‘I’m an Psychologist and These Are The Light Therapy Treatments I Recommend for Seasonal Affective Disorder’

If you’re finding yourself cursing the reality of darker mornings and even darker, longer nights, you could be dealing with the pangs of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a very real type of depression that becomes more severe as winter approaches.



a man that is standing in the dark: Chances are you're not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here's how you can push back


© Mint Images – Getty Images
Chances are you’re not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here’s how you can push back

Despite how it may feel, you’re not the only one — it’s thought that around 10-20 per cent of people in the UK experience “mildly debilitating” symptoms of seasonal affective disorder as the weather gets colder and six per cent of adults will experience “recurrent major depressive episodes with seasonal pattern”. Currently, the average age at which seasonal affective disorder symptoms present themselves is 27-years-old in both men and women. Both genders are equally affected.

Despite enjoying an extra hour in bed, most of us will, especially at this time, be spending the majority of daylight hour indoors. For many, this could impact mental health — a 2019 YouGov poll found that 29 per cent of UK adults will experience some kind of depressive symptoms this winter, while six per cent of us will suffer seasonal affective disorder to the point where they’re unable to work or to function properly.

Worried about SAD? Don’t be. We’re here to help with our digestible guide on seasonal affective disorder including expert advice, study commentary, actionable advice, product information and more.



a sunset over a grass field: Cold Dawn Sunrise


© George W Johnson
Cold Dawn Sunrise

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

A form of depression that’s directly related to the changing of the seasons, seasonal affective disorder is experienced most commonly when summer transitions into winter. As it’s as seasonal issue, seasonal affective disorder is often experienced every 12 months. “Patients often begin experiencing symptoms of depression during autumn and often do not feel an improvement in mood until the spring,” explains Dr. Chun Tang, general Practitioner at Pall Mall Medical.

But how is seasonal affective disorder caused?

The research is sporadic, but one cause, it’s believed, is the correlation between the reduced exposure to sunlight and shorter days in winter. That’s because the hormone melatonin, responsible for controlling our sleep cycles, becomes “phase delayed” by people experiencing seasonal affective disorder, leading us to feel sluggish, tired and irritable — regardless of how many espressos have bene imbibed. Stress levels will rise, too, thereby impacting our mental wellbeing, immunity and overall health.

Similarly, serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety, happiness and mood, could have a bigger impact than previously thought. Due to winter having shorter days and darker weather, there typically isn’t enough natural daylight, which causes a drop in serotonin levels in our brains. On a biological level, this increases the likelihood of someone experiencing a depressive episode.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Are The Symptoms?

According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:

  • A persistent low mood
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and
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Somatic symptom disorder: Definition, causes, and symptoms

Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) is a condition in which a person has excessive thoughts and feelings relating to physical symptoms. SSD may cause anxiety and negative emotions.

Read on to learn more about SSD, including the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. We also explain when to speak to a doctor.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), SSD is a type of mental illness that causes excessive feelings, thoughts, or behaviors that center around at least one somatic (physical) symptom. People may refer to SSD as hypochondria or illness anxiety disorder.

For a diagnosis of SSD, the negative thoughts and emotions must last for at least 6 months and cause one or more of the following symptoms:

  • exaggerated or persistent thoughts concerning the severity of symptoms
  • spending excessive time and energy on treating or handling symptoms or potential health concerns
  • persistently high anxiety concerning health or symptoms
  • physical symptoms that last for at least 6 months or more, significantly disrupt daily life, and cause distress
  • taking excessive actions to reduce the risk of perceived danger or harm

In the DSM-V, SSD replaced other mental health conditions, including:

  • somatization disorder
  • hypochondriasis
  • pain disorder
  • undifferentiated somatoform disorder

One key differentiation between SSD and the above former DSM-IV disorders is that people with SSD do not need to experience unexplainable symptoms.

