Seasonal Affective Disorder
The Smart Clinics’ GP Dr Khaled Sadek appeared on BBC 5 live Drive, providing expert advice on Seasonal Affective Disorder.
This is a type of depression which affects people during winter due to the shorter days and lack of sunlight.
Around 1 in 15 Brits are thought to have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms can include:
- Feeling miserable
- Spending more time in bed
- Putting on weight
The term was coined by Norman Rosenthal in a paper written in 1984. He told Radio 5 Live Drive:
“It turns out that a lot of people have trouble when the days get shorter and darker; and this can take many forms. Often they have trouble waking in the morning, they need more sleep, they have less energy and they tend to go for sweets and starches and gain weight. Their concentration is affected and they are less effective at work and in their social relationships; so when you add all these things together they begin to get rather sad and down and unmotivated….
“It exists on a spectrum, so it can be all the way from just a slight impairment to really not wanting to get out of bed or feeling like life is not worth living.”
Fast forward to 2:42 to hear more… http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b098mtzz
Radio 5 Live Drive spoke to The Smart Clinics’ London GP, Dr Khaled Sadek, for his expert opinion on why some people suffer while others don’t. He said:
“…we don’t really know why some people do and some people don’t; in the same way we don’t really know why some people suffer from sort of major depressive disorders while others don’t.
“I think as Professor Rosenthal said in the opening speech about when he first coined the condition it’s very much a spectrum and it depends where you lie on that spectrum, so some people, I personally get a bit down when it’s winter, but I wouldn’t say I get depressed and I think a lot of people can relate to that, while others will actually find it quite debilitating, it will take down their energy levels, they put on weight, they crave food, they’ll sleep a lot. So they’ll have those symptoms but they may not necessarily be diagnosed with it and that might be a failing in terms of the medical profession and being able to separate SAD from normal major depressive disorders.”
Dr Sadek agreed with the presenter that there may be some element of Seasonal Affective Disorder not being taken seriously by everyone in the medical profession, but pointed out:
“The Royal College of Psychiatrists have taken a great step in actually classifying SAD as being a subset of major depressive disorders, so the classification is there, but with all new conditions it’s a matter of educating clinicians, giving them the right tools to be able to diagnose it and spot it and absolutely critical is the timing and being able to identify that this is seasonal and is also associated with a lot of what we call somatic changes – that’s changes to the body itself. We’re not just talking about general depression where you get low energy and mood as we get with most depression; but in this particular subgroup there’s a weight gain, there’s a craving for carbohydrates and there’s a sleep disturbance that’s very archetypal for SAD itself.”
The programme discussed the importance of light, which has been proven critical for lots of physiological processes in the human body, including regulating body clock.
Dr Sadek said:
“Light absolutely definitely is a great tool. It’s recommended, we recommend it on the NHS and it’s relatively non-invasive – it’s much nicer to have a light in your room than to take a daily tablet, like an antidepressant; in terms of cost and side-effects, it’s a non-invasive treatment which is great.”
The programme spoke to a patient who had improved her SAD through regular exercise and time outdoors; plus another who swore by light boxes.
The conclusion was that it’s all about self-management – understanding what the condition is and how to deal with it. Dr Sadek said:
“…it’s difficult for the individual to be able to see the woods from the trees when they’re suffering from a depressive disorder, so I think the onus really is on your medical practitioner to be able to spot the signs and that’s going to trickle through eventually and I think shows like these are making it aware so that patients going to their GP can get the accurate diagnosis that they need.”
Advice on Seasonal Affective Disorder
For people concerned about getting individual advice on SAD or other forms of depression, The Smart Clinics’ team of private GPs offer plenty of availability at their 2 London clinics with generous appointment times with evening and weekend clinics.
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