Scientists Decide Seasonal Affective Disorder Is Really Just A Bunch Of Baloney

This blog entry is based on reports about scientific studies that concluded a health problem called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” is not a real health problem.

I remember way back during the Gulf War when the TV was pushing fear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that CNN started running these shows on how if people were depressed, it wasn’t because CNN and other news outlets were telling them every minute of every day that they were going to die in some kind of attack, it was because they were not getting enough light and were suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I remember CNN telling people to sit in front of banks of bright lights for hours a day and they would feel better, and by the way, here was a company or three that sold lights specially designed to be extra effective at treating Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Now, 15 years later, scientists are coming out and saying , “Yes. Seasonal Affective Disorder is just a bunch of stupidity we sold you on. What they are not saying but is obvious from the information in the previous two paragraphs, is that scientists pushed Seasonal Affective Disorder stupidity in the first place because politicians wanted them to so people would not complain about the fear they were feeling as a result of the war the politicians were engaging in, and because various corporations were making big money selling $10 worth of light bulbs for $1000 as special light bulbs guaranteed to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Never believe scientists because they are stupid, they will say anything a politician tells them to say, and they will say anything that will financially enrich themselves or their relatives.

The original news story is reprinted below.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, the condition where people become depressed because of the lack of sunlight in the winter time, is probably myth, scientists have concluded.

A large scale study of adults in the US found that levels of depressive symptoms do not change from season to season or in different levels of light.

The researchers concluded that the findings are ‘inconsistent with the notion of seasonal depression as a commonly occurring disorder.’

“Pursuit of treatments based on false causes is unlikely to lead to rapid and durable recoveries.”
Dr Steven LoBello, Auburn University at Montgomery.

“In conversations with colleagues, the belief in the association of seasonal changes with depression is more-or-less taken as a given and the same belief is widespread in our culture,” said Dr Steven LoBello, a professor of psychology at Auburn University at Montgomery.

“We analysed the data from many angles and found that the prevalence of depression is very stable across different latitudes, seasons of the year, and sunlight exposures.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) has been a recognised condition since the late 1990s. To receive a diagnosis patients must exhibit major depressive symptoms which coincide with specific seasons. In most cases, patients report an increase of symptoms in the autumn and winter and a decrease in symptoms in spring and summer.

The NHS currently recommends that people see their GP if they experience low mood and and are struggling to cope. Doctors often recommend light boxes and even cognitive behavioural therapy as a treatment.

But recent studies have challenged the validity of earlier SAD research, including the fact that SAD is typically identified by asking patients to recall past depressive episodes over the course of the previous year or more.

To test whether depressive symptoms got worse in the winter, the researchers examined data from a total of 34,294 participants ranging in age from 18 to 99 who took part in a phone survey about their health throughout 2006.

Participants were asked how many days in the previous two weeks they had experienced symptoms of depression. They then checked geographical location and sunlight exposure for each respondents.

The results showed no evidence that symptoms of depression were associated with any of the season-related measures. People who responded to the survey in the winter months, or at times of lower sunlight exposure, did not have noticeably higher levels of depressive symptoms than those who responded to the survey at other times.

And the researchers did not find any evidence for seasonal differences in symptoms when they specifically looked at the subsample of 1,754 participants who scored within the range for clinical depression.

“The findings cast doubt on major depression with seasonal variation as a legitimate psychiatric disorder,” the researchers conclude.

They argue that: “being depressed during winter is not evidence that one is depressed because of winter.”

The researchers said it was clear that if SAD did exist it could only be affecting a very small proportion of the population.

“Mental health professionals who treat people with depression should be concerned about their own and their patients’ accurate conceptions about the possible causes of depression,” added Dr LoBello

“Pursuit of treatments based on false causes is unlikely to lead to rapid and durable recoveries.”

The research was published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

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