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If you have noticed that your mood- or that of someone you are close too- is exceptionally low this time of year, that could be because you are experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Just as it sounds, SAD is a disorder that is at its most prevalent during the darker days- from September to April. It causes symptoms of depression and anxiety and is more common than you’d think, affecting approximately 1 in 15 people. Like others who live as far from the equator as we do, the decrease in natural sunlight during the winter months has a direct effect on our mental health.

For many, SAD is so disabling that they cannot function normally without treatment. SAD most commonly begins between the ages of 18 and 30-years-old and you are diagnosed after two or more consecutive winters of experiencing symptoms.

So, what are they? Those with seasonal affective disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sleeping problems– It is common to oversleep often and have difficulty staying awake.  Disturbed sleep and waking too early are also symptoms of SAD
  • Feeling lethargic– Those with SAD can lack energy and are sometimes unable to go about their normal day because they feel so tired. Limbs become heaving and weight gain is common due to overeating and craving carbs and sugar.
  • Feeling anxious– Anxiety is a common symptom with increased feelings of dread and stress.
  • Feeling depressed– Low moods, weeping and feeling generally sad are key features of SAD. Hopelessness and feelings of failure are also very common.
  • A weakened immune system– Those who suffer from SAD will be more susceptible to catching winter colds, flu and bugs.
  • Feeling apathetic– SAD causes loss of motivation and difficulty concentrating. It can also leave you feeling less motivated to partake in things you would normally find fun.
  • Feeling like staying in– More than normal, we mean. Those with SAD will withdraw from social situations at this time of year and become uninterested in friends.
  • Disinterest in sex– Loss of libido is a common symptom, meaning a decreased interest in sex and physical contact.
  • Mood swings in the warmer months– Many people experience spurts of energy and hyperactivity (known as hypomania) in spring.

Identifying this very common mental health issue is the first step. There are luckily many ways to treat and look after your mental health if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder:

Spend as much time as you can in the sun

Try to get up early to get the most out of the daylight. Make an effort to allow sunlight into your home. Trim any vegetation that may be blocking the path of sun rays to your windows. Keep blinds open and surround yourself with colour by painting walls and using brightly coloured décor. You could even switch desks at work so that you are sitting close to a window.

Try to stay healthy

This is the hardest one. Any exercise or time spent outdoors will help. A simple walk each day can have an amazing impact on your mental health. Try to limit your sugar, alcohol and caffeine intake (we know). These changes to your routine will be worth it when your mood lifts.

Try to have fun

Instead of taking all your holidays during the summer, takes some time off in winter to do the things you love and surround yourself with people who boost your mood and support you. Do what is fun FOR YOU.

Consult your GP

This one is important: Ask for help even before it seems overwhelming. Take all medication as prescribed by your doctor and keep an eye on any side effects. Your doctor may suggest light therapy. This is the use of artificial light to substitute the sunlight. Ask your doctor about this one- they will know.

The most important thing is to consult your doctor immediately if you notice your symptoms are getting worse or stronger. If you suffer from severe winter depression your doctor will need to determine if your symptoms are SAD related, or if something else is causing them.

Psychotherapy, behavioural therapy, stress management techniques and prescribed medication can all be used to treat SAD. Remember, you are never alone, and your GP will always be there to support your mental health.

Sources: Mental Health Ireland, HSE.ie

 

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By Rachel O Neill

I was first diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder when I was 19 but really I’d been suffering from it for as long as I could remember. I thought it was normal to get obsessed with studying for exams and to cry if I got 85 out of 100 instead of 90. I thought it was completely normal to have your brain scream things at you that you would never dream of saying to another person. I thought it was normal to be sad all the time. In reality, getting my diagnosis was my first step to admitting that my normality wasn’t everyone else's.

I was prescribed antidepressants and started seeing a therapist. I was of the belief that I could cure myself by talking to someone and taking my pills. I didn’t understand that anxiety and depression need to be managed rather than cured. So I took myself out of therapy and weaned myself off my meds, convinced that I was fine. I would go on to have a breakdown a year later and would go back to therapy for nearly 15 months.

