Seasonal affective disorder treatment

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Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that occurs more often in the fall and winter months (SAD). Fall and winter are the most prevalent times, with remission in the spring or summer. These include tiredness, a lack of energy, an increase in appetite, sleep duration, weight, and a yearning for carbs or sweets.

Seasonal affective disorder treatment

Other people suffer from depression in the spring or summer, which subsides in the autumn or winter. They don’t suffer from the winter blues. People become irritable, nervous, and unable to fall asleep as a result of their symptoms, including a decrease in appetite and weight loss. They may also be more likely to contemplate suicide.


Depending on the season, you may need a different kind of treatment. For those suffering from mild to severe winter depression, light therapy is the primary line of treatment. Wintertime depression may be treated with medication and light treatment for those with more severe symptoms.

Summertime depression does not respond to light treatment. Medication and counseling are suggested instead. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, in particular, may be beneficial for depression that occurs in the winter and summer.

Besides your unique seasonal pattern and the intensity of your episodes, therapy may differ depending on what has worked for you in the past and what medications you can handle, as well as your personal taste.

Medication for SAD

As previously said, the intensity of your symptoms will dictate whether or not you begin taking medication: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sufferers often get antidepressant medication.

Extended-release bupropion is the only medicine for SAD currently authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (Wellbutrin XL). Preventing this condition is one of its recognized uses. For those who suffer from the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), your doctor may prescribe bupropion around four weeks before your symptoms generally begin (depending on your past history of SAD), and you’ll likely cease taking it in the spring or summer.

Bupropion, on the other hand, isn’t effective for everyone. Preventive therapy did not assist four out of five patients in high-risk groups with recurring episodes of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to a 2015 Cochrane analysis.

Headaches, sleeplessness, and nausea were listed as the most prevalent and irritating bupropion side effects in the same study.

SAD is treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs, notably sertraline (Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac), seem to be more helpful than a placebo in reducing symptoms, while the evidence is sparse. For clinical depression, SSRIs are the first-line medication. In light of the fact that SAD is a subtype of depression, these drugs seem to be a good fit. Anxiety, sleepiness, and nausea are all common side effects of SSRIs.

A variety of antidepressants may be required before you locate the perfect one.

Generally speaking, it is normal practice to begin taking medicine while you are healthy, weeks before your symptoms typically begin, and to continue taking it until the beginning of the next season. Some patients, especially those who relapsed immediately after discontinuing their medication or who suffer severe seasonal episodes, continue to take medicine throughout the year.

Light Therapy for SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sufferers benefit from light treatment, which improves their energy and mood and reduces tiredness.

Types of light therapy

Following are the two types of light therapy:

  • Bright light treatment
  • Dawn simulation
Bright light treatment

A lightbox creates artificial light that simulates the rays of the sun and is used to deliver a bright light treatment. Light intensity is measured in lux, and the most effective lightboxes have a lux output of 10,000.

You should use your lightbox for 30 minutes every day at the same time of day in order to get the optimum results (early morning seems to work much better than late morning or evening). In the comfort of your own home, you may acquire a lightbox and utilize it while performing other things such as writing, reading, or dining.

Stay alert, but avoid staring straight into the light. The lightbox should be between 16 and 24 inches away from you. You don’t have to worry about bright light treatment harming your eyes. Those with preexisting eye disorders like cataracts or macular degeneration, as well as those with systemic diseases like diabetes that affect the retina, contact an ophthalmologist before beginning light treatment and every year thereafter.

Lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, and antibiotics, for example, might increase your sensitivity to sunlight, so you should have regular checkups if you’re on them (e.g., tetracycline).

Psychiatrist Norman Rosenthal, MD, who originally identified and coined the term “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD) in 1984, recommends purchasing a larger box with fluorescent (rather than LED) and white light (instead of blue).

Using bright light therapy too late or too early in the day might cause sleeplessness as well as moderate side effects including headaches and eye strain.

Dawn simulation

In addition to strong light treatment, you may employ dawn simulation as a sort of light therapy. In contrast to strong light treatment, dawn simulation begins operating while you are still sleeping. To simulate the sun’s ebb and flow, this gadget gradually emits light. When you wake up in the spring or summer, it seems like you’re waking up to dawn.

Because each individual is unique, light therapy should only be administered by a trained medical specialist (e.g., you might only need to use your lightbox for 20 minutes). Patients with bipolar illness may experience hypomania or mania as a result of light treatment. In addition, light treatment may not be effective for many patients, making medicine and therapy sessions essential (along with engaging in healthy habits).

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