What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) impacts certain people during specific times of the year.  More precisely, it is a type of depression that alters the mood of afflicted individuals during  certain seasons. These mood changes typically occur when there is less sunlight during the day; it is commonly experienced during the winter. People who live further from the equator may also be affected by this disorder more than others. This article will contain information that provides answers to who is at risk for developing seasonal affective disorder. As well, symptoms of the illness and treatment methods will be discussed.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Emotional numbness
  • Hopelessness
  • Pessimism
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of enjoyment when engaged in once-favored activities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Guilt
  • Helplessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty planning
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Sleep irregularities
  • Weight changes
  • Thoughts of suicide

Who Gets SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder is reported to impact between one and ten percent of the American adult population, says MedicineNet. They also note that the rate of occurrence is dependent on geographical location, as people who live in areas where snow remains on the ground during winter are less affected. Women are more likely to experience seasonal affective disorder, developing the condition four times more often than men, adds MedicineNet. The source also informs that people of all age groups can get SAD, though the typical age of onset is 23 years old. While seasonal affective disorder is typically seen in the winter, there are people who come down with the illness during the summertime (approximately 10% of all cases), says The Family Doctor.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment

seasonal affective disorder treatment in Los AngelesThe first line of defense for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder is typically light therapy. This treatment is used as a replacement for sunlight for those who suffer with SAD during the dark winter months. Patients must sit in front of a light box (a box that emits light much brighter than a typical lamp does) for 30 minutes each day, says The National Institute of Health. Treatment should persist until the springtime. As many as 70% of people report that light therapy helps relieve the symptoms of SAD within a few weeks, adds The National Institute of Health.

Sometimes, the treatment of SAD requires antidepressant medication or some form of psychotherapy. Bupropion is an FDA approved antidepressant for treating seasonal affective disorder, though other medications may be prescribed, as well. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely used form of psychotherapy, which may help alleviate symptoms of SAD. It helps people recognize negative thinking and behaviors, and provides them the opportunity to eliminate these things and replace them with healthy alternatives. The National Institute of Health quotes a researcher who says that those who receive cognitive-behavioral therapy are less likely to have returning symptoms of SAD than those who undergo light therapy.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (deep TMS) is a new therapy that has been used for the treatment of depression. Not many studies have been conducted on its usefulness for treating SAD specifically, but it is an FDA-certified treatment for depression. As the symptoms of both conditions are identical, deep TMS may help those with seasonal affective disorder, too. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation is a treatment in which electromagnetic pulses, generated by a helmeted coil, are delivered to specific areas of the brain. This regulates the activity in certain brain centres, helping to eliminate symptoms of depression. Treatment is safe, quick (20 minutes per session, with treatment every day for four to six weeks), non-invasive and pain-free.

Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that presents itself during months of low light, for the majority of people. Those with this condition experience symptoms of depression at certain points in the year, which tend to be recurrent. Treatment usually includes a light box, though medication and therapy are also used. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation may also help those with SAD, as it is effective for treating the symptoms of depression (which are also experienced by those with SAD). For more information on any of these treatments, people should contact a healthcare professional to learn more.

For those seeking Los Angeles seasonal affective disorder treatments, Westside Neurotherapeutics can provide dTMS. For more information, contact the company by phone at 310.946.0008 or online at www.westsideneurotherapeutics.com.

Leave a Comment