I’m very open about my struggles and my problems but that doesn’t make it easy to tell people about them. You don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable and most of all, you don’t want to be treated differently to anyone else. You just want to be seen as a colleague that works hard and does their best regardless. 

Telling my manager about my problems was hard. It’s something you have to prepare for. You rehearse in your head what you’ll say and how they might react. In reality, I had nothing to worry about. My manager was very understanding about my problems and has been incredibly supportive in managing workloads when I need it.

Our work lives are more hectic than they used to be. Ever-changing deadlines, longer commutes and increased pressure means that employees can often feel like they have nobody to talk to. I wanted to do something about it and was lucky enough to be  given the opportunity to help The Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) and The Advertising Benevolent Society (TABS) launch SMASH, a campaign around their new employee assistance programme.

The programme which is run by Spectrum and offers 24/7 support for a range of different issues including mental health support, financial advice, legal advice and career advice. 

 SMASH is the first wellbeing programme of its kind for the advertising industry in Ireland and the programme will provide a variety of mental health supports and practical services, exclusively to IAPI’s two thousand members. The SMASH programme is funded by TABS, The Advertising Benevolent Society.

IAPI members, through the SMASH programme, will be able to avail of six professional consultation sessions on eight different concerns. The programme of up to 48 professional consultations will cover financial, legal, consumer, health, parenting and career advice as well as mediation and life coaching.

It’s a really good programme and I’m so proud to be involved in the launch because I believe that every employee should have access to it. 

More and more of us are taking days off work for mental health reasons. We don’t always say it’s mental health because there is still a stigma attached to taking time off for it. But with an EAP like Spectrum available, we can feel more comfortable in recognising and tackling our problems before they turn into a major crisis.

For those of us like me, who have been managing their conditions for longer, it’s comforting to know that there is a resource there for you if you need it. 

My mental health problems haven’t gone away. They are conditions that I have to manage closely. I’ve been on antidepressants for the last 18 months and I see a therapist regularly too. Even in doing all that, I can still struggle to get out of bed or to see my friends regularly, making my head a lonely place to be.

That being said, I’m optimistic that things always have the potential to get better and being able to share my story with my colleagues has shown that. Hopefully with a little more talk and a lot more action, more organisations will follow in IAPI’s footsteps and support their employees as much as they can.

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Whether you suffer from anxiety, panic attacks or depression, dealing with the symptoms of a mental health issue is a daily struggle. 

Trying to keep your stress levels down can be a challenge in itself, especially when much of it comes our normal daily routines. 

Here's some of the most common habits that could contribute to low mood levels. 

Drinking too much caffeine

Whether it's your go-to morning coffee or a relaxing cup of tea in the evening, a lot of us rely on caffeine to get us through the day.

However, it might be time to cut-back on the flat whites as studies have shown a link between excessive caffeine intake and depression, moodiness and anxiety.

Try replacing one cup a day with a caffeine free alternative. Your energy levels may still benefit from the placebo effect, but you'll be doing your mental health a huge favour.

Avoiding exercise

The amount of physical activity we get each day can have a huge impact on our mood.

Research has suggested that regular exercise could even ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Start small. Set aside 20 minutes a day for a brisk walk and you'll be amazed at how quickly your mood will improve.

Constantly checking social media 

Comparing yourself to others on social media is a slippery slope that rarely leads anywhere good.

It's easy to fall into the trap of believing that all your school mates are living extraordinary lives, but guess what, they're not .

Sure, maybe Sarah from the Gaelteacht is off raising baby elephants in Thailand for a month, but just remember that social media posts of just the 'highlight reel' of other people's lives.

Staying indoors

Underexposure to natural daylight can wreak havoc on our mental health.

Apart from the natural calming effect nature has on our minds, vitamin D, which is only produced when the body is exposed to sunlight, has been shown to protection against depression.

Overloading on carbs

Simple carbohydrates such as sugary, processed foods are broken down rapidly, providing the body with a quick source of energy.

Eating these types of foods on a regular basis can result in mood swings caused by fluctuating blood sugars.

Instead, try eating more complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and legumes.

Working too hard

This one is a bit of a no-brainer.

