Feeling SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

rsz_young_woman_cryingIt is commonly known that MS can impact mood and can cause an increased risk for developing depression and anxiety which MSAA detailed in the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of The Motivator. However, you may be unfamiliar with another condition – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – which may be something to pay attention to as the seasons change.

SAD is a type of depression which is hallmarked by its “seasonality” generally beginning in the fall and lasting through the winter months. SAD typically tends to creep up as the daylight hours get shorter and the weather gets cooler and the impacts on mood may become more severe as the season goes on.  Like other forms of depression, individuals who experience SAD may experience low energy (fatigue), may lose enjoyment in activities they once enjoyed, may experience changes in eating or sleeping habits, may have persistent sad or depressed thoughts, and may even think of engaging in self-harm. As with other forms of depression, individuals with SAD may benefit from the use of medications and/or talk therapy to help address this issue. One major difference with teasing out SAD from other forms of depression is that individuals with SAD may also benefit from using “phototherapy” or specialized light therapy; a person may even be assigned a specific amount time in their day to sit under the specialized light or lamp to help improve their symptoms.

If you have noticed that the fall and winter seasons tend to impact your mood, or if you have noticed a lower overall mood, please discuss the issue with your treating physician…sometimes just shedding some “light” on a situation can make a world of difference.

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Let Us Help You Help Others.

Help Sign Shows Lost In Labyrinth

by Kimberly Goodrich, CFRE, Senior Director of Development

In previous blog posts and articles in our magazine The Motivator, I have addressed the controversy over whether charity ratings are really helpful in giving a true picture of an organization’s effectiveness in meeting their mission.

Earlier this month, I attended a luncheon on this topic with Steve Nardizzi, CEO of Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). Nardizzi gave several examples where ratings from charity watchdogs were not helpful in determining if an organization is meeting its mission. In some cases the ratings were even misleading. One example was the Central Asia Institute, formerly run by Greg Mortenson co-author of Three Cups of Tea. When Mortenson was ordered to pay back over one million dollars in misused funds, his organization had a four star rating. How does this help us decide where our dollars should go?

This makes it harder for the donor. There is no one single number that tells us if an organization is doing a good job or not. We need to dig deeper and ask questions about goals and impact – not ratios. Ask about the people they help. Is that number growing? Are they feeding more people? Saving more forests?

WWP continues to grow despite mediocre ratings. Why? Because its supporters see the incredible impact they are having on the lives of wounded veterans. Eight years ago they had higher ratings, but only 10 million to spend on programs. By making a conscious effort to invest in fundraising, marketing, and staff, they now have lower ratings, but spend 176 million on programs for veterans. By ignoring the ratings and focusing their resources on their mission, more veterans are helped. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?

At MSAA our mission is to improve the lives of those living with MS. Like WWP, the amount we spent on fundraising went up. Some think this is bad. However, this increased fundraising helped our overall rating to go up. This increase in fundraising led to a significant increase in revenue (16.5% growth last year). This increased revenue in turn allowed us to help more people living with MS. Our toll-free Helpline assisted 6% more people. We provided ongoing MRI assistance to 9% more people, and diagnostic MRI assistance to 70% more people than the year before. Our mobile phone app was downloaded by an additional 7,000 people who now use it to track their symptoms and improve their daily lives. These are increases we are proud of and that make the decision to invest in additional fundraising streams worthwhile.

What numbers would mean the most to you? How do you think we should decide if an organization is meeting its mission and therefore worthy of our donations? We’d like to hear your thoughts. Help us help you to help others.

*About Kimberly

I am the Senior Director of Development at MSAA and have worked in the nonprofit arena for over 15 years. I love reading, running, theatre and the Green Bay Packers. I volunteer with the Disabled American Veterans teaching outdoor sports like skiing and kayaking to injured veterans and find that I receive much more from them than I am able to give.

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Latest Issue of The Motivator Now Available for the MS Community

savas2The Motivator is MSAA’s award-winning magazine provided to the MS community and to our generous supporters. Distributed twice per year, this publication addresses the physical, emotional, and social issues that arise with MS, and provides information and support to many individuals affected by this disorder.

We’re pleased to announce that the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of The Motivator is now available to read!

savas

Cover Story:
The Emotional and Psychological Symptoms of MS
… The symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pseudobulbar affect (PBA) are described, along with effective treatment strategies. Important information is also given on how these symptoms affect roles and relationships, sexual function, and self-image.
Read the full story

Feature Story:
…Competitive “biosimilar” drugs may soon be considered for approval. Read about how these “highly similar” drugs may affect procedure, treatment, and cost.
Read the full story

AquaticCenter-Screen

Program Notes:
…Details on MSAA’s new Swim for MS online Aquatic Center are highlighted. This national program initiative supports the awareness, understanding, and availability of swimming and aquatic exercise as a positive wellness opportunity for the MS community.
Read the full story

Read the latest issue of The Motivator

 

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How does MSAA improve lives for the multiple sclerosis community?

Last week, we shared an infographic with our supporters showing just a few of the ways MSAA improves lives for the multiple sclerosis community. Today, we wanted to post that infographic again in case you missed it.

But we wanted to start by posing a question: What, exactly, is a “good” charity?* 

There has been a lot of talk recently about good charities and bad charities. News reports have focused on charities that do little, if anything, to help alleviate social issues…and on companies who profit from the increasing need for funding to ensure missions are fulfilled. The nonprofit world is buzzing with words like “expensive ratios,” “ratings,” and “overhead.” The result: We are now taking a new look at what being a good charity really means.

