Have you noticed that rainy days make you feel tired and dull, while sunny days brings out joy? We all know that every occurrence has a reason, like in this situation it may have a scientific reason because of insufficient exposure to sunlight that has been related with low levels of melatonin and serotonin, weight gain and sleep disturbances.
Don't ignore that yearly feeling as a simple case of the blues because you may have a seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, which is also known as SAD, is a type of depression that is cyclic and seasonal, meaning that symptoms come back and go away at the same time every year.
It is also sometimes considered as a subtype of bipolar disorder. It can sometimes be difficult for a doctor to identify SAD because other types of depression may mimic SAD. Symptoms in SAD start in fall and continue into the winter months but less often in spring or early summer.
Studies show that SAD is diagnosed more in women than in men but men have more severe symptoms. It appears to be common among people who live far from the equator due to the decreased amount of sunlight during winter. It was also shown that people with it are more likely to have blood relatives with the condition. The disorder is classified as winter SAD, summer SAD and reverse SAD. A fall and winter version (winter depression) symptom includes depression, hopelessness, anxiety, oversleeping, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed and appetite changes especially craving for carbohydrates. Spring and summer SAD (summer depression) symptoms include insomnia, irritability, agitation, weight loss, increased sex drive and poor appetite. Reverse SAD is a form of bipolar disorder and the symptoms are persistently elevated mood, increased social activity, and hyperactivity.
Researchers still do not know the cause of SAD in specific people. Some say that it is caused by genes, age and body's natural chemical. However, there are few factors, which may be to blame and this includes circadian rhythm (biological clock), melatonin levels and serotonin levels. The reduction of sunlight level in fall and winter interrupt the body's internal clock. The interruption of circadian rhythm could lead into depression. The seasonal change can lead to imbalance of the hormone melatonin. This plays an important role in patterns of sleep and mood. A drop in the level of the brain chemical, serotonin, could be partly responsible for SAD. The reduction of serotonin is caused by decreased exposure in sunlight and perhaps leads to depression.
Just like in other mental health disorders, SAD has treatments. Treatment includes light therapy, medications and psychotherapy. Light therapy also known as phototherapy uses a device that gives bright and white light is considered the best form of treatment at this time. It mimics the outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals associated to mood. This is because of the hormones stimulated by way of the retina in the eye. Some people with SAD prefer to use medication for treating it. Medication includes; bupropion, paroxetine, sertraline, fluoxetine and venlafaxine. Bupropion helps in preventing depressive episodes. Psychotherapy is another preference. It can help in identifying and changing negative thoughts and behaviors into positive ones. It also has a beneficial impact in a person because he also learns a healthy way to cope with depression and manage stress.
Aside from the treatments, it is helpful to make your environment brighter and sunnier, take a long walk or soak up the sun and take exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety. Being fit makes you feel better and makes your mood lift. It is normal to have some days when you feel down but if you suffer a long time it is better to seek a doctor. It is a good idea to be well prepared in coming to a doctor so that you will not be afraid. Keep in mind that treatments may take several weeks to notice full benefits and not all medications have no side effects. It is better to choose an anti-depressant which has fewer side effects and remember about light therapy. It is better to talk to your doctor before buying the light therapy box to make sure you're getting a high-quality light box with the same type of light as the sunlight. In general, it's better to be more fit and have a healthy and nutritious diet to prevent any illness.