Study: Light therapy for S.A.D. may also help with sleep, alertness

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is depression that occurs in a seasonal pattern, most commonly in the winter months, and sometimes it is called “winter depression” (1).

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, weight gain, increased appetite, oversleeping (1) occurring in a seasonal pattern.

SAD may often co-occur with a variety of other mental health conditions.

It can often occur as part of other mood disorders such as depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, etc (2).

What are some Treatment options for S.A.D.? (3)

  • Counseling
  • Medication
  • Vitamin D (5)
  • Light therapy
  • Other helpful strategies for improving depression may include :  nutrition (6 ), exercise (7 ), and being socially active.

A recent study looked at the impact of light therapy on sleep and circadian rhythm.

What was the study?

The study authors (8) identified and reviewed 40 available studies on the subject.

What were the results?

  • The study authors (8) found that while both bright light and SSRi’s helped mood, bright light therapy also helped with sleep wake cycle.
  • Separately (9), an analysis of 3 randomized trials found that dawn simulation ( a type of light therapy delivered in the mornings) helped with mood and reduced difficulty awakening and reduced morning drowsiness (9).

What are some caveats?

While the treatments are beneficial:

  • Light therapy can have side effects (10) such as mania, hyperactivity, irritability, headaches, etc.
  • Other treatment options mentioned above can also have side effects.

For this reason, if you are experiencing a seasonal pattern of depression, please seek the help of a mental health professional to determine IF and how much and what type of treatment may be best for you.

What are some of OSU’s campus resources for S.A.D. ?
•  OSU Office of Student Life- Counseling and Consultation Service
OSU Wilce Student health center

• OSU Student Wellness center (Wellness coaching, nutrition)
• Exercise at the RPAC

Are there any other helpful resources?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References

  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/seasonalaffectivedisorder.html
  2. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), American Psychiatric Association, Arlington, VA 2013.
  3. Lam RW, Levitt AJ (editors). Canadian Consensus Guidelines for the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Vancouver, British Columbia, Clinical & Academic Publishing, 1999. http://www.ubcsad.ca/.
  4. American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Major Depressive Disorder, Third Edition. October, 2010. http://psychiatryonline.org/guidelines
  5. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml
  6. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/06/28/food-choices-to-improve-depression/
  7. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/10/20/weight-lifting-exercise-and-mental-health/
  8. Menculini G, Verdolini N, Murru A, et. al. Depressive mood and circadian rhythms disturbances as outcomes of seasonal affective disorder treatment: A systematic review. J Affect Disord. 2018 Dec 1;241:608-626. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.08.071. Epub 2018 Aug 15.
  9. Avery DH, Kouri ME, Monaghan K, Bolte MA, Hellekson C, Eder D. Is dawn simulation effective in ameliorating the difficulty awakening in seasonal affective disorder associated with hypersomnia? J Affect Disord. 2002 May;69(1-3):231-6.
  10. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/light-therapy/about/pac-20384604

 

Cannabis Might Worsen Memory and Stopping It Might Improve It

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

As of 2016, about 37 million individuals in the United States reported using cannabis / marijuana in the last year (1).

This is projected to increase in the future as many states move to legalize medicinal and or recreational cannabis or marijuana use.

As with many things like excessive junk food, excessive alcohol, tobacco, etc. being legal does NOT ALWAYS mean being  healthy.

For example, a recent study looked at cannabis and false memories (2), while another study looked at memory changes after stopping cannabis (3).

What was the first study? (2)

  • 23 healthy people aged 18 to 29 with and without tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • They were asked to learn material while sober.
  • 2 days later, researchers compared memory recall among those who had used cannabis vs those who had not 2 hours before the test.

What were the study results of the first study (2)

In the first study, subjects who used cannabis 2 hours prior to the test were more likely to have false recognition of words and pictures that had not been presented during the sober study session (2).

What does this mean?

This small study suggests that cannabis use might impact academic performance (2), though further study is needed.

What was the second study (3)?

  • 88 individuals (Average age 21 years) who used cannabis at least weekly were randomized to 30 days of abstinence or to a control group, abstinence confirmed through biochemical testing (3).
  • Participants underwent cognitive testing at baseline and then weekly for 4 weeks.

What were the results of the second study? (3)

This 4 week study showed that improvements in memory started at week 1 and continued improvement through week 4. (3)

What does this mean?

  • This small study implies stopping cannabis may improve memory; and further longer, larger studies are underway (3).
  • Subjects used cannabis atleast weekly, and it is unclear if there is a difference in benefit among heavy vs light users.
  • These studies suggest that Cannabis or Marijuana may impact your ability to remember, and may cause false recall during tests; as well as memory improvement after stopping cannabis use.  A previous post showed that cannabis may increase alcohol intake (4).

How else is cannabis impacting you?

What are some useful resources regarding cannabis?

Drug treatment group at OSU Office of Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service.

Treatment Facilities in the Columbus, Ohio area:

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville 2017.  http://www.samhsa.gov
  2. Doss MK et al. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannibinol at retrieval drives false recollection of neutral and emotional memories. Biol Psychiatry 2018 May 9; [e-pub]. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.04.020) .
  3.  Schuster RM, Gilman J, Schoenfeld D, et al. One month of cannabis abstinence in adolescents and young adults is associated with improved memory. J Clin Psychiatry. 2018;79(6):17m11977 .
  4. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/02/08/study-impact-of-cannabis-on-alcohol/

Strategies for a Successful End of Semester

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

In academics as with many other aspects of life, successful performance requires a series of steps over time that may or may not appear to be connected.

With multiple deadlines,  projects, exams,  etc all due around the same time; the end of the semester can be a high stress time for students.

Luckily there are a series of science-backed strategies that students can apply to be their best physically, mentally, cognitively, and emotionally to maximize chances of academic success.

What health related activities should I INCREASE my chances of academic success at the end of the semester?

Here are 5 things to increase:

  1. Improve your sleep because poor sleep and poor grades go together (with resources to improve sleep):

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/12/31/poor-sleep-and-poor-grades-might-go-together/

  1. Fruit and vegetable consumption improves mental/emotional well-being:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/03/25/fruits-and-vegetables-might-increase-your-odds-of-mental-well-being/

  1. Consider adding these brainpower boosting foods: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/04/30/food-for-academic-brain-power/
  2. Consider Practicing gratitude exercises to feel better fast: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/05/31/gratitude-exercises-to-feel-better-fast/
  3. Improve stress management: http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/09/01/dealing-with-too-much-stress/

What health related activities should I DECREASE to improve my chances of academic success at the end of the semester?

Here are 5  things to decrease:

  1. Too much caffeine worsens stress level and brain function:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/04/19/study-caffeine-stress-and-brain-function/

  1. Excessive digital media usage can worsen inattention symptoms:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/08/30/digital-media-and-inattention-symptoms/

  1. Reduce/avoid alcohol intake because it can impact your academic performance:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/02/26/alcohol-and-grades/

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/06/21/study-alcohol-might-cause-brain-changes/

  1. Cannabis can negatively impact your brain:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2014/11/17/marijuana-4-hidden-costs-to-consider/

  1. Nicotine use can increase depression and anxiety:

http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/04/15/does-smoking-increase-anxiety-and-depression-if-i-quit-will-i-feel-better/

Additional resources if your functioning is limited by your mental health, or if you need additional help:

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.