Friday, April 12, 2024

Light Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder

What Exactly is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Depressive disorders include seasonal affective disorder or SAD. It occurs at specific times of the year, typically in the fall or winter. Depression symptoms may be brought on by a chemical change in the brain brought on by shorter days and less sunlight.

SAD can be treated with light therapy and antidepressants. Sadness or unhappiness is not the same thing as depression. It is neither a sign of weakness on one’s part nor a condition that can be wished away or willed out.

Depression can last for weeks, months, or years without treatment; however, most people do well on medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.  Within a few weeks, most people who seek treatment for clinical depression experience improvement.

Who Is Susceptible to SAD?

SAD typically begins in adulthood. Age increases the risk of SAD. Underage people rarely experience it. Men are more likely than women to be affected.

What Are SAD’s Symptoms?

SAD is divided into two categories:

Fall-onset: Another name for this is “winter depression. Depression starts to show up in the late fall and early winter and goes away in the summer.

Spring-onset: Another name for this is “summer depression. Depression begins in the latter part of spring or early summer. This kind is much less prevalent.

The most typical signs of SAD are as follows:

  • Sleepiness and drowsiness during the daytime 
  • Loss of interest in and enjoyment from previously enjoyed activities 
  • Low power level 
  • Reduced sex drive 
  • Decreased ability to focus or concentrate 
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • An increased appetite, particularly for sweets and carbohydrates
  • Weight gain 
  • Physical problems 
  • Such as headaches, are among the symptoms 
  • Symptoms typically recur and then improve at roughly the same times

Other mental health conditions may resemble SAD’s symptoms. Always seek medical attention for a diagnosis.

How Does SAD Diagnosis Work?

Depression frequently coexists with other conditions like cancer or heart disease. Other mood disorders, such as substance abuse or anxiety, may also experience this. The key to recovery is early diagnosis and treatment for these reasons.

After a thorough mental health examination and medical history by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional, a diagnosis of SAD may be made.

How Does SAD Get Treated?

Treatments for “winter depression” and “summer depression” frequently differ, and they may include any one of the following or a combination of them:

Exposure to the Sun

Getting some fresh air or spending time near a window can help ease symptoms.

Light Therapy

With light Exposure to a special light for a specific amount of time each day may be beneficial if increasing sunlight is not possible.

Psychotherapy

Interpersonal or cognitive behavioral therapy can help you change your distorted views of yourself and the world around you. It may assist you in developing your interpersonal relationships, as well as in identifying and managing stressors.

Antidepressants

The chemical imbalance that may cause seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can be corrected with the assistance of these prescription medications.

Facts About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a type of depression that occurs during a specific time of year, typically in the fall and winter.

SAD has no definite cause. A chemical change in the brain is thought to be linked to less sunlight and shorter days, which may contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD may also be linked to melatonin, a hormone related to sleep.

Almost everyone who suffers from depression experiences persistent sadness, as well as feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and irritability.

A careful mental health exam and medical history by a psychiatrist or other mental health professional can help diagnose seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Light therapy, psychotherapy, and occasionally antidepressants are the most common methods of treating depression.

Affective Disorders of the Season: What You Need to Know

The Christmas lights are not just for decoration; They can also assist in mood management.

Many people don’t get much sun exposure in the late fall and winter because of shorter daylight hours. This causes the brain to produce too much of the hormone that helps people sleep.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects 10 to 20 percent of people, is caused by the excessive production of melatonin.

SAD is Different From Depression

Because major depression causes your brain to stop responding to pleasure. This woman is seated in front of a lightbox. You might feel hopeless, lose your appetite, have trouble sleeping, and be exhausted.

In the winter, depression sufferers frequently have a harder time controlling their symptoms. However, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is when depressive symptoms only occur in the winter.

SAD is Effective on Both Men and Women

Historically, researchers have believed that women are more likely to suffer from seasonal depression. However, psychiatrists are discovering that this is not always the case. Women are more likely to exhibit the typical depression symptoms of crying and sadness.

However, men express emotions differently, exhibiting depression with greater irritability, rage, or frustration, according to Howard County General Hospital director of psychiatry Andrew Frank Angelino, M.D. 

How to Get Rid of SAD?

If you can’t go outside during the day, there are ways to stop your body from making too much melatonin.

Dr. Angelino advises, “You can also get a light box if you find that you are prone to getting the blahs in the winter or if you know you have depression and are taking your medicine. 

Natural, full-spectrum light helps stabilize your mood and regulates hormones in the brain. In addition to purchasing a light box, Dr. Angelino suggests the following five methods for overcoming the winter blues.

Be realistic about your holiday expectations: Don’t let your expectations of perfection dampen your festive spirit. Learn how to accept food, company, and gifts as sufficient.

Maintain health: To combat the blues, a daily routine of at least 7 hours of sleep, 30 minutes of exercise, and a low alcohol intake can go a long way.

In the sun, stand: Get away from your workstation. Your internal clock is aided by at least 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight, especially early in the morning.

Engage in some winter pastimes: The chilly weather may prevent you from gardening on the weekend, but it might also be the best time to complete your reading list or start a new house project. Seasonally adapt your leisure activities.

If natural treatments do not work, see a doctor: Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms are frequently interfering with your daily life.

 

 

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