Weather has a direct impact on mood. The shorter days of winter and fewer daylight hours contribute to a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “Six percent of the U.S. population, primarily in northern climates, is affected by SAD in its most marked form. Another 14 percent of the adult US population suffers from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes, known as winter blues.”
SAD is a form of major depressive disorder (MDD) and anyone experiencing the mental disorder will exhibit symptoms of MDD. However, SAD can be distinguished from MDD due to its episode timings. SAD occurs primarily with the onset of winter which is marked by shortening and darkening days. During this time, people with SAD experience fatigue and the urge to eat and sleep more often. Individuals with SAD tend to crave more carbohydrates during winter resulting in weight gain.
Causes of SAD
The precise cause of SAD is unclear. The body’s circadian rhythm or internal clock may be disrupted causing a person to feel groggy and sleepy. Melatonin is produced during hours of darkness, a hormone which helps people to sleep. Reduced sunlight can lower serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. It is thought that genetics have a bearing on SAD.
Treatment of SAD
There are various treatments for SAD as given below:
- Light Therapy: It is one of the most commonly used therapies for SAD. Since SAD is associated with shortening of days and darkness, light therapy involves exposing the patient to sufficient light. During therapy, the patient sits in front of a light therapy box, which mimics natural outdoor light. The exposure tends to cause certain chemical changes in the brain that further elevate mood.
- Psychotherapy: Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy involves identifying negative thoughts and behaviors and teaching a person how to replace them with positive thoughts.
- Medications: Many people with SAD are treated with antidepressants. Studies have shown the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Aplenzin) to be helpful in preventing depressive episodes in people with a history of SAD. Many patients respond well to a combination of therapy and medication.
Road to recovery
People with SAD find it difficult to get up early in the morning. They also experience a loss of interest in life around them. interested in the things around them.
If you or a loved one is experiencing SAD or depression of any kind, it is important to seek immediate medical help. You can contact the Depression Treatment Helpline to access information about various depression rehab centers in the U.S. You may call us our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online with our representatives who can provide information about the treatment plan for depression and help you get in touch with one of the recognized rehabilitation centers for depression.