“I just hate when school starts. Everything gets so hard to do. By Christmas, I just want to head to the Bahamas and leave the whole family to figure it out. Help.”

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You are describing a familiar pattern to many people who live in an area of the world that experiences seasons.  SAD-seasonal affective disorder is very common.  Unfortunately, it coincides with exactly the stressful events you describe making it difficult to sort out from situational problems versus biological response to decreased light stimulation.  In my practice, at least 75% of the people who “hate” the winter holidays are actually experiencing SAD.  Already exhausted from neurotransmitters that are firing too slowly, they have come to hate the added burdens of being with people who are “extra” happy.  Add this to the complexity of parties, financial expenditures and general expectations from themselves and others to be joyful. and you can understand why you want to escape to the sunshine.  Even without SAD, people who cannot manage relationships, money or time become overextended from the avalanche of seasonal invitations and longings to be happy.  I find homeopathic treatments useful for early symptoms ( September till Halloween generally ) then more rigorous treatment till roughly Saint Patrick’s Day ( mid March ) when the sun begins to strengthen.  If you truly “hate” the holidays, consider SAD treatment.  Children are not exempt from this and you can see this in the pattern of grades, sleep changes and behavior disorders.

Here is the WEB MD version of SAD:

Symptoms of Seasonal Adjustment Disorder

Sufferers from SAD can experience any combination of symptoms, regardless of the type of SAD that afflicts them. Among the physical and mental manifestations of SAD are:

  • Depression, from mild sadness to extreme suicidal feelings
  • Sleeping disorders, such as insomnia, over-sleeping, or strange sleeping patterns
  • Anxiety, nervousness, or restlessness
  • A temporary increase in phobic or obsessive behavior
  • Increased negative feelings such as guilt, shame, or low self-worth
  • Eating disorders, such as binge eating and weight gain, or decreased appetite and weight loss
  • General changes in appetite, such as craving sweet foods or starches
  • Agoraphobia or avoidance of social situations
  • Decreased libido
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Fatigue and lethargy (lack of energy)
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions

It’s important to note that SAD can have a multiplying effect on those with other behavioral or mental disorders. Basically, SAD can exacerbate existing symptoms or create new ones. For example, those suffering with bipolar disorder may exhibit an increase in symptom severity; however, it may very well be overlooked or attributed to the wrong disorder.

Treatments for Seasonal Adjustment Disorder

Light Therapy – For the more commonly occurring “winter” SAD, a variety of treatments involving light may be beneficial in reducing symptoms. Full spectrum lamps, specifically developed for SAD disorders, are often beneficial – particularly for those who are frequently confined to the indoors. Persons are directed to sit in front of the lamp at a prescribed distance, for up to an hour. There is some disagreement as to which wavelength (blue, green, or white) is the most effective. This treatment may yield some immediate benefits, but typically the best results develop over time. Patients with access to sunlight are encouraged to spend as much time in the sun as possible, even during cold weather. Even a brisk walk outside on a lunch break may be enough to heighten spirits. In addition, a device called a heliostat can be used to direct sunlight into home or office windows.

 

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