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Email strategies for managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Email strategies for managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Email strategies are a supplementary tool for managing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression 10 million Americans face. 


What is SAD?

A 2018 BMC psychiatry article offered the following definition for SAD: “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a seasonally recurrent type of major depression that has detrimental effects on patients’ lives during winter.”

The concept of "Seasonal Affective Disorder" originated from Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal and his colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health in the early 1980s, after they noticed the seasonal pattern of mood changes and began to study its impact on individuals. 

An open dialogue is a key part of diagnosing the condition, separating it from other types of depression or mood disorders. This ensures that the treatment plan is tailored specifically to the individual's needs. It also fosters a therapeutic alliance that gives patients the chance to take an active role in their treatment and the way forward.

See also: Mental health screenings using HIPAA compliant email


Email communication as a way to deal with SAD

Email communication is an effective way for people dealing with SAD. Articulating their thoughts and feelings through written communication can be less daunting than face-to-face interactions. This is especially true during low-energy periods or when managing the symptoms of depression. Email allows patients to communicate with their healthcare providers at their own pace. 

The privacy of email communication also promotes a sense of openness and honesty about one’s mental health. With the blanket security of communicating securely, patients feel safer. The convenience of easy, secure communication can make a difference in maintaining regular contact and improving outcomes for treatment strategies. 


Useful HIPAA compliant email strategies to benefit healthcare organizations

Exploring various treatment strategies for SAD can lead to innovative approaches, including the use of HIPAA compliant email communication between healthcare providers and patients. In light of a study by Fleer in 2014, which investigated the effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) on SAD, the benefits of additional communication strategies undoubtedly benefits patients. 

Strategies for using HIPAA compliant email in the SAD treatment process include:

  • Treatment plan updates and adjustments: Healthcare providers can email personalized treatment recommendations, including modifications to MBCT practices or other psychological therapies, based on the patient's progress or feedback. This ensures that the patient's treatment remains dynamic and responsive to their needs.
  • Educational resources: Patients can benefit from receiving educational material via email about managing SAD, including tips on lifestyle adjustments, light therapy usage, and mindfulness exercises. These resources can empower patients to take proactive steps in managing their condition.
  • Scheduled check-ins: Setting up regular email check-ins can help maintain a continuum of care, allowing patients to report on their mood, therapy adherence, and any side effects or challenges they're experiencing. This ongoing dialogue is crucial for adjusting treatment plans promptly and effectively.
  • Mindfulness exercise prompts: Given the interest in MBCT for SAD, healthcare providers can email mindfulness and cognitive behavioral exercises for patients to practice at home. These prompts can support the patient's therapy outside of clinical settings, reinforcing the benefits of MBCT.
  • Feedback collection: Email can be a valuable tool for gathering patient feedback on the effectiveness of their treatment, their satisfaction with the communication and care provided, and any barriers they're encountering. This feedback is vital for tailoring treatment to the patient's individual needs and preferences.

See also: Top 10 HIPAA compliant email services



Can email communication replace in-person therapy sessions for SAD?

Email communication cannot replace in-person therapy sessions for SAD.


How often should I expect to communicate with my healthcare provider via email?

The frequency of email communication with your healthcare provider should be based on your individual treatment plan, but a common approach is weekly updates or as symptoms change.


Can email communication be used to track and document my SAD treatment progress?

Yes, email communication can be used to track and document your SAD treatment progress.


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