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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pendulum Pregnancy: Bipolar and Expecting: Seasonal Affective Disorder.........SAD Anyone?

Pendulum Pregnancy: Bipolar and Expecting: Seasonal Affective Disorder.........SAD Anyone?: "I am back...back from the recesses of my own self-deprecating hell...the one that I create specifically this time of year...every year! FEB..."

Seasonal Affective Disorder.........SAD Anyone?

I am back...back from the recesses of my own self-deprecating hell...the one that I create specifically this time of year...every year! FEBRUARY. I am a Mama now... and I need to focus on RIVER! And THAT alone is what is getting me through these SAD days.

Sunlight Sweet Sunlight... how I long for thee... Can You Empathize? I stare longingly into the advertisements for warm sunny places, and picture myself...(Medium Shot) tanned hide, holding River (Close Up) clad in a delicately placed floppy hat, (Long Shot)laughing and smiling with franks washed in four'o'clock tropical sunshine... (Extreme Close Up) salt water licking at our bronzed toes... (Fade Out)

...I'm back...much to my chagrin, in a cold Room in NJ...inundated with stink bugs... horrific headache, child sleeping, franks snoring, cat scratching in the litterbox between horrific sounds. Alas, I wouldn't want it any other way.

I share an article with you from because SAD is a REAL THING!

"Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, or the Winter Blues, is officially recognised by Doctors and Psychiatrists as a medical condition that is thought to affect 2 million people in the UK and Ireland and over 12 Million people across Northern Europe."

"Historically we only ever worked outdoors; two hundred years ago 75% of the population worked outdoors now less than 10% of the population work in natural outdoor light. Whilst this is fine in the Summer months when there are longer daylight hours, in the Winter months, people tend to go to work in the dark and go home in the dark and don't get to enough natural daylight.

This modern way of living has dramatically altered nature’s cues. A modern day no longer starts at the break of dawn and ends at sunset. Workdays are getting longer and many people face shift work schedules. Additionally, the advent of electric lighting allows social gatherings and personal activities to extend well into the night. These factors have diminished the body’s natural ability to regulate the body clock and this work/life change has resulted in a dramatic increase in light deficiency symptoms.

In the UK and Ireland we are more susceptible to SAD as we are situated in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere. As a result, we experience large changes in light levels between the summer and winter. We also experience periods of dark, gloomy weather which can reduce the amount of light we receive and therefore have a profound effect on our body clocks.

A combination of a change in seasonal light, our hectic lifestyles and the periods of darker days and poorer weather, can result in dramatic effects on our circadian rhythms. As a direct consequence of these environmental and lifestyle factors more people than ever before are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder."

Interesting, huh? The article continues...

"The human body uses light cues, such as those provided by the sun, to time certain functions.

Properly timed rhythms regulate mood, sleep, wake, appetite, digestion and energy. These daily internal cycles called ‘Circadian Rhythms’ sometimes fall out of time, meaning an unregulated body clock, resulting in the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Circadian Rhythm Imbalance - how it causes Seasonal Affective Disorder
Now with our hectic lifestyles, we often miss critical signals from the sun, and our body clocks suffer. Without proper morning light, our body clocks don’t produce the hormones we need to wake up and feel active. When we miss daytime light, we slump and become less productive. At night, we usually stay up hours after dark, causing sleep and mood problems. In fact, how we sleep, how active we are, and how we feel are all regulated by our body clock.

When your body clock doesn’t get the right light signals, you can feel tired, moody, and sluggish. But when your body clock does get the right type of light, your body produces active, energetic hormones and suppresses the negative, withdrawal ones. These hormones will help reset your sleep, mood, and energy cycles, so you sleep better at night and feel great during the day."

ALthough this website and article is based in the UK and Northern certainly applies to us here in the US of A. According to
St. Louis Psychologists and Counseling Information and Referral website:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be the tired feeling and depressed mood that some people commonly experience in the winter time. Seasonal Affective Disorder may be experienced by six of every 100 people in the United States according to statistics by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Another 10% to 20% may experience some mild form of SAD. It seems to be more common in women than men and although some children and teenagers get SAD, it usually doesn’t start in people younger than 20 years of age. For adults, the risk of SAD decreases as they get older. Seasonal Affective Disorder is more common in northern geographic regions.

What to Do...

"Seasonal Affective Disorder: Where does it come from and what are the symptoms?

Physicians and mental health clinicians began to recognize Seasonal Affective Disorder when it was noticed that animals as well as humans react to the changing seasons in mood and behavior. Most people have a tendency to eat and sleep a little more in the winter and dislike the dark mornings and short days. For some, it seems to have a more intense effect in disrupting their lives and causing significant distress. The actual symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:

A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods

Weight gain

A heavy feeling in the arms or legs

A drop in energy level


A tendency to oversleep

Difficulty concentrating


Increased sensitivity to social rejection

Avoidance of social situations

The symptoms tend to start around September of each year lasting until April, and seem to be at their worst in the darkest months. The problem seems to stem from a lack of bright light in the winter. Researchers have proven that bright light makes a difference to the brain chemistry, although they are not sure by what means that sufferers are affected. It is not psychosomatic or an imaginary illness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Is there treatment available?

Find a beach or a place to ski. While going to a brightly-lit climate or snowy slope is indeed a cure, many people do not have that opportunity. As the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is due to a lack of bright light, the treatment in many cases may be to use bright light every day using a light box or similar light therapy device. The objective is to allow the light to reach the eyes for between a 1/4 and 3/4 of an hour daily to alleviate the symptoms. If light therapy works you’ll probably need to continue it until enough sunlight is available, typically in the springtime. Caution should be used for individuals with some psychiatric illnesses including manic depression. Tanning beds should not be used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder due to the damaging effects of the ultraviolet rays on both your eyes and skin. Other alternatives may include behavior therapy or medicine to treat symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. If light therapy or medicine alone doesn’t work, your doctor may want to use them together."

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate