Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also called ‘winter depression’ or ‘winter blues’ is a type of depression that generally occurs in the winter, between September and April in the Northern Hemisphere. It is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain due to the shortened hours of daylight and the lack of sunshine during the winter.

The 6th century Goth scholar Jordanes first described it related to the inhabitants of Scandza (Scandinavia). It is estimated that about 20% of all Swedes are affected, and it seems to be hereditary. Most SAD sufferers experience normal mental health throughout most of the year, but may experience some depressive symptoms in the winter. SAD is rare in the tropics, but is significant at latitudes of 30° and higher. In the U.K. it is estimated that up to 10 % of the population is affected to some extent.

Some signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:

  • Sleep problems
  • Lethargy
  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Overeating, weight gain or eating disorders
  • Social problems
  • Loss of libido

Like depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be a serious, disabling disorder that prevents people from functioning normally and may require medical attention. Unlike depression, the SAD symptoms generally disappear in the Spring or early Summer.

Please note: The information on this site is NOT intended as medical advice NOR is the Light therapy referred to intended as an alternative to professional medical advice.

Many people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will find some relief from the symptoms by looking at bright light sources for between 20 minutes and one hour each day, using a ‘light box’. This, however, has to be generally repeated each day for up to eight months of the year. An alternative to this is to stimulate the receptors in the eyes for relatively short periods. The thinking behind this is that by stimulating the non visual receptors in the eyes with low intensity, pulsed, coloured light, it enables better utilisation of normally available light rather than requiring increased levels of light. Lightwave Stimulation may be a quicker, more effective and longer lasting way to achieve improved performance. Colour Visual Fields of Awareness frequently expand following therapy and this seems to correlate to improved performance. Lightwave Stimulation (LWS) light therapy has been used at our Centre with benefit to some clients.

Here is an interesting infographic about SAD

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