Seasonal Affective Disorder


It's only natural to feel a bit low in the winter, when days are cold, dark and dreary, but some people react very badly to the change of weather and develop Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Sufferers have to endure most of the following symptoms:

Sleep Problems - They oversleep but are not left feeling refreshed, cannot get out of bed and need a nap in the afternoon
Overeating - Sufferers tend to crave carbohydrates, which can lead to weigh problems.
Depression - Experience feelings of despair, misery, guilt, anxiety and normal tasks become frustratingly difficult.
Family problems - They avoid company and have irritability, loss of libido and lethargy.
Physical Symptoms - Many suffer from joint pain or stomach problems and lowered resistance to infection.

That time of year
The symptoms tend to start from around September each year, lasting until April but are at their worst in the darkest months.

SAD statistics

The standard figure says that around 2% of people in Northern Europe suffer badly, with 10% putting up with milder symptoms. Across the world the incidence increases with distance from the equator, but it is less common where there is snow on the ground. More women than men are diagnosed as having SAD.

Cause and prevention
The problem stems from the lack of bright light in winter. Researchers have proven that bright light makes a difference to the brain chemistry.

The disorder can be combated by using a light box or bright light therapy device. Going to a bright, sunny climate, whether skiing or somewhere hot, can also be a cure. The preferred level of light is about as bright as a spring morning on a clear day and for most people sitting in front of a light box, for between 25 and 45 minutes a day is sufficient to alleviate the symptoms. The user does not have to stare at the light, but can watch TV or read, just allowing the light to reach the eyes.

Additional information
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Stress busters
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