Tuesday, April 30, 2013

SAD: How to Fight Seasonal Depression

Have you ever wondered why our hearts go to our sweet hearts, we tend to miss them very intensely when it rains, we feel low, even feel like weeping alone on a cloudy day...we sometimes go through sudden mood change with no exact reason behind, we tend to eat more and sleep more and experience depression, lethargy, fatigue, cravings for sweets and starches, headaches, sleep problems and irritability as the temperature drops. The influence of season on human mood and his energy level is undeniable, and time and again the psychologists have studied and documented the facts.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is not only a couple of symptoms related to winter blah; it is mostly associated with day light, that is why SAD is prevalent in high latitude and mid latitude areas. People who live in the Arctic region are more susceptible due to the fact that they are affected by polar nights, prolonged periods of overcast weather also induce SAD, however, It is more serious disorder, sometimes requiring hospitalization when the depression is aggravated and turns into dysthymia or clinical depression. Our biological internal clocks or circadian rhythm goes through a shift as seasons change, and our biological clocks fall out of our daily schedules. January and February are the months when a SAD sufferer suffers the most, young people and women are comparatively more victimized.

The most frequent symptoms are recurring symptoms of depression and excessive eating and sleeping, weight gain during the fall or winter months. The patient would fully cutback from depression in the spring and summer months. SAD symptoms occur in them with no non-seasonal depression episodes and seasonal episodes significantly outnumber non-seasonal depression episodes. The patient craves for sugary and starchy foods during the winter. Possible cause of the disorder, as the researchers and psychologists say, is Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone is said to cause symptoms of depression, because it is produced at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, when the days are shorter and darker the production of this hormone increases and people are affected.

Apart from antidepressants like Xanax, photo therapy or bright light therapy is proved to suppress the brain's secretion of melatonin. The use of bright light box at a dose of 10,000 lux for 30-60 minutes per day has given good results. During these minutes the eyes should remain open but should not stare directly to the light. The light box is a bank of white fluorescent lights on a metal reflector and shield with a plastic screen. The light therapy may take several weeks to treat the depression but some patients have shown results within one week. For patients with mild symptoms, spending time in the sun or arranging picnics or outdoors to receive more sunlight may be helpful. A daily walk of an hour in the sunlight during the winter is more effective than two and a half hours of light therapy. When photo therapy does not work, an antidepressant drug proves to be effective in reducing or eliminating SAD symptoms. But before taking an antidepressant, a doctor's advice is required so that a proper antidepressant medication is taken.

There is no cure for SAD discovered yet; nevertheless, the above mentioned treatments are helpful in managing the winter blues so that one can go though all the seasons in the year comfortably.

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