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Often called the winter blues or seasonal depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can actually occur during any season. It is a more common affliction than most people realize and affects millions.

Causes

There is no exact cause known for the disorder. Yet, most experts agree that it is connected with changing seasons, shorter days, and lower light levels. Our natural circadian rhythm is also thrown out of whack whenever we don’t follow a normal day to night routine. This is quite common for people working the night shift and sleeping during daylight hours.

The amount of light we are exposed to every day has a direct effect on our body’s chemistry. A connection to the level of substances such as melatonin and serotonin has been found. Melatonin affects our sleep patterns and serotonin balances our moods. Patients suffering from SAD often have diminished amounts of both.

Risks

Seasonal Affective Disorder can affect anyone, but women seem to be more susceptible to it than men. The largest population age-wise that appears to be affected are mid-teens to late fifties. Studies have shown that the chances of people getting SAD for the first time goes down as they get older.

It has been found to run in families so if a close relative has SAD, it is likely that you might also experience it. It is also clear that the farther away from the equator a person lives, the higher their chances are of having SAD. They are exposed to even less sunlight than those in closer proximity to the sun’s rays.

Symptoms

Because having the winter blues is essentially a form of depression, many of the symptoms can be the same or similar. Those with bipolar disorder can also be affected adversely from SAD. Some of the symptoms can include:

  • Low energy, feeling sluggish
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Feelings of depression all day, every day
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Easily becoming agitated
  • Craving and eating more carbohydrates
  • Loss of interest or joy in activities you once loved
  • Feeling hopeless, guilty, or worthless
  • Frequent suicidal thoughts or death fantasies

It is always a good idea to contact your doctor if you are having any types of the symptoms listed above. Medical professionals can do tests to rule out things such as thyroid issues or other health concerns. A mental health evaluation can be useful. It may help determine if it is just SAD that you are dealing with or something more serious.

Therapies

The most common therapy for treating SAD is getting more light into your life. Getting out into the sunshine is one of the top prescriptions for SAD. In areas that receive extraordinary amounts of rain and gray days, this may seem impossible – but it’s not. There are many products on the market that can mimic sunlight and help your body adjust.

Most doctors will prescribe light therapy or phototherapy. This is the practice of sitting in front of a special light box that emits a powerful fluorescent light. It is said to be more than 20 times brighter than normal light found indoors. Researchers claim that the extra light stimulates the body to produce more serotonin. This, in turn, elevates your mood. Lightbox therapy is usually an ongoing treatment and not something that is a quick fix.

There are several medications that may also be prescribed for this type of depression. They will vary with the type of symptoms you exhibit as well as with each individual doctor. Different drugs have a wide variety of side effects so be sure to do your research before beginning any new prescriptions.

Get Out and About

If you think there is a chance you might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, you can do several things to help your body adjust to the shorter, darker days of winter.

Get outside as much as possible and seek that sunshine. Exercise and get the blood flowing even if it is just walking in your sleeping garden. Finally, try to get as much rest and sleep as your body needs. These simple things can improve your mood as well as your overall health and help you fight those winter blues.

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Should You Perm Your Hair?

Are you considering getting a permanent? A permanent wave can be a quick way to add wave or volume to lackluster hair. It can be particularly helpful for the woman who spends inordinate amounts of time trying to coax her naturally flat hair into wavy ringlets only to have it fall flat in two hours. If you’re spending more money on hair spray than you are on shampoo, a permanent may be your answer. Of course, as with anything, there are pros and cons to this procedure. Should you take the plunge and perm your hair?

It may reduce the amount of time you spend on your hair.

If you’re tired of firing up the curling iron every morning and polluting the house with hair spray chemicals to get your hair to hold a wave, you may want to think seriously about perming your hair. When you perm your hair, it can be a real time saver. Who knows? You may even be able to sleep an extra thirty minutes with the time you save not having to wrestle with your hair.

It can add volume to fine hair.

If you’ve always had flat, lifeless, fine hair, a perm can really pump up the volume. It may be your one opportunity to have “big hair”, if that’s your goal. On a humid day, you’ll no longer have to worry about your hair collapsing like a wet dish rag.

It can be a fun change.

Who doesn’t want a little change in their hairstyle every once in a while? If you’ve had stick straight hair since your high school yearbook picture, now may be the time to find out what it’s like to perm your hair and get oodles of volume.

It’s damaging.

Of course there are drawbacks to any chemical procedure. When you perm your hair, you break protein bonds which can weaken the hair shaft. If you get perms too frequently or continue to use heat on your permed hair, you can end up with an overprocessed mess. If you decide to get a perm, be prepared to do regular deep conditioning and don’t plan on perming too often.

It can make it difficult to color your hair.

Unless you want seriously damaged hair, it’s best to choose between the two treatments. Although you can perm colored hair, over time damage will build up. If you have bleached or double processed hair, perming can be a disaster and should be avoided at all costs. Decide which process is most important to you and nix the other one if you want shiny, healthy hair.

It can be expensive.

Perming your hair adds another ongoing expense to your budget. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be done more than every four to six months, in most cases. Factor in the time you’re spending styling your hair and the cost of hairspray and it may be a wash.

It can be restrictive.

When you have straight hair, you have more options in terms of how you can wear it. It’s difficult to pull permed hair back into a ponytail for the gym or into an elegant updo. You may be stuck with a single look which could get old after a while.

Some people have reactions to the perm solution.

If you perm your hair, there’s a chance you may have an allergic type reaction to the perm solution resulting in an intensely itchy scalp, redness, and rash. Sometimes this can happen when the perm solution is left on the scalp too long. If you develop these symptoms, it can be unpleasant enough to make you wish you’d never seen a bottle of perming solution.

The bottom line? If you decide to take the plunge and perm your hair, be sure to get a professional consultation and go to someone who’s qualified to give you the competent treatment you deserve. Don’t try to do it yourself if you’re not a hairdresser. Some things are worth the price.


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