Seasonal Affective Disorder.

To help achieve the best representation of Seasonal Affective Disorder as I can, it is important for me to research and understand it well, particularly as I do not suffer with it myself.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression which occurs through the change of the seasons. For most, it appears during the winter months. This can also be known as ‘Winter Blues’, where people suffer milder symptoms, however for some depression can become severe affecting everyday life. Not only this, but SAD can also have a reverse affect by occurring in the summer months experiencing similar symptoms. It is apparent that people who live nearer the equator are less likely to suffer with SAD as they experience long, light hours.(Mind.org.uk, 2015).

Symptoms of SAD include:

  • low mood
  • loss of pleasure or interest in everyday activities
  • feeling irritable
  • feelings of despair
  • feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • low self-esteem
  • indecisiveness
  • tearfulness
  • feeling stressed or anxious
  • a reduced sex drive

In addition to the above symptoms, you may also:

  • be less active than normal
  • feel tired and sleep more than normal (hypersomnia)
  • feel lethargic (lacking in energy)
  • find it difficult to concentrate
  • have an increased appetite and eat more than usual (hyperphagia)

(Nhs.uk, 2015).

There is no exact explanation for the cause of SAD, however it is mostly believed to be caused by lack of sunlight, therefore this is reduced on the shorter days throughout winter. Light affects part of the brain called they hypothalamus, which controls things such as mood and sleep. With the lack of sunlight, it affects this function leading to the development of SAD symptoms. (Nhs.uk, 2015). Low seretonin levels are also found among SAD sufferers, along with high melatonin levels. It is also possible that your circadian rhythm (body clock), which is set according to daylight hours, can become disrupted and slows down for those who have SAD which can lead to tiredness and depression. There are arguments both for and against these causes and it is possible SAD can stem from a few of these causes rather than just one. (Mind.org.uk, 2015). Nonetheless, there are still recognised treatments, medical and self-help, to aid dealing with symptoms of SAD.

“The most current National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for depression state that depression in SAD patients should be managed in the same way as non-seasonal depression.”(Williams, 2015). SAD suffers are encouraged to seek help through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counselling, anti-depressants or light therapy, most often dependant on the patient’s preference. Sitting in-front of a light box available in various sizes and strengths, offer an intense form of light to those who are not getting enough. (Nhs.uk, 2015). The amount of time required in front of one of these is again dependant upon the patient but “light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases.” (Sada.org.uk, 2015).

Following this research, it is clear that light plays a huge part in Seasonal Affective Disorder, both in the cause of it and the prevention. This is something I will need to take into consideration when producing my photographs as I may want to experiment with darker exposures, creating a gloomy, atmospheric image to reflect emotions and feelings. I could also use brighter lights and create brighter images to reflect the light box which can be used to help SAD patients. Now I have a better understanding of what Seasonal Affective Disorder is, I will be more confident in speaking to those who suffer with it. This will hopefully aid the conversation as although I don’t need to make it obvious I know about it, it will help my own understanding of their experience and how I can represent this.

Mind.org.uk, (2015) About SAD | Mind, The Mental Health Charity – Help For Mental Health Problems [online] available from <http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/seasonal-affective-disorder/about-sad/#.VTZ3yRPF_fY&gt; [19 January 2015]

Nhs.uk, (2015) Seasonal Affective Disorder – NHS Choices [online] available from <http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx&gt; [19 January 2015]

Williams, D. (2015) Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Winter Depression. | Patient.Co.Uk [online] available from <http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/seasonal-affective-disorder-pro&gt; [19 January 2015]

Sada.org.uk, (2015) The Seasonal Affective Disorder Association – Home [online] available from <http://www.sada.org.uk/index_2.php&gt; [19 January 2015]

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~ by victoriasimkissphotography on January 19, 2015.

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