Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the Spotlight

You’re not alone if you feel melancholy, dismal, and hopeless more frequently in the winter months than the rest of the year. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes known as winter depression, affects between 4% and 6% of individuals in the United States. Another ten to twenty percent may not have received an official diagnosis of SAD but are experiencing milder seasonal depression symptoms. People who suffer from SAD frequently begin to feel sad in the late fall and early winter months of each year.

The main cause of seasonal mood shifts is daylight, not temperature. The more away you are from the equator, the more likely you are to suffer from SAD. In the winter, Tucson, Arizona, for example, receives an average of 8.5 hours of sunlight per day. People in Anchorage, Alaska, on the other hand, get just under three hours of daily sunlight, putting them at a significantly higher risk for SAD. Long periods of cloudy weather, such as in Seattle or Vancouver, Canada, might exacerbate symptoms.

The exact causes of SAD are unknown, however it is more common among women and young individuals. A disruption in circadian rhythm, reduced levels of serotonin (a chemical linked to mood), and variations in melatonin levels (a hormone that makes you drowsy) are all thought to have a role in the development of SAD, according to some scientists.

The following are some of the symptoms of SAD/winter depression:

Low energy, difficulties sleeping or sleeping too much, cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods, and thoughts of suicide or death are all symptoms of depression.
SAD is commonly treated with medication, talk therapy (counselling), and light therapy (also known as phototherapy). According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, college students who participated in light therapy saw a significant reduction in their overall depression levels. Investing in a light therapy box could be a cost-effective treatment option. Even when the sun is hours away from rising, some light therapy boxes simulate the course of a dawn.

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SAD symptoms may be improved by engaging in certain lifestyle choices, such as:

Getting outside while the sun is shining, opening window blinds and curtains, sitting near a window during daylight hours, and getting regular exercise are all good ideas.

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