Seasonal affective disorder is a unique type of depression that can affect nearly anyone. Also known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder usually occurs at the same time very year. Because it can happen to anyone, you yourself may have experienced the disorder and not even realized it or at least not had a name for it. Seasonal affective disorder often occurs during the winter months, when weather is most gloomy. You may have noticed a depressive mood during these months that may go away in the spring and summer months. Due to the commonness of the disorder, its important for more people to be aware of its existence. Read on to learn more about seasonal affective disorder and what you can do to treat it.
Seasonal Depression: Causes and Risks
The exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is unknown. But it has been attributed to a lack of sunlight. This lack of light can interfere with your biological clock that affects your circadian rhythms and sleep cycle. Lack of sunlight may also affect serotonin levels, a chemical in the brain that affects mood. Risks factors associated with seasonal affective disorder include gender. Women are more likely to develop the disorder than men. Individuals with a close relative with the disorder may also be more likely to develop the problem. It should also be noted that it mostly affects individuals between the ages of 15 and 55. And because individuals who live farther from the equator, where there is a decrease in sunlight in winter months, this can also be a risk factor.
- Decreased sunlight may be a factor
- Risk decreases with age
- More common in women
Symptoms of Seasonal affective disorder are similar to that of any depression. Individuals with the disorder may experience feelings of sadness, or they may feel moody or anxious. Some people may feel grumpy or angry during the season. Weight gain can occur as people may be more likely to consume carbohydrates such as bread and pasta. While individuals may experience more sleeping, tiredness may still persist. Individuals may have trouble concentrating, as well as lose enjoyment in things they once found pleasurable.
- May experience sadness and irritability
- Can cause weight gain
- Increases sleep
Even if seasonal affective disorder does not sound serious in itself, it can leads to further complications that should be considered serious. Individuals may have increased thoughts of suicide and even suicidal gestures. Some individuals pone to substance abuse may use these substances at this time. Seasonal affective disorder can also cause problems at work or school and can cause general social withdrawal.
- Problems with school and work
- Social withdrawal
- Thoughts of suicide
Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Some therapy methods for seasonal affective disorder are typical of most depression treatments. Psychotherapy and medications may both be used to treat the disorder with promising results. Medications like Wellbutrin can help elevate an individual’s mood as well as keep them feeling awake throughout the day. But for others light therapy may do the trick. Light therapy involves sitting in a box filled with light made to mimic the intensity of sunlight which can change the mood of a person in a positive may.
- Light therapy
Seasonal affective disorder can affect everyone and anyone. Though the affects may not always be lasting, symptoms can progress into something worse. If you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, its best not to wait for it to pass. With the right treatment, you can do something about it.