• Difficulty waking up in the morning
• Lack of energy
• Difficulty completing tasks
• Inability to concentrate
• Withdrawal from society and social activities
• Decreased sex drive
• Compulsion to eat - especially carbohydrates
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) include:
The American Psychiatric Association has four criteria for a diagnosis of SAD:
• Depressive episodes at a particular time of year
• Remissions at a particular time of year
• These episodes outnumber other depressive episodes during the patient's lifetime
• These patterns have recurred for two years without occuring at other times of the year
There is evidence that patients with SAD have a disruption in their circadian rhythm, or "body clock."
A lack of daylight due to overcast weather or staying indoors can interrupt this cycle.
The cycle begins when the eye receives light and sends a signal back to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus contains several segments that control hormones.
The most important segment for SAD is the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN.
The SCN is the master pacemaker that
uses information from the retina to
create a rhythm of electrical and
chemical signals that synchronize the
organs of the body with the world.
The organs and brain all contain their ownlocal circadian clocks.
If our SCN master clock fails to keep them
in sync with each other and the world,
there can be far-ranging effects on
our complex metabolism.
Disorders in sleep, digestion and mood
Special full-spectrum lights are used on a schedule to return the body clock to a regular rhythm. Then the organs can start to regulate themselves once more.
These lights are used under medical direction, and the patient never stares directly
at the source of the light.
The effects of SAD are serious and may require medication.
If you see the symptoms in yourself or others, discuss the situation with your doctor.