability to effectively manage our psychological health and adapt to challenging life events.

Building mental resilience or strength helps us to cope with loss, trauma, stress, or other difficulties in a healthy way.  Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Resilience can help protect you from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.”

Here are a few tips you can try to help build mental resilience:

  • Have a positive mindset
  • Build strong and positive relationships
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice meditation
  • Practice stress-reducing techniques
  • Accept change
  • Take care of yourself
  • Take a break
  • Be proactive
  • Remain hopeful
  • Build self-esteem

It is important to remember that being resilient does not equate to being unaffected by stressors in life. You may still experience emotions that correlate with challenging events; however, resilience can help you to better adapt or recover.

Building resilience will take some time and practice; therefore, being patient is key. Everyone’s experience with building resilience is unique. What may work for one person, may not work for the other.

If you continue to feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to seek help from a mental health provider. To schedule an appointment with the Mental Health Department at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call (718) 670-5316.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

One in five New Yorkers suffers from symptoms of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression each year. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be short-term or long-lasting. Although these symptoms can manifest in many different ways, one of the most effective approaches to reduce them is to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Coping mechanisms are strategies people use to manage their thoughts and emotions during moments of stress, anxiety, anger, trauma, or sadness. Over time, you may develop your own ways of coping with the symptoms you’re experiencing. However, these automatic coping mechanisms may not always have a positive impact on your health.

Negative coping mechanisms are common and easy to fall into. Avoidant behaviors, substance abuse, eating disorders, impulsive spending, and excessive sleeping may all offer immediate satisfaction and help to push away traumatic thoughts or feelings. However, all of these habits pose a high risk of mental or physical health complications that may only worsen your condition long-term.

If you know what your triggers are and when they’re most likely to appear, many unhealthy coping behaviors may be prevented, but the best way to stop these habits from forming is to intentionally build healthier ones.

Healthy coping mechanisms involve accepting your situation and adopting a positive, productive outlook. A few examples of these behaviors include:

  • Treating yourself with kindness: Acknowledge your progress, strength, and value as a person and allow yourself time for activities that you find enjoyable, relaxing, or rewarding.

 

  • Adjusting your perspective: Consider your circumstances and symptoms as obstacles that can be overcome and think about the positive changes you’d like to see in yourself at a defined point in the future.

 

  • Setting and pursuing goals: Set beneficial goals for yourself, consider the steps necessary to achieve them, and take decisive action to move closer to them.

 

  • Maintaining positive connections: Make an effort to spend time with supportive people in your life by communicating with them regularly, even if only briefly, and including them in activities you mutually enjoy.

 

  • Accepting change as it happens: Both positive and negative changes are natural, unavoidable parts of life. Accepting them, and the fact that you have the power to decide how to respond to them, can help you make the most of your circumstances in the wake of these changes.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, schedule a consultation with a doctor at Flushing Hospital Medical Center’s Mental Health Department by calling (718) 670-5316 now.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips To Cope With Loneliness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines loneliness as, “an emotion that comes from a lack of social connection.”

Almost everyone will experience feeling lonely at some point in their lives.  In fact, data from a 2020 survey concluded that approximately 60% of adults living in the United States experienced loneliness that year.

Loneliness can affect our health in different ways:

  1. It can lead to mental health issues such as depression
  2. It can affect concentration
  3. It can affect sleep health

What can you do to combat loneliness? The CDC has the following suggestions to help you cope:

  • Start a conversation.

Call, video chat, or text message friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Write a letter or postcard.

  • Use social media and virtual technology.

Use your time online to connect and interact with others instead of scrolling through posts. Set limited timeframes for reading the news.

  • Try virtual volunteering to provide support in your community.

Many organizations, including faith-based organizations, offer online/virtual volunteer opportunities which can give you the chance to contribute to something that you find important.

  • Practice self-compassion and self-care.

Be gentle with yourself. Take time for yourself. Read, listen to music, exercise, or learn a new skill. Acknowledge your successes and give yourself a break. You are doing the best you can.

  • Seek help from a professional if your loneliness becomes overwhelming or feels unmanageable.

Talk to your doctor about how you are feeling.

To speak with a mental health provider at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call  (718) 670-5316.

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Tips For A Successful Telemedicine Mental Health Appointment

The COVID pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we approach several aspects of our lives. Many of the things we were accustomed to doing in-person are now being performed virtually, including how we receive mental health care. Even now, as we emerge from the pandemic, many mental healthcare providers and patients still prefer to use telemedicine technology for its convenience.

While the advent of telehealth technology has greatly benefitted many patients, some might still find the concept awkward or uncomfortable. If you fall into this category, Flushing Hospital has provided the following tips to help you navigate your next telehealth experience and get the most out of your visit.

Some of the things you can do to enhance your telehealth visit beforehand include:

  • Troubleshoot early- Find out what technology will be used and make sure you know how to use it prior to your appointment. If you are unfamiliar with an app, test it before your appointment to troubleshoot any potential issues.
  • Set an alert – Setting your calendar to send you an alert 5-10 minutes prior to your virtual session can give you the time needed to gather questions and to prepare yourself mentally.
  • Choose a quiet setting – Select a private location, preferably behind closed doors (such as a bedroom) to eliminate distractions. Try to minimize any background noises, such as the TV or a barking dog. Also consider using headphones to improve sound quality and maximize privacy.
  • Be prepared – Make a list of the symptoms you want to address and write down any questions you want to ask beforehand. Make sure to have your complete medical and psychiatric history available, including a list of any medications you are taking.

