Seasonal Affective Disorder - Dream Health

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Saturday 12 December 2015

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD – Type of Depression

Seasonal Affective disorder – SAD, is also known as seasonal adjustment disorder, a kind of depression which can take place at a certain time of a year. It was first described by Dr Norman Rosenthal from the US in 1984. A UK organization – Mind, tends to provide advice and support to individuals with mental health issues, noting that the majority of the people with SAD tend to experience the condition in winter climate. Some of them may get affected in reverse and face depression during the summer months though it seems very rare. As per the head of information at Mind, Beth Murphy, the condition is generally undiagnosed which makes it difficult to distinguish how many could be suffering from this disorder.

Those with symptoms of SAD usually experience two or three years of the conditions prior to their diagnosis. Murphy however states that estimates indicate that about 10% of the population in Northern Europe tend to experience slighter symptoms of the condition and 2% experience much severe symptoms.

As per the Cleveland Clinic, almost 500,000 people in the US experience SAD and about 10-20% of the population of the US suffer from milder forms of this ailment.

Doctors Lack Awareness of the Condition

Irrespective of the number of people who tend to suffer from SAD worldwide, experts are of the opinion that doctors seems to lack the awareness of the condition. Chair of the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association – SADA, Helen Hanson, in the UK as well as a victim of SAD, informed Medical News Today that `she would say that they are still searching that the medical profession does not seem to have sufficient awareness of the illness and particularly of its complexity.

A pattern of presentation with depression should be noticed prior to diagnosis and general practitioners who do not have SAD on their agenda could still miss it completely’.

What could be the signs we should look for SAD?Murphy states that SAD could start at any age but it is more likely to progress before the age of 21 and could be twice likely to progress in women rather than in men.

Symptoms of the Ailment

Several of the symptoms of SAD seem similar to those connected with ordinary depression like anxiety, panic attacks and mood swings. Some of the symptom comprise of –
  • Irritability
  • Weakened immune system
  • Overeating and weight gain
  • Sleep problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Reduced libido
  • Feeling of guilt and worry
  • Social and relationship problems

Impairment in Brain System – Releases/Absorbs Serotonin

The precise cause of SAD is not known but earlier research had indicated that since the ailment tends to take place during the change in seasons, changes in light could cause the disorder.

Murphy clarifies that when the light seems to hit the retina towards the back of the eye, messages are sent to the hypothalamus, the area of the brain which is responsible for sleep, appetite, temperature, mood and activity. She adds that if there is insufficient light, these functions tends to slow down and gradually tend to stop. It is also presumed that levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain, could also be responsible for the cause of SAD.

People who may suffer from depression tend to have low serotonin levels especially during winter months. This indicates that people with SAD could have impairment in the brain system which releases as well as absorbs serotonin.

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