It's important to take a step back from your working life in order to focus on yourself.

So, turn off the work e-mails and go visit an old friend or family member – you'll be shocked at how relaxed you'll feel afterwards.

 

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Pieta House are calling on clubs, companies and individuals to do something that makes them “FeelGood” and create a positive atmosphere inside and outside the workplace this October to raise vital funds for the charity. Last year over 200 participants took part in ‘FeelGood with Pieta’. Participants raised funds and created awareness by organising yoga classes, lunchtime walks, with some people going the extra mile and tackling the 500km Camino Walk across Spain and France, all in support of ‘FeelGood with Pieta’.

The funds raised for ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ have a direct impact on the service users, as they help ensure the doors remain open and the services provided by Pieta House remain free. ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ ambassadors and well-known household names for the campaign include chef, Derry Clarke, international rugby players, Jack McGrath and Hannah Tyrell, and actor, Moe Dunford.

‘FeelGood with Pieta’ ambassador Derry Clarke, said; “I am delighted to be taking part in ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ again this October. It’s all about taking the time and reminding yourself how good you can feel, reaching out to others and enjoying time together.”

This year, ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ is expanding its outreach across two weeks from October 14 to 27 to encourage people to create and register their own style of event, by doing something that makes them “FeelGood”. Pieta have outlined three pillars to use as inspiration for ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ events:  

Connect – Focus on making time to re-connect with friends and family. Alternatively, make an effort to meet new people in your community/workplace. Organise a coffee morning in aid of Pieta House and invest time in building on existing relationships or creating new ones. 

Be Active – Get yourself moving. Go for a run with a friend, get out of the office for an hour and enjoy a lunchtime yoga class. Getting active doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. Something as a simple as a lunchtime walk or organising a steps challenge amongst peers is a certain way to create healthy competition and get a daily dose of exercise, while having fun!

Feel Good – Organise an event that will help you and friends feel good. Host a movie night with close friends, suggest a ‘Raffle an annual leave day’ competition to your boss. Hold an event that will instil positivity and a feeling of contentment amongst colleagues and friends. 

Speaking about the fundraising initiative, Elaine Austin, CEO of Pieta House, said; “The ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ campaign is an amazing opportunity for people to get active and take small steps towards improving their own mental health as well as raising vital funds for Pieta House to keep our doors open and services free for all. ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ is about taking the time to reconnect with friends, work colleagues or family members in a fun and uplifting way. We are extremely grateful for all donations and hope that the ‘FeelGood with Pieta’ initiative will encourage people to get out, have fun and spread awareness for an important cause.”

EY Ireland, which fundraises for Pieta House on a year-round basis, believes that employee wellbeing is crucial to the health and happiness of any workplace. Following the launch of the campaign, Ian Collins, EY’s Health & Vitality Partner Sponsor since 2018 said: “At EY, we place the health and wellbeing of our employees at the centre of our business. They are our greatest asset and we are committed to continually striving to improve their experience as employees so that their physical, mental and emotional needs are factored into everything that we do, and each of the supports that we provide.”

Since 2006, over 48,000 people have been through the Pieta House doors in a state of crisis, and with over 80% of funding coming from the public, support is vital to help continue this lifesaving work. 

Pieta House, which started as a small, Dublin-based charity in 2006 with just one centre with four staff, has now expanded to 15 centres employing over 270 therapists and administrative staff nationwide. From day one, all of the services it provides have been offered completely free of charge.

For more information and for tips on how to host your event, and turn it into a fundraiser, go to www.feelgoodwithpieta.ie .

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Nearly two-in-five third-level students are experiencing serious levels of anxiety and depression as a result of stress, a new survey has revealed.

The newly published 'Report on Student Mental Health in Third-Level Education' was compiled by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), with the support of the HSE Mental Health and the National Office for Suicide Prevention.

Almost one-third of students have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, with the results painting a worrying picture of the extent of pressures and struggles on the shoulders of Irish students.

The statistics examined the occurrence of mental health distress and ill health among third-level students and the availability and use of mental health support service for young people.

Multiple factors influence depression and anxiety, and women were found to be more likely to suffer anxiety than men. Non-binary students had the highest levels of severe anxiety.

The survey, which was conducted in 2018, was open to students in every college, North and in the Republic, and most of the respondents were undergraduates aged between 18 and 24-years-old.

74 percent of participants were female, and experiences varied largely depending on the type of college attended, the area of study and whether it was inside or outside of Dublin.

One in five of those surveyed identified as LGBTQ+ and just over 1 percent identified as transgender. 38 percent are experiencing extremely severe levels of anxiety, alarmingly.

30 percent of people are reporting suffering from depression and 17 percent are experiencing stress. Almost one-third reported that they had a formal mental health difficulty which was diagnosed.

One of the most distressing points is that 21 percent of participants did not have someone to talk to about personal and emotional difficulties. Free on-campus counselling is imperative for students.

Students were found to use on and off-campus services to aid their mental health, and the student union made 35 percent of students aware of support services. 

The study had a large response of 3,340 students, but the findings may not be a full picture of the student population.

Employment during college was also found to affect students' ability to socialise with their classmates, and those involved in activities outside of coursework had improved mental health.

USI president Lorna Fitzpatrick in Trinity College Dublin said students had provided a vast amount of vital data which would be used to improve mental health services at third level for everyone.

Numerous institutions were found to be problematic in terms of the quality of care offered to students, and a quality assurance tool must be made to ensure consistency between institutions.

Transitioning from secondary school to college is a huge step for all students, and comes at a time when they are most at risk of developing mental health difficulties.

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WW, formerly known as WeightWatchers, launched a diet and nutrition app marketed at children and adolescents this week and have faced immense backlash since.

Kurbo by WW is a free programme that claims to help eight-year-olds to 17-year-olds "build healthy habits", and lose weight through personalised coaching and food tracking.

The app's "traffic light" diet approach categorises foods as red, yellow and green (red being the most process, sugar-filled, yellow being lean protein and pasta and green being fruit and veg).

Kurbo by WW was developed at Stanford University, and WW have defended their programme by stating the app is backed by safe scientific studies. 

CEO of WW, Mindy Grossman, said; "To change the health trajectory of the world, we have a tremendous opportunity, but also a responsibility, to help kids, teens and families adopt healthy habits."

Many critics of the app insist that encouraging kids and teenagers to diet can perpetuate an unhealthy and dangerous mindset.

Fatphobic cultural messaging around dieting has led to a massive issue surrounding eating disorders and mental health among youth.

In an article published in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics in 2015, researchers found that because adolescence is such an important time for body image development, 12-to-18-year-olds with a negative perception of their body or weight are more likely to develop eating disorders or dysfunctional exercise habits.

Of course, obesity can be linked to numerous health concerns but disordered eating and mental health conditions among adolescent is reportedly more likely to pose a dangerous risk than paediatric obesity.

35-to-37 percent of adolescent girls in the US alone report using unhealthy weight loss measures, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. These methods include fasting, smoking, taking laxatives and 'skinny teas', skipping meals and even vomiting.

One-in-three adolescents in the UK alone reported experiencing mental health issues, according to a troubling survey by the charity Action for Children. 

More than 12 percent of adolescents in the US are affected by depression every year. 

Many people on social media were furious about the Kurbo by WW app. Jameela Jamil, an activist and actress who runs the iWeigh campaign for body positivity, tweeted her disgust at the news.

“Are we kidding? Breeding obsession with weight and calories and food at the age of…8?" she wrote. "I was 11 when my obsession started, due to being put on a diet for being the heaviest girl in the class. I became afraid of food. It ruined my teens and twenties.”

Petitions have already been created against the app, with the hashtag #LoveNotDiets trending to urge parents to use love rather than diets to help their nutritional habits.

Childhood obesity is still an incredibly serious public health challenge of the 21st century, and the app attempts to reduce a child's sugar intake. There is nothing wrong with promoting healthy foods and exercising for physical and mental health benefits. 

However, many parents feel that instilling a diet-centered mindset among young people who are already vulnerable could be a dangerous mistake. Targeting the mental health crisis could be a more productive way forward.

