Seasonal Affective Disorder
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression displaying a recurring seasonal pattern. It typically starts in the late fall and early winter and goes away during the spring and summer.
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Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Agitation or anxiety
In some people with bipolar disorder, spring and summer can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania), and fall and winter can be a time of depression.
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Experts are still unsure of the exact causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, studies have pointed to the following:
- Circadian rhythm – our body clock. Each of us has an internal body clock that tells us when to be awake and asleep. Less sunlight in the winter is thought to disrupt our circadian rhythm, causing depressive symptoms.
- Melatonin levels – melatonin is a hormone that influences our sleep patterns and mood. Experts believe that reduced exposure to sunlight through shorter days in winter disrupts our melatonin balance. People with SAD also have decreased serotonin levels during the winter months.
- The hypothalamus – sunlight is thought to stimulate the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls sleep, mood, and appetite, all of which impact on how we feel. Similarly, production of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, may be affected by low sunlight.
Scientific Understanding of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Key Benefits of Treatment at Exult
There are four major types of treatment for SAD: medication, light therapy, psychotherapy, and Vitamin D. These may be used alone or in combination. Here are some other benefits we get at Exult Healthcare.
- Medications – Mood stabilizers, atypical anti-psychotics, and antidepressants
- Group therapy
- Access to on-site psychiatrist
- Providers working together
- Tailored programs to fit your needs
- Afternoon and weekend hours
- Yoga and Mindfulness
When you feel increased low energy and mood during fall and winter seasons and improvement in spring and summer.
We offer cognitive behavior therapy to improve mood and concentration.
We do take multiple insurances such as United, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, and Medicare but we suggest you discuss any major medical decisions with your insurance provider.
We offer medication management but we try to keep an open discussion between the client, therapist, and psychiatrist as to the needs of the client.