Dr. Gail Saltz is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell Medical College and a psychoanalyst with the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. A frequent contributor in the media, she is a columnist, bestselling author, podcast host and television commentator and one of the nation’s foremost go-to experts on a variety of psychological and mental health issues, especially those pertaining to stress and anxiety, emotional well-being, relationships, and the mental health aspects of current news.
WINTER WELLNESS WEEK: STAYING MENTALLY HEALTHY WITH DR. GAIL SALTZ
Winter blues is when people tend to feel not as good (mood wise) in the winter months, but it doesn’t impact their function.
Pandemic sadness is the feeling resulting in being trapped inside, not seeing people you love. Many stressors going around right now.
Simple solutions: Aerobic exercise 30 min/day. Take Vitamin D. Practice gratitude, being in nature, volunteer to help others, ask people for social support.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is when you feel sad a lot of the day, not good about yourself, energy is low, hard to get up & move around, yet this is not the first winter you’ve felt this way. The lack of light in daylight hours in winter changes something in melatonin production & can create a mood disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder solution: Light therapy using light box with strong light that is measured in 10k lux or above. Box should be 16-24 inches from your face, eyes open & should do upon waking up. Start for 15 min. & work up to 30 min. Within days to two weeks you should start seeing a change. Important to not use at night.
Major Depression affects two things: 1. Functionality impairment. 2. Neurovegetative symptoms (sleeping very little or sleeping all the time, guilt, irritability, interfering with your relationship) It’s pervasive for several weeks.
Depression treatment: Vital to treat major depression. Takes a very long time to treat on its own. One should not just take medication. Different types of Pyschotherapy really work. There are mental health apps that are really low cost.
Signs of depression in kids/teens: Kids can have major depression when they look fine & happy. Might have a period when they feel awful, weepy, think about dark & disturbing things. Interruption in their school function.
Depression in kids solutions: Some form of play, art work, acting out a scene/drama is often how they communicate to themselves and others. Journaling. It’s very easy for kids to fall into this and not catch it. Get treatment.
For more of Dr. Saltz, check out her new podcast “How Can I Help” on iHeartRadio!
Winter Wellness Week: Winter Skin Savers w/ Dr. Doris Day
Take quick, warm showers: A long hot shower might feel heavenly on cold days, but it draws out the water & natural oils from your skin. Limit showers to 10 minutes or less, using warm water, rather than hot water. Step onto a thick bath mat. It will absorb excess water from the feet.
No harsh soaps: best to use a gentle cleanser. Recommends micellar water to cleanse face in winter months. Dr. Day demos best way to use.
Give hands extra TLC: we’re told to wash our hands all the time to avoid getting sick, but over-washing is one of the worst culprits of hand dermatitis & can risk infection. Moisturize hands every time after washing. Trade traditional hand sanitizer for a combo sanitizer that contains moisturizer or lotion.
Wear your sunscreen! Even in winter, it’s necessary to apply SPF every single day. Finding a good mineral based SPF w/zinc oxide will provide maximum benefits.
Rich creamy moisturizer: best to use cream formulation to soothe and hydrate skin because it is broken skin, and not healthy skin. Bacteria & germs are better able to penetrate and cause problems. Many inexpensive creams in drugstores.
Add water to the air: A humidifier in the bedroom is helpful but if that’s not in the budget, you can create your own. Use a glass bowl with a large surface area to increase rate of evaporation & create more moisture in air. Place near heat source. Best to use glass or ceramic bowl.
Wear Layers: many rashes come from wool sweaters & scarves. Avoid having abrasive or irritating fabrics like wool from sitting directly on skin, especially around neck. Stick to soft, cotton fabrics.
FOODS TO BOOST YOUR MOOD
Dr Uma Naidoo, MD. Nutritional Psychiatrist, Director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and author, This Is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and more. Dr. Naidoo is also a trained professional chef and a nutrition grad. https://umanaidoomd.com/#about
Feeling anxious, depressed and more fatigued than usual? These seem to be the moods of the moment. If you’re starting to feel those winter blues as the temperatures drop and the sun barely stays above the horizon for over eight hours, understand that you’re not alone. About 10 million Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every year, a subtype of depression that typically occurs in the fall/winter time frame. In the pandemic individuals who previously felt emotionally ok are struggling too, and they may be impacted by less daylight time, and then feeling blue. The uncertainty, isolation and fear continue and it seems everyone is struggling to some extent.
But while we can’t control the circumstances, we can control our lifestyles, including what we’re eating. Food and nutrition are powerful tools within our control to help our mental and emotional well-being.
The evidence is strong and clear towards the association between our diet and our emotional and brain health. We now know inflammation is the number one cause for mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and fatigue among many others. Dr. Uma always say, gut inflammation is brain inflammation.
