Seasonal Affective Disorder

When, the arrival of winter scares you or depresses you, you could be one of those many people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Surprisingly there is a large number of people who are affected by this miserable condition, but most of them go undiagnosed. Seasonal affective disorder can be confirmed only if someone experiences more than three mood swings over a period of 90 days consecutively for three years. This condition is also commonly referred to as winter depression.

Short days, longer night hours, cold temperature and low light are some of the prime reasons that create a remarkably depressing effect on the mood of the sufferer.  With the coming of winter, outdoor life shrinks sizably and one is forced to stay indoors, which again has been cited as one probable reason for this depressive condition. Most people do not realize that they are suffering from seasonal affective disorder because they feel that it is all because of stress.

The typical symptoms experienced during SAD are low energy levels, irritability, lack of concentration, anxiety buildup, decreased sexual desire and a tendency for social withdrawal. Some other symptoms that may be noted are excessive sleep, an increase in appetite and craving for sweets and carbohydrate.

Although the pathological philosophy behind seasonal affective disorder still remains a partially unsolved puzzle, there are several psychiatric approaches and treatments to deal with the problem. The top spot on the list of treatments is occupied by light therapy using a light box, wherein the sufferer is exposed to excessively bright light for a few hours every day.

The intensity of this light is usually more than ten times the intensity of ordinary lighting. Other forms of treatment like psychotherapy, counseling and cognitive behavioral approach have also shown good results in helping people to cope up with the situation. Apart from using therapies, your doctor may put you on to certain antidepressants like Prozac and Lustral to alleviate the symptoms.

Lastly, since most cures for seasonal affective disorder are not permanent, taking a holiday to some sunny location during winter can avoid the need for treatment.

Sidharth Thakur