SAD – SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER and WALKING…

 

At this time of year, one in eight of us can suffer from winter blues and one in 50 of us suffer from SAD through lack of sunlight.

Symptoms of SAD include fatigue and depression.

It’s the sunlight that tells your brain to produce serotonin, which is needed to boost our mood and energy. Lack of it as autumn turns to winter causes an increase in the production of melatonin (which makes us sleepy) and a reduction in serotonin is what can cause depression.

One of the most obvious ways to treat SAD is to get outside in the daylight for at least 20 minutes a day but you can also invest in a lightbox. Light therapy is the most effective way of decreasing the symptoms. Also, it is believed that eating foods rich in an amino acid called tryptophan increase the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Australian research found that taking vitamin D supplements for only five days in late winter improved the mood of people with SAD. It can also prevent osteoporosis, support immunity and regulate weight. Of course, the best way to get Vitamin D is through the effects of sunlight on bare skin. Amazingly they say that Vitamin D lasts for 60 days in the body so if you’ve been away for your annual holiday in the summer, it will mean your levels should be fine until November.

Other sources of Vitamin D can be found in oily fish and eggs, cheese and poultry.

Research also suggests that eating carb-rich foods helps the brain take up tryptophan. You can also find supplements and The Food Agency recommends taking 10mcg a day.

Walking for health encourages people to get active by arranging health walks up and down the Country for all levels of fitness.

Walking will improve stamina, help keep weight gain at bay and reduce your risk of major diseases. 20 minutes of walking can burn up 100 calories.

It is also beneficial for SAD sufferers who feel low and lethargic due to the lack of sunlight in the winter months.

Walking for life was set up in 2000 and now has over 600 local schemes with 66,000 regular walkers nationwide. Over one Christmas period, walking for life registered their 100,000th walker onto their database.

 

DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE EPISODE 4 ON FIBROMYALGIA…

I wrote a few weeks ago about the ‘Doctor in the House’ episode which was about chronic pain and fibromyalgia which I finally managed to catch up with on BBC Iplayer last night.

For anybody who doesn’t know what this program is all about, it’s a documentary and in each episode a family invites a GP (Dr Chatterjee) into their home to investigate every aspect of their lives. They’re worried about their health, and they’re hoping he can solve their problems.

In Episode four Nicola has been diagnosed with ten different conditions, including fibromyalgia, ME, sciatica and depression. Her pain and exhaustion have led her to become reliant on painkillers and she struggles to get through the day. Can Dr Chatterjee help Nicola find the cause of her problems and improve her health so that she can enjoy life again with her three young sons?

In each episode there are two families involved and the second family is a lady suffering from stress and severe exhaustion and is at risk of developing life-threatening type 2 diabetes. As a single mother, she works two jobs as a car saleswoman and a nightclub bouncer whilst juggling the demands of her two young sons. Rangan must find a way to completely overhaul her lifestyle, including her diet, sleeping habits and work-life balance.

Although they are two completely different problems some of the symptoms overlap, in particular the problems with sleep. One of the first things Rangan suggested to the single mother was to buy some clip on blue light filter glasses which she was told to wear in bed at night when using her phone or watching tv. The blue light blockers are in a clip on flip up style stay on glasses and covers sight areas without blurring or changing hues with deeper Amber color. These glasses filter out the blue light from the tv, computer and phone that disrupts natural sleep cycles. As a chronic sleep sufferer myself, I was keen to give this a try but I didn’t need to buy them as my Kindle Fire had an option to change my screen colour at night to filter out the blue light. I applied the filter and I definitely had a better nights sleep.

Nicola wanted to sleep all the time and instead of feeling great after a walk she just wanted to lie down. This, in particular resonated with me as I am exactly the same. The Doctor felt that some of her sleep problems were due to her diet and they had to remove all junk or processed foods to see if that would help. Nicola went from bad to worse and at one stage told the Doctor she needed a break from him following her progress.

