While autumn can be a beautiful and anticipated time of year for some, for many it can be somewhat melancholy, bringing about a change in mood as the season shifts. As daylight hours shorten, as many as 1 in 3 Americans notice increased feelings of lethargy and sadness, as well as a decreased number of bright and happy thoughts, as if their emotions are echoing the change in seasons.
This common condition, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is a type of depression brought about by the change in seasons. Although anyone can be affected regardless of age, gender or location, SAD generally tends to be more prevalent in populations that live in more northern regions, where the changes in seasons are more drastic and noticeable.
While there are some cases in which SAD occurs during the transition period between winter and spring, it is most commonly experienced during the shift from summer into the colder seasons. Usually, symptoms of the disorder begin to set in around October or November, and last through the winter months until the weather begins to improve during April or May.
The symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder may be mild at first, but typically increase in strength as winter approaches and the number of daylight hours is reduced. Generally, these symptoms include feelings of sadness or worthlessness, chronic fatigue, weight gain and difficulty concentrating. Other signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder can include irritability, a tendency to oversleep and the desire to avoid social situations.
A correct diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very important step towards treatment. Given that its symptoms closely mirror those of clinical depression, it’s very important that you are able to correctly identify Seasonal Affective Disorder. Otherwise, a false diagnosis of depression can lead to unnecessary prescriptions for pharmaceutical medications.
Michael Terman, Director of the Winter Depression Program at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, explains that the disorder is “often misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis and other viral infections.”
While many theories exist as to the exact effect Seasonal Affective Disorder has on the brain, there is a general opinion within the medical world that links the condition to a lack of exposure to sunlight, which most often accompanies the winter months. Sunlight is believed to have a direct effect on the brain’s ability to produce serotonin, one of the main chemicals involved in the regulation and stability of moods.
Therefore, a misdiagnosis and improper treatment with chemical medications could potentially have negative effects, especially given the long list of side effects commonly associated with the use of prescription anti-depressant medications.
In fact, one of the most common and effective treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder is Light Therapy, a process which aims to simulate the effects of exposure to sunlight by way of a special lightbox which gives off rays similar to those given off by the sun. This natural treatment can be very effective, because it aims to stimulate the body’s ability to produce serotonin and regulate mood.
Prescription medications, on the other hand, aim to do this work through chemicals, thereby disallowing the body from healing itself by treating the symptoms, rather than the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder itself.
Natural remedies and herbal products can also work very effectively in the same way as a lightbox to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Some things you can do on your own can help you cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder. The following suggestions may help you better manage SAD:
* Increase the amount of light in your home. Open blinds, add skylights and trim tree branches that block sunlight.
* Get outside. Walk outdoors on sunny days, even during winter.
* Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety, which can accentuate SAD. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself.
* Find ways to relax. Learn how to better manage stress.
* Take a trip. If possible, take winter vacations in sunny, warm locations for winter SAD, or cooler locations for summer SAD.
There are many natural herbs that have been used for centuries that work to stimulate the body’s own ability to produce serotonin and other feel-good chemicals, thus increasing feelings of wellbeing and helping the mind work through Seasonal Affective Disorder naturally.
There are also a number of natural products available that can help you get over some of the more debilitating effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Whether you’re dealing with excessive weight gain, a lack of energy or insomnia, natural remedies can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle while you work to overcome the condition.
* Fatigue Fighter – for healthy levels of energy and stamina without artificial stimulants
* Serenite Plus – to treat sleep problems without the risk of addiction
* EcoSlim – for safe and natural weight loss without the side effects of diet pills
If you feel you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, it is a good idea to consult with a mental health professional or a physician and voice your concerns. Keep in mind that Seasonal Affective Disorder is a temporary condition, and using natural herbal remedies in conjunction with lightbox therapy and a healthy diet with exercise, you can get through the tough winter season, and actually enjoy yourself!
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