How should I treat SAD?

If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, then you may be wondering how best to treat it and also which may be the most effective form of treatment that applies individually.  There are different ways which are available to treat SAD, some include lifestyle changes that are more readily achievable, others require additional assistance whether it be in the form of light therapy or medication.

Light Therapy

Treatment by way of light therapy is one of the most effective ways to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder and is recommended by a number of European, British and American medical associations.

Due to the lack of natural sunlight playing a major part in causing SAD, light treatment gives the ability to correct that in a convenient way.  If you live in a climate with little to no sunlight for extended periods or work at night then a SAD Light that uses fluorescent bulbs or LED’s can provide simulated sunlight so that your eyes receive enough during the day.  SAD Lights work by triggering the production of Serotonin in the brain so that the body can have normal circadian rhythms.

A SAD light treatment can be anywhere from fifteen minutes to three hours depending on the type of unit and bulb to suit any number of individualised treatments and how much time you may have available for a session.  Seasonal Affective Disorder lights are available in a number of sizes and bulb types, some of which are very compact and portable so can be used on any travels, at work or just at home. It is advised that any SAD light therapy treatment be done after waking up in the morning and in some cases during the afternoon but never during the evening as it can make you more alert and preventing sleeping.

As with any medical treatment, SAD light therapy can come with side effects which includes headaches, eye strain, irritability, nausea, a ‘wired’ feeling and difficulty in sleeping.  Some of these may be attributable to your body getting used to more light on a regular basis but as with any condition, everything should be checked with a medical professional.

Lifestyle changes

In addition to, or instead of other treatment depending on what advice you have been given after a diagnosis by a medical professional there are changes that you can make which may help alleviate symptoms.

Try to increase the amount of overall natural light you are exposed to if possible by spending time near windows, more time outdoors (even during the winter if sunny), increase exercise, eat less carbohydrates, try and manage any levels of stress, plus try and establish a regular sleeping schedule.

Medical treatment

As there is the possibility that a diagnosis of Seasonal Affective Disorder may be linked to another type of depression that could be pre-existing or found at a similar time there may be medicinal, psychological treatment or both that is offered to you.  You may find that the above treatments can be used alongside any medication, but a medical professional should establish exactly what can be done on an individual basis.

Always ensure before you undertake treatment of any kind for Seasonal Affective Disorder that you consult with a qualified medical professional to ensure it is safe to do so and medically advised.

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