For some people, a lack of sunlight in the winter and summer month’s results in a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). A lack of sunlight can be a huge hindrance to some who fight to find energy to do maintain daily activities and a good mood, while for others it is only a minor problem. Wikipedia states that people may “sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed” but usually this clears up. In the summer people with SAD may feel “heightened anxiety.” Moreover symptoms of severe SAD may
. . . consist of difficulty waking up in the morning, morning sickness, tendency to oversleep and over eat, especially a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on or completing tasks, and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities and decreased sex drive. All of this leads to depression, pessimistic feelings of hopelessness, and lack of pleasure which characterize a person suffering from this disorder. People who experience spring and summer depression show symptoms of classic depression including insomnia, anxiety, irritability, decreased appetite, weight loss, social withdrawal, decreased sex drive,and suicide.
People with SAD may not be ‘clinically depressed’ but SAD can be a “‘specifier’ “of Major Depression. There are a variety of methods that people can try to deal with the depression caused by lack of sunlight including Vitamin D, light therapy, antidepressants, and air ionizers.
Vitamin D: It is recommended that most people should take vitamin D (1000 IUD)in the winter because the average person does not get enough sunlight from which people absorb vitamin – although particularly with women and in winter months, doctors may recommend women take as much as 2000 IUD of vitamin D. That is 2 little white vitamins which can make a huge difference in your mood and energy level. Coming from a family were cases of SAD is prevalent, I talked to my brother who commented that the taking of Vitamin D alone had made a huge difference for him, as he finds his good moods plummet as the sunlight wanes.
Light Therapy and Getting Outside: There are two types of light therapy available: blue light which mimics the sky and white light which mimics dawn light. The key is to hold the light “30-60 cm” away from yourself, not directly looking at the light but still being able to see it for 30-60 minutes a day. By being around this light for 30-60 minutes a day you may notice you feel a little better at first, but there should be a large difference in the way you feel after a month and as time goes on. As these lights can be anywhere from about $150.00 to $200.00 (check www.costco.ca or www.londondrugs.com) you can also phone up your insurance company to see if they will cover the light. My insurance company for example, will cover the cost of the light (no limit as to light cost) with a note from the doctor specifying you suffer from SAD. Although, I personally did not find the blue light useful, I have better hope for the white light which (Wikipedia states) seems to be more effective overall.
Your other method of light therapy is of course, spending more time out in the sun. Taking a walk, even a ride in the care, during the daylight hours can help you absorb more vitamin D and more light. It has also been shown that an increase in physical exercise especially in combination with light therapy is very helpful to people suffering from SAD.
Antidepressants: If your winter/summer depression is bad enough you can also consider going to see your doctor or psychiatrist and going on antidepressants if other methods are not working for you. Going on medication is a serious decision, but if it is what you need to make it through your SAD it could be a good option for you. Antidepressants may also be used in combination with light therapy and Vitamin D.
Negative Air Ionization: A treatment which involves “releasing negatively charged particles into the sleep environment.” It can be done by using a “sleep ionizer” which can be found in air purifiers. Ionizers use “use electrostatically charged plates to produce positively or negatively charged gas ions that particulate matter sticks to (in an effect similar to static electricity).” These ionizers regulate hormone levels, thus, they can help with SAD. Cost of air purifiers (ionizers) range from $70.00 to $400.00 dollars. (See www.canadiantire.ca)