It’s the time of year again, the time for Seasonal Affective Disorder or Winter Depression. In the beginning of this year I posted the criteria for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Very characteristic for SAD is that most SAD patients develop ‘atypical’ symptoms of increased fatigue, increased sleep duration and increased appetite and weight. Not only do SAD patients crave carbohydrates, but also they actually report eating more carbohydrate-rich foods in the winter.
Genes and serotonin play an important role in this kind of depression as can be read in Seasonal Affective Disorder and Genes.
For mild to moderate seasonal affective disorder, bright light therapy is often effective. This involves sitting in front of full-spectrum lights that mimic sunlight on a regular basis — typically for about 30 minutes to 60 minutes before 10 each morning. (These are specially designed lights for this purpose that are made to minimize eye and skin damage; don’t just go buy bright lights.) Starting before the darkest days in September each year
For severe SAD, lights are often inadequate. The treatment is medication, psychotherapy and possibly the lights.