Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

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destroyerman
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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby destroyerman » Sat Jan 12, 2008 7:05 am UTC

Hey guys,
I was just wondering if anyone here suffers from SAD. I used to think it was stupid, but I have a friend who says she suffers terribly from it and recently invested in one of those happy lights. I have to say, it definitely changed her mood. she used to sleep all the time and never do anything, and now she has energy all the time. she says the light changed her life. has anyone else had similar experiences? also, does it really affect some people more than others? I mean, everyone gets the winter blues, I imagine. do you have to have a serious disorder for the light to help give you more energy? just curious, per usual.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby 4=5 » Sat Jan 12, 2008 7:09 am UTC

well lots of mammals hibernate, why would we be unffected?

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby destroyerman » Sat Jan 12, 2008 7:21 am UTC

I mean, I think it's obvious we're affected to an extent. what I want to know is, is it really a disorder, or just people trying to blame their depression on external factors? like, can lack of sunlight by itself really be enough to drive a happy person into serious depression?
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Minchandre » Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:28 am UTC

destroyerman wrote:I mean, I think it's obvious we're affected to an extent. what I want to know is, is it really a disorder, or just people trying to blame their depression on external factors? like, can lack of sunlight by itself really be enough to drive a happy person into serious depression?


Yes, yes it can. I recall hearing about this in psych, and I know that every single one of my friends that went to a northern coastal area (either Pacific Northwest or New England) complained about how going from 300+ sunny days a year to 300+ overcast ones caused them to become inexplicably depressed, including sadness, listlessness, insomnia, the works.

My uncle is an ER doctor who worked in Anchorage for several years; he said that there was a definite rise in people reporting depressive symptoms (and suicide rates) during the long, dark winters.

That, and the fact that treating SAD with lots of lamps, seems to indicate that yes, darkness can make otherwise happy people very SAD (yay puns!)

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby SilentSigil » Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:38 am UTC

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Jakarias » Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:46 am UTC

I know people who are happier in certain seasons than others. Christmas and New Year is particular bad for loners and the lack of long days can make it seem like nothing is being achieved during each short day whilst some people hate summer because it's relentless sunshine and they are under the illusion that they should be having lots more fun like those people off TV. But I do reckon that if u to have SAD, you are also likely to be prone to depression anyway and things like seasonal changes will probably be factors in that. I'm not sure about the actual definition of SAD (is it a disease, it is just a phenomenon we name or are you born with it? etc)
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby cypherspace » Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:20 pm UTC

Exposure to sunlight has been proven in numerous tests to be a mood-lifter, increasing the production of serotonin in the brain, obviously melanin in the skin, and vitamin D. SAD is certainly a real phenomenon. There probably are some people with personal problems who blame their depression on SAD when really it's other factors, but it won't be all of them. In winter a lot of people have to go to work when it's dark and leave when it's dark again, never being exposed to natural light. You also have to factor in other things such as waking up to darkness when naturally we're woken up by sunrise, and certainly the social aspect is important nowadays. It all adds up to something that can't fail to have some impact on mood.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Amarantha » Sat Jan 12, 2008 1:02 pm UTC

I've been getting seasonal depression for about 10 years now. It started out as the winter blues, but it gets worse every year. I've never been prone to depression apart from that.

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Mr Duck to you » Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:34 pm UTC

Don't know about the lights but I find an hour in the gym or pool early on, on a dull day really brightens things up.

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Minchandre » Sun Jan 13, 2008 12:36 am UTC

Mr Duck to you wrote:Don't know about the lights but I find an hour in the gym or pool early on, on a dull day really brightens things up.


Physical activity is known to increase endorphin levels and make you happy. In fact, one of the most common prescriptions of heard of for depressed people it start regular aerobic exercise (running, biking, swimming, etc)

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Reckless » Sun Jan 13, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

I get hit with SAD each winter. I become less focused, less creative, less energetic, and generally less like my usual self. It bothers me to no end, because I know I'm not the person I present myself as while I'm suffering from SAD. Just last week, we had an unusually high spike in temperature so myself and a few friends went to the park. It was the happiest day I've had in weeks.

I'm very seriously thinking about getting one of those happy-light boxes for myself. Destroyerman, where did your friend get one?

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Jakarias » Sun Jan 13, 2008 6:31 pm UTC

Yeah someone said an hour in the gym helps them.

True. It's widely believed that people who do strenuous physical exercise suffer less from stress. Ask someone who runs one of those clinic deelys.

I guess it is also likely that some people have problems with their serototin (whatever it is) levels.

