What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, or better known as seasonal depression is related to changes in the seasons and ends at about the same time each year. Symptoms typically start in the fall and flow through the winter months, draining your energy and often making you feel moody. However, these symptoms typically resolve during the spring and summer months. Some signs and symptoms may look like: losing interest in activities you enjoy, difficulty concentrating, having carbohydrate cravings; overeating and weight gain, and feelings of low energy.

What causes SAD?

There are several factors that may be indicators of seasonal affective disorder and these include your circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels. The reduced level of sunlight exposure in the fall and winter seasons can disrupt the body’s internal clock along with a drop in serotonin due to reduced exposure to sunlight. There are other risk factors such as family history, low levels of vitamin D, and a current diagnosis of major depression or bipolar disorder.

How to cope with SAD:

Getting plenty of movement for your body through light to moderate exercise can decrease symptoms of depression, something as light as a 20 minute walk per day can make a big difference. Watching your diet and getting more exposure to sunlight are also great methods to help decrease symptoms of seasonal depression. Lastly, contacting your local mental health facility and talking with a counselor is another great way to be able to overcome the symptoms if you find they are impacting your daily functioning heavily. 

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