With winter already rolled into town, many of us are wrapping up warm and keeping our cupboards full of cold medicine, ready to fight of whatever bug dares creep into our weakened immune system.
Every year there is an emphasis on taking care of our bodies, but there is a lack of mention of the mind. Every year thousands of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise cleverly known as SAD. More prominent in women, but with more severe symptoms in men, SAD is something that people need to be more aware of.
The specific cause of SAD is still largely unknown. However, some very important factors may be :
- Your Biological clock. The reduced level of sunlight in autumn and winter can cause winter-onset SAD. The decreased sunlight can disrupt your internal body clock, thus leaving you with feelings of depression.
- Serotonin Levels. Reduced levels of sunlight can also cause a drop in your serotonin levels, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects your mood.
- Melatonin levels. The change in seasons can also cause a drop in melatonin levels, which play a large roll in your sleep patterns and mood.
As you can see, these factors are ones that many of us from colder countries can not avoid. With the sun rising later and setting earlier, and the clocks changing, it seems like world is against us in this. However, there are many ways to combat SAD, which I will mention below, along with a list of symptoms to look out for.
Seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. So symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Having low energy
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having problems with sleeping
- Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Fall and winter SAD
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
Spring and summer SAD
Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Agitation or anxiety
Seasonal changes in bipolar disorder
In some people with bipolar disorder, spring and summer can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania), and fall and winter can be a time of depression.
As you can see, many of the symptoms are overarching. If you feel like you have many of these and have been suffering as of late, it’s probably best you go to a doctor. However, if you feel able to deal with it yourself, here are some ways to help!
- Light therapy! Get outside and sit in the sun. There is nothing better for you when you are suffering a case of SAD than light. Sitting near a window is also a way to help battle SAD. Another option are light therapy lamps, which emit light similar to that of the sun.
- Exercise! As always, exercise helps a bunch, so get outside and go for a walk! Speaking out outside…
- Get outside! One of the main causes of SAD is lack of natural light, so please guys, help yourself and get outside. I can’t recommend this one enough.
I hope this helps someone out there, and I hope you are all doing well this winter holidays. I’m here if anyone ever needs a chat! And hey guys, Christmas is less than two weeks away! Yaaaaay ❤︎❤︎