Feeling SAD? Blame the winter season!
If you were to introspect, do you think a particular season makes you feel particularly different? Like, maybe, you feel less energetic, worthless and/or guilty, your appetite changes frequently, you put on or lose weight, and so on? Chances are that you might be SAD. Pardon the play of words, but SAD here does not refer to just being gloomy, it refers to Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is far more serious (but treatable) than just a downcast mood.
What is SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that is very season-specific. What this means, obviously, is that it emerges at the onset of, and lasts for, a particular season.
The point of this post is to educate you in the direction that the boredom, lethargy, and irritation that you may feel during this one season may be more than just something ‘seasonal’.
How do you know you affected by SAD?
Everyone has their own low points that can mean that they are suffering from SAD, but here’s a list of some of the most common symptoms:
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Craving carbohydrates
- Weight loss/gain
- Disinterest in activities you’d enjoy otherwise
- Feeling agitated, anxious, angry, or depressed
- Feeling constantly tired and low on energy
- Difficulty in concentration
- Suicidal tendencies
While these are common symptoms, it has been observed that the symptoms differ for seasons. For example, someone experiencing winter SAD may oversleep and have a bigger appetite. On the other hand, someone experiencing spring or summer SAD will find themselves eating and sleeping a lot lesser than otherwise.
What makes you SAD?
While definite causes for SAD are yet to be identified, because it is a common occurrence in winter, the reduced sunlight is, more often than not, a cause.
The reduced sunlight can play havoc with the body’s internal clock. It also causes a drop in the levels of serotonin and melatonin—both brain chemicals or neurotransmitters—in the body. Serotonin affects mood; melatonin affects sleep patterns and mood. This drop is what triggers depression, unprecedented sleep patterns, and mood changes.
See the light to stop feeling SAD
A very common and very successful cure to SAD is light therapy. Since reduced sunlight is a common reason for SAD, light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves the use of a device that emits a wavelength of light similar to natural sunlight, compensating for the lack of exposure. This triggers an increase in the level of brain chemicals that control your mood and sleep.
A device called light therapy box, and a light box with an output between 2500 and 10000 lux is commonly used. (Lux is the unit of measure to gauge the amount of light to be used in a treatment.) A session, generally is between 10 to 15 minutes – the duration depending on how well you handle the treatment. The strength of the lightbox is a factor too – the stronger the light box, the shorter the session can be.
We all have days when the feeling of blues is stronger than other days. However, before you dismiss it as just as a mood swing, take a step back and examine how intense they seem to be. Check your appetite, your sleep pattern, and track your mood. If a feeling of hopelessness, or worse, suicide, continues to pervade, it might be time to tackle this medically. Our Wellness Service Providers will be happy to help you. Click here to get in touch.