Seasonal affective disorder: Don’t settle for SAD
Hibernating because you feel down? Treatment can help.
By Beth Kaszuba
It’s one thing to snuggle under the covers because you want to ward off winter’s chill. But if longer, darker days have you:
- Feeling depressed
- Eating too much, especially carbs
- Gaining weight
- Avoiding social activities
You might have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. If you think that might be the case, reach out to your healthcare provider or a mental health specialist — the sooner the better. Once you’re diagnosed, treatment can help.
SAD is caused by several factors. Among them? A disturbed circadian rhythm, which is your body’s natural 24-hour cycle. How your body regulates serotonin, a hormone that helps with sleep. Lowered eye sensitivity to blue light. And, of course, genetics.
To ease the symptoms, your doctor or sleep specialist might recommend talk therapy, antidepressants, vitamin D and/or light therapy, which involves exposure to certain types of light for specific times each day.
Of course, don’t pursue any course of treatment without checking with your doctor. But with help, you may have a (literally) brighter winter.
The wellness you need, in a style you’ll love — delivered.
Sign up to have PA Health sent to your mailbox or inbox 4 times a year, for free.
Sleep aids: What will have you dozing? And which are duds?
Lots of products and practices promise to have you drifting off to dreamland in no time. We rate some popular options.
Z – Roll over and ignore
ZZ – Worth a try
ZZZ – Get ready for some stellar slumberMelatonin: ZZ
If your circadian rhythm is disturbed, this natural sleep-inducing hormone can truly help you better control your sleep times. But you may be drowsy the next day, so consider your morning plans. And check with your doctor before using.
Pillows “as seen on TV”: Z
One person’s dream pillow is another’s nightmare. Don’t trust “one pillow cures all” claims. Your best bet might be less expensive.
Research shows that meditation and mindfulness can fight insomnia. And any practice that calms us down and centers us in the moment has to be good. We’d definitely hit the cushion before hitting the pillow.
Dousing blue light: ZZZ
It’s true, the light from screens we take to bed or keep on the nightstand can interfere with circadian rhythms. Shut down early for better shuteye.
Dozing with dogs (and cats): Z
Pets are cute. And snuggly. And warm. But they also tend to move around, make noise and manage to dominate the whole bed, even if they only weigh a few pounds. It’s best to set them gently in their own beds before sleeping.