Light ther­apy, ex­er­cise can com­bat SAD

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS - Dr. Zorba Paster hosts a ra­dio show at 3 p.m. Sun­days on WBFO-FM 88.7. Email him at [email protected]­tor­zorba. com.

A re you blue at this time of year? Do you find your en­ergy is mov­ing in the di­rec­tion of “I’m a slug – let me curl up with a good book, a blan­ket around me, and read for the next four months un­til spring?

If so, then per­haps, boys and girls, you suf­fer from SAD, sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der.

Ev­ery year, I write about this be­cause I, too, suf­fer from it. This is not a dreaded dis­ease. It’s not the “Big C,” noth­ing in that realm, but it does af­fect qual­ity of life for many of us. Want­ing to curl up in bed at 7 p.m. is not some­thing that fits with my DNA. Yet start­ing af­ter Day­light Sav­ing Time ends, this urge sur­faces again with fury.

Am I a plant? Per­haps I have chloro­phyll in my DNA that needs sun­light. But more likely, it is that the cor­ti­sol lev­els from my adrenal gland and the nat­u­ral en­dor­phins that come with be­ing in the sun are just de­fi­cient.

The hall­marks of SAD are low en­ergy, sleep­ing too much, feel­ing slug­gish and just not feel­ing like do­ing any­thing. If you Google it, you’ll find it looks a lot like de­pres­sion. In fact, this con­di­tion shares a lot of those qual­i­ties. But for those with pure SAD, they don’t score high on de­pres­sion screens.

Still, to the point, de­pres­sion of­ten makes SAD worse and SAD can trig­ger de­pres­sion. They do com­min­gle in many peo­ple, which is prob­a­bly why anti-de­pres­sants are an ex­cel­lent treat­ment for many with SAD. I have a num­ber of pa­tients who start on them at this time of year and get off of them when March roars in like a lion.

For many of you, I highly rec­om­mend the SAD light. These dandy in­ven­tions you can buy on the web for less than $50 are great.

The light should be bright, 10,000 lux, a mea­sure­ment of vis­ual en­ergy out­put. If it doesn’t say how many lux it has, don’t buy it. Get one with a vari­able timer, for sure, and a size that fits your needs. I like mine be­cause it’s smaller and por­ta­ble. Lux mat­ters, size does not.

My daily rou­tine is to sit down with my cof­fee in the morn­ing, hit my email and web­sites with my nifty light turned on at my side. You don’t stare into the thing – that would be im­pos­si­ble to do – but I give my­self a light bath ev­ery morn­ing.

I need it for about four to six weeks. Come about Jan. 6, when I can tell the days are get­ting longer again, I no longer feel the need to turn the thing on. Oth­ers might need it un­til the first sign of spring.

This light gives me en­ergy and mo­ti­va­tion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like it makes me feel the way I do in the mid­dle of June, when I start projects at 9 p.m. and fin­ish them at mid­night. But it does help at­ten­u­ate the dark­ness that comes with the sea­son.

Some SAD suf­fer­ers still might re­quire an SSRI anti-de­pres­sant – a se­lec­tive sero­tonin re­up­take in­hibitor. This can be an ex­cel­lent choice, es­pe­cially if you have a mood dis­or­der. For oth­ers, the right treat­ment is a com­bi­na­tion of light ther­apy and an anti-de­pres­sant. But for most, it’s the light that does the trick. Lights on equals en­ergy on.

The other thing that’s es­sen­tial in fight­ing SAD is to get out and move. Do some­thing. Any­thing. That cooped-up feel­ing of­ten comes be­cause we just, well, coop our­selves up. It’s an un­nat­u­ral thing to do. It just doesn’t feel as good to be in­side all the time.

So buy some ex­cel­lent new long un­der­wear to keep you warm out­doors. Toss the cotton long johns – they’re not nearly as warm and they bulk you up so you look like the Miche­lin man.

My spin: If you have the win­ter blues, brighten up with a nifty SAD light. But don’t for­get to go out­side.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.