Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): How Light Therapy Can Help 

As the clocks go back for British daylight savings time, the darker evenings draw in are getting shorter and the hours of daylight less, many people begin to feel the affect on their mood. ‘Winter blues’ is more common than people might realise and full- on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can begin to hugely affect people’s lives at this time of year. 

SAD, seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, light therapy, Needlite

SAD is considered to be a form of depression. There is plenty of information available about possible causes and the treatments available; including CBT, talking therapies, light therapy and meds if needed. Light therapy is highly recommended by most experts on this subject. It involves being closely exposed to artificial daylight for substantial amounts of time, in order to produce chemicals in the brain that helps to improve mood and alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD.

SAD, seasonal affective disorder, winter blues, light therapy, Needlite

Needlite is a daylight lamp that can be used at your work desk. It provides much needed imitation daylight that is very close to the real thing, available at any time. It is useful for improving exposure to the amount of daylight on a daily basis, despite being indoors, which therefore supports wellbeing and can assist in the treatment of SAD. I previously wrote a review of Needlite a few months ago and I will be interested to see how effective it continues to be over the winter months too, when it potentially at its most beneficial.

Needlite is available to buy from Well Working. You can also try it out for free, check out the website for further details and availability in your area. 

*Disclosure: I was sent a pair of Needlite lamps for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Online Therapy: What is it and Why Choose it?

Why Choose Online Therapy?

Everyone is so busy nowadays. Not only does this cause stress, but it also makes it difficult to find a therapist when you need one. And many of us do need one sometimes. It can be tough to find time to choose a therapist and arrange sessions that do not clash with an already busy daily schedule. It can therefore seem less daunting – and so much quicker and easier – to do all that online. Convenience matters; it is somewhat counterproductive if therapy just becomes another stressor.

What is Online Therapy?

Many people are still confused about what online therapy is. Online therapy is simple. You can talk to a therapist online through FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Also, you have the option to text message or chat online with your therapist instead if you do not want to do a face to face session. You can also email or visit an online support group to talk to others with similar issues. Even if you don’t have internet access you can do therapy on the phone.

online therapy, mental health, therapy, health, wellbeing, general life, Living Life Our Way

The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy

There are pros and cons of everything, of course. Nothing is perfect. Here are the pros:

  • Convenience – You do not have to leave your home to see a therapist.
  • Less expensive – Many sites advertise their prices up front and some are covered by insurance.
  • More comfortable – You can actually lay in bed in your pajamas if you want to. And for those people who are not comfortable talking face to face, this is definitely for you!
  • More privacy – Some people do not feel comfortable going into a therapist’s office. The stigma of mental health disorders is still a big deal for some, unfortunately. Or maybe you just generally find attending formal appointments too stressful. But you do not have to worry about that with online therapy.

online therapy, mental health, therapy, health, wellbeing, general life, Living Life Our Way

And here are the downsides of online therapy:

  • Insurance – Until online therapy becomes more popular, it is often only available privately and is difficult to get insurance coverage. However, this is starting to change and some insurance companies are now covering online therapy.
  • Lack of personal touch – Some people need that face-to-face contact of seeing a therapist in person. It is actually therapeutic to some patients with depression to venture out of the house to see a therapist. However, for the initial session, online therapy may encourage those people who do not want to leave the house to get help.

    There are lots of benefits to online therapy and it is a great choice for many. However, if it is not your cup of tea, find a therapist nearby and go see them.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

    Depression: A Closer Look At Mental Health 

    Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
    There are different types of depression with various symptoms but the most common include feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks, difficulty concentrating, feeling guilty or worthless, lack of energy or extreme fatigue, change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much), lack of appetite, weight loss or gain, losing interest in activities you usually enjoy,
    or thoughts of harming yourself. There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. 

    ​What Is ‘Wrong’ with Me?

    Do you sometimes feel like something is missing in your life? Maybe you have lost interest in the activities that you used to love, such as biking or swimming. Are you feeling more tired than usual? You may be suffering from clinical depression. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world and affects 350 million people worldwide. In the United States, over 16 million adults have had at least one major depressive episode. That is close to 7% of all the adults in the United States.

    Who Is Most Affected by Depression?

