Nine Steps You Can Take to Alleviate SAD Symptoms
by Kassandra David, MSW, LISW and Mary Tanner, MSW, LISW
Long nights, gloomy weather and chilly temperatures are upon us. At this time of year, it’s not unusual to feel less energetic or downright unmotivated. But for the estimated 10 million Americans who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, the change in season can trigger a depression that runs deeper than a seasonal funk. While SAD can strike during the
spring and summer, it most often occurs during fall and winter. Regardless of the season, SAD is not something that you need to “tough out.” Treatment is available.
More Than Just the Blues
SAD is a type of depression that should not be confused with the wintertime blues. The winter blues can leave you feeling down; SAD, on the other hand, can be debilitating. Symptoms of SAD to watch out for during fall and winter include:
For those who suffer from depression or anxiety, SAD can feel like a double whammy. This year, the coronavirus is only amplifying those symptoms. By limiting the activities and connections that we usually rely on to get through these dark months, COVID-19 has elevated feelings of isolation and anxiety. The coronavirus pandemic is also taking away our sense of control over our surroundings. But for those who are suffering from SAD, there are still plenty of ways to
Relief is Available
One of the most common misconceptions about SAD is that nothing can be done. While it’s true that we can’t control the weather or make the days longer by sheer will, it is within our power to manage our symptoms. Here are nine steps you can take on your own to start feeling
When You Need More Help
Sometimes taking steps on your own is not enough to alleviate SAD. That’s OK. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek help for SAD or any other mental health issue. The important thing to remember is that you don’t need to suffer.
If you continue to struggle, then reach out to your physician, a counselor, a social worker or a psychologist for help. It is their job to listen, support you and help you find the resources you need to cope.
If you don’t feel secure visiting a therapist in person during the pandemic, then consider tele-therapy. It is safe, effective and convenient. There are many tele-therapists at Compass Point who are accepting new patients now. Compass Point also offers an online scheduling system
for new clients so that you can be matched with a best-fit clinician and schedule an
appointment at your convenience.
Kasandra “Kassey” David, MSW, LISW
Kassey is a licensed independent social worker. She holds a master’s
degree in Social Work from the University of Toledo. Her treatment
philosophy is informed by many disciplines both within and outside of
standard treatment models. She keeps motivational interviewing, the
strengths-based perspective, systems theory, reality therapy and solution-
focused therapy in her counseling toolbox. Contact us to see if Kassey is
accepting new patients.
Mary Tanner, MSW, LISW
Mary is a licensed independent social worker. She has a bachelor’s degree
in Sociology and a master’s degree in Education from Xavier University.
She also has a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa.
She provides a safe, relaxed space for individuals, couples and families to
comfortably work on the goals they set for themselves. She will help you
clarify your goals and determine how to use your strengths and
therapeutic interventions to achieve them. Contact us to see if Mary is
currently accepting new clients
Getting the Most from Your Insurance Benefits at Year End
The end of the year is almost here. If you have met your insurance deductible and out-of-pocket maximum for 2020, the cost of healthcare services could be reduced by up to 80 percent. That’s a big incentive to follow through on making that first counseling appointment—or to squeeze in a few more before January 1.
Not sure if you’ve met your deductible? The best way to find out is by contacting your insurance provider. If the thought of calling your insurance company is cause for anxiety, you’re not alone. Figuring out your insurance plan can sometimes feel like trying to learn another language.
But the more you know about your plan benefits, the more you can take advantage of them. After all, your insurance plan is there to keep you healthy and well. Make sure that it works for you by following these four steps before calling your insurance company:
Compass Point is now offering an online scheduling system for new clients, people who are not yet in the Compass Point system and have not seen a Compass Point Provider, to be matched with the best fit clinician, and schedule their appointment online.
You deserve to have someone to talk to who can help you learn to manage your personal
challenges. But it can’t be just anyone. To ensure you make progress, you need the right person. That’s why we do our best to provide the best fit, the first time. Because a good fit can make all the difference in helping you feel better.
