Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during specific times of the year, usually winter or summer. Symptoms of SAD can include fatigue, decreased energy, decreased interest in activities, weight gain or loss, insomnia or hypersomnia, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, and social withdrawal.
SAD is thought to be caused by a lack of sunlight during the winter months. The hypothalamus in the brain has special nerve cells that are sensitive to light changes. These cells control sleep, moods, appetite, and many other functions in the body through various hormones made by the pituitary gland. When it is dark out, these cells make more of a hormone called melatonin that helps people feel sleepy. As days become shorter in winter, less bright light enters into the eyes controlling these nerve cells than at other times of the year. This causes an imbalance of chemicals that makes people feel depressed and tired for seasonal periods.
To help treat SAD symptoms include spending time outside daily even on cloudy days, especially when the sun is shining; light therapy, which involves exposure to a bright lightbox for a specific amount of time each day; and antidepressant medications. Some people may also find relief from seasonal depression by taking vitamin D supplements. If you think you may have seasonal depression, it is important to speak with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
There are many ways to treat seasonal depression. A common and effective treatment for seasonal depression is phototherapy (light therapy) using a bright lightbox, which helps make more serotonin in the brain. Other treatments for seasonal depression include taking antidepressants, omega-3 fatty acids, getting extra sleep at night followed by exercise during the day; eating healthy foods; getting regular sunlight exposure; learning skills to help cope with seasonal depression-like keeping a journal or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation; and engaging in pleasant activities like spending time with family and friends who can support you.
Age Group: Adolescents Adults Elderly
Symptoms of seasonal depression in adolescents may include irritability, mood swings, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, changes in eating habits, and social withdrawal. It is important for adolescents to get help if they are experiencing any of these symptoms as seasonal depression can have a negative impact on school performance, peer relationships, and social development.
Symptoms of seasonal depression in adults may include fatigue, sleep problems, craving certain foods, weight changes, and social avoidance. Adults who experience seasonal depression should speak with their doctor as soon as possible for treatment options.
Symptoms of seasonal depression in the elderly may include fatigue, loss of interest in normal activities, feelings of sadness or worthlessness, decreased appetite or weight loss, and feelings of isolation. It is important for elderly individuals with seasonal depression to seek treatment as soon as possible in order to improve their quality of life.
Seasonal depression can be a debilitating condition that affects people of all ages. Symptoms are different for everyone, but seasonal depression is most common in adults and the elderly. If you think you or someone close to you may have seasonal depression, do not hesitate to speak with their doctor immediately about treatment options. The sooner seasonal depression is treated, the better chance there will be at recovery!