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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Updated on August 6, 2014

Photos from Winter

Gray Winter Sky
Gray Winter Sky
The branch that fell on my car
The branch that fell on my car
Tree filled with snow
Tree filled with snow

Do You Get SAD?

Things You Should Know about SAD

I was feeling a little blue this winter. Those of you that read my boomer blog day 4 know that I was considering whether or not I may have seasonal effective disorder. I intend to seek a professional to help me sort this out, as any potential SAD sufferer should, but I thought it might be helpful to research the condition and to share that info with you. SAD is a fairly common condition, so I want to offer you this article to help you decide if you need help too.

What exactly is SAD, anyway?

Sad is an acronym that stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a mood disorder that relates to the season in which it occurs. It is often called winter blues because it usually starts in late fall and eases up at the end of winter. It can also come in any of the other seasons, but it is most common in winter. Anyone can get SAD, but it seems to be more common in women than in men.

What are the symptoms of SAD?

People with sad often experience lethargy. The may have midday slumps or experience a waning of energy as the season passes. They may suffer from insomnia. Some have an appetite increase. There is often a craving for carbohydrates. The person with these symptoms may suffer a weight gain during their moody season, only to lose it when their SAD episode subsides. They may suffer from depression, especially clinical depression, or an unusual amount of anxiety.

What causes SAD?

No one knows for sure, but there are several theories. Many medical professionals think that SAD is a biological response to the shortening of daylight. It may be a response to lowered levels of vitamin D due to the lack of sufficient sunlight. Levels of melatonin may be decreased due to a change in the natural biological rhythms of the person experiencing symptoms. There may be a genetic mutation responsible for symptoms. Also, some researchers think that it may be a throwback to days when our evolutionary ancestors used to hibernate during the winter.

What are the recommended treatments?

There are several treatments for SAD. Light therapy, in which a SAD patient is exposed to certain types of ultraviolet lights that mimic sunlight, seems to be very effective. SAD is often treated with certain types of antidepressants. Sometimes exercise or outdoor exposure is helpful. SAD patients often respond to treatment by a mental professional with the same kinds of therapy used for patients of depression. And it may also help to have supplementation of vitamin D or melatonin if it is recommended by your doctor.

If You Think You Have SAD, What Should You DO?

Anyone with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder should see both a medical professional and a competent psychotherapist as soon as possible. There are many reasons for this. First of all, symptoms may also be caused by other illnesses, so diagnosis by a professional is absolutely necessary. And if you are a SAD sufferer, there is the possibility that the disorder may progress to full blown depression. They may also be a sign of the onset of bipolar disorder.

It’s always important to take care of yourself. This is just an overview of this disorder. I hope that it helps to guide us in the right direction.

Snow Storm

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Blizzard 2013 Paralyzes Northeast Region


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