Seasonal Affective Disorder: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Friday, 22 Oct 2010 02:07 PM

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When an individual is normally healthy during the majority of the year but depressed during the winter, they may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the winter blues. 
 
People who suffer from the winter blues usually show a number of symptoms like morning sickness, insomnia or oversleeping, and excessive weight gain. The person may also show changes in mood like depression and pessimism and may have a general feeling of hopelessness. Another characteristic symptom of seasonal affective disorder is the inability to derive any pleasure out of life.
 
A number of seasonal affective disorder research centers have recently opened, which work on new therapy techniques for SAD. Some of these medical breakthroughs for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder are discussed below:
  1. Phototherapy or Light Therapy: This is a new and unique method of treating SAD. During this therapy, the patient sits near a specialized light therapy box. This exposes them to bright light, which mimics the sun’s summer effect. This treatment is known to cause changes in the chemicals of the brain that are related to mood.
  2. Dawn Simulation: Seasonal affective disorder research has concluded that Dawn Simulation is one of the most effective new methods for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder or SAD. This is a new medical breakthrough that simulates the effect of dawn by turning on the lights of the bedroom gradually for a period of time. This treatment method was shown by research to be much more effective than other therapies.
  3. Negative air ionization: Negative air ionization is a therapy where charged particles are introduced in the sleep environment. This therapy can be used in combination with other therapies like the light box or dawn simulation.
  4. Melatonin: Research shows that the hormone melatonin is involved in seasonal affective disorder and that administering this hormone by carefully timing the dosage can serve as another new medical breakthrough in the treatment of this disorder.
  5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This therapy, which has been quite effective in treating other depressive disorders, is also being used to treat patients suffering from seasonal affective disorder.
  6. Medications: Medications and drugs that have recently been proven effective for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder are usually in the class of SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which act as antidepressants and prevent the winter blues. These medications include Modafinil, Prozac, and Bupropion.

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