I only wonder. Are there people who are really really happy because of a big reaction to sunlight?
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby angel_jean » Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:12 am UTC

I've been wondering for a while whether my depression (diagnosed nearly six years ago) is seasonal, as it has seemed to crop up over the winter months here in Australia. And mine is definitely an affective disorder, meaning that it is a disorder of mood, as opposed to things like psychoses or catatonia. I'm going to a psychiatrist next Tuesday, so I may hear more about it then.

But I can't say lack of sunlight is an issue here in Sydney. :P
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby destroyerman » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:29 pm UTC

Reckless wrote:I'm very seriously thinking about getting one of those happy-light boxes for myself. Destroyerman, where did your friend get one?


she got hers from the sharper image. I think it was $80 or so. if you look at amazon or other places online, they have bigger, more expensive ones. I guess she didn't want to drop $200 until she was positive it was worth it.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Pirate.Bondage » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

I used to have a friend with SAD. She was also in an electric wheelchair, so winter was VERY hard on her...she'd be so depressed and suicidal. But when I was with her she'd be alright, and she got one of those big happy lights.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Moo » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:42 pm UTC

I don't think I can claim an actual disorder but as a South African living in England, Hubby keeps telling me he notices the change in my mood in the dark months. I really want to get one of those sunrise simulating alarm clock thingys to help me get up in the mornings.

I don't notice anything myself until there is a sunny day; then I wonder why I'm so happy and realise how much I've missed it.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Robin S » Tue Jan 15, 2008 3:43 pm UTC

I have poor control over my sleeping habits, and often wake after sundown. When this happens, it puts a significant damper on my mood, so I might suffer from some form of SAD. Whatever it is, it's not fun.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Kidrik » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:10 pm UTC

The sun is important psychologically. Being stuck in overcast weather for weeks on end brings me down, and I am never sad to see the sun shining in a blue sky.

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby ducknerd » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:33 am UTC

I live in Alaska, and right now, we're getting about 6 hrs of light a day, the first and last of those being "civil twilight" (dimness, where the sun doesn't 'set' so much as angle its way below the horizon). SAD definitely does exist, although I don't get it too badly. It's quite differentiable from other depressions; definitely more of a subtle, diffused 'weary' feeling. My family has a happy light (which, for the record, is not any different from other lights, it just uses more power. Beware of the "full-spectrum" label--it doesn't mean anything), and it definitely makes a difference, especially in the morning. I've never heard of it driving anyone to suicide, though; it just tends to get everyone a little down. I would guess there's other factors going on then, but what do I know?
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby BattleMoose » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:34 am UTC

Couldnt the placebo effect by relevant here?

Happy light to make you happy?

Not saying that any other factors arent relevant, but that the placebo effect may be involved also.

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Gelsamel » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:44 am UTC

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Moo » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:50 pm UTC

... but you still get loads of light from windows and walking between buildings and being in cars, if the sun is out for long parts of the day, don't you? (asking, not saying)
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:31 pm UTC

I don't think that it's quite so simple as "if you like sun better than rain, you've got it", but SAD is certainly not bullshit. My mother was diagnosed with it. She doesn't have it too bad, but she gets very mopey and depressed on dark overcast, rainy or wintry days or after spending a long time in a poorly-lit, cold, or damp room. That said, moving into a brighter room (or the Big Room, if the weather clears up), finding something to focus on, or feeling a little bit of human contact usually helps enough to pull her out of the slump, so it isn't particularly crippling.

It does seem to run in the family, to a lesser extent. Neither I nor my siblings feel it quite so strongly as Mom, but I do definitely start getting mopey if I don't see blue sky and sunlight for a few days, and usually end up slacking off and retreating to my room with a book. Personally, I suspect that most people have the "Bad Weather and Lighting = Blah" reaction to some degree, but it does hit some folks particularly hard, *especially* if they spend a lot of time alone. And any kind of depression can get serious if you don't do anything about it.

As for whether those lights work, I've never tried one, but as I understand it, the idea is to produce a spectrum of light similar to natural sunlight. As far as I've ever heard, (though I'm no expert) the Sunlight->Seratonin->Yay! effect happens to just about everyone, so it seems like it's worth a shot. I dunno about an $80.00 shot, but that's between you and your wallet. :P

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby frenchToast » Thu Jan 17, 2008 8:12 am UTC

Here's a nice little article about it: http://www.thepsychologyshop.com/light_therapy.asp

If you don't feel like reading all about it, it basically says that hormones screw with the level of serotonin in the brain and that can lead to depression. It's not a joke, because I have it ... it's not fun. It's also not bad enough that I am suicidal by any means. It just means that I feel crappy during the winter, and as the winter wears on it gets worse. When we hit March, things start getting a LITTLE better with the promise of spring coming soon, but where I live (Wisconsin) spring isn't here for real until maybe April or May. So I have a pretty miserable time for a few months. It helps, though, if I keep myself active and busy. I don't have a sun lamp because they are pretty expensive, but if it gets any worse I might consider buying one. I have an internship in Florida starting next Wednesday, so I'm actually safe for this winter. Hooray!

