Happiness is an inside job. And on the flip side of that coin, depression — a mood disorder — is a condition that also primarily originates from inside our minds. Happiness is an action word. It requires a decision. And happiness does not have to wait.
Take the winter months, for example. If you are an outdoor enthusiast — and we assume you are if you’re perusing our NCOAE website — you know the true meaning of “winter blues.” Often, we find ourselves cooped up inside, postponing our happiness until the spring.
When it’s unbearably cold, windy, and wet outside, many of us feel out of sorts. We’re moody, have no energy, and we’re eager to get outside. Unfavorable weather conditions often put a halt to those plans, or seriously limit our participation.
Doctors have a name for this mental anguish, and it’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We’re not trying to be cute or funny here, because it really is SAD. It’s a form of depression that is directly related to changes in season, usually beginning in the late fall and continuing throughout the winter months.
Doctors put part of the blame on the decrease in sunlight in fall and winter that can disrupt your internal clock. That same lack of sun beams can prompt a drop in serotonin — a chemical in the brain that affects mood. Finally, the seasonal change can increase the production of melatonin — a hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle in the body and plays a big role in sleep patterns.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of SAD may include: (more…)
Dr. Christopher Davis, The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education’s medical director, spent most of his adult life combining his passion for helping others with his love of the outdoors.
He serves as medical director for all of our field courses and trainings, including wilderness medicine and EMS training programs, ad outdoor educator and adventure-based programs. These include custom programs developed by NCOAE, school programs, and branded adventures. And, of course, he loves to spend time in the field teaching.
Raised in Raleigh, N.C., Davis discovered his passion for emergency medicine and emergency medical services as an undergrad, teaching whitewater kayaking, rock climbing and backpacking for Duke University’s outdoor program — Outdoor Adventures.
After leaving Duke in 2006, Davis ran a small adventure travel company, taking customers on sailing adventures throughout the Caribbean and along the North Carolina coast. He also worked as a paramedic and firefighter in Durham, N.C., where he found time to teach wilderness medicine.
Davis began focusing more of his time on medicine, both front country and wilderness EMS, which inspired him to further his education. He applied to medical school, earning his MD from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, followed by training at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C.
He now serves on the faculty at the Wake Forest School of Medicine where he is an assistant professor in Emergency Medicine, specializing in integrating high-quality EMS care into wilderness settings.
We asked Dr. Davis to provide us with some additional information about his background, and to answer a few personal questions that our community might find interesting. Here is his response: (more…)