SAD(Seasonal Affective Disorder) is related to the amount of daylight during certain times of the year. 500,000 people may have winter-onset-depression and another 10-20% have a mild form. It is more common in women than in men and usually doesn’t start in people younger than 20 years old. The risk of the SAD decreases as adults get older. It is usually more prevalent in the northern regions where winter lasts longer and is more harsh.
1. Symptoms of SAD are : weight gain, craving for starchy or sweet foods, oversleeping, drop in energy level, fatigue, problems concentrating, irritability and anxiety, avoidance of activity you used to enjoy, and sensitivity to social rejection.
2. Symptoms of summer onset are a little different in that they include insomnia, agitation, lack of appetite and increase in sex drive. This is a less common form of the disorder and goes on from late spring to early summer.
3. SAD comes back year after year and seems to start about the same time. Included are some of the symptoms that are present in other types of depression such as: Physical problems (headaches) and other common feelings of hopelessness and/or guilt.
4. There is help with SAD and it is usually comes in the form of light therapy with either a light box or visor. Usually it would be for about 30 minutes each day through out the Fall and Winter. Light therapy should be used carefully in people with manic depressive disorder. Tanning beds should not be used because they have ultraviolet rays which is harmful both to your eyes and your skin. Your doctor may want you to take some medication and if this doesn’t help try both the medication and light therapy together.
5. When light therapy is done correctly there should be few side effects. However, some side effects are: headache, eyestrain, fatigue, irritability and inability to sleep. Sometimes the latter can be caused from the light therapy used too late in the day.