Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression related to the changes in season. SAD occurs around the same time of year for most and is typically associated with the fall and winter months, though it can occur during summer and spring for some. This is common due to the changes in weather patterns, temperature and light exposure. These changes can have a psychological effect on an individual’s mental, physical and emotional health. Common symptoms of SAD include:
– Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness or impending doom.
– Having trouble sleeping or oversleeping.
– Increased anxiety or agitation.
– Noticeable weight loss or weight gain.
– Regular thoughts of suicide or death.
– Feelings of fatigue, sluggishness or lack of focus.
– Lose of interest in people or activities normally enjoyed.
SAD is very common in young adults, adults and seniors. Research supports that though the root cause of SAD is unknown, contributing factors are:
- The disruption of ones natural Circadian rhythm due to decreased sunlight in colder months which can lead to feelings of depression.
- An improper balance of the melatonin hormone which can impact ability to sleep and overall mood.
- A decrease in serotonin production in the body due to lack of sunlight which can alter mood.
No matter the cause, these symptoms should never be taken lightly. It’s normal to experience some off days, but if any of the above symptoms are present more frequent then not, then a medical doctor should be consulted. Common treatments for SAD include medication, talk therapy with a counselor, light therapy, chronotherapy or sleep therapy and regular exercise.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey