What Seasonal Affective Disorder Is And How To Manage It Better

February 8, 2017

Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is a form of depression that occurs and remission as per the different seasons. The disorder starts and ends at around the same time each year. Most people begin experiencing symptoms in fall that last into the winter months; these are marked by increased moodiness, fatigue, and lethargy. Some patients may suffer from SAD in early summer or spring.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Here are some common symptoms of major depression-linked Seasonal affective disorder listed below:

  • Feeling sad and depressed all day, almost every day
  • Reduced energy, lethargy
  • Worthless and hopelessness
  • Increased irritation and agitation
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Changes in weight and appetite
  • Sleeping problems
  • Concentration problems; inattentiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death
  • Symptoms of winter and fall Seasonal affective disorder are:
  • Reduced energy or weariness
  • Temper
  • Elevated sensitivity to rejection
  • Reduction in sociability
  • Heaviness of the legs or arms
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Gain in weight
  • Changes in appetite with craving for carb-rich foods
  • Symptoms of summer and spring Seasonal affective disorder are:
  • Depression
  • Loss of weight
  • Insomnia, sleeping problems
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Loss or lack of appetite

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

There are no known causes of Seasonal affective disorder. Some of the factors which may have a role in triggering the disorder are as follows: Reduced sunlight during winter and fall can disrupt the circadian rhythm or the biological clock of the body, trigger depression, and result in winter-onset Seasonal affective disorder.

Melatonin affects mood and sleep patterns. Its levels and balance in body can get disrupted due to changes in season. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, levels may drop due to decreased sunlight. This brain chemical is known to affect mood.

Other risk factors are:

  • Younger people are more likely to experience winter-onset SAD than older people
  • Women are at greater risk, but men suffer from more severe symptoms
  • Underlying conditions like bipolar disorder or clinical depression
  • A family history of SAD
  • Living far up in the south or north away from the equator
  • Treatment and Management of Seasonal affective disorder

First Line of Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder involves the following therapies:

(These are not my preferences for you, but to give you a deeper view into the options you have)…

Medicines: Doctors may prescribe antidepressants for some patients, particularly if symptoms are intense. Antidepressant treatment may sometimes arise before the occurrence of symptoms and just before seasons change. The beneficial effects of the drug may take several weeks to appear.

Light therapy: It is one of the first treatments that doctors suggest for fall-onset Seasonal affective disorder. In this, patients need to sit near a special light therapy box that emits bright light which is almost similar to outdoor sunlight. The light causes alterations in neurotransmitters and other brain chemicals associated with changes in mood.

Psychotherapy: Also termed talk therapy, psychotherapy helps learn healthy coping mechanisms for SAD; imbibe effective stress techniques; and find and alter abnormal behaviors and thoughts that aggravate the condition.

Want to share your experiences with Seasonal Affective Disorder? Comment below.

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2 comments on “What Seasonal Affective Disorder Is And How To Manage It Better

  1. Alice Mar 17, 2017

    I’ve found blue light therapy to really help with SAD for myself and friends who live in North (not much sunlight in the winter). I’ll try the other suggestions here, and share them.