What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder, or “SAD”, is a kind of depression that occurs around the same season every year; this kind of feeling usually accompanies the same time of the year, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”. Seasonal affective disorder may also strike around the time of the Christmas holidays or around the time of the New Year, especially in Covid-19 times as individuals faced heavy restrictions in regards to seeing family members. It can strike at any point in time, but it is most common during the time period of December and January where the sun is much less present than in other times.
What Causes SAD?
Experts are not exactly sure what causes SAD, but they believe it might be caused by a shortage of seasonal sunlight. There are many people who live in the city where there is very little natural sunlight throughout the whole year as they live in small apartments with very little light and a limit to the extent to which they can roam freely outside. For them, the winter months are quite dark and harsh, making the mood changes more serious. For those of us who live in the countryside, there may not be enough sunlight throughout these months, however one may have access to more space and may therefore be able to walk around forest paths or fields and thus may have more access to direct sunlight.
How Can SAD Be Treated?
There are many antidepressant medications that help people suffering from SAD. Some of the medications used to treat seasonal affective disorder include antidepressants and vitamin D supplements. Many doctors recommend that these types of antidepressants are used in conjunction with Behavioral Therapy in order to provide the best results.
Light Therapy for SAD
Light therapy for SAD consists of exposing the patient to artificial light, either with the use of special lamps called SAD lamps or with the use of a light box. This treatment usually takes place in a light therapy clinic, but it can also be beneficial in a patient’s home although these tend to be an expensive investment to make around £35 upwards. For some patients, this light treatment may be helpful, especially if they suffer from seasonal affective disorder during the darkest months of the year. For others, however, light treatment may not be helpful as the benefits of this therapy aren’t well documented.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
As an alternative to light therapy, psychotherapy or can be used in order to treat seasonal affective disorders. Specific types of psychotherapy sessions will vary from patient to patient, but in most cases they will involve talking to a psychiatrist or a licensed therapist in their treatment for SAD. A psychiatrist can also determine which antidepressant is best for the patient depending on how severe their SAD symptoms are, and he or she can prescribe an antidepressant that is most appropriate for their situation. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is usually tweaked for the patient’s specific needs. If this is something you are interested in, reach out today.
For example, one type of treatment that has been proven to be effective in treating SAD involves melatonin therapy. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that controls the production of other hormones like serotonin. In recent years, researchers have found that low levels of melatonin can result in depression, and low levels of melatonin are believed to be a contributing factor to seasonal affective disorder as well as insomnia. Low levels of melatonin are associated with poor sleep, which is known to exacerbate depression. A person suffering from depression will often take a melatonin supplement in order to get more sleep and feel better.
Are you struggling with
SAD? With the current challenges we are facing with new lockdown measures throughout the UK, it is normal and okay not to feel okay. Reach out today for a free consultation to receive the help you need.