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Spring is coming--spring into action.

How has your winter been this past season? Some of you have had lots of snow and cold weather slapping you in the face as you venture out going to work or shop or whatever. As we watch the news and weather on television, we've noticed the East got hit pretty hard this year. Here in Idaho, our weather is relatively mild with not too much snow, just cold weather and gloomy-looking days.

Can't wait 'til spring gets here? I know how you feel. If you're like me, I really enjoy springtime, with the sun shining bright and warming the ground for the tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses to start popping their heads up.

Can't wait 'til you no longer see the high heating bills that just keep going up? Want to go south for the winter (that's what those of us here want)? You who live in the South, maybe you want to go north?? You are fortunate to be able to live in the warmer climates. We had the oppor tunity to spend a week in Arizona this year with friends and enjoyed the nice warm weather with outside barbecues, fish frys, and "snowbird" potlucks. We wanted to stay longer, of course. Our friend is even building another bedroom and bathroom on his small house so that we'll come back next year and stay longer. Bad idea, we may just do that. However, reality brought us back home to more of the same cold weather, I'm afraid.

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How many of you have heard of SAD? I'm only kidding; I know you all know what that is. It's Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know my husband has this every winter. He cannot seem to find enough things to keep him busy and out of the slump. This year though, we found a solution and have since joined two gospel bands and sing and play for nursing homes, senior citizen centers, assisted living, and other churches. Not only is it a nice gesture for those who are unable to get out but it is great therapy for us. It's important to find something you like to do to get yourself out of the mully-grubs. (Is that a word?)

As medical professionals, I'm sure we all have seen this in some of our patients from time to time. So I thought this would be a great topic for this article. Actually, it was my husband's idea. We need to give credit where credit is due. Right? He used to call it PMS Pre-Mountain Syndrome because he loved to spend time in the mountains at our cabin fishing, hiking, riding four wheelers, or just visiting with our family and friends in the nice, clean air. Just talking about it makes me ready to go-now.

Let's look at the definition that Mayo Clinic gives of it. "Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, usually in the months of November through February. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in spring and early summer."

"Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the 'winter blues' or seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own--you have SAD. Treatment for this includes 'light therapy' (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. Addressing the problem can help you keep your sanity, mood, and motivation steady throughout the year." So there is help for this disorder. Don't try to "tough" it out on your own. Even though there are things that you can do yourself, like take a trip to a warmer climate, or get involved in something that you like to do, there is also medical intervention.

SAD is a cyclic, seasonal condition. This means that signs and symptoms come back and go away at the same time every year. Some people have the opposite effect and become depressed with the onset of spring and summer. In either case, problems may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses. Here are the symptoms of both and notice the symptoms are different:

Fall and winter seasonal affective disorder (winter depression)

* Depression

* Hopelessness

* Anxiety

* Loss of energy

* Social withdrawal

* Oversleeping

* Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed

* Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates

* Weight gain

* Difficulty concentrating and processing information Spring and summer seasonal affective disorder (summer depression)

* Anxiety

* Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

* Irritability

* Agitation

* Weight loss

* Poor appetite

* Increased sex drive

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With some people, reverse seasonal affective disorder (spring and summer) can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania). These can include elevated mood, agitation, and rapid thoughts and speech. Reverse seasonal disorder is a form of bipolar disorder.

The specific causes are unknown. As with many mental health conditions, it's likely that genetics, age, and perhaps most importantly, your body's natural chemical makeup all play a role in developing the condition. A few specific factors that may come into play include: your biological clock (circadian rhythm)--sleep disruption causing depression, melatonin level drops; hormones which play a role in sleep patterns or moods and serotonin level drops, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood patterns causing depression.

When to see the doctor--It's normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't seem to get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy doing, see your doctor. This is particularly important if you notice that your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopelessness, think about suicide, or find yourself turning to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.

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As medical assistants, we need to watch our regular patients for any unusual patterns that we observe while treating them on a regular basis. Of course, it is impossible to monitor them if they are only occasional visitors. However, this is part of our job to be cognizant or aware of these type symptoms. Many times, we recognize symptoms before our patients do. So stop, look, and listen to what they tell us when we take them back to the rooms to be examined by the doctor. As you know, we are the doctors' "eyes and ears" with our patients healthcare and pick up on things that the doctor would ordinarily miss on these visits.

If you are having any of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, here is the perfect therapy for you. Attend the joint AMT-CASMET convention in Miami. I guarantee you will find enough sunshine to last you all year long. You will also find lots of friends who are very helpful and will assist you with information and sessions to intrigue your mind. Hopefully, you will even see some exciting new faces that will help lift your spirits. Depression is not allowed at this convention. We are there not only to conduct the business of AMT, but to enjoy one another and obtain more knowledge to take back to our own workplaces. This will be an experience that will last the whole year and bring us back next year.

Mark your calendars, the AMT-CASMET Joint Educational Program and Convention of American Medical Technologists (AMT) and Caribbean Association of Medical Technologists (CASMET) will be held on August 1-6, 2011, in Miami, Florida. This beautiful state is full of sunshine and warmth and will be the perfect remedy for this condition. We will be staying at the Intercontinental Miami Hotel. It overlooks Biscayne Bay and is steps from the Bayside Marketplace that features over 200 shops and popular restaurants.

Remember that your friends at AMT are interested in your well-being. We want to see your smiling faces at the next convention and each year after that. In the meantime, take care of your patients and help them get the needed medical care if you see any of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

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Until next we meet ... take care of you, too. Spring is coming. Spring into action. Put on a happy face!

Susanna M. Hancock, RMA, RPT, COLT, AAS, Board Member (Secretary)
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Title Annotation:rma update
Author:Hancock, Susanna M.
Publication:AMT Events
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2011
Words:1378
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