Is There A Treatment For Sad
Yes. Winter depression is probably caused by a lack of sunlight. So, light therapy is one way to treat winter depression.
If your doctor suggests that you try light therapy, you will use a special light box or a light visor that you wear on your head like a cap. You will sit in front of the light box or wear the light visor each day. Generally, light therapy takes about 30 minutes a day in the fall and winter, when you’re most likely to be depressed. If light therapy helps you, you’ll keep using it until more sun is available in the springtime. Stopping light therapy too soon can make the symptoms come back.
When used properly, light therapy seems to have few side effects. Side effects include eye strain, headache, fatigue, irritability and inability to sleep. This happens if light therapy is used late in the day.
Tanning beds shouldn’t be used to treat SAD. The light sources in tanning beds are high in ultraviolet rays, which harm your eyes and your skin.
If you have SAD, your doctor may also want you to try a medicine or behavior therapy. If light therapy or medicine alone doesn’t work, your doctor may want you to use them together.
How To Get Help If You Or Someone You Know Has Seasonal Depression
As with any form of depression, don’t ignore SAD symptoms. While seasonal, its appearance each year can lead to reclusive tendencies and even thoughts of suicide.
If you or someone you know is displaying symptoms of SAD, consider getting help from one of the following sources:
- On-Campus Counseling: Take advantage of mental health services at your college. If not available, consider seeking counseling services from a local therapist specializing in SAD.
- Depression and Suicide Prevention Hotlines: If thoughts of suicide or death enter your mind, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Students can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
A person experiencing symptoms of SAD should seek the help of a trained healthcare provider. Other biological diseases, such as hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism, may cause similar symptoms and should be ruled out.
How Is Seasonal Depression Treated
Fortunately, various treatments exist for someone battling seasonal depression. The four primary categories of treatment that will either be used alone or in conjunction with another include:
- Antidepressant medication
Only after a diagnosis by a medical provider can you determine which treatment will be the most effective for you. They might suggest one of the above-listed treatments or a combination of them.
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What Are The Treatments For Seasonal Affective Disorder
Light therapy is considered the standard treatment for seasonal affective disorder. By spending about 30 minutes in front of a 10,000-lux light box â usually first thing in the morning â students with SAD can replace missing daylight. This full-spectrum seasonal depression lamp mimics natural sunlight and affects brain chemicals.
The National Institutes of Health reports that light therapy can relieve seasonal depression symptoms after a few weeks of treatment in up to 70% of users. Some even report improvement after just one session.
Other treatments include cognitive behavior therapy. This therapy focuses on replacing negative thoughts about oneself, others, and situational stressors with positive ones. It also helps people cope by identifying activities they can enjoy and finding ways to reduce stress.
Medications that increase serotonin levels in the brain â called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors â can enhance a person’s mood and limit the effects of SAD as well. The Federal Drug Administration has also approved bupropion, another type of antidepressant, for SAD.
Finally, setting a regular sleep schedule and routines, spending time outdoors and exercising, and maintaining a well-balanced diet may help relieve the symptoms associated with seasonal depression.
Imbalances In Brain Chemicals
Your brain produces a number of different neurotransmitters, or chemicals messengers, that help regulate mood, emotions, and other important bodily processes.
But having too much, or too little, of them in your system can disrupt typical function and play a part in the development of mood and mental health symptoms.
Experts believe that winter depression relates, in part, to a drop in serotonin a chemical thats typically produced after exposure to natural light. An increase in melatonin, another hormone linked to winter depression, can leave you feeling more tired and lethargic than usual.
Its been suggested that spring depression may follow the reverse pattern:
- The sudden increase in sunlight cues your body to produce less melatonin, so you end up getting less sleep than you need. As noted above, this lack of sleep can contribute to, or worsen, symptoms of depression.
- At the same time, levels of serotonin in your body increase as a natural outcome of longer days and sunnier weather. While too little serotonin is linked to depression, too much could also contribute to mental health concerns, including social anxiety disorder.
If youre particularly sensitive to these changes, a surplus of serotonin could potentially contribute to feelings of irritability and restlessness, along with a low mood.
That said, its still unclear what actually causes spring depression.
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What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.
What Causes Seasonal Depression
Seasonal depression occurs most often in the winter months. Most healthcare professionals and doctors agree that SAD is the bodys response to reduced light exposure. But why does less sunlight cause a person to feel sad? Winter affects a persons mood because it disrupts the circadian rhythm and serotonin levels .
