Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) aims at reducing the symptoms of winter depression or the winter blues.This is a mood disorder that affects some 4% to 6% of people in the United States when days are shorter, resulting in decreased Vitamin D synthesis from reduced exposure to sunlight. Connections between human mood, energy levels and the seasons are well documented, even in healthy individuals and more so in women. For adults, the risk of suffering from SAD decreases as they get older.These normally mentally healthy individuals experience depressive symptoms in the winter, including:1. Increased appetite with a special craving for high-carbohydrate foods
2. Weight gain
3. Anxiety
4. Difficulty concentrating and processing information
5. Loss of interest in normal activities/hopelessness and depression
6. Fatigue/exhaustion/oversleeping
7. Social withdrawal
8. Potential risk of suicide, in very extreme but rare casesMany reasons have been postulated for seasonal affective disorder:1. During the winter, many people do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight. The decreased sunlight reduces the efficacy of the brain by retarding the conversion of serotonin into N-acetylserotonin which is a “good mood” enhancer.
2. Another theory is that the cause may be related to an increase in melatonin, a “sleep” enhancer, which is a chemical produced by the pineal gland in the brain, in dim light and darkness,.
3. The body’s circadian rhythm (sleep rhythm) is disturbed from shorter daylight hours and reduced sunlight.There is more than one treatment for seasonal affective disorder:1. Light therapy:Patients are exposed to the light for a specified time as a substitute for sunlight. This exposure effects a positive change, to increase serotonin conversion in the brain. This is linked to a “happier” mood.
2. Anti-depressant prescriptions or over-the-counter medications and vitamin-D supplements up to 1,000 to 2,000 IU a day.
3. A combination of light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy.
4. Daily exercise, particularly when done outdoors. Besides exercising increases the production of serotonin in the brain.
5. Eating a balanced diet.
6. A few sessions of craniosacral therapy, somato-emotional release and lymph drainage therapy.Treatment for these sometimes disabling symptoms with craniosacral therapy, somato-emotional release and lymph drainage therapy in combination, increase the efficacy of serotonin conversion in the brain. These methods have been clinically proven to be effective in establishing physical and emotional harmony, in the treatment of seasonal effective disorder.

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