Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Overview of Disorder
- The disorder typically begins in the Fall and ends in the Spring. But it could be just the opposite.
- It is a state of mind blamed on cold, dark winter.
- People that have this disease are typically very depressed, preoccupied, anxious, irritable, slow, disconnected,and sometimes violent.
- The episodes experienced by a person with SAD correspond with the seasons.
Who SAD Affects
- 6% of Americans have SAD, 80% are women.
- Children who are affected most likely have a close relative affected by it.
- It's most likely to affect snowbound city dwellers, or those in the upper latitudes, who don't do much or are disabled.
- SAD typically runs in families with related psychological disorders. It is inherited to some degree.
- SAD is more common in women between puberty and menopause because hormones do play a role.
What Causes SAD
- SAD is a reaction to the biological effects of light on the body.
- Melatonin and serotonin has a role in the circadian rhythm, that helps keep track of season changes. The two may have a role in SAD. Melatonin is secreted at night, it is suppressed by light. Serotonin secretion declines during winter, it abnormally declines in people with SAD.
- The reduced sunlight triggers the change in chemistry of the brain, resulting in this sad feeling.
- The winter light signals the brain to reduce concentration of serotonin, some people are more sensitive to this change than others are.
Symptoms of SAD
- People with SAD tend to excessively sleep, socially withdraw themselves from others, feel depressed, overeat, and gain weight.
- People with SAD tend to eat a lot of carbohydrates. Carbs cause serotonin levels to rise, some researchers believe SAD patients are unconsciously medicating themselves.
Treatment of SAD
- SAD cannot be prevented, but it can be treated.
- Phototherapy is where you sit under special lights for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The lights feel like the sun hitting you, making you feel better.
- Some people with SAD move to places with more hours of daylight during the winter.
- When spring comes along, or a change in scene occurs it usually relieves the symptoms of SAD.