Faith On Every Corner - February 2022

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Seasonal Affective Disorder By Melody Foster

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is associated with the shorter days we experience as the seasons change. The changes in mood can appear during late fall and last until the days get longer during late spring. SAD is a subcategory of Major Depressive Disorder where people feel pervasive sadness, hopelessness, tiredness most of the time, and loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed. SAD happens when we are exposed to less natural light. The body’s circadian rhythm (our internal clock), mood-regulating hormones such as serotonin (the feel-good hormone), and melatonin (for sleep) seem to be affected by natural light. Shorter days for people who work indoors all day means little to no exposure to natural light which our bodies need to function properly. People with Major Depressive Disorder who suffer from SAD may notice more distressive symptoms, for example, thinking about not wanting to live or feeling worthless while about 20 percent of the rest of the population notice milder changes in mood and sleeping patterns. People notice feeling lethargic, unable to concentrate, low mood, sleeping too much, or feelings of despair when they are not receiving enough natural light. SAD has been known to increase craving carbohydrates, overeating, and weight gain in some people. Light therapy is recommended by doctors, along with counseling, to help alleviate symptoms in people suffering with SAD. More distressed people may require the aid of an antidepressant to go along with the other modes of therapy. Techno70 | M AG A Z I N E N A M E PAGE 3 23

logical developments in lamps that produce rays similar to natural light have been providing relief for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Bringing sun lamps into your home certainly can’t hurt anything and may be a mood booster for everyone. Finding the right price point for your budget can be easy in today’s market. One may spend around $40 on one or up to several hundred dollars. Once you decide to have a lamp, it is recommended to use the lamp for twenty to thirty minutes daily. Using the lamp at the same time of the day also is good for the regulation of the body’s time clock. An article in Sleep Health spoke about light therapy in populations with brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. This is another issue for discussion, but dementia patients using sun lamps in their home were found in the article on this research to have reduced agitation, less night wandering (Figueiro, M.G., Hunter, C.M., Higgins,P. et al, 2015). If you find yourself having symptoms of SAD, please try light therapy and reach out to a doctor or counselor for additional guidance. Reference Figueroa, M.G., Hunter, C.M., Higgins, P., Hornbeck, T., Jones, G.E., Plitnick,B., Bronson, J., & Rea, M.S. (2015). Tailored Lighting Intervention for Persons with Dementia and Caregivers Living at Home. Sleep Health, 1(4), 322-330.


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