Proto-FAQ, part one
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 1995
Part 1 of 5

Q. What causes SAD?
A. The group of symptoms which doctors and therapists use to diagnose depression ("depressive symptomns"), which includes the important proviso that the symptoms have manifested for more than a few weeks and that they are interfering with normal life, are the result of an alteration in brain chemistry. This alteration is similar to temporary, normal variations in brain chemistry which can be triggered by illness, stress, frustration, or grief, but it differs in that it is self-sustaining and does not resolve itself upon removal of such triggering events (if any such trigger can be found at all, which is not always the case.) SAD is characterised by the sufferer living a "normal," healthy life during the summer months, but crashing into a depressive episode during the autumnal and winter season. Frequently, the depressive phases sets in around September or October, and will recede in May or June. A recurrent pattern of depression during winter and good health during summer is very suggestive of SAD.
Due to the risk of suicide, SAD must be thought of as a potentially fatal illness if left untreated. Friends and relatives may be deceived by the casual way that profoundly depressed people speak of suicide or self-mutilation. They are not casual because they "don't really mean it"; they are casual because these things seem no worse than the mental pain they are already suffering. Any comment such as, "You'd be better off if I were gone," or "I wish I could just jump out a window," is the equivalent of a sudden high fever; the depressed person must be taken to a professional who can monitor their danger. A formulated plan, such as, "I'm going to jump in front of the next car that comes by," is the equivalent of sudden unconsciousness: an immediate medical emergency which may require hospitalization.
Depression can shut down the survival instinct or temporarily suppress it. Therefore, depressed suicidal thinking is not the same as the suicidal thinking of normal people who have reached a crisis point in their lives. Depressive suicides give less warning, need less time to plan, and are willing to attempt more painful and immediate means, such as jumping out of a moving car. They may also fight the impulse to suicide by compromising on self-injury -- cutting themselves with knives, for example, in an attempt to distract themselves from severe mental pain. Again, relatives and friends are likely to be astonished by how quickly such an impulse can appear and be acted upon.

Q. What are some electronic resources on the internet related to depression?
A. This list is a shortened version of one compiled and maintained by Sylvia Caras. It is posted periodically to ThisIsCrazy-L (see below for subscription information). If you would like to suggest additions for this list, contact :
To suggest additions to this list for the FAQ, send them to:

* Newsgroups:

* There is a WWW site Seasonal Light/SAD being set up by Lou Puls,, dealing exclusively with SAD and seasonal light.
The address is:
This site covers book listings, articles, and some information on membership organizations and light-box and other seasonal light device manufacturers.

* Internet Health Resources is an extensive listing of medical resources available over the internet:
cd pub/hmatrix
get file medlst03.txt or

* An FTP site at Temple University containing articles related to depression:

* ThisIsCrazy is an electronic action and information letter for people who experience moods swings, fright, voices, and visions
(People Who). To subscribe, send a message to :
with this command in the body of the message:
subscribe ThisIsCrazy-L

* Pendulum is a mailing list for people diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder (manic depression) and related disorders and their supporters, and some professionals. To subscribe to pendulum, send a message to:
containing the line:
subscribe pendulum

* Walkers-in-Darkness is a list for people diagnosed with various depressive disorders (unipolar, atypical, and bipolar depression, S.A.D., related disorders). The list also includes sufferers of panic attacks and Borderline Personality Disorder. Please, no researchers trying to study us, etc. (Postings are copyrighted by individual posters.)
To subscribe to walkers or walkers-digest, send a message to:
containing the line "subscribe walkers" or, for the digest, "subscribe walkers-digest". There is an anonymous FTP site at:
in ~/pub/walkers, that includes a technical FAQ.

* To subscribe to the Mailbase list psychiatry send the command:
SUBSCRIBE psychiatry to

Q. How can I post anonymously to
A. You can post anonymously to by using the anonymous server in Finland. For more information about the anonymous server, send mail to:
for an automated reply that explains how to use the server.
Special note: While your posting will appear in without any indication of your identity, your posting first has to be sent to Finland by e-mail. This makes the contents of your message no more secure than any other international e-mail (less secure if you don't trust the administrator of, which is to say not very secure at all. For more information, consult the Privacy & Anonymity on the Internet FAQ, posted regularly to sci.crypt, comp.society.privacy, and alt.privacy.

======= FAQ. Copyright (c) 1994 Cynthia Frazier.
Lou Puls' WWW site. (See above).
Pamphlet: Depression: What you need to know, National Institute of Mental Health, by Marilyn Sargent. Office of Scientific Information
National Institute of Mental Health, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is published by the American Psychiatric Association. The latest version is the DSM-III-R (1987). For reference, the DSM-III was published in 1980. The first edition of this manual was published in 1952, and the second edition in 1968. The fourth edition (DSM-IV) is currently in press and should be available this summer. It is used by the vast majority of psychologists and mental health professionals in the United States of America as a diagnostic tool. Psychiatrists and professionals outside of the U.S. will often use a diagnostic system called ICD-9, which differs in many respects from the DSM.

Becky Elmont,NY
Brian Gerred
Cynthia Frazier ( Lansing, NY
Dawn Sharon Friedman
Dana Quinn
John M. Grohol (, Nova S.E. University
Joy Ikelman Boulder, CO (Keith Rich)
Mary-Anne Wolf
Rachel Findley
Robert Orenstein (
Silja Muller
Stephan Klaus Heilmayr Oakland, CA >BR> Sue W.
Sylvia Caras Owner, ThisIsCrazy-L
Todd Daniel Woodward Mountain View, CA
Wes Melander

Editor: Pete Appleton
All corrections, suggestions and additions gratefully received!
FAQ (c) 1995 Pete Appleton.
Most of this FAQ has been copied directly from the FAQ, edited by Cynthia Frazier ( Portions (c) 1994 Cynthia Frazier.
Special thanks to Ivan Goldberg, MD, NY Psychopharmacologic Inst., , who has provided many of the questions and answers as well as made corrections throughout the FAQ.

Getting Help
Q. Where should a person go for help?
A. If you think you might need help, see your internist or general practitioner and explain your situation. Sometimes an actual physical illness can cause depression-like symptoms so that is why it is best to see your regular physician first to be checked out. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a psychiatrist if the severity of your depression warrants it.
Other sources of help include the members of the clergy, local suicide hotline, local hospital emergency room, or your local mental health center, which can provide local and broader references.
Following is a list of organisations in the USA:

1. National Organization for SAD (NOSAD).
NOSAD was developed to support the interests of patients with SAD. Its membership is open to patients, relatives, friends, interested professionals, and any others who wish to further its goals.
These include:
(1) disseminating information about SAD by means of a regular newsletter;
(2) offering support groups to patients and their families in a manner that has been successful for many other medical and psychiatric illnesses;
(3) working for things that are important to people with SAD - for example, insurance reimbursement for light fixtures.
P. O. Box 451
Vienna, VA 22180
Tel. 301-762-0768

2.Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms.
Updated (3 Apr 96) address:

    10200 West 44th Avenue, Suite 304
    Wheat Ridge, Colorado, 80033-2840, USA 
    Tel: (303) 424-3697
    Fax: (303) 422-8894

They also have a website at: 

Source, with thanks:
  Raymond W. Lam, M.D.
  Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia
  Director, Mood Disorders Clinic
  Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre
  2255 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 2A1
  Tel:  604-822-7325     Fax:  604-822-7922

Old, obsolete address: P. O. Box 478
Wilsonville, OR 97070
Tel. 503-694-2404

3. Sun Net
P. O. Box 10606
Rockville, MD 20850

4. Seasonal Studies
National Institute of Mental Health
Building 10/4S-239
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892

Q. Where can I find help in the United Kingdom?
A. The following are places one might find help in Great Britain:

Depressives Associated
PO Box 1022
London SE1 7QB

Depressives Anonymous
36 Chestnut Avenue
HU17 9QU

MIND (National association for mental health)
22 Harley Street
London W1N 2ED

The Samaritans (Telephone counselling service & hotline)
Tel: 0345 909090 Local call.

To find a psychiatrist/ psychologist near you, call or write:
Royal College of Psychiatrists
17 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PG

Subject: Proto-FAQ, part two
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 1995
Part 2 of 5
** Light Boxes **
+ What is a light box? How does it work?
+ Where can I get a light box from?
** Medication **
---***Under Construction***---