Thursday, November 02, 2006

Seasonal Affective Disorder--I'm Sharing about SADS

Yes, it’s that time of year. The days are shorter, they’re getting colder. The holidays are coming and the memories. . .

Oh man, the memories. . .

So a lot of people get depressed. It’s called the Holiday Season Blues, but professionals call it Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It’s a real thing. Some people literally only get episodic, meaning they suffer an episode of a major affective disorder, depression. Sometimes it’s mild, sometimes moderate, sometimes severe.

Sure, get therapy, right?

But also, get light. The studies on light indicate that if you light up your house, you’ll feel better.

Time for Therapy Doc to share.

About eight or nine years ago I got really down in late October. It was a truly irrational thing, and like usual I blamed it on anything I could think of (hormones rule, in my case), and tried to patch things up wherever I could, followed all of my own rules. Still felt like a ton of bricks hit me and walked around in a daze.

In mid-November Science Fair began. For those of you who know what that means, it’s pretty intense for the little buggers who have to come up with a project. Occasionally my kids would do projects that were psychological and I’d get involved, which was fun. G.D. helped when things got more scientific and I’d lay back and chill. I rarely got into the homework thing with the kids on the best of days.

One of the kids was doing a botany project for Science Fair. He’d lit up the family room, basically, with fluorescent lights 24 hours a day. I hadn’t even noticed it, pretty much was wrapped up in work and survival, making dinner and getting laundry into drawers. Opening mail.

But when I’d come home at the end of the day, no matter how late, there was light. And I didn’t really notice. But there WAS light screaming from the family room, streaming into the kitchen. The whole place was lighter. And without even noticing, I felt better.

NOW. Is this hocus pocus?

I’ll let you decide (sure, it’s anecdotal and it is not a representative study or empirically valid or whatever, but pay attention anyway).

Science Fair ended. I hardly noticed except the child we’re talking about PLACED. He did really well, so well in fact that the school awarded him a savings bond that we found stuck in a file many years later.

But when it ended, he turned off the lights. Once again, I didn’t notice that he’d turned off the lights. I could have been a better mom, I’m sure.

But when I got home at night, after he’d turned off the lights, I would walk into the family room searching for something. I’d stop and wonder what I was looking for, seriously. I thought it odd that I was doing this, but at some point I started getting depressed.

I’d be depressed and standing in the family room with it’s regular lame soft bulb fixtures, looking around, feeling SOMETHING was missing.

When it hit me that it was the fluorescent lights, I dug them out of the closet and turned them on again, and oh, oh, oh. What a difference a Watt makes!

This is a totally true story. My recommendation for SADS? Why suffer in the darkness, seriously? Fluorescent bulbs are cheaper and last longer. Talk to your hardware person and lighten up.

Copyright 2006, TherapyDoc


Anonymous said...

I've been saying this about myself for years!

Anonymous said...

I find what you experienced not surprising. Light emits a higher energy level than darkness or in this case low wattage light. We always feel better in a high-energy situation. The fact that more light made you feel better makes perfect sense, even more so when I am sure that many days you are working with people who emit low energy, low to the point where they siphon off your high energy. I would be willing to bet that you love sunshine and in the winter months when there is not enough sunshine it makes perfect sense to seek that high energy from other light sources! Light up your life and feel great!!! BTW – thanks for the inspiration for my blog today!

ignorant bliss said...

I have been living in Denmark for three years, after leaving sunny FL.

My periods stopped. I developed acne (huh, in my mid thirties?!). I could not handle *normal* amounts of stress...

Winter time in DK has less than 5 hours of light, IF the clouds part. In fact, the other weekend we had our first full day of sun in over 5 weeks.

I started light therapy last October in an accidental kind of way. While working on my master's thesis, I had a sun lamp beside me. I was toiling away writing for hours at night for several months.

Then graduation came, and no more writing, so no more sunlamp. Then I got weepy, slept all the time, felt desolate...

Went to my doc and we pieced together that my sunlamp made the diff. Of course! Sun keeps melatonin at bay, and if there is no light, melatonin rises and we go into hibernation mode. So I use it in the winter time for 30 minutes in the morning, looking at it with only 2 inches separating me and the lamp, and when I get home I sit with it about 3 feet away from me for several hours. When I travel for work, I cannot take it with me (it is large) and I feel the effects of not sitting in front of it within several days.

As for the natural sun, it helps us make Vitamin D, a building block of hormones. Progesterone needs it, and if there is not enough vit D, not enough progesterone, no fluffy uterus therefore no periods. That I knew and started going to the tanning bed once every 5 to 7 days, and after 18 months of no periods eventually the tanning got me back to a 30 day cycle.

There is an excellent book on the sun *Naked at Noon*.

Makes sense... vitamin D is cancer fighting, helps the immune system. Scandinavia has the highest rates of certain cancers than any part of the globe, plus highest rate of Type I diabetes.

As for Denmark having the highest suicide rate per capita than any other country, well, that is a cultural issue that no large amounts of vit D can solve...

therapydoc said...

Who knew? About Denmark, that is.

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