Since I received a lot of positive feedback on my Depression Awareness Series I started last year, I thought it would be a good idea to continue to write a few of these posts this year as well. If you read my first Depression Awareness post last year (see my links at the end of the post) you may remember that I shared with my personal experiences with Clinical Depression. Today I wanted share some information about a condition that is closely related to depression that is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.
Here is some information that I gathered from mayoclinic.org about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
What is Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.
Don't brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.
Fall and Winter SADSymptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
Treatments and MedicationTreatment for seasonal affective disorder may include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. If you have bipolar disorder, tell your doctor — this is critical to know when prescribing light therapy or an antidepressant. Both treatments can potentially trigger a manic episode.
- Light therapy
In light therapy, also called phototherapy, you sit a few feet from a special light therapy box so that you're exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics natural outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.
Light therapy is one of the first line treatments for fall-onset SAD. It generally starts working in a few days to two weeks and causes few side effects. Research on light therapy is limited, but it appears to be effective for most people in relieving SAD symptoms.
Before you purchase a light therapy box, talk with your doctor about the best one for you, and familiarize yourself with the variety of features and options so that you buy a high-quality product that's safe and effective.
Some people with SAD benefit from antidepressant treatment, especially if symptoms are severe.
An extended-release version of the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Aplenzin) may help prevent depressive episodes in people with a history of SAD. Other antidepressants also may commonly be used to treat SAD.
Your doctor may recommend starting treatment with an antidepressant before your symptoms typically begin each year. He or she may also recommend that you continue to take the antidepressant beyond the time your symptoms normally go away.
Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to notice full benefits from an antidepressant. In addition, you may have to try different medications before you find one that works well for you and has the fewest side effects.
Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is another option to treat SAD. Psychotherapy can help you:
- Identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that may be making you feel worse
- Learn healthy ways to cope with SAD
- Learn how to manage stress
I don't suffer from SAD, but just like any other mental health issue this is a real condition. I can imagine how SAD could alter someone mood especially if you have already have a pre-existing depression condition and living in an environment where the sun isn't doesn't shine very often etc. I know there are more risk factors and causes for SAD, but I can see why light therapy is an important factor to decrease SAD symptoms. I'm not a health professional, but if you think you or anyone you is experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, please see a physician.
If you would like to read more about Seasonal Affective Disorder here is the link once again
Here are the links to my previous Depression Awareness Posts:
Depression Awareness: My Story (February 2015)
Depression Awareness: Counseling, Is It Worth a Try? (April 2015)
Depression Awareness: What Depression Feels Like (June 2015)
Depression Awareness: Suicide Prevention (August 2015)
October is Depression Awareness Month (October 2015)
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