August 6th, 2008
As the days grow shorter and darker, those with SAD may find themselves feeling down and longing for the brighter, sunnier days of summer. For those suffering with this condition, fall and winter can feel like they last an eternity, depriving them of the light they need to feel good. This condition is increasingly common, especially among those who live in the far north regions of the United States and if you suffer from it you’re not alone. In some cases, the sadness and depression that can result from SAD can lead to more severe depression and even alcohol abuse. So how can you make it through winter with your mental health intact if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder? It might not be as bad as you think.
So just what is seasonal affective disorder and how can you know if you have it? While only a doctor can tell you for sure, there are some telltale signs that you’ll need to be on the lookout for. Those with SAD are generally upbeat for most of the year, only feeling depressed in late fall and winter. Depression is usually mild but can be severe for some patients. Some warning signs are oversleeping, daytime fatigue, weight gain and craving high calorie or carb foods. Additionally, suffers may get some of the typical symptoms of depression like lack of interest in sex, social withdrawal, lethargy and thoughts of suicide.
If you think some of these symptoms may describe you, then there are avenues for treatment you can peruse. One of the most common ways SAD is treated is through light therapy. Patients use a special UV light in their own homes, sitting under it for an hour or so a day. Usually, if this treatment is performed correctly, patients will see an improvement in their mood in a matter of days . This simple, natural treatment can make a world of difference for those suffering from the condition.
While light therapy is the most common treatment for SAD, other options are available as well. For those with more severe SAD, prescription anti-depressants may be needed. Others have seen relief from taking a vitamin D supplement, changing the lighting in their homes, or even engaging in fake tanning. You should consult with a physician before beginning any course of treatment to find out what will be right for you given the severity and unique aspects of your SAD.
There’s no reason to suffer through the short days of winter without help for your seasonal affective disorder. With lights and other treatments available, you can work at feeling like your old self no matter what month or time of the year it is.
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