Seasonal Affective Disorder

Topics: Seasonal affective disorder, Melatonin, Circadian rhythm Pages: 3 (1009 words) Published: May 2, 2008
The syndrome of winter depression, is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is specifically related to the changes in the length of daylight from the seasons. It begins to lift as spring approaches with daylight hours becoming longer. SAD is rare in the tropics, but is measurably present at latitude of 30 degrees N (or S) and higher. People who live in the Arctic region are especially susceptible due to the effects of polar night. Prolonged periods of overcast weather can also intensify SAD. Although doctors don’t know the causes of seasonal affective disorder, but heredity, age and your body's chemical makeup all can play a role. Research has showed various possibilities for having SAD. The two possibilities is the lack of serotonin and the other theory is that melatonin produced in the pineal gland is the primary cause.

While its exact cause is unknown, the disorder has been linked to a malfunction in the body’s biological clock that controls temperature and hormone production. Researchers suspect that reduced sunlight may disrupt circadian rhythms that regulate your body's internal clock, which lets you know when it's time to sleep and when it's time to wake up. This disruption may cause depression

( History) Seasonal affective disorder was first described by the 6th century Goth scholar Jordanes in his Getica where he described the inhabitants of Scandinavia. In the USA the diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder was first proposed by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD. Dr. Rosenthal wondered why he became more depressed during the winter after moving from South Africa to New York. He started experimenting increasing exposure to artificial light. Rosenthal later on found this made a difference. Dr. Rosenthal first called this disorder “winter blues.”

As many as 12 million Americans may suffer from this disorder, and up to 35 million other may experience milder forms. It’s at least four times as common among women, usually beginning in the...
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