    Although anyone can get depression at any age, and any gender, women are more than twice as likely to become depressed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the age group that is most affected is between 12 and 25 years of age. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports a higher incidence of depression in adults from 40 to 59 years old. This discrepancy may be due to fluctuating amounts of reports from different years. Either way, anyone can have depression, no matter how old you are. 

    depression, mental health, health, wellbeing

    What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

    There are different types of depression with various symptoms, but the most common include:

    • Feeling sad, hopeless, and depressed for longer than two weeks

    • Difficulty concentrating

    • Feeling guilty or worthless

    • Lack of energy or extreme fatigue

    • Change in sleep pattern (sleeping too little or too much)

    • Lack of appetite

    • Weight loss or gain

    • Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy

    • Thoughts of harming yourself

    Causes of Depression

    There is no definite cause of depression but there are many theories and risk factors. Some of these include:

    • Imbalance of brain chemicals

    • Hormones

    • Genetics

    • Previous mental health condition

    • Environmental such as extreme poverty, abuse, and neglect

    • Alcohol or drug abuse

    depression, mental health, health, wellbeing

    How to Treat Depression

    There are many ways to treat depression, from medical to holistic. The most common way to treat depression is with antidepressant medication, such as Prozac, Wellbutrin, or Zoloft. These medications may take one or two weeks to take full effect, but just knowing that you are doing something to help can make you feel better. Psychotherapy is another common treatment for depression that is effective. Also, research shows that exercise is good for depression because it raises the dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin levels in the brain.

    Talk Therapy

    Talking about what you are feeling is one of the best ways to help yourself feel better. Some people prefer to talk to a psychiatrist, friend, or family member. However, others are more comfortable opening up to strangers in support groups. One thing that has become really popular recently is online therapy. It is extremely convenient to be able to just go online and talk to someone on Facetime, Google Hangouts, or Skype without having to leave your home. This is perfect for those of us who are so busy taking care of the kids, household, and everything else. Some websites offer thousands of licensed therapists who are available 24 hours a day. Go online and check it out. You can start feeling better today.

    *Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

    Needlite: Bringing Daylight Indoors 

    Needlite are a small, Danish start-up who invented and designed a unique daylight desk lamp, which launched in the Nordic market just under two years ago. The idea is simple: provide the user with efficient work light and provide the much-needed daylight at the same time.

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    The Needlite has a simple, modern design. It is easy to use, either via the sensor or by downloading the iphone app. One simple touch allows you to turn it on/off, and change the brightness. There are various other functions too. I love how funky and modern it is!

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    But there are more important benefits to the Needlite. Did you know that many people in western countries spend more than 23 hours indoors per day on average, all year round? That is not enough daylight! Yet humans need daylight for numerous health reasons; including energy, mood, digestion, sleep, recovery from illness etc… General indoor lighting is poor on quality and never contains daylight; the blue wavelength is not present in traditional lighting, which makes Needlite different to other indoor lighting.

    Needlite, daylight lamp, health, mental health, wellbeing, indoor lighting, home decor

    So whilst it might not seem very relevant to consider investing in a daylight lamp at this time of year, it is actually beneficial all year round. I am going to be trying it out further over the coming months and will share my thoughts with you in an update post later this autumn, but I can already see how it would be useful!

    Needlite is sold in the UK through www.wellworking.co.uk at RRP £399 (although it is currently on sale at £359 at the time of posting). Check the Needlite website for stockists in other countries.

    *Disclosure: I was sent the Needlite daylight lamp free for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


    Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety 

    Last week was mental health awareness week. Whilst I have written about this subject before, including most recently for Time To Talk back in February, I actually find it a difficult subject to write about. Hence the late post about it, well at least in part anyway!

    Here’s the thing, I wholeheartedly believe that people need to know that they are not alone when it comes to mental health issues. The stigma that exists really does need to be tackled; people need far more support and understanding… and far less judgement. I consider myself a mental health advocate infact. But when I post information or words of support, I purposely don’t share details of our personal story. I initially thought it was perhaps obvious why this might be but as time has gone on, I have discovered that sometimes the lack of openness about this subject is met with confusion, as I guess it does perhaps appear contradictory on the surface, and sometimes leads to (wrong) assumptions, occasionally even suspicion. So I thought it might be useful to blog about why I don’t blog about it! 

    First and foremost – it comes down to RESPECT. It is not my story to tell. Squiggle has an anxiety disorder, I am open about that fact. But whilst as a family we welcome sharing our feelings, encourage openess, understand and support mental health issues – and we certainly do not in any way indicate that it is something to be embarassed of – we do also respect her feelings on the matter. We respect her RIGHTS to privacy and respect the things she has shared with us in CONFIDENCE. It is about TRUST

    In short, it is her perogative to choose who she wants to share personal information with and how much to share. As far as I am concerned, this applies to anyone sharing personal information about themselves in any context, regardless of age or subject. 

    (Of course there are rare occasions it has been necessary to discuss and I have done so, for example when speaking to professionals to seek help for her, but that is an exception). 

    The other thing is that I want my blog to be somewhere that I would feel comfortable with her reading. Today, next month, in a year, in a decade, even in 20 or 30 years… if she ever came across anything that I have written I want her to feel safe and comfortable reading it. I don’t want it to trigger her anxiety, or cause her stress. Especially not when she works so hard to overcome it! If she ever chooses to use her experience to help others, that is her choice. But it is up to her. And it should never come at the expense of her own mental health. You know what they say, you have to fit your own gas mask before you can help others! 

