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Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Are You S.A.D.?
The Truth behind Seasonal Affective Disorder Are you S.A.D.? The truth behind Seasonal Affective Disorder Seasonal affective disorder, also known as Seasonal Depression, winter or summer depression, winter or summer blues, or seasonal mood disorder, is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year (Lee, S.A.D.). Although the exact cause for the depression has yet to be found, there are many theories that point to the exact same thing. Most of them, have much to do with the factor of the sun. The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder vary from mild depression to suicidal thoughts, with almost everything imaginable in between (Stein, page 2). Although it hasn’t been established what the exact cause of seasonal affective disorder, there is a wide range of theories that exist. Although Seasonal Affective Disorder has roots going all the way back to 1845, it was not officially classified until the psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal noticed that a lot of his cases for depression had occurred only during the months of winter(Waltz, page 1). When he published his articles in The Washington Post, he received thousands of letters from people all over the country who had the exact same symptoms that he found with his own patients in his private study. He went on to release the book Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder: What it is and How to Overcome it. As for now, psychiatrists treat patients with seasonal affective disorder the same way the treat patients who are diagnosed with clinical depression.
The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder has never really been determined. The strongest theory that has the most support is that the disorder is directly related to the sun. Well, the deprivation of the sun. When Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal was asked about the cause of the newly discovered disorder, he was quoted as saying that it was caused by “a combination of factors including shortened daylight, stress and genetic vulnerability” (Waltz, page 1). He estimated with his studies that well over 14 percent of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder due to the lack of the sun and the shortened days that winter brings. He explained that people are “confined” indoors during the cold because of sociological norms. While being “confined”, people stress more and often it leads to tension in the household which leads to depression and anxiety levels increasing. His studies proved his hypothesis by showing that modern workers have much more stress when the hardly see the sun due to the short days. Another major impact that helped solidify his case was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century. The introduction of electricity which gave the introduction to night work known as 2nd and 3rd shifts because it would help companies maximize output now that they could work 2 to 3 times as much as before(Stein, page 1). Although it wasn’t normal at the time, it was a part of Industrialization all over the world. Nowadays, 25 percent of people work 2nd or third shift jobs.
According to ScienceDaily.com, there are changes in our circadian rhythms that occur naturally due to the suns movement throughout the year. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment (Tyne, Page 1). Basic lack of sunlight elevates the levels of stress which causes disorders to occur more frequently, and causes the disorders to be radically worse. A few of the disorders that have been proved to be worsened by lack of sun include PMS, alcoholism, bi-polar disorder, sleep disorders, panic disorder, and Bulimia Nervosa (Stein, page 1). Due to women and younger people having a much more sensitive internal clock to sunlight, they are put on a much higher risk to develop and suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The key to happiness isn’t money or fame, just ask one of the biggest rock stars of all time, George Harrison. If you don’t know who George Harrison is, you might live under a rock, but if you do now who he is, you know that he was the lead guitarist and a vocalist of The Beatles, the most famous band in history. In the song “Here Comes the Sun”, off of the album Abbey Road, which is one of The Beatles most famous albums, the Beatles turned to the less known voice of George Harrison instead of letting John Lennon or Paul McCartney take a swing at it, he was in fact the person who wrote it. Although it only has 3 verses other than the chorus, the song gives a mental picture about what seasonal affective disorder really is. In the song, he is quoted as saying “Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter, Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here”, “Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces, Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here”, and “Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting, Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear” (Rinker, page 3). Although they are very simple and elementary lyrics, the song took the world by storm. The lyrics mean exactly what they say, but are misinterpreted by many. What George Harrison is trying to say, which he explained in his autobiography I, Me, Mine, is that the winter has taken a toll on him. Not only on him, but on the Beatles as a whole. The album Abbey Road was being recorded, and the Beatles were about to break up for good. He was quoted in his Autobiography saying:
"Here Comes the Sun" was written at the time when Apple was getting like school, where we had to go and be businessmen: 'Sign this' and 'sign that.' Anyway, it seems as if winter in England goes on forever, by the time spring comes you really deserve it. So one day I decided I was going to sag off Apple and I went over to Eric Clapton's house. The relief of not having to go see all those dopey accountants was wonderful, and I walked around the garden with one of Eric's acoustic guitars and wrote "Here Comes the Sun." It took us a single take to record the album version.”(Rinker, page 1)
That winter before the recording was quite heavy on the guitarist, as he quit The Beatles for a small amount of time, and was incarcerated for possession of marijuana. He also jokes that he was sad during the winter because he had to have his tonsils removed (Rinker, page 1). Although these don’t sound like tragedies, the depression associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder made these seem like a much bigger deal than they actually were. The anxiety that comes with seasonal affective disorder took a toll on Harrison as it made everything that was happening seem dramatically worse than it actually was. When the winter was over for him, he went right back into the studio and shortly after, the Beatles released Abbey Road, one of their most famous albums. Shortly after, the Beatles broke up and parted ways.
