Heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Want to know more about it?

We know: All about Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD)?

SAD sufferers experience periods of depression that seem to accompany the changing of the seasons during the year.

Who does Seasonal Affective Disorder normally effect?

Typically, women who suffer from SAD, though some men have reported SAD symptoms. Most SAD cases start when people are in their twenties. However, children or adolescents can also suffer from SAD as well.

When are Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers most affected?

Symptoms of winter SAD usually start up in October or November and last until March or April. SAD sufferers are affected differently, so for some symptoms will not begin until later in the year while others will start earlier. Most people with SAD will not feel back to normal until early May.

About 1/10th of people suffer from SAD symptoms in the summer, possibly in reaction to the heat and humidity.

What are some of the common symptoms of winter SAD sufferers?

Most SAD sufferers will experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Oversleeping
  • Depression
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Decrease in sex drive
  • Social withdrawal
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Lethargy

What treatments are available for SAD?

Bright white florescent light has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms associated with winter SAD. Bulbs with color temperatures between 3000 and 6500 degrees Kelvin have been shown to help.

The lower color temperatures create a "softer" white light with less visual glare, while the bulbs with higher color temperatures produce a "colder" skylight hue. The lamps are surrounded by a box with a diffusing lens, that also filters out ultraviolet radiation. The box is placed on a tabletop, preferably at eye level. Setting the lamp at this level reduces glare sensations at high intensity, and preferentially illuminates the lower half of the retina. This part of the eye is rich in photoreceptors that are thought to mediate the antidepressant response.

Determining how much light exposure is necessary for a SAD sufferer depends on the individual. In order to use light exposure most effectively three major dosing dimensions must be considered:

  • Light exposure
  • Light intensity
  • Time of day of exposure

What should I do if I think I have SAD?

If your symptoms are mild and do interfere with your daily living, consider trying light therapy. If you suffer from more severe symptoms or you feel like your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, then consult a doctor.

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