Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Feeling SAD?

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Whether you know it or not, but the weather plays a big role in deciding your mood. Affecting thousands around the globe, this disorder is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D), which is a type of clinical depression, that follows a seasonal pattern. Some people experience a serious mood change when seasons change. This mostly occurs during the winter or rainy season.

Some experts think it's a lack of sunlight during these seasons, when days are shorter. Insufficient exposure to sunlight has been associated with low levels of melatonin and serotonin, two neurotransmitters in the brain. Serotonin has a soothing, calming effect on a person and its absence can bring on feelings of depression. As seasons change, there is a shift in our biological internal clocks, partly due to changes in sunlight patterns. Like all forms of depressive illness, SAD can vary greatly in severity and can be a severely debilitating condition. Many patients can be perfectly healthy during spring and summer but unable to function during winter. This leads to obvious problems with work and family life. This disorder is a cyclic, seasonal condition, which means that symptoms come back and go away at the same time every year.

Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness, anxiety, loss of energy, social withdrawal, oversleeping or difficulty in initiating and maintaining sleep, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates maybe even leading to weight gain or the other extreme of severe loss of appetite leading to weight loss. The former is more common, difficulty concentrating and processing information, irritability and agitation.

It may affect adults, teens and children. About 6 in 100 people experience SAD. Many factors may be responsible, including our genes. A person’s behaviour changes significantly from the way they normally feel and act. They may become more sensitive and self critical, get upset and cry easily, lose interest in activities which they used to like and be unable to enjoy themselves as before. They may lose interest in friends and social activities, and thus isolate themselves.

- Cognitive therapy is based on the idea that certain ways of thinking can trigger certain mental health problems such as depression. A therapist helps you understand your thought patterns - particularly to identify any harmful, unhelpful, and 'false' ideas or thoughts, which you have that depress you.
- Natural sunlight, even on an overcast day, will help alleviate symptoms. Going for a walk outside every day for an hour during the daytime may ease symptoms.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and include sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals. This helps you get more energy even though your body is craving starchy and sweet foods.
- Stay involved with your social circle and regular activities. Social support is extremely important for those with mood disorders. Seek professional counselling, if needed, during these months.
- Severe cases may require medication, usually mood stabilisers or antidepressants. Yoga, meditation and exercise also help.

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