Feature image: Instagram/@coachdavidflowers

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A smartphone app has been designed to manage negative emotions and periods of anxiety in order to reduce self-harm in young people, new data has revealed.

BlueIce is a prescribed app and is created to be used alongside face-to-face therapies, overseen by medical professionals.

Clinical psychologist Professor Paul Stallard, of the University of Bath, developed the app in conjunction with patient groups.

A number of papers published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research emphasise that the app could help tackle self-harm in young people.

Head of psychological therapies for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Prof Stallard, claims the idea for BlueIce came about as a result of his work with child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

“Many of the young people I was working with were self-harming but nearly all had their mobile phone close by,” he said.

“Our young people’s participation group at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust thought that a smartphone app could be a way of helping at times of distress, and with their input we produced BlueIce," he continued

“It helps the young person to monitor and manage their unpleasant emotions and to find alternative ways of coping," Prof Stallard added.

“Feedback from young users has been overwhelmingly positive, and there’s a huge potential for it to make a difference to young lives across the UK and internationally.”

BlueIce refers to low mood and ICE (in case of emergency) and is now included on the NHS Apps Library, which holds apps which have undergone technical and clinical reviews.

The app has a mood wheel for young people to keep track of their mood every day, adding notes on their current emotions and actions

The user is immediately routed to a mood-lifting section if a low mood is reported, which has activities designed to reduce distress.

Options include ideas from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and personalised mindfulness guides, images and music.

BlueIce can also take users to emergency contacts like Childline and the 111 service.

Professor Stallard assessed the influence of using the app for three months on a group of 40 young people aged between 12 and 17.

He discovered that 73 percent of those involved either stopped self-harming or reduced it as a result of the app.

BlueIce is currently being used by CAMHS services in Bath, North East Somserset, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire.

It's also being evaluated in a randomised controlled trial undertaken across Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

Professor Stallard will start a trial in September to analyse whether BlueIce reduces the number of young people taken to A&E.

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Little Mix singer Jesy Nelson has emotionally opened up about her body positivity journey to her Instagram followers, describing how she saw herself as the 'fat one from Little Mix'.

The musician won The X Factor in 2011 with the girl group, and has recently filmed a new documentary exploring body image and mental health for BBC One and BBC Three.

The 28-year-old explained to her 5.4 million followers on social media that she wanted to 'erase' her former self 'from my mind and everyone else's memory' until only six months ago.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @jesynelson on

The caption reads; "Six months ago this girl was someone I just wanted to forget. I wanted to erase her from my mind and everyone else’s memory. I didn’t see her as Jesy I saw her as “the fat one from Little Mix”.

"Up until now I hated her not because she’d ever done anything bad but because I was made to hate her by endless amounts of trolling. Since filming my documentary for @bbcone and @bbcthree I’ve learned so much more than I ever expected to," the singer continued.

"Thanks to all the inspirational people I’ve met on this emotional journey, I now love the girl in this photo. I’ve made this documentary for 2011 Jesy and for anyone who might be feeling like she did. I refused to speak about how I was feeling for so long."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by @jesynelson on

The Little Mix star, who is loved up with her reality tv star boyfriend Chris Hughes, encouraged her followers to open up about their body image struggles and get mental health assistance if needed;

"I was embarrassed and scared to. But I was so wrong to feel that way. Please if you are feeling how I did, SPEAK ABOUT IT. Talk to your family, speak to your friends, there’s always help out there," she added.

"If you’d have told that girl one day you won’t feel sad anymore, I’d never have believed you….and here I am. Now when I look in the mirror, I don’t see Jesy the fat one, I see Jesy the happy one."

Feature image: Instagram/@jesynelson

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Social media app Instagram will hide the total number of 'likes' which posts in Ireland receive in a trial to analyse whether users prefer a less competitive social media environment.

Users themselves will be able to see how many 'likes' their own posts get, but not those of other Instagram users' posts.

A spokesman for the app said; “We are testing this because we want followers to focus on the photos and videos shared, not how many likes they get."

They added; “We don’t want Instagram to feel like a competition. We hope to learn whether this change can help people focus less on likes and more on telling their story.”

