Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a form of depression triggered by the shorter periods of light in winter. Annual episodes usually begin in the fall and end in March or April, with the coming of spring. according to NIMH estimates, some 10 million Americans have SAD. Sufferers feel helpless and guilt-ridden and have difficulty thinking and making decisions. They typically crave carbohydrate-rich foods and gain weight during the cold months, and spend many more hours asleep, yet feel chronically exhausted.
Symptoms of SAD
- Sleep problems: Desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake, but in some cases disturbed sleep and early morning wakening.
- Lethargy: Feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine.
- Overeating: Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, usually resulting in weight gain
- Depression: Feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem, sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes apathy and loss of feelings
- Social problems: Irritability and desire to avoid social contact
- Anxiety: Tension and inability to tolerate stress
- Loss of Libido: Decreased interest in s*x and physical contact
- Mood changes: In some sufferers, extremes of ood and short periods of hypoania (overactivity) in spring and autumn.
Most sufferers show signs of a weakened immune system during the winter, and are more vulnerable to infections and other illnesses. SAD symptoms disappear in spring, either suddenly or with a short period (4 weeks) of hyperactivity, or gradually, depending on the intensity of sunlight in the spring and early summer. SAD may begin at any age, but the main age of onset is between 18 and 30 years. Daily exercise has been shown to be helpful, particularly when done outdoors. For tose who tend to crave sweets during the winter, eating a balanced diet may help one's mood. Conversely, as the mood improves, craving for sweets may abate. Briht Light Therapy is one of the most common ways to counteract the symptoms of SAD. There are many lights on the market, but here are a few things to look for when searching for a lamp:
- UV-shielded for safety
- EMF- shielded for safety
- Flicker free