The Daily Sprout

Your guide to healthier living.

This is for all of the dads (and perhaps moms too), who feel the summer blues during the summer from having school-aged kids, and a quiet house.  For those in this boat, you already know exactly what I am talking about.   And for those who have no idea, stick with it, there will be value for you.

But let me set this up for you to understand.

I wake up in the morning on a typical June day… the sun comes up early, the birds are singing, the world is alive… except for my house.  Over the last five + years it has been the same thing.  Kids asleep, wife asleep, everybody wiped out from a late night the night before… whether it was with friends, or family, or both… everybody needs to catch up on sleep.

So I would get up, get ready, let the dogs out, and head out into the world without a peep from the family.  This has been what I would call the summer blues.  Feeling a little empty inside every morning… and this is WITH my morning ritual fully intact (on my knees first thing, saying Thank You God, until I have exhausted just about everything in my repertoire to be thankful for, this is an anti-depression ritual for sure).

Summer blues… driving into work feeling lonely, feeling the absence of the lively morning at home, missing the hustle and bustle of a school day with kids running around screaming about who moved their book, or did you see my backpack, or who ate the last piece pf turkey bacon… those moments of activity replaced by silence.

It reminds me a bit of the time after my last dog passed.  He was the one who followed me into the bathroom, and watched me get ready, and followed me downstairs to hang out.  He was a solution to the quiet mornings, gave me that little bit of connection with someone/something before heading into the day.  It was so very empty once he passed.  The other dog never gets up, sleeps hours after we wake up… lazy.

But if you have ever suffered through a loss.  A loss of somebody, something, or just some activity, you might have felt this pang of loneliness or emptiness.  I have read a number of articles over the years that discuss the decline of the brain activity during a time of loss, and ultimately how a very short term depression can result in long term depressive states, and a loss of function to go with it.  I think we can all attest to the reality of that in the short term, and I would hope we can be aggressive in combatting that for the long term.

The summer blues is simply a title that resonates with me, but for you, no matter what the cause, if you have the BLUES, then you should put it under a microscope, with intensity towards fixing it.  Don’t ignore mourning, or grieving… go through the process, but understand that the process has an end to it.  There is a point at which you should be ready to move on.

For me and my small issue of summer blues, I have already begun fixing it.  I woke my daughter Ansley early this morning and brought her with me to work.  What a blessing, to have my daughter in the car on the way in, and to have her at the office, she even cleaned… and later we ran a loop at Rope Mill Trail during lunch… what a day!

Be Well and Be Blessed!

We have been preaching STAND UP, for years.  I have reaped the benefits of moving back and forth, from table to table, for 18 years of practice.  Maintaining activity as well as metabolic function (moving my body and joints, and burning calories), even if at a low level, it has been functional.

Image from Harvard Medical Review

Now, the Harvard Medical Review is supporting the story we have been screaming from the rooftops for nearly two decades… STAND UP!

Check out this cool article – Move More Sit Less

The text from the emailed article is below :

The dangers of sitting

When you’re in pain, it may be hard to make yourself get up and move. But consider this: A growing body of evidence suggests that spending too many hours sitting is hazardous to your health. Habitual inactivity raises risks for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, deep-vein thrombosis, and metabolic syndrome. Sitting can also increase pain. Even if you’re reasonably active, hours of sitting—whether reading a book, working on the computer, or watching TV—tighten the hip flexor and hamstring muscles and stiffen the joints themselves. Overly tight hip flexors and hamstrings affect gait and balance, making activities like walking harder and perhaps even setting you up for a fall. Plus, tight hip flexors and hamstrings may contribute to lower back pain and knee stiffness, scourges that many people suffer with every day.Researchers aren’t sure why prolonged sitting has such harmful health consequences. But one possible explanation is that it relaxes your largest muscles. When muscles relax, they take up very little glucose from the blood, raising your risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Given the research, breaking up long blocks of sitting to flex your muscles seems like a wise move for all of us, so try to build more activity into your day. Set a timer to remind you to get up and move around every so often. Take your phone calls standing up. Try an adjustable standing desk for your computer. Instead of sitting in an armchair while watching TV, sit on a stability ball, which makes you use your muscles to stay upright. And, yes, do our joint pain relief exercises.

For more advice on ways to stay mobile and pain free as you age, read The Joint Pain Relief Workout, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Thanks for reading, and for getting up off of your butt!

