Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder in which individuals function normally but experience feelings of depression at a certain times during the calendar year. Often, patients will develop depressive symptoms during the winter months, particularly when there is no sun, and when they have to spend long periods of the day and night in darkness. However, it can affect people at various times of the year and is thus known by a number of different names including: the winter blues, winter depression, summer depression or seasonal depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder used to be a mood disorder in its own right; however, the DSM IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) and DSM 5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) classifications have included it under the remit of Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. Individuals suffering from this condition often experience one or more of the following symptoms: heightened anxiety and irritability, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness and/or isolation, lethargy, insomnia or excessive sleep patterns, lack of energy, suicidal thoughts, loss of appetite or excessive eating behaviour (comfort eating).
There are a number of treatments which involve medication; however, here at London Hypnotherapy UK, in close association with London Psychotherapy, prefer to treat clients without psychopharmacological intervention. David Kraft tends to treat this condition using a combination of psychotherapy, vitamin D supplementation and light therapy. In the psychotherapy, David will offer his clients the psychological support that they need to deal with the pressures and stresses of every day life. Although some individuals come for a period of time, it is often the case that clients can develop coping strategies and, fairly quickly, begin to feel much better during the day, and this can often be achieved in 6 sessions. Taking vitamin D tablets is a very safe form of treatment and can be extremely beneficial when combined with the psychodynamic psychotherapy. And, the light therapy adds to this combined approach. Normally, it is recommended that individuals buy a ‘wake up light’, often known as a ‘natural light alarm clock’. These devices gradually introduce light into the bedroom for up to two hours before awaking. Patients have found this approach particularly beneficial because they feel that they have done self therapy before the day starts. In addition, David recommends regular exercise at least three times a week.