What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as “Winter Blues” or “Winter Depression” occurs when a person experiences depressive symptoms during a specific time of the year, usually in the colder months. Symptoms traditionally begin in the fall when light levels start to diminish, carrying through the end of the winter. SAD is differentiated from other forms of depression because persons with SAD have normal mood throughout the remainder of the year. Persons with SAD experience typical symptoms of depression, including difficulty sleeping, sadness, somatic symptoms, low energy levels, irritability, and an inability to concentrate.
How does PCH treat Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder can sometimes be ameliorated with light therapy, melatonin supplements, or antidepressants. However, when symptoms are disabling or refractory to standard treatments, it is time to consider an intensive treatment center. When a client arrives at PCH Treatment Center with seasonal affective disorder or depression, a careful assessment is made to first confirm the diagnosis and then carefully detail the symptoms. A doctoral level psychologist evaluates each client and composes a treatment plan in conjunction with the treatment team. One of the PCH Treatment Center psychiatrists will thoroughly assess the client’s medications, and make appropriate changes in their regimen. The philosophy at PCH Treatment Center is to minimize the amount of medication a client takes, when possible, and to focus on psychotherapy, aerobic excercis and holistic healing. In addition to psychoanalysis, PCH offers Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), mentalization, mindfulness based stress reduction, anger management, sleep management, psycho-education, and neurofeedback. Holistic adjuncts include yoga, meditation, fitness activities and an arts program. A family weekend is part of the initial treatment plan. Optional family therapy groups are also available. These valuable groups incorporate family members or significant others into the client’s treatment environment.