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2020 has become a year of radical change, shifts in perspective, and the sobering reminder that all of us are mortal, prone to disease and ailments that can, and sometimes will end our lives. From wildfires engulfing en entire continent to political scandals, a biblical plague, and everything in between, the term “dumpster fire” doesn’t even begin to cover the year 2020.

Most of us take a few major events per year in stride. That’s just how it goes, right? Things happen, people die, and the world keeps turning. So, why are you feeling extra emotional this year? Could it be that there’s more to it? Perhaps these new changes are more traumatic than we might have thought. Why am I so emotional? Let’s look closer at some of the reasons you might be feeling more emotional than usual.

1. Can You Say…COVID?

COVID-19 came sweeping out of the east with a fury no one saw coming (except everyone did, just not the US). If you’re in the United States, you’re probably still feeling terrified of the virus, which has claimed more than 160,000 peoples’ lives and continues to spread, despite areas of the world being in recovery.

With five million confirmed cases and counting, the end of the COVID crisis is nowhere in sight for the United States, and experts are suggesting that we may experience a resurgence as winter approaches. How can one not feel emotional under these circumstances? We feel neglected by our leaders, uncertain of the future, and afraid to even visit a grocery store for fear of catching the virus.

The hierarchy of needs comes into play here. Maslow suggests that all people have a hierarchy of needs, and until the basic needs are met, you can’t be creative, happy, or fulfilled. These basic needs are physiological needs (food, air, water, etc.), safety needs (personal security, employment, resources, health), and then love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Notice how safety and things like food and air come before everything else. If your most basic needs aren’t met, it’s incredibly difficult to feel safe or satisfied; and lets’ be honest, none of us are feeling very safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Social Media

The unfortunate truth about our favorite way to connect with friends, family, and our favorite brands is that it may not be a healthy habit to engage in. Studies have shown that people who spend a lot of time on social media tend to suffer from lower self-esteem, a sense of sadness or even depression, and increased social withdrawal. That’s a bit alarming, no doubt, but there’s a good chance your social media usage has increased during quarantine.

Social media can be a stressful place. Not only are you seeing doctored versions of everyone else’s lives (that always seem to look “better”), but you’re also getting a ton of misinformation on things like COVID restrictions. How can anyone feel good getting bombarded with conflicting information, political opinions, and Jane’s constant posting about how amazing her life is?

Cutting down on social media might actually help improve your mental health and help you through this year without having a major breakdown. We all miss our friends and family, but there are plenty of other ways to stay connected until we can meet in-person once more.

3. Life Brought Into Perspective

Major traumatic events often have the effect of bringing life into sharp focus. When mortality comes knocking, and the threat of illness and potential death lingers in the air like a foul stench, we tend to look back on our lives and take measure of what we’ve done; and everything we haven’t. For some, this means facing mistakes or decisions that have potentially led to happiness or unfulfillment. For others, this means getting their act together and finally deciding to get that degree, ask that girl out, or just do better for themselves.

There’s no guarantee that we’ll have a future. Even tomorrow isn’t something we can be sure of, but if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that life is short. Too short to waste on petty quarrels, pointless scrolling online, and other trifles. If reflecting on your life has caused you to feel sad, unfulfilled, or generally unhappy with where you’re at, now’s the time to make some important choices to ensure the rest of your life is exactly what you want.

4. The News

Fear-based media; what is it? To properly explain it, we’d need an entire article. Luckily, this article explains the concept in-depth. The basic premise is that fear sells papers, column inches, and keeps people coming back for more. If you’ve ever watched the news, you’ll notice it’s riddled with fear-based headlines, commentary, and a general focus on the negative. Why? Because it preys on the anxieties we all have.

This year has been a treasure trove of fear for the mainstream media. If you’ve been watching the news consistently, you’re probably starting to feel the effects of this fear-mongering, to the detriment of your mental health. Yes, you should still keep yourself informed, but where you get your information is just as important as the information itself.

