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Over Easy: Family Matters

Another morning, another cup of coffee or tea. Another breakfast. And, facing and enjoying another day.

Do any of you, or the ones you know and love ever get feeling SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Blues, as it were.

You can feel pretty alright most of the time, enjoy mental health during most of the year, but as the winter approaches, you start to feel glum, cranky, moody or just generally not as swell as you usually feel? Happens to me sometimes. Even the Goggie starts getting weirdish when it’s been raining for a solid week and wants to get his ya yas out. Just tried to attack the cat who doesn’t let anything bother him. I tossed a pinecone at him and gave him a biscuit. Easy to help him feel better.

How to feel better is the question. I know this is probably dorky to use the wiki solutions, but they say that

Light therapy or phototherapy (classically referred to as heliotherapy) consists of exposure to daylight or to specific wavelengths of light using lasers, light-emitting diodes, fluorescent lamps, dichroic lamps or very bright, full-spectrum light, usually controlled with various devices. The light is administered for a prescribed amount of time and, in some cases, at a specific time of day

The other day, during the 5 day deluge of gray sky and water falling from the sky, there was a respite and the sun was shining on my front porch, so I took my wicker rocking chair and a book out there. Just 20 minutes of sun on my face made me feel better.

From the Mayo Clinic, this definition

Seasonal affective disorder (also called SAD) is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. If you’re like most people with seasonal affective disorder, your symptoms start in the fall and may continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, seasonal affective disorder causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Treatment for seasonal affective disorder includes light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications. Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

I find that exercise helps me sometimes. It could be the combination of getting my vitamin D and the increased circulation. But, when it’s raining, I take that as an excuse not to go to the park. Of course, I could actually walk with an umbrella.

How is SAD diagnosed?

It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between nonseasonal depression and SAD, because many of the symptoms are the same. To diagnose SAD, your doctor will want to know if:

You have been depressed during the same season and have gotten better when the seasons changed for at least 2 years in a row.
You have symptoms that often occur with SAD, such as being very hungry (especially craving carbohydrates), gaining weight, and sleeping more than usual.
A close relative-a parent, brother, or sister-has had SAD.

This article by medical authors Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD and Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, Chief Medical Editor also lists some possible reasons for SAD, although the exact causes of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are unknown.

– Chemical changes in the brain caused by changes in the amount of sunlight are probably involved. Risk factors for SAD include living in geographical locations that are dark or cloudy during the winter.

– A tendency to have SAD may run in some families.

– Given how often alcohol abuse and dependence occur in individuals with SAD, there is thought to be a possible genetic link between having either illness.

– Low levels of vitamin D seem to be a risk factor for developing a number of mood disorders, including SAD.

And, from the same article, when light therapy is not enough to elevate the mood, medication is another way to go.

The antidepressants that are used most frequently are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Examples include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro).

I also think that the stress of the holidays can increase the chance of getting depressed. Even if I don’t have the pressure of having all of the exact perfect gifts piled high under the well appointed tree, I may remember holidays where I did feel that way and being inundated by every horrible song played in the grocery store, department store or drug store reminds me.

I also think that having good friends to share my troubles and my joys with helps me feel not so all alone. We are a family here at the Lake and joining each other first thing in the morning, or even later in the day, is a wonderful thing.

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