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  • Writer's pictureStacey Ulry

Seasonal Affective Disorder Is So… Sad

As Autumn begins, let’s explore the topic of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)- common symptoms, potential causes, and some strategies for managing it.

So, grab a warm drink, get cozy, and let's dive into the world of SAD.

SAD is a type of depression that occurs seasonally, typically during the fall and winter months when daylight hours are shorter.

While it's less common, some people experience a form of SAD during the spring or early summer, known as "reverse SAD."

However, for the purpose of this article, we're focusing on the more common winter variety.

Outside the seasonal aspect, SAD presents many of the same symptoms as major depressive disorder:

  • Persistent low mood

  • Loss of interest in activities

  • Increased fatigue and sleepiness

  • Changes in appetite and weight

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Social withdrawal

These symptoms can interfere with daily life, making it challenging to maintain relationships, work, or even engage in hobbies.

The exact cause of SAD isn't fully understood, but there are several factors believed to contribute:

Biological Clock: The body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, can be disrupted by reduced exposure to natural sunlight, affecting mood-regulating chemicals in the brain.

Serotonin Levels: Reduced sunlight exposure can lead to lower levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being.

Melatonin: Longer nights can cause an overproduction of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and can contribute to feelings of fatigue.

Genetics: Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to SAD or depression in general.

While we may not yet know the exact cause- there are many strategies to help manage and alleviate the symptoms of SAD:

Light Therapy: Light boxes that mimic natural sunlight can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve mood. Daily sessions of 30 minutes in the morning are often recommended.

Outdoor Activity: Spending time outdoors, especially in the morning, can help increase exposure to natural light.

Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy can be effective in managing SAD.

Medication: In severe cases, medication, such as antidepressants, may be prescribed by a healthcare professional.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real and challenging condition that affects so many people, but there are ways to manage it effectively.

By understanding its symptoms and causes and implementing strategies like light therapy, outdoor activity, and seeking support from loved ones, those living with SAD can find relief and brighter days ahead.

Remember, you're not alone in this, and there is help available to chase away those winter blues.

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