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Image by Daniel Stuhlpfarrer from Pixabay

During the Winter months, when the temperatures are freezing and the snow is piling up, the desire to curl up by the fire with a good book, a cup of hot chocolate, and some freshly baked cookies is only natural. But when your desire to hibernate becomes all-consuming, and all you want to do is stay indoors and sleep until Spring, it could be a sign of a problem.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes called the “Winter Blues” affects as many as 10 million Americans every year. What makes SAD different from other forms of depression is that the symptoms — which include social withdrawal, fatigue, sleep disturbances, sadness, irritability, weight changes, and an increased desire for starchy foods — is that it’s directly tied to a change in the seasons, and the symptoms resolve on their own when the days get longer. Most experts agree that it’s the reduced exposure to sunlight that causes SAD, as it disrupts the natural production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our natural sleep cycle. Other possible causes of SAD include reduced levels of serotonin, and a deficiency in vitamin D, which contributes to reduced serotonin levels.

Regardless of the cause, there’s no need to suffer through a long Winter with depression. Although some people benefit from psychotherapy and medication to help alleviate their symptoms, lifestyle changes with a focus on exercise and a commitment to healthy sleep can reduce the symptoms of SAD.

The Exercise – Winter Blues Connection

Although there are several ways to treat the symptoms of the Winter Blues, including light therapy, one of the most effective is exercise. Even though you might feel like staying indoors for a Netflix marathon, physical activity is vital to preventing many of the effects of sunlight. Research indicates that 30-60 minutes of exercise each day can help manage symptoms.

Exercise helps control seasonal depression for several reasons. For starters, research indicates that exercise can work as well as antidepressants for some people. This is due in part to the endorphins, so called “happy” chemicals that help you feel better during and after a workout. In addition to endorphins, though, working out also increases the production of growth factor proteins, which improve your brain function by increasing nerve cell growth and new connections, in particular in the hippocampus. This increased brain function can improve mood, reducing the feelings of depression.

Even without all of the benefits to the brain, though, staying active during the colder months can help you avoid SAD in other ways. Exercising outdoors, for instance, will expose you to beneficial sunlight — even on a cloudy day — which can help spur vitamin D production and support your natural circadian rhythms and allow you to maintain a normal sleep cycle. Just getting outside for some fresh air can help you feel more energetic, and working out with friends and family helps you maintain those important connections that can boost your mood and get you through the long Winter.

Exercise, Sleep, and Depression

One of the most common symptoms of Winter depression is a change in sleeping habits. While some people suffer from insomnia, it’s actually more common to grapple with hypersomnia, or sleeping too much. This is due in large part to the changes in light. Shorter days and less natural sunlight disrupts melatonin production, throwing your sleep cycle out of balance. Melatonin essentially triggers your body to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light, but when it’s dark for a larger part of the day, it’s difficult to maintain this natural rhythm.

So how can you combat the changes to your sleep schedule that Winter can bring? One of the best options is exercise. Multiple studies have shown that exercise benefits people with insomnia, with the best exercises to help you sleep moderate-intensity aerobic workouts like walking. At the same time, exercise is beneficial to hypersomnia, as it can help increase the production of melatonin, especially when you exercise outdoors in the early morning. Regularly working out in the morning triggers your body to create melatonin in the evening, so you can maintain a normal sleep schedule.

Of course, when it’s cold in the morning, getting out of a warm and cozy bed to work out can feel like the last you want to do. It can be easier to do when you get plenty of sleep at night, but avoiding some of the other habits that can come with SAD will also help regulate your sleep. For example, stick to a healthy diet, rather than constantly indulging in the creamy, starchy comfort foods you crave, and be conscious of your calorie intake if you are less active than normal so you don’t gain weight, which can affect your mood.

And while outdoor exercise is ideal, have some alternative options for indoor activities on days when the weather keeps you indoors. Do an exercise video at home, try a yoga class, or head to the skating rink for a few hours. Think about how you can exercise anywhere, and you’ll help improve your mood and your sleep all the way through to Spring.

