Saturday, 27 October 2012

Seasons change, and mental health can, too

Seasons change, and mental health can, too

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Gloomy skies on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 for a story on seasonal affective disorder.  / Jordan Kartholl/The Star Press
MUNCIE — It’s natural for the shorter daylight hours and the gray skies above — along with the dip in temperatures and rain storms that often make their way across the Indiana skyline — to make you feel a little blue.

But when the weather affects your ability to sleep or get out of bed, when it seems impossible to concentrate on major tasks, when the things you used to enjoy become chores you’d rather do without, you may suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Just ask Carla Martinez, who moved to Indiana from south Florida 12 years ago.

“I’m not really an upbeat person or ‘cheerleadery,’ but I noticed when I moved, I got really down,” Martinez said. “I was sleeping all day. And I mean, all day, like I could never, ever get enough rest. Then I started crying more and was just depressed. The holidays didn't help, either. I thought maybe I just missed Miami.”

Things got a little better when spring and summer came, but by the next November, Martinez was going through the depression again. And again the following fall.

By the third year, she was unable to fake any interest in anything she enjoyed — even when her husband suggested a trip to Miami for the Thanksgiving.

She didn’t care about anything. Martinez thought maybe she was going through a really early menopause — she was 35 when she moved — and needed some hormone treatments.
Eventually she discovered she wasn’t menopausal. She wasn’t homesick. She was suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

“This isn’t something where you’re upset for two or three days and you pull yourself out of it,” said Dr. Sarfraz S. Khan, the medical director for Meridian Health Services and the department head for psychiatry for Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital. “This is serious. This is a major depressive disorder affected by seasonal changes. It is real and there are ways to treat it so people don’t have to suffer.”

Roughly 4 to 9 percent of the population suffers with SAD, with women four more times likely than men to be diagnosed with this aspect of depression.

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