View Full Version : Seasonal depression (SAD)


Brakna
02-13-08, 03:04 PM
Anyone else on here struggle with seasonal depression (SAD) during the cold, winter months (Dec-Mar)? I'm having a really hard time functioning this winter. :( I was first diagnosed with SAD ten years ago in grad school but this is the worst I've felt in about ten years. Is the only solution, light therapy??

Mincan
02-13-08, 03:38 PM
A warm sunny day can improve my mood 50% so yea I'd say I definitely suffer from it. I get the desire to hibernate or die in the Ontario winters...grey skies and -15 celsius (-30 a couple days ago!) temperatures...

I don't want to go outside, and being outside is my therapy.

SuperChan
02-13-08, 03:40 PM
I've heard that using tanning beds can help too.

Mary
02-13-08, 04:41 PM
yes...it's the main reason I've been sitting here watching birds.... today was so bright though I ended up with the headache coming back. Even after I closed the curtain part way. Although I had less pain while the sun was shining... now it's cloudy again, the pain is back.. but the birds are still busy.

amiegrace
02-13-08, 08:26 PM
GO get a bright light therapy light (and an SSRI like Prozac can help immensely). I use one all winter long (starting in September through March/April) and I don't know what I would do without it. I use it 45 min. in the am but could probably use an hour if I could get up that early.

Don't suffer if you don't have to!

NonSequitur
02-13-08, 09:26 PM
I think I started mine in October, but whatever, it helps a lot. We get lots of sun here, even in winter, but I need the light too.

Amiegrace, have you tried using the light twice a day? I've heard they recommend it for some people, and I've meant to try it. The problem is remembering to do a second session.

busyhermit
02-25-08, 08:11 PM
Well I seem to have some level of depression at all times, but the fall is pretty unbearable. Fall feels like death - it feels like the end of hope - the end of color and joy. Winters are a great gray blur. A time spent in survival...waiting for life to come back. I find myself standing and staring out the windows whenever the sun shines, and getting extremely irritable after a few dreary days without sun. I guess I thought everyone felt that way about cloudy days, until my husband told me it doesn't bother him in the least.

I've heard about the therapy lights before but never really gave it much thought. Well, after reading this, I decided to go ahead and get a therapy light. Even just ordering it was a significant/positive act for me - taking action to help myself is something I generally rebel against. Anyhow, it took me about 5 days to take it out of the box and put it together (every little task is so daunting these days). So today was my first day trying it out and I must say that I'm very excited about this. It felt so good to have that bright light shining here in my dark work corner. I warmed up some fresh, flowery liquid potpourri - and it feels just like a summer day!

The light felt so good, I was tempted to leave it on longer than suggested. Anyone know if there is a maximum time recommendation? I know you're not supposed to use it in the evening or it could screw up your circadian rhythms.

Makva
02-25-08, 08:23 PM
busyhermit,

If I may ask, how much did your light cost and where did you order it from? I'm just coming out of a pretty low period, which is typical for me. I'm sure it has something to do with the lack of light. I feel ten times better this week than I did last week. Last week it was -15 F with wind chills. Today it was 37 F. It might have something to do with temperature, too.

Thanks!

busyhermit
02-25-08, 08:38 PM
Sure Makva - I'll PM you the info.

amiegrace
02-27-08, 08:11 PM
YEEAHH busy hermit, I am proud of you for taking that step! I could not do without mine. As a matter of fact mine has been acting funny and not producing bright enough light, and I am already feeling the effect after three days -- I was getting up at 4:45 a. m. and running in the middle of the winter, and now all my limbs feel like lead when I wake up! I may get another bulb or even another machine.

I don't recommend going over the limit. I wouldn't even start at more than 15 min per day (which is what I start doing mid September) and work your way up until you start feeling a significant reduction of your symptoms. Too much can interrupt your sleep cycle, make you manic, and very irritable as well.

But I bet you start feeling better soon.

Studies show that bright light in the morning sets the circadian clock earlier, so that you are wanting to get up earlier -- about the time you get your body used to the light, or, if you are trying to adjust later, you can use it in the afternoon. It takes a lot of tweaking to find out what works for you. But it can truly be a lifesaver. Without it I am a drooling, tired mess by 7:30 pm and barely functioning during the day.

It's a great great thing!

busyhermit
02-28-08, 09:55 AM
Thanks for the advice! I've already noticed an odd difference. I work indoors, primarily. I mentioned earlier that on sunny days, I'll sometimes just stand and stare out the window. When I finally get outside into the sun, I would experience it with a kind of starved desperation. After using the light (longer than recommended, I'll admit), I enjoy the sunny day, but feel balanced. Satisfied. I wonder if one could actually sense that their "light-meter" is "full", per se. Could be other things contributing to a greater sense of well-being, I guess - recently increased my Celexa dosage, for example. But still - I take it as a positive sign for the light.

