Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Seasonal Affective Disorder

According to recent researches of different Psychology scientists around the World, is is being claimed that people tend to behave differently during the year. Psychologists say that usually in the summertime people have more energy, positive attitude to life, they are friendly, have barrage of ideas, tend to be more happy and cheerful while in winter their behavior is the opposite - the majority is stressed, tired, unfriendly and bored. In psychiatry this phenomena is called seasonal affective disorder. What is it?
According to Oxford English Dictionary, “seasonal affective disorder (noun) is a form of depression which tends to occur during the same season, usually winter, every year and it is characterized by loss of motivation, hypersomnia, and often a craving for foods rich in carbohydrates”. From this we can understand that during such a disorders a person feels lack of energy, which causes eating a lot of carbohydrates food, which provides energy storage in the organism, and sleeping a lot, which also leads to the same results. The term “seasonal affective disorder” is often and commonly abbreviated to “S.A.D.” which is sarcastically linked to the word “sad”, describing a state of mind of a person suffering an S.A.D.
Wikipedia claims that the term “seasonal affective disorder” is also known as some other definitions, such as “winter depression”, “winter blues”, or “seasonal depression”, with the following definition, “S.A.D. was considered a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer”.
The history of this term is pretty short and counts only thirty years. According to Wikipedia, “S.A.D. was formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health”. However, one year before, on December 21, 1983, it was described in Chicago Sun - Times newspaper that “The dark moods that come with shorter days of winter are called Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Also in mass media, in Scientific American magazine in August of 1986, it was claimed that “Two-thirds of people who have a recently recognized syndrome, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), crave carbohydrates and gain weight when they are depressed.” This is also one of the early descriptions of the term, which includes some statistics.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV and DSM-V, the status of seasonal affective disorder was recently changed. It is no longer classified as a unique mood disorder but is now a specifier called “with seasonal pattern for recurrent major depressive disorder that occurs at a specific time of the year and fully remits otherwise”. The United States National Library of Medicine also has something to say about S.A.D.: "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up." Hence, the condition in the summer can include heightened anxiety. Its causes, incidence and risk factors the library describes as following: “SAD may begin during the teen years or in adulthood. Like other forms of depression, it occurs more often in women than in men. People who live in places with long winter nights are at greater risk of SAD. A less common form of the disorder involves depression during the summer months.”
Apart from that, National Alliance on Mental Illness website describes the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder as very common ones. “Some people experience these only at times of stress, while others may experience them regularly at certain times of the year. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression, usually in late fall and winter, alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year.” For this very new kind of recognized specific mental disorder there are already some methods of treatment being recently discovered. Also from Wikipedia it can be referred that there are many different treatments for classic (winter-based) seasonal affective disorder, including light therapy with sunlight or bright lights,antidepressant medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, ionized-air administration, and carefully timed supplementation of the hormone melatonin. The A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia states that S.A.D.’s symptoms are usually build up slowly in the late autumn or winter months. Its symptoms Encyclopedia sees as usually the same as with other form of depression: hopelessness, increased appetite with weight gain, increased sleep, less energy and ability to concentrate, loss of interest in work or other activities, sluggish movements, social withdrawal, unhappiness and irritability. It is also claimed that S.A.D. can sometimes can become long-term depression. Bipolar disorder or thoughts of suicide are also possible.
Apart from light therapy, the encyclopedia describes another form of treatment, which is managing patient’s depression at home. In case you have S.A.D., encyclopedia suggests to get enough sleep, eat a healthy foods, take medicines the right way, learn to watch for early signs that your depression gets worse and have a plan if it’s worse, exercise more often and do activities that make you happy, not to use alcohol or illegal drugs, which can make the depression worse and affect your judgment about suicide, and talk to someone you trust.
Other resources, such as Mayo Clinic website, WebMD Depression Health Center, health.com or Kids Health Encyclopedia, describe S.A.D. very similarly and gives pretty the same causes and symptoms not depending on each other or giving any links to the original sources of information. The last one gives a very good example of S.A.D.: “Maggie started off her junior year of high school with great energy. She had no trouble keeping up with her schoolwork and was involved in several after-school activities. But after the Thanksgiving break, she began to have difficulty getting through her assigned reading and had to work harder to apply herself. She couldn't concentrate in class, and after school all she wanted to do was sleep. Maggie's grades began to drop and she rarely felt like socializing. Even though Maggie was always punctual before, she began to have trouble getting up on time and was absent or late from school many days during the winter. At first, Maggie's parents thought she was slacking off. They were upset with her, but figured it was just a phase — especially since her energy finally seemed to return in the spring. But when the same thing happened the following November, they took Maggie to the doctor, who diagnosed her with a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder.”

