Symptoms & Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD
Seasonal affective disorder is believed to be caused by changes in the amount of daylight during the different seasons of the year and is more common in northern geographic locations.
Seasonal affective disorder is a fairly common ailment, with approximately 6 percent of the people in the United States suffering from this form of winter depression, and another 10 to 20 percent experiencing it in a milder form. This disorder seems to be more common in women than men, although some children and teenagers may also be affected. Seasonal affective disorder does not usually appear in people younger than 20 years of age. The risk of being affected with seasonal affective disorder usually decreases for adults as they get older.
Although symptoms are clues to diagnosing this ailment, not everyone has the same symptoms. Some common symptoms of Seasonal affective disorder or winter depression include:
- Changes in appetite – having a craving for sweet or starchy foods
- Weight gain
- Having a heavy feeling in your arms or legs
- A drop in energy levels
- Tendency to oversleep
- Increased sensitivity to social rejection
- Avoiding social or family functions
- Reduced sex drive
Some symptoms of summer depression may include poor appetite, weight loss and insomnia. Either type of seasonal affective disorder may have some symptoms present in other forms of depression. These symptoms may include feelings of guilt, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed, feelings of hoplessness, and some physical problems, such as headaches. These symptoms keep coming back year after year, and they come and go about the same time every year. Changes in a persons mood are not necessarily related to obvious things that would make a season stressful (like regularly being unemployed during the winter months).
Treatments for seasonal affective disorder
Winter depression is probably the caused by your body’s reaction to a lack of sunlight. Light therapy is one option for treating winter depression. If this type of treatment is suggested by your physician, you may use a specially made light box or light visor which is worn on your head like a cap. You then sit in front of the light for a certain time each day – usually about 30 minutes, throughout the fall and winter when you’re most likely to be depressed. Should this form of treatment help, you will continue to use it until enough sunlight is available, which is typically in the springtime. Stopping the light therapy treatment too soon, may allow SAD symptoms to return. Tanning beds should not be used for for treating SAD, as they are high in ultraviolet (UV) rays, which harm both your eyes and skin.
Other possible treatments for seasonal affective disorder include behavior therapy, and the use of natural remedies or prescription medications . If light therapy does not seem to work for you, your physician may want to try and use them together. Symptoms may also be reduced by simply spending more time outdoors and exercising regularly during the winter months.
We have multiple and individual dietary supplements available at NSP Store to help to you feel better and live a healthier lifestyle.
Beneficial Dietary Supplements:
L- Tyrosin is an amino acid that helps increase the body?s production of adrenaline and dopamine, which affect mood.
SAM-E is an amino acid that woks similar to an antidepressant.
Vitamin B Complex is important for normal function of the brain and nervous system.
Multivitamin & Multimineral supplements support general nutritional balance and is important for increasing energy.
Gold promotes a general euphoric feeling, enhances the body’s natural defenses against illness, and promotes vitality and longevity.
St. John’s Wort is very effective in treating the symptoms of SAD.
Ginkgo Biloba and Siberian Ginseng may be helpful in improving alertness.
REFERENCES: Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 3rd Edition
Phyllis Balch, CNC; James F. Balch, M.D.
Here are a few tips to pro-actively reduce or
eliminate environmental stressors and symptoms of Seasonal affective disorder:
- Let go of the past! The holidays bring out the “traditionalist” in most people, and many of us get caught up in trying to make the holidays just like years past. However, every season brings new circumstances, surprises, and people that may “upset the applecart” during your holiday celebrations. Reduce your anxiety about holiday traditions and try to build new traditions, build on old traditions, and abandon unrealistic expectations.
- Pace yourself. The holiday season is a time for celebrations, family gatherings, winter activities, and entertaining. With all these variables added on to the seasonal festivities, you may feel anxiety and hopelessness when things start to go wrong. The “key” to managing all the extra responsibilities and commitments is to pace yourself and organize your time. Remember to accept help from friends and relatives, and allow for enough quiet time for yourself.
- Acknowledge your feelings. The holiday season does not automatically banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one, are far away from family/ friends, or are generally affected by changes in weather and light, it is OK to acknowledge these feelings are present, even if you choose not to express them.
- Do not drink excessively. Drinking perpetuates anxiety and depression. If you are prone to depression at this time of the year, your alcohol consumption should be keep to a minimum.
- Create a support system. Spend time with people that are supportive and care about you. If your family does not help you, then spend time with close personal friends. If you are far from home, make a pro-active effort to build new friendships or try to contact an close friends.
- Seek treatment. Sometimes, SAD can get the best of us, even when pro-actively reducing stressors. If you experience symptoms of depression during the winter months that are uncommon for you at any other time of the year, contact a mental health professional who can provide counselling and treatment to help you “weather the storm.”