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Other Mental Health Conditions
MedlinePlus reports that SAD occurs in 10-20% of people with a major depressive disorder and about 25% of those with bipolar disorder. Students with bipolar II disorder, a mental health condition associated with recurrent depressive and hypomanic episodes, are particularly vulnerable.
Additionally, increased susceptibility can occur in students with ADHD and anxiety, panic, and/or eating disorders.
What You Can Do Today
Small lifestyle changes are critical when coping with seasonal depression. Start every morning with a walk or yoga class, make sure you get plenty of sunshine and keep doing the activities you love to do. Ask for support from friends and family members, and if your symptoms worsen, seek additional help from your doctor. Being prepared for the winters months is especially importantconsider how you can better manage your seasonal affective disorder for today and for the years to come.
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Seasonal Depression: Signs And Symptoms Of Sad
Depression is a sometimes severe condition that affects a substantial portion of the population each year. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance , 17.3 million American adults, equating to 7.1 percent of the U.S. population over 18 each year. There are several variations of depression, but major depression is the most common. It disproportionately affects women more than men and can lead to substance abuse issues. An estimated 20 percent of those with depression also have a substance use disorder .
As was mentioned above, there are many variations of depression that can affect a person. Every now and then, its normal to experience feelings of sadness. The death of a loved one or your pet, failing a class at school, or losing a job are all legitimate reasons to feel bad. However, once it begins to affect your daily life, there could be other powers in play. Depression can cause you to lose touch with reality and stay in bed while avoiding responsibilities because of how you feel.
In some cases, you may notice your depression increase in severity during the change of seasons, known as seasonal depression. Whatever the cause, the first step is reaching out for help from your doctor. They can listen to you and refer you to a mental health specialist to help determine if youre suffering from seasonal depression or one of the other many variations. The diagnosis is vital in deciding how to move forward with treatment.
How Light Therapy Works
Light therapy is thought to work by simulating the sunlight that is missing during the darker winter months.
The additional light encourages your brain to reduce the production of melatonin and increase the production of serotonin .
Altering the levels of melatonin and serotonin that are released into your body during the winter months can help to ease your symptoms of SAD.
However, this is based on the assumption that the condition is caused by a lack of light and the effect that this has on the hormones that are released in your brain.
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Ready Your Mind In The Fall
As you prepare our homes for the fall-to-winter transition, you may want to consider preparing your mind, too.
Regularly allotting time for mood-boosting activities can help people feel physically and psychologically healthier, says psychologist Kim Burgess, PhD, founder of the Pediatric Psychology Center in Rockville, Maryland, and an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C.
Its better to set yourself up for the winter season by starting in the fall season doing enjoyable activities, initiating friend group chats and outings, choosing fun hobbies, and engaging in clubs or community service, says Dr. Burgess.
Regularly taking part in these activities ahead of time is much easier than trying to start from scratch once the winter blues have already set in, she adds.
Q: Who Gets Seasonal Affective Disorder
A: Though anyone can get SAD, its true that some people are more likely to experience it than others.
Women are significantly more likely than men to have seasonal depression, comprising around 75% of SAD diagnoses.
Its still not totally clear as to why, but some scientists believe the prevalence of SAD in women is related to higher levels of cortisol and inflammation.
Young adults between the ages of are also more likely to have SAD.
Other contributing factors to seasonal affective disorder
- Your geographic region. Populations further from the equator have significantly
Epigenetics is the study of how the DNA you inherit does or does not manifest in you. This means that any genetic predispositions that run in your family can stay inactive or can even be reversible when signs show up early.
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Tip : Eat The Right Diet
Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings.
- While the symptoms of SAD can make you crave sugary foods and simple carbohydrates, such as pasta and white bread, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Foods such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, brown rice, and bananas can boost your feel-good serotonin levels without the subsequent sugar crash.
- Foods rich in certain omega-3 fatssuch as oily fish, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseedscan also improve your mood and may even boost the effectiveness of antidepressant medication.
Strategies That May Help With Winter Depression
Get as much natural light as possible
If you experience winter depression, increasing your daily exposure to as much natural light as possible can be helpful.
You might find getting as much sunlight during the winter months as you can helpful.
If you can, take a walk throughout the day or sit next to a south-facing window at your office, in a classroom, or at home. This will increase your sunlight exposure.
Exercising next to a window or outdoors when possible is another activity that may help.
Consider light therapy
Light therapy can be an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder.
You can purchase specialized light therapy lighting boxes sometimes called SAD lamps for your home or office. Its often recommended to sit in front of these lightboxes for about 30 to 60 minutes a day.
Light therapy is thought to improve seasonal depression. The increased exposure to light may:
- cause your brain to reduce the production of the hormone melatonin, which makes you sleepy
- increase the production of the hormone serotonin, which affects your mood
Though light therapy is recognized as a first-line treatment for seasonal affective disorder, the lamps can be a bit pricy.
Some insurances may cover the cost of the light therapy box, especially if your healthcare provider recommends light therapy. If you have medical insurance, then checking with your insurance provider is a good idea.
Maintain your sleep schedule and routine
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Sad
As with other kinds of depression, a person with SAD may notice any or all of these:
- Changes in mood. SAD can cause a mood thats sad, depressed, or irritable. SAD can make people feel hopeless, discouraged, or worthless. They may cry or get upset more easily.
- Negative thinking. A person can become more self-critical, or more sensitive to criticism. They may complain, blame, find fault, or see problems more often than usual.
- Lack of enjoyment. People with SAD may lose interest in things they normally like to do. They may lose interest in friends and stop participating in social activities.
- Low energy. People may feel tired, low on energy, or lack motivation to do things. To them, everything can seem like it takes too much effort.
- Changes in sleep. A person may sleep much more than usual. They may find it especially hard to get up and ready for school or work in early morning hours.
- Changes in eating. SAD may bring on cravings for simple carbohydrates and the tendency to overeat. Because of this change in eating, SAD can result in weight gain during the winter months.
- Trouble concentrating. Like any depression, SAD can make it hard to focus. This can affect schoolwork and grades.
With SAD, a person notices these changes only during the time of year when there are fewer hours of daylight. As the season changes and days become longer again, their depression gets better and their usual energy returns.
When To See A Gp
You should consider seeing the GP if you think you might have SAD and you’re struggling to cope.
The GP can carry out an assessment to check your mental health. They may ask you about your mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus any seasonal changes in your thoughts and behaviour.
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Is Light Therapy Safe
Light therapy is typically safe and well-tolerated. But you may need to avoid light therapy if you:
- Have diabetes or retinopathies: If you have diabetes or a retina condition, theres a potential risk of damaging the retina, the back of your eye.
- Take some medications: Certain antibiotics and anti-inflammatories can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Light therapy can then cause harm.
- Have bipolar disorder: Bright light therapy and antidepressants can trigger hypomania or mania, uncontrolled boosts in mood and energy level. If you have bipolar disorder, let your provider know. This will play a role in your treatment plan.
Subtle Signs Youre Dealing With Seasonal Depression
When daylight saving time ends on the first Sunday in November, we let out a collectivegroan. But for people who struggle with seasonal depression, the shorter days arent just a bummer. This time of year typically marks the onset of their symptoms, which can be debilitating at times.
Also known as seasonal affective disorder , this mental health condition is a subtype of clinical depression that starts and ends around the same time every year usually beginning in fall, lasting through winter and subsiding in spring. The in the fall and winter months is thought to trigger most cases of SAD.
Sunlight helps moderate well-being, so when less of it is available, it derails our biological clock also known as our circadian rhythm resulting in a mood disorder with a seasonal onset, said psychologist Deborah Serani, a professor at Adelphi University and author of Living With Depression. Changes in serotonin and melatonin levels during this time of year may also play a role in the disorder.
Its not uncommon to experience the winter blues, a slight mood shift or sluggishness due to colder weather and less sunshine. But seasonal depression has a more significant impact on your daily functioning.
Winter blues dont interfere with your ability to enjoy life or accomplish day-to-day activities, Serani said. But if your winter blues become more pronounced, negatively impacting school, work, home and personal life, a more involved disorder may be operating.
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Having Thoughts Of Suicide
Crisis helplines connect you with trained counselors who can offer compassionate support during a time of crisis. Crisis counselors dont give advice or provide professional mental health treatment, but they can listen to whats on your mind and help you identify some next steps toward getting care and treatment.
To get free, confidential, 24/7 support:
- Text. Reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
Spring depression is less common than winter depression, and experts dont know for certain exactly what causes it. A few potential theories include: