The Dubois Regional Medical Center (DRMC), a 214-bed acute care hospital, is leading a similar initiative in Dubois, Pennsylvania. DRMC will deploy Medicity software to improve care coordination with other area healthcare providers. DRMC chose Medicity's
Call it what you will, but the "bluesy" feeling thousands of people experience this time of year has a medical root, according to Dr. John W. Lobb of DuBois Regional Medical Center.Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated half a million people every winter, particularly during December, January and February.The disorder is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter.The National Library of Medicine reports melatonin, a sleep-related hormone, also has been associated in connection with SAD.This hormone, which has been linked to depression, is produced at increased levels in the dark.When the days are shorter and darker, more melatonin is produced."True seasonal depression occurs between October and April," according to Lobb.For some, a mild version of SAD causes discomfort, but not severe suffering.This sub-syndrome is called "the winter blues."With the milder conditions, some people complain of a feeling of lethargy; others report a feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine.There is a tendency to overeat, along with a craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, resulting in weight gain.Many people become irritable and avoid social contact.General feelings of being miserable and guilty, along with hopelessness, despair, apathy and a loss of self-esteem round out the reported complaints.According to Lobb, SAD occurs more often in women than men, and one in five women may be affected.Also, the higher the latitude, the higher the number of incidents of SAD.The illness can be seriously disabling for some people, preventing them from functioning normally without treatment. Depression often results in a person having a high level of tension and an inability to tolerate stress.When this occurs, there is often a decreased interest in sex and physical contact.Sometimes, extreme moods are seen.Lobb pointed out that Bi-Polar Disorder is a separate illness marked by mood swings ranging between depression and mania. SAD is usually identified in people when they have sleep problems, Lobb said.Usually, there is a desire to oversleep and people often have trouble staying awake.Some people report disturbed sleep with frequent wake-ups and early-morning wakening that prevents them from falling back to sleep. Also, people suffering from SAD usually show signs of a weakened immune system during the winter and are more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses. The only way to counteract the absence of sunlight is with light therapy, Lobb stressed.Light therapy is treatment which involves a few hours of exposure to intense light.Whether the therapy works best in the early morning or in the afternoon has yet to be determined. Some insurance companies provide coverage for high-intensity phototherapy for the treatment of depression due to SAD.Patients must meet certain criteria and the authorization for the rental of a tabletop high-intensity light must be obtained from a doctor.Lobb said the system may also be purchased directly from area health-related businesses.The light system is a bright light designed to help people who suffer from both seasonal and nonseasonal mood swings.The light emits 10,000 lux (the measure of the intensity of light) of illumination.Lobb cautions those who have been diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disorder that the use of the light may induce a manic episode.However, for those with SAD, the light may improve sleeping patterns and ease the dreaded mood swings.There may be a proverbial light at the end of the dark tunnel, however, with Daylight Saving Time scheduled to begin March 9 and continue through Nov. 2."It's all about the light," Lobb said.
John W. Lobb, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist who has been employed at the DuBois Regional Medical Center since 1981.Dr. Lobb earned a Bachelor's Degree in Individual and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University, a Masters Degree in Counseling from Slippery Rock State University, and a Doctoral Degree in Health Psychology from Walden University.Dr. Lobb is the supervisor of DRMC's Behavioral Health Center and provides assessment and therapy services to children, adolescents, adults, and senior adults.His areas of interest include mood and anxiety disorders, health-related concerns, family conflicts, and substance abuse problems.
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