Thoughts From MY Cluttered Mind offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Bipolar Disorder myself and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder - an Overview

I do not claim to have all the answers, my desire to share this information comes from my hope to educate people and bring understanding. I understand mental illness, I understand the stigma and it needs to be done away with. I have lived with depression all my life, diagnosed with Bipolar about 12 years ago, then watched my dad lose his life to Paranoid Schizophrenia. I understand........

Seasonal Affective Disorder:

Like many mental illnesses, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is not easy to explain and to others can not be seen. SAD, however, is what some people refer to as the winter blues; the winter blues, though, are a milder form of SAD and may affect more people than is actually known, who hasn’t had a bout of cabin fever and frustration after a long winter of being cooped up with in four walls.

SAD, by definition is a mood disorder were symptoms of depression increase during the dark winter months, which run technically run from September through April, with the symptoms of SAD peaking between December and February, subsiding or disappearing all together, as the days get warmer and longer.

A diagnosis of SAD is typically only made after three years of this type of cycle of depression, that lifts during the spring and summer months. It is believed that the causes of SAD occur because as the days get shorter there is not much time to get outside in the natural sunlight – in turn creating the symptoms of SAD.

With this knowledge, treatment for SAD will include Photo or Bright Light Therapy – a treatment that is shown to be up to 85% effective. Photo therapy requires the person to spend up to four hours a day in the presence of a light that is 10 times the intensity of a common light bulb. While this type of therapy is preferred, antidepressants may also be used to reduce symptoms.

SAD can complicate life and be pushed to the way side as many people battle the depression during the same time, often due to stress and the holidays. These reasons, however, should not be used as an excuse for feeling of depression or hopelessness. The reality of something more must explore and even with SAD – can be used to continue to break the stigma that still exists with mental illness.