What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
While possible to experience any time of the year, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is mostly considered to be winter depression; or winter blues. This is because it is not as common in the other seasons. It is a serious depression, or mood change, that some people experience when the seasons change. This is something that just happens now and then; but every year.
Though the disorder can be very difficult to live with when it occurs, it goes away over time and the symptoms dissipate. These can include sleeping disorders, eating disorders, fatigue, reclusiveness, and inability to concentrate.
It is normal for some people to feel a bit suppressed and down in the winter, but those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder have to deal with symptoms that are much worse than those. They usually suffer from major depression and eventually bipolar disorder; even to the point of being suicidal.
The debate goes on about what causes Seasonal Affective Disorder, as well as what will cure or subdue it. Potential causes include a missing chemical in the brain (serotonin), and an issue with the production of melatonin in low light situations. In addition to prescribed medications, other treatments include psychotherapy (often cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT), physical activity in the sunlight, and light therapy.
Higher incidents of Seasonal Affective Disorder occur in regions with extreme wintertime cold and decreased light. Countries such as Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands fit this description, as well as states like Alaska and the New England states.
Statistics also show that women are more susceptible to SAD than men, although it is becoming increasingly common in men (or, possibly just more recognized). Most women who develop it first get it in their twenties; however, it has been reported in children and teenagers.
Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
This is the same disorder, but it happens in the summer. It can involve a heightened case of anxiety, especially for those with manic-depression (bipolar disorder). Those coming out of the winter blues need to understand that they may suffer some bipolar effects. It is important that this is not confused with Reverse SAD, which can start as early as the spring; as opposed to the normal SAD which may start as early as autumn.
Anyone who suffers from depression that seems to have an annual pattern, especially in the winter, should not take it lightly. The first thing that should be done is to seek medical help. People do not have to suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder since there is treatment available.
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