Saturday, February 2, 2008

SAD and Overeating

Since I got back from vacation I've been depressed and have felt completely incapable of dealing with my weight loss goals ... as a matter of fact before I went on vacation I was depressed.

Winter doesn't work for me. I love Autumn and Spring, but I HATE winter. It isn't just the cold that I hate, but the lack of light that I absolutely detest. In truth even though I love Autumn, from the moment the first chill in the air signals its arrival, I start to feel a creeping melancholy.


The British isles are cold, grey and damp and in the winter the days are super short. Sometimes you don't see the sun for weeks and if you do it is fleeting - a you'll miss it if you blink experience. For a long time I have suspected that the lack of sunlight affects my mood. Now I am sure of it.
According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association:
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated half a million people every Winter between September and April, in particular during December, January and February.

It is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus due to the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight in winter.

For many people SAD is a seriously disabling illness, preventing them from functioning normally without continuous medical treatment. For others, it is a mild but debilitating condition causing discomfort but not severe suffering. We call this sub-syndromal SAD or 'winter blues.'

Symptoms

Sleep problems: Usually desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake
but, in some cases, disturbed sleep and early morning
wakening
Lethargy: Feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
Overeating: Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, usually
resulting in weight gain
Depression: Feelings of misery, guilt and loss of self-esteem,
sometimes hopelessness and despair, sometimes
apathy and loss of feelings
Social problems: Irritability and desire to avoid social contact
Anxiety: Tension and inability to tolerate stress
Loss of libido Decreased interest in sex and physical contact
Mood changes In some sufferers, extremes of mood and short periods
of
hypomania (overactivity) in spring and autumn.

I definitely have a number of these symptoms. I have been depressed, lethargic, suffering from insomnia, anxious, unsociable and definitely overeating sweets.

Treatment

Light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 per cent of diagnosed cases. That is, exposure, for up to four hours per day (average 1-2 hours) to very bright light, at least ten times the intensity of ordinary domestic lighting.
Antidepressant Drugs like Prozac are effective in alleviating the depressive symptoms and combing well with light therapy.
Psychotherapy
, counselling or any complementary therapy which helps the sufferer to relax, accept their illness and cope with its limitations are extremely useful.
Vigorous exercise, especially outdoor activities.

My partner bought me a light therapy box for my birthday a few weeks ago and I have been using it religiously. It has completely alleviated my symptoms and I have been able to turn my attention once again to addressing my food/weight issues. As mentioned in my last post, I have returned to Greysheeter Anonymous program and so far it has been as wonderful as it was the first time around. I feel well on my way to successfully addressing my obesity. In GSA we weigh in once a month so I will now be providing monthly updates of my progress.


5 comments:

Regina said...

Hello there! Just passing through, Great blog!

the veggie paparazzo said...

That's so cool that the lightbox is working for you! I plan to buy one if my husband and I move to Seattle next year.

Tracy said...

Another great post!

I have heard about the "happy light" also. I might get me one, soon as I finish these cheeto's...

trek diva said...

Light therapy sounds promising. I have SAD in a bad way, so I try to take a walk in the morning;even though its really, really cold just having the sunlight on my face seems to help.

trek diva said...

Light therapy sounds promising. I have SAD in a bad way, so I try to take a walk in the morning;even though its really, really cold just having the sunlight on my face seems to help.