Name: Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
The main cause of seasonal depression is the lack of sunlight. This leads to a change in circadian (daily) rhythms and disruption of the production of a number of hormones, in particular, melatonin.
The main clinical manifestations of seasonal depression:
- increased sleep duration, difficulty waking up, tiredness in the morning, daytime sleepiness. Sometimes there are early awakenings with the improbability of falling asleep again;
- decreased mood, decreased self-esteem, hopelessness, despair, tearfulness, anxiety, decreased interest in life, disappearance of positive emotions, difficulty performing normal daily activities;
- anxiety, irritability, irascibility, internal tension, worsening tolerance to stressful situations;
- an increase in appetite, an irresistible craving for flour and sweets, leading to an increase in body weight;
- sexual problems: decreased libido (sexual desire) and potency;
- physical symptoms: pain in the joints and abdomen, loss of strength, decreased resistance to colds;
- social problems: irritability and desire to avoid social contacts, communication with relatives and friends.
Seasonal affective disorder can develop at any age, but it most often develops between the ages of 18 and 30. Symptoms of seasonal depression disappear suddenly in the spring over 3-4 weeks or gradually throughout the spring and summer, depending on the intensity of sunlight in a particular area.
Since the main cause (seasonal depression) is a lack of sunlight, the most effective treatment is light therapy (treatment with bright light). The brightness of light during phototherapy must be high enough – not less than 2500 lux. This is about 5 times brighter than a well-lit office. In living rooms, illumination traditionally does not exceed 200 lux. For treatment, special lamps or lightboxes are used, which create the proper level of illumination. They are traditionally placed at a distance of 40-45 cm from the eyes. The session lasts from 30 minutes to 2 hours and is set by the doctor depending on the initial severity of the condition. There is no need to see 30% directly into the light. It is enough that it falls on the cornea of the eye at a slight angle of 30-40 degrees. During the session, the patient can read a book, smo30% TV or work with a computer. The positive effect of light therapy for seasonal depression develops after 1-2 weeks from the start of treatment. The course of treatment should continue throughout the “dark” season.