Thursday, December 15, 2011

9 Myths About Seasonal Affective Disorder

Posted by admin on Dec 14, 2011

When it starts getting cold outside and dark earlier, many of us feel like snuggling up in a blanket and just going to sleep as soon as we get home from work. But for as many as 14 million Americans, winter can bring on a period of major depression. They start eating more, experience a low mood for weeks, and feel like sleeping rather than taking part in their normal hobbies or social groups. These people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a condition that is largely misunderstood by the public. Let's set the record straight about these nine SAD myths.

  1. It's synonymous with depression

    Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression, but it doesn't necessarily have the same symptoms as the "classic" depression that most of us are familiar with. Depression can refer to many different mood disorders, most of them involving low moods. Other symptoms we commonly associate with depression include thoughts of suicide, insomnia, changes in weight, and withdrawal from social activities. SAD normally involves the blues, weight gain, and can bring about some of the other symptoms, but many people don't experience the deep sadness and therefore don't even realize they have SAD. Instead, they just think they're low on energy, causing them to sleep more, eat more, and stay in a lot.

  2. The drop in temperature is the cause

    Some of us might get sad when it gets cold because we can't wear our cute summer clothes anymore or spend quality time outside. But true SAD isn't significantly affected by the temperature. The most widely accepted cause of SAD is a decrease in exposure to sunlight. Since skies are often more overcast in the winter and nights are longer, the mood disorder is often associated with wintertime and its colder temperatures. But someone who moves to an area with less sunlight but similar temperatures can still easily develop seasonal affective disorder.

  3. It only occurs in the winter

    The majority of SAD cases do crop up in the days between fall and spring, but there are instances of people getting the symptoms during other seasons. This is sometimes called reverse SAD or summer (or spring as the case may be) SAD. The exact symptoms are slightly different, since reverse SAD sufferers tend to lose weight and have trouble sleeping. There's a greater occurrence of this variant of SAD cases in warmer areas and places near the equator, maybe because of changes in barometric pressure and rainfall.

  4. It's just holiday blues

    There are several reasons to be down around the holidays. If you're not able to see your family or you're not part of a couple, you might be lonely when Christmas and other important celebrations roll around. If you did get to have a great time during holiday festivities, you're probably disappointed when you have to go back to work and wait another year to enjoy family reunions. Seasonal affective disorder is more than these holiday blues. Sadness and lethargy during only one season that lasts more than two weeks at least two years in a row might be SAD. Take a moment to consider whether you're just bummed that your vacation is over or whether you could have a serious disorder.

  5. There's no danger in it

    For many people with SAD, the depression might not feel like much more than an extended phase of being down in the dumps. But this mood disorder can be just as dangerous as any other type of depression. Some people turn to alcohol to cope or have accidents due to their lack of energy and attentiveness. In severe cases or when a person also has another mental illness, SAD can cause people to experience thoughts of suicide.

  6. It's a new disorder

    Even though the name "seasonal affective disorder" didn't come into use until 1984, the season's change on a person's mood has been observed for hundreds of years throughout the world. Researchers didn't take it seriously, though, until 30 or 40 years ago; before that, it was considered a normal part of depression or just typical holiday loneliness. It wasn't until 1970 that someone decided to try a light treatment in the U.S. to combat their blues. By 1984, Norman E. Rosenthal had studied the disorder, named it, and published a paper. Though initially met with skepticism from the psychology world, Rosenthal's idea eventually caught on and is now a recognized disorder.

  7. You just have to wait it out

    If you're experiencing SAD symptoms, don't let anyone tell you that you just have to deal with it. Sure, it'll pass by the time the seasons change, but there's no reason to waste a quarter of every year being depressed when there are viable treatments available. For the most mild cases, exercising 30 minutes a day can pull a person out of a funk. Light treatments, where sufferers expose themselves to artificial lights for a certain amount of time each day, are effective in 60% of cases. Antidepressants can also help some patients who don't respond to light boxes.

  8. People in northern countries are affected the most

    Sure, Canadian hospitals make sure their staffs are fully up-to-date on SAD treatments every winter, but that doesn't mean that all countries in the north are full of mopey, moody people. Countries toward the North Pole experience longer nights, with one area of Norway going without sun for 1,500 hours. Since many attribute SAD to a lack of sunlight, it would make sense that most people in such a dark country would be depressed. Rates of SAD are higher in some countries than in the U.S., but in others, they are much lower. Iceland, for example, where they might only see the sun for 4 hours a day during the winter, has an astoundingly low occurrence of sad. Immigrants to other countries from Iceland also rarely experience the mood disorder, meaning evolution in Iceland may have made many citizens immune to the depression.

  9. It only affects adults

    Women between 18 and 30 years old are the most likely victims of SAD, but that doesn't mean there's not a chance for younger people. Studies have found that between 1% and 5% of children and adolescents suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a lower rate than adults, which may be as high as 9% in some areas of the U.S. Kids and teenagers who have SAD symptoms may see their grades drop in the winter and will often choose sleeping over going outside or socializing with friends after school.

Taken From Insurance Quotes

No comments:

Post a Comment