SAD Syndrome (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
SAD Syndrome does not mean sitting around your house with a frowny face, although a frowny face is usually a symptom of SAD Syndrome. SAD Syndrome is best known by some people as “Cabin Fever” or “Winter Blues”. Remember Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining”? He becomes the caretaker of a hotel during the offseason where the hotel gets snowed in and no one can get in or out. During the time he is there, he slips into madness and becomes psychopathic. It’s a horror movie so, no more detail here, but he was warned by one of the employees there as he was getting a tour of the place before they took the job that the last caretaker had cabin fever and it turned out no so good. SAD Syndrome has been diagnosed and is now recognized as a mood disorder. It is more prevalent in Northern States and in Northern Countries near the Arctic Circle. It is also interesting that it has been diagnosed in people in Florida in the Summer. In fact, it isn’t just a Winter thing. Anytime it affects someone the same time of the year, regardless of the season and includes depression or a general inability to perform every day tasks, it could be SAD Syndrome. Some researchers have concluded it could be due to a change in light conditions during the change in seasons. It could also be due to a tragedy that occurred in someones life during that time of year that can trigger it. The exact reason of the condition isn’t known, but it is now widely accepted that it does happen. Also, people who get depressed during certain times of the year know and the thought of the change in seasons could even trigger it and it becomes a self-fulfilling anticipated mood swing.
Treating SAD Syndrome
When you research SAD Syndrome, you will quickly read the recommended treatment is bright light therapy. It seems this would work best for those who who live in Northern Climates during the winter when the temperatures drop to a point where people can’t get outside to perform their normal activities. For some people who work in seasonal jobs such as those as ski slopes, they could actually experience SAD Syndrome during the summer so light therapy may not work in those cases. Getting outside and getting natural sunlight whenever possible will help with SAD Syndrome. It may not always be possible to do that though. When I was in College (The Citadel), the worst part of the year was January and February. We had come back to school from Christmas break and were settling in to a new semester. The buildings were gray, the uniforms were gray, the sky was gray and the mood was gray. I remember the days when it finally warmed up a bit. You could go down to the dock at the river and see Cadets laying out everywhere sunbathing like alligators. Sunlight is a natural anti-depressant. We instinctively knew that and took the advantage of it when the weather allowed.
There are studies that show SAD Syndrome interrupts sleep patterns as well. The lack of good sleep can also drive the depression even further. I blogged about sleep and fitness a little while back. There are good tips there on getting good sleep and how to make sure you are getting enough sleep. For extreme cases, a mild anti-depressant may be prescribed by a Doctor or possibly even a sleep aid. Personally, I think it is a last resort but if needed, it should be used to break out of that patten if nothing else works.
For me, I love Autumn and Christmas and if I’m not careful, I can find myself drifting into depression this time of year and it could be SAD Syndrome for sure. It isn’t warm enough to go outside and do things but the weather isn’t horrible either like it is up North (I live in South Carolina). I do try to get outside and do things when I can. The thing that works for me is staying busy. We are constantly moving with activities for the kids. We all take Martial Arts so we are busy every night of the week with that, either taking it or running the kids to the Dojo. We are also involved in Church Activities so we are busy with that on the weekends and during the week at times. But for me, the main thing that keeps me going is working out. I also do my best to eat right. I do better with the working out than with the eating part. Remember, I have NO willpower, right? The other thing that keeps me going is knowing I am helping people when I workout. I have people depending on me that I help not only with fitness but with coaching others. Having a purpose for your life and having a goal instead of just going back and forth to work also keeps depression away. Every day counts for something.
So, my prescription for SAD Syndrome is pretty simple. Prior to medicating try these things to keep you upbeat and positive. Get outside as much as you can in the sunlight. Keep the house well lit with bright lights on dreary days. Exercise!! Eat right. Of course I recommend Shakeology. We also have Cordastra™ which is a brand-new wellness nutrition supplement that’s an exclusive potent blend of two ancient Chinese herbs, astragalus and cordyceps. Together they promote physical health and mental well-being.* This new wellness nutrition supplement also contains the unique and proprietary Activessence®, which helps optimize your body’s ability to use both powerful herbs. I take it now and I can tell you it’s GREAT stuff. You can also Become a Coach and help us end the trend of obesity!! Break the cycle of SAD Syndrome. You have the power!!!