Do you know the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Are you more than not a winter person? Well, you’re not alone, WorldCare Consortium ® medical second opinion provider, Mayo Clinic claims seasonal depression is a real thing and is referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a diagnosable form of depression that frequents its patients starting in late fall and early winter months; some individuals may encounter symptoms in warmer months but this is much less common. Despite the common assumption that winter is gloomy and gross, you must meet specific criteria to be diagnosed with SAD. So what exactly are the signs and symptoms of SAD?
1. over eating
2. Weight gain
3. Craving Carbohydrates
4. Social Withdrawals
5. Having low energy
For the smaller population of those who suffer from summer seasonal depression, symptoms may include:
- poor appetite and weight loss
- insomnia agitation
- episodes of violent behavior
- Note that most patients with SAD do not experience symptoms outside of the colder darker months of the year, it is very uncommon.
So what exactly causes this condition? Unfortunately, there is no known cause of this condition, but researchers have found a few clues. Patients may have trouble regulating key neurotransmitters such as serotonin. During the winter months, patients with SAD may produce five percent more serotonin than in the warmer brighter months. As darkness increases and days become shorter your body naturally produces more melatonin, but patients with SAD tend to produce even more melatonin than others. This leaves these patients feeling even more tired and more sluggish than most people.
Luckily there are treatments and therapies for individuals suffering from this condition. These treatments may be combined for more effective results.
1. Medication– FDA approved medications for this condition include selective serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants including bupropion. Like any depression diagnosis everyone reacts differently to each type of medication; you may need to try multiple prescriptions before finding the right one for you.
2. Light therapy – This form of treatment has been the primary treatment for SAD. Sitting in front of a 10,000 lux fluorescent cool light box for 20-60 minutes each morning between early autumn and spring delivers 200 times more light than regular indoor lighting.
3. Psychotherapy– the most effective therapy for this condition is said to be cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on identifying negative thoughts and replacing them with positive thoughts along with a technique called behavioral activation, which helps an individual identify activities that are pleasurable and engaging.
4. Vitamin D– This treatment has varied reviews; some say it is just as useful as light therapy and others say it not effective at all. However, this form of treatment is suggested because Individuals diagnosed with SAD have the reputation of having a poor diet (side effect not intentional) and this poor diet often results in a minimal intake of the vitamin. As a result, patients are often found with low levels of the vitamin in their blood.
If you have been diagnosed or believe you are experiencing any of the above symptoms contact us for a medical second opinion.