SAD: Identify and Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

Statistical data has shown that there is a rise in the rate of suicides in the winter months, especially around the holidays. But is the rise a direct correlating to the holidays, or could these cases of the “winter blues” be caused by something more? For some, this winter depression is actually a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Even if you haven’t heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, chances are you’ve heard its acronym SAD. It’s rather appropriate that the letters S-A-D spell out exactly what most folks are feeling when stricken with this disorder.

Many people believe that all depression is the same. Not necessarily. Piling all depressive abnormalities into one class can be dangerous assumption. Diagnosis and, most importantly treatments, differ from one kind of depression to another. In order to receive proper treatment, SAD sufferers must first be properly diagnosed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD) is a depression-related disorder that can change how people feel during particular times of the year. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder show up in the autumn and winter months, most likely caused by the not enough exposure to daylight.

In winter, the days are shorter, we wake up in the dark, go to work and come home again in the dark with very little time in between to enjoy the sun. Daylight savings time only exacerbates the problem.

Seasonal Affective Disorder involves the working of the brain by affecting neurotransmitters that work with the receptors that control mood.

With the loss of sunlight, our internal timer can be off, making too much melatonin. Increased melatonin in the brain produced by these sleep-like dark days can cause symptoms of depression like :

  • Sleeping too much
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lack of interest
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood, thoughts, action

Unfortunately, these symptoms of SAD are the same or similar to the symptoms of many other depressive disorders.

Individuals that experience these symptoms, may worry that they are clinically depressed. If this is you, then take a big breath, relax, and think about your symptoms. When do frequently feel depressed?

If your symptoms appear in the winter and seem to get better when spring rolls around as you spend more time outside, then Seasonal Affective Disorder may be the cause.

Discuss your symptoms with your general practitioner and ask about the possibility of seasonal affective disorder. If you’re suffering from this seasonal disorder, you’re not alone and there is help. SAD affects many people during the dark days of winter.

There are several treatments that have proven very effective at helping people with SAD. Light therapy, using special lamps that mimic sunlight, is the most common and effective treatment. Some folks may need medicine, at least for a short while, to recover from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Talk with your doctor and you may find that the only prescription you need is a day in the sunshine —and wouldn’t that be great!

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