So the nights are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and we are all spending more time cosying up in front of the fire. For some the changing of the seasons is a welcome and refreshing experience, but for others it can have a detrimental effect on their mental well-being. As we are all currently going through transitional seasons, I thought I could use this post to talk about Seasonal affective disorder (shortened to SAD) and highlight its symptoms. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that is linked to the seasonal patterns. Most people with SAD will experience negative symptoms stronger during the winter months, but this is not always the case. For some, their symptoms are more severe during summer and they feel a lot better during winter.
How do I know if I have SAD?
Those experiencing SAD may experience one or more of the following symptoms. These symptoms are similar to those experienced by people with depression but the difference is that these symptoms worsen with the changing of the seasons. The severity of these symptoms can differ from person-to-person:
- You may feel down a lot of the time.
- You may not feel like doing anything – SAD can cause an individual to lose interest in the things they used to enjoy.
- You may feel highly stressed or anxious most of the time.
- It may become difficult to concentrate on anything.
- You may feel guilty, in despair and may become tearful.
- You may develop a low self-esteem and start to feel worthless.
- You may start to snap at others when you don’t mean to – SAD can cause individuals to become irratable.
- You may lack in energy and find yourself sleeping a lot during the day.
- Some may crave food which may lead to weight gain.
But what causes SAD?
I wish there was a solid answer to this, but the exact causes are not fully understood. But it’s most commonly believed that SAD is caused by a lack of sunlight, which impacts parts of the brain from functioning properly. Lack of sunlight can also affect and disrupt the body’s internal clock as the body uses sunlight to time various functions such as when to wake up and when to sleep. The body may start to produce higher levels of melatonin, which is a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. The body may also start to reduce the levels of serotonin (known as the happy hormone) it produces, which can affect an individual sleep, appetite and general mood.
I think it’s important to be aware of conditions like Seasonal affective disorder as it can be a life impacting condition for some. Be sure to check in with your own feelings and thoughts on a regular basis and look out for any of the symptoms above. If you feel you may be suffering from the condition, please do visit a professional as there are forms of treatment that may be able to help you such as changes to your lifestyle, light therapies, medication or talking therapies.
For those who may need it, places where you can find more information about SAD can be found below:
I hope this post has been helpful and informative, Stay Safe x