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby ++$_ » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:04 am UTC

I have the reverse. In summer I get slightly depressed and in general upset. I live in California, though, and summer here is actually a real downer, with pollution, heat, drought, allergies, mosquitoes, sunburn, fires, et cetera. All the grass dies. How is that not depressing? I get worse until the first cool day in September, when I can finally start looking forward to winter (such as it is).

I think it also has something to do with the extra hours of daylight. I went to Alaska for a while last summer hoping that things would be better there, and to some extent they were (50 degree highs are awesome), but the constant daylight got me down, even on cloudy days. I suppose it would be better in August than June.

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby cypherspace » Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:19 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:Couldnt the placebo effect by relevant here?

Happy light to make you happy?

Not saying that any other factors arent relevant, but that the placebo effect may be involved also.


There's a placebo effect involved in any medical condition. But since exposure to sunlight has been proven to increase the amount of serotonin produced in the brain, any placebo effect is pretty much irrelevant (not to mention pretty much unmeasurable. Hard to produce sunlight in a sugar pill).
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Moo » Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:26 pm UTC

cypherspace wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:Couldnt the placebo effect by relevant here?

Happy light to make you happy?

Not saying that any other factors arent relevant, but that the placebo effect may be involved also.


There's a placebo effect involved in any medical condition. But since exposure to sunlight has been proven to increase the amount of serotonin produced in the brain, any placebo effect is pretty much irrelevant (not to mention pretty much unmeasurable. Hard to produce sunlight in a sugar pill).

I took BattleMoose's question to mean "does the happy light produce a placebo effect in that it makes you feel better without doing anything about your SAD because you think it's making you feel better?".
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby KevorkianKat » Thu Jan 17, 2008 3:19 pm UTC

I must be a freak of nature :P

I LOVE the winter months with the long darkness and cold overcast days (back in the North East of the US). Maybe it depends on how you were raised? I wasn't allowed to play many video games back then unless it was raining or dark out so I enjoyed the dark rainy days. I also loved to snowboard, go sleigh riding and find animal tracks in the snow. Hell, I've got something I love to do in every season and see no mood shift during seasonal times. The only time period where my mood shifts is the week of Christmas and New Year's because pretty much nobody is around so I get a little lazy and bored :p

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Umlaut » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:40 pm UTC

I tend to try sleep straight through winter. In the summer, I usually sleep a reasonable amount on my own (7-8 hours), but when winter rolls around, I sleep twelve hours a night come hell or high water.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Sandals » Thu Jan 17, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

i think my dad has something like this. he hates the fact he can't be outside much in the winter cos of all the rain.

me, i just hate the neutral, temperate nonsense that is the climate here (UK). it rains all day in the winter without getting properly cold, and in the summer it rains often enough for you not to be able to plan anything outside too far in advance but it doesn't get properly hot!

i think i'd be happier somewhere where all the summers were about 25 - 30 C with long sunny days, summer showers and cooling breezes, and winters were all snowbanks, crisp frost and temperatures around 0 to -5 C.
but i don;t think that exists anywhere that i know of... :(
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby KevorkianKat » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:26 pm UTC

Sandals wrote:i think i'd be happier somewhere where all the summers were about 25 - 30 C with long sunny days, summer showers and cooling breezes, and winters were all snowbanks, crisp frost and temperatures around 0 to -5 C.
but i don;t think that exists anywhere that i know of... :(


That's pretty much upstate New England over here in the US :)

The summer's are usually pretty mild, somewhere between 23-27 but mostly sunny (lots of rain in April though :). The winters are a bit colder, but usually hover around -5 to -13. It's usually warm enough to go swimming during the summer, but cold enough to usually put on a long sleeve shirt at night. Winter nights...well, just be indoors :) There's not a whole lot of wind there unless it's storming (and storms can last a long time because the mountains slow down the airflow). And of course, winter months have a 90% probability of lots of snow at least once a month :) The only downside is the sunny days aren't that long because of the mountains (if you live far enough north).

