What is S.A.D.?
A type of depression that corresponds to the changes in the seasons. For most people, this starts in fall and continues throughout the winter months. This usually starts and ends at the same time each year when the seasons change. As the season progresses, your symptoms may progress as well.
Seasonal affective disorder occurs more often in women than men; also, it occurs more often in younger adults than in older adults. But it can affect anybody at any stage in their life!
What may increase your risk of S.A.D.?
- Family history – having blood relatives that have seasonal affective disorder or another form of depression increases your risk.
- Having depression or bipolar disorder – if you have symptoms of depression, the seasons can worsen your symptoms.
- Living far from the equator – due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer, S.A.D. is more common with those who live far north or south of the equator.
Causes of S.A.D.
Unfortunately, there is not a specific cause, but there are a few factors that can cause S.A.D.
- Your circadian rhythm
- When the sun starts to rise later in the morning and set earlier in the evening it impacts your biological clock.
- Your serotonin levels
- Serotonin helps regulate your mood, so when there is a drop in serotonin you may experience seasonal affective disorder. The decrease in sunlight can also affect your serotonin levels.
- Your melatonin levels
- Melatonin helps regulate your sleep, and the change in the seasons can disrupt the body’s level of melatonin.
Possible Signs and Symptoms of S.A.D.
- Feeling depressed majority of the day (also almost every day)
- Feeling low on energy
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Losing interest in activities you enjoy
- Noticing you are struggling concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Noticing changes in your appetite
- Experiencing weight changes
- Social withdrawal
- Substance abuse
- School or work issues
- Other mental health disorders (anxiety or eating disorders)
- Having thoughts of harming yourself
If you feel like you want to harm yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
We all have days when we are feeling down, but if you notice this happening days at a time, go see you doctor. Treatment can help the symptoms from progressing.
Take control of your mood and fight the S.A.D.!
- Talk with me, a Certified Health Coach, to improve your overall well-being
- Try out Western’s Wellness and Recovery LED light therapy beds
- Exercise regularly – meet with a Western Personal Trainer to jumpstart your workout routine
- Find a mind-body technique that works for you – yoga, meditation, music therapy, art therapy, tai chi
- Make your environment sunnier and brighter by opening blinds in your home and sitting near windows at your home or work for natural light
- Get outside to soak up the sunlight – take a walk or bike ride, eat lunch outside, or just sit outside to enjoy the fresh air
- Practice stress management techniques and take care of yourself