Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I've been under the weather for about 10 days, and I've been working very hard to reverse my mood. The cause is seasonal affective disorder, which I believe probably should have been my diagnosis rather than bipolar mood disorder.

As I've read a number of different blogs, I think that other people may be having difficulties as well. The question is whether the trigger is the change in weather or whether there are the usual triggers: relationships, stress, work, anger, and more.

In case you believe your mood is affected by seasonal elements, I plan to spend the week writing about moods, light, and related topics. In a 1988 article written for DRADA (Depression and Related Affective Disorders Association), Dr. Norman Rosenthal (one of the foremost experts on SAD) writes,
"The symptoms of SAD are very similar to those of nonseasonal clinical depression: change in appetite, weight gain, drop in energy, tendency to oversleep, difficulty with concentration, and irritability. The key factor in diagnosing SAD is its seasonal pattern: the above symptoms fade away with the arrival of spring and return in the fall.

"Another characteristic of the illness is a strong craving for food rich in carbohydrates, which increase the level of serotonin, that is thought to influence mood. It is theorized that people with SAD have difficulty in regulating serotonin levels during the winter and that their craving for carbohydrates is a way of compensating. The theory also explains why many patients respond favorably to selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants such as Prozac or Zoloft. However the cornerstone of treatment for SAD is light therapy."


Nancie said...

Dear Susan,

My heart goes out to you in learning that you have been under the weather in these recent days. Glad to know that you are aware of your situation and is working very hard to reverse my mood. I think these two are most important in management and recovery! I am remembering you in prayers.

Thanks for sharing with us your experiences and findings on SAD. I have friends who experiences SAD and what you share is helpful to me in understanding their condition. Thanks again for sharing. Hope you continue to get better day by day.

With hugs and prayers,

Tamara said...

I read somewhere a while back about reverse SAD and I swear I have that! I feel so much better in the winter and tend towards depression, mood swings, anxiety etc. in the summer months. Never have been able to find much info on it though so I don't even know if it is a true condition or just a quirk of mine.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Nancie,
Thanks so much. Actually, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being best), it's just about a five when I awaken, but after a cup of coffee and once I start moving around, it's about a 7 or 8.

I'm still taking my classes and doing all my wellness activities. I just have a way lower energy level, which seems to rise as the day continues.

But thanks for your hugs and prayers!


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
I would think it's a "true" condition. Winter blues, as it's sometimes called, affects 13 million people in the United States alone. I'll write more about it all week.


Jazz said...

*jumps up and down waving hand* Stress here! Mega-stress! Feeling like crap from stress! Even (gasp) taking Ativan for stress! I don't think it's seasonal, though...I think it has to do with my pain in the neck contractor...

Hey, Tamara, I have the same thing. Summer just drags me down. I do so much better in the fall and winter. I don't know if there's an official name for it, but for me, it's very definitely real.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz,
Given your "contracting" problems, it's no wonder you're stressed. Although I'm not suggesting that either you or Tamara are SAD or have SAD, there is a variation of it that affects people in the spring and summer. I'll write more about it.


Tamara said...


I am looking forward to reading more about it!


Yay - someone understands! Everyone I know loves summer and hates winter. I am counting the days until there isn't so dang much sun each day.

Wellness Writer said...

I'll write about the summer blues tomorrow!


naturalgal said...

Hi Susan,
I have tried the light therapy, but it did not do anything for me. At the time, I really wished it had worked.

I don't think I have SAD, but many doctors suggested it. I usually really like autumn.
I have been very tired lately

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Naturalgal,
The light didn't work for me either.


KJ said...

I am always amazed at how hard you work to feel better. I am so impressed. I find even in AZ when the weather changes in the fall/winter I get a little blue. I hope you know how much I continue to admire your hard work, diligence, and stamina against adversity. Way to go!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear KJ,
Thanks ever so much. Yes, I do know how much you appreciate my work and yet it always makes me feel really good to hear about it.

I'm truly a positive and optimistic person by nature, so you can't imagine how unhappy I was when I couldn't "cure" myself.

Now that I am well--most of the time--I work really hard to stay that way, and I feel great that I'm successful most of the time.

For years I had to listen to doctors explain all the reasons why I couldn't get well. So, it's that much "sweeter" to know that I did get well--in spite of them.