According to Deb Theisen-Chenchar, program director of Senior Life Solutions, an intensive outpatient program designed to meet the needs of seniors in the community who struggle with depression or anxiety that can sometimes be related to aging, the winter blues are actually a real thing. They’re not a myth.
For that reason, Theisen-Chenchar is joining up with SLS’s corporate entity to embark on a “Defeat Winter Blues” campaign here in Adair County over the next month or so.
“There’s something very real called Seasonal Affective Disorder. So many people, particularly in these Midwestern states where we have gray days and don’t see a lot of sun, and it’s cold and you have the
holiday season, there are a lot of people who suffer from depression because of that who normally would not,” Theisen-Chenchar said. “The winter blues, that’s where the title of this comes from.”
What Theisen-Chenchar is ready to do over the next few months is to share with patients and the public tools they can use to defeat the winter blues.
Symptoms of the winter blues can be loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, feelings of sadness or grief that prolong more than two weeks, a loss of energy or feeling tired all the time, physical symptoms that can’t be otherwise explained, feelings or worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness, not being able to concentrate or think clearly, changes in appetite or changes in sleeping pattern.
“I try to share these tips anytime I can get in front of a group because they really are things that you can do to try to prevent it if you’ve got the motivation to take the steps,” Theisen-Chenchar said.
What are those steps? Theisen-Chenchar says they’re simple.
First, get out and about. Ask your family and friends for help if you need it to travel to parties and events.
Secondly, volunteer. Helping others is a great mood lifter.
Accept your feelings. There’s nothing wrong with not feeling jolly, experts say. Many people experience sadness and feelings of loss during the holidays.
Lastly, talk to someone. Talk about your feelings. It can help you understand why you feel the way you do.
In Theisen-Chenchar’s experience, one of the biggest weapons to fight the winter blue she’s seen is the second one, to volunteer.
“I’ve really been going over this with our own patients lately, that people oftentimes get so self-absorbed that when you can provide a service to others, it comes back,” Theisen-Chenchar explained. “Doing volunteer work is a great way to provide service and get out and about.”
Adair County Health Systems hosted an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) meeting for this region last Wednesday and Theisen-Chenchar shared much of her Defeat Winter Blues information with those personnel visiting Greenfield.
“I also met with our Adair County Hospital Foundation Board and talked about this. I do things internally here at the hospital, like I’ll put it on our Facebook or our internal intranet,” Theisen-Chenchar said. “Anytime I get a chance to talk about it, I do.”