You may be wondering why at certain times of the year you unexpectedly fall into a mild to deep depression. Out of nowhere you suddenly feel despair, loneliness and even have a difficult time getting out of bed. There are no indications as to why you feel this way. Everything in your life seems fine and you are surrounded by loving, supportive people. So therefore you wonder, why the gloom?
These unexplained symptoms were recognized by the psychiatric community as recently as 1984 which became known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or, more appropriately, SAD. Although there is no official test to determine a SAD diagnosis, it is usually attributed to symptoms reacting to the slow change from light to dark and warm to cold during the winter months. However, SAD can also be experienced when the season changes from winter into spring and sometimes spring into summer, however winter is the most prominent time.
SAD usually begins around mid to late September and can hang on all the way through November. The good news is that this condition usually dissipates as the season gets into full swing and the body adjusts accordingly.
Those Affected by SAD
SAD can affect any age, gender or race. It has been approximated that roughly twenty-percent of Americans reported a mild to aggressive form of SAD at one time or another. There is no specific marker when it comes to a targeted demographic. However, if someone is already struggling with another form of depression, SAD has been known to exacerbate it. Genes and hormones can contribute to SAD as well as low body temperature and limited natural light.
Symptoms can manifest as very subtle to debilitating. They can start with an increase in appetite, especially carbohydrates. This is a ruthless cycle that not only has you craving more and more but can also result in weight gain which is depressing to anyone. Deep, long, heavy sleeping is another symptom. This often creates difficulty in rising out of bed. SAD eventually results in low energy, sluggish movement, social withdrawal, struggles with concentration, irritability and overall sadness.
SAD Treatment Options
Because the duration of SAD is so short a doctor is more than likely to prescribe low dose anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and/or sleep aids to regulate mood. However, under proper supervision such as a naturopathic doctor, alternative therapy for SAD can help as well. This may include trying such remedies as St. John’s Wort for depression; melatonin, a natural hormone to help with sleep and light change; acupuncture; light therapy using blue light to simulate day; essential oils such as lavender or rescue remedy for a calming effect; and adjusting nutrition which can increase healthy serotonin enhancing foods as well as proteins to keep energy at its peak.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, once called winter blues, is taken more seriously these days. By making small adjustments when seasons change can mean the difference between suffering or smiling through it all.
Ozella Doughton is a huge fan of science, health, and wellness. She is an eco-conscious individual who is fascinated by the procedures used for drilling at Shale Marcellus and other sites throughout the USA.