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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

When the winter arrives, everything becomes much colder, darker and seemingly bleaker. People who suffer from a seasonal affective disorder, are acutely aware of what time of the year it is. You may know what depression is, but what exactly is a seasonal affective disorder? Seasonal affective disorder is sometimes called winter depression or seasonal depression.

Facts about Seasonal Affective Disorder

According to PsychCentral:

  • between 60% and 90% of people with SAD are women
  • SAD is believed to relate more to daylight, not the temperature
  • it takes more than just one winter depression to be diagnosed with SAD
  • although not as common, the second type of seasonal affective disorder known as summer depression can occur in individuals who live in warmer climates; this depression is related to heat and humidity
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SAD is not a sign of weakness.
It means you have been strong for far too long.

Possible Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Because Seasonal Affective Disorder is most closely related to reduced daylight hours, those who live closer to the equator are at significantly lower risk for SAD. Less than 2% of Floridians reportedly suffer from SAD each year. Here in the heart of Minnesota, however, we don’t fare quite so well. In addition to proximity to the equator, women and younger people are both at higher risk for SAD.

Based on the Mayo Clinic:

  • your biological clock – the reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD
  • serotonin levels. – A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD R
  • melatonin levels – the change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • oversleeping or undersleeping
  • difficulty waking up
  • nausea
  • lack of appetite or increase in appetite
  • no energy
  • lack of focus and concentration
  • anxiety
  • social withdrawal
  • decrease in sex drive
  • general feelings of depression, pessimism, and hopelessness

Many of us may have experienced these symptoms in the winter and not realized that it’s caused by a lack of sunlight. Depending on the severity of SAD you find yourself plagued with, there are a few options. Any changes in sleeping patterns, or mood changes that affect the enjoyment of your hobbies, you should speak with your doctor. One way to help find treatment is to understand what can cause SAD.

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