The company began testing this new feature in Canada in May, emphasising that the focus should be on the photos and videos themselves rather then the numerical results.

The trial is now being extended to Irish users, with the move likely being welcomes by parents and childrens' welfare organisations due to the negative effects on self-esteem associated with Instagram.

Instagram undoubtedly encourages people to portray an idealised version of their lives among their peers, seeking popularity of friends and acquaintances.

A new Canadian study of 3,826 teenagers discovered that social media may be associated with adolescent depression, as young people compare themselves with filtered, unrealistic images of others.

Instagram users will still be shown the number of comments that other users' posts attracts, which could be used as a proxy for popularity.

Instagram has been seen as the least controversial major social media platform, seeing as Facebook's meddling with elections and 'fake news' has gotten them in trouble, as well as YouTube and Twitter's issues with hate speech.

Tara Hopkins, head of public policy, EMEA at Instagram said; “We want Instagram to be a place where people feel comfortable expressing themselves."

She added; “This includes helping people to focus on the photos and videos they share, not how many likes they get.

"We are now rolling the test out to more countries so we learn more from our global community and see how this can benefit people's experiences on Instagram.”

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A new study has found that young women in Ireland have the highest levels of depression in all of Europe.

The study, which was conducted by Eurofound, revealed that 17 percent of women aged between 15 and 24-years-old are suffering from moderate to severe depression.

The current EU average is 9 percent.

Key factors leading to these concerning numbers include homelessness, eating disorders, cyberbullying and Ireland’s economic crisis.

The study states: “Young women are more likely to find themselves not in employment, education or training, and are significantly more likely to suffer depressive symptoms than young men."

The study also found that young women are more likely to internalise traumatic events and personal issues which is a major cause of depression. This can also lead to eating disorders and self-harm.

It is important to remember that there is help out there if you’re struggling with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or anorexia. There is never any shame in admitting that something is wrong. Seeking help from a doctor, counsellor or other medical professional is terrifying but internalising your problems will only make you feel worse.

See below for a list of mental health helplines in Ireland:

Samaritans

www.samaritans.ie

116 123 

Aware (Depression & Bi-Polar Disorder)

www.aware.ie

1800 80 48 48

supportmail@aware.ie 

Pieta House 

www.pieta.ie

1800 247 247 (National Suicide Helpline)

01 623 5606

Grow (Mental Health Support and Recovery)

www.grow.ie

1890 474 474

Bodywhys

www.bodywhys.ie

1890 200 444

 

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Vicky Pattinson has cautioned fans of reality television shows such as Love Island against writing hateful comments online about individual contestants, emphasising that their words have direct consequences.

The TV star referenced the two suicides of Mike Thalassitis and Sophie Gradon following struggles with mental health, emphasising the fact that these television personalities are human.

The star has faced online vitriol as a result of her roles on Geordie Shore, Ex On The Beach and I'm a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, so she has a level of empathy for those who essentially become famous overnight.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vicky Pattison (@vickypattison) on

Posting an image of the two former Love Island contestants to her Instagram, Vicky wrote;

"What do you see here?! Let me tell you what I see; two beautiful, charismatic, fun loving and young people who should have had the world at their feet and their whole lives ahead of them. Instead, they left this world all too soon not knowing just how loved they were."

"Now I haven’t managed to catch any of this year’s Love Island. I’ve barely been in the country since it started. But I still read the news, follow the fan accounts, and my group chats still go off every time it’s on… what I’m saying is it is impossible to avoid the reality TV juggernaut." Vicky continued.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vicky Pattison (@vickypattison) on

She added;

"I just want to say I think the show is great- and I’m friends with so many of the ex-Islanders who I love a lot. But today I made the mistake of reading some people’s comments on social media when I couldn’t sleep and I’m not going to lie I was both shocked and saddened by what I read."

Love Island bosses have stepped up mental health services for the contestants, and even cite 'mental health pressures' in the contract.

Vicky warns those who use social media to use caution, and remember that the contestants do read the hateful things written about themselves online;

"Regardless of who your favourite is on this show, who you ‘ship’, who you want to win, if you’re mad that someone’s left, or angry someone stayed, no matter what you actually may think or be saying in your group chat with your mates I urge you to be more mindful across social media."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Vicky Pattison (@vickypattison) on

The show has come under immense scrutiny after two Islanders took their own lives when their time on the show ended, and the emphasis on body image or physical appearance can cause mental health stress.

