Change in the Weather and You

Seasonal Affective Disorder. (SAD)

This has been a particularly difficult winter in northern California.  Long-time residents of the San Francisco Bay Area report that they have not seen rainfall of this magnitude in 30 years.  Aside from flooding and traffic delays, there have been days on end of cloudiness and rain.

Even in the years with milder conditions, some people report what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year and is related to changes in seasons.  Most people with SAD reports symptoms beginning in the fall season and continuing into winter season before subsiding in spring season.cold bridge

Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they think it might be caused by a lack of sunlight.  Four percent to six percent of people in the United States is estimated to suffer from SAD. Another 10% to 20% may experience a mild form of SAD.  Sad affects more women than men and SAD tends to be hereditary.

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Feeling sad, grumpy, irritable, or anxious
  • Losing interest in one’s normal activities
  • Eating more and craving carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeping more but feeling tired/low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy “leaden” feeling in arms and legs

If you think you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you should consult with your physician. Lifestyle changes that can improve your symptoms include:

  • Going outside more often
  • Getting plenty of sunlight when you can
  • Exercise
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Practice relaxation exercises
  • Consider light therapy

For an online quiz for Seasonal Affective Disorder click on this link down below.


Substance Abuse Disorders Isolated from the Health Care System

Substance Abuse Disorders Isolated from the Health Care system.

On November 17th, 2016, the Surgeon General of the United States, Vivak H Murthy, published a landmark report entitled, “Facing Addiction in America” a comprehensive reading glassesreview of substance use, misuse, and disorders. Previous reports of the Surgeon General have highlighted the public health crisis challenges of Tobacco, AIDS, and Mental Health issues, and the hope is that this latest report will increase understanding and create a sense of urgency to address substance use disorders in the United States.

21 million people in America have a substance use disorder. This is comparable to the number of people with diabetes and is higher than the total number of Americans suffering from all cancers combined. This constitutes a major public health crisis that affects individuals, families, and communities. It is estimated that the yearly economic impact for alcohol abuse is 249 billion and 193 billion for illicit drug use. Despite this, our health care system has not given as much attention to addiction as it has other health care problems that affect the same number of people and substance use issues have remained mostly isolated form the rest of health care.

As highlighted in the Surgeon General’s report, only one in 10 people with a substance use disorder receives treatment. The report identifies many contributing factors including guilt, shame and misunderstanding about substance use disorders, the inability to access or afford treatment, and the need of screening in traditional medical settings. Furthermore, it is reported that 40% of individuals who know they have a problem are not ready to stop using

Despite the enormity of the problem the Surgeon General believes there is reason to be optimistic. There is well supported scientific evidence which shows that substance use disorders can be effectively treated with recurrence rates no higher than for the other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. There is also well supported scientific evidence that treatment for substance use disorders including inpatient, residential, and outpatient are cost-effective compared to the cost of no treatment. The good news according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) is that prevention works, treatment is effective, and recovery is possible.


Research Links Anger and Health Conditions.


lights above As human beings, we all get angry. It is an unavoidable consequence of being human. Anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. But did you know that intense anger can be detrimental to your health? Like other emotions, anger is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. Consequently, anger could be having an adverse effect on your health, without you even being aware of it.

There are several health conditions linked to anger. Intense or frequent anger can put your heart at risk. Researchers have found that your chances of a heart attack doubles two hours after an angry outburst. Anger can also increase your risk of a stroke. One study found that there was a three times greater risk of having a blood clot to the brain two hours after an angry outburst. Anger can weaken the immune system, cause gastrointestinal problems, and has been linked to depression and anxiety. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 85% of all diseases have a link to one’s emotional state.

If you are someone who has a hard time expressing your anger in appropriate ways, the following steps, if practiced, can assist you in letting go of anger and to a healthier life:

  1. Become aware of your feelings (including your anger) and your behavior.
  2. Take responsibility for your emotions and your responses.
  3. Foster a positive vs a negative attitude.
  4. Develop resources and a support system.
  5. Practice self-care behaviors.
  6. Develop positive self-esteem.
  7. Develop alternative responses to counter old angry responses.
  8. Rehearse these new responses.
  9. Use “I” vs “You” statements.
  10. Have a plan for when you become angry.

Women’s Health Study

glassandbottle       Women’s Health

A global study from the researchers from National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre of the University of New South Wales, Australia concludes that women have caught up with men in the amount of alcohol they consume.

The study examined the drinking habits between men and women over time, from 1981-2014, by pooling together the results of 68 international studies to look at the changing ratio of male to female drinking over the years. Historically, far more men drink alcohol than women.

It is speculated that women’s drinking has increased for a number of reasons. With more women in management and professional jobs, many have found it necessary to become part of-the “after working” drinking culture. Other contributing factors include the drop in prices for beer and wine which in addition to making them more affordable has increased their availability at super markets. There has also been a targeted effort from the alcohol industry to market to women. It is known that women are more vulnerable than men to the effects of alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control, differences in body structure and chemistry cause women to absorb more alcohol and take longer to break it down and remove it from their bodies, making it more likely that drinking will cause long-term health problems in women. Heath concerns for women include; reproductive and pregnancy concerns, liver disease, impact on the brain, impact on the heart, and increased risk for certain cancers including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast.


