|About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)|
|Causes of SAD|
|Symptoms of SAD|
|Practical Ways to Implement Treatments|
|Other Ways to Manage SAD|
|Tips for avoiding 'Winter Blues' aka SAD|
Some students moving to a college in a climate that is very different from that of their hometown may experience unexpected emotions. While many of these feelings can be attributed to the normal stresses common in the transition to college, some women experiencing feelings of depression, lethargy and other symptoms may be affected by something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
With the understanding that SAD is the root of these emotions, know that there are measures you can take to start feeling like your old self once more. Since SAD is a mood disorder often associated with lack of sufficient exposure to sunlight, ways that may help alleviate symptoms often include increasing your exposure to natural and/or certain types of artificial light. Additionally, changes in sleep patterns, exercise routines, and eating habits could also help you ensure that your moods are a result of the events in your life rather than the weather outside! [ To Top ]
Symptoms typically begin in the fall, peak in the winter, and resolve in the spring.
The diagnosis of SAD is relatively new and has drawn much attention in the past five years due to the increased prevalence of symptoms during the winter months. Many people are affected by seasonal changes; fortunately it is a condition that is often easily treatable through non-invasive methods. [ To Top ]
Reduction in the amount of light the retina is exposed to results in imbalances in the mood chemicals, SEROTONIN and MELATONIN. SEROTONIN is what makes you happy. When light reaches the retina of your eye, SEROTONIN is released. This is why being in bright sunlight often puts people in good moods. Alternately, light inhibits the production of MELATONIN levels in the brain. MELATONIN has the opposite effect on your mood; it typically will make you tired and groggy. Receiving less light exposure causes production of MELATONIN to be higher. Therefore, when your retina does not receive enough light, SEROTONIN levels drop and MELATONIN levels increase, causing you to feel tired and sad.
Different individuals who experience SAD are affected differently, and responses can range widely from mild depressive symptoms to major depressive episodes. How badly you are affected depends on your interaction between your normal daily functions and the environment. [ To Top ]
Symptoms may include:
Bright light is recommended to use over dimmer, yellow light. It is advised that when undergoing light therapy to use 5,000 to 10,000 lux (a measure of light intensity) and that you should be approximately 1-3 feet away from the light. Fluorescent light works as well as full spectrum light, but some people prefer full spectrum light because it mimics natural light. Timing is also an important factor. It is recommended that treatment begin early in the day, and early in the year (usually late summer-early fall). It is important to meet with a health care provider before beginning light therapy.
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Artificial light treatment can be performed by exposure to light boxes or full-spectrum light bulbs. This treatment is very effective. You might find it easier to simply try to absorb more light through natural means. This can be accomplished by spending more time outside.
Getting proper nutrition will help boost your energy levels, thus helping you to feel better. This is true throughout the year, but in particular, benefits of healthy eating will be marked when you are feeling low.
It is important to get a proper amount of sleep. The typical recommendation is 7.5-9 hours per night. Sleeping less than this will only increase fatigue and sleeping more will cause grogginess and increase lethargy. [ To Top ]
Pay attention to the fluctuations in your moods and energy levels.
If you become aware of symptoms before they become severe, you will be able to act accordingly before things get out of hand.
Integrate active events into your life, especially during the fall and winter.
This will help keep energy levels up and decrease lethargy.
Expose yourself to bright light as much as you can.
Both natural and artificial light mood can help people with SAD improve their mood.
Keeping a consistent schedule of physical activity will help boost your mmod.
There is no shame in seeking treatment that will help improve your mood and outlook on life. Treatment works. [ To Top ]
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