What is SAD ?
SAD is an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder – a syndrome which shows as a depressed mood in winter and various other easily identifiable symptoms such as changes in appetite, sleep, diet and weight.
It occurs in most countries of the world where winter brings short daylight hours and long dark nights and is much less common in the areas between 30 degrees north and south of the equator such as in Florida, South Africa or Uruguay.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects a surprisingly high number of people. Extensive research in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, USA, Canada, Soviet Union and Japan has shown that an estimated 5 to 10 % of the population suffer from severe SAD symptoms. Another 25% or so have some tendency to winter depression due to lack of light and show some problematic symptoms even if they do not suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder in it's most extreme form.
People have known for centuries that our moods are affected by the weather and that depression is more common in winter but it was not until the 1980's that there has been a lot of interest in this phenomenon and the illness received more official recognition. This coincided with the discovery of an extremely effective treatment : light therapy. Treatment with a light box is effective for Seasonal Affective Disorder in 75 to 80% of patients undergoing formal treatment for SAD.
In other cases, light therapy may need to be combined with other treatments and help available. In any event, there is absolutely no need to suffer Seasonal Affective Disorder in silence - you can avoid every winter being something you dread.