Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 13, 2012 1:11 AM GMT
    I've read a fair bit of material on it plus I was diagnosed by my doctor with having SAD but for the life of me I can't really shake it. Back when I was diagnosed and light therapy was suggested I didn't even bother asking my parents. I knew they would've laughed at me so I've been living with moderate to severe SAD for six or seven years now. It tends to hit me like a brick wall immediately after daylight savings time in the fall, although there can be isolated minor depressive swings beforehand.

    Now that I have a full-time job and other things on my calendar it isn't as bad as it used to be, since I can't just stay inside all day but when I'm at home in the evening I can't help but get all sad and weepy. Usually I just feel incredibly, IMPOSSIBLY alone and start thinking about things like if I got hurt or something happened, how long would it take for someone to get worried and come looking for me? I'm not saying I'm suicidal but what if, god forbid, I electrocuted myself accidentally or something? That sort of thing.

    All-in-all, I always end up falling asleep with a feeling of absence around me. Like there should be someone with their arms wrapped around me. Its a peculiar sensation actually. Its not just that i WANT it, but rather that its almost like something is missing that you've grown accustomed to, except I've never experienced it before (hell my parents almost NEVER hugged me after age 5). I know this doesn't make me a freak or anything, and I know that SAD isn't something that having a relationship will necessarily fix, but I'm utterly fed up with going through it alone every winter.

    Has anyone else had experience with SAD? If so, please share your opinions and suggestions.
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    Nov 13, 2012 1:33 AM GMT
    Moving to SoFla is the ONLY thing that's ever worked for me.

    Unfortunately, the company likes to send me out of state for half the winter. The only way I deal with it is to get drunk after work and pass out before the symptoms become unbearable. And, the company pays me extra to afford all the extra alcohol I drink. icon_lol.gif
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    Nov 13, 2012 2:15 AM GMT
    paulflexes saidMoving to SoFla is the ONLY thing that's ever worked for me.

    Unfortunately, the company likes to send me out of state for half the winter. The only way I deal with it is to get drunk after work and pass out before the symptoms become unbearable. And, the company pays me extra to afford all the extra alcohol I drink. icon_lol.gif



    As tempting as that is, I prefer to keep my liver as non-cirrhotic as possible, lol. But I already live in New Orleans. Do you really have to live that far south?
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    Nov 13, 2012 4:16 AM GMT
    RoadsterRacer87 said
    paulflexes saidMoving to SoFla is the ONLY thing that's ever worked for me.

    Unfortunately, the company likes to send me out of state for half the winter. The only way I deal with it is to get drunk after work and pass out before the symptoms become unbearable. And, the company pays me extra to afford all the extra alcohol I drink. icon_lol.gif



    As tempting as that is, I prefer to keep my liver as non-cirrhotic as possible, lol. But I already live in New Orleans. Do you really have to live that far south?
    Yeah, this is the only place that stays warm long enough that I can be outside most of the day. Everywhere north of here (including central Florida) has more cold snaps than here. Being stuck inside avoiding cold weather is what triggers my SAD.
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    Nov 13, 2012 4:21 AM GMT
    I spent a winter in Antarctica where it was pitch black for almost 6 months. I had experienced SAD before but we were issued full spectrum lighting (we called them "happy lights") and they worked really well. As long as I got my daily dose, I was fine. That's something you may want to consider.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Nov 13, 2012 4:23 AM GMT
    Wow! You're in south Louisiana and suffering that?! I'm from south Louisiana and never realized it until I lived in Ohio. My worst time was from OCT 2002 until MAY 2003. It was THAT long.

    Get a prescription for Wellbutrin. It works for me and I noticed instant results, but don't use it year round. Use it from about OCT until about MAR/APR. And ignore comments from those who think you're trying to quit smoking.

    I haven't used it since about 2007, but now that I'm moving to NY, I might need it again.
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    Nov 13, 2012 4:29 AM GMT
    Man, I was feeling it today. There was no sign of the sun at all, during the few hours that the clouds shed some light. I went out and worked in the greenhouse for a couple of hours. Somehow there was just enough more light out there.

    Not as bad as where I used to work. Went into a big concrete building with no windows before the sun came up and came out after it went down, except in the middle of the summer. Nothing about that place was healthy. At home, I read a lot of books and watched a lot of Star Trek and Northern Exposure.

    Oh, there was a good episode of "Northern Exposure" about SAD.

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    Nov 13, 2012 4:56 AM GMT
    coolarmydude saidWow! You're in south Louisiana and suffering that?! I'm from south Louisiana and never realized it until I lived in Ohio. My worst time was from OCT 2002 until MAY 2003. It was THAT long.

    Get a prescription for Wellbutrin. It works for me and I noticed instant results, but don't use it year round. Use it from about OCT until about MAR/APR. And ignore comments from those who think you're trying to quit smoking.

    I haven't used it since about 2007, but now that I'm moving to NY, I might need it again.


