Showing posts with label seasonal affective disorder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seasonal affective disorder. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2016

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Beat the Wintertime Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to the change in seasons – and it typically affects people the most during the winter season. It causes a loss of energy and moodiness, but it is treatable! This infographic has everything you need to know to prevent and treat seasonal depression.

If you are prescribed an antidepressant to help manage your Seasonal Affective Disorder, remember to always bring the Free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or app with you to save an average of 43% off the cost of your prescriptions.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Living With Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you start feeling a little out of sorts at the change of seasons, there might be a good explanation. It’s estimated that approximately half a million individuals are adversely affected by the changing seasons, with many unaware of the cause. But, with greater awareness, an array of treatment options and a plan for self-care, you’ll be back to feeling like yourself in no time.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as S.A.D., is a type of depression that occurs seasonally. Typically, symptoms affect individuals in the fall and winter months, lasting until the warmer summer months.

What are the symptoms of S.A.D.?

According to the Mayo Clinic, individuals affected by fall/winter S.A.D. usually experience the following types of symptoms:

Loss of energy
Heavy feelings in the arms and legs
Social withdrawal
Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
Appetite changes, especially craving high carbohydrate foods
Weight gain
Difficulty concentrating

Does S.A.D. only occur in the fall/winter?

Many individuals are unaware that a second type of S.A.D. can occur from spring to early summer. The spring/summer form of S.A.D. is not as common as the fall/winter form. There is a different set of symptoms that accompany spring/summer S.A.D.

Symptoms of spring/summer S.A.D. include:

Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
Increased sex drive
Poor appetite
Weight loss

How is S.A.D. diagnosed?

Your health provider can diagnose S.A.D. based on your symptoms, creating a treatment plan specifically for you.

What causes S.A.D.?

While the exact cause remains unclear, experts agree that genetics, age and your body’s chemical makeup all play a role in developing Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Changes in exposure to sunlight may affect S.A.D. by disrupting your circadian rhythm, causing a decrease in serotonin levels and affecting melatonin levels in the body.

Does S.A.D. affect men and women differently?

Yes, typically women are diagnosed with S.A.D. more often than men. However, men may experience more severe symptoms.

Are certain individuals more susceptible to S.A.D.?

Yes, especially:

Those who live farther from the equator.
Individuals with a family history of S.A.D.
Those who have clinical depression or bipolar disorder.

What is the treatment for S.A.D.?

Light therapy (phototherapy)

What can you do to help alleviate the symptoms of S.A.D. at home?

Make your home sunnier and brighter by opening shades and curtains, allowing as much natural light in as possible.
Get outside, even on cold or overcast days.
Exercise regularly. It’s a great stress reliever and produces endorphins, which help you feel and look better.

What other factors should you consider in the treatment of S.A.D.?

According to a recent article, if you suffer from S.A.D., holiday time can be particularly challenging. Experts suggest:

Limit your alcohol consumption at parties and festivities.
Don’t let holiday overspending dampen your spirits, causing unnecessary worry and depression.
Be aware that fatty, sugar-laden foods can sap energy.
Recognize if you’re feeling overwhelmed by obligations – family traditions and work parties, for instance –and reduce your commitment to these activities.
If you’re feeling nostalgic, especially if spending the holidays alone or far from family, socialize, volunteer or find another way to connect with others.

S.A.D. is by no means a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It’s a chemical imbalance in your body that can be managed with the proper treatment. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to get help if you need it.

Kathy Rembisz
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Don't be SAD – Beat the Winter Blues

Now that Autumn is upon us, you’ve no doubt noticed that the days are getting shorter and the nights longer.   Have you also noticed that this season regularly brings on symptoms of depression for you?

If so, there could be a connection;  you may be one of the estimated 20,000 U.S. citizens suffering from SAD -- Seasonal Affective Disorder – many of whom have no idea that what they are experiencing isn’t just sadness but SAD.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD?


Mayo Clinic defines SAD as a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year, which is why this debilitating affective disorder is labeled “seasonal.”  For most sufferers, Seasonal Affective Disorder strikes during the time of year when the daylight hours are shortest: late Fall and winter, and for some, even into early Spring.

SAD affects more women than men
and can last from late Fall to
early Spring.

The distinguishing characteristic of the SAD disorder is its seasonal pattern: the annual recurrence of the troubling symptoms that may result in a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

SAD is a widespread problem. Like other forms of depression, many people who are affected by this seasonal disorder do not even realize they have it. According to studies by the University of Virginia, an estimated six percent of the U.S. population is afflicted by seasonal affective disorder. Some research suggests that more people suffer from symptoms of SAD in regions that are further away from the equator. 

Symptoms of an affective seasonal disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe. All symptoms of SAD should be taken seriously and discussed with your doctor. 
  • Mood changes
  • Changes in sleep and/or eating
  • Finding less enjoyment in activities
  • Socializing less
  • Loss of energy
  • Inability to concentrate
If you notice any of these changes, check with your health care professional to see if you have SAD and to rule out any other conditions. 

Who does seasonal affective disorder target?


Seasonal affective disorder can affect people of all types. Your likelihood of getting seasonal affective disorder is greater if you are:
  • More sensitive to variations in light
  • Females are nearly four times more likely to get SAD than males
  • Previously struggled with depression
  • Family history of seasonal affective disorder.


How long does seasonal affective disorder last?


By definition, SAD is seasonal and cyclical. That is, SAD tends to crop up at the same time each year and fade away at the same time. This is the case for everyone with SAD, but duration of the symptoms varies from person to person:
  • For the most unfortunate sufferers, seasonal affective disorder may begin shortly after the days begin to grow shorter in the Fall and persist until the days begin to grow longer in Spring. 
  • For others, the duration may be much shorter; for some, lasting only a couple of weeks.


How can I be sure I have SAD?


The symptoms of SAD are very similar to symptoms of depression. Even if you have all of the common symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (such as feelings of hopelessness, trouble concentrating, social isolation, lack of energy, changes in sleeping, appetite irregularities),  it does not necessarily mean that you have SAD. This is why it’s best to get professionally diagnosed. 


Treating SAD 


Seasonal affective disorder is treatable. Your doctor may advise or prescribe any of the following treatments, depending on your individual condition and situation:
affective disorder
Getting more light can help relieve
symptoms of SAD.
  • More light: During the darkest seasons, getting out into the daylight more may be enough to alleviate symptoms.
  • Phototherapy: Also known as Light Therapy, phototherapy exposes you to a regular schedule of “daylight spectrum” lighting: special lights designed to mimic daylight. The light gets absorbed through your retinas. The phototherapy process usually takes several days before symptoms improve. For most people, treatments continue even after the season passes, to be certain symptoms do not return. 
  • Medication: Antidepressant medication is sometimes prescribed.
  • Psychotherapy/counseling: Talking with a trained counselor may provide help to deal with some of the emotional symptoms of SAD.
  • Diet: Some doctors may advise you to reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates in your diet, focusing on complex carbohydrates or lower carbohydrate foods.
If you’ve been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder and your doctor prescribes medication, don’t let financial concerns unnecessarily add to your depression.  The free FamilyWize prescription discount card can help to reduce your pharmacy costs, including medications prescribed to treat SAD.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer