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Look out for SAD

If you have a history of suffering from depression, you might be interested in learning about a specific kind of depression, SAD - otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As indicated by its name, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression linked to the season of the year - specifically fall and winter. A summer-related version is less common and is generally referred to as Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Sufferers of this illness generally exhibit symptoms very similar to those exhibited by people who suffer from chronic depression. So what causes this illness in otherwise normal individuals? How is it treated? And what preventative measures can you take to ensure that you don't contract it?

The causes of the illness are not definitively known, but specialists have a theory that it has to do with the amount of sunlight the sufferer is exposed to. It is believed that there is a connection between the amount of light the retina of the eye is exposed to, and the amount of melatonin produced by the pineal gland. Individuals with low melatonin production have been known to exhibit similar symptoms to those with SAD. This theory would also explain why the illness is most predominant in northern countries such as Scandinavia that have long, dark winters.

The treatment for the disorder is that the sufferer should spend more time outside and participate in more exercise which will trigger the production of serotonin. For more severe cases, where individuals have a hard time motivating themselves towards any kind of activity, bright light treatments are also used. The sufferer will sit in front of a specialized lamp for a prescribed time, usually between 30 and 60 minutes, with their eyes open, but without staring directly into the light.

If you suspect you or someone you love suffers from SAD, see you doctor immediately to discuss treatment.



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