 Once the appointment begins, there are a few keys to making sure that you get the most out of it, including:

  • Take notes – Sometimes your provider will record the session, but if he or she does not, it is always a good idea to take notes to help you remember important insights and recommendations.
  • Speak clearly – Make sure your provider can understand what you are saying. Check in periodically to make sure that what you are communicating is being understood and that you clearly understand what is being communicated to you.
  • Pretend your visit isn’t virtual – Treat your telehealth therapy session as if you are meeting with your doctor in person. Avoid engaging in any tasks you wouldn’t do if you were at his or her office, such as folding laundry, smoking, or cooking.

By following these helpful tips, you can maximize your next mental health visit.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Phobias

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by the uncontrollable and irrational fear of a specific situation, object, or activity.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) categorizes phobias into the following three groups:

  • Social phobia -a long-term and overwhelming fear of participating in everyday social situations.
  • Agoraphobia- the APA defines this as, “The fear of being in situations where escape may be difficult or embarrassing, or help might not be available in the event of panic symptoms.”
  • Specific phobia- is unreasonable fear caused by the thought or presence of a specific object or situation that typically poses no real threat or danger.

There is still uncertainty of what actually causes phobias; however, they can be linked to genetics, life experiences or environmental reasons.

Examples of phobias include:

  • Bibliophobia- A fear of books.
  • Aerophobia- A fear of flying.
  • Hemophobia- A fear of blood.
  • Claustrophobia- A fear of confined or crowded spaces.
  • Coulrophobia-A fear of clowns.
  • Aulophobia- A fear of flutes.
  • Porphyrophobia- A fear of the color purple.
  • Nyctohylophobia- A fear of the woods in the night.
  • Octophobia- A fear of the figure 8.
  • Selenophobia- A fear of the moon.
  • Lutraphobia- A fear of otters.
  • Heliophobia- A fear of sunlight.
  • Chionophobia- A fear of snow.

Although some phobias may be unusual, they should not be taken lightly. They can be harmful to people who have them and can potentially lead to depression, social isolation, or substance abuse.

It is advised that you seek help immediately if you or someone you know is suffering from the complications of a phobia.

To schedule an appointment with a mental health expert at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call (718) 670-5316.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Adult ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder.

Most people associate ADHD with children who have trouble focusing, are overly active or have difficulty controlling impulsive behaviors.  While ADHD does commonly affect children, it can also occur in adults. In fact, it is estimated that 4% to 5% of adults living in the United States have the disorder.

ADHD begins in childhood and can continue into adulthood. However, many adults are unaware that they have ADHD. This is because the disorder was never recognized or diagnosed during childhood.

In adults, the symptoms of ADHD may present differently than they do in children and are unique to each person. They can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Poor listening skills
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Difficulty paying close attention to details
  • Struggling to complete tasks or multitask
  • Poor organizational skills
  • An inability to control impulses i.e., Interrupting others during conversations
  • Acting without consideration for others
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Often losing things i.e., keys, phones, wallets

These symptoms can interfere significantly with an individual’s relationships, career, finances and other aspects of daily life.

With an accurate diagnosis, symptoms of adult ADHD can be treated or managed appropriately to reduce the risk of developing social, emotional, or occupational problems.

To accurately diagnose ADHD in adults, the American Psychiatric Association recommends a comprehensive evaluation which typically includes a review of past and current symptoms, a medical exam and history, and use of adult rating scales or checklists.

Treatment for adult ADHD typically involves education ( learning more about ADHD), medication,  therapy and other behavioral treatments, or a combination of methods.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with adult ADHD, you should speak with a doctor. To schedule an appointment with a doctor at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Are The Signs That Your Child Needs Therapy?

Most children experience emotional highs and lows as they develop. Often, this is part of the natural maturation process, but for some, it can be a sign of a more serious issue that requires professional assistance.  Flushing Hospital Medical Center offers the following advice to help parents determine when to seek help.

Parents should understand that children go through the same struggles emotionally as adults, but because of their lack of development, they can have a hard time processing their feelings. By helping your child get through these difficult times, you can help provide them with the coping and problem-solving skills they can put to use in the future.

One of the most important ways we can help children navigate through the tough periods in their lives is to listen to them and validate their experience. Offering them support, sensitivity, and patience can go a long way in making them feel heard and make them more receptive to discussing their emotions in the future.

Sometimes, however, despite a parent’s best attempt, a child may need professional help to address a more serious issue.  You should seek help if your child:

  • Experiences problems in multiple areas of life, such as in school, during leisure activities, or in their relationships with family and friends
  • Displays repetitive self-destructive behavior such as hair pulling of skin-picking
  • Exhibits low self-esteem or lacks confidence
  • Withdraws from activities that they once enjoyed
  • Has a significant change in sleep habits or appetite
  • Engages in negative behavior
  • Talks about any kind of self-harm or suicide

Speak to your pediatrician if you believe your child may require professional help. They can refer you to a qualified mental health professional who can offer an appropriate treatment plan.

To make an appointment with a pediatrician at Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-670-5486.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.