The Holiday Blues

Christmasy xmas style tree decoration

    The Holiday Blues

People often experience the holidays in different ways. For some, it can be a time of joy, happiness, and celebrating with family and friends. For others, however, the holiday season can be a difficult time filled with sadness and loneliness.

Expects site a variety of reason for the condition that has been referred to as the Holiday Blues. High or unrealistic expectations, being overwhelmed with planning, organizing, and activities, remembering past, unhappy holidays or missing loved ones who are no longer present, and the presumption that one should feel joyful are all reasons one might feel down and depressed during the holidays.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the holiday blues affect men and women, young and old. Although the symptoms can resemble a clinical depression, the holiday blues are temporary. People suffering from the condition may feel hopeless, angry, and overwhelmed. Negative associations around the holiday season can trigger bad memories or feelings.

To help yourself survive the holidays, remember the following tips:

  • Remind yourself that the holidays don’t have to be perfect
  • Eat well, sleep well, exercise
  • Don’t force yourself to be happy
  • Use humor
  • Be careful about resentments related to past holidays and try to stay positive
  • Create time for yourself
  • Say the Serenity Prayer

Little Things to Remember

                                                                        Eight Steps to a More Satisfying Lifefall-autumn-red-season

Martin Seligman, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, is known as the father of the Positive Psychology Movement. In 1965, Seligman began conducting experiments on his theory of learned helplessness. What he theorized from his research, is that people who “learn” that there is no connection between action and outcome in a particular area, learn helplessness and often generalize this to other areas of their life. On the contrary, optimistic people have a way of explaining events that does not see defeat as permanent or affecting their personal value while pessimist see setbacks as lasting a long time and their fault.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a University of California psychologist has come up with a research based list of eight steps to more satisfying life. Not only can optimism, increase one’s general feelings of happiness, but research indicates that optimistic people are healthier than their pessimistic counter-parts. With Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, these steps that can improve your happiness level seem all the more relevant.


Eight Steps Towards a More Satisfying Life

  1. Count your blessings. One way to do this is with a “gratitude journal” in which you write down 3 to 5 things for which you are currently thankful – from the mundane (your peonies are in bloom) to the magnificent (a child’s first steps). Do this once a week, say, on Sunday night. Keep it fresh by varying your entries as much as possible.
  2. Practice acts of kindness. These should be both random (let that harried mom go ahead of you in the checkout line) and systematic (bring Sunday supper to an elderly neighbor). Being kind to others, whether friends or strangers, triggers a cascade of positive effects – it makes you feel generous and capable, gives you a greater sense of connection with others and wins you smiles, approval and reciprocated kindness – all happiness boosters.
  3. Savor Life’s Joys. Pay close attention to momentary pleasures and wonders. Focus on the sweetness of a ripe strawberry or the warmth of the sun when you step out from the shade. Some psychologists suggest taking “mental photographs” of pleasurable moments to review in less happy times.
  4. Thank a mentor. If there’s someone whom you owe a debt of gratitude for guiding you at one of life’s crossroads, don’t wait to express your appreciation – in detail and, if possible, in person.
  5. Learn to forgive. Let go of anger and resentment by writing a letter of forgiveness to a person who has hurt or wronged you. Inability to forgive is associated with persistent rumination or dwelling on revenge, while forgiving allows you to move on.
  6. Invest Time and Energy in Friends and Family. Where you live, how much money you make, your job title and even your health have small effects on your satisfaction with life. The biggest factor appears to be strong personal relationships.
  7. Take care of your body. Getting plenty of sleep, exercising, stretching, smiling and laughing can all enhance your mood in the short term. Practiced regularly, they can help make your daily life more satisfying.
  8. Develop strategies for coping with stress and hardship. There is no avoiding hard times. Religious faith has been shown to help people cope, but so do the secular beliefs enshrined in axioms like “This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The trick is that you have to believe them.

Veteran’s Day





Veteran’s Day

There is an estimated 23.4 million Veterans in the United States. With a 52.7 % increase in outpatient Veterans treated for Substance Use Disorder between 1995 and 2016, addiction is a major concern for Veterans and their families. The demanding nature of military life and experience with combat can be made more complex by substance use and mental health issues.



Did you know that?

  • Between 2004 and 2006, 7.1 of U.S. Veterans met the criteria for Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
  • More than 2 of 10 Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also have SUD.
  • Almost 1 out of every 3 Veterans seeking treatment for SUD also have PTSD
  • The Army suicide rate reached an all-time high in 2012.
  • Mental and Substance Use Disorders caused more hospitalizations among U.S. troops in 2009 than any other cause.
  • About 70% of homeless Veterans also have a Substance Use Disorder.

