Today I have another guest post for you, this one on a subject that many people, including myself, are affected by, Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as SAD. Tammy shows us that there are really two types, which I didn’t know, and how to treat them. The best part is you don’t have to resort to prescription medication to get relief.
Health Challenges we Face During the Winter Months
There are several health challenges that people face during the winter months. The common cold and flu, and conditions such as arthritis are more painful during the cold winter months. However, one of the biggest challenges for many people is SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD can be mild to severe and can cause the sufferer a great deal of despair.
What is SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder generally starts about the same time every year in the mid to late fall and carry on into the winter months. For some people it may last into the spring and early summer.
It is important to understand that seasonal affective disorder is not just what many call the “winter blues.” It is a real disorder that causes depression. As the seasons progress so does the condition.
The Two Types of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are actually two types of seasonal affective disorder. The fall and winter version of the disorder is called SAD and the spring and summer version of the disorder is called reverse seasonal affective disorder. People who have reverse seasonal affective disorder start to show symptoms in mid to late spring and it goes through the summer months into the mid fall season. In most cases, it is gone by the end of the fall season. In some rare cases, people have both types of SAD. However, the symptoms are not the same so it cannot be simply labeled as “depression.”
Symptoms of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
Feelings of depression
Loss of energy
Weight gain (carbohydrate cravings)
Loss of interest in hobbies
Symptoms of SAD – Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
Increased sex drive
Trouble sleeping – insomnia
Both types of SAD should not be taken lightly they need to be addressed and treated properly.
Medications such as antidepressants are generally the first type of treatment a doctor will want to try. This can be difficult because if you do not need the anti-depressants during the “non-affected” months the patient will have to be weaned off the meds and then start taking them again at least 2-3 weeks before the onset of symptoms start. Therefore, most doctors leave the patient on the medication year round even if it is not needed.
Another popular choice of treatment is therapy and this is usually used with medication. The idea is to help the person change their negative belief patterns and learn different tools to help with their stress, anxiety and depression.
The third treatment option is light therapy. This treatment involves a light therapy box that the person uses every day for a period of approximately 30 minutes. It is used to create the same effects of sunlight. Therefore, with Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder it is not recommended. It has minimal side effects and only takes a few days to start working.
Most people find that light therapy is the best treatment because it can be used when needed and the person will not have withdrawal like they do from anti-depressants.
Tammy Mahan has been a nurse for over 20 years. She enjoys sharing her knowledge by writing articles for Healthline.com.