Not everyone is happy and hopeful after the end of the holiday season. Year-end holidays can bring a hard time to some because of seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Experts say that little sunlight during winter months can drive some people to experience symptoms of SAD. Lack of adequate exposure to bright light can trigger SAD, causing depression, anxiety and loss of energy, lethargy, withdrawal from social life and sense of hopelessness.
SAD is a fairly new mental disorder (yes, it is a recognized mental disorder), only first described in medical literature in 1984. Bouts of SAD can also exacerbate symptoms in people with bipolar disorder. Women are more likely than men to suffer from SAD.
Why people get SAD during holiday season?
You should know that light exposure has effects on the body. Experts say that light has an effect on the mood, and bright colors can lift it up. The natural clockwork in the body, termed as circadian rhythm, is also partially influenced by regular and timely exposure to daylight. The circadian rhythm influences the timing of hormonal secretions and sleep cycles. When this regular exposure to light is interrupted, like in extended periods of darkness during fall and winter, this circadian rhythm gets thrown off.
SAD may occur when our bodies do not receive adequate light. People living at extreme latitudes, which have four seasons, tend to experience regular daylight at least half of year. Thus, SAD cases are more evident in such regions than in countries located closer to the equator.
Keep in mind that SAD can also occur as the season changes from winter to spring or to summer. This means that transition to warm weather can cause SAD, though it has different symptoms.
How do I know if I have SAD?
Experiencing periods of changes in mood, sleep and appetite during changes in seasons, you may be already experiencing SAD. The symptoms of SAD during the cold season tends be depressed mood, loss of energy, oversleeping and anxiety, while symptoms triggered during spring and summer season include insomnia, irritability, weight loss and poor appetite. If these symptoms persists for days at a time and it already causes problems in your everyday activities, you need help.
People with existing bipolar disorder with SAD may manifest symptoms such as persistently elevated mood, hyperactivity, agitation and rapid thoughts and speech. People with bipolar disorder exhibiting these symptoms during extended periods of darkness (or daylight) must be quickly assessed by a psychiatrist for treatment.
Treatment for SAD
Some people may dismiss SAD symptoms by using terms like ‘winter blues’ and ‘spring fever’. It is easy to notice that you may feel bit sluggish during winter or euphoric at the first moments of spring. But if the emotions you feel during such weather are so overwhelming that it affects your daily activities and your responsibilities at home, school or work, you need to have a psychiatric evaluation immediately.
The good thing is people suffering from SAD symptoms can find relief from simple measures. The right use of light therapy is an effective measure to get over and reduce symptoms of SAD. Keep in mind that the appropriate luminosity on light boxes for SAD is at least 10,000 lux. Select a lightbox that emit white light and has appropriate ultraviolet radiation filters. You need to use the lightbox 30 minutes every day, preferably after arising in the morning.
Furthermore, make sure be exposed to daylight (no matter how little) and allow natural light to come inside the house during the day.
Light treatment is shown to be as effective as antidepressants in management of SAD symptoms. Plus, you do not have to bear the adverse effect of antidepressants when you choose light therapy for treatment of SAD.
Find more interesting and effective natural treatments for mood and anxiety disorders here at NATURAL ANXIETY REMEDIES CENTER.