Antidepressant drug: . This group of drugs has proved extremely effective in treating depression. While there are many kinds of antidepressant drugs, they all work in basically the same way, causing subtle changes in the brain’s neurochemistry that seem to relieve symptoms.
This mood disorder is less serious than major depression, but it can cause upsetting symptoms, including crying, worrying, and physical complaints such as headache, upset stomach, and unexplained aches and pains.
Adjustment disorder normally develops within three months of some stressful event – for example, the loss of a spouse, retirement or moving to a new environment like a nursing home. People who suffer from a serious or prolonged physical illness are also vulnerable to adjustment disorder, perhaps because they feel disconnected from their usual world and feel a loss of control and competence.
If you or someone you know seems to be suffering from this disorder, see your doctor. He will check for any underlying illness or other problem that could be causing the symptoms. While antidepressant medication isn’t usually necessary, you may be referred for psychotherapy, which can help you deal with your unhappy feelings.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
In recent years doctors have identified a group of people whose depressive symptoms seem to be related to changes in their exposure to certain kinds of light, particularly ultraviolet light. They become extremely lethargic and depressed, often gaining excessive amounts of weight, in the winter months when days are shortest. When spring and summer arrive, their symptoms ease up or disappear altogether.
This pattern of depression is called “seasonal affective disorder” (also known, rather appropriately, as SAD). Researchers think that SAD may be related to a deficiency of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin secretion increases with exposure to sunlight.
The actual prevalence of SAD in older people isn’t known, but some researchers suspect it may be more common than any one thinks, especially among housebound older adults who rarely see the sun because of illness, isolation or disability.
If you think that you or someone you know is suffering from SAD, tell your doctor, who will probably want to rule out any other problems first. Many people with SAD can be helped by supervised, daily exposure to full-spectrum light, usually delivered by a lamp or a special device worn on the forehead.