Coping with Covid is a group at Compass Point for Individuals trying to figure out life during the ongoing Pandemic. Please join us as we find meaning, purpose and life satisfaction in this 'new normal.'
This group may be a fit for you if :
- You live in Ohio
- You have a smart phone, tablet or computer with internet connection
- The pandemic has affected your day-to-day life
-Changes have caused you stress, anxiety, etc.
This group will cover different mental health topics including tips, tricks and resources we can use to build awareness, motivation and coping skills.
This year, we all have had to adjust quickly. With warm weather coming, that means summer is just around the corner but this time is also going to look different.
Keeping a schedule during the summer will help not only you still be sane during this time but also give your child(ren) the stability they need during this time. A routine will help your child(ren) have some predictability during this time of uncertain. The schedule does not have to look like boot camp, but a loose schedule.
Create a visual schedule and for younger children – including pictures!
● Sit down with your family at the start of summer and create a “Summer Bucket List.” This can help build excitement and allows your kids to provide input as to how they would like to spend their time.
● Utilize themes to help spark your creativity, but also establish a sense of consistency throughout each week:
○ Messy Monday – do an art project with finger paints or practice writing in shaving cream, or make a mud pie!
○ Wet Wednesday – visit different pools or splash pads or have a water balloon fight in your backyard!
○ Fun Friday – explore a new playground each week or do something different like visit the virtual zoo or the virtual aquarium! You get the idea!
As our summer activities are going to look different with limited summer camps, vacations, and fun gatherings; but that does not mean you cannot have fun at home!
Parks and Trails
Metro Parks of Butler County have an updated list of the parks that are open and closed with guidelines https://www.yourmetroparks.net/covid-19
Great Parks of Hamilton County have an updated list of the parks that are open and closed on https://www.greatparks.org/covid-19
Warren County Park DIstricts have all their parks open with restrictions https://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/
Five Rivers Metropark of Montogomery County have all their parks open with restrictions https://www.metroparks.org/alerts/
Virtual Summer Camps
Varsity Tutors are offering FREE week-long virtual summer camps Ages: 5-18 Price: FREE Dates: June - August https://www.varsitytutors.com/virtual-summer-camp-catalog
Operation Exploration: Backyard Biosphere Virtual Day Camp Ages: 8–12 Price: $25/camper Dates: May 26–29, 2020, 9:30 a.m. https://www.greatparks.org/discovery/children/day-camps
Joffrey Ballet Ages: 9-16 Price: $145 per week Dates: June 15-19, June 29-July 3, July 13-17 http://joffrey.org/academy/programs-and-divisions/summer-camps
Music Institute of Chicago Ages: 8-Adulthood Price: Varies Dates: June-August https://www.musicinst.org/2020-summer-programs
Cub Scout Adventure Box Age: 1-6 grade Price: $55.00 per box Dates: June-August https://scoutingevent.com/160-adventurebox
Virtual Field Trips
On this virtual field trip from Dairy Council of California, students will learn all about dairy farming, including how milk and dairy foods are produced and the nutritional benefits of dairy products. https://www.healthyeating.org/Schools/Mobile-Dairy-Classroom/Farm-to-You-Virtual-Field-Trip
The Cincinnati Museum Center has developed a lot of videos for your child(ren) to continue learning during this time. https://www.cincymuseum.org/wonderzone/
There are so many amazing online options when it comes to zoos that we couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Most zoos and aquariums have live webcams in some of their most popular exhibits. San Diego Zoo: https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams Smithsonian’s National Zoo: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams Denver Zoo: https://denverzoo.org/zootoyou/ Memphis Zoo: https://www.memphiszoo.org/animal-cams Australia Zoo: https://www.zoo.org.au/animals-at-home/ National Aquarium in Washington D.C.: http://samuraivirtualtours.com/example/nadc/index.html Georgia Aquarium: https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/ocean-voyager/ Monterey Bay Aquarium: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams Tropical Reef: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F109TZt3nRc
Learn about a variety of different farms including pigs, grain, and minks just to name a few. https://www.farmfood360.ca/
Take a tour of the Boston Children’s Museum. https://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/museum-virtual-tour
