Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a specific type of depression brought on by seasonal changes. It affects approximately 500,000 people in the U.S. with symptoms such as mood changes, sleep problems, lethargy, anxiety and depression. Fortunately, SAD can be treated in many ways, the most notable methods being medication, psychotherapy, light therapy, lifestyle changes and home remedies. Read about each of these treatments below to help find the best treatment for your unique symptoms.
1. Medication for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Many people with SAD take antidepressants to treat symptoms. Antidepressants are very effective because they tackle all SAD symptoms, including severe ones like feelings of apathy or hopelessness. Antidepressants such as Aplenzin and Wellbutrin are commonly prescribed to prevent depressive episodes among people with SAD susceptibility.
It is important to note that most doctors advise SAD patients to start taking antidepressants before typical SAD symptoms begin because the medication does not provide instant relief. It may, therefore, take some time for SAD patients to experience the full benefits of taking antidepressants.
Also, different people react differently to the same medication. As a result, you may try different SAD medications before you find the best fit for you, i.e. medication that offers the least side effects. Your doctor may also recommend that you continue taking the antidepressants after your SAD symptoms subside. Nevertheless, SAD medication can be taken when the symptoms start up until they subside.
2. Talk Therapy as Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) is the most effective type of therapy for treating SAD. Psychotherapy focuses on psychological treatment as opposed to using medication. Psychotherapy helps SAD patients identify and change the negative behaviors and thoughts that make them feel unhappy. Psychotherapy also helps SAD patients learn healthy ways of coping with SAD as well as managing stress.
3. Light Therapy as Effective Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is one of the most effective SAD therapy treatments available today. SAD is caused by light variations that happen from one season to another. Light therapy utilizes a specific type of light from artificial sources. These light sources attempt to mimic natural outdoor light, which tricks the brain into making natural changes in the chemicals it releases. These chemicals influence a person’s mood, lessening the negative symptoms associated with SAD. The light produced from light therapy boxes is known as “full spectrum light”
a. Full Spectrum Light Bulbs
Although light therapy is one of the best SAD treatments, it is only effective if the light source mimics natural light perfectly. This is where full spectrum light bulbs (also known as daylight bulbs) come in handy. The bulbs are specially designed to replicate the light that natural daylight provides. This in turn offers all the benefits that come with natural light, i.e. reduced eyestrain, increased energy and fewer headaches.
Full spectrum light bulbs are also capable of reducing feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, which are all symptoms of SAD. Full spectrum lights come in an appliance commonly known as a light box or sun box. Although the appliance is effective in SAD treatment and portable, it is fairly expensive to purchase, it consumes a high amount of electricity and has a higher cost to replace.
b. Fluorescent Light Filters
Fluorescent light filters also offer a perfect way of surrounding yourself with high quality natural light, which in turn treats SAD symptoms. The filters eliminate the harmful radiation produced by typical fluorescent lights and are capable of absorbing 100 percent of all cancer-causing UVB and UVA rays. In addition to turning harsh fluorescent light into full spectrum lighting, fluorescent light filters also eliminate glare, which reduces eyestrain and headaches. Make Great Light offers some of the most effective, safe and affordable fluorescent light filters in the market.
4. Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD can also be treated with lifestyle changes and home remedies. In addition to taking SAD medication, going for psychotherapy and receiving light therapy treatment, people who suffer from SAD should incorporate the following lifestyle changes and home remedies to treat their symptoms effectively.
- Deliberately make your home sunnier and brighter. You can do this by opening blinds, adding skylights in your home or trimming tree branches outside your home that may be blocking light. Once you make your home brighter, identify the sunny spots indoors, and make a point of sitting next to bright windows when you are at home or in the office.
- Get outside every morning for fresh air and natural light. This can be difficult in the winter months, but getting outside under natural sunlight is an effective method to treat SAD. You can take a walk outside or bask in the sunlight on a daily basis. This remedy is most effective in the morning to naturally wake the body and to get the strongest sunlight.
- Exercise is also highly recommended to treat SAD. You should exercise regularly throughout the week and get involved in other types of physical activity to relieve the anxiety and stress that is known to make SAD symptoms more severe. Being physically fit will uplift your mood, reducing the negative symptoms associated with SAD.
Medication, therapy, light therapy, lifestyle changes and home remedies are the most effective options for Seasonal Affective Disorder treatment today. For SAD sufferers, it is important to explore some form of treatment to increase your chances of getting well in the winter months.
These treatments come with a few considerations. For instance, you need to consult your doctor for a conversation on SAD medication. Treatment should also incorporate talk therapy and lifestyle changes to increase effectiveness. Lastly, you should use the best lighting available, such as fluorescent light filters and full spectrum light bulbs to get effective light therapy treatment.
Provided you follow the above information to the letter, you should see your SAD symptoms subside to reveal a happy, enjoyable change of seasons.
Have a question on using light therapy to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder? Contact Make Great Light.