For many people, trying to stay upbeat throughout the early days of Fall and long into the Winter months is a real struggle. If you notice that year-by-year you become increasingly depressed after Summer has settled down and find that you don’t quite recover until Spring, then chances are that you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
This website was developed by myself, a fellow sufferer of seasonal depression. If you’re reading this, then you too are looking for answers and solutions. There’s a good chance that you are in a fragile state of mind, so let me answer some commons questions and show you that Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t have to be a life sentence.
Who Suffers From Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Not everyone, but a heck of a lot of people do.
- It is more commonly found in women than it is in men (between 60% – 90% are believed to be women)
- Men can be more prone to having stronger symptoms
- It usually begins in the Fall and carries through until Spring
- Although cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder beginning early in the year do occur, it is much rarer
- SAD may be more common for people who live farther north of the equator
- It’s estimated that 500,000 people in the U.S. suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder
When You Should Be Concerned
Many people mistake Seasonal Affective Disorder as just having “the Winter Blues”, but it needs to be taken more seriously. If you find yourself experiencing any of the following symptoms, then you should schedule an appointment with your family practitioner.
- Thoughts of suicide
- A strong feeling of hopelessness
- Isolating yourself
- Your body starts craving a lot of carbohydrates
- Over sleeping
Are Some People More At Risk?
Seasonal Affective Disorder isn’t prejudice and can technically overwhelm just about anyone, but it is already a major risk factor for people who have a condition such as Bipolar disorder or suffer from clinical depression already.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
From this perspective SAD is quite fascinating. One of the major causes is believed to be how the changing of the season affects your Circadian Rhythm (your internal biological clock). As the days get shorter it can be quite hard on us. The sun sets earlier and our internal schedule and rhythm have trouble adjusting to the changing of the season.
If you find yourself dreading Fall or Winter months in advance, don’t brush it off as nothing to be concerned with.
Important Things For SAD Sufferers To Consider
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in the brain. Think of a neurotransmitter as a gateway chemical that plays a very important part in your mood and the management of your mood. A lower Serotonin level is a factor to consider in Seasonal Affective Disorder, because Serotonin acts as a natural antidepressant. Reduced levels of this brain chemical can play a part in depression.
A study that was conducted showing strong evidence that the brain produces more Serotonin on sunnier days. Another study also showed a connection between anger and a reduced amount of Serotonin in the brain. The message seems to be simple – this brain chemical is important to managing negative emotions.
There are roughly 40 million cells in the brain. Serotonin has been observed as having some kind of impact on all of them and many of these brain cells play an important part in our mood, sex drive and basic functions.
Antidepressants typically are designed to work with this neurotransmitter. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are common medications that work to increase and balance Serotonin levels. Two common ones that you will recognize are Zoloft and Prozac.
Research is continuously being conducted on the link between Vitamin D and depression, including Seasonal Affective Disorders. It is not quite understood what the relationship between depression and Vitamin D is, but studies show promise that vitamin D is beneficial to conquering colds, flu, pain and aiding in suppressing depression.
Something interesting to consider is that the sun supplies us with plenty of D throughout the warmer months of the year, but the other 6 months of the year we don’t get enough sun and many people experience seasonal depression.
Can SAD Be Treated?
To say that something can be treated is to imply that it is fixed permanently. The brain is a very complicated part of our bodies. Our emotions are also extremely complicated. Because the functions of the brain are an ongoing process that change frequently, treatment should be thought of as management.
Luckily, there are many options for maintaining control over your state.
Things That May Help A Person With Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you are concerned about any of the following suggestions for managing SAD, please consult with your doctor first.