Last edited 20 Nov 2020

Seasonal affective disorder SAD

SunshineSAD.jpg

[edit] Introduction

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is most commonly associated with the winter months due to longer hours of darkness and is sometimes referred to as winter depression. The authenticity of SAD was initially questioned by health officials, but it has now been recognised as a common disorder. It is thought to be associated with the natural reaction that takes place in the brain when it experiences a lack of sunlight, but there is no single cause.

Moodiness and listlessness are some of the most frequently experienced symptoms associated with SAD. Sleep and appetite problems may also occur.

[edit] Addressing SAD

During the months when SAD may occur, adjustments to lighting levels are recommended. Sufficient amounts of bright light can help treat and prevent this disorder.

There is some evidence that exposure to bright light in the morning is more effective than exposure to bright light in the evening in reducing depression.

In addition to artificial light, increased levels of natural lighting are recommended, when available. For instance, east-facing rooms (exposed to bright light in the morning) rather than west-facing rooms may be more suitable for people who experience SAD.

Other forms of treatment include:

  • Light therapy (in the form of devices such as light boxes).
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other forms of counselling.
  • Medication (including prescription antidepressant treatments and Vitamin D).
  • Air ionization treatments (such as negative-ion therapy used in conjunction with light therapy).
  • Physical exercise (particularly if taken outdoors in natural sunlight).

In some instances, it may be helpful to adopt a flexible working pattern. For people who work indoors during the daytime, this may increase exposure to natural sunlight and reduce some of the symptoms associated with SAD.

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