I am personally affected by seasonal affective disorder, but very slightly. I do not undergo any treatment and just try not to pay attention on it and involve myself in the activities I am interested in, and that would be my first recommendation to the people who are also affected by it. In my opinion, communicating with interesting and friendly people is also a great way to cope with it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Once in a hot winter morning...

Weather, are you mad? No, seriously, what's happening? Today, after getting up and cooking my porridge, I went to put it in the balcony, so it will cool down and I'll be able to place it in a fridge so it won't break down immediately. When I got there, holding a bowl with porridge in my hands and putting it on a nearest shelf, I realized that something was unusual, strange. I stood for a minute, thinking what can be wrong, and then I finally understood. I'm not cold. At all. The temperature inside the house was equal to the outside. I was wearing my shirts and a small fitness T-shirt. If you were me, you could also feel this unusual situation. Something like this:
What had happened? If the things I feel are true, why there is snow, it's not melting? I grabbed some with my hand. It was wet and easily shaped a round ball. I bet it's no less than ten above zero. Ridiculous. It's February!
This Sucrawed, when I ran from English to Management (didn't wanted to take a subway and cut out another couple dollars) I passed Boston Common and took a couple shots of the arbor in snow. Decide yourself which one you like more:
 I personally think the first one is better, but on the second those fur decorations can be seen better, that's a beautiful addition to a landscape, isn't it?
Oh yes, I didn't explained you what a Sucrawed is. Since people love to abbreviate, I love to make fun of it. Let's say that I am too lazy to type "Super crazy Wednesday". Of course if I was too lazy to spell, I would write (I'd wrte) a lot of staff like that. But I also treat Sucrawed as a special day of the week which I will have until the end of March, when my recent academic term will end.
I also took a couple shots from my balcony at midnight which bordered the previous week from present one. Here they are:

There are two versions again, I know some people hate it. But both of them are unique, first is darker than the second.
To conclude, here's some pictures illustrating how Stop&Shop at Brigham Circle get prepared for tomorrow's holiday.

The best lane of the whole shop, announcing this fact so hard, is of course closed.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A few words about modern marriage: some criticism on Adriana Cohen's article

With the approach of the next Forever Aloners' Day, which will take place tomorrow, it's truly time to write about such a thing as Love. I am not going to write a book with this name or even scare you by promising to do so. Just a couple words.
When ordering my weekly cappuccino at a coffee bar today, I also bought Boston Herald. And not by chance, just because I wanted to spend extra two bucks not knowing where to put them. The cover page grabbed my attention.
My favorite topic! Looks like today's issue has Valentine's special. While The Boston Globe had a cover story about a new old Mayor's table, how an antique or just significant Boston Mayor's table was discovered in somebody's garage and returned to Mayor's office. I quickly scanned the Globe and made sure that it had nothing else interesting. Herald had. I quickly paid for my purchase and rushed to read it immediately. Having no idea what Adriana means and actually who is she, I ran to the second floor balcony where some free tables were, immediately opened the paper on the needed page and drinking cappuccino with their wonderful unrepeatable French waffle, started reading:
What? My first reaction as soon as I recovered my brain from the shock caused by reading this was something between anger and anxiety. I, as a person who thinks, lives and does only traditionally, could not believe my eyes. My entire life I sacredly believed that even death could not do a part of once married couple. But instead tearing the paper apart and then jumping on it in my still wet and dirty from the snow boots, I started reading the article again from the beginning, trying to understand what the author means, and suggest you to do the same.
First of all, I hated that she evaluated such a terms as Love and Marriage as "little things". I should say, "little", huh! And secondly, how can you re-evaluate them? Love is love. Marriage is marriage. Can you name more important things in life and for life (I won't count air and water)? Marriage is armature of a family whether small or extended, without marriage even children are considered "out-of-law", basically illegal.
Traditionally, it is the main idea of marriage - to tie a knot, once and forever. Our present life contracts are life-long, so they are signed once, and until the death of one of the spouses it does not expire. I would suggest to enter a eternity-long contracts, which once signed can never be expired unless there is a divorce. While continuing to read the article, my anger grew. First of all, why those who are happily married must pay a tax? They should be paid a prize for keeping their marriage instead. Secondly, what does she mean by "lover"? Who does she thinks a lover is? What's in her opinion difference between a lover and, say, a friend? And the most horrible thing is how can she compare a lover, or even a friend, with a dentist, employer, hairstylist and landscaper? Can you treat your intimate personal secrets to those people? Can you live one life with a dentist, employer, hairstylist and landscaper? These are the questions I would like to ask Adriana Cohen, who is the author of this article, first of all.
But she is right in something. Firstly in the fact that roughly half of fairy-tale eternal and endless marriages end up in divorce. Sad but true. Secondly, she is right in stating that in traditional marriages people take each other for granted. She offers to re-evaluate this point, so when signing a decade contract, those who really love each other will value the spouse, treating wife or husband as a gift from destiny. I completely agree with Adriana at this point.
However, what she suggests is a new law according to which, couples are, I would say, "automatically divorced" after a decade of staying together, unless they won't prolong the contract. And that's her main mistake. Yes, some changes should be introduced in marriage law to make a special kind of partnership between man and woman stronger. But the contract must stay eternal because, I will repeat myself, it's the idea of marriage. The idea of dividing the history of relationship into decades is not bad at all, but it should be done in another way.
People think very critical, they can never find a "golden middle". Endless love can be easily turned into endless hate, same as the opposite. And the most disappointing thing is that it's not only about people's relationships, that's about almost everything. To oppose the common opinion, times are not changing. Divorces take place as they always did. There are more of them, but does it happen because of technology, because people don't take marriage as serious anymore as they did before, or because they are not afraid of some gods or deities as they were in old times? What do you think?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why do people keep pets?

