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All About Seasonal Affective Disorder

November 30, 2015

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You might have felt the winter blahs before, where you feel lethargic and unable to get anything done. Usually this feeling passes pretty quickly, but for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the winter season can have much more serious effects. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder can leave you feeling depressed. Seasonal Affective Disorder can leave you feeling depressed. Courtesy of Pop Sugar

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder? 

  • SAD is a disorder that affects people during seasonal changes. It can produce feelings of depression, low energy, oversleeping, and loss of interest in regular activities. 
  • People who are affected by SAD typically do not feel depressed during the rest of the year. 
  • Most people who have SAD begin to feel symptoms in late fall, as the days grow shorter, and symptoms continue throughout the winter season. Some people are affected in reverse and experience depression during the summer season. 

Sleeping way more than usual? That can be a symptom of SAD. Sleeping way more than usual? That can be a symptom of SAD. Courtesy of newscenter.philips.com

Causes

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is ultimately a type of depression, is caused by chemical changes in the body and the brain. 
  • Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that influences your mood. When there is reduced sunlight, as in winter, serotonin levels can drop, which can make you feel depressed. 
  • The body's melatonin level has a significant effect on mood and sleep cycles. Because the quantity of light changes with the seasons, your melatonin level can change too; this can cause you to feel more tired and low energy than usual. 

Depression disorders, like SAD, are caused by chemicals in the brain. Depression disorders, like SAD, are caused by chemicals in the brain. Courtesy of bioedonline.org

Treatments

  • Many people who suffer from depression take medication to relieve their symptoms. Medication can be especially helpful if symptoms are severe, but taking medication just for a season may not always be the best choice. 
  • Light therapy is a common treatment for SAD. Light therapy boxes, that emit a natural-like light, can help your body and your brain adjust to seasonal differences in the light outdoors.  
  • Therapy is also a treatment option if you have SAD or any mood disorder. A therapist or doctor can help you learn to manage stress and can suggest treatment methods that will work best for your situation. 

A light box can be an effective way to treat SAD. A light box can be an effective way to treat SAD. Courtesy of lumie.com

It's totally normal to feel down sometimes, and most people get a little sleepier as the weather gets colder, but if you find that these feelings are really getting in the way of your life, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. That way, you can start enjoying the winter time again! 

Have Your Say!

Do you ever have a hard time feeling happy during the winter? We'd love to hear from you in our comments section!