How does MSAA improve lives?

                    How can your donation improve a life today?

As an organization, MSAA welcomes this conversation. We believe in using our resources efficiently to best serve the needs of the MS community. We have worked hard over the years to streamline our processes and improve our program delivery.

In addition to the wealth of information and support MSAA provides, for those who would be unable to afford equipment or MRI scans on their own, MSAA’s programs make a tangible difference in day-to-day quality of life. This is attested to time and time again in the unsolicited tesmionials of our clients.

*Excerpt from “Thoughts about Giving” in MSAA’s magazine The Motivator (Summer/Fall 2013)

Also made possible through the help of our supporters…

1,040,554 visits for vital information through our website

About 215,000 MSAA publications distributed to provide information and support

66,596 views of our 36 on-demand video programs

7,174 new downloads for MSAA’s smartphone app, “My MS Manager”

Donate now and improve a life today. 

You, too, can improve a life today.

“Thank you so much for getting back to me so soon! After over two years of waiting and being passed off [by other organizations], my MRI is scheduled for a couple of hours from now! Thank you!” – Jordan R. from Colorado. 

Improve a life today for someone like Jordan. 

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. 

Improving Lives Today!

 

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Talking with Friends and Family about Multiple Sclerosis & its Symptoms

For this month, we focused our blog around managing MS.  Some helpful tips were provided and the one that sticks out to me was about “asking for help”.  Understanding your limits and what you are able to accomplish in a day is a great way to conserve your energy and focus on what is important.  Often times it is important to involve those around you, but navigating the “how to” is a challenge.

For those who struggle with the symptoms of MS that may not be visible (i.e. fatigue, pain, and cognitive changes), the hidden symptoms of MS, asking for help from a friend or loved one can often be a daunting task.  We frequently hear and read stories from individuals who feel guilty asking for help, because they don’t feel that they “look” sick.  They fear they will be judged in asking for help.

It may be helpful, before you tell everyone about your MS symptoms to think; does this person play a significant role in my life? And, can I rely on them in the future if I need help?  If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then it is time to put on your teacher hat and educate those identified helpers about what types of symptoms you experience and what they may look, or sound like, for you.  MSAA’s The Motivator Winter/Spring 2013 edition discusses may of the hidden symptoms of MS: http://www.mymsaa.org/publications/motivator/winter-spring13/.  This publication can be shared with friends and loved ones to further provide education and information.

Not every person with MS experiences symptoms in the same way, so providing information as to how MS looks and feels to you is very important.  With more understanding and better education, we can hope to reduce the stigma around the hidden symptoms of MS and promote a more positive experience for both yourself and your loved ones.

Please share your experiences, have you had to educate your friends and loved ones about the symptoms of MS?  What has worked for you?

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Latest Issue of The Motivator Now Available!

Read about the following topics in MSAA’s latest issue of The Motivator:

Cover Stormotivator winter_spring 2013y:
* The Hidden Symptoms of MS
This article describes some of the hidden symptoms of MS (including pain, fatigue, sleep, cognition, and vision), along with management strategies.
Read the full story

Research News:
* American Academy of Neurology Meeting Highlights
* Tecfidera™ Approved for the Long-Term Treatment of MS
Read the full story

Health and Wellness:
* The Affordable Care Act and You
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to increase the availability and affordability of health insurance for millions of Americans who lack coverage. Beginning in January 2014, this historic initiative will significantly impact a substantial number of individuals with multiple sclerosis and their families.
Read the full story

Already receive a printed copy of The Motivator magazine in the mail? Interested in receiving The Motivator electronically only? Let us know! Please visit support.mymsaa.org/motivatorupdate.

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MSAA’s MS Research Update

MSAA's Research Update 2013MSAA’s MS Research Update is a comprehensive overview of research findings on the FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies, as well as many experimental treatments.

This 2013 edition of MSAA’s MS Research Update is the first to be printed as a stand-alone issue, reflecting the diversity and scope of research progress in MS. This information is based on a wide range of sources, including the extensive journal literature on MS and its management, a review of ongoing clinical trials, and papers presented at major national and international conferences.

Read MSAA’s latest MS Research Update.

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Read MSAA’s latest issue of The Motivator

Cover for Summer-Fall 2012 issue of The MotivatorThe latest issue of MSAA’s magazine, The Motivator, is out now – read it online, download a version to your computer, or order a copy today.

Included in the online issue:

* Cover Story – The Evolution of MS Diagnosis, Treatment, and Care

* Research News – Aubagio® approval and other research updates

* Health and Wellness – The benefits of aquatic therapy and exercise

…Plus, extra “Ask the Doctor” answers, not included in the printed magazine!

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The Evolution of MS Diagnosis, Treatment, and Care:

From the mid-1800s to the late 1900s, diagnostic criteria and therapies were fraught with uncertainty – and required more than a century of trial and error to reach today’s high level of success. Seventeen MS specialists are quoted, giving details about the most important contributions in MS history.

Read the full story

Research News:

Read about the recent FDA-approval of Aubagio® (teriflunomide), as well as updates on DMF (dimethyl fumarate) and Lemtrada™ (alemtuzumab), both submitted for FDA approval.

Read the full story

Health and Wellness:

Aquatic therapy and aquatic exercise are described, along with the benefits that they offer to individuals with MS.

Read the full story

The Motivator is MSAA’s award-winning magazine provided to the MS community and to our generous supporters.

Read the latest issue of The Motivator

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