Be well and be blessed! – Dr. E

Social media is obviously a large part of our society. People have a lot of differing views of it, what its good for and not so good for. There’s been a lot of research on the possible effects social media can have on us. Specifically looking at whether or not it can cause depression or depressed moods. At this point there is strong evidence to suggest such a link between depression and social media usage but there are still some things to consider. The big question with any type of research is whether or not the link is that of causation or simply correlation. One study I found shows a very linear association with the amount of time someone uses social media and depression, meaning the more they used it, the more depressed they were. When the data shows a very linear result it would be easy to assume a causation relationship.

It may also be that those who use increased amounts of social media subsequently develop increased depression. Multiple studies have linked social media use with declines in subjective mood, sense of well-being, and life satisfaction.[17, 21, 34] For example, passive consumption of social media content—as opposed to active communication—has been associated with decrease in bonding and bridging social capital and increase in loneliness.[42] One explanation may be that exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier and/or more successful lives.[43, 44] Consequently, these envious feelings may lead to a sense of self-inferiority and depression over time.[45] It is also possible that the feeling of “time wasted” by engaging in activities of little meaning on social media negatively influences mood.[34] Additionally, the substantial rise in the amount of time young individuals spend on the Internet—particularly on social media—has led some to call for the recognition of “Internet addiction” as a distinct psychiatric condition that is closely associated with depression.[46, 47] Finally, it is possible that increased social media exposure may increase the risk of cyber-bullying, which may also increase feelings of depression.[48, 49]

However it may not be social media causing the depressed state. It may be in some cases that depressed people seek out social media more so than people that are not depressed.

It may be that individuals with depression tend to use more social media. For example, depressed individuals with a diminished sense of self-worth may turn to social media based interactions for validation.[37, 38] Subsequently, individuals may suffer from continuous rumination and guilt surrounding Internet use, while feeling compelled to continue the cycle due to low self-efficacy and negative self-appraisal.[37, 39] Due to the high accessibility of social media and the possibility of socialization in a controlled setting, individuals with underlying depression and anhedonia may be more drawn to social media interactions rather than face-to-face interactions.[40, 41] 

Another study looked at the different ways social media can be used to see if that can have differing effects on mood. For example you may assume that someone that posts mostly negative thoughts may be more likely to be depressed when compared to someone that typically posts positive experiences. There are also many passive users that simply scroll through their newsfeed without interacting with other friends posts. They data suggests that passive users are just as likely to experience depression as active users. It also suggests that those with a larger number of friends suffer from more depression. The thought is that the larger number of “friends” is actually mostly strangers or distant acquaintances and because of the lack of face to face interaction does not for the user to distinguish other users actual life vs what is presented on social media which can enhance feelings of envy.

While most of the studies focused on young adults, it was also suggested that research should be directed more toward teens and preteens, as this may be a more at risk demographic because they are often much more prone to comparison and envy of their peers as they are discovering who they are themselves.

The social media sites are aware of the potential risks of depression and have tried to take appropriate action.

The teams behind some social media sites have already begun to reach out to users who show signs of serious depression.When one searches blog site Tumblr for tags indicative of a mental health crisis such as “depressed,” “suicidal,” or “hopeless,” the search function redirects to a message which begins with “Everything okay?” and provides links to pertinent resources.[51] Similarly, in early 2015, Facebook tested a feature by which users’ friends could easily and anonymously report worrisome posts.[52] Authors of problematic content received popup messages on their next visit to the site voicing concern and encouraging them to speak with a friend or helpline worker. Although this button has since been removed, Facebook still accepts reports of suicidal content via an online form.

The authors did acknowledge that there are positive uses of social media and that it is a very prevalent way of life so more research on the subject is needed. Also that education on how to positively navigate social media and how avoid behaviors that may lead to depression. This is where the difficulty lies because there is not clear evidence as to what exactly that is. For now we can take away the knowledge that more social media use does show a strong relationship to higher rates of depression. If you are feeling depressed, maybe try avoiding Facebook and Instagram for a day, go enjoy some time outside and maybe leave the phone in the house. Being aware of this can also help us parents to be more vigilant at paying attention to our children’s social media usage. Whether or not using it causes depression, or maybe if they are using it a lot, it could be a sign that they are feeling depressed, either way, if they are using it a whole lot we should probably help them make some changes. What’s considered a lot? In the paper I’ve referenced, over 2-3 hours a day (cumulative with multiple visits each day), 3-4 times a week were the higher usage levels that showed higher rates of depression.

-Dr. Mark

Referenced Articles:

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