Another difference from the former conditions is that SSD causes at least one chronic physical symptom. Additionally, it accompanies excessive, persistent negative feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

Currently, the cause of SSD is unknown. However, research suggests that people with SSD may have an intensified awareness of bodily symptoms and sensations. They may also perceive symptoms in a different way or describe feelings in a physical way.

In addition, these individuals may have the tendency to view these symptoms negatively or as a sign of medical illness.

In some cases, SSD is related to diagnosed medical conditions. However, to have the condition, someone must also develop associated persistent, pervasive negative emotions, thoughts, or actions.

In other cases, SSD is related to an undiagnosed medical condition, but this does not make it any less real.

No one knows why SSD really occurs, but research suggests that risk factors may include:

  • sexual, emotional, or physical abuse
  • childhood neglect
  • a chaotic lifestyle
  • a history of substance and alcohol abuse
  • having an axis II personality disorder, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • psychosocial stressors, such as reduced occupational functioning and unemployment
  • genetic factors

People with SSD experience excessive anxiety and persistent negative emotions, feelings, and behaviors in relation to at least one chronic, disabling, or distressing physical symptom. Some common physical symptoms associated with SSD include:

  • increased heart rate
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • muscle tension, stiffness, and cramps
  • pain
  • trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • weakness

To diagnose SSD, a doctor will ask the person about all of their symptoms, take their medical history, and perform a physical exam.

The doctor will typically then run a series of diagnostic blood, imaging, and other laboratory tests

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Add-On Psychotherapy a Win in Bipolar Disorder

Adding psychotherapy to pharmacotherapy benefits patients with bipolar disorder (BD), particularly when delivered in family or group settings, results of a new meta-analysis confirms.

Outpatients with BD receiving drug therapy “should also be offered psychosocial treatments that emphasize illness management strategies and enhance coping skills; delivering these components in family or group format may be especially advantageous,” the investigators, led by David Miklowitz, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, write.

The study was published online October 14 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Drugs Alone Not Enough

It’s increasingly recognized that drug therapy alone can’t prevent recurrences of BD or fully alleviate post-episode symptoms or functional impairment, the researchers note in their article. Several psychotherapy protocols have been shown to benefit patients with BD when used in conjunction with drug therapy, but little is known about their comparative effectiveness, the authors point out.

To investigate, the researchers conducted a systematic review and component network meta-analysis of 39 randomized clinical trials (36 involving adults and three involving adolescents).

The trials involved 3863 patients with BD and compared pharmacotherapy used in conjunction with manualized psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy [CBT], family or conjoint therapy, interpersonal therapy, and/or psychoeducational therapy) with pharmacotherapy delivered in conjunction with a control intervention (supportive therapy or treatment as usual).

Across 20 two-group trials that provided usable information, manualized psychotherapies were associated with a lower probability of illness recurrence (the primary outcome) compared with control interventions (odds ratio [OR], 0.56; 95% CI, 0.43 – 0.74).

Psychoeducation with guided practice of illness management skills in a family or group format was superior to these strategies delivered in an individual format (OR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.02 – 0.94).

Family or conjoint therapy and brief psychoeducation were associated with lower attrition rates than standard psychoeducation.

For the secondary outcome of stabilization of depressive or manic symptoms over 12 months, CBT and, with less certainty, family or conjoint therapy and interpersonal therapy were more effective than treatment as usual.

The investigators note that the findings are in line with a network meta-analysis published earlier this year that found that combining psychotherapy with pharmacotherapy is the best option for stabilizing episodes and preventing recurrences of major depression.

“[T]here is enough evidence from this analysis and others to conclude that health care systems should offer combinations of evidence-based pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy” to outpatients with BD, the researchers note.

“When the goals center on prevention of recurrences, patients should be engaged in family or group psychoeducation with guided skills training and active tasks to enhance coping skills (eg, monitoring and managing prodromal symptoms) rather than being passive recipients of didactic education,” they write.

“When the immediate goal is recovery from moderately severe depressive or manic symptoms, cognitive restructuring, regulating daily rhythms, and communication training may be associated with stabilization,” they add.