People love to keep pets, and that’s the fact. Why, and for what reason do people care about domestic animals which bring no practical use such as, for example, other kinds of domestic animals like working animals, sport animals, laboratory animals and livestock do? The reasons for keeping pets at home can be the following:
The first reason for keeping a pet is replacing a child, physically, emotionally, or both. In developed countries like United States, people in common no longer feel themselves responsible enough to have a child whether financially or emotionally; however psychologically people, as well all the animals of the World, are programmed by nature to have one. According to hundreds of reviews, questionnaires, interviews and independent researches, more and more people tend to refuse having their own child. In addition to that, most of the population can afford having a pet. According to statistics, only in United States in 2013 the popularity of pets outnumbered children four to one. This number can be proved to not being false by some facts from everyday life. For example, there used to be two children’s playgrounds in South End district of Boston, one of which is turned into a playground for dogs now. More and more shops and veterinarian clinics were opened around the World, and from 2001 to 2012 this number increased significantly, which again can be easily seen on the example of any city.
Second reason for keeping a domestic animal for company is stress, and a desire to get rid of or at least decrease it. Developed by common factors such as overwork, lack of sleep, endless rush, quarrels with family members and the most common, absence of a person who is always ready to support, calm down and talk in a friendly, supportive way,  generally, lack of love cause people to switch to animals. What is more, small domestic animals such as dogs, or big ones such as horses, are famous for their ability to spend leisure time with humans actively.
The final top reason for people to keep pets can be animal-assisted therapy. This item can be similar to the previous one in some points; however therapy implies a situation when a person, such as blind or a wheelchair user, needs a pet-guardian for some physical help, so this kind of therapy involves animal as a kind of treatment, and as it is said in Wikipedia, with the goal to improve patient’s social, emotional or cognitive functioning.
To cope with all these problems, people find the best choice in buying or taking small domestic animals. Now let’s review the ways how it really helps.
From the medical point of view, animalotherapy (how it is also called) helps people to increase the quality of their mental and physical health. It was always known that common physical condition of a person strictly depends on emotional. To illustrate, let’s take an elderly woman who suffers from high blood pressure. She lives with her grandchildren and is very emotional about their success in college, which causes it. The doctor can prescript that woman buying a cat, as long as treatment with chemical drugs. Cats, as it is known, are responsible for decreasing the blood pressure. The reason for that is person, a cat keeper, pays much of his attention for communicating emotionally with cat, feeds it, plays with it, just lives one life with it. A retired woman, who was our example before, will do that, and as a result will get a calmer life, lower blood pressure, high quality of health, longer and more active lifetime. She will no longer feel so nervous her grandchildren’s college life, because a new friend will take much of her time. The same effect is observed from keeping fishes, because fishes live in water, which makes people calm down, as long as dolphin therapy, which includes swimming in one pool with dolphins.
The second general effect of pet therapy on a patient is diagnostics and elimination of different mental disorders, such as anxiety, mood disorders, stabilization of general condition. To support this statement, let’s refer to some statistics. According to Psychiatric Services magazine, and more exactly, its article “The Effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Anxiety Ratings of Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients” by Sandra B. Barker and Kathryn S. Dawson, June 1, 1998, which has a short conclusion, “Animal-assisted therapy was associated with reduced state anxiety levels for hospitalized patients with a variety of psychiatric diagnoses, while a routine therapeutic recreation session was associated with reduced levels only for patients with mood disorders.” This statement illustrates the affect of pet-therapy on hospitalized people with serious mental disorders. If such people could be easily returned to a calmer state with the support of animals, this affect would increases a lot if it is used to a normal people, not patients of psychiatric clinic, who also might have some disorders, not so serious, but affecting their routine a lot.
The final result which keeping a pet gives is the easiest expression of love. Not depending of a man’s personal behavior, character, mood, style of life, way of self-expression, position, ideas, religion and points of view, everybody need love. This statement, I hope, does not need any confirmations or examples to support it. At this point, I would say that first two effects of pet therapy are similar to this one, it would better to say, they follow from this one. But, having in mind that the situations of life are very different I would prefer to consider love as an individual effect of keeping a pet. To illustrate this effect, I will return to the first cause of having a pet. Let’s take a person with no children who, however, feels himself pretty lonely. Imagine that this particular person decided to have some kids, but since such a decision cannot be turned into life at once, animals in the house can help to cope with stress caused by such a loneliness.

