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CICS Newsletter: December 2017


Graphic: Brain and First Aid Symbol

Taking Care of Your Mental Health Through the Holidays

The holidays are here, and with that comes all the festivities we’ve come to embrace. Today we live in a world of non-stop, on-the-go movement. Relaxing and enjoying the season has become a little more difficult due to the stress of everyday life. Protecting our mental health is imperative in making it through the holidays. Even in non-holiday times of the year, a recent Stress in America survey showed 24 percent of adults report extreme stress and more than a third of adults report their stress increased over the past year. The American Psychological Association provides a few tips to remind us how to handle stress over the holidays.


Take time for yourself: You may feel pressured to be everything to everyone. But remember that you’re one person and can only accomplish certain things. Sometimes self-care is the best thing you can do — others will benefit when you feel less stressed. Reflect on aspects of your life that give you joy. Go for a long walk, get a massage or take time to listen to your favorite music or read a new book. All of us need some time to recharge our batteries. Be mindful and focus on the present rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future.


Volunteer: Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter, that needs volunteers and offer to help. Alternatively, participate in a community giving tree or an adopt-a-family program. Helping others may lift your mood and help you put your own struggles in perspective.


Have realistic expectations: No holiday celebration is perfect. View inevitable missteps as opportunities to exercise your flexibility and resilience. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket won’t ruin your holiday — it will create a family memory. If your children’s wish list is outside your budget, talk to them about realistic expectations and remind them that the holidays aren't about expensive gifts.


Remember what's important: The barrage of holiday advertising can make you forget what the season is really about. If your expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back and remind yourself what matters most is loved ones, not presents, elaborate decorations or gourmet food.


Healthy conversations: Let your family know this season is a time to express gratitude and give thanks for what you all have, including each other. If there is worry about heated disagreements or negative conversations, focus on what you and your family have in common. Families might even plan activities that foster fun and laughter, like playing a family game or looking through old photo albums.


Seek support: Talk about your worries and concerns with close friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution. 


May all of you have a wonderful holiday season!


Patti Treibel Leeds, CICS Hamilton County
Thanks to psychologist Mary Alvord, PhD, Michi Fu, PhD and David Palmiter, PhD, who assisted with this article.



Calendar of Events

December 5

Hardin County MH Interdisciplinary Team (MHIT) Meeting
Friendship Club
Iowa Falls | 8:30 a.m.


December 6

Human Service Legislative Meeting
Salvation Army
Des Moines | 8:30 a.m.


December 7

MHDS Commission
Polk River Place Rm 1
Des Moines | 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Story County Asset Meeting
City Church of Ames-Des Moines
2400 Oakwood Road
Ames | 5:00 p.m.


December 8

Franklin County CICS/Providers Meeting
Franklin County Community Services Office
Hampton | 10:00 a.m.


December 12

Statewide Complex Needs Workgroup
Urbandale Library
Urbandale | 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.


December 15

Annual Hardin County Faith in Action/Friendship Club “Reach Out at Christmas”
Bethany Lutheran Church
Iowa Falls | 4:00–6:30 p.m.


December 20

Jasper County MH Collaboration
Skiff Medical Center
Newton | 3:00 p.m.


December 21

Jasper County NAMI Support Group
Skiff Hospital In-Service Room
Newton | 7:00 p.m.


December 28

CICS Governing Board Meeting
Story County Administration Building
Nevada | 1:00 p.m.

By the Numbers

In a given year, about FIVE PERCENT of the U.S. population experiences seasonal depression.

FOUR OUT OF FIVE PEOPLE who have seasonal depression are women.

The main age of onset of seasonal depression is BETWEEN 20 AND 30 YEARS OF AGE; however, symptoms can appear earlier.

The prevalence of seasonal depression is anywhere FROM ZERO TO 10 PERCENT of the population, depending on the geographic region

Typically, the further one is from the equator, the MORE AT RISK they are for seasonal depression

*Statistics from Mental Health America and the Mayo Clinic.



CICS in the Real World

Sunset Yoga


Symptoms of seasonal depression are typically consistent with those that occur with depression, and sometimes it can difficult to tell if someone has seasonal or another type of depression.


Symptoms more common with seasonal depression are carbohydrate craving, increased appetite, excessive sleepiness and weight gain. A diagnosis of seasonal depression can be made after two consecutive occurrences of depression that occur and end at the same time every year, with the symptoms subsiding the rest of the year. 


Specific symptoms can include:

  • Depression: misery, guilt, loss of self-esteem, hopelessness, diminished interest in activities, despair and apathy
  • Anxiety: tension and inability to tolerate stress
  • Mood changes: extremes of mood and, in some, periods of mania in spring and summer
  • Sleep problems: desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake or, sometimes, disturbed sleep and early morning waking
  • Lethargy: feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
  • Overeating: craving for starchy and sweet foods resulting in weight gain
  • Social problems: irritability and desire
    to avoid social contact

  • Sexual problems: loss of libido and decreased interest in physical contact


  • The reduced level of sunlight in the fall and winter months may affect an individual’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Lower levels of serotonin have been linked to depression. Brain scans have shown that people who have seasonal depression in the winter have higher levels of a serotonin transporter protein that removed serotonin than in individuals who did not have seasonal depression.
  • Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has been linked to seasonal depression. This hormone, which can affect sleep patterns and mood, is produced at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, when the days are shorter and darker, the production of this hormone increases. Melatonin can also affect an individual's circadian rhythm, resulting in “internal clocks” being out of sync with “external clocks,” or the usual sleep/wake rhythms. This can result in symptoms associated with seasonal depression.

Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Phototherapy, or bright light therapy, has been shown to suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin. Although there have been no research findings to link this therapy with an antidepressant effect, light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of diagnosed cases. Patients remain in light up to ten times the intensity of normal domestic lighting up to four hours a day, but may carry on normal activities such as eating or reading while undergoing treatment.  The device most often used today is a bank of white fluorescent lights on a metal reflector and shield with a plastic screen.
  • If phototherapy does not work, an antidepressant drug may prove effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms, but there may be unwanted side effects to consider. Discuss your symptoms with your family doctor and/or mental health professional.
  • In some studies, cognitive behavioral therapy has also been shown to be effective; however, research is limited.


Because seasonal depression has a predictable pattern of recurrence, preventive measures may help to reduce symptoms. Some forms of prevention that can help include beginning light therapy in the early fall before the onset of symptoms, exercising more, increasing the amount of light at home, meditation and other stress management techniques, spending more time outside and visiting climates that have more sun.


Information from Mental Health America


Provider Profile


Orchard Place Guidance Center

Orchard Place Guidance Center

The Orchard Place Child Guidance Center in downtown Des Moines has provided child and adolescent mental health services in central Iowa for more than 75 years.


The Child Guidance Center is a federally accredited community mental health center for children and serves as a safety net service provider for children battling mental health disorders in central Iowa.


Services include:

  • Direct clinical services offer a wide variety of mental health services in the Child Guidance Center clinical setting, including therapy, psychological assessments and testing, psychiatric assessments and medication management.
  • School-based mental health services are provided in 56 schools across seven school districts, allowing children and families easier access to therapy and enabling therapists to closely collaborate with the child's educational team.
  • Trauma-Informed Care Project promotes awareness of the impact of trauma on children and educates the community and community stakeholders in trauma-informed care practices.

Referral to the Child Guidance Center:
Call (515) 244-2267. A receptionist will refer you to appropriate services or an intake specialist.