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Pai » Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:43 am UTC

destroyerman wrote:Hey guys,
I was just wondering if anyone here suffers from SAD. I used to think it was stupid, but I have a friend who says she suffers terribly from it and recently invested in one of those happy lights. I have to say, it definitely changed her mood. she used to sleep all the time and never do anything, and now she has energy all the time. she says the light changed her life. has anyone else had similar experiences? also, does it really affect some people more than others? I mean, everyone gets the winter blues, I imagine. do you have to have a serious disorder for the light to help give you more energy? just curious, per usual.


I do. The urge to stay in bed longer and never leave the house gets pretty pronounced for me around November, to the point where I really notice how my mood has changed from late fall. The lights do help, though, they just make me feel in a better mood than without.
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Celestial » Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:55 am UTC

cypherspace wrote:Exposure to sunlight has been proven in numerous tests to be a mood-lifter, increasing the production of serotonin in the brain, obviously melanin in the skin, and vitamin D. SAD is certainly a real phenomenon. There probably are some people with personal problems who blame their depression on SAD when really it's other factors, but it won't be all of them. In winter a lot of people have to go to work when it's dark and leave when it's dark again, never being exposed to natural light. You also have to factor in other things such as waking up to darkness when naturally we're woken up by sunrise, and certainly the social aspect is important nowadays. It all adds up to something that can't fail to have some impact on mood.


exactly what I was going to say.. except in psych we also learned that facial expressions of other people can determine ones mood..and we kinda copy each others

but about the lightness and darkness its very true( winter depressing for some, and summer/spring happier) .. it kind of makes me think of the expression " I hope this will brighten your day"

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby proof_man » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:06 am UTC


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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby aleflamedyud » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:08 am UTC

KevorkianKat wrote:
Sandals wrote:i think i'd be happier somewhere where all the summers were about 25 - 30 C with long sunny days, summer showers and cooling breezes, and winters were all snowbanks, crisp frost and temperatures around 0 to -5 C.
but i don;t think that exists anywhere that i know of... :(


That's pretty much upstate New England over here in the US :)

The summer's are usually pretty mild, somewhere between 23-27 but mostly sunny (lots of rain in April though :). The winters are a bit colder, but usually hover around -5 to -13. It's usually warm enough to go swimming during the summer, but cold enough to usually put on a long sleeve shirt at night. Winter nights...well, just be indoors :) There's not a whole lot of wind there unless it's storming (and storms can last a long time because the mountains slow down the airflow). And of course, winter months have a 90% probability of lots of snow at least once a month :) The only downside is the sunny days aren't that long because of the mountains (if you live far enough north).

God I hate New England's climate. SAD isn't a bloody disorder as far as I'm concerned, it's the normal and adequate human reaction to being in a climate your ancestors didn't evolve for.

When I leave college I'm moving somewhere sunny and warm, preferably with beaches and a high-tech district. I've got three possibilities so far, one of which I absolutely refuse to move to on grounds that it's California (nothing against Californians, but your economy and government surpass even New York State for sheer fucked-up-ness. Also, I once saw a chart saying you've got a surplus of single men. Eww.).
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Umlaut » Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:14 pm UTC

Sandals wrote:i think my dad has something like this. he hates the fact he can't be outside much in the winter cos of all the rain.

me, i just hate the neutral, temperate nonsense that is the climate here (UK). it rains all day in the winter without getting properly cold, and in the summer it rains often enough for you not to be able to plan anything outside too far in advance but it doesn't get properly hot!

i think i'd be happier somewhere where all the summers were about 25 - 30 C with long sunny days, summer showers and cooling breezes, and winters were all snowbanks, crisp frost and temperatures around 0 to -5 C.
but i don;t think that exists anywhere that i know of... :(

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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby Sandals » Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:50 pm UTC

i knew there would be somewhere out there! thanks all.
looks like it's New England or Colorado i'm gonna have to check out. fortunate that both are reasonably close to venues for Baseball, as that's something on my list if i get the chance to move to the States.

back on topic, it's been raining here for about a week and I'm starting to get a bit pissed off with the weather. or probably, more accurately, the scare-mongering that the news channels here go with. soon as we get a few days of rain it's as if everyone in the country is about to have a flood of Biblical proportions run down their street... :roll:
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Re: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Postby aleflamedyud » Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:32 am UTC

If you like baseball, move to Boston. If you can stand the Red Sox fandom, you can join them.
"With kindness comes naïveté. Courage becomes foolhardiness. And dedication has no reward. If you can't accept any of that, you are not fit to be a graduate student."


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