Zach326
02-28-08, 02:45 PM
I have been experiencing this as well

My mother has the same issues, the sun spends most of the day behind the overcast here.

I guess I'll have to get one of those therapy lights. :)

Matt S.
02-28-08, 02:51 PM
My mother and I both have this problem except I go manic a lot during the summer and I like to stay that way. Depression for me is Apathy and Agitation at times. I can induce manic episodes in the winter and I often do (I do not recommend it) and I become mixed and end up psychotic and paranoid or violent.

Light Therapy works wonders for my mother but I have found in the past that I go into mixed state because of it.

Brakna
02-28-08, 04:40 PM
Update: The sun has been coming out more lately and I'm on anti-depressant meds and I feel great! :)

Matt S.
02-28-08, 04:42 PM
Update: The sun has been coming out more lately and I'm on anti-depressant meds and I feel great! :)

That is great to hear, thanks for the update.

NonSequitur
02-28-08, 10:24 PM
Good to hear, Brakna.

Busyhermit, glad it's working for you too.

What is the limit? I do 45 minutes to an hour in the morning, and that seems good.

If it's a cloudy day, I still feel tired all day, and that starts before I even know it's cloudy. But I don't collapse into oblivion. I feel better when it's sunny, even if I'm not in the sun.

carter2006
03-06-08, 01:42 AM
I struggled with SAD for several years. Last year my doctor did a blood test and determined that my Vitamin D levels were VERY low. He put me on a mega dose of Vitamin D & prescribed 30 min of Natural sunlight a day (yes, that included when the clouds were out as some rays still filter through). I had to have blood drawn twice a month for several months but when my levels were back to normal I was able to maintain with a dietary supplement & a daily dose of sunshine (or cloudshine whichever the case may be). Everything I went through to get the diagnosis was worth it in the end. I have felt much better this winter than I have in a long time. And it has been much cloudier this year than in the past few years :)

busyhermit
03-06-08, 02:26 AM
What is the limit? I do 45 minutes to an hour in the morning, and that seems good.Thanks NS. Do you find important to be facing the light directly? It won't fit on my desk, so I have it off to the side in my peripheral view (so I can work on the computer at the same time, actually). Just wondering if I'm getting the full benefit that way.

If it's a cloudy day, I still feel tired all day, and that starts before I even know it's cloudy. But I don't collapse into oblivion. I feel better when it's sunny, even if I'm not in the sun.Me, too.

Last year my doctor did a blood test and determined that my Vitamin D levels were VERY low. Me, too! I rarely go to the Dr, but I was feeling so run down last fall I went in to check for anemia (I've had unexplained anemia before). Well blood counts were fine but the dr said my vitamin D was very low. It was a surprise since I've never heard of that. So anyways, I've been taking 1000mg a day ever since.

I can't say for sure what's making a difference since I started the vit D, antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, therapy, now the light and Omega III Mood all within the last few months. I'm less depressed and less anxious anyway. Feel pretty strange sometimes, though - almost manic - or could just be agitation. Who knows. Just feel kinda screwy. Can't get in to see my therapist for two weeks. Each day is kind of a mystery what it's going to be like. Weird. But sure beats the predictable 24-7 depression I used to have.

Not sure my husband would agree - as the housework is really suffering. I'd much prefer to write on the forum, pace the floor, stare out the window or sleep than do any work.

NonSequitur
03-06-08, 12:30 PM
Thanks NS. Do you find important to be facing the light directly? It won't fit on my desk, so I have it off to the side in my peripheral view (so I can work on the computer at the same time, actually). Just wondering if I'm getting the full benefit that way.
I have my light to the side. There's a picture on the manufacturer's website showing it that way, so I assume it's okay. I read while I use it, so it's tilted to aim at my book too.

Sometimes it is hard to know if it makes a difference. I upped my WellbutrinXL, and I feel more energetic, but it's also lighter in the morning now. I do know I feel better when I use it, and sometimes on weekends I skip it and I feel more tired, so it's gotta be doing smething.

busyhermit
03-06-08, 12:37 PM
I do know I feel better when I use it, and sometimes on weekends I skip it and I feel more tired, so it's gotta be doing smething.

That's good to know. I had it on for a while this morning, and STILL ended up going back to bed, though. I think I'm just not getting enough sleep to begin with.