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Image source Max Pixel

Treating mental health issues isn’t easy. However, it doesn’t need to be as difficult as you might imagine. There are many alternative therapies that can improve depression. Learn about the four top natural treatments for depression.

  1. Eating serotonin-rich foods

Most of the doctor-prescribed medications for depression have serious side effects. If you’re not willing to deal with those side effects, then you should consider an alternative to pharmaceuticals. Eating serotonin-rich foods is one worthy alternative.

Anti-depressants often work by increasing your serotonin levels. When this occurs, you can combat depression and improve your mood. But anti-depressions aren’t the only things that can increase serotonin. Eating certain foods can have the same effect.

Certain serotonin-rich foods can boost your serotonin levels. This includes foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon, herring, mackerel, and other fish. However, fish isn’t the only serotonin-rich food. Foods like free-range turkey and coconut oil have plenty of serotonin.

  1. Equine Therapy

Have you ever felt the rush of horseback riding? Many people enjoy horseback riding, but few realize the mental health benefits that it provides. Equine therapy is horseback riding for your mental health. It’s especially effective with depression.

During equine therapy, you get out in the sun. You also keep your body in motion and stay active. As a result, you combat the symptoms of depression. You also learn how to build trust and deal with your emotions. Horses are very intuitive animals. When you work with a horse, he can help you identify hidden aggression. He can get you more in touch with your feelings, which can help you cope with your depression.

If you’ve never been on a horse, you shouldn’t have any concerns. Horseback riding is both safe and fun. When you wear the right helmet and accessories, the activity is quite safe.

  1. Balance Your Hormones

Often, issues like depression can be affected by hormone levels. By balancing your hormones, you can keep your depression in-check. For a natural treatment of depression, check your hormone levels and then work towards balancing them. Thyroid levels, adrenal levels, and sex hormones can get off-balance and can make you moody.

You can go to a doctor to get your hormone levels tested. When you get the results, you can take the steps towards balancing your hormones. There are usually natural methods of balancing them. Doing so might not completely resolve your depression, but it could help.

  1. Talk to Someone

If you don’t want to treat depression with medication, then you could try talking it out. Sometimes, all it takes is speaking with a therapist to make a difference. They can help you come up with a plan for fighting off depression and improving your mental health.

If you’re intimidated by the idea of speaking to a therapist, then you could try speaking to a friend. Just discussing your emotions can help you cope with depression. Pull aside a friend or family member and have a heartfelt conversation. The effects of talk therapy can be enough to combat symptoms of depression.

Alternative treatments to depression can make all the difference. Rather than getting hooked on pharmaceuticals, try a natural alternative and change your life.

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Generally, childhood is considered to be the best part of one’s life. Children are happy and free of the stresses that concern an adult. They do not suffer from emotional problems and mental problems, as adults do. However, research has proved over and over again that children experience similar psychological problems as adults. They also suffer from clinical depression and may be at a risk of committing suicide. According to an estimate, every hour 57 children and teenagers attempt suicide and every day 18 of these children and teenagers succeed.

These glaring facts definitely prove that mental illness is not just a creative imagination of a crooked mind. This also shows that parents need to provide them the special care and attention they need in order to prevent such mental illnesses.

Although some are biological in nature, some arise due to the circumstances they have faced while they were growing up. These illnesses can be taken care of if identified on time.

Depression

Prevalent in adults, depression is not rare or uncommon in children. Research shows that one in 10 children suffer from depression during the age of 6 to 12. Here are some facts about Australia alone. Its symptoms may be similar to those in adults such as hopelessness, excessive guilt, fatigue and change in sleep patterns. However, they may not be able to communicate their feelings. You can look for behaviors such as school performance, heightened anxiety and fear and constant wringing of hands. Depression can be caused due to biological reasons or may have its link with the family environment that the child is living in. For example, a divorce among parents, loss of a parent or an abusive parent might be some reasons triggering depression. It can be treated with therapy or antidepressants.