A Call to Action

The coauthors of an editorial in JAMA Psychiatry note that the findings “further reinforce extant treatment guidelines recommending medication management and adjunctive evidence-based psychosocial treatments for individuals with

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Parents of Boy with Brain Disorder That’s ‘100 Percent Fatal’ Raise Money for Gene Therapy Clinical Trial

gofundme Connor

The parents of a boy with a rare, fatal brain disorder are raising money so he can participate in a gene therapy trial that has potential to stop the disease.

Marisa DiChiacchio and Mike Dobbyn’s 12-year-old son Connor has Sanfilippo Syndrome Type C, which is a rare degenerative brain disorder that is “like Alzheimer’s, but in children,” according to a GoFundMe campaign created earlier this month.

According to the campaign, the syndrome is “100 percent fatal” and has no cure.

“As the degeneration rapidly progresses, Connor will stop walking, stop talking, stop being able to feed himself,” the GoFundMe campaign says. “He’ll develop movement disorders and seizures, suffer severe dementia, endure a lot of pain and suffering, and then he’ll die.”

But Connor’s family is raising money for the Cure Sanfilippo Foundation and a gene therapy clinical trial that needs funding at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas.

gofundme Marisa DiChiacchio, Mike Dobbyn and their sons Keenan and Connor

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“Research for this gene therapy has shown in pre-clinical models that it can stop the disease,” the campaign says. “This clinical trial is the crucial step of determining whether earlier research is able to show the same therapeutic benefits in children.”

“It was like a bomb was dropped on us in the geneticist office,” Connor’s dad told CBS Philadelphia of the moment they learned of his diagnosis. “I just remember it was a life-shortening condition, the geneticist actually told us at the time, ‘Don’t Google this yet because we don’t have a 100 percent conviction on this diagnosis yet.’ “

gofundme Marisa DiChiacchio, Mike Dobbyn, Connor

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“We knew Connor obviously was special and loved and adored by so many people, but sometimes you just don’t realize until something devastating like this comes out,” Connor’s mother added. “And just everybody comes out of the woodwork trying to help and wanting to help. So he’s like our local community rock star.”

As of Wednesday, the campaign had raised $172,210 of its $3,000,000 goal. 

Source Article

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What’s Best for Treating Bipolar Disorder? | Health News

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

(HealthDay)

MONDAY, Oct. 19, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Combining medication with group or family-based therapy gives patients struggling with bipolar disorder their best shot at living stable lives, a new review suggests.

“People with bipolar disorder have significant mood swings, from periods of depression to mania,” explained study author David Miklowitz, a professor of psychiatry with UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Behavior.

“These episodes can last anywhere from a few days to weeks” before patients enter a so-called “recovery period,” Miklowitz explained. That is the point at which “people gradually stabilize in mood and try to return to their day-to-day responsibilities,” he said.

During recovery, some patients simply continue to receive psychiatric monitoring while taking medication, which typically involves mood stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs.

However, recovery can also be the ideal time to begin therapy alongside medications, Miklowitz noted.

And after comparing the effectiveness of medication alone against medication plus therapy, Miklowitz’s review concluded that more is more: Patients fared better at keeping mania and depression at bay through a combination of medication and therapy.

That was particularly true when therapy was conducted in a group setting or with family members.

The finding made sense to Dr.Timothy Sullivan, chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City. He noted that most other studies “show that combining some form of psycho-therapy treatment with medications results in improved outcomes.” Sullivan wasn’t involved in the new research.

Miklowitz and colleagues reported their findings Oct. 14 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Miklowitz noted that among bipolar patients depressive symptoms include low mood, sadness, inertia, fatigue, loss of interests in things, suicidal thoughts or attempts, and/or insomnia.

On the other hand, when bipolar patients experience mania, that can take the form of intense periods of excitement, euphoria, severe irritability with little need for sleep, increased energy and activity, and/or rapid-fire thinking and speech. It may also involve “grandiose thinking,” such as believing one is famous or endowed with “special powers.”

