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[IP] Fw: Info from Bruce Burk on getting through the winter
I thought this may help some of you who suffer this depressing winter blues
Forwards removed to help save space..
Lori A. Willey
Subject: Fw: Info from Bruce Burk on getting through the winter
> This is a message from Bruce Burk:
> The winter can mean different things to different people. Some associate
> the crisp temperatures with the exhilaration of skiing or with cuddling
> inside by a warm fire. For others, wintertime is just that inconvenient
> cold period that unfortunately has to come between
> summers. But for hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, the
> winter can be a very depressing time of year. These people suffer from
> seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a condition that is similar to
> depression, except that it appears only during the winter months.
> SAD affects roughly 6% of the adult population of the United States. Among
> the sufferers is Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at
> Georgetown University, who helped discover the disorder in the early
> "I was born and raised in South Africa, where the geographical climate is
> very, very pleasant; the seasons blend into each other," Dr. Rosenthal
> says. "And then I came to New York City in 1976 to do my psych[iatry]
> residency. I arrived in the summer, and the days
> were wonderfully long and I was full of energy and enthusiasm.
> "But then as the days got shorter, something began to happen to
> me, and especially after [the] daylight savings time change occurred.
> Suddenly, I felt myself slowed down, less able to carry through on all the
> projects I picked up over the summer, reluctant to get out of bed
> and get going in the morning; and I had never really felt that way before.
> And I sort of soldiered on through the winter until the spring, when it
> seemed to get better."
> Winter Blues
> After this went on for 3 years, Dr. Rosenthal postulated that the fewer
> hours of daylight might be causing his winter blues. To test this theory,
> he began exposing himself to more light from lamps, and
> his symptoms improved dramatically. But even after many other
> patients were successfully treated with light therapy, the skeptics
> remained. "We did our first controlled study of light therapy for SAD in
> 1984, and since then dozens of studies have been done," Dr.
> Rosenthal says. "But there were some holdouts, people who insisted that it
> might be nothing more than a placebo effect. But as of 2 years ago, three
> huge studies were done in a major medical journal that put all end to
> discussion of placebo. In other words, every major researcher now agrees
> that light therapy works, specifically more than placebo."
> The exact mechanism by which light affects mood is unknown. Dr.
> Rosenthal believes that when light stimuli are carried to the brain, they
> may stimulate or suppress the levels of certain brain chemicals.
> But regardless of how it works, he says the key to treating SAD is
> getting more light.
> "First and foremost, bring more light into your life," he says.
> "This can be done naturally by getting outdoors on a bright winter day or
> by bringing in more lamps. The lamps can be just general ways of
> lighting up the room, but there are some specific light boxes or
> light fixtures that have been specially produced to deliver the amount of
> light that has been used in research studies that have been shown to be
> Sluggishness Can Return
> Typical light therapy involves sitting in front of a lamp for an hour or
> every day. Dr. Rosenthal says most patients will see the benefits from
> therapy within a week. The benefits will remain as long as they use the
> light; but as soon as they stop, the old symptoms of sluggishness and
> depression can return relatively quickly.
> Dr. Rosenthal's other tips for dealing with seasonal depression
> Do aerobic exercise.
> Don't undertake stresses and deadlines during the winter months.
> Get away to the South during the winter if you can.
> Use a "dawn simulator," which automatically turns on your lights as you
> wake up in the morning.
> Don't be hard on yourself for feeling down.
> The symptoms of SAD are generally recognizable. Dr. Rosenthal says, "If
> you're slowed down and you can't wake up in the morning and you're craving
> carbohydrates and you're not thinking and functioning as well as usual and
> you want to withdraw from friends and family and maybe feel a little bit
> down: then think back and ask yourself, 'Does this happen every year? What
> am I like at Thanksgiving?...Am I dealing with a pattern?' If you answer
> yes to those questions, the chances are that you have SAD or one of its
> Like regular depression, SAD can vary in severity. Many sufferers simply
> have less energy and motivation during the winter. Dr. Rosenthal says
> people can usually treat themselves successfully
> with light. For those with more severe symptoms, he suggests they visit
> their general practitioner. But, he warns, "Many a doctor, or even a
> therapist, doesn't know about SAD. And frequently, the patient
> ends up educating the therapist."
> ) 2000 by Medscape Inc. All rights reserved.
> John Roberts is a CBSHealthWatch staff member. His past journalism
> experience includes stints at National Public Radio affiliates in
> NY, and Canton, NY.
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