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit disorder influences the child’s ability to concentrate and learn. This is 10 times more common in boys and usually develops before the age of 7. However, it is diagnosed between 8 to 10 years of age. Symptoms include lack of concentration in running and participating in active games. The reasons can be biological or environmental. Environmental problems might include the exposure of the child to cigarette smoke and alcohol. This can be easily cured through therapy and medication.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Separation anxiety disorder appears in children when they are separated from a parent or a sibling. It usually appears suddenly and is extreme in the sense that it may hinder the normal activities of the child. The child may refuse to go to school, leave the house alone and may shadow parents by following them around all the time. They may also have difficulty in sleeping.  The reasons may vary depending on the environment the child is exposed to or the biological characteristics. Any stressful personal experience might also trigger such a disorder. It may be cured with detailed evaluation, therapy and medication. For troubled parents, it is better to consult with a family law Sydney for child custody, family violence and divorce cases.

Although, not an exhaustive list, these are some of the typical mental illnesses prevalent in children. When identified at an early age, they can be cured and the child would live a normal life.

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A new study has found that symptoms of depression that steadily increase over time in older age could indicate early signs of dementia.

According to Dutch scientists, other patterns of symptoms, such as chronic depression, appear not to be linked.

Researchers looked at different ways depression in older adults progressed over time and how this related to any risk.

They concluded worsening depression may signal dementia is taking hold.Arginine supplements and dementia

The research, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, followed more than 3,000 adults aged 55 and over living in the Netherlands.

All had depression but no symptoms of dementia at the start of the study.

Dr. M. Arfan Ikram of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam said depressive symptoms that gradually increase over time appear to be a better predictor of dementia later in life than other paths of depression.

“There are a number of potential explanations, including that depression and dementia may both be symptoms of a common underlying cause, or that increasing depressive symptoms are on the starting end of a dementia continuum in older adults,” he said.

Only the group whose symptoms of depression increased over time were found to be at increased risk of dementia – about one in five of people (55 out of 255) in this group developed dementia.

Others who had symptoms that waxed and waned or stayed the same were not at increased risk.

For example, in those who experienced low but stable levels of depression, around 10% went on to develop dementia.

However, the exact nature of depression on dementia risk remains unknown.

They often occur together, but the Dutch study is among the first to look at different patterns of depression symptoms.

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Lil’ Chris, who was found dead last week, had mental health issues and depression, his relatives said.

The 24-year-old singer, whose real name was Chris Hardman, was found in Lowestoft, Suffolk, on March 23.

A statement from his family said: “Chris had struggled with mental health issues and depression in recent years.

“He was committed to helping others find better ways of overcoming this illness and publicly said he wished to find a cure.”

Suffolk Police were called to a house on Union Road on Monday, March 23, to reports a man had died.Lil Chris dead

Fellow musicians and fans paid tribute on social media to Lil’ Chris, who rose to fame in Channel 4’s Rock School in 2006.

The statement said Lil’ Chris was a “huge personality who will be missed by everyone who knew him”.

“He was a hugely creative person who used this side of his personality to make others smile, to cheer people up and to make others feel better.

“A real people person, he would always take the time to stop and talk, no matter who or when and we are proud that he was so well thought of by all who knew him.

“So many commented on what a lovely, well brought up person he was, so polite and kind and a pleasure to know.”

The singer’s family said his funeral would be invitation-only and those attending would be asked to wear green, which was Lil’ Chris’ favorite color.

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Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately crashed his plane in the French Alps, killing 150 people on March 24.

2009: Andreas Lubitz breaks off pilot training while still in his early 20’s after suffering “depressions and anxiety attacks”, the German tabloid Bild reports, quoting Lufthansa medical files. He resumes training after 18 months of treatment, according to Bild.

2013: Andreas Lubitz qualifies “with flying colors” as pilot, according to Lufthansa.

2013-2015: Medical file quoted by Bild marks Andreas Lubitz as requiring “specific regular medical examination” but no details are given.

