Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Be Aware - It's time for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects about 5% of us severely and perhaps 25% of us more mildly. Women and young adults are more likely to suffer from it.
It’s a form of depression that, according to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), is a real illness with sometimes severe symptoms. It’s worse in January and February, though starts as early as September.
SAD is believed to be caused by melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin production increases in the dark, so in the winter, when the days are shorter and darker, production increases, causing symptoms of depression.
SAD is extremely rare for people living within 30 degrees of the Equator, where daylight hours are long and extremely bright.
Sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, depression, social problems, anxiety, loss of libido, mood changes, and a weakened immune system. For complete description, go here: http://www.sada.org.uk/symptoms.htm .
Light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, so for lighter cases, get outside more, exercise outside, and arrange for more light at work and at home.
Phototherapy has been helpful in more severe cases. A light box can be used that emits very bright light through a filter.
Please check with your personal physician if you think you have SAD.
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Posted by Susan Dunn, M.A. at 7:32 AM