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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

Have the 'winter blues' got you down?

By Jamie Karras

October 25, 2006 | Arms have been reaching back to the dark and dusty parts of closets recently, reaching for long-sleeved shirts and jackets, to replace shorts and sleeveless shirts.

It's official, fall is here.

But for some, it's something they have been dreading all year.

"Sometimes I just want to put my head on my desk and leave it there all day," said Cathy Harrell, a sufferer of seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder. "I feel tired and unmotivated to do anything. I'd rather stay in my pajamas and surf the net."

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder associated with depression episodes related to the change of the seasons, according to the National Mental Health Association.

For Cathy, it all comes down to where she lives.

"January and February are really dark months in Alaska and that's when it's the hardest," she said.

People with SAD might experience loss of energy, hypersomnia (i.e., sleeping too much), overeating, weight gain, and a craving for carbohydrates, said Kyle Hancock, a doctoral student in the psychology department at Utah State University.

However, a simple change in mood during the winter months does not particularly reflect SAD. There are three factors that identify a true SAD sufferer, said Hancock. "They include:

  1. It must occur for at least two years with the onset being at the change of the seasons (typically beginning in the fall/early winter and remitting in spring.
  2. No occurrence of a depressive episode outside of the season in which it originally presented
  3. The seasonal depressive episodes must outnumber all non-seasonal depressive episodes in a person's lifetime."

"Many people feel a bit more sad from time to time during winter and it may be due to a variety of other reasons-including the inability to be outside and physically active as much, loss of available enjoyable activities (e.g., outside sports, leisure walks), shorter days, less sunlight, etc.," Hancock said. "So, whether a person is truly depressed or not is largely determined by their own individual experience of the symptoms of depression that they experience."

In the first few years prior to being diagnosed with SAD, Harrell sought help from medication, but soon after discontinued use of it because she didn't like the way it made her feel.

"I felt emotionless," Harrell said. "Like if a person were to come up and hand me a million dollars, my reaction would be 'oh, thanks' and that's it."

Instead Harrell found help through other, more natural, outlets.

"I work part-time outside the home, go to the gym five days a week and try to be really careful with what I eat," she said. "Some winters we go to Hawaii and get completely out of the state."

Light therapy, or exposure to very bright light (at least ten times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting), has been a means of treatment for SAD and has shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of diagnosed cases, according to the Seasonal Affective Disorders Association.

Between four and six percent of the U.S. population suffers from SAD, while 10 to 20 percent may suffer from a more mild form of winter blues, according to the Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center. Most of these sufferers are women.

Hancock said, "Some of the best things that people can do to manage symptoms of depression (including seasonal depression) include:

  • regular physical exercise
  • eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • sleeping the appropriate amount of time (i.e., not too much and not too little)
  • striving for a balanced life (in terms of work and leisure)
  • striving for optimism
  • doing things that people enjoy (e.g., spending time with friends/loved ones)
  • maintaining healthy thought patterns"

Individuals who experience intense forms of seasonal depression may wish to seek mental health services. The staff of the Counseling Center at USU provides individual counseling/psychotherapy sessions. To be eligible for ongoing service you must be currently enrolled at USU and carrying six credit hours. To learn more about the Counseling Center please refer go to their Web site, http://www.usu.edu/counsel/.

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Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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