Leading into the darkest parts of winter, up to 5% of Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) SAD is a biological and mood disorder, impacting many people globally in the autumn and winter seasons. It’s thought to be linked to a disturbance in circadian rhythms or a lessening in Vitamin D absorption during periods of decreased daylight, however, the root causes are still undetermined.
How can you recognize SAD?
The presentation of SAD can take on many forms, but generally involves symptoms consistent with depression. SAD can be distinguished by its seasonal patterns, with low mood and other symptoms present for around 40% of the year and a spontaneous relapse occurring in the spring or summer months.
Other symptoms may include persistent loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities, feeling irritable, low self-esteem, lessened sociability, and tearfulness. Some people may also experience being less active than normal or feeling lethargic and sleepy throughout the day.
What are the treatment options?
Some clinical treatment options for SAD include cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy as well as combinations of them. Pharmacotherapy options may include antidepressants (usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and in some cases, anti-anxiety medications. However, it should be noted that many studies on light therapy do not meet recognized standards for clinical trial designs, because of the inherent difficulties with finding a suitable placebo option.
It may be advised to utilize treatment options as preventative steps in the early autumn before the onset of symptoms. It seems that light therapy in combination with CBT may grant the best chance at reducing the recurrence and severity of depressive symptoms associated with SAD.
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For Citruslabs, patient recruitment starts with study design and ends with trial completion. We recruit patients through our network of health apps, which enables you to connect with thousands of patients in real-time. The best part: these patients are already educated and prepared for the clinical trial process.