Photo BILD

Photo BILD

February 2015: Andreas Lubitz undergoes diagnosis at Duesseldorf University Clinic for an unspecified illness; clinic has clarified the illness was not depression.

March 10, 2015: Andreas Lubitz again attends Duesseldorf University Clinic.

March 24, 2015: Andrea Lubitz is believed to have deliberately crashed airliner, killing himself and 149 others.

March 26, 2015: Prosecutors announce that two sick notes have been found torn up at Andreas Lubitz’s addresses in Germany.

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Gene Simmons has apologized for his recent remarks about people who suffer from depression.

The Kiss singer and bassist sparked outrage after saying he is “the guy who says <<Jump>>” to those who are suicidal.

Gene Simmons said in a Facebook post: “I was wrong and in the spur of the moment made remarks that in hindsight were made without regard for those who truly suffer the struggles of depression.

“I sincerely apologize to those who were offended by my comments.”

The singer continued: “I recognize that depression is very serious and very sad when it happens to anyone, especially loved ones.

“I deeply support and am empathetic to anyone suffering from any disease, especially depression.”

Gene Simmons has apologized for his recent remarks about people who suffer from depression

Gene Simmons has apologized for his recent remarks about people who suffer from depression (photo Getty Images)

Gene Simmons’ apology follows an interview posted on the SongFacts.com, in which the theatrical rocker was quoted as saying he did not understand people who were depressed.

“My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany,” he said.

“I don’t want to hear… about ‘the world as a harsh place’. She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life.”

Using the example of a hypothetical “putz” who is 20 years old and lives in Seattle and says they are depressed, the outspoken star said his advice would be to “kill yourself”.

Gene Simmons went on: “I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says <<Jump>> when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, <<That’s it, I can’t take it any more, I’m going to jump>>.”

The interview was posted on July 31, before the death of Robin Williams, who took his own life after struggling with depression and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

Gene Simmons’ comments have been criticized in the wake of Robin Williams’ death, which has led to calls for a greater public understanding of the condition.

Several radio stations banned Kiss music in the wake of Gene Simmons’ comments, Fox News reported.

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A new study found that depression can make us physically older by speeding up the ageing process in our cells.

Lab tests showed cells looked biologically older in people who were severely depressed or who had been in the past.

These visible differences in a measure of cell ageing called telomere length couldn’t be explained by other factors, such as whether a person smoked.

The findings, in more than 2,000 people, appear in Molecular Psychiatry.

Experts already know that people with major depression are at increased risk of age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

This might be partly down to unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as alcohol use and physical inactivity.

Depression can make us physically older by speeding up the ageing process in our cells

Depression can make us physically older by speeding up the ageing process in our cells

But scientists suspect depression takes its own toll on our cells.

To investigate, Josine Verhoeven from the VU University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, along with colleagues from the US, recruited 2,407 people to take part in the study.

More than one third of the volunteers were currently depressed, a third had experienced major depression in the past and the rest had never been depressed.

The volunteers were asked to give a blood sample for the researchers to analyze in the lab for signs of cellular ageing.

The researchers were looking for changes in structures deep inside cells called telomeres.

Telomeres cap the end of our chromosomes which house our DNA. Their job is to stop any unwanted loss of this vital genetic code. As cells divide, the telomeres get shorter and shorter. Measuring their length is a way of assessing cellular ageing.

People who were or had been depressed had much shorter telomeres than those who had never experienced depression. This difference was apparent even after lifestyle differences, such as heavy drinking and smoking, were taken into account.

Furthermore, the most severely and chronically depressed patients had the shortest telomeres.

Dr. Josine Verhoeven and colleagues speculate that shortened telomeres are a consequence of the body’s reaction to the distress depression causes.

“This large-scale study provides convincing evidence that depression is associated with several years of biological ageing, especially among those with the most severe and chronic symptoms,” they say.

However, it is unclear whether this ageing process is harmful and if it can be reversed.