SAD see-saw – the ups and downs of managing SAD

Good evening! icon smile SAD see saw   the ups and downs of managing SAD When I started this blog, I was very clear that I wanted it to be not only a place where people could come for information, but also to get a more personal perspective on managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Winter Blues symptoms.  I want you to know that you’re not alone in feeling the way you do.

I’ve shared a little bit with you already of how I used to feel before I was diagnosed with SAD.  I’ve also told you that in general I have my symptoms pretty well managed now.  What I’ve not done so far is tell you what it’s like when I’m not managing my symptoms very well!  There’s a reason for this; I don’t want to be too self-indulgent and I don’t want you to get pulled down while you’re reading.  I’m by nature quite an empathetic person, easily affected by other people’s emotions, so in recognition that other people are like this too, I’m trying to be careful on this blog to keep things reasonably upbeat.

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Happy Sun-day!

Hi lovelies icon smile Happy Sun day!

Just checking in with a quick post to say that I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine and feeling heaps better for it.  I certainly am! icon biggrin Happy Sun day!

I know some people haven’t seen as much sun and are still struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms.  I’m really sorry if this is you.  If you want to chat, you can send me an email (neina@sadlightblog.info), or head over to the Lumie forum, which is still active.

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March Mania – Hypomania and Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD

Yippee, Happy March! :)  In the official Neens’ book, 1 March is the start of spring and a real milestone – it’s still light when I leave work around 5.30pm. :D  I hope that the increase in daylight hours is starting to ease your Seasonal Affective Disorder – SAD – and Winter Blues symptoms, too.

424094 42244817chatter teeth 300x225 March Mania   Hypomania and Seasonal Affective Disorder   SADI met for a catch up with one of my friends the other night and he commented that I was especially chipper.  Translation: I was being a motor-mouth!  Anyone who has ever met me will know that I’m a real chatterbox generally; honestly, I am that person who’s chatting away to a complete stranger at a bus stop, on the train, in the gym…

But this week, we’ve had some fab sunny weather and I have been bouncing-off-the-walls, hyper!  You’d think I’d had several cups of strong coffee on some of the days.

I think most people would say they feel a sense of wellbeing when the sun shines.  But if you’re suddenly feeling a marked surge of energy, and you know that you suffer from SAD, then you might be experiencing what’s known as Hypomania.  I’m sure I get this; I’m like a little kid at Christmas listening for Santa, except that I’m running to the window to see how sunny it is and longing to be out in it!

At this time of year I’m easily excitable, full of plans and ready to take on the world.  That is, when the sun’s shining.

This morning, I woke up to really misty, murky weather and I felt flat.  It brightened up in the afternoon, and having used my light lamp, I was back to being Tigger!  I appreciate that to a non-sufferer, this might seem completely bizarre.  It’s a weird time of the year when you suffer from SAD.

I was reminded of something else, talking to my friend the other night.  Now is not the time to make big decisions.  Yep, you might feel like you can take on the world, but if you’re experiencing these swings that I’ve described, it’s worth waiting until they’ve settled down a bit before taking action.

I’m speaking from experience.  I’ve made big decisions in the past around this time of year that I wish I’d not made, or given a bit more thought to.  That burst of energy can bring about a bit of the no-nonsense, ‘let’s get on with it’, ‘I’m taking no prisoners’ kinda attitude.  Sound familiar?

1151807 46818568 To Do 300x201 March Mania   Hypomania and Seasonal Affective Disorder   SADMaking plans is great – it’s an ideal time for that, if you’re feeling fired up and motivated.  Why not grab your pen and paper and jot down some thoughts on what you want to do for the rest of the year? :)  I’ve always thought January is a rubbish time of year to make resolutions and plans, anyway – so much better to do it once you’re feeling energised and ready to put them into action.

But if your thoughts are on life-changing decisions, such as quitting your job, ending a relationship, moving, etc., then maybe just hold fire on making a final decision until you’re feeling less gung-ho.

Does anything I’ve said ring true for you?  Or do you disagree?  Do you think that you experience Hypomania?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

- Neens –   

Image credits:
Chatter Teeth: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/424094
To-Do: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1151807

SAD and Winter Blues – Where to start?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and its milder form, Winter Blues (also known sometimes as Winter Depression, or medically as Sub-syndromal SAD) affects nearly a quarter of the UK population.  Does that surprise you?  It did me, when I read this on the SAD Association’s website!  So even if you don’t suffer from one of these conditions yourself, it’s likely that someone close to you does.

I almost don’t know where to start!  In writing anything, I tend to find it helpful to answer the 5 Ws and 1 H – What, Who, Why, Where, When, How?  The thing is, this could turn into a very looong post, so I’m going to share some basics here, then I’ll go into more detail in separate posts to come.

tiggereeyore 287x300 SAD and Winter Blues   Where to start? One of my favourite ways to describe SAD  is through these little fellas; Tigger and Eeyore.  I tried out this analogy on a friend today and he loved it!

During the late autumn and winter months, the shorter days and lack of sunlight can make you feel miserable, irritable and very lethargic – a bit like Eeyore.  But in the summer and even in the depths of winter, a sunny day can bring out the Tigger in you!  Some people even experience mania-type symptoms once spring comes round, known as Hypomania.  That’s probably where everyone’s energy comes from for the big spring-clean! ;)  For a bit of fun, I found this quiz to identify which Winnie the Pooh character you’re most like - I turned out to be Kanga! :)  Which one are you?

SAD is a type of depression.  I know some people aren’t comfortable with this description, but medically, they do sit on the same scale.  What differentiates SAD from other types of depression is that it has a very definite seasonal pattern; the symptoms recur each winter.  You normally will have experienced symptoms in the winter that disappear in summer for three consecutive years before you would be diagnosed with SAD.

And what are the symptoms of SAD?  Well, I mentioned three of the main ones already, but a few of the most common others include:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns (sleeping more or less and/or waking frequently)
  • Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
  • Craving carbohydrates and sweet foods (comfort food!)
    Love Food id 11000351 150x150 SAD and Winter Blues   Where to start?

     

 

My food shopping basket in winter would make you laugh! Image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1100035

There isn’t a ‘cure’ for SAD or Winter Blues.  But most people can successfully manage their symptoms using light therapy.  The SAD Association estimates that this will work for around 85% of sufferers.

You’d normally use light therapy daily from the onset of your symptoms, often around Oct/Nov until Mar/Apr when the daylight hours lengthen.  The treatment involves exposure to a bright SAD light that simulates the level of light you would get on a bright spring day.  How long you need to use the light for depends on the severity of your symptoms and the strength of the light.

I whole-heartedly recommend SAD light therapy – I have managed my symptoms for eight years using a SAD light lamp and a dawn simulator, which wakes me gently with light in the morning.  I recommend dawn simulators to everyone, regardless of whether they suffer from SAD - they’re such a lovely way to wake up! icon smile SAD and Winter Blues   Where to start?

I will write some more in-depth posts, but if you want more information on SAD and Winter Blues before then, please have a look at this NHS page. *Update: I’ve done a couple of these posts now - you should find links at the bottom of this page! icon smile SAD and Winter Blues   Where to start?

What Winnie the Pooh character do you identify with?  Is there something in particular that you’d like me to cover in a future post?

See you soon!