5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

The holidays bring with them their very own set of unique stressors including increased spending, socialization and travel. However, for some, holiday stress can be confused with Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression also known as SAD. While holiday stress can result in frayed nerves and short tempers, SAD spans months and has different enabling factors such as decreased daylight hours and colder temperatures. SAD can result in minor to disabling depression that can last the entire winter season.

What is SAD?

Typically experienced during the winter months, SAD usually dissipates with the onset of spring. The severity of symptoms varies for those with SAD but often will interfere with personal relationships and daily activities. Symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, loss of interest, weight gain, a change in sleeping patterns and in severe cases suicidal thoughts. SAD is a form of depression with the only major difference being the seasonal pattern of symptoms.  If you have experienced a seasonal pattern of one or more of these symptoms you could have SAD.

Thankfully, there are ways to manage seasonal affective disorder and get through the winter. Consider the tips below to manage SAD.  If you find your depression too difficult to manage on your own remember that Barbour Community Health Association has behavioral and mental health professionals that specialize in helping patients struggling with depression and SAD.

1. Eat a balanced diet – Balance is important. Remember to include plenty of fruits and vegetables into your diet this time of the year and keep sugar, unhealthy fats and excess carbohydrates to a minimum. Your body will thank you and so will your mental health.

2. Socialize – You may not feel like being social while experiencing some SAD symptoms, but spending time with your friends, family and even pets can help elevate your mood. Playing board games, going out to dinner or having a family movie night are several ways you can engage in social activities. Try to discuss your feelings with those who care about you so they can better understand SAD and how it affects you.

3. Be active – Exercise and physical activity can lessen the impact SAD symptoms. Try to participate in group fitness classes at the Belington Wellness Center or make a walking pact with your friends. It is easy to confine yourself to your home all winter so try to spend time outdoors when the weather permits.

4. Spend time in the daylight – Sitting next to a sunny window or by walking outside it is important to experience the daylight. Sunlight exposure is essential and it is the lack of exposure that can cause SAD or worsen your symptoms.

5. Make an appointment – At Barbour Community Health Association we have an experienced team of behavioral health professionals that can help you manage your SAD symptoms and how best to treat your specific situation. Call 304-823-4000 to schedule an appointment.

Antibiotics: Can Less Be More?

Getting sick is never fun – naturally, the sooner you beat whatever ails you the better. After some thought, you decide to muster up the energy and meet with your health care provider for answers and much needed relief.

Frankly, you’re ready to get your life back.

While you may leave one of our offices with answers about what’s ailing you it’s possible you won’t be leaving with an antibiotic prescription in hand. We are working to change the way our patients think about antibiotics and the consequences of misuse.

Organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working to educate patients and healthcare professionals on the proper use of antibiotics for treating illness and disease. Cases of antibiotic-resistant disease have risen which is a great cause for concern and improving antibiotic prescribing is now a priority at the Barbour Community Health Association.

The issue at hand is the overprescribing of antibiotics and prescribing antibiotics in unnecessary situations. Even if you have rarely been prescribed antibiotics in the past taking antibiotics in cases they are not effective or needed can still cause serious harm and result in bacterial resistance within an entire community. It is important to understand that in many cases, antibiotics are not needed; for example, when treating a viral infection such as a cold or the flu. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them speeds up antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant infections are more complex, harder to treat and has led to strains of bacteria resistant to a variety of often-prescribed antibiotics.

Be aware that although you may have been prescribed an antibiotic in the past, your health care provider may not recommend an antibiotic in the future for your own protection. Feeling inconvenienced by a short-term illness such as a cold is better than becoming seriously ill with an antibiotic-resistant disease later on.

There are ways to alleviate your cold or flu symptoms, such as over-the-counter medications, rest and staying hydrated. Tips to combat the common cold can be found via our blog. Remember to always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics. Here at Barbour Community Health Association we are committed to your health and wellbeing; as always please contact us with any questions or concerns regarding antibiotic-use or other topics.

Our Top 3 Tips for Beating the Common Cold

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Family and friends gather for holiday parties, concerts, and festivities and take part in the anticipated social activities of the season. As expected, the spread of germs and viruses is at an all-time high as people mingle and interact. It almost comes as no surprise that you wake up the next morning with the common cold. Most people get colds in the winter and spring although it is possible to get a cold any time of the year. After 7-10 days one usually recovers from symptoms including a sore throat, runny nose, watery eyes, headache and/or coughing.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for a cold, but you can relieve your symptoms with our top 3 tips:

  1. Rest – Make sure to get plenty of rest while recovering from a cold.
  2. Fluids – Fluids are important to combat a cold, make sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
  3. Medicate – Over-the-counter medications can help relieve symptoms but will not make your cold go away faster. Always read the label and use medications as directed.

Some colds can be severe and even dangerous. You should call your doctor if you or your child has one or more of these conditions: a temperature higher than 100.4° F, symptoms that last more than 10 days, or symptoms that are severe or unusual. If your child is younger than 3 months of age and has a fever, you should always call your doctor right away.

Remember that in most cases of respiratory illness, antibiotics are unnecessary, and they may make it harder for your body to fight future bacterial infections if you take them unnecessarily.  You should always consult your healthcare provider to ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment.