SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) Is More Real Than You Think

sad lights

My first semester at college, I lived through my first real winter.  Growing up in southern California, I had grown accustomed to sunny, warm winters that allowed all sorts of outdoor activities.  My first real winter, with real snow and cold temperatures was nothing short of shocking.  I found myself feeling as gloomy as the weather and not wanting to be social.  I was not depressed and made it through without any serious winter wounds, but many suffer from even more serious symptoms.  Many, like me, find their moods going as low as the weather.  Unlike me, however, these people continue to spiral downward and feel additional symptoms of depression and lack of energy.  This is more than just the winter blues.  This is a medical condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. 

SAD is very real and its symptoms are very real to those who suffer from it.  People suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder feel depressed and feel the need to sleep often.  They lack energy and feel lethargic throughout the day, even the entire winter.  They have increased appetites and cravings for carbohydrates.  Their increased appetites lead to weight gain.  They also feel social withdrawals, and become increasingly anti-social and irritable. 

SAD is a serious condition that requires medical help.  Treatment can be found in the form of light therapy.  Lack of light causes SAD and light therapy can reverse its effects and have patients feeling sunny and happy. 

3 Signs You're SAD (Suffering From Seasonal Affective Disorder)

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We’ve all been sad.  We are sad in a whole number of situations.  The store is out of our favorite candy, the movie is all sold out, our favorite team lost the big game, we failed a test, lost a promotion, broke up with a partner, hacked around on the golf course etc, etc.  Sadness can come at any time anywhere. There is another kind of sadness.  This sadness is depressive and occurs in the winter months and it comes with a lot of symptoms.  This sadness is simply not surprisingly, called ‘SAD.’ 

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, affects those who live in harsh winter climates that deal with long winter days, with little or no sunlight.  Lack of sunlight affects the body’s natural function, its internal clock.  When the clock is adjusted, a number of things can go wrong.  Symptoms for SAD often last throughout the winter, only going away when the sun finally comes back in the spring time.  If you have ever wondered if you are a victim of SADness, here are 3 main signs to determine if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

First, Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by depression.  SAD patients feel down, depressed and anxious.  They often avoid others, even family and friends.  Second, SAD patients feel tired and lack energy often.  They sleep much more than normal.  Third, SAD affects patients’ appetites, especially increasing cravings for carbohydrates.  There’s the 3 main ways to determine if you are SAD.

Sleep Disorders and Light Therapy

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Sleep is such an essential part of life.  Most of us feel we do not get enough sleep.  Work, school and other responsibilities have us waking up earlier than we would like, and feeling tired throughout the day.  Sometimes in rare cases, people get a little too much sleep – like college students on the weekends.  Most of us have a regular cycle of sleep, a pattern that we live by that helps us feel normal and energetic.  For some people, however, normal cycles of sleep are a luxury they can’t acquire.
Sleeping disorders are caused by disruptions in the cycles of sleep.  The body is equipped with a kind of internal clock, often called the biological clock.  Hormones and other chemicals inside of us work together to tell us when we are tired and when we are awake.  Called circadian rhythms, these sleep indicators work in patterns and occur regularly.  Light also plays an essential role.  Light helps trigger feelings of sleepiness and alertness. 

People who suffer from sleeping disorders have problems with their circadian rhythm.  Their pattern is off.  Light therapy can help them.  Light therapy works simply by simulating light.  Patients usually sit in front of a light box that emits high intensity light for a short period of time, around 30 minutes a day.  The light works in correcting problems with circadian rhythm and making regular patterns of sleep. 

How Does Light Therapy Work?

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Seasonal Affective Disorder patients often feel desperate for help.  There symptoms are often overwhelming and the depression and symptoms brought on by SAD can push anyone to the edge.  Light therapy is a common solution to this problem.  Light therapy is a preferred and recommended treatment for anyone suffering from SAD

If you suffer from SAD, you have probably heard about, or even experimented with light therapy.  Many who try the treatment report amazing results and incredible improvements in quality of life and symptoms.  If you have never tried light therapy, you may be skeptical.  I mean, how can light seriously improve how you feel right?  The answer may surprise you. 

Light is actually at the core of the problem.  It is actually lack of light exposure that causes Seasonal Affective Disorder.  When the winter months hit, the sun goes away and the SAD symptoms come in.  Inside the body is a hormone known as melatonin.  Melatonin works with the body in several capacities including sleep patterns, immune system and much more.  Lack of sun equals more melatonin production, which means SAD.  Light therapy fixes that.  Light therapy projects florescent, intense light for a period of time to reverse this process and help you feel better.  Just 30 minutes a day with the light box can help.  Usually, patients sit in front of the light box after waking up for best results. 

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