While the cold and grey skies might have you reaching for comfort foods, here are Dr. Uma’s top 10 foods (and tips) to help improve your mood:
1. Nutrient dense whole foods that contain the following nutrients (folate, iron, thiamine, vitamin B6, B12, vitamin C)
Folate-Rich foods: Low levels of folate are highly linked to individuals with depression. It contributes to a loss of brain cells which is associated with depression. A ton of plant-based foods contain folate. For instance, a cup of cooked lentils has about 358 mcg of folate, which is 90% of the daily value. Leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli, and kale are also filled with folate, along with many other brain-boosting vitamins.
2. Fiber-rich foods (like lentils, dark leafy greens)
For anxiety, fiber is your friend! Fiber in foods promotes the growth of “good” gut bacteria: “happy gut, happy mood.”
Natural sources of fiber can only be obtained from whole plant based foods such as vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, and healthy whole grains. Fiber is essential for the growth of good bacteria in your gut (which directly affects your mood) and will also lower inflammation. You cannot get fiber from seafood or animal protein.
3. Iron-rich foods (like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage)
Studies show that dietary iron is associated with a decreased risk of depression, as a large amount of iron is in the region of the brain that is associated with depression. I recommend consuming iron-rich foods with vitamin C to enhance iron absorption. Try eating cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, red and white cabbage, tofu and arugula among others.
4. Omega 3-rich foods (like walnuts, salmon, flax seeds)
These fatty acids are essential for mental health because they are anti-inflammatory and are necessary for the brain to function properly. Omega 3’s can be obtained by eating well-sourced fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. Plant based sources of short chain omega-3s are found in walnuts, algae, flax seeds, chia and hemp seeds. In general, the reduction in anxiety caused by omega-3s is thought to occur via anti-inflammatory and neurochemical mechanisms that affect the brain.
In 2018, a study found that, specifically, the more omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) people consumed, the less anxiety they experienced. The study also found that a higher ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s led to increased levels of anxiety, which is why one needs to avoid processed vegetable oils which are high omega-6’s.
5. PROBIOTICS from FERMENTED foods (like yogurt, kimchi, tempeh)
Fermented foods, like plain yogurt with active cultures and miso, kefir, kimchi, apple cider vinegar and pickled vegetables, are a great source of live bacteria (probiotics) that can enhance healthy gut function and decrease anxiety. Research has shown this too.
6. Vitamin D
Studies have demonstrated that adults with depression and anxiety have lower blood levels of vitamin D. While 80% of it comes from sun exposure, you can also find it in fortified nut, soy and rice milks and other products such as egg yolk, salmon and sun-dried mushrooms. Some individuals need to take a supplement and their doctor can check their blood level of vitamin D too.
Associated with high anxiety levels, magnesium can ease stress responses, changing levels of harmful stress chemicals in the brain. It’s found in chickpeas, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and avocado.
Turmeric is my go-to anti-stress food. Curcumin, its active ingredient, improves mood, decreases stress and changes the corresponding brain chemistry, protecting the hippocampus because stress can deactivate the hippocampus. I add it to smoothies, salads, soups and even tea, always adding a pinch of black pepper to make it more bioavailable to the brain.
9. EAT THE RAINBOW
The diversity in our gut microbiome and the level of inflammation in our body and brain are two key indicators of both mental and physical health. Eating the rainbow really helps. When stressed, I include fiber-filled foods as they metabolize more slowly in the body causing less spiking in insulin and more even blood sugar and energy levels – unlike the rollercoaster you might feel after a sugary donut. Adding different colors of veggies in my salads helps me ensure I get the fiber and different nutrients my gut and brain need. The color in these foods bring back rich, powerful antioxidants to the brain to lower inflammation and fortify my mental well-being.
10. Avoid (or limit your intake):
• Highly-processed & Ultra-pocessed foods
• Trans fats, and unhealthy PUFAs (processed vegetable oils)
• High-GI carbohydrates
• Added and refined Sugars
• Coffee* (Limit)
• Artificial sweeteners
Live with Kelly and Ryan…Friday, February 5th
Introduction: Sleep is vitally important for our health and well-being, but is perhaps more important than ever for two reasons. First, healthy sleep strengthens our immune system response to viral pathogens, such as COVID-19, should you be exposed, being well-rested will strengthen your immune system response. Second, research has shown that insufficient sleep before and after receiving a vaccine may limit antibody production after vaccination.
Sleep duration…how many hours do you need and how can you tell?
Consistent Sleep Schedule…falling asleep and wake up patterns.
Mindfulness (related to relaxing and unwinding)…clenching and releasing along with breathing tips.
Set up your sleep sanctuary!
Dr. Rebecca Robbins
Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associate Scientist, Brigham & Women’s Hospital