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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Are you suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder

The days are gray and cold. Days pass without ever seeing the sun. Welcome to the time when many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Many of us have heard about Seasonal affective disorder or SAD… but what are the common characteristics?
Approximately 17 % of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is commonly called "winter depression." It is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression, carbohydrate craving, weight gain that begins in autumn and continues through the winter months. Many people experience fatigue, loss of energy, and feelings of worthlessness all due to the loss of sunlight. Typically SAD occurs 4 times as many times in women. The average age of onset is 23 years old.

Does Seasonal Affective disorder only occur during the fall and winter?
Actually, research indicates there is also something called "summer depression" which occurs in spring and lasts during the summer. It is characterized by depression, decreased sleep, weight loss and poor appetite.

What is the typical treatment for Seasonal Affective disorder?
Light therapy has been the most successful form of therapy. This is usually done with a light box, which is 10,000 lux and the patient starts with 10-15 minute sessions per day and increases the sessions to 30-45 minutes per day. Light boxes range in cost from $200-$500 depending on the features of the unit. Some insurance companies do cover a portion of the cost of light boxes for therapeutic usage. Most recently, some companies have developed new full-spectrum bulbs that can be placed in lamps and are purchased at a fraction of the cost of traditional light boxes.

Despite claims, there is no evidence to indicate that tanning beds (where the eyes are generally covered) are useful in the treatment of SAD. Actually tanning beds are relatively high in UV rays, which can be harmful to the eyes and the skin.

If you feel like you might be suffering with SAD, discuss your symptoms with a licensed therapist or your physician.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpful tips