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Arkansas Blue Cross donations fund organizations supporting those feeling less festive during the holidays

Little Rock, Ark. (December 12, 2019) — For many people, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can color this festive time of year with sadness – and even thoughts of self-harm. But a pair of donations made today by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield seeks to help Arkansans have a happier, safer holiday season.Arkansas Blue Cross today donated $5,000 each to the Arkansas chapters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to help raise awareness about seasonal affective disorder and how people can fight it.“Seasonal affective disorder affects up to 20 percent of us annually,” said Bert Price, M.D., a psychiatrist and corporate medical director for Arkansas Blue Cross. “But awareness can help prevent it from creating a holiday tragedy. Knowledge of self-care techniques, warning signs and treatment options can literally be a lifesaver.”

SAD symptoms & treatment

Seasonal affective disorder symptoms usually appear as daylight periods shorten in fall/early winter and go away as days become sunnier in spring/summer. The added emotional and physical stressors of the holidays can heighten SAD’s effects. Symptoms often become more severe as the season progresses.

Signs and symptoms of SAD include:

  • Persistent depression (feeling depressed most of the time)
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feelings of low energy/sluggishness
  • Sleep abnormalities (too little or too much)
  • Pronounced appetite or weight changes
  • Increased agitation
  • Problems with concentration
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt
  • Frequent thoughts of self-harm, suicide or death

Treatments include traditional psychotherapy and/or antidepressants. Also, light therapy, a daily exposure to simulated high-intensity sunlight, has shown promise in treating SAD. For more information about seasonal affective disorder, talk to your healthcare provider.

About the AFSP Arkansas

According to AFSP, suicide is Arkansas’ 10th-leading cause of death and the state’s suicide rate (20.72 per 100,000 population) is nearly 7 points higher than the national rate of 14. Arkansas’ suicide rate ranks 9th nationally. The AFSP focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by: delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide. Its national organization is headquartered in New York City. People in crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. To learn more, visit AFSP Arkansas

About NAMI Arkansas

According to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program (a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute), Arkansas is tied with West Virginia as having the highest average number of reported poor mental health days per month (5.2) in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). NAMI Arkansas estimates that 5% of Arkansans have a serious mental illness. The mission of NAMI Arkansas is to help people living with mental illness, their families and the community. NAMI Arkansas operates a statewide network of local groups that offer support, education and advocacy and averages about 100 calls per month to its Helpline (1-800-844-0381). The organization is affiliated with National NAMI, which is located in Arlington, Virginia. To learn more, visit NAMI Arkansas.