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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Some bright ideas for winter blues

You feel down and depressed and you haven’t seen the sun for most of the winter. You find yourself craving carbohydrates and just want to stay in bed all day. Perhaps you are suffering from what is called the “ Winter Blues,” but is actually a disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Tonight we will begin a two-part series to look at the Winter Blues—the myths and the reality.

What are the typical symptoms of someone who has Seasonal Affective disorder?

• 6% of Americans suffer from SAD causing lethargy, depression, a desire to avoid social situation, fatigue and an increase in the desire for carbohydrates and overeating.
• 15% of Americans suffer with a milder form, which include some of the symptoms.
• The incidence increases in locations that are far from the equator. 8% of Canadians, 10% of Brits, and 20% of Scandinavians suffer with the disorder

What are some of the causes of the Winter Blues?

• Researchers are not completely sure what causes this depression, but many believe it is seasonal in nature and it is believed that the reduced light disrupts people’s circadian rhythms (the 24 hour biological clock that governs or waking, sleeping and other moods
• Others believe that the darkness plays havoc with our brain chemicals that effect our mood
• Others believe the reduction in sun affects our vitamin D levels and creates a deficiency

What are some of the other oddities of this disorder?
• The disorder peaks in January and February even though the days are lengthening
• It is unknown why it peaks from the ages of 18-30
• It is unclear why women are 3x more prone to suffer with the disorder
• Lastly it is totally unclear why people in Iceland have low incidences of SAD

So you’ve given us a lot to think about this week. What we will look at next week in our two part series on the Winter Blues?

• Most people realize that the common treatment for SAD is light therapy, but next week we will look at the 9 common techniques for lowering the Winter Blues.
• You might be surprised what you learn

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