    My doctor recommended the light therapy because I have an aversion to prescription meds. Long story short, my parents used them as a way to avoid actually dealing with me directly as a child and ive been on every single antidepressant and add drug you could name. even a few antipsychotics, not that i actually needed them. After all, children tend to become upset if their parents tell them things like "people are only being nice to you because they feel sorry for you"
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    Nov 13, 2012 5:00 AM GMT
    RoadsterRacer87 said
    My doctor recommended the light therapy because I have an aversion to prescription meds. Long story short, my parents used them as a way to avoid actually dealing with me directly as a child and ive been on every single antidepressant and add drug you could name. even a few antipsychotics, not that i actually needed them. After all, children tend to become upset if their parents tell them things like "people are only being nice to you because they feel sorry for you"


    icon_sad.gificon_sad.gificon_sad.gificon_sad.gificon_sad.gif
  • camfer

    Posts: 892

    Nov 13, 2012 5:06 AM GMT
    Now that you have a fulltime job, have you tried buying a lightbox specifially designed to treat SAD? 10,000 lux for 30 minutes every morning, prehaps combined with a prescription antidepressant.

    301_large.jpg

    Also consider the conservatory at City Park. Being in a bright greenhouse does wonders for my mood!
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    Nov 13, 2012 5:10 AM GMT
    Con
    paulflexes said
    RoadsterRacer87 said
    paulflexes saidMoving to SoFla is the ONLY thing that's ever worked for me.

    Unfortunately, the company likes to send me out of state for half the winter. The only way I deal with it is to get drunk after work and pass out before the symptoms become unbearable. And, the company pays me extra to afford all the extra alcohol I drink. icon_lol.gif



    As tempting as that is, I prefer to keep my liver as non-cirrhotic as possible, lol. But I already live in New Orleans. Do you really have to live that far south?
    Yeah, this is the only place that stays warm long enough that I can be outside most of the day. Everywhere north of here (including central Florida) has more cold snaps than here. Being stuck inside avoiding cold weather is what triggers my SAD.


    It has to be subconscious for me because I love driving in the country on a cold windy day. Put on a scarf, coat, hat and gloves and I'll even drop the top!
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    Nov 13, 2012 1:06 PM GMT
    Last year I experimented with weekly use of a solarium to improve my mood - it worked reasonably well and the usual SAD I get wasn't so severe, nor as persistent.
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    Nov 13, 2012 1:18 PM GMT
    think I have this too

    work outside from March thru Decemeber as a landscaper so lots of sun being outdoors..then boom you take it away in winter and with the cold, yes I actually have less energy and focus at the gym than I do when Im working. Sleep waaaaaaaay too much and have a hard time getting the day started.

    Last year I bought one of those sun lamps and it did seem to help me with energy levels, whether that was placeob or not it worked.
  • agro

    Posts: 199

    Nov 13, 2012 1:22 PM GMT
    Apparently vitamin D supplements can do something? I dunno, I'm just going off hearsay...
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    Nov 13, 2012 1:23 PM GMT
    OMG. Is this real? This explains a lot to me. I will be reading up on this today.

    Thanks for posting.
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    Nov 13, 2012 2:05 PM GMT
    i totally empathise. i moved from South Africa to Canada last year, and the first thing about the culture shock was how grumpy people are in Canada. i'm Canadian, but I had been living in SA for years. anyways, i moved back in October of last year and then daylight savings time hit and i was shocked at how dark it was and how my mood went from sunny, cheerful, outgoing... to dour, sleepy, introverted, and well depressed. i felt like a mole rat who had never seen the sun, walking around with half-closed eyes all the time. i'm starting to feel the same again now that daylight savings time has changed again.

    a few things helped:

    exercising: raises your endorphins. endorphins are hormones which are naturally produced by your pituitary gland during exercise, sex/orgasm/love, and consumption of some foods. they regulate your happiness.

    tanning salon: ok, i don't really need a tan, but what the heck. for $10 once every 2 weeks, i don't mind. make sure you wear eye protection though.

    light therapy: same as above, but you have to buy a full spectrum light therapy box, which can be a bit pricey.

    socialising with people: its dark when you wake up, its dark when you come home, it seems dark all the time, and all you feel like doing is hibernating. fight against this feeling, and go out and socialise with friends, especially if you can do it outdoors.

    st. johns wort: its an herbal vitamin which has anti-depressant qualities. its available in most drug stores and health-food stores, as an over-the-counter, non-prescription supplement to treat mild depression.
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    Nov 13, 2012 2:42 PM GMT
    vitamin d supplementation, and try blue light therapy or get a tanning membership
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Nov 13, 2012 3:06 PM GMT
    Try to get past dealing with your parents while you deal with this. You are on your own now and can make your own decisions. That alone will probably help you.

    Go to a good lighting supplier and get some full spectrum/daylight lamps for your house. they will be more expensive the regular bulbs, but worth it.

    Check into whether the cost of a good light box is covered under your health insurance if you have a prescription for it.

    Look into getting some counseling for a while. Be clear that drugs have been unsuccessful in the past and that you want to try coping with this by using behavioral therapy.

    Take a walk at lunchtime if you can. Getting outside feels good and will help to settle your lunch.

