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Definition Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression or mood disorder in which
Definition
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of
depression or mood disorder in which people
of normal mental health experience depres-
sive symptoms during the winter months.
People diagnosed with SAD often cite the
mood shift as occurring during late fall, as
natural sunlight begins decreasing and lasts
throughout the duration of the winter. For this
reason SAD is more commonly referred to as
the “winter blues”.
SAD is known to affect as many as 6 out of
every 10 people in North America. An addi-
tional 10-20% of the population may experi-
ence more subtle mood changes related
to the seasons known as Subsyndromal
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SSAD).
Causes
The most widely agreed upon explanation
for the cause of SAD is the general lack
of exposure to natural sunlight during the
winter months. It has been proposed that
the deprivation of sunlight leads to a drop in
serotonin, causing the feeling of the blues.
In many cases the feeling of depression
intensifies once the holiday season has
ended. Aside from the lack of natural light
people often find themselves, their finances
and belt-lines significantly stretched as a
direct result of holiday gastro-economic
overindulgence.
For more SAD Information Contact AdvanceMed Hanford Main Clinic 1979 Snyder Street Richland, WA 99354
For more SAD Information
Contact AdvanceMed Hanford
Main Clinic
1979 Snyder Street
Richland, WA 99354
200 West Clinic
2719WB
Scheduling – 376-6251 or 373-9258
Richland, WA 99354 200 West Clinic 2719WB Scheduling – 376-6251 or 373-9258 Seasonal Affective Disorder Jaren

Seasonal

Affective

Disorder

Jaren Scott

Origins SAD has been observed in many species exhibiting limited physical activity in win- ter
Origins
SAD has been observed in many species
exhibiting limited physical activity in win-
ter months. The condition is known as a
survival tactic in response to the reduction
of availabe food and increased difficulty of
surving the cold weather. Hibernation oc-
curs as a result of this effect in some ani-
mals. It has been proposed that SAD is an
evolved adaptation amongst humans that is
a remnant of hibernation. Food was often
scarce during most of human prehistory and
the low moods experienced by early humans
would have been useful in reducing the need
for caloric intake and escaping starvation.
Symptoms
• Depressed mood
• Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
• Low energy and fatigue
• Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
• Poor concentration, indeciseveness
• Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
• Sleeping more than usual
• Craving for sugar, starchy foods, or alcohol
• Weight gain
• Problems with family, friends, or work
• Irritability
• Conflicts with other people
• Heaviness of arms and legs
• Interpersonal difficulties
• Decreased productivity
• Behavior disturbances (in children)
Questions to ask about SAD Treatment • How do you know this is SAD? The
Questions to ask about SAD
Treatment
• How do you know this is SAD?
The simplest and most effective treatment is ex-
posure to bright artificial light. It has been shown
that bright-light therapy relieves symptoms in
roughly two thirds of people with SAD due to the
effect of simulating natural sunlight.
• How serious is it or could it become?
• Should I see a phychologist or psychiatrist?
• What type of treatment is recommended?
Bright light therapy products are available and
cost from $200-500. Experts recommend that
products rated at 10,000 lux be used. It is also
extremely important that the device filters out the
harmful ultraviolet rays that may be produced.
• Will you be prescribing any medications?
• What are the side effects?
• Where can I purchase a phototherapy light box?
When to Seek Medical Care
• Feelings of extreme sadness or emptiness
• Inability to carry on normal activities
• Persistent loss of energy or increased weakness
• Unexplained change in appetite for food
• Changes in behavior interfering with daily life
• Feelings of wanting to die or hurting yourself
The bright light source should be placed at eye-
level. In order to work light must enter the eyes,
although it is not recommended to stare directly
into the light. An approved device should not
harm the eyes if used as intended.
Exposure lengths of 30 minutes daily to 10,000
lux should be enough to relieve symptoms. At
times greater exposure lengths may be re-
quired. Symptoms usually begin to improve
within a few days. Therapy should be continued
until normal outdoor activity is reincorporated
into your lifestylle. Before undergoing or adjust-
ing any therapy you should consult your health
care provider.