Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Pam Helms's picture

It is fall, what a glorious season filled with beautiful weather, bright colored leaves and outdoor activities.  But what if you are not enjoying this time of year.  What if you feel tired, depressed, irritable, poor sleep and have a decreased activity level.  Could be you are suffering from the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder).  Sad occurs in 1 to 10% of the adult population, affecting more women than men and the average age of onset is 23 years of age.

This disorder seems to develop from inadequate light during the fall and winter months.  When the days get shorter an absence of bright light can affect the chemicals in our brain leading to depressive symptoms.  Regular exposure to bright light significantly improves depression in some people with this disorder.

What is an effective treatment for this disorder?  Phototherapy is helpful for most people.  Many doctors recommend using a commercial light box, for approximately 30 minutes every day.  The light must be of sufficient brightness and used for the suggested time. Antidepressants and psychotherapy are also helpful for treating this disorder. Psychotherapy seems to accentuate the effectiveness of medical treatment and should be included in the treatment of this disorder.

If you are having symptoms of depression that seemed to coincide with the beginning of fall and less daylight hours, check with your doctor and follow his recommendation for treatment. There are effective treatments for this disorder.

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