Fighting SAD

by aevans
Fighting SAD
During the winter when the days are short and temperatures cold, many suffer from a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time each year, usually beginning in the fall and lasting through the winter. It has been found that people diagnosed with SAD produce too much melatonin, a hormone produced by a tiny gland in the brain. The hormone is produced only when there is no light, which is why people with SAD tend to experience symptoms as the days get shorter.

If you feel like you have the 'winter blues' this time of the year, don't brush it off; SAD is a legitimate mood disorder that can be treated with light therapy, antidepressant medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy and taking melatonin at specified times. Each of these treatments requires a specific plan in order for it to be successful. Light therapy, for example, requires that the type of light used, distance from the light, and amount of time under the light to be very precise. The intensity should be 10,000 lux (a measurement of light intensity). A person using light therapy should spend no less than 30 minutes under the light. If your light has an intensity of 5,000 lux, double the exposure time. While light therapy lamps can be purchased without a prescription, it’s a good idea to discuss your options with a doctor.

Symptoms of SAD Include:
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Appetite changes, especially craving foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating

If you have noticed any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor and discuss the many treatment options available to you. There’s no reason to endure that winter slump.

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