December 19th, 2002


Information about SAD
    -- The typical symptoms of SAD include depression, lack of energy, increased need for sleep, a craving for sweets and weight gain. Symptoms begin in the fall, peak in the winter and usually resolve in the spring.
    -- Some people with SAD have mild or occasionally severe periods of mania during the spring or summer.
    -- SAD is recognized in the DSM-IV as a subtype of major depressive episode.
    -- About 70-80% of those with SAD are women.
    -- Before embarking on a course of light treatment, it is best to have a complete psychiatric evaluation. Light therapy does take time, and regular use. The time spent in front of the light is related to the intensity of the light source and the distance one sits from the light.
    -- The light devices cost about $250 to $500 and often are not covered by insurance.
    -- Since one of the symptoms of SAD can be difficulty awakening in the morning, some find it helpful to have the light turn on just before they are supposed to wake up.
    -- There has been a study showing improvement in SAD symptoms when individuals took a one-hour daily walk outside.
    -- Sleep problems: Usually desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake but, in some cases, disturbed sleep and early morning wakening
    -- Lethargy: Feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
    -- Overeating: Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, usually resulting in weight gain
    -- Depression: Feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem, sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes apathy and loss of feelings
    -- Social problems: Irritability and desire to avoid social contact
    -- Anxiety: Tension and inability to tolerate stress
    -- Loss of libido: Decreased interest in sex and physical contact