Seasonal affective disorder is a mood disorder in which people experience depression around the same time every year. In most cases, people with SAD begin feeling its effects in the fall and the symptoms can continue into the winter. However, there are also people who experience depression caused by SAD during the spring or early summer months, though this is less common. In terms of treatment, SAD light therapy is commonly used, along with psychotherapy and medication.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms
When it comes to seasonal affective disorder, sufferers can experience a wide range of symptoms. They can start out being mild with their severity increasing as the months pass by. Thus, people suffering from fall and winter SAD will often present more severe symptoms towards the end of winter.
Some of the symptoms experienced by sufferers of fall and winter SAD include:
- Lack of energy
- Need for excessive sleep
- Lack of interest in activities they once liked
- Changes in appetite with a particular increase in cravings for high-carbohydrate foods
- Gaining weight
- Lack of focus
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Conversely, spring and summer SAD presents somewhat different symptoms. These can include:
- Insomnia or a general difficulty in sleeping
- Irritable moods
- Loss of weight
- Lack of appetite
- Higher sex drive
Many people confuse seasonal affective disorder with simply being down. While everyone has days when they don’t feel their best, if you’ve been feeling down for several days at a time and can’t seem to find the motivation to do things you usually like, then you should really consider seeing your doctor.
As a matter of fact, going to the doctor is essential if you’ve noticed any changes in your sleep patterns and appetite or if you are feeling hopeless, entertaining thoughts of suicide, or have found that you are drinking alcohol more and more often to relax.Treating SAD: Light Therapy
Generally, there are a few treatments that can be prescribed to treat SAD: light therapy, medication and psychotherapy.
SAD light therapy, which is also known as phototherapy, involves you sitting a few free from a special light therapy box, ensuring you are exposed to a bright light. The idea is that this therapy imitates outdoor light and seems to lead to changes in the brain chemicals that have been linked to moods.
This treatment is one of the first used to treat SAD. Light therapy is a good choice because patients start showing progress within two to four days and it has almost no side effects. While there is little research on this treatment technique, it has proven itself effective for most SAD sufferers.
However, don’t just rush out to buy the first light therapy box you can find. You need to talk to your doctor or the person providing you with mental health care in order to clear it with them. When visiting your doctor, find out whether or not it’s a good approach for you is important, as well as ensuring you are purchasing an excellent quality SAD light therapy box.
Seasonal affective disorder can manifest in a variety of ways but the idea is that you don’t have to live with it. Regardless of how mild your symptoms are, you should still see a doctor and begin SAD light therapy as quickly as possible.