As winter arrives, do you think of getting deep in snow, gloomy skies, and slippery ice? Do you miss the excitement of basking under the sun with weakening energy? Or maybe this time of year, you sizzle out for having a difficult time completing simple daily tasks. These can be signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or what is referred to as SAD.
Causes of SAD
The lack of natural light because of winter’s shorter daylight hours is the number one culprit for the feeling of sadness that mostly characterizes SAD. Cold and wet weather makes working out and staying outside during the day harder. Staying indoors results to even less exposure to natural daylight, negatively affecting the body’s production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Depleted levels of serotonin cause a depressed feeling that is challenging to shake off.
Treatment of SAD
For people suffering from SAD, effective treatment comes by way of light. Daylight exposure, whether natural or simulated, can affect a person’s disposition.
A phototherapy session typically involves a light box or light panel that emits a full spectrum of UV light that appears white and bright as natural light during the summer. UVB lamps can also be utilized depending on the SAD lights prescribed by the doctor.
SAD treatment that involves phototherapy works on the premise that people can be fervently affected by changes in natural light throughout the seasons. Most people who do suffer from SAD experience depression during the winter, when there is a least amount of natural sun exposure.
Lights used to treat SAD are usually placed 12 to 20 inches away from the patient, and they are kept on for 30 to 60 minutes. Throughout this period, the patient is ordered to keep his eyes open in front of the light, but not staring at it directly. Following a few sessions, patients may feel uplifted. Frequent sessions are recommended to keep the winter blues away.
Dawn simulation is another method of SAD phototherapy where an orb-like device is positioned in the patient’s room at bedtime. As time approaches when the patient is supposed to wake up, the mechanism will begin to light up, gradually illuminating the room until the patient is all set to get out of bed. With this treatment process, timing is crucial. Reports have shown that dawn simulation, when done properly, it can be really efficient.
You can prevent SAD by investing in a phototherapy lamp. This is a minor investment with major profits. It usually takes only 30 minutes each morning to get positive results from a phototherapy device. Some insurance providers will even help with the cost of a phototherapy lamp if your doctor indicates that you would benefit from it.