Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Shorter Days Triggering Seasonal Affective Disorder

MAYWOOD, IL –  The SAD season is upon us. 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression triggered by shorter days and reduced light.

“We are in the midst of the full-blown SAD season,” said said Loyola Medicine psychiatrist Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD

Seasonal affective disorder affects between three and five percent of the population. SAD is thought to be related to a chemical imbalance in the brain, brought on by lack of light due to shorter days and overcast skies.

SAD causes depression, excessive sleepiness, lack of interest, reduced motivation and fatigue, making it difficult to get up in the morning. In the most severe cases, people can stay in bed all day, or even attempt suicide. The season lasts until mid-April.

“Seasonal affective disorder should not be taken lightly,” Dr. Halaris said.

Dr. Halaris said four strategies can help:

Sunshine. If possible, spend at least 30 minutes a day outside. Don’t wear sunglasses. And if it’s not too cold, roll up your sleeves – exposing your skin to sunlight helps relieve symptoms of SAD.

Lights. Your home and work should be as well-lit as possible. Open drapes and blinds to let in natural light. In addition, purchase a high-intensity light box designed for SAD therapy. Sit close to the box for 30 to 45 minutes in the morning and 30 to 45 minutes in the evening. Although you can do light therapy on your own, it’s best to consult a mental health professional.

Exercise. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise releases endorphins and other brain chemicals that create a sense of well-being and make you feel more energized.

Medications. If sunshine, lights and exercise aren’t enough to ward off SAD, see a mental health professional. Two classes of anti-depressant medications are effective against SAD: monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and selective serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs and SNRIs).

Dr. Halaris specializes in the treatment of depression. He is medical director of adult psychiatry and a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Loyola University Chicago Stitch School of Medicine.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH) on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, and Loyola Outpatient Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 247-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

About Trinity Health

Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 93 hospitals, as well as 122 continuing care programs that include PACE, senior living facilities, and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $17.6 billion and assets of $23.4 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity Health employs about 131,000 colleagues, including 7,500 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity Health is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services — ranked by number of visits — in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs. For more information, visit www.trinity-health.org. You can also follow @TrinityHealthMI on Twitter.