What is Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD)?


North America is in the heart of winter…the long, dark days, the cold and the snow may be taking a toll on your mood. But there might be a medical explanation for your sour mood or depression. There is a condition called Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD).

Seasonal Affect Disorder can result from a combination of things going on in your lifestyle or from your health. It isn’t one of those diseases like diabetes where you have it everyday and need specific treatment for. SAD can affect you one year, but not so much the next year. Why?

SAD develops in people usually during the winter hours, when it is dark. The lack of sun in a person’s life has a surprising affect. It can make one feel depressed, lethargic, sad, moody, anxious and afraid. When one is suffering from SAD, they might also over eat, sleep often, act irritable, have a  hard time concentrating at work and just be overly cranky about everything.

In order to accurately determine if you are suffering from SAD or have a different mental health matter, visit with your doctor. Describe to them when the symptoms started, what they are and how severe they are. The doctor might also ask you to remember previous years and see if there is a seasonal pattern of when your depression starts to make sure it is SAD and not regular depression.

Luckily, SAD can be treated in a variety of ways. Once your doctor has made a diagnosis, they can prescribe an anti-depressant that can be used for the short term or even the long term, depending on your case.Take the medicine exactly how the doctor prescribes it and don’t stop taking it if you have one good day. The medicine needs to build up in your system for several weeks to balance out your mood.

You can also buy special lightbulbs and light fixtures to install in various rooms of your house to trick your body in to thinking it is natural sunlight. The lamps can simply be turned on and off like any other lamp in the house, the rays emitted from the lightbulb are just full spectrum.Sit next to the light or under the light for a few hours each day and see if you notice a change.

Another method that some people with mild SAD like to do to chase away the winter blues is to go to a tanning bed. A few minutes under the tanning lights helps the body think it is the real sunlight shining down. Plus, you get to have a nice little tan during the winter months that everyone can be jealous of. Just use caution when you are tanning and understand there can be other health risks associated with a tanner.

The most important aspect of SAD is to understand that it can be treated and that you don’t have to suffer needlessly through the winter months, year after year. Visit your doctor, try some medicine and buying a lightbulb or two will do wonders to make you feel like yourself again in no time – even in the dead of winter.


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