The symptoms to Seasonal Affective disorder tend to start around the exact same time every year for someone who suffers from it. However, winter is not the only time that people suffer from seasonal affective disorder. There is a rare form of Seasonal Affective disorder known as summer depression or summer blues that affects 2% of people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder(Waltz, page 1). For people suffering from Winter Depression, the symptoms usually start around the end of summer/the start of fall, worsen immensely in winter in which the deepest form of depression happens, and usually starts disappearing around the beginning of spring time. For the 2% suffering from summer depression, the timing is just reversed. The symptoms usually start around the end of winter/the start of spring, worsen in summer in which the depression is in its deepest form, and start disappearing around the beginning of fall. Although Seasonal Affective Disorder is 4 times as common among men, it is diagnosed less than half as often as in women. The anxiety that comes with Seasonal Affective disorder is nothing compared to the depression that sets in.
During the deepest forms of depression that come with Seasonal Affective Disorder, the symptoms include body pains, loss of energy, difficulty with normal sleeping cycles, drastic changes in appetite, social anxiety, weight gain or loss, a lack of creativity, and worst of all, Suicidal thoughts. According to suicology.org, 4 times as many men commit suicide as women, with 66 of them suffering from depression. With depression, the rate of suicide is 20 times the rate of the standard populations (Stein, Page 1). It is obvious that this needs to be addressed and because studies show that as time goes by, the bell curve of people with Seasonal Affective Disorder only keeps getting younger and younger and by 2050, 1 out of every 4 teenagers will suffer from a mild to extreme form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (Stein, page 1), whether its Summer or Winter. As of right now, the main age group runs from 18-30 year olds and is much more common among older individuals. With new medicine and new technology, there may one day be an effective way to treat Seasonal affective disorder patients differently than patients with Depression and anxiety.
Although there are many ways to “treat” people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, there is yet to be an actual cure discovered (Waltz, page 2). One of the reasons that Seasonal Affective Disorder is hard to cure is due to the fact that it spontaneously disappears when the seasons change. Many people suffering from the depression associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder try self-medicating as a form to escape the problem, not face it. They drown themselves in alcohol or smoke marijuana to feel better, but as soon as the drugs wear off, the person is left exactly where they started, Depressed. Dr. Rosenthal’s studies gave way to the use of light therapy, which gave daily exposure of light to patients. Phototherapy, the real name for light therapy (Waltz, page 2), has since then been proven to have no effects on Seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal Affective disorder in a medical condition, and since it is closely related to clinical depression, psychiatrists prescribe the same antidepressants, psychotherapy and natural treatments to seasonal affective disorder as they do to normal Clinical depression patients (Waltz, page 2).
Being that I wrestle, I’ve had some great times during the winter season, but I’ve also been at my lowest. When I’d have to cut weight for wrestling, the main factor holding me back was how cold it was outside so I could never run, and the sun would be out every single day before I was done with practice. I’d try to run and I wouldn’t be able to sweat because there would be no sun or heat to heat me up. I loved the sport of wrestling too much to quit running, until one day I just freaked out. I was 6 pounds over the morning of a tournament, and I knew it would be awful doing all the cutting, and instead of cutting the weight, I had a full blown panic attack. I’d never had one before in my life, and I can honestly say I have no idea how it happened, but since my freshmen year, I’ve never liked the winter. Short days, cutting weight, coldness all the time winter is just bad news waiting to happen to me. When I wrestle off season during summer, I love it. This last summer I was an all American for the state of Illinois freestyle team and I loved wrestling, but when I wrestle during the winter, I always hated it.
At the end of the day, the sun will always go down. Seasons will always change over time and people will always have seasonal affective disorder. It’s impossible to know what a depressed person has gone through unless a person has actually been depressed themselves. Depression is a terrible thing and it leads to many suicides. Although there are some things to treat depression, there is no known way to completely cure it.
References
Lee, G. (n.d.). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Definition. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective- disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047
Rinker, J. (n.d.). Depression in the Beatles. . Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.beatlesbible.com/forum/george-harrison/do-you-think-george-was-dealing- with-depression-from-66-to-the-break-up/
Stein, M. (n.d.). » 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder - Psych Central. Psych Central.com. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-things-you-dont-know-about-seasonal-affective- disorder/0002
Tyne, G. (n.d.). Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet. - National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Education/Pages/Factsheet_CircadianRhythms.aspx
Waltz, D. (n.d.). 10 Facts You May Not Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved April 28, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/05/seasonal-affective-disorder-top-10- facts-_n_4217453.html…...

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