    Ultimately, everyone is different. Some people choose to write about really personal things and that is ok. But it is also ok not to as well. We should all just do what we feel is right for our situation. And whilst I know I don’t need to explain my actions or reasons, I have chosen to because I hope in doing so, it might help people understand a little more about it. 

    On that note, what I would like to share with you all are a few useful resources that we have found really helpful…

    Self-help books that are really useful for children with anxiety or OCD:

    What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck ~ £12.50

    What To Do When You Worry Too Much ~ £12.50

    What To Do When You Grumble Too Much ~ £12.50

    Self- help book for parents:

    Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step By Step Guide For Parents ~ £15.24

    Thrive App: 

    Thrive ~ I already love this app, even though I have actually only just discovered it! It guides you through meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation and other useful strategies. Plus my particular favourite; creating a zen garden. It also has great additional features like mood tracker and support network. In my opinion it can be used by the whole family. The app has various cost options: £4.99 per month, £9.99 for 3 months unlimited use or £1.99 per month for one year subscription. 

    Thrive app, anxiety, mental health, cbt, mindfulness, stress, depression, meditation, zen, relaxation, Living Life Our Way

    Lastly, here are some recent blog posts written about mental health: 

    The Parent and Pupil Coach (great tips for helping children with anxiety)

    Pink Pear Bear (letter to anxious child)

    Someone’s Mum (about her own anxiety)

    A Blonde and A Baby (describing her anxiety

    Two Little Misters (how to help a friend with anxiety)

    Emma Reed (ending the stigma of counselling)

    Surviving Life’s Hurdles (on how getting outdoors helps)


    *This is a sponsored post and the books are affiliate links. 



    #TimeToTalk Mental Health 

    As it is Time To Talk day, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some facts about mental health.

    Time To Change, Mental Health, #timetotalk, mental illness, Living Life Our Way

    Mental health can affect anyone of any age, at any time. In the UK alone, one in four adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001). Furthermore, one in ten children between the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder. (The Office for National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005).

    People of any age suffering from mental health issues need to be taken seriously and supported by those around them. The stigma that sometimes still exists around this subject in our society must be broken down, because people need to talk openly about mental health problems with the expectation of understanding and acceptance. Sufferers must never feel they have to hide their true feelings from the world, for that is the most dangerous thing of all.

    However, as MQ Mental Health research suggests, the majority of young people are not in touch with mental health services and there is a serious lack of funding for such services too. In addition to this, around half of young people with mental illness are concerned about stigma and how they will be treated. This has to change.

    As a parent of a child with an anxiety disorder, I know how important it is to talk about this subject and to ensure your child receives the treatment and support they need. Childhood mental health needs to be taken as seriously as adult mental health, and that also should be seen as just as important as any other health issue. But many people believe young children cannot possibly suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues; this is simply not the case. And having a ‘happy childhood’ does not guarantee against it either.

    As an article from The Guardian explains “depression (like all mental illnesses) typically doesn’t take personal factors into account. Mental illness can affect anyone….

    …Smoking may be a major cause of lung cancer, but non-smokers can end up with it. And a person’s lifestyle doesn’t automatically reduce their suffering. Depression doesn’t work like that…

    …Perhaps none of it makes sense from a logical perspective, but insisting on logical thinking from someone in the grips of a mental illness is like insisting that someone with a broken leg walks normally; logically, you shouldn’t do that.”

    I’ll leave you from the following message from Jason Manford, written shortly after the death of Robin Williams:

    “If you feel alone and down, anxious and low. If you feel deep sadness but can’t find a root cause. If people tell you to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘things can only get better’ or ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, know that it’s simply not always true. Sometimes it does kill you. Please seek help. No one will think you’re being melodramatic, I swear. No one will think you’re silly or wasting people’s time. No one will say ‘what? But you’re always so happy, maybe you’re just having a bad day’. For some people, every day is a bad day and they get through it, but sometimes they stop getting through it.

    If depression can (allegedly) kill Robin Williams, one of the world’s greatest funny men, well it can get any of us at any time. If the Genie from Aladdin can suffer and the DJ in Good Morning Vietnam can be affected by it, then so can you, or your child or friend or work colleague. I always remind myself of the quote from Watchmen: “Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.” 

    Please. Ask for help. If you have no one or if you don’t want to to tell them yet, then ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for someone to talk to, or talk to your GP. The world needs you even if you don’t think it does. I promise, we need you here, now.” (Jason Manford, August 2014)

    If you need more information on mental health and/or where you can find help please visit mentalhealth.org.uk  You can also find a therapist at www.betterhelp.com

    *This is a sponsored post.