The Doctor was really upset about this but then went back a few weeks later with an idea of taking Nicola to a ‘Mindfulness Class’. According to the NHS Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.

“Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively.” “Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better.” Nicola wasn’t sure at first but then found it quite amazing and started using it regularly at home. Nicola was also told that they had found out from some of her blood tests that she definitely had a gut problem which was contributing to her overall health.

At the end of the program I could see the incredible results he had made with the single mum but I felt that Nicola although in a lot less pain, still had a number of health conditions to sort out.

Fibromyalgia sufferers are well to aware that we have a multitude of symptoms and problems so it can be difficult to know what to take, medication wise,  but one thing that is clear is our main problem is pain and fatigue and there are not many treatments be it medication or otherwise that can sort this out for us. It is more a case of learning to cope with flare-ups and bad days.

SOME USEFUL BACK PAIN TIPS…

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Some useful Back Pain Tips.

Always bend you knees when lifting ‘anything’ and keep your stomach pulled in and hold the item close to you.

Avoid excess weight, as this puts a lot of pressure on your spine.

Watch your postures, especially if you sit down a lot. Take regular breaks to walk around and stretch out.

Stay as active as possible, walking and swimming are great for people suffering from back pain.

Try to keep your feel flat on the floor when you are working at a desk.

Only wear high heels for special occasions as they put a strain on your spine.

Pop a cushion or towel behind your back for long car journeys and make sure you stop for regular breaks.

When you are in the dentist chair as for a rolled up towel to place in your lower spine.

A great book on the subject with exercises and tips for a healthy back is ‘Healing Back Pain: Back Pain Relief Exercises and Tips for Healthy Back and Spine‘, by JS Jessica Many Finley JSF.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP…

Never give up

Chronic pain sufferers often have to adjust their hopes and dreams, their lifestyles and even their employment prospects. This can then have a knock on effect and end up leading to depression and anxiety.

Different chronic pain conditions bring with them different levels of emotional symptoms and together with the number of drugs we take to deal with our conditions, we seem to end up with an emotional mix up.When we are in pain or distress or feeling isolated and helpless it changes our personality. This is a typical example of what has happened to me recently.

After having some facet joint injections for the pain in my back I was pain free for the first time for a number of years. My head felt so much clearer, and lots of my friends commented on how bright my eyes looked and how well I looked. I felt a million dollars then with a flick of a switch my back went into spasm and my pain free world came to an abrupt end.

It soon came back to me how little I could do with this awful pain but I so desperately wanted to avoid going back down the medication route as I had managed to stop taking my strong opioids, and loved the clear heading feeling I had started to become accustomed to.

My fight and flight mechanism was telling me to go back to taking my strong drugs or hide away in my own little world of pain and loneliness. After having had so many comments from friends on how well I looked, it made me feel like I should hide away from seeing anyone as the tell tale sign in my eyes and posture would show I was back to square one again.

I guess anyone in chronic pain will grab the opportunity of some pain free time to enjoy life as a normal person be it for a few days/weeks or months but the hardest part is accepting that after a short respite your usual pain would be back before you know it.

One of my friends bought me the tile above with ‘never, never, never give up’  on it, which I keep in plain site for me to see when I am going through a rough patch.

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I KNOW I’M NOT ALONE…

I KNOW I’M NOT ALONE

Barbara McLullich

Isn’’t it strange, how nature makes your forget,
That terrible pain you have and continually get.
It comes in waves when you least expect it,
And you think, please stop now and give me a rest for a bit.

With my batteries recharged, I’’m ready for the next bout of pain,
Gosh, I forgot how it was driving me insane.
I keep my head high and everyone says I look just fine,
But they have no idea how I really feel at this present moment in time.

I may not have bandages and plaster anywhere on my body,
But believe me it just keeps on coming back and driving me potty.
Now I’’ve tried everything available in the book,
And yes, it helps but only with my foot!!!

I’’m writing this poem as I just can’t sleep,
It’s that awful pain again from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.
I’’m sure one-day someone will find a cure,
But until then I shall just have to suffer some more.

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