With overcast skies and the snow falling across the Northeast, many find themselves covered in a blanket of depression. Winter months are prime time for Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD as it's commonly referred to. SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light. During the winter months, the days become shorter, so we are exposed to less daylight. No big deal, right? Wrong! Here are some tips and valuable information from the National Institute of Mental Health to help defeat those "winter blues."
Possible Cause of this Disorder
Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has been linked to SAD. This hormone, which may cause symptoms of depression, is produced at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, when the days are shorter and darker the production of this hormone increases.
-symptoms range from excessive weight gain and/or excessive eating and sleeping during the winter months
-symptoms occur only during winter, with no recurring episodes during spring and summer
-cravings for sugary or starchy foods
-seasonal episodes substantually outnumber non seasonal depressive episodes
Phototherapy or bright light therapy has been shown to suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin. Although, there have been no research findings to definitely link this therapy with an antidepressant effect, many people respond to this treatment. The device most often used today is a bank of white fluorescent lights on a metal reflector and shield with a plastic screen. For mild symptoms, spending time outdoors during the day or arranging homes and workplaces to receive more sunlight may be helpful. One study found that an hour’s walk in winter sunlight was as effective as two and a half hours under bright artificial light. If phototherapy is not effective, other treatments are available such as medication. Other options are available. Speak with your family doctor for more information.
Never Give Up!
Chris W James, Founder of MusicCanHeal.org. A site dedicated to public awareness of depression and bi-polar disorder.
Author of, "Music...Inside my Head and Out of my Mind." A book on bi-polar depression. Packed with information and ancidotes from Chris' life. How depression inspired the music; with a 26 song music CD included with the book.
Chris has written songs for popular entertainer and wrestler," Big Poppa Pump," Scott Steiner, movie soundtracks, "Darkest Soul", "Deathcop", and Director Rick Shipley's "Dangerous Mode."
Has 6 songs in regular rotation for airplay at www.songplanet.com
Has multiple songs in rotation on iIndie 104.7 FM iRADIO LA, the #1 indie radio station based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Diagnosed as bi-polar himself, Chris dedicates all his free time to depression awareness and public education. Founded Music Can Heal, (http://www.musiccanheal.org) to promote public awareness and to help others avoid the stigma associated with depression and mental illness.
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