Seasonal Affective Disorder

December is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Awareness month. With the holidays and ice/snow storms and my Internet issues, I just didn’t get a chance to post about it. I bet some of you are feeling it already. And if I’m not careful, I will too.

SAD is more than just “winter blues” or “cabin fever”. It is a form of depression that occurs every year during the same season, usually in the fall and/or winter. (SAD in the spring/summer is very rare, but can happen.) Symptoms of SAD include
-hopelessness
-increased appetite
-social withdrawal
-loss of energy
-loss of interest in activities
-unhappiness and irritability
-thoughts of suicide (1)

There is no clear cause of SAD, although some experts speculate it is related to reduced exposure to sunlight, disruption of circadian cycle, lowered serotonin levels(2) or Vitamin D deficiency(3).

Light therapy (mimics sunlight and shines on your skin) and dawn therapy (the light mimics the rising sun by growing brighter through the morning) have shown to be helpful (1). The jury is still out on vitamin D supplementation (4).

I have been taking a vitamin D supplement since a blood test last summer showed me very deficient. So far SAD has not made an appearance and I am hoping that it won’t this year!

SAD can be very serious if not treated and can turn into long-term depression. If you or a loved one might have Season Affective Disorder, please contact your health care provider right away.

As always, I’m not a doctor and this should not take the place of professional health care.

1. National Alliance on Mental Illness Season Affective Disorder February 2004 Available from: http://nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Seasonal_Affective_Disorder_(SAD).htm (Accessed January 2014).

2. WebMD Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)- Topic Overview July 2010 Available from: http://www.webmd.com/depression/tc/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-topic-overview (Accessed January 2013).

3. Larsen, C, Vitamin D and SAD: What’s the Connection? January 2014 Available from: http://www.seasonalaffectivedisorderinformation.com/seasonal-affective-disorder-vitamin-d-supplements (Accessed January 2014).

4. Reynolds, D, Can Vitamin D Help Seasonal Affective Disorder March 2010 Available from: http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/25/35930/can-vitamin-d-help-seasonal-affective-disorder.html (Accessed January 2014).

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