Monday, November 14, 2011

Seasonal Affective Disorder

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, usually during winter.  It can also be known as the winter blues, winter depression or seasonal depression.

I suffer from SAD.  It was never bad enough that I really noticed it until we moved to the mountains and were in a place full of horrible people who seemed to suck the joy and happiness out of everyone around them.  We have been away from them for a year and a half now and it's still painful to talk about.

This post isn't about them though.

I finally figured out (after two years of fairly severe depression and a brief stint of near-alcoholism, that will come into another post) that what was happening to me was seasonal depression.  It helped to have a name for the problem, but it didn't make things any easier.

Whenever I started feeling really low, Tim and I would try to take a little day-trip somewhere.  We'd spend a whole day exploring parts of nearby towns, shopping and having a nice lunch or dinner out at little hole-in-the-wall places.  It would help a bit, the planning of the event and then the event itself would buy me three or even four days of feeling almost normal, then it was back in the dumps.

Last year, we moved to where we currently live.  My SAD wasn't nearly as severe.  I attribute that to being happier in general- we're around kinder people, closer to my family and we have friends nearby.  However- I wasn't without depression.  I posted before that I am an extreme worry-wart and that seems to make my problem worse.  This year I'm already worrying about January and February, the months that seem to affect me the worst.

However, this isn't just a depressing post.  I've been researching Light Therapy for several months and I am about to take the plunge and buy a device.

While full sunlight is preferred for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), light boxes may be effective for the treatment of the condition. Light boxes for seasonal affective disorder are designed to filter out most UV light, which can cause eye and skin damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of light boxes to treat SAD due to unclear results in clinical trials, but light therapy is still seen as the main form of treatment for SAD. (Thanks Wikipedia). 
It's hard to know exactly which box to buy.  The most affordable are very small, however I think a perfect time to use a device would be while on the computer- blogging or checking emails.  It would be nice to have a portable system to take on trips, which argues against a larger box.

When I do purchase one, I'll be sure to post the details here, as well as a review of my results.   I'm hopeful that I'll have found a cure for my winter blues!


1 comment:

  1. I used a light box for a bit in college. I'm not sure that it helped. Then again, my depression doesn't just occur during the winter months.