Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Local expert, Dr. Rosenberg joined Ali Touhey on News 8 at Sunrise to discuss the timely topic.
Dr. Tziporah Rosenberg with the University of Rochester Medical Center discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder (also called SAD) Thursday morning on News 8 at Sunrise.

The disorder is a type of time-limited depression or low mood that occurs around the same time every year.
For most people with seasonal affective disorder, symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer. Can affects kids and adults alike.

The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body's internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake. This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression.
A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) That affects mood, might happen with reduced sunlight. That can trigger depression.
Melatonin is linked to sleep. The body produces it in greater quantities when it's dark or when days are shorter. This increased production of melatonin can cause a person to feel sleepy and lethargic.
SAD is more common in people in more northerly latitudes (like Upstate NY, Canada, Alaska, as opposed to Florida or California), though not everyone in these places becomes affected.
Women and those with family members who have other issues with mood are more likely to be affected.

In most cases, symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer (pretty rarely, though). in either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
Fall and winter seasonal affective disorder (winter depression)
Winter-onset seasonal affective disorder symptoms include:
--loss of energy
--heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
--social withdrawal
--loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
--appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
--weight gain
--difficulty concentrating

When to see a doctor:
It's normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't seem to get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is particularly important if you notice that your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless or really down, and it's interfering with your ability to do your normal routines (family, work, friendships, etc). it's also really important to make sure with your primary care providers that the symptoms are related to something else, like problems with your thyroid or illness.

Light therapy- a first line treatment, starts working quickly (often within a few days)
-using full spectrum bulbs in regular lamps can help.
-phototherapy: You sit a few feet from a specialized light therapy box so that you're exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.
Medications (antidepressant medications, esp good when symptoms are severe)
It may take several weeks to notice full benefits from an antidepressant. In addition, you may have to try different medications before you find one that works well for you and has the fewest side effects.
Psychotherapy or counseling
Although seasonal affective disorder is thought to be related to brain chemistry, mood and behavior also can add to symptoms. Psychotherapy can help you identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that may be making you feel worse. You can also learn healthy ways to cope with seasonal affective disorder and manage stress.
Other "treatments"
Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
Get outside. Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help - especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase seasonal affective disorder symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.

Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus