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Seasonal Depression and a New Weapon against It

Autumn has always been a source of inspiration for poets, artists and painters. It is a season of charming despondency with yellow leaves, frequent rains, long nights and short days. However, autumn brings not only inspiration to poets, it also brings blue mood to many millions of people, living in the Nothern hemisphere, where autumn differs drastically from other seasons of the year.

The feelings of sadness, anxiety, irritability and loss of interest to the usual activities are common symptoms of depression. Usually all the people feel something like that when the nature loses all its summer beauty and prepares for winter sleep. However, when these symptoms are especially vivid and appear every year at the same time during autumn and pass with the beginning of spring, it is a sign of seasonal depression, which is also called "SAD" (seasonal affective disorder).

Along with the mentioned symptoms, seasonal depression is also characterized by fatigue, decreased energy, urge for sleep and desire to stay alone. It may also be accompanied with a weight gain due to the increased appetite. By the way, there are some rare cases of summer SAD, which are characterized by the opposite symptoms: appetite loss, weight loss and difficulties with sleep.

It is an interesting fact that SAD was first described as the specific disease only in 1980th and the actual reason of this kind of depression is still unknown. Scientists believe that it is a decreased amount of sunlight, which is responsible for such psychological changes in the mood of humans, making them feel sad and sorrowful.

Consequently, light therapy is the major option to treat seasonal depression for the time being. Specially designed light boxes with fluorescent light tubes are used here as the additional source of light, when the amount of sunlight decreases (as it always happens in autumn and winter).

Recently patients, suffering from SAD, received another weapon to fight their depression: the American Food and Drug Administration approved Wellbutrin XL as the first oral pills against seasonal depression.

Wellbutrin XL (bupropion HCL extended release tablets) was previously approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Recent studies of the given medication proved its effectiveness to prevent the seasonal depression episodes. Among all the patients, who participated in the studies and were treated with Wellbutrin XL pills, 84% were depression-free at the end of the treatment.

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Though Wellbutrin XL belongs to the antidepressant medications, many of which are blamed for the adverse reactions on the sexual life and weight gain, the manufacturer of Wellbutrin (GlaxoSmithKline) says that their pills do not affect a sexual performance negatively and have a very low risk of weight gain. Still, Wellbutrin XL is not for people under 18 or those, who take bupropion in other pills (e.g Zyban) or MAOIs antidepressants. Overdose of the given medication (more than 450 mg a day) is extremely dangerous in view of possible seizures.

Anyway, Wellbutrin XL pill is a new hope for all those, who would like to enjoy all the seasons of a year without any exceptions instead of spending long fall evenings and short days in a company of blue mood and seasonal depression only.


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