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David Baxter

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It's SAD, but mention of depression, lethargy or lack of libido is BANNED! [UK]
Thursday, 12-Oct-2006

In yet another example of bureaucracy gone mad, around 30 million people who suffer seasonal depression and a lack of energy during the winter months will be denied the opportunity to choose an effective treatment because regulators have banned the use of all the words that describe the symptoms that people experience.

Light therapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of SAD and seasonal depression in dozens of clinical trials around the world, and has even been demonstrated to be as effective as Prozac?, the preferred medication, but with fewer side effects.

Despite the pressure on the NHS to manage today's enormous growth in depressive illnesses, manufacturers and sellers of light therapy devices, often called SAD lights, are banned from using the words SAD, depression, depressed mood, lethargic, lack of energy and libido in their advertising. This ruling is enforced even when advertisers are trying to educate the public of the difference between SAD and a more general 'winter blues'.

Typical SAD symptoms of lethargy, profound lack of energy, carbohydrate craving and weight gain, hypersomnia and depressed mood are experienced by 40% of people in our northern latitudes. However, only 2% will suffer depression of sufficient depth to meet the clinical definition of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Nonetheless, the media, medical professionals and the consumer refer to any seasonal decline in mood as SAD and the expression 'winter blues' is rarely used.

Dr. Jan Wise, London-based consultant psychiatrist and expert in seasonal depression and light therapy, comments, "Two in five people will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. If you notice symptoms such as lack of energy, trouble sleeping and a general low feeling for prolonged periods, then this is a very real sign of SAD. Light therapy is an important and clinically proven treatment for seasonal depression. It is non-invasive, non-chemical and enables anyone with SAD to control their symptoms as naturally and effectively as possible."

Barry Fowler, who is presenting lectures on 'The science of light therapy' at this weekend's CAMexpo in London, said, "It seems ridiculous that advertisers of light therapy products are unable to even mention the word SAD when it is in such general use. The regulators forbid quotes from doctors and clinical research papers if they even hint of the words SAD or 'depression'. If people think they have SAD and are feeling depressed then these are the words that will attract their attention. When the NHS is under such great pressure to allocate scarce resources it just does not make sense to prevent people from knowing that there is an effective self-help solution at a pharmacy or website nearby for as little as ?150."
 

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