Do you feel more depressed during the winter than you should? If so, you may have a seasonal affective disorder called seasonal depression (SAD). A mood disorder known as seasonal depression occurs simultaneously each year. “Summer depression,” an uncommon type of seasonal depression, starts in the late spring or early summer and lasts until the end of the fall. SAD, however, typically begins in the fall or winter and ends in the spring or early summer. Continue reading to learn more about seasonal depression.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
A kind of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is brought on by a seasonal shift, typically as fall arrives. Before fading in the brighter spring days, this seasonal sadness develops stronger in the late fall or early winter.
It's common to feel a little sad during the colder months, and you can also acquire a mild form of SAD known as the “winter blues.” Given that it becomes dark early, you can be trapped inside. But complete SAD goes beyond this. This kind of depression exists. Unlike the winter blues, SAD impacts your daily life, including how you feel and think. Thankfully, therapy can help you get through this challenging period. Seasonal depression is another name for the seasonal affective illness.
Can People Get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) In The Summer?
A rare type of seasonal affective disorder known as “summer depression” affects certain people and begins in the late spring or early summer and lasts into the fall. It occurs less frequently than the winter-specific seasonal affective disorder.
Who Is At Risk For Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Younger adults and women are more likely to experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In addition, you face a higher risk if you:
- Possess a different mood condition, such as bipolar disorder or severe depressive disorder.
- Have family members that suffer from SAD, other types of depression, or mental illnesses such as severe depression or schizophrenia.
- Reside far north or far south of the equator in latitude. At these latitudes, the number of daylight decreases during the winter.
- Live in an area with clouds.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal depression's specific etiology is unknown to researchers. If you are predisposed to the illness, a lack of sunlight may worsen it. The theories say:
- Biological clock change: Your biological clock changes as the number of sunlight decreases. This internal clock controls your hormones, mood, and sleep. You can't adjust to variations in the length of the day when it moves because you are out of sync with your regular daily routine.
- Brain chemical imbalance: Neurotransmitters are substances in the brain that communicate with nerves. Serotonin is one of these molecules, and it helps people feel happy. If you are susceptible to the seasonal affective disorder, your serotonin levels may already be low. A lack of sunlight in the winter can exacerbate the problem because sunlight helps regulate serotonin. Depression may result from a further decline in serotonin levels.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Vitamin D also raises your serotonin levels. Because vitamin D is produced partly by sunlight, a lack of the sun during the winter might cause a vitamin D deficiency. The serotonin level and your mood may be impacted by that alteration.
- Melatonin boost: A hormone called melatonin influences your emotions and sleeping patterns. In some persons, the lack of sunlight may encourage excess melatonin production. During the winter, you could feel sluggish and tired.
- Negative thoughts: People who suffer from seasonal affective disorder frequently feel stressed, anxious, and depressed during the winter. According to researchers, these negative thoughts may cause seasonal depression.
Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Depression of this kind includes seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The American Psychiatric Association formally categorizes SAD as a major depressive disorder with seasonal rhythms. Therefore, if you have a seasonal affective disorder, you may have depressive symptoms such as:
- Sadness, feeling down for the majority of every day.
- Weight gain and cravings for carbohydrates.
- Extreme exhaustion and loss of vitality.
- Feelings of worthlessness or despair.
- Having trouble focusing
- on being angry or irritated.
- Arm and leg limbs that are hefty.
- A decline in interest in typically enjoyable activities, especially a withdrawal from social activities.
- Sleeping issues (usually oversleeping).
- Thoughts of suicide or death.
People who have summer seasonal affective disorder may experience:
- Agitation and restlessness.
- Decreased appetite and weight loss.
- Episodes of violent behavior.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
How Is Seasonal Affective Disorder diagnosed?
Depression frequently coexists with other diseases like cancer or heart disease. Other mental disorders, such as substance abuse or anxiety, may also cause it. Early diagnosis and therapy are essential to recovery for these reasons. A detailed mental health examination and medical history performed by a psychiatrist or other mental health practitioner may result in the diagnosis of SAD.
Treatment For Seasonal Affective Disorder
Treatments for “winter depression” and “summer depression,” which frequently differ from one another, may include all of the following alone or in combination:
- Exposure to sunlight. Spending time outside or near a window can help relieve symptoms.
- Light therapy. If getting more sunlight is not an option, it might be beneficial to spend a certain amount of time each day in a unique light.
- Psychotherapy. Interpersonal or cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you alter your erroneous perceptions of who you are and the world around you. It can assist you in developing interpersonal skills, recognizing your stress triggers, and learning effective stress management techniques.
- Antidepressants. These prescription medicines can help correct the chemical imbalance that may lead to SAD.
There are also things you can do for yourself to help relieve symptoms:
- Get help. Consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible if you believe you may be depressed.
- In light of the despair, establish attainable goals. Don't load yourself up. Prioritize, break big chores into smaller ones, and work as quickly as possible.
- Try to be with other people and confide in someone. It is usually better than being alone and secretive.
- Do things that make you feel better. Attending a movie, gardening, or engaging in social, religious, or other activities could be beneficial. You may feel better by doing something kind for someone else.
- Get regular exercise.
- Expect your mood to get better slowly, not right away. Feeling better takes time.
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Stay away from alcohol and drugs. These can make depression worse.
- Delay big decisions until the depression has lifted before making a significant decision such as changing professions, getting married, or divorcing. It is over with people who know you well and can offer a more unbiased assessment of your circumstances.
- Remember: People rarely “snap out of” a depression. But they can feel a little better day by day.
- Try to be patient and focus on the positives. This may help replace the negative thinking that is part of depression. The negative thoughts will disappear as your depression responds to treatment.
- Let your family and friends help you.
The outlook is good if you have a seasonal affective disorder. People who are susceptible to it can develop it every year, but there are things you can take to prevent or decrease symptoms. There are seasonal affective disorder treatments accessible. People who receive the proper diagnosis and treatment regimen can experience symptom relief. Lack of energy and a sense of helplessness are two symptoms. Fortunately, seasonal depression is treatable. To determine the course of treatment that will be most effective for you, speak with your healthcare practitioner.