Thursday, November 5, 2015

Light Therapy or Talk Therapy for SAD

It's that time of year again in the northern hemisphere - talk about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.

What is SAD? Much of how we feel comes from the amount of daylight we experience, experts believe. So in the fall, as daylight hours shorten and night hours are longer, we see less sunlight. Some people go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. There may be days when they only see sunlight through their office window - if they have one. It's believed that in some people, this lack of sunlight causes SAD. And one remedy for this is to use light therapy - exposure to special lights of specific wavelengths to combat the lack of natural light.

SAD lights are commercially available in various shapes and forms, from large standing ones to portable folding ones, usually promoted as great for travel or to bring to your office. But do they work? A new (small) study published today in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that while the lights may be helpful, they may not be as effective over the long-term in battling SAD as "talk therapy," or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The light therapy works, the researchers agree, but the problem behind using light therapy is the need for continuous use for it to be effective. Users need to use the light every day for a set number of minutes per day, and if they stop, their SAD symptoms reappear or worsen. The researchers also point out that there can be problems with ensuring that the light therapy is always available. People may not be able to purchase portable units or be in environments where they can use lights. Talk therapy, on the other hand, doesn't require special equipment or adaptation.

The study looked at 177 people with SAD over the course of two winters. The group was  divided into light therapy and CBT subgroups. By the end of the second winter, more people who used light therapy experienced a return of their SAD symptoms than did those who used CBT. But, only 30% of the light therapy group were still using their lights that second winter.

"Light therapy is a palliative treatment, like blood pressure medication, that requires you to keep using the treatment for it to be effective," lead author Kelly Rohan said in a news release. "Adhering to the light therapy prescription upon waking for 30 minutes to an hour every day for up to five months in dark states can be burdensome," she said. 

Light therapy does work for many people, but it must be used consistently. If that isn't possible, perhaps CBT is the better option.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Never Far From My Mind

This blog is an important part of my work identity. I post about interesting health topics and news about nursing issues - and yet sometimes I let it sit untouched for a few months at a time. And I feel guilty when that happens.

Sometimes I wonder why I allow that to happen. It's not that I don't think about the blog because I do. Many mornings when I sit at my computer to start my work day (which can be as early as 4:30 a.m., as today), I have the best of intentions to post that day, but it doesn't happen.

What is the point of a blog like this? When I began it over eight years ago, it was to bring attention to my work, my ability to write about health issues in a friendly and engaging way. It was to build a brand, in a way. And it worked. I developed a great following of readers and I get many on-ofs, people who find this blog because they are looking for a specific issue. Clients have also found me through the blog and I've sent potential clients here so they can see my unedited writing style.

A lot has happened since I posted my first piece in 2007. My husband and I sold our big house in the suburbs and we moved back into the city proper. I fell (on moving day!) and dislocated my shoulder, which put me out of commission working clinically. Up until then, I'd still been working part-time for a while as a clinical resource nurse. My full-time freelance career took off, and I'm doing what I love.

I have two "anchor clients," non-profit organizations for whom I write site content, among other things. And I have many clients who use my services to write for online or print journals, online content, newsletters, and more. Oh, and don't forget my book, Just the Right Dose! That was a major accomplishment and I'm proud of it.

A side part of my success is I get many emails from nurses who want to get into writing. I love helping them if I can. I don't mind responding by email, giving them a quick run down of how I got to where I am today, along with some advice. I do have a pet peeve though. Would you believe that the majority of those who write to me to ask for information or advice don't even bother to acknowledge that I responded? Nothing. It's not everyone. I've gotten some delightful thank you notes back. Sadly though, they are in the minority. A very small minority.

Some of my fellow writers have gotten pretty upset about that lack of courtesy and no longer offer advice when asked. They charge a consulting fee. I understand their point of view; I don't agree with it, but I understand it. Anyway, that was a little side track rant. ;-)

So, what was the point of this post? A sort of welcome back to myself, I think. It's time to get back on the blogging track. When I see that certain blog posts are read regularly, despite how long ago they were written, and when I get email from people telling me that they learned something important because of one of my posts, I know that this blog is important. It has good information. So here we go again, after another short hiatus, we're back!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Named a top 50 nursing blog

It's always nice to be recognized. Every so often, I get a message from a website or organization that tells me that my blog has been recognized as a valuable resource, either for nurses or for the general public. That means people are reading it - and they like the information I've been posting. Sometimes they even give me a cool badge that I put on my blog for a while. ;-)

I received an email this morning, telling me that Marijke: Nurse turned writer was listed in 50 Top Nursing Blogs, over at Top RN to BSN. What I like about these lists is they introduce me to blogs I don't know about. While there are some that are already familiar to me, it's always fun to discover new ones. And these lists help other people find me, so it's a win-win situation.

Do you have a favorite list of blogs that you turn to when you're looking for new blogs to follow? 

Monday, June 22, 2015

What The Nurse Writer Is Up To These Days

Busy, busy! Posts have been slow because my work life has been keeping me busy. Here's a quick fly-by post to explain what's been happening for those who have been asking:

I am still the Director of Content over at Sepsis Alliance (part-time), an organization that is dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about sepsis. It's frightening how few people know about sepsis, yet it touches so many lives.

In addition to working with SA, this past May, I started working with the Partnership for Palliative Care as their Content Strategist (also part-time). As a nurse who worked in hospice nurse, this particular organization is doing work that I strongly believe in. It also has the same challenges that Sepsis Alliance has in some ways. The word "sepsis" is not known by many in North America and many who have heard the word don't know what it means. "Palliative care" faces the same issue. Not many people know exactly what it is. They may confuse it with "hospice," which isn't really correct. Hospice is end-of-life care, while palliative care is supportive care that can - and should - be given to anyone who has a life-threatening or serious illness or condition, to help them live as good a life as possible. Palliative care is also given at end-of-life, but it's not solely about end-of-life care.

I've been also been actively marketing my book, Just the Right Dose: Your Smart Guide to Prescription Medicines & How to Take Them Safely. It's a long-term project, trying to get this book in front of people who may need it - which is really just about anyone! I'm hoping that this book will be the first in a series; I have other ideas in mind. But first, we need to get this book out there. It's gotten great feedback from healthcare professionals and people who know little about medicine and health-related issues. If you take any type of medicines, I encourage you to have a look at the book. And if you have read the book, please consider leaving a review on or .ca. The more reviews there, the more visible it gets when people look for certain types of books.

And then there's my regular writing. I've been writing some articles, paid blog posts, and more.

If you have any ideas you would like to see me cover in this blog, leave it in the comments, and I'll see what I can do. I want to write about topics that you are curious about.