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Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the nights start to draw in and the days are a bit more grey and cloudy, do you notice any of the following changes in you?

  • Low energy

  • Problems with sleeping

  • Feeling depressed for most of the day, nearly every day

Did you answer yes? You could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D). But what exactly is it and when do people start to experience it.


What is it?

It is a form of depression that is linked to the change of seasons, particularly when the autumn season starts. If you experience S.A.D during the autumn to winter months you feel more moody, energy levels are low and often people say you have the winter blues. You may experience changes in eating habits or cravings for high carbohydrate foods, as well as anxiety, restlessness, agitation and insomnia.


Why does it occur?

Whilst the cause of S.A.D is still unknown there are a number of things that contribute to it. The condition is linked to our circadian rhythms, this is our natural daily cycle of being asleep and awake. The changes of light and dark in a 24 hour time period have an impact on our physical and mental wellbeing and behaviours. In autumn and winter there is less sunlight and daylight hours which interrupts the internal body rhythms.


An drop in Serotonin and Melatonin hormone levels due to reduced sunlight create a low mood, or depression but also has an impact on sleep. S.A.D is experience by men and women but it is more prominent in women and in younger adults rather than older adults. A history of depression or S.A.D in the family can be a contributor, along with depression, bipolar disorders and anxiety conditions.


How is it diagnosed?

If you think that you, a family member or someone you know has Seasonal Affective Disorder then consult your doctor or a medical professional. They will carry out assessments and may do a physical examination. It can be difficult for a diagnosis to be confirmed as there are different types of depression and with S.A.D they are looking for a pattern in occurrence and whether it changes when there is more sunlight. A few people can experience S.A.D in Spring and Summer rather than Autumn and Winter but this is infrequent.


You can find out more about S.A.D from mind.org


Download the following PDF by helpguide.org for more information.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
.pdf
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