Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Causes Depression


Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as S.A.D. was first noted in the 1800's, but it was only recently (1980's) that it was given a name.  S.A.D. is a mood disorder associated with depression episodes and related to seasonal variations of light.  This disorder usually abates during the spring and summer months.  As seasons change, there is a shift in our "biological internal clocks" or circadian rhythm, due in part to the changes in sunlight patterns. This can cause our biological clocks to be out of "sync" with our daily routines.

"How do I know if I have S.A.D.?"

The typical symptoms of S.A.D. include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Increased desire for sleep
  • Craving for sweets
  • Weight gain

If you have noticed any of these symptoms, see your doctor. These symptoms typically begin in the fall, then, peak in the winter and usually go away in the spring. There are those who experience great bursts of energy and creativity in the spring months or in the early summer.

Possible Cause of this Disorder

Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has been linked to SAD. This hormone, which may cause symptoms of depression, is produced at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, when the days are shorter and darker the production of this hormone increases. The actual cause of SAD is yet unknown, but studies on this condition continue to be performed..

How Common is S.A.D.?

S.A.D. may affect over 20 million Americans this year (6.4% of the population.)  A milder form of this condition called the “Winter Blues” is believed to affect an even larger portion of the population.  Some studies indicate that 60% of the American population suffers from winter depression.  Individuals who are most likely to suffer from this condition year-round are those who work indoors, especially with no windows in their work environment.  Even though some children and teenagers get S.A.D., it usually doesn't start in people younger than 20 years of age. S.A.D. is more common in northern geographic regions.

Treatments for S.A.D.

There are a number of suggested treatments for those suffering with S.A.D.  These treatments include a device that gradually increases the illumination level in your bedroom to simulate sunrise.  Another is a visor that emits a light in your eyes throughout the day to simulate sunshine. 

 

Yet another is a light box that sits before the patient for a prescribed period of time in order for the body to drink in increased illumination.  All of these treatments are forms of phototherapy.  The goal is to fool the body's melatonin manufacturing mechanism into thinking that it is Spring or Summer through the Fall and Winter, and many people respond to this therapy.  One study found that an hour's walk in winter sunlight was as effective as two and a half hours under bright artificial light.  This would be fine if you had the time and the constitution to walk for an hour in the wintry air. 

 

Finally, if phototherapy doesn't work, an antidepressant drug may prove effective in reducing or eliminating SAD symptoms, but there may be unwanted side effects to consider.

How Can NaturaLux Filters Help Those With S.A.D.?

NaturaLux™ Filters are designed to simulate the same quality of the visible light spectrum that is provided by the sun, in other words, color-balanced light.  If you have to be indoors for 8-10 hours a day, and cannot spend the necessary time under sunlight to chase away the "winter blues," we suggest you try our NaturaLux Filters.  It is a UV-safe method of receiving the top-quality light you and your eyes deserve.  Most fluorescent light sources have no UV protection whatsoever, and some manufacturers even boast the fact that their product emits more UV radiation than standard fluorescent bulbs.  We are not aware of any medical or scientific studies that prove that the addition of UV radiation to fluorescent lamps helps abate the symptoms of S.A.D.

 

Whether you have S.A.D., the winter blues, or would just like to have the best possible illumination in your environment, our NaturaLux™ Filters are for you.

 

Disclaimer: Inspired Concepts and its distributors make no medical claims. Consult a physician before starting any form of treatment.

 

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