R U SAD? – Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SAD is distinguished from typical depression. Symptom onset occurs in late autumn and ends in early spring with the majority of symptoms in the winter months. Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues” (a more mild form of SAD), it can be exacerbated by cloud cover or perpetually grey skies.
We all have a biological (internal body) clock. This is called a circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep/wake cycles. Light helps our bodies know when to be awake. For some folks their biological clocks respond differently in the winter when the sun goes down early and rises late.
Serotonin and melatonin hormones are natural components of our biological clocks, which aid in the wake sleep cycle. A lack of sunlight can cause some people to have an imbalance of hormones and symptoms of winter blues.
Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin and adrenalin, chemicals that cause us to be active, alert, and awake. Light is a primary trigger that tells your body when to start its sleep cycle.
When it is dark outside, our bodies produce melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep related hormone that tells our internal clock it is night time, causing the lethargy that is necessary to sleep or to hibernate.
Due to longer periods of darkness in some regions of the country our melatonin increases. At the same time, when there is less daylight our serotonin levels decrease which can lead to symptoms of depression.
Two factors are said to determine if a person develops SAD, distance from the equator, and genetics. Some folks are predisposed to depression and some may be more vulnerable depending on where they live. Prevalence rates suggest inhabitants of Florida are less likely to experience SAD as compared to those living in the north.
Symptoms may include:
- Sadness or irritability
- Increased sleep duration, without the feeling of being refreshed
- Difficulty waking or being alert, may take naps in the afternoon
- Feeling apathetic, don’t care, low motivation
- Increased appetite, especially carbohydrates and possible weight gain
Posted on January 29, 2015, in Depression, goals, Mental Health, Stress, Tips and tagged acceptance, alone, anger, aware, breath, control, crisis, Depression, diagnosis. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.