What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

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At certain times of the year, many people have a type of depression that is known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

I do not have this condition but many of my family and friends do.  I’m the one who never changes my clocks to daylight saving time because it interferes with my circadian rhythm for the entire time change and can adjust for appointments easily.  The Amish do not change their clocks either.  A good thing to alleviate the SAD problem is with a light therapy lamp or SAD light shown here.

Usually the problem starts around September through November lessening in late winter or until early spring around March through May.  During the darker days everyone craves comfort foods such as carbohydrates, sweets, and breads.  You can become irritable and grouchy when deprived of sunlight.

Then there are those who live through it unusually overjoyed, ecstatic, enraptured, or exhilarated times and that’s known as euphoria.  It seems strange that SAD varies by geographical areas.  In northern New England 10% of the population are affected, and in the Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, DC areas the number is 5%.  In Florida and southern California, 2% are affected.  No data for the desert, plains, or mountain area.

Did you know that both men and kids suffer from SAD and that three-fourths are women?  That leaves one-fourth to the kids and guys.  Being a woman, I’m so happy I don’t get the giddiness associated with SAD.  The usual start is around age 20, but it also occurs during puberty, middle age, and the elderly.  After menopause women and men are about identical.  It is genetic and maybe your parents were afflicted.  Those with fibromyalgia seem to have 50% of those people with the cyclical symptoms.

Some of the symptoms whether you are depressed or it’s the right season are shown below:

  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Problems sleeping
  • Lassitude, fatigue, easily tired
  • Waning sex drive
  • Loss of memory
  • Body pain and aching
  • Powerlessness making decisions
  • Effort to concentrate
  • Problems with confidence, self-esteem having insecurities, anxieties, and uncertainties
  • Absence of interest in normal activities and fun times
  • Thoughts of suicide

Treatment for SAD

SAD is a major depressive disorder and is treated for that issue—major depression.  Taking antidepressants or mood steadying prescription medications can help.  Sometimes psychotherapy is recommended to talk about it all with a counselor.  Because SAD occurs during the time there is not as much sunshine, it has been helpful and quite effective to be out-of-doors more in the bright light.  Not all winter and early spring days have full sunshine because there are many days of cloudy skies with snow or rain.  However, there are lights now available that can simulate the sun.  You can sit in front of the special movable boxes with spectrum fluorescent tubes or other types of bulbs.  Check with your doctor about this for your condition for the best way to treat your situation.

A choice SAD light for fall, winter, and spring is shown here on Amazon.com.

The best light therapy lamps will help you get to sleep and keep you asleep better all night.

How the Light Works

For the SAD light, only the natural spectrum is needed for treatment.  These are less expensive than full-spectrum lights that are more near the color of natural sunshine.  Full-spectrum lights are used for other conditions and are not necessary for SAD.

How the Therapy Works

It has a calculated amount of balanced spectrum light that equates to standing outdoors on a bright sunshiny day.  It helps to normalize your body’s clock—circadian rhythm.  The light is transmitted on the retina at the back of your eye and then those stimuli transmit the electrical energy impulses to the hypothalamus in your brain to return your circadian rhythm to normal—the clock within your body.  This will help coordinate sleep and waking time patterns for your type of life and work schedule.

Today’s contemporary wake up light alarm clocks usually have a built-in sunset simulation feature and it works well with the natural circadian rhythm of your body to help you sleep and the sunset simulation will gradually turn off automatically.

Stopping and Starting Bright Light Therapy for SAD

Using the light daily at the same time each day will be the best for you until your symptoms disappear.  You can eventually have your session diminish by a half hour by 15-minutes in the morning and 15-minutes in the evening.  After you have established a routine, you can probably skip a day or two with no adverse problems.  Start your light therapy sessions in the late fall when it starts getting dark around 4:30 or 5 p.m.  Stop the therapy in the spring when daylight is longer and it gets dark around 6 p.m.

Final Thoughts

Get yourself the best light for seasonal affective disorder and you will see your moods change quickly to not feel depressed.  Pregnant women will benefit from light therapy too so that they and baby can get a good night’s sleep.  Mom-to-be might also like to cozy up with a maternity pillow too shown here.  With the high-tech products in the marketplace today, no one needs to suffer from anything, including Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Light therapy lamps and a great functioning SAD light will put you on your way to dreamland in no time.

Leave your questions or comments below and I’ll get back with you.

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