PARENTS AND TEENS ALERTED TO WATCH FOR 'WINTER BLUES'
GAITHERSBURG, Md., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Halloween Eve, when Americans turned the clocks back one hour they not only made night fall earlier, they began the annual season of depression for millions of American teen-agers. "Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a disorder that is directly related to the shortage of sunlight during fall and winter," says Neal Owens, who himself has SAD and is the largest manufacturer of the leading treatment tool, the SunBox(R). "As the shortest, most bleak and depressing days of winter approach, we hope to educate parents and teen- agers about SAD and how they can enjoy a reasonably happy winter," Owens said. Last winter, The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) conducted a study using 2,000 school children. Researchers now estimate that up to 3 million adolescents have been diagnosed with SAD and another 1 million have the disorder but are yet to be identified. These are approximately the same numbers as Attention Deficit Disorder. Teen- agers who have SAD often report decreased energy, increased sleeping, changes in eating habits, irritability and lack of motivation. These problems are not related to a specific event, family or individual crisis, or physical illness -- rather they return each fall and winter. NIMH researcher Dr. Norman Rosenthal notes the following symptoms of SAD in children and adolescents: -- sleeping more than usual, feeling tired and lethargic; -- feeling cranky and irritable; -- temper tantrums or crying spells; -- having difficulty concentrating and doing school work (this may result in slipping grades or the need to work harder to maintain current grades); -- being reluctant to undertake chores and other responsibilities not previously regarded as a problem; -- vague physical symptoms, such as headaches or abdominal pains; and -- marked increase in cravings for "junk foods" and weight gain. SAD is frequently undiagnosed in children and adolescents. When SAD is diagnosed, it is usually not until the teen-ager is 15 or 16 years old. Too often, the symptoms of SAD are wrongly dismissed as the usual emotional upheaval of adolescence. These children may go unnoticed in the classroom because they are generally not disruptive (unlike those children having attention deficit disorder). Researchers believe that light reaching the brain through the eyes by way of visual pathways, can affect areas of the brain known to regulate depression, mood and appetite. The most effective treatment for SAD is daily exposure to only 15 to 30 minutes to artificial, bright light. Patients at clinics worldwide have been helped to overcome the effects of SAD through light therapy. Light therapy, which can be used by a patient in settings as convenient as the breakfast table or work desk, is usually started each fall and continued until spring. "SAD is a real and serious disorder," Owens reports. "If we can inform teen-agers and their parents about SAD, maybe we can help millions of adolescents avoid the difficulties that I and others have lived thorough." Owens is president of The SunBox Company, whose light units are used in over 200 clinical research facilities and in thousands of homes worldwide. -0- 11/11/93 /CONTACT: Barbara Katz of The SunBox Company, 301-869-5980/
CO: The SunBox Company ST: Maryland IN: HEA SU:
KD-DC -- DCFNS1 -- 3036 11/11/93 07:31 EST
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|Date:||Nov 11, 1993|
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