Melting The Winter Blues

Driving through Northern states or at night can bring out SAD symptoms.


Test yourself at www.normanrosenthal.com; click on Winter Blues.


I SEE THE LIGHT

On the horizon for SAD sufferers is a pair of glasses that uses LEDs and will allow users to continue with activities while receiving treatment. For more information, visit www.etai.com.


LIGHT THERAPY RESOURCES

  • www.apollolight.com
  • www.lighttherapyproducts.com
  • www.sunbox.com
  • www.pegasusassociates.com
  • www.purennatural.com
  • www.pcpools.com
  • www.biobrite.com
  • www.sadlight.com
  • The presents are unwrapped. Your pants are tighter. Your credit cards are maxed. The cheery Christmas music is gone. If it seems like the shorter, darker days of winter make the prospect of hitting the road that much bleaker after the holidays, it might be no coincidence.

    Assuming you drive over-the-road, the long periods of isolation and separation from family and friends already put you more at risk for depression. If you drive mostly in the northern states or tend to drive at night and sleep during the day, you’re even more susceptible than the general public to the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder.

    SAD has been linked to the lack of bright light in the winter. It can affect brain chemistry, producing unbalanced levels of serotonin and melatonin, according to Winter Blues, by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, who first described SAD and pioneered the use of light as a remedy.

    The primary treatment for SAD is therapy with extra-bright light boxes or lamps for a set time, such as 20 to 30 minutes per day. Light therapy has been effective in more than 80 percent of diagnosed cases, according to the National Organization for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    Light therapy units start at about $150. Some people have obtained health insurance reimbursement for light boxes.

    Because the therapy involves light to the eyes, not the skin, you should talk with your ophthalmologist if you have an eye disease. Also, note that some antidepressant drugs may interact with the high dosage of light to the eyes.

    Other than light therapy, consider these ways to counter SAD:

  • Spend more time outside the truck on brighter days.
  • Jogging and other aerobic exercises will increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are usually low in people who suffer from SAD.
  • Non-sedative antidepressants may help the depressive symptoms of SAD.
  • Laughter stimulates the cardiovascular system, thereby enhancing alertness and memory, as well as helping to reduce stress and lift depression. It’s been said that 20 seconds of guffawing gives the heart the same workout as three minutes of vigorous exercise.
  • Before investing in light therapy equipment, or even concluding that you are one of an estimated 10 million Americans said to suffer from SAD, consult with your medical or mental health professional. A fuller understanding of your condition goes a long way toward coping with it.


    SAD SIGNS
    Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder typically start around September and can last through April. They include:

  • Carbohydrates cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Low energy
  • Oversleeping or disturbed sleep
  • Concentration problems
  • Reduced productivity
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
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