I've wanted to write about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) for some time now. This is a part-time yet devastating illness that starts in the fall or late fall and continues through the beginning of spring. It is brought on by a lack of sunlight.
Those of us who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder can tend to get depressed during the fall and winter months. We could cry more or be sadder than usual.
Symptoms of SAD are fatigue, depression, crying spells, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and overeating, especially of carbohydrates, leading to weight gain.
My story is odd yet true and I'll tell it to you now. For about five or six years, I had Seasonal Affective Disorder. It started in the fall and continued through to and stopped miraculously on the first day of spring. It stopped. On the first day of spring. Every year.
I would be in tears for an hour or two on most nights in the fall and winter. I wondered what guy would want to marry a crybaby. Though I was once told I might have SAD I thought nothing of it and simply continued to be in tears.
Then an odd thing happened. I began seeing a new pdoc in July 2003 and he raised my SZ meds dose from 5 mg to 10 mg. In the fall of 2003, my Seasonal Affective Disorder had stopped completely.
At about the same time, I began taking a daily dose of Omega-3 Fish Oil that is known to alleviate depression as well as promote heart health.
No professional ever verified why my SAD jags suddenly stopped on their own. My own suspicion is that my mood improved because I was taking the Omega-3. This can't be a coincidence.
You might ask why I suffered in silence for five years or more. A professional didn't ever diagnose my Seasonal Affective Disorder nor was this illness treated with medication or therapy.
What kind of person was I that I allowed this to go on and on for possibly over five years? I have no idea why I didn't consult with any pdoc about this.
You do things differently. You research treatment options for SAD. These options include:
Light therapy. (Those with bipolar have to be careful because light therapy or an antidepressant can potentially trigger a manic episode.)
With light therapy, you sit a few feet away from a light therapy box so that you're exposed to bright light. This light appears to cause a change in the chemicals related to mood because the light mimics outdoor light.
Light therapy starts to work in two to four days and has little side effects.
Consult with your psychiatrist to see if light therapy would be good for you and to investigate the best kind of box to buy.
Severe SAD symptoms might require anti-depressants. The common ones used to treat SAD are Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac or Sarafem, and Effexor.