What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

As the warm summer days turn to cooler temps of fall, daylight hours become few and moods begin to change. Normally, SAD symptoms (Seasonal Affective Disorder) are the same as depression – less motivation, sadness, grief, anxiety and a need to sleep more than usual. Once spring rolls around and the days grow longer, the SAD victims suddenly start to feel happier. Women seem to be affected more than men, but men certainly aren’t left out of the gloom and doom of SAD. People who struggle with SAD know that when the shorter days come, they need to be proactive and combat SAD with treatment that can pull them through until spring. For the people with resources to move, moving to a warmer climate during the winter months can improve symptoms of SAD. The pineal gland, located in the brain, is the portion that registers the light that comes through the eyes and soaks into the skin. Some therapies involve tricking the pineal gland that it’s getting natural sunlight by using artificial light that beams similar wavelengths. While this is an effective treatment for most, some SAD cases will also benefit with an integrated pharmaceutical treatment to keep the depression at arm’s length. Some also find relief with over-the-counter meds such as St. John’s Wort, 5HTP and SAMe. The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. SAD patients can get their vitamin D tested to see how much light therapy they should consider to keep their levels at an optimum level. Exercise is also an option to keep the spirits up, as is a vacation to a sunny locale.

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