Seasonal affective disorder affects people’s moods significantly and many people aren’t aware they suffer from this disorder, thinking their symptoms of depression are nothing more serious than simply feeling low for a little while. This can cause significant problems, especially since some severe cases can lead to suicide if treatment is not administered in time.
There are a few different types of treatments that are employed for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder. The first and most common is light therapy , which generally offers results within a few days of treatment starting. It’s also a preferred method because it has few side effects.
Some people, however, require a more aggressive approach and in this case, medication such as antidepressants might be administered. Last but not least, there is psychotherapy, which can help you improve your mood, learn to cope with your condition and help you overcome depression.Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment: Light Therapy
A common seasonal depression treatment involves the use of a bright, full-spectrum light that is shined directly into the patient’s eyes. When administering light therapy, the patient is required to sit approximately 2 feet from a light that is around 20 times more powerful than standard room lighting.
The therapy begins with a 10 or 15 minute session per day, with the timing increasing to as much as 45 minutes, depending on how the patient responds to the treatment. Patients, though, are advised not to look directly at the light source for long periods at a time to reduce the risk of damage to their eyesight.
SAD light therapy is highly effective for some patients, allowing them to recover in only a few short days. Other people, though, require a much longer recovery period. If the doctor isn’t happy with the patient’s progress, he or she might recommend increasing the number of sessions to two per day.
If you are one of the lucky ones who respond well to light therapy, there’s a good chance your doctor will recommend you continue treatment until springtime, when you can be out in the sun again.
SAD Treatment: Medication
Seeing as SAD is a type of depression, antidepressants can be used to treat it. Wellbutrin is the only medication the FDA has approved as a treatment. However, other antidepressant medication has been used successfully, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Paxil and Prozac. Note that antidepressants can be used alone but are often taken in conjunction with light therapy.
SAD Treatment: Psychotherapy
Despite the fact that seasonal affective disorder is believed to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, mood and behavior can amplify the symptoms, which is where psychotherapy comes in. This type of treatment is used to help patients identify negative thoughts and actions that could contribute to their problem. Psychotherapy also attempts to help patients find healthy ways to deal with SAD and manage stress.
If you suspect you suffer from SAD, or have simply found yourself feeling low and with little motivation to do things you previously enjoyed, you really should see a doctor as soon as possible. A seasonal depression treatment will be prescribed after your condition is diagnosed and you won’t have to live with depression and anxiety.