"Have we not witnessed the detrimental and irreversible affect our thoughtless words and reckless opinions can have on someone’s mental health?! Why are people still attacking these islanders with such verbal vitriol?!" Vicky said.

"Do you know them personally?! Of course not! Have they done anything to warrant it?! No way. Are they human?! YES! These people are no different to you and me and they have feelings and these hateful comments with have ramifications we can’t even begin to understand."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Mike Thalassitis (@mike_thala) on

Mike Thalassitis, who appeared on Love Island 2017, was found dead in a woodland park near his London home in March. Questions arose about the show's aftercare following the 26-year-old's death.

32-year-old Sophie Gradon died in June of 2018 after struggling with depression. The former Miss Great Britain took part in the show in 2016. She was found dead by her boyfriend, who took his own life 20 days later.

She explained to a friend that she 'wanted to escape' and had 'sold her soul' to appear on the infamous ITV2 show.

Despite these deaths and warnings to be careful of what you write about reality stars online, Vicky pointed out that the hateful vitriol has continued.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sophie Gradon (@sophiegradon) on

"It’s so ludicrous to me that after everything that’s happened this past year I’m still having to urge people to be kind but here we are. We have lost too many people and I know this isn’t confined to the world of reality TV." 

She added;

"Through the callous words of individuals, online hate and cyber bullying we are breaking people, destroying them and it has to stop. Think before you type. Your words have gravity.

"Please be better than this internet culture of hate. Do not allow it to breed. Be kind, be compassionate. Be human. Let’s put the ‘love’ back in Love Island for Sophie & Mike."

Feature image: Instagram/@vickypattinson

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A new Journal of Psychiatric Research-published study has found that women who naturally are early to bed and early to rise are less prone to depression.

A team from the University of Colorado Boulder and the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston analysed data from more than 32,000 female nurses in their research.

This is both the largest and most detailed observational study examining chronotype (a person's sleep-wake preference) and mood disorders.

Speaking on the findings, lead author Céline Vetter told Science Daily, "Our results show a modest link between chronotype and depression risk. This could be related to the overlap in genetic pathways associated with chronotype and mood."

Even after accounting for environmental factors, their findings suggest that there is a link between chronotype, which is partially determined by genetics, and likelihood of depression.

The team came to their conclusions after exploring data from 32,470 women, average age 55, who participated in the Nurses' Health Study.

They started tracking the women's health in 2009 when they were all depression-free. Over the next four years, the researchers followed the women to see who developed depression.

The participants filled out health questionnaires every two years. When answering questions about their sleep patterns, 37 percent said that they were early types. 53 percent described themselves as intermediate types and another 10 percent said they were evening types.

After accounting for depression risk factors like body weight, physical activity, chronic disease, sleep duration, or night shift work, the team still found that early risers were less prone to depression.

More specifically, early risers had a 12 to 27 percent lower risk of depression than intermediate types.

"This tells us that there might be an effect of chronotype on depression risk that is not driven by environmental and lifestyle factors," Vetter, who is also director of the Circadian and Sleep Epidemiology Laboratory (CASEL) at CU Boulder, noted.

Whether we're a night owl or early bird is partially determined by genetics, and research has shown that this trait has a 12 to 42 percent heritability.

Certain genes, like PER2 and RORA, influence both when we prefer to go to bed and rise as well as influence depression risk.

"Alternatively, when and how much light you get also influences chronotype, and light exposure also influences depression risk," Vetter said.

"Disentangling the contribution of light patterns and genetics on the link between chronotype and depression risk is an important next step."

It's not all bad news for night owls, though, she said: "Yes, chronotype is relevant when it comes to depression but it is a small effect."

She recommends that evening types take certain steps that will help them turn in earlier, as people can influence their bedtime preferences.

Getting enough sleep, spending time outdoors, getting daylight, exercising, and dimming lights at night can all help you embrace your inner early bird.

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