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Seasonal Affective Disorder

Wednesday, August 27th 2014. | Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder also called SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. For most people with SAD, symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer. Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy, psychotherapy and medications. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.Seasonal-Affective-Disorder

Symptoms and Causes
In most cases, SAD symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
The specific cause of SAD remains unknown. It is likely, as with many mental health conditions, that genetics, age and most importantly, your body’s natural chemical makeup all play a role in developing the condition. A few specific factors that may come into play include the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter that may disrupt your body’s internal clock, which lets you know when you should sleep or be awake. This disruption of your circadian rhythm may lead to feelings of depression. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the natural hormone melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
Treatment
Treatment for SAD may include light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. If you have bipolar disorder, your doctor will be careful when prescribing light therapy or an antidepressant. Light therapy is one of the first line treatments for seasonal affective disorder. Research on light therapy is limited, but it appears to be effective for most people in relieving seasonal affective disorder symptoms. Psychotherapy is another option to treat seasonal affective disorder. It can help you identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that may be making you feel worse. You can also learn healthy ways to cope with SAD and manage stress.
Prevention
There is no known way to prevent the development of SAD. However, if you take steps early on to manage symptoms, you may be able to prevent them from getting worse over time. If you can get control of your symptoms before they get worse, you may be able to head off serious changes in mood, appetite and energy levels.

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