Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) is a form of clinical depression that occurs at specific times of the year. The disorder affects four to six percent of those in the United States. More women experience the disorder than men.

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are much the same as other forms of clinical depression...sadness, emptiness, loss of interest and pleasure, irritability and anger, changes in appetite, sleep problems, restlessness, slow movement and thinking, fatigue, worthlessness and guilt, poor concentration, thoughts about death and suicide.

There are two types of seasonal affective disorder. The first type is fall onset or winter depression. Symptoms typically begin in the fall and continue through the winter.

This is the most common form. With this form of the disorder, the person usually experiences increased sleep, increased appetite, cravings for carbohydrates, and weight gain.

The second type of seasonal affective disorder is spring onset. Symptoms of this form of the disorder begin in the spring and continue until the fall. Insomnia and decreased appetite are experienced.

What cause seasonal affective disorder is unknown. Genetics appear to be one factor which influences the disorder. Experts believe that the seasonal changes in the amount of sunlight may also contribute. How this occurs is not understood at this time.

Once it was believed that the changing amounts of sunlight interrupt the secretion of melatonin. Melatonin is a horomone which regulates sleep. More recent research indicated that this is not the case.

Treatment for the disorder includes exposure to bright, full spectrum lights. The light must be at least 2,500 units of illumination (lux). Usually a 10,000 lux light is used. The light is placed at eye level for thirty minutes during the morning.

To avoid eye damage, the person does not look directly at the light--rather the light is placed in the peripheral vision. The treatment may result in side effects including nausea, headache, and nervousness.

There are also some risks...If the person is taking medications which result in sensitivity to light, the treatment should not be used. These medications include some antibiotics, anti-inflamatory medications, diuretics, and hypoglycemia medications.

Other treatments that are used with seasonal affective disorder include antidepressant medication to decrease symptoms. Psychotherapy may also be benefical. During psychotherapy, emotional support is offered. Coping skills are taught and strengthened.

If you have seasonal affective disorder The How To Transform Your Life E-Workshop can help you learn coping skills which will assist you in overcoming your depressed mood.

Keep in mind, however, that the E-Workshop should not considered a substitute for psychotherapy. It is not intended as a treatment for a psychiatric disorder or medical disorder.

Nevertheless, it may be used along with psychological treatment and psychiatric treatment. It may even help you make faster progress in therapy.

To learn more about The How To Transform Your Life E-Workshop, click here.

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