Allostatic Load & Seasonal Affective Disorder

Allostatic Load

Allostatic load is a term that refers to stress on the mind and body caused by a wide variety of social, environmental, physical and psychological conditions. According to research published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in 2000, anxiety disorders and depressive disorders can contribute to allostatic load.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, which may be referred to as SAD or seasonal depression, is a type of depressive disorder that recurs at the same time each year. Symptoms of SAD typically begin in the fall or winter, though some may experience symptoms in the spring and summer.

Symptoms

Symptoms of winter-onset seasonal affective disorder may include depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, social withdrawal, appetite changes and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. Summer-onset seasonal affective disorder may involve agitation, insomnia, anxiety and irritability.

Function

According to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine in 1997, high levels of allostatic load may contribute to a decline in physical and cognitive functioning.

Treatment

Treatment of seasonal affective disorder may involve light therapy, antidepressant medications, and psychotherapy. Light therapy refers to exposure to the bright light of a light therapy box or lamp. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that may contribute to a person's allostatic load, which is an index of physical and psychological damage caused by the body's response to various challenges.