Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that is associated with the seasons change. Typically it begins in the fall and into the winter. There are cases that can happen in the spring or summer, but it is less common. For people in the United States on average the worst months tend to be between January and February. About 5% of the adults in the US may experience S.A.D and on average S.A.D may last for about 40% of the year. That is nearly half of the year spent not feeling like yourself.
SAD is most common in women, young people, and those who experience longer winter seasons, those who live further away from the equator. Those who also have a history of depression or a family member who has depression are more likely to develop S.A.D.
Causes of S.A.D:
There is no single known cause for S.A.D. Research suggests that S.A.D may be associated with an imbalance of serotonin in the body. Others think that the melatonin levels can be a factor in the sleep and mood patterns. Others suggest that your internal biological clock may also be a contributing factor in the disruption of your body and because of reduced levels of sunlight in the fall and winter seasons may lead to feelings of depression.
- Gloomy outlook
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and irritability
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Low energy
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- Carbohydrate cravings and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Fall and Winter Specific Symptoms:
- Appetite changes, cravings for foods high in carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Tiredness or low energy
Spring and Summer Specific Symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
- Agitation or anxiety
It is important to take note of the symptoms and any potential complications with any mood disorder as the consequences can be deadly. S.A.D is highly treatable, it is important to seek help before symptoms become too extreme.
Treatment Options for S.A.D:
There are many treatment options available, for some S.A.D can go away with the changing seasons, but for those whose symptoms have a greater impact on their everyday life there are other options you and your doctor can explore together. For example:
- Light therapy
- Vitamin D
For a deeper look at the different types of treatment options that are currently being used to treat S.A.D, follow the link.
For more information about seeking treatment options or if you have general questions about diagnosis and treatment, follow the link. (Embracia Health)