Smithsonian’s National Museums of National History with current and past exhibits: https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 26 galleries available to view right from your home. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-metropolitan-museum-of-art
Explore the sky above us with Stellarium on their star map. https://stellarium-web.org/
Google Earth has made virtual tours of National Parks across the country. https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-94.20828246,312.21005962a,12000000d,35y,0h,0 t,0r/data=Ci0SKxIgMzVhNjc1YmQ0NjVjMTFlOTg0Yjg1NTMyNWRjMDk2MzQiB3ZveV90b2M
Go to the Channel Islands in California to watch our National bird sit on her nest. https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/bald-eagle-webcam.htm
Travel the world and explore the nature that the earth has to offer. https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/who-we-are/how-we-work/youth-engagement/nature-lab/ virtual-field-trips/
Walk famous trails of Yellowstone park. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm
On live webcams; witness Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin in the Yellowstone Park. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
Learn about what it takes to be a service dog with these live streams of puppies being trained! https://explore.org/livecams/warrior-canine-connection/service-puppy-cam
The Great Lakes are a huge staple in our country, learn more about them through a field trip. https://www.greatlakesnow.org/virtual-field-trip/
Interested in Goats, the Beekman 1802 has a goat live stream: https://beekman1802.com/pages/the-goats
Explore art around the world with https://artsandculture.google.com/
Visit Ellis Island to learn about the Statue of Liberty and tour the museum. http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/webcast.htm
Explore cities all over the world, jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet, and jump in the ocean to swim with the sharks. https://www.360cities.net/
Home Activities and Crafts
DIY is a safe environment with step-by-step videos that contain no ads. The site is free for 14-days then it is a monthly subscription. The videos range in age-appropriate of 3-16. Have your kids be creative and use their imagination this summer. https://diy.org/#courses
The Cincinnati Zoo has videos of learning to go along with crafts of over 20 of their animals. http://cincinnatizoo.org/home-safari-resources/
Nature Hunt: Summer is the perfect time for children to observe and enjoy nature for the whole family. Come up with a list of flowers, birds, plants, insects, and much more for your child(ren) to find in your backyard or in the park. Taking pictures of all your finds to share with others.
Water Games: Everyone get ready to get wet, play tag using a hose, transfer water from one bucket to another with only a sponge, jump around in the sprinkler, play soggy dodgeball, and water balloons.
Family Book Club: Everyone gets a book and shares what they have learned or the storyline with the family on a designated day.
Family Movie Night: Go around the family members each time to choose the movie; so no one gets left out. Enjoy healthy snacks with blankets and pillows.
Backyard Camping: Pull out the tent, sleeping bags, flashlights and enjoy your backyard. Or your living room if you are not fond of the bugs outside.
Jigsaw Puzzle: Complete a puzzle that the whole family likes then once it is complete glue it to put up within your home.
Northwestern has courses over the summer to allow your child to continue learning and even earn High School Credit. Ages: 3-18 Price: Varies Date: June-August https://www.ctd.northwestern.edu/courses?program_type=550&season=560&sort=alpha
San Diego Zoo Global Academy Ages 13+ Price: Free Date: All Summer https://sdzglobalacademy.org/coursewereheretogetherfreespecies.html
Super Soccer Stars is creating opportunity for your child to keep up with their soccer skills and develop more skills to show off when they get to the field. Ages: 8-18 Price: Varies Date: Present till August http://newyork.supersoccerstars.com/digital/
Baketivity sends a box of ingredients for your child to make a dessert for 4 weeks. Ages: 8-16 Price: Varies: one-time box and then 4-week camp Date: Ongoing https://baketivity.com/camp/
Chess New York City has moved its learning to online! Ages: 4-18 Price: Starting at $18 Date: Ongoing https://chessnyc.com/
Best Buy Geek Squad Academy Ages: 10-18 Price: Free Date: Ongoing 4 activities https://corporate.bestbuy.com/geek-squad-academy-at-home/
Camp WIT is a camp that empowers teens to become leaders and entrepreneurs. Ages: 13-18 Price: Free but needs an application and Zoom interview Date: June 1- June 26 https://corporate.bestbuy.com/geek-squad-academy-at-home/
The Nature Lab has developed curriculums on how to help our planet be the healthiest it can be. Grades: K-12 Price: Free Date: Ongoing https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/who-we-are/how-we-work/youth-engagement/nature-lab/
This list was compiled by child counselor Mariah Goodwin, MA,LPC.
Mental Health an Emerging Crisis of COVID Pandemic
Americans are reporting high levels of emotional distress from the coronavirus pandemic -- levels that some experts warn may lead to a national mental health crisis.
“Our society is definitely in a collective state of trauma,” said Jonathan Porteus, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who oversees the crisis and suicide hotline in Sacramento, CA. Unlike posttraumatic stress disorder, which surfaces after a trauma has ended, the country is only starting to grapple with the pandemic’s psychological fallout, he said.
“We do see an emerging potential crisis,” said Karestan Koenen, PhD, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, during an online forum this week.
Another recent report, released Friday from the Well Being Trust, said the pandemic could lead to 75,000 additional “deaths of despair” from drug and alcohol misuse and suicide due to unemployment, social isolation, and fears about the virus.
A recent poll of more than 3,100 WebMD readers found that 26% said they felt a sense of trauma from COVID-19.
Koenen, who has studied other major disasters, sees problematic differences this time, including how long-lasting the pandemic may become and how it has affected the whole world.
“We know that social support is so important to buffer the effects of disasters, to help pull people out of disasters, and here, we see that because of physical distancing … we’re sort of robbed of some of that social support, so that’s extra-challenging.
“In terms of this specific situation, we’re really treading new ground.”
Mental Health’s First Responders
At the nation’s crisis and suicide hotlines, counselors are seeing the first waves of emotional distress. Callers have flooded the phone lines to talk about health fears, job losses, relationship strains, and lonely days spent in isolation.
Calls to the Sacramento crisis line increased 40% from February to March, according to Porteus, the CEO of WellSpace Health, which operates the hotline. In a year-to-year comparison, April’s call volume was 58% greater than in April 2019, he said.
Lauren Ochs, MA, a counselor who takes crisis calls in St. Louis, MO, has also talked to many more people since the pandemic started, averaging 25-35 calls during her 8-hour shifts, she said. “About 80% to 85% at least mention COVID. That might not be their primary problem, but some way, somehow, they’re affected by it.”
Calls also have risen significantly at the San Diego Access and Crisis Line in California, said Program Manager Heather Aston.
“We’ve seen an increase in more anxiety-driven calls,” Aston said. Some people are worried about COVID-like symptoms. “They want to know where can they go to get safely tested.” Others are concerned about family members. One woman called for advice on how to help a sister who had stopped eating and drinking and was having paranoid thoughts about COVID-19, Aston said.
In a recent opinion piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, warned of an upcoming wave of mental disorders because of coronavirus.
He noted that “large-scale disasters, whether traumatic (the World Trade Center attacks or mass shootings), natural (hurricanes), or environmental (Deepwater Horizon oil spill), are almost always accompanied by increases in depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, a broad range of other mental and behavioral disorders, domestic violence, and child abuse."
The COVID-19 pandemic would likely produce a similar “overflow of mental illness,” he said.
He cited examples:
The mental health effects can happen immediately and last over time, he wrote.
The pandemic also comes at a time when people already struggled to get mental health care, often due to cost, lack of access, and a shortage of providers. As people who had been getting help before stay-at-home orders found their care interrupted, some providers have begun to offer telehealth services.
Charles Jones, the CEO of MDLive, a large telehealth provider, told MedCity News that his company has seen increased demand for behavioral health services from patients who are stressed out about health or work issues. Cigna, one of the largest providers of mental health services, launched a toll-free, 24-hour help line for the public to speak to behavioral health specialists.