I have my own cat, her name is Melissa. Before I took her from the shelter and was deciding to do that, my reason was a combination of first and second. I had no children, however I wanted to have some very much, so I felt myself very lonely and had to express my love on and take care of somebody in the house. I was affected by stress at school, so the importance of spending leisure time doing some calm activities was very big. I preferred a cat because a dog or some more exotic animal needs a lot of time, which I could not afford due to school; while cats need just a usual care like buying food and cleaning the toilet. As I lived in the city, Melissa had a completely indoor style of life, which made things easier. As a result, my stress level decreased, I became more cheerful and successful in school, in one word, more energetic and I got the love I wanted to get: Melissa got used to me, and trusted me not only as a master, but as her friend by enjoying to spend time with me. I could easily feel how glad she was when I returned home from school every day. However my personal expectations of replacing children with a pet did not paid off, and I still want to have some, which is very good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Let it snow

Let's call it a day. I have just returned from Stop&Shop supermarket, where I was doing my usual food shopping: two gallons of milk, a dozen chicken eggs, cookies, nothing special to sum up, which, however, costed a lot. It was recently wet outside, then it was frosty. On my way home, walking calmly along the dark sidewalk, disturbing nobody and carrying gigantic bags with the items I bought in the supermarket in another one before, I didn't notice the icy puddle. After falling on my knees, sliding a decimeter or two on them, feeling the ground stone very well and then standing still, listening to somebody giggling far away enough not to be touched by me, and kneeling in front of the nearest post, with my pastil bags scattered everywhere around me, I had another chance to think once more about the eternal. Why do they, I don't know who, sow salts and reagents everywhere on the streets, when it's absolutely useless? The only function they (the reagents) do is corroding shoes and tires. I live in a very mountainous neighborhood, where in some places the angle of a road can be up to forty digress, and especially in such an icy weather one can feel it very well. Here's the example:
That's the shot of a street parallel to the one where my house is and perpendicular to the one where I enjoyed sliding on knees a minute or two later when turning right the corner up there.
When I finally came home, with my new jeans completely damaged in the middles (I see they didn't like sliding on concrete slab, neither did my still aching knees), I checked the email. No classes tomorrow. Great. Everybody on Facebook are jumping happily celebrating an extra day-off, and I have an exam in a couple weeks with an only class to get ready for it. What a day! When I told about the exam, somebody was really upset, say, what a nerd here.
Well, cool down. No more pessimistic news! Here's a good idea for a postcard: Fenway this morning:
Yes, it was snowing yesterday and it will snow tomorrow, as they predict, and so do I. Better snow then frost. Hope January second and third's weather will not return: snow and wind and frost at the same time. It was really terrible, I didn't experienced such a storm for a while. But just a snow… guys, come on, it's not the reason to cancel the university classes. It's just a reason for laziness, yes, I can agree on that. How can snow be an obstacle for classes, or work, or anything? It snows, it rains, it shines, and so what? Just let it snow.
So, I will have a day-off tomorrow. Well, if I look on it from the other point of view, it's not so bad, I will have a free day to spend on my own, I can do a lot of useful things… well, unless I won't be as lazy as those who came up with a decision to cancel the classes, hope I won't.
Snow, when it's clean and really white, gives a certain mood. Let's take, say, summer garden in snow:
That's Prudential center, today. Now imagine how it can look in August, do you see those trees with harvest? Ah, summer! It looks abandoned and forgotten now. At least lanterns are working. Stop, lanterns? Guys, it's daytime! Another example of human stupidity. See?