I was talking to my friend yesterday and he told me about SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. I had never heard of this disorder before yesterday and the only reason we got to talking about it was because as we were watching some documentary based in the USA whilst outside our UK window we noticed there was a vast contrast.
So intrigued I have looked further into this, done my research, and I was shocked by the level of woe-is-me that some of the world has allowed to overtake us. Maybe it is just me, and please I mean no disrespect to anyone through writing this, but I believe we are stronger than this, we used to be Vikings, Mongols, Romans, Apaches, Samurai, Spartans and Knights! And now we need a happy pill because it rains. Anyway… read on if you wish J
First was is SAD? For those of you who don’t know (like myself) below is the nhs.uk’s description of the disorder taken from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx.[Edited]
“Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern.
The episodes of depression tend to occur at the same time each year, usually during the winter.
As with other types of depression, the two main symptoms of SAD are a low mood and a lack of interest in life. You may also be less active than normal and sleep more.
SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe at this time of the year.
The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They’re most severe during December, January and February.
In most cases the symptoms of SAD begin to improve in the spring before eventually disappearing.
What causes SAD?
The exact cause of SAD isn’t fully understood, but it’s thought to be linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of the year.
Sunlight can affect some of the brain’s chemicals and hormones. However, it’s not clear what this effect is. One theory is that light stimulates a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which controls mood, appetite and sleep. These things can affect how you feel.
In people with SAD, a lack of sunlight and a problem with certain brain chemicals stops the hypothalamus working properly. The lack of light is thought to affect the:
- production of the hormone melatonin
- production of the hormone serotonin
- body’s circadian rhythm (its internal clock, which regulates several biological processes during a 24-hour period)
You should visit your GP if you have the symptoms of SAD. They may carry out an assessment to check your mental health.
Your GP may ask you about your mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus any seasonal changes in your thoughts and behaviour.
As with any type of depression, SAD can be difficult to live with. It can make you feel tired, stressed and unhappy. However, it can usually be treated successfully.
Light therapy is often used to treat SAD. It involves sitting in front of or beneath a light box that produces a very bright light. Light boxes come in a variety of designs, including desk lamps and wall-mounted fixtures.
You should speak to your GP and read the manufacturer’s instructions before using a light box to treat SAD.
Depending on the nature and severity of your symptoms, talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or medication such as antidepressants may also be recommended.
Your GP will recommend the most suitable treatment programme for you, which may involve using a combination of treatments.”
So, with research and reading complete (the above article only being part) I honestly can’t decide what I make of this disorder, I can appreciate the lack of sunlight and therefore the chemical explanations but I just can’t accept that as people we are not able to overcome the fact that it is cold and rainy sometimes. I want us to be stronger than this, be able to use our inner weather to control our mood, not be affected by clouds.
Depression is a very real illness and one that many people suffer I know and understand that just fine, however from my experiences I found that the drugs didn’t work, the CBT was a load of old phooey and the only reason recovery was so easy and happened so radically for the people affected (including myself) was that we woke up one morning thinking we are not happy with this life, we are going to take responsibility for ourselves and our feelings, we are going to change the way that we feel.
I think without that fight and want to make the positive changes being inside you, and to be honest most depression sufferers will never get that feeling because of the disease, but I strongly believe that is the only cure. Yourself and your will to overcome it.
With that being said I also can understand the blame everyone status we hold as a culture and the hypochondriac frame of mind that some of the sufferers hold, but I think providing these folk with the information that the weather is to blame, is a step too far. We are warriors, we are brave, we should not be this weak to let ourselves destroy ourselves and definitely not allow the weather to play a part in this.