YOU'RE tired, moody, irritable. Not getting enough sleep these days. Seemingly, in a permanent slump. Feeling … depressed.
You may have a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) aka the wintertime blues.
“We are in the midst of the full-blown SAD season,” says Angelos Halaris, a psychiatrist at Loyola University Medical Center (Maywood, Ill.).
SAD, a depression brought on by a chemical imbalance in the brain, is triggered by lack of light owing to shorter days and overcast skies. Generally, it starts in October and lasts until April.
It is commonly believed that SAD affects 3 percent to 5 percent of the population depending on the hemisphere. Rosie O'Donnell, a high-profile person in this hemisphere, has been very open about her depression, including SAD, sometimes even famously joking about it. “ … so if it's sunny in Miami, I instantly feel happy, and when it's gray and cloudy, I feel like I'm being tortured by someone.”
S.A.D. is no joke, though. In extreme case, it can keep a body abed all the day long or even cause one to attempt suicide. “Seasonal affective disorder should not be taken lightly,” AH says.
To that end, he offers four tips to ease its symptoms. Sunshine. Spend at least 30 minutes a day outside if possible. Leave off the sunglasses. Temperatures permitting, expose the skin to sunlight because it helps relieve symptoms of SAD.
Rosie O'Donnell suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Archive photo.
Lights. Home and work spaces should be well-lit. Open drapes and blinds. Also purchase a high-intensity light box designed for SAD therapy. Sit close to the box for 30 to 45 minutes in the morning and evening. Although you can do light therapy on your own, it’s best to consult a mental health professional, AH advises.
Exercise. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Physical activity releases endorphins and other brain chemicals that create a sense of well-being, having an energizing effect. (See video above of Isochronic tones from MindAmend [http://www.mindamend.com/]. The repetitive tones can help with sleep deprivation and increase energy levels.)
Medication. If the three aforesaid remedies don't help, consult a mental health professional about prescribing anti-depressant medication. Two classes are effective against SAD: monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs and SNRIs).
Let the sun shine in and feel better. Archive photo.
"Like in `The Wizard of Oz' the color goes out," RO'D once said. "That is what happens in depression. Everything gets gray."
Visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/ and http://www.bit.ly/1eb0gWH to learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder.