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How many Ds do you have that are actually pretty normal? - Tactical Ninja

Jun. 12th, 2014

08:55 am - How many Ds do you have that are actually pretty normal?

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From:bekitty
Date:June 11th, 2014 10:14 pm (UTC)
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I consider myself to be on the severe end of the SAD spectrum. I first noticed symptoms in 1993, was diagnosed by my doctor in 1996, and have tried various medications since then. The first one was Prozac, because it was 1996 and doctors were handing Prozac out like candy. That didn't work.

Since then, I've tried St John's Wort, Vitamin D, and a bunch of other medications. Most of them only work sporadically. I've had to resign from a job, because the management weren't supporting me enough (my then-manager would come down to the basement where I was working, where they'd turned half the lights out to "conserve power", and tell me that it was a nice day outside so I must be all better now. No, really.)

I have also looked at the price of light boxes and noped the hell out of there. Instead, I got a normal bedside lamp and put a "cool white" compact fluorescent bulb in it. That works well, mostly.

In my opinion and experience, SAD is definitely a melatonin thing. My brain produces too much of it on dark days, and too little of it on bright days. So it affects me all year round, but I get different symptoms depending on the season. In winter (or when we have a day or more of rain) I oversleep and I can't concnetrate on anything. I can't follow a conversation. I don't feel motivated to do anything, including leaving the house. In summer (or after several days of bright sun) I can't sleep, and I'm hyperactive.

The winter blues, which is when you just feel down in winter and aren't affected at all in summer, is completely normal. That's not SAD. It's not a disorder, it's a normal part of life. The trouble is, when people who get the winter blues read descriptions of SAD, they tend to go "oh that's normal, I get that, it's not so bad, why do you need special treatment?" and so the people with more severe SAD get treated worse (or denied treatment outright) as a result. I've had doctors refuse to treat my SAD because they get the winter blues.

Incidentally, I found my symptoms were lessened to a significant degree after my cataract surgery. Possibly because my new lens is letting more light into my brain? So I still have SAD, but it's just not so crippling anymore.
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From:tatjna
Date:June 11th, 2014 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Actually, the winter blues is a form of SAD according to what I have been reading. It's a spectrum, on which 6% of the population are severely affected like yourself, and a further 20-25% of people are mildly affected.

I think that being changed by the seasons is normal, but that at that 6% end of the spectrum there are symptoms that are debilitating. Ignoring that there's a significant chunk of the population who are able to soldier on is doing those people a disservice IMO.

What I would like to see is recognition that being affected by the change of seasons is normal, and therefore something worth adjusting our societal expectations for, intead of labelling a significant chunk of the population as disordered. Along with that there should be recognition that some people get great relief through some preventative measures, and these should be made available in workplaces and to individuals as a normal part of preventative healthcare.
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From:bekitty
Date:June 12th, 2014 02:01 am (UTC)
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Dr Norman Rosenthal, who first identified SAD in 1990, was careful to differentiate between "winter blues" (the mild part of the spectrum) and seasonal affective disorder. It's only more modern definitions that have lumped us all in together.

Recognition that many people have difficulty dealing with seasonal changes would be great! However, there are people who have a tendency to belittle and disbelieve the people who are more affected -- doctors included. And I think those of us who are are at the severe end of the spectrum will end up getting short shrift as a result.
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From:tatjna
Date:June 12th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC)
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It's the same age old question that frustrates the hell out of me - where do you draw the line on a spectrum that runs from 'unaffected' to 'severely affected'?

I'm having a defensive reaction to your statements because while I know it's not intended, I find calling what I am experiencing 'winter blues' quite invalidating, because IMO it contributes the the tendency to belittle and disbelieve. "Oh, it's just winter blues, stop complaining" is something you don't want to hear, and nor do I.

It's frustrating for me because I think all levels of being affected are within the realms of normal, and what I want is recognition that it *is* normal to feel different in winter for many people, and a shift in attitude to accommodate this very normal response to the change of light.

Meanwhile, I do understand that there's a human tendency to lump everyone in together and because more people are mildly affected than severely affected, those in the severely affected minority tend to have to 'prove' their symptoms in some sort of Suffering Olympics in order to get help.

Help should be available to anyone who needs it, when they need it, at the level they need it. Because feeling crappy in winter is normal, and its our societal lack of acknowledgement that leads to these problems.
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From:bekitty
Date:June 12th, 2014 06:35 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry. I never said what you had was the winter blues. If you're at the stage where you're taking medication and looking into light therapy, then you've definitely got full-blown SAD.

I'd always thought of the winter blues as "getting grumpy when it rains", so hearing it referred to as a form of SAD was a bit surprising to me.

Again, I apologise. I'm not very coherent at the moment, and haven't really been for the last week.
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From:tatjna
Date:June 12th, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
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Oh hey, look, no need to apologise. I take responsibility for my own reactions. ;-) I'm unclear in my head about this topic because on one hand I want recognition that this effect is normal, but on the other, I also want those who experience more severe reactions than myself to be able to get treatment as needed. On the third hand I don't myself want to be considered disorded purely because I'm affected by the change of light.

All this leads to me being oversensitive about demarcation.

You're awesome, by the way.
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