New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Health

How To Lose Your SAD Winter Blues

Have you been feeling SAD lately? You could be suffering from a more severe form of the “winter blues.” Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a mood disorder associated with depression, relating to seasonal changes in sunlight during the fall and winter months. Approximately eight percent of the national population suffers from SAD, most being between eighteen and thirty years old. SAD is more commonly found in women, though studies show that males may experience more severe symptoms if diagnosed. Some signs and symptoms associated with SAD include depression, anxiety, changes in mood, oversleeping, daytime fatigue, overeating and social withdrawals.

There are two main theories as to why SAD occurs during the fall and winter months. One is due to melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone that travels throughout the body via the bloodstream. Individuals suffering from SAD have been found to have an abnormal amount of melatonin in their bloodstream during the day, which can cause symptoms of fatigue and depression. Another theory is our bodies ‘internal clock.’ Sunlight balances our regular bodily functions, and, when exposure to sunlight decreases, our ‘internal clocks’ can become out of sync, causing symptoms of SAD to occur.

There are a few treatment options to help cope with the disorder; one of the more popular options is light therapy. Naturalist doctors say that light therapy has been proven to be just as effective as medicine for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sitting in front of a light box for at least half an hour per day can significantly decrease melatonin levels throughout the day and regulate your bodily rhythms to control symptoms such as depression, fatigue and mood changes. This method compensates for the lack of natural sunlight you would normally receive during warmer months. If you’re interesting in purchasing a light box, consult with your primary care physician to assure that it is the best treatment option for you. You can purchase a light box over the counter from your local drugstore with or without a prescription. If you cannot afford a light box, you can also try sitting outside with your palms facing upwards or in a sunny spot in your home, for about half an hour each day.

Where you live heavily influences your proneness to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Because New Britain experiences several changes in both sunlight and weather throughout the year, it is a suitable location for residents to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you are experiencing the symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder it is important to speak with your health care provider. Write down any questions and symptoms you may be experiencing and bring them to your next appointment. If you would like to learn more about SAD in addition to speaking with your health care provider, you can research online at http://www.nmha.org/go/sad.