Veterans with both PTSD and SUD are more likely to have relationships problems, other health problems, and problems keeping a job or adequate housing. Consequently, the combination of PTSD and Substance Use Disorder can be particularly troublesome. According to Jerry Boriskin, PhD, and an expert in addiction and trauma, it is important to treat the addiction first and then begin treating the trauma. Settings that can address both conditions simultaneously are optimal. Boriskin is critical of treating professionals that believe that if the trauma (PTSD) is treated first than everything will get better. It is Boriskin’s belief that the first step is to get the Veteran into recovery since someone who is actively using substances will not be able to adequately address their trauma. Boriskins says, “ There is a definite danger in missing the sequence (of treatment) and diagnosis. Half-measures can result in fatal outcomes for an addict.”

Pharmaceuticals & Congress

writer-1Is Congress Protecting Drug Makers

The former head of the DEA office what was responsible for preventing prescription medicine abuse, said that drug companies and their lobbyists have a “stranglehold” on Congress that protects the 9 billion dollar a year trade in opioid painkillers. Joseph Rannazzisi, who held his position with the DEA until a year ago, has been quoted as saying, “Congress would rather listen to people who have a profit motive rather than a public health and safety motive. As long as the industry has this stranglehold through lobbyists, nothing is going to change.”

Rannazzisi, who is a pharmacist, is particularly critical of politicians who claim to be fighting the opiate epidemic while favoring the pharmaceutical industry in Congress. Rannazzisi claims that Congress is too indebted to pharmaceutical companies have been brought up for years. Rannazzisi says that the pharmaceutical industries influence on opioid policies is particularly troubling, given the 19,000 lives lost a year due to the use of opioid painkillers.

Rannazzis has clashed with Congress over a law passed in April 2016 that reduces the DEA’s ability to suspend the licenses of distributors and pharmacists accused of dispensing excessive amounts of opioids without following the regulations. The law, which was initiated by a pharmaceutical industry –funded group,  known as The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act,  the act requires the DEA to warn pharmacies and distributors if they are in breach of regulations and gives them a chance to comply before their licenses are withdrawn. Rannazzisi sees this as an essentially giving a “free pass” for institutional drug trafficking. He is quoted in The Guardian as saying, “Corporations have no conscience. Unfortunately, with my job, I was the guy who had to go out and talk to families that lost kids. If one of these CEO’s went out there and talked to anybody, or if one of these CEO’s happened to lose a kid to this horrible, horrible domestic tragedy we have, I’d bet you they’d change their mind.”


Early Intervention Family Drug Court

hand-in-hand-10-26-2016      EARLY INTERVENTION

The Early Intervention Family Drug Court in Sacramento County is set up to help parents with substance abuse problems complete this program before their children enter the foster care system.

All parents who enter the program are at risk of losing custody of their children due to drug abuse.  Many parents are referred to the program because their new born babies have been born drug dependent or because the family has come to the attention of Child Protective Services.

Just 5-10% of the families in the United States who could use family drug court services, have access to them.  The program in Sacramento is one of about three hundred and fifty such programs in the country.

Just a third of the client’s entering Sacramento Country’s program complete it.  However, the county reports that 10% of the kids with families in the program end up being removed compared to 30% of the children in families who do not participate in the program. This constitutes a major savings to the county- about seven million dollars annually.  In addition to the fiscal savings enjoyed by Sacramento County, parents are given the opportunity to enter a life of recovery and re-build their family and relationships with their children.


World Mental Health Day


World Mental Health Day

October 10th was World Mental Health Day which is a day for global mental health education, awareness, and advocacy against the social stigma of mental illness. It was first celebrated in 1992. The existence of such a day indicates that mental health issues are a worldwide problem and concern.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10% of Americans suffer from a psychiatric disorder.  Especially at risk are those individuals who suffer from a substance use disorder. Sadness, despair and depression are prevalent among alcoholics and addicts.  Most research suggests that the rate of depressive disorder is 2-4 times higher among addicts and alcoholics than the general population with rates of 30-40% higher among people who seek help for alcohol and drug problems. Additionally, there seems to be an especially high overlap between Bi-Polar Disorder and addiction.

It is hard to know which comes first, the depression or the substance abuse, as many individuals reach for drugs or alcohol as a way to improve their mood or to numb painful feelings and thoughts.  As a result, depression and substance abuse can feed into each other and one condition can make the other condition worse. Experts believe that successful recovery typically involves treatment for both the psychiatric disorder and substance use disorder simultaneously.  New Bridge Foundation offers specialized assistance for those individuals who suffer from both psychiatric and substance abuse issues.  Services include co-occurring disorder groups, assistance with medication management, staff that have been trained in treating dual diagnosis, and groups that focus on stress reduction and stress management.

Signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • ·         Feelings of hopelessness
  • ·         Anxiety
  • ·         Loss of appetite/weight loss
  • ·         Increased appetite/ weight gain
  • ·         Sleeping too much or too little
  • ·         Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • ·         Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • ·         Feelings of guilt
  • ·         Sense of worthlessness
  • ·         Loss of energy
  • ·         Aches and pains
  • ·         General irritability



For more information for help with addiction please call New Bridge Foundation @ 510-526-6200.