Sadly, Christmas Is Not A Jolly Time of Year For Folks With Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As the days grow shorter and the nights get longer, the cold dark days of winter can become depressing. Less sunlight and colder temperatures cause many people to feel a sense of gloom, even if they don’t quite understand why. This change of moods is often referred to as SAD — an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
According to the doctor who coined the term, depression during the winter months makes medical sense. It is brought on by various changes that take place in the body’s mood center. The doctor, Norman Rosenthal, explains that this seasonal mood disorder often causes people to feel lonely and desolate. Of course it is true that many people tend to be grumpier during the long, winter months, and unfortunately, I too, know a few of them. So if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, you may find it somewhat consoling to know you are not alone.
According to different scientific studies, there are about half a million people in the UK alone that suffer from some degree of winter depression. Other studies indicate that more than 2,000,000 Swedish citizens, where the nights are longer and colder, are affected each winter!
Studies indicate that the number of people affected by SAD dramatically increases the further north (or south in the Southern Hemisphere) you go. People in tropical countries rarely suffer from this disorder. If the symptoms of SAD persist, therefore, some people have found it necessary to actually move to a warmer, brighter climate.
Can seasonal affective disorder be treated? Some studies have found that light therapy has proven successful in more than 75% of the sufferers who tried it. While it sounds simple, simply having an adequate amount of light around you seems to brighten up the spirits!
However, a simple light bulb in a desk lamp may not be enough to do the trick. In fact the light may have to be five to ten times greater than that to be effective. Even that comes no where near comparing to the light from the sun that we enjoy on warm spring and summer days. Light boxes specifically designed to emit greater amounts of light have been instrumental in helping people overcome SAD. By sitting in front of the light box for a half hour or longer each day has helped many people, depending upon the severity of their condition.
So far, light treatment has proven to be about the best treatment for victims of SAD. It must be noted, however, that some with severe cases have also required anti-depressants and even sessions of psychotherapy.
Besides light, there are other stimuli that may help people suffering with SAD. For instance, watching films that take place in sunny locales may be of help. Generally any film that has you under clear, blue skies and a bright sun for two hours or more should qualify.
In addition, some people have been helped by watching warm weather sports on television. Watching sports played out of doors in the sunshine, such as golf or tennis, may be very helpful. On the other hand, constant exposure to indoor activities such as darts, billiards or bowling may actually prove harmful if you are suffering with seasonal affective disorder.
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