    Set up some easy going social stuff in the early evenings. New Orleans is one of the great cities of the world. Enjoy it. You can find a cafe to sip herbal tea if you don't want a glass of wine or such.
  • Medjai

    Posts: 2671

    Nov 13, 2012 3:18 PM GMT
    So a bunch of people have suggested the light therapy you were prescribed years ago, and you've avoided comment. Your parents are no longer here to laugh at you. Why does light thereapy seem like it isn't an option, when you don't want pills and the alternative is crushing depression?

    It seems like you've known the fix for a long time and haven't gotten around to doing it.
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    Nov 13, 2012 3:25 PM GMT
    SAD effects a lot of people, but it's generally very easy to treat. I'm not sure why you haven't tried the light therapy because that seems to help many of those who suffer. If you are set against pills, I'd like to direct you to a website detailing a treatment strategy for general depression that one of my professors is pioneering. Give it a look.

    http://psych.ku.edu/tlc/
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    Nov 13, 2012 3:57 PM GMT
    to reply to the topic of the light therapy, I've considered it but "crushing depression" is taking it a bit far. The only time i ever experienced "crushing depressions" was five years ago while i was still on medication and i couldn't leave my apartment. I tried, got three blocks, and then turned around and went home. I'm usually quite good at managing it but for the first month after daylight savings time, since it hits me rather suddenly. I don't have a lot of extra cash right now and i don't think its covered under my insurance. Maybe next year I'll pick up one of those light boxes.
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    Nov 13, 2012 4:30 PM GMT
    I've never tried light therapy myself, but it's been suggested to me several times too and I know a lot of people benefit from it. Maybe as an alternative, just make sure you get some time outside every day. Do you leave your office/job at lunch time, or do you sit indoors? I know it seems trivial, but even just a half hour sitting out on a restaurant patio somewhere with some natural sunlight exposure might do you good.

    I'm opposed to prescription medications, as well, so the other things that tend to work for me are:

    1. Exercise, first thing in the morning. I try to wake up when the sun comes up and get it done before work. If I'm feeling lazy and lagging, sometimes I'll just go for a quick run or even just 20-30 minutes on the elliptical at the gym -- just something to get me moving. I'd rather exercise and be late to work, than not exercise at all and feel sluggish.

    2. Sleep. Try to keep your schedule consistent -- wake up at the same time every morning, go to bed at the same time every night, etc. (Easier said than done, I know.)

    3. Diet. This might sound silly, but I really feel like Omega-3s have made a considerable difference for me. Walnuts, salmon, tuna -- I try to go for natural choices instead of fish oil supplements or things like that, but... it's good for your brain health, which is good for depression.

    4. Social interaction. If the evenings are the worst time for you, are there things you could do to distract yourself? Meet up with a friend for dinner? Join some sort of social/sporting group that meets one or two times per week? Go see a movie? I find that I'm at my worst when I'm sitting home by myself too, so getting out and interacting with others helps a lot.

    Anyway, hope some of those ideas help. I haven't really dealt with SAD specifically, but have struggled with depression and anxiety a lot over the past four years, and those are the things that seem to help me the most.
  • Pontifex

    Posts: 1882

    Nov 13, 2012 7:33 PM GMT
    I've had good experience with exercise and vitamin D3 and fish oil. The key part is to start supplementing with vitamin D before your symptoms start. I've started taking it in September for the last couple of years and the symptoms were almost eliminated. Remember that vitamin D is fat soluble. Taking it with a form of fat like fish oil should increase absorption.

    I work in a dungeon. For most of the winter I leave for work in the dark and I drive home in the dark.

    I'm not sure if this is the reason things are better now. It could be that in general my life is better now but I think the supplements helped me out.
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    Nov 14, 2012 6:28 PM GMT
    No such thing as SAD. If you think you have SAD, you have too much money and not enough charity in your life. Send 5 thousand dollars to any friend in New Jersey or Staten Island right now and then spend the next week bragging about it on the internet and to your friends, you will get over your SADness right away.
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    Nov 14, 2012 6:39 PM GMT
    smartmoney saidNo such thing as SAD. If you think you have SAD, you have too much money and not enough charity in your life. Send 5 thousand dollars to any friend in New Jersey or Staten Island right now and then spend the next week bragging about it on the internet and to your friends, you will get over your SADness right away.


    Oh, really?!?
    Are you a psychologist?
    Psychiatrist?
    PHD?
    MD?
    No? Then what do you know about it? icon_rolleyes.gif

    Stop being flippant about things you know nothing about. icon_neutral.gif


    I was diagnosed with SAD almost 20 years ago. I used to use a light-box, but lost it in a move (it was destroyed) and found you could buy a full spectrum standard-base light bulb and get the same effect sitting under it while watching TV or reading. Less $$$ and not a big bulky box sitting around 90% of the time unused.
    Also, from October thru March I go to a tanning bed (15 mins, 2 days a week) and it invigorates me along with the lamp.
    Hope that helps!
    As to your crushing depression, I sense something in addition to SAD you should seek professional help with, not on here or WebMD!