The review focused on 36 investigations involving adults and three involving adolescents, with a combined total of nearly 3,900 bipolar patients. Collectively the average age was about 37, with women accounting for roughly 60% of the patients.

Prior to each study launch, participants had already been taking medications for their bipolar disorder. In turn, some were randomly assigned to just stick with their prior care (with psychiatric support and monitoring). Others, however, were randomly assigned to participate in individual therapy, therapy involving family members or group therapy (without the involvement of close family members).

Broadly speaking, the various forms of therapy all aimed to help patients develop skills to manage their disorder, including how to maintain regular sleep patterns and how to stabilize depression or mania when symptoms arose.

All the studies tracked patient histories for a minimum of one year on, making note of all recurrences of mania and depression, alongside therapy drop-out rates.

The upshot:

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Get Over Your Sleep Disorder With Orthomolecular Medicine

Treating and healing sleep disorders with ordinary amino acids is the basis for Orthomolecular Medicine. Large doses of naturally found proteins called amino acids can repair the imbalance in the brain and repair its malfunction. These amino acids are affordable and are used in therapeutic doses much larger than those levels normally found in food. The concept of orthomolecular medicine is based upon the use of very large doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or botanical extracts for the cellular repair and enhancement of normal brain activities.

Are you not getting a promotion because you are tired at the office? Are you close to a divorce from fatigue and lack of sleep? Can you not handle your children because you are too tired? Sleep disorders can cause many problems and you may not be able to break the pattern on your own. Sleeping pills can help you fall asleep, but most cause you to sleep too much or wake up with fatigue. Modern orthomolecular medicine can help these problems disappear for many people within several weeks. There may be sleep habits that also need to be altered and dietary changes that should be made. Do not eat or watch television in the bedroom if you have sleeping problems. Stay out of bed until you are ready to fall asleep. Purchase a good mattress and cotton, silk, linen, hemp, or wool linens for the bedroom. Try to avoid caffeine and excess alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. Do not take over the counter sleeping aids.

Orthomolecular Medicine uses several supplements to improve and improve sleep. These can be botanical products like Kava, Valerian, St John's Wort, Passion Flower, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile. The botanicals should be taken on a daily basis for several months. This may take three to five weeks to make a noticeable change in sleep.

Melatonin and a combination of Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium should be tried for very serious sleep problems. Melatonin does not always work and should be taken in levels of 1.5 to 3 mcg / day about thirty minutes prior to bedtime. You may want to take selenium along with the melatonin to enhance your immune system.

Chinese patent formulas to improve sleep include Amnien Pian, Bu Nao Wan, and Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan. There are at least twelve different patent formulas from China that can aid sleep. The correct formula is selected based upon your needs. Most Chinese patent formulas should be taken for at least six weeks or longer to address the underlying disorder causing the insomnia symptom.

Amino acids needed to enhance sleep include 5-HTP, theanine, and GABA. The addition of bio-identical hormones may be needed for men in andropause or women in menopause. Do not ever take any type of hormone without a blood test or saliva test to determine which hormones are low. Remember that the Chinese have avoided many sleep disorders and hormone imbalances by using food therapy and Chinese herbs. Consider these options with …

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How Does Complementary and Alternative Medicine Benefit Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism is a disorder that responds best to treatment that is holistic and addresses all aspects of the condition. Recent research has shown a benefit for what is considered complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) or integrative medicine that focuses on pairing natural treatment approaches with behavioral therapies and treatments. This approach facilitates a more balanced treatment plan as it allows families, like yours, to treat the child with autism as just that – a child affected by autism.

Autism is diagnosed based on criteria from a diagnostic manual of mental disorders however, it is precisely clear that many of these symptoms are medical – not psychological.

Common medical problems in children on the autism spectrum can include:
• Digestive problems: reflux, diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, bloated abdomen
• Seizures
• Allergies, asthma, and eczema
• Food reactions
• Sleep problems
• Infections
• Poor nutrition
• Poor growth

Children with autistic-spectrum disorder have health issues that are very complex. This is the reason that the approach to help these children requires a wide variety of diagnostic tests to scientifically assess the cause of their health issues.

