S(ummer) Affective Disorder

July 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Health

You may have heard of the winter equivalent, but this is a new one on me. However it just so happens that I may be one of the few who does not look forward to summer and are generally much happier in the autumn and winter months.

This summertime mood disorder was first recognized as a form of depression in 1986 and is thought to affect less than one percent of the population, making it much rarer than the winter variety experienced by an estimated 5 percent of people. If you suffer from SAD then your symptoms mean you sleep less, eat less, and lose weight and are extremely irritable and agitated.

Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, who has studied both types and first helped discover their existence believes that people with summer seasonal depression may be more at risk for suicide than cold-weather SAD types. He said “Suicide is more of a concern when people are depressed and agitated rather than depressed and lethargic.”

Rosenthal also said that mental health professionals suspected the cause was the heat and humidity. That, he said, lent itself to the idea that a cold shower, air conditioning, swimming in cold lakes or heading North would relieve symptoms. Although these treatments for hot-weather depression are useful for some, they lack the staying power that light-box therapy has on winter SAD.

Rosenthal is the author of “Winter Blues” and says that a person with summer SAD can stay inside, crank up the AC, and darken the room but then go outside into the heat and it’s as if they’ve never been treated. Another idea is that it might be the light itself that’s aggravating sufferers, whether it’s the intensity of sunlight or the angle it’s coming at people.

Still another possibility is that there may be two kinds of warm-weather depression, says Dr. Alfred Lewy, a professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. He suggests there might be one group of people who have an unpleasant reaction to the heat and humidity — a discomfort with the climate. But even in Portland where summers aren’t that hot or humid, he’s seen patients struggle with summer depression. Lewy suspects the cause in a second group might be that the body’s natural clock, it’s circadian rhythms, are misaligning in summer. Instead of cueing to dawn, the longer daylight is causing some vulnerable people to cue to dusk. Cueing to dusk shortens the typical body clock and delays a person’s sleep-wake cycle. This mismatch, theorizes Lewy, may be triggering depression.

He successfully treated a person with summer depression with a combination of getting early morning sunlight (30 to 60 minutes daily), which shifts the body clock forward, and low-dose melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Severe symptoms may also benefit from antidepressants.

I am alone with this, or are there other Summer AD’s out there?

Curing the winter blues

November 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Natural Medicine

In the winter many people are affected by the lack of light and their mood can plummet. Added to this is the anxiety felt by many people as the Christmas season approaches with all the organisation and stress that sadly often accompanies it.

To keep on an even emotional, mental and physical keel our bodies need dopamine, an important neurotransmitter recognised as being vital for cognition, movement, motivation, sleep, mood, libido, attention and learning. Dopamine is the key neurotransmitter that allows the brain to flourish and develop, and maintaining adequate levels is central to relieving anxious, stressful states.
Being advised to stay calm may not always be enough and if you want to increase your natural dopamine levels to help lift your mood, then help is at hand. It’s probably not the first thing you think of but blue-green algae may be the answer.

Klamath is the name of a Native American tribe but in this instance also refers to the blue green algae which is Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. It is one of only two natural sources of phenylethylamine (PEA) which our nervous system naturally produces when we are calm, happy and focused. It also has the ability to raise the level of freely circulating dopamine within the brain and nervous system which helps keep us alert, active and motivated.

A new product, vitalCALM from Simply Vital, contains highest quality source of Klamath blue-green algae and is a concentrated source of PEA. It is an advanced nutritional supplement for the nervous system and provides support for conditions associated with altered dopamine functioning such as: ADHD, anxiety, depression, fatigue, fibromyalgia, insomnia, obesity and Restless Legs Syndrome.

VitalCALM has been developed to provide an all-natural boost to dopamine levels and might just be the answer to those winter blues and to ward off those feelings of the approaching Christmas crisis! If you would like more information go to www.simplyvital.com.

Sunshine in a Box for SAD People

October 29, 2009 by  
Filed under At Home, Medical Research & Studies


Well the clocks have gone back and the feeling of the having few hours of daylight is a reality that most of us shrug and learn to live with. We may miss having so much light, but for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) it is much more serious.

The symptoms of winter blues can affect an estimated half a million people in the UK every year according to SADA, the UK charity who offer help and advice. Symptoms include: low mood, increased mental and physical fatigue, stress, lack of concentration, weight-gain, loss of libido, and poor immune health.

SAD is thought to be caused by a biochemical imbalance in the brain which controls daily rhythms and mood, due to the shortening of daylight hours and lack of sunlight between September and April. There are special light boxes which mimic daylight that many sufferer find very helpful, but a less expensive option worth trying is a new offering from

Solgar supplements are used by many health professionals and they have come up with what they call their limited edition Sunshine in a box kit which contains the ultimate ‘feel-good’ nutrition essentials. These include:

** Vitamin D3 is also known as the sunshine vitamin as it strengthens immune health and has been shown to help brighten mood.

** 5HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) which increases the brain’s serotonin levels that help stabilise mood, promote relaxation, support restful sleep, as well as damping down cravings for carbohydrate and sugar.

** Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb and a traditional remedy that may enhance mental and physical energy, help the body adapt to stress, and increase dopamine levels which help us feel more optimistic. It is often suggesdted as alternative to St John’s Wort for mood balancing.

The Sunshine Box also includes a book on the benefits of Vitamin D as well as the supplements and is a limited edition offering for the start of the SAD season and costs £25.00. If you can’t find it in your local health store, then call Solgar on 01442 890 355 for a local stockist or via their website at www.solgar-vitamins.co.uk

Help and information on the SADA charity at www.sada.org.uk