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Are you feeling SAD?

I think Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) should win the prize for most appropriate acronym, since folks suffering from the disorder feel well...more than a little sad. About 1 in 5 Americans suffer from this well known but rarely treated disorder, that leaves people feeling a decrease in energy and cheerfulness, as well as a decline in productivity and creativity.

The lack of light that accompanies the winter months disrupts natural sleep / wake cycles creating effects similar to an extreme case of jet lag. Instead of recovering in a few days, it can take upwards of 5 months.

SAD is not treated with antidepressants, since those suffering from it are not emotionally depressed. It is more like they are worn down like an over used battery so light therapy is generally prescribed to recharge them. Patients sit in front of a really bright light (10,000 lux) every morning for 45 minutes to 2 hours. These lights are available to the public through the Center for Environmental Therapeutics , for about $200.

Another option is to plan a vacation to a very bright, very warm destination. Hello Tahiti!!!

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discocactus discocactus 8 years
And actually it CAN BE treated with antidepressants in part because people start to feel that way after not being able to function for half a year. Often this goes untreated for long periods so people with SAD can respond to anti-depressants and/or psycho therapy. The leading researcher on this topic, Norman Rosenthal, wrote a very comprehensive and informative book on SAD and how to treat it (which does include antidepressants or SSRIs). Light therapy usually helps most people with it though, thankfully.
discocactus discocactus 8 years
There's a major difference between being a little down in the winter and actually having SAD. I have it and left untreated, I become a different person who can barely function. I respond somewhat to light therapy but it hasn't been enough so I'll have to try treating it with something else, like anti-depressants. And vacations are just a temporary fix, it doesn't last more than a day after you return. It stinks and I'm already dreading the return of winter.
kerneschick2005 kerneschick2005 8 years
I definitely have that...
purplesugar purplesugar 9 years
I think I'm feeling it this winter...
suzanne suzanne 9 years
My brother and sister live in New England and both have impressive symptoms starting every Fall. Their therapy includes special lights placed behind the knees at night... They got their light "fix" while they slept. My sister also walks outside every day during her lunch break... really helps.
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 9 years
I forgot when i moved back to Europe how early it gets dark. In Canada in the winter, it was dark between 5:30-6:30 at night. Here, it starts getting dark at 4pm and I get all tired and groggy. To go out for 9pm feels like I'm leaving the house at 2am! LOL
DStirk DStirk 9 years
i hate when its super dark in the mornings when i have to wake up... i think that makes me totally sad. its like i never see the sunlight in the winter cause its dark when i leave work too!
yoyogee yoyogee 9 years
I wonder if skiing helps with this. I get a little down in the winter months (PA in the winter was bleak indeed). The thing that would get me through was thinking about big ski trips. I've had my worst sunburns on the slopes and I'm sure the brightness on top of a snow-covered mountain on a sunny day would to the trick (I wonder how many LUX that is...). This of course all goes out the window if it's cloudy on the slopes. I want to goes skiing!!!
BlondeSugar BlondeSugar 9 years
My friends mom has this and there's a lot more to it than just being bummed out bc it's cold and dark out. It's really sad.
scratch5 scratch5 9 years
Winter always makes me want to hibernate - like a bear. I don't think I have this. But I do miss the sun - especially in the evening.
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