I thought it appropriate to blog on Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as SAD. SAD is a DSM-IVTR diagnosable mood disorder falling in the category of depression. The symptoms usually begin in fall or winter with the shortened days and goes into remission in the spring when the days become longer and there is more sunlight. Some of the symptoms include prominent anger, hypersomnia, overeating, weight gain, and a craving for carbohydrates. SAD is more common in women with 60-90% of women experiencing it. People in high latitudes experience SAD more often, it is less likely to be present in children. A seasonal pattern is also applicable to people diagnosed with Type I & II Bipolar disorder.
Treatments for SAD very. A number of my clients begin an increased regime of anti depressants in late September to combat the symptoms of SAD. Others of my clients who are not interested in taking more medication use light therapy. Phillips makes a wonderful gradual wake alarm clock that mimics waking up to natural sunlight. They also sell lights to use for so many hours a day to help reduce SAD effects and increase energy: http://www.usa.philips.com/c/light-therapy/11625/cat/#/cp_tab1 There is also a company called Verilux that sells light bulbs you can use in your home to mimic sunlight as well (and no the Reveal light bulbs will not suffice). You can visit: http://www.verilux.com/ and right now they are having a sale 25% off light therapy products as a resulting of daylight savings.
Other things aside from light therapy I suggest to my clients is to have your vitamin D levels checked. Vitamin D is produced by our bodies naturally by spending 4+ hours a day in direct sunlight. If you are not then you likely need a supplement. Decreased vitamin D levels can result in depressed mood, high blood pressure, and joint/muscle aching. To give you a better idea of why you need to see your doctor to have this checked: I suffer with low vitamin D levels and the over the counter dosage is not enough for me so this time of year to ward off the muscle aches I usually have I’m prescribed 50,000 iu’s per week in order to maintain normal levels in my body and otc’s do not come in 50,000 iu. Please keep in mind if you are African American or any other shade of brown you have more melanin in your skin and because of this the darker you are the more difficult it is for the sun to penetrate your skin and produce vitamin D. If not your doctor, a naturopath, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, or Ayruvedic practitioner can provide you with pharmaceutical grade vitamin D. The other thing you can (and should be doing for health anyway) is taking an omega 3 supplement. The best Omega 3 in my opinion is by Barlane’s http://www.barleans.com/omega-swirl.asp The liquid form allows for better absorption in the body and it tastes nothing like fish oil! A combination of supplement therapy and light therapy can be equally as effective as drug therapy for SAD.