No two individuals experience autism in the same way, and individuals do not respond to the same treatments. This is the reason it is of utmost importance that each child with autism spectrum disorder be evaluated individually.

This is the reason that the approach to help these children requires a wide variety of diagnostic tests to scientifically assess the cause of their health issues. Tests that involve gastrointestinal functioning, allergens: both food and environmental, nutritional needs and toxin levels are paramount to identifying the causes of their symptoms and embarking on a plan to improve health. A plan may involve some or all of the following: dietary changes, use of herbal, homeopathic and nutritional supplements, as well as natural and complimentary medicines as needed to support healing and improve their health and functioning.

Much of this information is not well recognized by most of the medical community and so what is available is found in books or online. This can leave parents feeling frustrated as knowing what to do first, how to prioritize therapies, dietary changes and what supplements to use is subjective without the proper testing.

Diet is an important component for children on the Autism spectrum.

The "Autism Diet" has been around for many years and has helped many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) improve their health, and functioning. Research shows that 91% of autistic children improved when following the autism diet. According to the Autism Research Institute, nutritional treatments show great success in autism treatment. They suggest an autism diet of avoiding yeast, glutens, casein, and any allergens.

Since 91% of children with autism spectrum disorder improve on the autism diet, this is something that parents can implement without the consult of a doctor or health care professional.

To help implement this diet here is a list of the top 10 foods to eat or avoid according …

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Digital Medicine Platform for Treatment of Cognitive Disorder

Akili, a pioneer in therapeutic prescription digital medicine has closed successfully it’s $55 million financing Series C trial of medicine. This funding follows a successful trial, including study, developing and testing a novel digital medicine named AKL- T01. This flagship product of Akili aimed to treat a type of cognitive disorder- attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Once approved and launched commercially, it would be the first digital and standalone therapeutic medicine for ADHD. Company’s other product in the pipeline and research, AKL-T02 will treat autism spectral disorder (ASD) or what simply known as autism.

Autism refers to another type of cognitive disorder, particularly in children, making them difficult to interact socially. The repetitive behavior and underdeveloped speech and verbal communication render them vulnerable in society. The reason behind autism could be genetic as well as environmental influence.

The above news has brought in a new ray of hope for an autism patient where there is no specific traditional medicine is available for its cure. This new development has the potential for treating this disorder, probably with more efficiency.

This funding will also help to advance products in the pipeline for treating multi sclerosis (MS) and depression. After approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it will be launched commercially for the patients. According to Akili AKL-T01 would be a standalone treatment for ADHD.

The company’s founder and CEO Eddie Martucci is quite happy with the response of investors and welcomed the financing. He said this financing indicates faith of people in his company’s potential in digital medicines and growth. According to him, the company will continue to grow and supply novel solutions in the redefined healthcare sector.

Akini Interactive is a company who believes in transforming healthcare through its digital therapeutics medicine solving Neuro-cognitive disorders. It believes in targeting specific cognitive area or nerve which has been suppressed by the dysfunction. The treatment includes, interestingly, not any pill, but customized action video games for patients to play.

Video games are designed by neuroscientists and entertainer engineered with algorithms to treat a cognitive disorder like depression. According to the company, highly-interactive and highly engaging games provide a therapeutic experience to patients which actually benefit them. Through high-end therapeutics interactive video games, the specific regions of the brain could become functional which has been suppressed by the disorder, improving the condition of the patient. There would second by second tracking of patient’s cognitive response and data available for any improvement in the patient’s condition.

AKL- T01 if approved by the FDA and then it would certainly indicate towards the acceptance of new healthcare solutions for patients. It has the capability to transform the whole healthcare process and system in coming years. This funding will boost the confidence of other investors, which are planning to invest or come together for such digital medicine research and development in the future and those patients who are searching for new areas to treat disorders like autism could be more than happy to read such positive …

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