Tuesday, 13 September 2011

SAD Alert! The dark months are coming


One of the reasons women with PMDD have such a hard time, is because the hormone fluctuations can affect the levels of serotonin in your body. Serotonin is the main factor is Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can translate into winter depression, and is brought on by the lack of light available in some countries during the winter. I live in the UK and have suffered with SAD for over 10 years... quite possibly longer, but I first realised it was SAD after the birth of my first child. In retrospect, that was the same time my PMDD began to get worse.

The following information is taken form the SADA website

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of winter depression that affects an estimated 7% of the UK population 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 subsyndromal SAD or 'winter blues.' It is estimated that a further 17% of the UK population have this milder form of condition.

SADA's Symptom list is as follows:

The symptoms of SAD usually recur regularly each winter, starting between September and November and continuing until March or April.

A diagnosis can be made after three or more consecutive winters of symptoms, which may include a number of the following:

Depression
Low mood, worse than and different from normal sadness
Negative thoughts and feelings
Guilt and loss of self-esteem
Sometimes hopelessness and despair
Sometimes apathy and inability to feel 
Sleep Problems
The need to sleep more
A tendency to oversleep
Difficulty staying awake during the day and/or disturbed sleep with
very early morning wakening
Lethargy
Fatigue, often incapacitating, making it very difficult or impossible to carry out normal routines
Over Eating
Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods leading to an increase in weight
Cognitive Function
Difficulty with concentration and memory
The brain does not work as well, or as quickly
Social Problems
Irritability
Finding it harder to be with people
Anxiety
Tension
Stress is harder to deal with 
Loss of Libido
Less interest in sex and physical contact
Sudden Mood Changes in Spring
Sharp change in mood
Some experience agitation and restlessness and/or a short period of
hypomania (over activity)
No dramatic mood change but a gradual loss of winter symptoms


Imagine having that for 4-6 months of the year ON TOP of the monthly PMDD hell.

If you have a worse time during the winter months, then you are probably suffering from SAD. The link between SAD and PMDD is the lack of serotonin being produced and getting to the brain, which is why SSRI's are often prescribed for PMDD and SAD.

Think back to last winter and previous winters... How do you feel during the winter months?
Do you experience more depressive episodes or angry outbursts?
Do you sleep more and have trouble getting up in the morning?
Do you feel relief when the wheel turns to spring?

For more information, please visit the following links.. and talk to your doctor or health professional if you feel you may be suffering from SAD.

http://www.sada.org.uk/

http://www.sad.org.uk/

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Seasonal-affective-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Look out for my next post on low serotonin and what you can do to help your PMDD and/or SAD.

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