You may have heard a bit about SAD (or Seasonal Affective Disorder). Around this time of year, when winter brings its dark evenings and cold weather, we start to hear the rumour that the "SAD" months are upon us.
Seasonal depression is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. Seasonal depression disorder, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), can be serious and crippling each year.
In that way, it is different than the milder "winter blues." There is no known cause of seasonal affective disorder, but researchers currently think it may be related to:
· Changes in biological clock as the seasons change
· A disruption in the hormone melatonin
· A drop in the neurotransmitter serotonin, possibly due to reduced sunlight
Seasonal Depression Symptoms
Seasonal depression can be related to the summer or winter months, each with their own seasonal depression symptoms.
Fall and winter seasonal affective disorder symptoms include:
· Depression, hopelessness
· Loss of energy
· Social withdrawal
· Loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities
· Overeating, weight gain
· Difficulty thinking and concentrating
Seasonal depression in the summer is somewhat different. Rather than experiencing the marked low mood of depression, more irritable characteristics may come out.
Typical spring and summer seasonal depression symptoms include:
Lack of appetite, weight loss
Increased sex drive
Seasonal Depression Treatment
While some people think they have to "tough out" seasonal depression, there is no need for this as there are effective seasonal depression treatments available. Treatments for seasonal affective disorder include psychotherapy, antidepressant medication and SAD bright light therapy.
Bright light therapy is the most common seasonal depression disorder treatment. Bright light therapy attempts to increase the amount of "sunlight" received via a specialized light box. Patients spend a set period of time per day in front of their light box to treat seasonal depression.
Taking part in regular outdoor activities can help reduce symptoms of milder forms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It can be difficult to find motivation when suffering with SAD so it is can be helpful to try to create a personal schedule to help form a routine of doing outdoor activities.
Good exercises to try are morning walking or jogging because they encourage time spent in daylight (to get more vitamin D) as well as releasing 'happy' chemicals in the brain. It is recommended that everyone exercises for 30-60 minutes a day. This time can help to boost feel good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in our bodies, which in turn makes us feel better.
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