Bipolar & Seasonal Affective Disorder

Time to Switch on the SAD Lamp

Unfortunately it’s that time of year again in the UK- dull skies and fewer daylight hours- so I’ve dusted down my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Lamp and am gratefully soaking up it’s rays. I’ve also added some Bach Flower Remedies to my daily drinks: Mustard and Gorse.

My mood has dipped in the last couple of days- it is so in sync with a change in weather from beautiful sunny skies to dull & cloudy, there really is no doubt in the cause of this new low.

When the weather is like this I immediately start fantasising about living in a sunnier climate! Maybe Spain or one of the sunnier states in the USA.

I’ve never really considered myself as having Seasonal Affective Disorder, it’s always seemed like part of my Bipolar symptoms. The more I experience my changing mood states the less I believe in making specific diagnoses. A diagnosis of Mood Disorder would sum it all up for me!!!

Anyway Light Therapy begins today and generally I find 60-90 minutes daily sufficient. Those with Bipolar are usually cautioned to watch out that the depression doesn’t tip into hypomania having used the lamp a few days/weeks straight. Obviously alter accordingly.

My Lumie lamp can be found on lumie.com– I have the Brightspark model.

According to Wikipedia, Light Therapy may not work for all SAD sufferers: 20-50% do not gain adequate relief. However it is not stated whether the treatment was carried out with anti-depressant medication too- I imagine not. I use my Lumie Lamp in addition to my current medication of anti-depressant and mood stabiliser, which proves very effective.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms (via NHS Choices website)

– feeling irritable

– feelings of despair

– feelings of guilt and worthlessness

– low self-esteem

– indecisiveness

– tearfulness

– feeling stressed or anxious

– reduced sex drive

– being less active than normal

– feeling tired and sleeping more than usual (hypersomnia)

– feeling lethargic (lacking energy)

– find it difficult to concentrate

– increased appetite and eating more than usual (hyperphagia)

Very similar to regular depression then!! Apparently hyperphagia and hypersomnia are particularly indicative of SAD, but I find them present in all my depressive episodes anyway.

Be Gentle With Yourself

As always, an onset of depressive symptoms reminds us to be extra kind and gentle with ourselves and really indulge in some TLC. No beating ourselves up for being depressed!! Take the day more slowly, reduce the workload and ask others to take over the essential jobs if necessary. I’m going to stick on some relaxing music, dream about sunny beaches, and hide under the duvet for an hour or two!

Relevant Articles

How SAD Affects Bipolar Disorder

Manic Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (Winter Depression)

Photo Credit: Victor Habbick via freedigitalphotos.net.

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29 thoughts on “Bipolar & Seasonal Affective Disorder

  1. lala1966

    I had no idea that such a thing existed. I was just talking with someone who posted about how the seasons affect them. I seem to be the opposite. The cool weather makes me feel safer and the need for jackets hats and hoodies helps me to feel like I am hiding from the world. In the warm weather it feels like I am all out there for the world to see. Plus with everyone else being out and about and traveling, I feel like it is more obvious that something is wrong with me lol

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Maybe SAD is more widely known in the UK due to our dull winters- I don’t know?? It’s a fairly well-known disorder over here now.

      I must admit there are some things I like about winter- I prefer the cool too, I love wrapping up warm in my quilt and drinking hot chocolate, and I love Christmas! So it’s not all bad!

      Reply
  2. DeeDee

    I find it interesting that many bipolars have a seasonal cycle as well. I’m right at the cusp of the timing when I expect to head into a bit of a downward spiral – light box or not.

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Yes it’s fascinating. There seems to be a lot of overlap between Bipolar and other conditions like Anxiety Disorders and ADHD as well as SAD. I think the one thing we have in our favour is the predictability of the seasonal low- at least we can be prepared and put strategies in place to lessen the impact.

      Reply
      1. DeeDee

        True all around. Although it’s one of the reasons I went undiagnosed for about 15 years – I figured my issues were just ADHD, anxiety, and SAD/MDD. Wrong! 😉

      2. rachelmiller1511 Post author

        15 years is a long time! I think they should just whack it all under a general Mood Disorder category and then treat each case individually- everyone’s experiences are so different.

  3. Shelly

    I’ll be getting my lightbox down from the closet shelf in a few weeks myself. Usually when the time changes from daylight savings back to regular. That doesn’t happen this year until November 4 but I’ll be sitting in front of the light way before then! I used it for a whole season last year. What a difference it made! So glad to have all of these tools to help stay mood stable.

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Seems you and me have a lot in common Shelly! Last year was my first winter with one and I also found it a great help. I actually quite enjoy sitting next to it, especially when it gets warm! LOL

      Reply
  4. slightlymanicmummy

    Thank you so much for this, I really think I’ve had SAD for years. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, so if I do get a lamp Ill be careful with usage! Hope you are feeling well, Karen x

    Reply
  5. NZ Cate

    I’ve never noticeably had a problem with SAD thankfully but it always interests me that people just expect I will have. It’s like if you have a tendency toward depression then you must. I just thank my lucky stars, but then it’s spring here so that is all good. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Neens

    Great post and so glad that you find some relief from your lamp. 🙂 I’ve used one for nearly ten years and can’t recommend them enough! This might be a little forward of me to ask, but I set up The Light Room (http://sadlightblog.info) earlier this year and wondered whether you’d consider doing a post about this topic for my blog, or allowing me to re-post this? Cheers, Neens 🙂

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Hiya, thank you so much. Please feel free to reblog this post or if you’d like me to write a post specifically for your site I’d be happy to. Thanks for the visit and I’ll be sure to check out your site xx

      Reply
  7. projectwhitespace

    ugh… i hate the gray skies too. same thing happens to me so I was glad when you shared the link to your lamp. I have to check that out. my best friend definitely suffers from SAD, so I will have her check it out too. You should become an affiliate for that lamp and sell it on your blog. 🙂
    There’s that–be gentle with ourselves again–and once again, I’m not–well, I go back and forth. So, right now, I needed the reminder. Thank you sweetheart!!

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Aw- yes, definitely be gentle with yourself. I guess there’s a fine line between pushing yourself to do something like a marathon, but then also making sure you’re not flogging yourself to death either! You’re doing so much good Bethany- to be an inspiration is one of the best things you can be in life, it lights the way for others. You inspire me xxx

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Conversations With Myself: Exploring Low Mood | Emotional Wellness

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