What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is sometimes known as winter depression because symptoms are more severe during the winter months. Symptoms often begin in autumn as the days start getting shorter and is usually more severe during the months of December, January, and February. SAD can be a serious mental Illness.
It is thought that the cause, is that the brain is exposed to less natural light & vitamin D during autumn and winter, and this disrupts the brain’s production of melatonin (The sleep hormone) and serotonin ( The mood hormone). It can also disrupt the body clock. Seasonal occurrence of symptoms associated with shorter days found in our northern hemisphere, thus the prevalence increases the further north one travels. “We need light in the morning especially around the time of awakening”
For about 21% of the population some symptoms of sad cause discomfort but not serious suffering, this is called sub-syndrome sad or winter blues. For 8% more serious illness which prevents normal functioning without treatment.
What are the symptoms of Sad?
Although asked to write about the physical symptoms I think it is important to mention all the symptoms.
- Low mood, negative thoughts, and feelings of guilt, and loss of self-esteem. Apathy, agitation.
- Lethargy- fatigue
Poor cognitive function
- Difficulty concentrating brain does not work as effectively.
- Anxiety feelings of tension inability to deal with stress.
- Winter illness, lowered immune system vulnerability to infections.
- The need to sleep more, oversleeping or difficulty staying awake, during the day.
- Disturbed sleep patterns and or early morning awakening. Insomnia.
Loss of Libido
- Reduced interest in sex.
- Reduced interest in physical contact.
Increased irritability, finding it hard to be with people.
- A) Hypersomnia feeling sleepy and extremely lethargic
- B) Overeating and carbohydrate craving
- c) Lack of energy and motivation
- D) Social withdrawal
- (E) Difficulty functioning and thinking clearly
- (F) Increased feeling of anxiety
Overeating and eating more carbohydrates
Treatment and how to improve SAD
- Light therapy is often used for SAD, although there is no evidence that it works. Blue spectrum lights are the best replacement used in the morning to boost vitamin D at the start of the day. Do not use at night, as this can worsen symptoms, and inhibit our sleeping patterns.
- During periods of depression, it is important to try and maintain a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
- Regular exercise is thought to help as it lifts the mood although this can prove challenging if you are feeling depressed.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy also known as CBT is often helpful it is a talking therapy which helps you explore your thought processes. It gives you the opportunity, to explore your feelings.
- Medication such as antidepressants are normally prescribed for sad. Medical professionals tend to prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and are the preferred medication, as they increase the level of serotonin in the brain. They can take up to six weeks to work.
- Try to get as much sunlight as you can even if a short walk at lunchtime.
- Avoid stressful situations.
If you think you are having symptoms of sad See your doctor, or a medical professional.
Claudette is a passionate campaigner and activist for mental health stigma and domestic abuse. She believes that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their disability or gender. She has diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Chronic Fatigue, and Fibromyalgia. Claudette has a certificate in Management studies. Her interests include beauty, makeup, animals politics, current affairs and social networking.
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