Courtney Colin (host): Hello. Welcome to Her kind of Healthy, a series of health podcasts from Sanford Women’s. Courtney Collen, host of Sanford Health News. We hope to start new conversations on age-old topics, from fertility and postpartum depression to managing stress and living healthy. Designed to bring you candid conversations about well-being, overall well-being.
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This episode focuses on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): What it is, how it affects us women, and what we need to know. I have the privilege of having two guests for this conversation.I have Wendy Vetter, DO, is a physician in Sioux Falls who helps patients understand how nutritional, mental and spiritual factors affect physical health.and i also have Carla SalemA social worker who specializes in women’s mental health. Thank you both for your participation.
Carla Salem: thank you.
Dr. Wendy Vetter: thank you.
host: Dr. Wetter, let’s start with you. Can you define seasonal affective disorder and explain how common it is?
Dr. Wendy Vetter: Seasonal affective disorder is depression It is unique in that it seems to coincide with the autumn and winter months and their onset, usually resolving with the arrival of spring and summer.
host: How common is seasonal affective disorder here?
Dr. Wendy Vetter: So we’re in the Midwest, and with the short daylight hours in the winter, we have a ton of seasonal affective disorder, and it’s probably underdiagnosed.
Carla Salem: And the other part of it is that some people have a kind of continuum. Due to chemical problems, it is highly affected by short days. So when the days get shorter, serotonin levels drop. Like your mood volume. So the normally stable and normal mood suddenly becomes a little louder, a little more angry, a little more sad. Therefore, even without a formal diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder, people can feel its effects.
host: So, what is happening physiologically in the brain with regard to serotonin levels, given the signs and symptoms that may lead to a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder?
Carla Salem: Well, serotonin, like I said, is what controls your mood. It’s in your brain next to norepinephrine, which controls your thoughts. That’s your anxiety neurotransmitter. And the two work very closely together. Therefore, serotonin should be more buoyant, and is less buoyant when not exposed to sunlight. So you were born with brain chemicals. So this is sort of an underlying or early sign that if you have a history of depression, you may be susceptible to winter seasonal affective disorder and the additional symptoms that come with it. The brain and gut of the are also interconnected and interconnected with sleep. Serotonin produces melatonin which keeps us going. will be
Dr. Wendy Vetter: yes. I was going to mention the melatonin component as well, in relation to circadian rhythms. And I think that’s part of what we understand about seasonal affective disorder.
host: We talk about what happens inside the brain, but let’s talk about the signs and symptoms. We talk that we may have a predisposition to affective disorders. What are the signs and symptoms we should look for?
Carla Salem: People have the classic signs of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder has some additional elements, such as a tendency to not get out of bed and want to hibernate. I have carbs and diet issues. Have you seen it with your patients?
Dr. Wendy Vetter: yes. I have a craving for carbs.
Carla Salem: It’s probably a more intense symptom, or it’s just that people say, ‘I don’t feel like myself. I usually exercise, but I don’t like it, so I take some of the things they normally use for coping and don’t seem to have them anymore because I don’t have the energy to do it.
Dr. Wendy Vetter: And the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are a little more lopsided. They are consistent with its fatigue, low energy, but more sleep, weight gain, and increased appetite. Yes. Anorexia and increased appetite issues can occur, but hibernation is common. I think this is a suitable term to describe the phenotype.
Carla Salem: Therefore, in every mood or anxiety, there are always three problems. A biological problem, a social problem, and a psychological problem. In many cases, people leave Christmas and may or may not have seen family. I am not planning a trip for .
Dr. Wendy Vetter: The key to making it a true diagnosis is that, as Carla said, all these impact symptoms affect your functioning. Memory and work, of course.
Carla Salem: So every part of you is affected in some way. Feeling confused at times, people report.
host: So when should you seek help and where does Sanford Health start?
Dr. Wendy Vetter: It is biased to say that you can start with your family doctor.
Carla Salem: I was going to say the same thing!
host: Good thing we’re both here.
Dr. Wendy Vetter: Absolutely. And we are very lucky to have so many treatment options. Sometimes just identifying it, naming it and publishing it can put people at ease. So just have someone to talk to about it and empathize with. And then there are the drugs that help the treatment, I incorporated a therapist and IHT (Comprehensive Health Therapist) help them discuss what they can do on their own in our clinic.
host: Learn more about what therapy and its patient journey looks like, what you bring as a therapist, as Carla a social worker, and as an expert in your field, and how collaboration benefits patients. Let me explain. Patient.
Carla Salem: In many cases, people will want to go down the medication route. So one thing that can happen in therapy is to monitor how it’s going and explain to people what it does. am. It’s often used as a way to restore serotonin to what you lost over the winter. And it’s really affordable. It used to be like a light box that had to be rented because it was so expensive. You can buy it now on Amazon for $60. It also aids in recovery when used during the winter or when the days start to get shorter. And as Dr. Vetter said, people like to normalize situations. Just making sure people understand because people think and think and think. And they’ll come along and say, “I think I’m crazy.” No, it’s a very common way people are briefed during the winter to get out of bed and get ideas on how to get some sleep. Try walking or going outside when it’s very cold outside to help you with these types of action techniques.
host: How can I support a friend or loved one who may be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Carla Salem: One way is simply to understand and listen. People often don’t want to talk about it with their friends and loved ones. So, frankly, someone is offended if they notice something different. It doesn’t hurt to just ask, “What’s going on?” Is there anything I can do? And just listening is often very supportive.
Dr. Wendy Vetter: If you’re worried about someone, or if someone comes up to you and starts a conversation with curiosity by saying, “I’m feeling down or blue.” , I use the same phrasing as the clinic staff. Just be open minded, patient and curious.
Carla Salem: You really encourage people to go to your doctor because they are usually the people the patient trusts. As such, it also provides a place for friends and family to guide patients to see their doctor.
learn more: How to support someone struggling with mental health
host: Yeah, it’s great to have that support.In comparison, we know winter can be a harsh time, and if you don’t like the cold, you tend to spend a lot of time indoors. What are your tips and advice stress this time of year?
Dr. Wendy Vetter: There’s a lot I can say about that. It sounds like Carla is thinking about or planning something in the future, whether it’s a trip or not, whether it’s a mention of her winter break or a trip. Setting and especially for SAD, having a very regular bedtime and wake-up time will help you maintain your normal mood and energy and allow you to focus on what’s next. Diet and physical activity and exercise definitely increase our endorphins and improve our mood.
Carla Salem: Plus, as Dr. Vetter said, make sure your foundation is as solid as possible. to find direction and personal challenges. You can check how many books you have read and how many steps you have taken. You can walk like climbing stairs in buildings and other places. And try something like that. their personal challenges. Also, as you know, planning is such a great idea. That means starting to plan your garden, planting seeds, and preparing a small greenhouse. Something that distracts you from all sorts of sluggishness and makes you leap into the future just a little bit. something you can look forward to.
host: It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, especially considering the warmer months and sunny days. Want to talk about this topic of Seasonal Affective Disorder and what women should know about this, is there anything else I might not have asked you?
Dr. Wendy Vetter: My top point is that it’s really generic. don’t keep it to yourself.
Carla Salem: Great note at the end.
host: Agree. Karla Salem, Dr. Wendy Vetter, thank you for all of your time and expertise here at Sanford Health. thank you.
Dr. Wendy Vetter: thank you.
Carla Salem: thank you.
host: I’m Courtney Colin. have a great day.
behavioral health, household medicine, Universal, healthy life, internal medicine, middle age, Sioux Falls, Women’s