From isolation to anxiety to excess drinking, coronavirus has touched almost every area of life, said Lan Nguyen, a suicide and crisis services program manager for the hotline in Santa Clara County in Northern California.
For many callers, community shutdowns have bred a deep sense of isolation, he said. “People complain that they are stuck in the house all day. They don’t know what to do.”
On the home front, relationships can be strained, Porteus said. “Families are kind of a tinderbox, especially in confined areas.” Children may now face a greater risk of abuse, especially since they can no longer find respite at school. “There are a lot of family dynamics that are not healthy, and now kids have to be in them full-time,” he said.
The same goes for victims of domestic violence, according to Porteus. “People can’t get out of their homes, so they’re more enmeshed with the perpetrators than ever before.”
The St. Louis hotline has heard from many struggling health care workers and others, Ochs said. “I recently talked with an eighth-grade teacher who was in a lot of emotional distress about the school year ending early,” Ochs said. “I don’t think any teacher was really prepared for the school year to just stop.” Not only was he grieving the abrupt loss of his students, but he had little chance to say good-bye. “He was a teacher in a high-poverty area, so it’s hard to reach out to [his students]. It’s hard to Zoom with them, it’s hard to make contact with them.”
Those who have lost jobs or been furloughed have called about financial worries, according to Nguyen.
Besides the financial impact, losing a job can be emotionally devastating, Porteus said. “Our identity is really hit and sometimes, it feels catastrophic. Many of the people who are calling don’t know who they’ve become. They’ve lost what they feel is everything, and they’ve also lost their social context.”
Recently, the San Diego hotline helped one older man who had called in about losing his job as a chef, Aston said. “He had roughly $20 in his checking account and he was suicidal.”
Intense stressors like job loss and fears for one’s life and health can contribute to substance abuse. The Sacramento hotline also has gotten more calls from people struggling with alcohol or substance problems, Porteus said. Overall, alcohol sales have gone up nationwide, and now, some restaurants will deliver alcohol with takeout food orders.
“One thing [counselors] are noticing, especially with older adults, is ‘Yeah, I’m drinking. Why not? I’m not going anywhere. I don’t have to drive. I don’t have all the normal constraints while I’m around people,’” Porteus said.
At a time when coronavirus efforts have battered many state budgets, it could be difficult to fund future mental health services. But some experts are looking ahead.
In his JAMA article, Galea wrote: “Scaling up treatment in the midst of crisis will take creative thinking.” He suggested training lay people to provide psychological first aid, as well as “helping teach the lay public to check in with one another and provide support. Even small signs that someone cares could make a difference in the early stages of social isolation.”
He also advocated for more telemedicine mental health visits.
In its report, the Well Being Trust urged policy makers to consider three areas to combat mental health issues:
“If the country continues to ignore the collateral damage -- specifically our nation’s mental health -- we will not come out of this stronger,” said Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD, chief strategy officer at Well Being Trust.
Even if an epidemic of mental illness is looming, counselors say that people are resilient and can strive to protect their emotional well-being.
Experts offered these tips:
When people are in crisis, he said, it’s helpful to go online to learn about “distress tolerance” skills, which involve accepting that some problems are beyond one’s control. Instead of becoming mired in feelings of unfairness and anger, people can learn healthier ways of thinking and coping when they can’t escape painful situations.
For those who have lost jobs, he suggests looking up interest inventories -- questionnaires that ask you to rate your enjoyment and interest in a wide variety of activities -- to explore career options. “You can figure out the kinds of things that you’re good at and start getting a sense of what your next steps might be."
Taking constructive steps can help to counteract a downward spiral, he said.
“People look at the pandemic and they tend to be drawn to the negative. If we can help shift people to look at the positive, it really helps because we know that neurons that fire together wire together,” Aston said. “We’re going to be able to see the positive more quickly.”
Shared from WebMD
Katherine Kam wrote this story while participating in the USC Center for Health Journalism‘s 2020 California Fellowship.
