As the long summer days fade with the warm weather, many of us start to feel blue. But that sinking feeling can not be just a normal reaction to the cold of winter – for millions is a form of major depression called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. More familiarly, SAD is also called the “winter blues”.
Seasonal affective disorder affects approximately 10 million Americans, and health officials estimate that another 25 million suffer from a mild form of SAD.
In most cases, SAD usually begin in October and last until March or April. Symptoms typically peak in the winter months leading to December, January and February.
About 75 to 80 percent of those who suffer from this disease are women. SAD not usually affect people younger than 20 years. To be officially diagnosed with SAD you must have had symptoms for at least three consecutive years and the symptoms should decrease summer.
Typical symptoms of SAD are similar to symptoms of major depression. They include:
* Depressed mood
* The lack of energy
* Overeating (especially carbohydrates and sugar) and weight gain
* Memory or attention and focus problems
* Thoughts suicidal
* Social isolation or lack of interest in social interaction
A key feature that distinguishes this form of depression from other forms is an intense need for carbohydrates or sweets. The symptoms are also not bound to a life event such as job loss or loss of a loved one.
What causes seasonal affective disorder?
Doctors are not entirely sure, but the main theory is that the lack of sunlight is to blame. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the long days of darkness in fall and winter affect the secretion of melatonin, which is controlled by the pineal gland in the brain.
Melatonin is responsible for the sleep-wake cycle and other daily rhythms in the body, says the NIMH. When the production of this hormone is affected in the fall and winter, he threw the body from daily rhythms and disrupts synchronization chemicals in the body that influence your mood, as serotonin.
Treatments for emotional season Disorder
Whichever is more recent and most often recommended for SAD is light therapy. This treatment uses a box that emits light that approximates sunlight. Without medication, this box changes the biochemistry of the brain that regulate serotonin and melatonin, two key neurotransmitters that significantly influence the emotions in the brain. By exposing your eyes (not your skin) to the morning light should influence modd and relive the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
For best results, the Mayo Clinic recommends choosing a box of light therapy that:
* Is portable
* Is designed specifically for treating SAD (not all)
* Use a UV filter to protect your eyes and skin
* At 10,000 lux intensity, even at two feet away
* Uses LEDs instead of fluorescent or incandescent
* Shine the light over your eyes, not directly to them
* Has a “dawn simulator”
It should be noted that the boxes of light therapy has been shown that side effects, despite the fact they are usually the symptoms are often short term. These symptoms usually involve headaches, nausea and vision problems. If you are interested in this type of treatment, be sure to discuss your options with your doctor professional.
More ideas to help you overcome seasonal affective disorder:
* Spend 10 to 15 minutes outside noon to enjoy the sunshine and boost your body’s natural production of vitamin D to increase levels of serotonin in the brain;
* Take a supplement of melatonin – try taking it in late monring, afternoon, noon or early look at a schedule that gives you the most relief;
* Take extra vitamins or minerals (under medical supervision) as a vitamin B complex, vitamin D, or iron;
* Use a “light box therapy” to work to fight against seasonal affective disorder if you do not have time to do at home before going to the door to get to work.
Dr. Marlene M. Maheu, a licensed psychologist, is founder and editor of a leading self-help and psychology portals, SelfhelpMagazine. More articles by this author are available http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/. link to the original article: http://www.selfhelpmagazine.com/article/seasonal-affective-disorderTags: Seasonal Affective Disorder, light therapy, SAD