What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Do you tend to feel down in the dumps during the winter? Is it hard to get going in the middle of February? You may think that this is just a natural reaction to the cold and dark, but if you feel unusually depressed during the winter, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known and minimized as just the “Winter Blues,” is a type of depression that is linked to the change in seasons. For most people who struggle with SAD, it begins with the change to the fall season and continues throughout the winter months. Those who struggle with SAD may experience a lack of energy, sadness, moodiness, feelings of hopelessness, sleep and appetite changes, etc.

SAD can affect anyone, but occurs more commonly among people who live in areas with pronounced changes from season to season. The disorder most commonly occurs between the ages of 15 and 55. It also tends to run in families, so if you have a close relative who suffers from SAD, you are more likely to suffer from it as well.

The causes of seasonal affective disorder are unclear, but most researchers believe that the disorder is related to the amount of sunlight. Your body’s circadian rhythms are regulated by the amount of daylight. As this changes through the year, your brain may have difficulty regulating your body. In some cases, the levels of serotonin, a chemical in your brain that affects your mood, may be disrupted.

SAD is real, and it does affect many people, yet it can be treated. Some people benefit from phototherapy (light therapy), psychotherapy, and/or medications.

If you think you might be struggling with SAD, consider reaching out to a professional.  There is no reason to go through this alone!

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