Top Ten Reviews


Seasonal Affective Disorder Sad
 

Seasonal Affective Disorder Introduction

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is characterized as a seasonal pattern of depression, typically manifesting in the Fall and Winter months. This change in psychological behavior is often naturally alleviated in the Spring and Summer. It has been hypothesized that seasonal variations in behaviors may have had some evolutionary advantage. Lower levels, or outputs, of neurological activity could be protective in wintertime. [1, 2] To what extent, however, is not yet known.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Statistics

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is thought to affect as many as 1-3% of adults that live in temperate climates and tends affect women more than men. [3]

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Those with Seasonal Affective Disorder have seasonally correlated periods of depression. Symptoms of seasonal depression include; over sleeping, over eating, craving carbohydrates, and generally slowing down. When the seasons change to spring and summer, these patients typically have their depressive symptoms relieved.

Diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually made by observation of a seasonal pattern of depression as well as having the patient complete any one of a number of questionnaires that are available (e.g. “Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire”). It is possible that Seasonal Affective Disorder may manifest in alcoholics as a seasonal pattern to alcohol misuse which may, in fact, be a form of self medication. [4, 5]

Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment

Standard medical treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually aimed at treating the depressive symptoms that are associated with this particular condition., Such treatments include; antidepressant medications such as Prozac, psychotherapy, and occasionally light therapy. [6]

Light Therapy:

Full spectrum light can be used to treat both Seasonal Affective Disorder and clinical depression. It is thought that full spectrum light therapy helps to normalize melatonin secretion in the brain that can be thrown off by changes in light levels paralleled with the changing of seasons. It is also possible that light deprivation affects the rate of serotonin turnover in the brain. [7, 8]

Usage:

Full spectrum lights are used and the patient is instructed to sit in front of a panel of these lights from 5 am- 8 am and from 5:30pm - 8:30 pm. Alternative methods include 20 minutes of exposure to bright full spectrum light first thing in the morning, and replacing all lights with full spectrum lights. [9, 10]

Supplements helpful for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland. The release and activity of melatonin is strongly influenced by the levels and timing of light that is present throughout the day. It is thought that the darkness that predominates during the winter months causes the daily Melatonin secretion to overshoot its necessary levels, thus contributes to depressive symptoms. By supplementing Melatonin at bedtime, it is possible that the production of melatonin could be resynchronized. [11, 12]

Usage:

1-3 mg Melatonin 30 minutes before bed. It is best to use melatonin in conjunction with light therapy. Discontinue melatonin if symptoms worsen.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum):

St. John's Wort is a well known and popular herb for the treatment of depression and viral infections. Hypericum has been shown to be particularly effective in the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Hypericum has the effect of increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain that can improve mood, namely, serotonin. Hypericum shows particular promise in Seasonal Affective Disorder when it is combined with Light Therapy (see above). [13, 14, 15, 16]

Usage:

St. John’s Wort Extract standardized to contain .3% Hypericin, 300 mg 3 times per day. [17]



References

[1] Eagles JM. Seasonal affective disorder: a vestigial evolutionary advantage? Med Hypotheses. 2004;63(5):767-72.

[2] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1998), 792-3.

[3] Magnusson A, Boivin D. Seasonal affective disorder: an overview. Chronobiol Int. 2003 Mar;20(2):189-207.

[4] Young MA, Blodgett C, Reardon A. Measuring seasonality: psychometric properties of the Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire and the Inventory for Seasonal Variation. Psychiatry Res. 2003 Jan 25;117(1):75-83.

[5] Sher L. Alcoholism and seasonal affective disorder. Compr Psychiatry. 2004 Jan-Feb;45(1):51-6.

[6] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1998), 792-3.

[7] Magnusson A, Boivin D. Seasonal affective disorder: an overview. Chronobiol Int. 2003 Mar;20(2):189-207.

[8] Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, Jennings GL, Esler MD. Effect of sunlight and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. Lancet. 2002 Dec 7;360(9348):1840-2.

[9] Thorell LH, Kjellman B, Arned M, Lindwall-Sundel K, Walinder J, Wetterberg L.Light treatment of seasonal affective disorder in combination with citalopram or placebo with 1-year follow-up. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1999 May;14 Suppl 2:S7-11.

[10] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1998), 792-3.

[11] Terman M, Terman JS, Quitkin FM, Cooper TB, Lo ES, Gorman JM, Stewart JW, McGrath PJ. Response of the melatonin cycle to phototherapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Short note. J Neural Transm. 1988;72(2):147-65.

[12] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1998), 792-3.

[13] Kasper S. Treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with hypericum extract. Pharmacopsychiatry. 1997 Sep;30 Suppl 2:89-93.

[14] Wheatley D. Hypericum in seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Curr Med Res Opin. 1999;15(1):33-7.

[15] Martinez B, Kasper S, Ruhrmann S, Moller HJ. Hypericum in the treatment of seasonal affective disorders. J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol. 1994 Oct;7 Suppl 1:S29-33.

[16] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1998), 792-3.

[17] Murray and Pizzorno, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Roseville CA: Prima Health, 1998), 792-3.