WebMD Health News Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 08, 2020
Coping with Covid is a new group at Compass Point for Individuals trying to figure out life during the ongoing Pandemic. Please join us as we find meaning, purpose and life satisfaction in this 'new normal.'
This group may be a fit for you if -
- You live in Ohio
- You have a smart phone, tablet or computer with internet connection
- The pandemic has affected your day-to-day life
-Changes have caused you stress, anxiety, etc.
This group will cover different mental health topics including yips, tricks and resources we can use to build awareness, motivation and coping skills.
To schedule, click here to register online or call our front office at 888-830-0347
Millions of people in the U.S. are affected by mental illness each year. It’s important to measure how common mental illness is, so we can understand its physical, social and financial impact — and so we can show that no one is alone. These numbers are also powerful tools for raising public awareness, stigma-busting and advocating for better health care.
The information on these infographics and this page comes from studies conducted by organizations like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Justice. The terminology used reflects what is used in original studies. Terms like “serious mental illness,” “mental illness” or “mental health disorders” may all seem like they’re referring to the same thing, but in fact refer to specific diagnostic groups for that particular study.
You Are Not Alone
Mental Health Care Matters
Provided by NAMI
With all of the new stressors impacting each of us during this time, we now more than ever need to take proactive steps to be mindful and find joy in our days. Although we cannot simply wish the pandemic away, we can add a few simple activities to help us cope with our ever-evolving reality.
Below we are sharing a list of what some of our providers here at Compass Point are doing while working from home proving tele-therapy, a list of what our clinicians have recommended to their clients as well as a general list inspired by Marsha Linehan, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and the creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), of activities that can be accomplished in limited time, within ones own home. Many of the items are also friendly for families with young children.
A lot of our clients familiar with DBT will know that our groups use lists like this to help participants identify activities they can use to boost their mood and cope with challenges. While many of us need this in the best of times, most of us need to find what works and how to find balance again in the wake of COVID-19.
What we're doing at Compass Point
Our team at Compass Point have been working remotely from home offering tele-therapy and practicing social distancing for over a month now. I asked them to share the activities and behaviors that have been helping them.
Compass Point Clinicians share their tips
Since sessions have still been taking place via tele-therapy, clinicians have given quite a few activities they have been recommending to clients to de-stress. I asked them to share a few with us.
Looking for more ideas?
The below list is inspired by Marsha Linehans list of distracting, pleasurable activities
Our Feelings During This Weird Time in our History
Talking to clients, family and friends about the quarantine, I am hearing many of the same things. “I’m feeling tired. This is getting old. I don’t know what to do with my time. I’m really irritable. When is this going to end? This is making me more anxious than I had been. I feel sad. I feel depressed. What’s going to happen with my kid’s school? What’s going to happen to my job? What does the new normal look like?” It is so normal to have any and all of these feelings and questions. Basically, all of us have had our lives turned upside down by this virus and quarantine.
I know the moms and dads who are trying to work from home and monitor their kid’s school work are very stressed. The people who work in restaurants are wondering when and if they will have a job. Students are missing proms, graduations and most of all just being with friends. Kids who need structure are not adapting well to distance learning, not to mention the teachers who were given no time to adapt lesson plans. College students who are graduating wonder when and if they will be able to get a job. And, over and above all the anxiety producing situations each of us are in, we all have the over- arching worry about the virus itself, “Will I get it, will someone I love get it?” It is scary!
So, again, all normal to be stressed, anxious, sad, afraid, but we can all have hope this quarantine will not last forever. In the meantime, we can do things to help ourselves through this time. We can use coping strategies.
I watched a brief training from trauma expert, Bessel von der Kolk and he discussed how this quarantine has Preconditions for Trauma. He talked about why this is true, but more importantly, he gave ideas on how to navigate through this time to come out the other end feeling OK. Here are the problems he outlined and the ways we can combat the effects:
The important thing is to know you are not alone in this. All of us have struggles of some sort. This is a time to be gentle on yourself, to treat yourself like you would treat your best friend and remind yourself you will be OK. This, too, shall pass.