Thursday, September 9, 2010

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Fall is right around the corner!

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The temperature is dropping (along with the leaves) and sunlight is gradually decreasing. For some, this decrease in sunlight can trigger symptoms of depression associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition characterized by recurrent episodes of depression – usually in late fall and winter – with periods of normal mood during the rest of the year.

According to NAMI's online information sheet, common symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder can include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving, weight gain, lethargy, hopelessness, lack of interest in normal activities and social withdrawal.

Treatment for SAD is individualized, and can include light therapy, in which bright fluorescent light is used to alleviate symptoms. Light intensity, duration and time of light exposure are important factors in achieving optimal results, and light dosage will vary from person to person. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics offers online self-assessment tools that can help you determine if you are a good candidate for treatment prior to seeking a diagnosis.

For more information about SAD and other mental health issues, visit the NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania website or call the office at 412-366-3788.

Information for this post was taken from NAMI's SAD online information sheet, reviewed by Michael Terman, Ph.D., Director, Winter Depression Program, New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University Medical Center. New York City (February, 2004).

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