Often when we discuss mental wellness with rescuers or paramedics we think about PTSD, when in fact mental wellness should be something we consider for everyone. As a rescue team we go on calls for individuals who get lost or have run away, they often do not want to be found. Sometimes people go missing because of poor judgment from being in a depressed or dysfunctional condition due to their mental state.
We had a great sunny summer this year but we are heading into a long period of dark, rainy days. This affects everyone, but some more than others. Depression rates are higher during the winter months. We seem to be more tired, our sleep patterns change, our diet changes and we usually do less physical exercise during this period. Our motivation is much lower than when the sun is shining and it is warm outside. This can all lead to a depressed state. Warning signs can be subtle or really notable depending on the person. Here are few to be aware of:
- Increased fatigue despite sleeping through the night
• Becoming easily frustrated or angry, irritated
• Experiencing restless sleep patterns
• Increased muscle soreness
• Increased weight gain
• Increased alcohol consumption
• Increased frequency of colds or flu
• Very depressed emotionally, withdrawal from friends or family
• Make very poor decisions in regards to hiking (poor planning, lack of equipment etc.)
There are some simple things we can all do during these dark months: get a good night sleep; eat well, and do physical exercise whether outside in the elements or by going to a gym. We need to stay socially connected with family and friends, and it’s important to talk with others about how you’re feeling. If you are experiencing these symptoms and are having problems controlling them then you should seek advice from your family doctor.
According to statistics from the BC Coroner’s Service, suicide rates in BC have generally risen over the last 10 years, with 614 deaths in 2015. Men are approximately three to four times more likely to commit suicide than women and, while the assumption is often that the rate may increase around the holidays, suicides sadly happen at any time of year. Mental wellness is something we all need to be aware of for ourselves and for those around us. Keep active, keep talking, and keep an eye out for those who might be struggling.
Thanks to CSAR Members Tony, Adam and Phil for contributing to this write-up!