Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Being the Light: Anxiety and Depression in our Youth.

Several years ago I found myself working in the home of Dr. Norm Rosenthal, the South African, author, psychiatrist and scientist who in the 1980s first described winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and pioneered the use of light therapy for its treatment. It was an acting gig and I was to play a depressed patient in a video for doctors to use in diagnosing patients with anxiety and depression. The job was fascinating in that I learned a lot about depression but also because I was able to pick the brain of this well-known scientist in the field of psychiatry and brain disorders. 

Dr. Rosenthal told me that he had grown up in South Africa where the sunlight was available almost daily and when he moved to the United States and studied in New York he found himself becoming increasingly sad during the winter months when the sunshine was less available. That’s when he began to study the phenomenon of Seasonal Affective Disorder or “SAD” and he coined the term. He also studied the effect of light on this disorder and created light boxes for treatment. In his home where we shot the video Dr. Rosenthal had light boxes all over the place. He could sit in almost any chair in his house and bathe himself in light. 

Cut to: this week and the podcast.

I have been producing the Happy Healthy You! podcast for close to three years now and have really enjoyed talking to the many guests who have come on to talk about their specialties. This week we are talking about an important subject for parents; depression and anxiety in our youth. A few months back I recorded a show with my sweet niece Jennifer who talked about her friend who had committed suicide. Her friend had been suffering with anxiety and depression for years and it was a big surprise to many of her peers at school to hear this news.

According to our guest this week, the numbers are up with so many young people suffering in silence. How did we get here? 

Natalie Moore, a Holistic Psychotherapist from Los Angeles and our guest on the podcast is concerned that the more busy we are as parents, the more anxiety and depression is manifesting in our children. But there are so many more factors that can come into play and it is important to look at the young person in a holistic way, taking body, mind and spirit into consideration. 

The most important thing is to be aware of the symptoms and not be afraid to have the conversation. The podcast has lots of suggestions for us, so take a listen here. Also, here is a link for parents that has some great information about talking to kids about anxiety and depression.

As we navigate this winter season when the light is less available to us, remember to be kind for we never know what internal battle people are fighting. 

With Love and Light,

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