Do you find yourself feeling more depressed during the winter months? You may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition starts about November and usually ends about March, although there is also reverse SAD, where people feel depressed during the warmer months. While doctors are still puzzled about what causes SAD, they are beginning to get a better idea, leading to better treatment plans.
What Are Common Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
People affected by SAD often:
- Feel depressed or hopeless
- Experience low-energy levels
- Encounter memory and concentration issues
- Want to eat and sleep too much
- Lose joy in activities that they usually enjoy
What Scientists Think Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder
Scientists are still confused about the exact reason that people experience this disorder. They believe that several different factors may interact during the winter months.
Generally, people stay indoors more during the winter months. Therefore, they do not get the amount of Vitamin D from the sun during the warmer months. Statistics show that those living closer to the two poles are more likely to experience this disorder than those living near the equator because the days are even shorter.
The body naturally produces more melatonin when it’s dark outside. Exposure to light normally stops the body from responding to melatonin during the day. Since there is less light in the winter, the body may react to this buildup that causes one to feel tired and sleepy constantly. Statistics show that those who work at night and shift workers are more prone to this disorder.
Serotonin imbalances are also thought to trigger this disorder. Many people stop exercising once temperatures start to drop, which means the body produces less serotonin. Additionally, spending more time in darkness may decrease serotonin production.
Suggestions for Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder
- The great news is that if you are one of the people SAD affects, you can take control of your symptoms. Making some simple changes may help.
- Consult your primary health provider to see if they think light therapy will help you. Most people find that sitting in front of the light while doing their morning routine treats SAD. You need to be sure to choose a box that blocks out harmful UV rays, so ask your provider for their recommendations.
- Eating a healthy diet can help. Try for a diet high in Vitamin D. Outstanding choices include salmon, herring, sardines, canned tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
- Getting outside when the weather allows can be a great way to treat SAD. You may want to plan a skiing weekend. Alternatively, bundle up and go for a quick walk.
- Talking to a mental health provider can help. SAD often responds well to antidepressants.
If you believe you are suffering from SAD, contact American Behavioral Clinics today to set up a free phone consultation with one of our care providers.
You might also want to read: Sad Symptoms & How to Spot Them in a Loved One.