Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: Post Holiday Blues - It's Real

Did you have a wonderful Christmas?  But are now feeling  blue and finding it difficult to function normally in your daily routine?  It is not only during the holidays that sadness or depression can increase. After the holidays, many people feel a letdown.

Symptoms of holiday letdown include:

  1. Fatigue from overextending ourselves, hectic schedules
  1. Loneliness from the sudden emptiness when family friends have all gone home
  1. Sadness when life returns to normal drudge
  1. Reduced motivation since the energy of the season has disappeared
It is not hopeless! After the holidays we can:

  1. Prolong the joy. Bring the positive feelings and uplifting mood into the new year. Plan a party or get-together. Throw a Super Bowl Party or Valentine dinner.
  2. Continue the gift giving. Pay-it-forward during your daily life. Give the gift of time to an elderly neighbor, offer to babysit for a young parent, serve food at a local shelter.
  3. Embrace the winter. Even though you may want to stay indoors out of the winter weather, you can find activities to tackle that you won't want to do when the weather improves in the Spring and summer. Clean your garage or closets. Organize drawers.
  4. Enjoy your inside time. Treat yourself to a movie binge. Catch up on your reading. Choose activities that meet your interests.
  5. Eat away blues. Choose foods that boost serotonin – the feel good neurotransmitter - such as bananas, poultry, dairy produce and peas.
  6. Put Christmas away. Pack up the Christmas tree and decorations, before you go back to work. Leaving them up is a constant reminder of things that need to be done.
Please contact a provider if you need help with controlling the holiday blues.

Monday, December 19, 2016


 Often we look forward to the holidays when we are able to  spend time with family and friends but all too often the anticipation and excitement is overwhelmed by feelings of depression, better known as holiday blues. 
Symptoms can include headaches, insomnia, uneasiness, anxiety, sadness, intestinal problems, and all to often,  conflict.
There are several reasons the holiday season can change moods and cause anxiety, including over drinking, overeating, and increased fatigue. Spending inordinate amount of time shopping, cooking, traveling, entertaining out of town guests, and office parties; all can cause extra financial burdens.
Here are some ways to prevent problems:
1. Be reasonable with your schedule. Do not overbook yourself into a state of exhaustion--this makes people cranky, irritable, and depressed.
2. Decide about priorities and stick to them.
3. Remember that holidays CAN cause feelings of loneliness, sadness, frustration, anger, and fear.  Be prepared to fight the negative mood.
4. When family visit,  it is easy to recall resentments.  Stay in the present.  This is not the time to remind family of mistakes in their past, but can be a time to renew relationships.
5. Don't expect the holidays to be just as they were when you were a child. We are no longer children.
6. Plan to volunteer at a homeless shelter or work with underprivileged or hospitalized children or elders.   It's hard to feel blue when reaching out to help others.  
7. Plan to take a drive and look at the holiday decorations. Look at people's Christmas lighting on their homes.
8. Do not over-indulge in alcohol. This will exacerbate depression and anxiety. 
9. Create time for yourself, for physical and mental wellness. Try aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, spiritual practices or taking walks.
10. Remember to always face each day with hope and determination.  Choose to think of the glass as half full.  
If you do find yourself overwhelmed by the holiday blues, reach out to your healthcare provider for help.  
Provider's are on call 24 hours daily/7 days a week at Patient Centered Care.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAY: Sleepless in New Hanover County, Part 3

Prescription sleep medicines fall into one of several classes. In determining which sleep medicines may be right for you, your provider will consider your medical history, your insomnia symptoms, other medications you are taking, and the way the medicine works in the body.

NON-BENZODIAZEPINES. This is the newest class of sleep medicines. The currently available products have a short half-life, which means they are eliminated from the body quickly. Because of this, they are not likely to cause daytime sleepiness. They are also “selective,” which means they target specific receptors that are thought to be associated with sleep. (Examples: Sonata, Ambien)

BENZODIAZEPINES. This class includes both long-acting medicines (which can linger in the body and potentially cause daytime drowsiness) and short-acting medicines (which do not stay in the bloodstream as long). Many benzodiazepines were originally formulated to treat anxiety. (Example: Klonipin, Valium)

ANTIDEPRESSANTS. Providers may prescribe antidepressants to promote sleep, although none of these medicines are specifically approved for this purpose.

Nonprescription sleep medicines usually contain antihistamines which may induce drowsiness that lasts into the next day. Many cold and allergy medicines contain antihistamines ( like diphenhydramine hydrochloride - Benedryl), which is why they can make you feel sleepy.

Over the counter (OTC) sleep medications can interact with other medicines you may be taking, so you should consult your provider or pharmacist before using one of these sleep aids.

Melatonin. Although melatonin is widely sold as a sleep aid, it remains controversial in medical circles. Because melatonin (a hormone) is classified as a dietary supplement, it has not undergone the rigorous clinical testing that medicines do.

Herbal sleep aids. Herbal remedies for sleep problems include chamomile, valerian root, hops, lavender, and passionflower. Like melatonin, these herbal remedies have not undergone extensive testing. Herbal remedies are generally considered safe; however, there are some that can be harmful under certain circumstances. (Example: You should not use chamomile if you are pregnant or if you are taking blood thinners.)

Important: While dietary supplements and herbal remedies may sound harmless, they can have significant side effects or drug interactions. Before trying these alternative sleep aids, talk with your provider.

Questions to ask about sleep aids
You should discuss ANY sleep aid you are planning to take — whether prescription or nonprescription — with your provider.
  • How long can I take this medication?
    Before taking any sleep aid, ask about the duration and frequency of its use.
    Prescription sleep medicines are usually prescribed for 7 to 10 days. Your provider may recommend that you use a prescription sleep aid for more than 10 days after he or she reassesses your particular sleep problems.
  • Am I at risk for becoming addicted to this medicine?
    If taken as prescribed, sleep medicines usually do not cause dependence (addiction). If you have been dependent on alcohol or other drugs in the past, you might have a greater chance of becoming addicted.

Side effects
In general, the most common side effects of sleep medicines include dizziness, lightheadedness, daytime drowsiness, diarrhea, and difficulty with coordination. With some prescription medicines, however, the risk of these side effects is very small.
Here are some ways to ensure your treatment is as safe and successful as possible:
  • Use only as directed.
  • Never use alcohol while taking any sleep medicine.
  • Tell your provider if you are taking any other medicines, including those you can buy without a prescription.
  • If you experience any unusual behavior changes or thought patterns after starting on a medicine, report it to your provider.
  • When you first start taking any sleep medication, use extreme care while doing anything that requires complete alertness, such as driving a car or operating machinery. See whether the medicine has any effect on you the next day.

Online Resources:

This is the last Part of Sleepless in New Hanover County.  If you stll have questions, contact Patient Centered Care for an appointment with a Provider.