One of the recognized types of depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The problem is that for most of us SAD is a normal state of body and mind during the darker months of the year, so we don't give it as much attention as it deserves.
The symptoms of autumn depression usually involve drowsiness during the day, sleeping long hours and having trouble waking up, lots of comfort eating (especially carbohydrates) and weight gain, loss of interest in usual activities, lower sexual libido, feeling down during the day... You see? Normally I would attribute all I've just listed to my body trying to adapt to winter clock.
There are few theories of why we are affected by SAD.
Some people say it happens because of lack of chemical serotonin in the brain, but it doesn't explain the seasonal link. I agree with the different theory - lack of natural light. Without it our body secretes too much hormone melatonin, which affects our mood and sleeping patterns. However, it's not the only reason, because medication suppressing melatonin in our body doesn't get rid of seasonal affective disorder.
Autumn depression treatment consists of few factors.
First, you can use self-help - spend more time outdoors during the light hours, sit next to windows if possible, bring more colour in your life, especially orange, don't plan on anything major in your life during autumn and winter, leave it till spring and summer, eat well and exercise.
Secondly, there are depression therapies you can try:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy, where they teach you how to process all negative thoughts and respond to them;
- Light therapy which involves a special bright daylight lamps or light bulbs, and even sunrise stimulating lights, that gradually wake you up in the morning;
- At last, antidepressant medications - just don't forget that you will have to start taking them before your SAD starts and continue until spring, as it takes time for them to begin working.
All in all, if you suspect you suffer from SAD, my advice is to check first with the doctor. The chances are if you had the same symptoms for two years he would diagnose you with SAD, but he'd still need to rule out other types of depression.
Tell you friends and relatives about it and let them help you. Also you can find a support group for SAD near you, you just never know.
So, anyone here suffers from SAD? How do you fight it? Reach out and share your experience.