Seasonal affective disorder ( SAD) is a depression that takes place each year at the same time. It normally occurs at the beginning of the winter season and ends in spring. In the United States, approximately 10 to 20% of the people experience the winter blues, while half a million people suffer from winter SAD. Women are most likely to suffer from SAD as compared to men. Older people, children, and adolescents are less likely to suffer from SAD.
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder
The symptoms of SAD are the same as the depression. Common symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include
- Low self-esteem, always depressed.
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Lack of appetite and changes in weight
- Difficulty in concentration
- Desire to use drugs and alcohol for comfort.
- Feeling hopeless, despair and sadness.
- Aches and pains
- Loss of interest.
Causes of Seasonal affective disorder
No one knows the exact cause of this disorder. It has been suggested by evidence that the symptoms of SAD depend on the availability of sunlight. In one study, it was found that the internal biological clock gets disturbed by less exposure to sunlight that causes hormonal shifts in the body. In winter, the longer nights and shorter days cause an alteration in your internal clock that leaves you sleepy and disoriented.
The serotonin level of your body drops by the reduction of sunlight. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is effective in the regulation of mood. A decrease of this neurotransmitter may affect your sleep, memory, and sexual desire.
Your brain produces melatonin hormone in the dark that aids you in sleeping. The sunlight activates the brain to stop producing this hormone that awakens you during the daytime. Your body may produce too much melatonin during long nights of winter that makes you feel dizzy and low on energy.
Treatments for Seasonal affective disorder
Light treatment is considered an effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder. But, unfortunately, it does not work for everyone. There are other treatment options available that can help you to feel better.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
It is referred to as a highly effective treatment to treat seasonal depression. A professional therapist can help you to cure all the negative thoughts and behaviors that make you feel depressed all the time. You will learn healthy techniques to cope with stress without any side effects. Besides, it helps you to develop positive interactions with others.
Your doctor will recommend antidepressant medication if light therapy and CBT does not work for you. Such antidepressants help to reduce the symptoms of SAD by their direct action on the serotonin level. Drug bupropion specifically gets approved by the FDA in the USA to treat seasonal affective disorders.
If you suffering the Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), contact McLean Counseling Center where the top experts in the field can help with overcoming this disorder.