Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a subtype of affective disorders. People with normal mental health will perceive symptoms of depression for most of the year, most probably in winter season in this disorder. It is not called as mood disorder now-a-days but is called seasonal disorder with recurrent pattern. It is more common in a specific period of the year specifically in winter times. There is no evidence of links between depression and sunlight exposure or depression.
A frequent major depression which symptoms like depression and lethargy in different seasons like winter and fall is known to be Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a kind of depression related to seasonal changes but is not present normally in other seasons.
It starts and ends at almost the same period of time each year. The patient will mostly perceive the signs and symptoms into the winter season each year. In this season the patient feels lazy and moody. Sometimes it becomes the cause of depression in the start of spring or summer.
Why it is known to be “Winter Depression” or “Winter Blues”?
This disorder shows its symptoms in the beginning of autumn but its symptoms get worse in the winter season. These symptoms must be controlled by medications or therapies otherwise the condition may become complicated. That’s why it is called Winter Depression.
There is other type which gets worse in summer season and is called summer depression. But it accounts only ten percent of the total seasonal affective disorder.
It should also be controlled by treatments or other prevention treatments to control it otherwise it may get worse and complications may occur.
Symptoms and clinical signs:
The appearance of symptoms of this disorder is in late autumn or beginning of winter and the disappearance of its symptoms is in the season of summer and spring.
The symptoms in people having opposite pattern appear in spring or summer. It progresses with progressive season. The symptoms of SAD are given below:
- Suicide and death thoughts
- Having depressed or having sad feelings
- Loss of interest in joyful activities
- Eating more and having craze for eating meal rich in carbohydrates
- Too much sleeping and having disturbed sleeping timetable
- Having low energy every time despite too much sleeping and eating many more
Purposeless activities are increased in this case
Treatment of seasonal affective disorder:
SAD can be treated by using following methods of treatment. These methods of treatment are given below:
- Light therapy: With this treatment, from autumn to spring, the patient sits in front of bright light box for about 30-45 minutes usually early in the morning daily.
Compared with ordinary indoor light, it can filter out potentially harmful ultraviolet rays and is safe for most people.
- Talk therapy: It usually takes the form of a group meeting twice a week for 6 weeks and aims to replace negative kind of thoughts produced due to winter (such as winter darkness) with more positive thoughts. Talk therapy is also known as psychotherapy.
- Dawn stimulation: The sunrise simulation is also effective and it has been proved in some studies. In some studies, the response was lower compared to other bright light therapies.
Patients who use phototherapy may show improvement within the first week, but the effect will be significantly improved after several weeks.
This treatment is not used through-out the year but the effective responses are achieved by using it several weeks in a specific season.
Can SAD be prevented?
Since the time of onset of SAD is so predicted in winter, it may be useful for people with a history of SAD to help prevent or relieve depression before starting the fall of the above treatment.
There is no evidence that early phototherapy can stop the occurrence of depression. But it has small impact on it.
Preventive treatment by medicating bupropion can prohibit SAD but it has side effects also. The patients should start treatment as soon as possible to help prevent depression. They should consult their doctors also.