Guest Post by Maddy Olson
Seasonal Affective Disorder plagues many people year-round. However, the winter is the most common time when we struggle with seasonal depression. This happens for many reasons, yet there are ways to combat those down feelings, sleeplessness, or thoughts of suicide.
What exactly is the chain reaction leading to the seasonal disorder?
- With the change in the seasons, people who live in the northern hemisphere experience shorter days and a decreased amount of sunlight.
- When there is less sunlight, our bodies experience a shortage in Vitamin D.
- Many people do not ingest enough foods that contain Vitamin D to battle lousy feelings, nor do they take in its partner, calcium.
- The decreased Vitamin D will lead to an increase in the production of Melatonin, causing sleepiness. Many who suffer from SAD sleep around the clock for just a few hours at a time. Insomnia is common with SAD.
- An increase in Melatonin means a decrease in Serotonin. This will upset the balance between eating and energy levels. Serotonin is often called “the happy hormone”. Lesser levels create a feeling of being down in the dumps and affect appetite. Therefore, we tend to eat junk food and crave lots of carbohydrates hoping to produce some energy.
- Eating the junk and feeling very unmotivated will lead to weight gain and could further depress hormone levels sending a person into a deep, downward spiral.
- Once the days become longer and the body has more exposure to sunlight, many of these issues will be corrected on their own. It is the battle of almost half of the year that needs to be addressed.
- A visit with your doctor will diagnose whether one has SAD or consistent depression not associated with the seasons.
Symptoms of SAD:
- The warning signs of SAD are very similar to depression and should be diagnosed by a practitioner.
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Bouts of fatigue
- Decreased appetite
- Strong cravings for carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Inability to concentrate
- Withdrawing from life and social activities
*These are only guidelines. There are many disorders that can exhibit very similar symptoms. Consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis.
Maddy Olson blogs on a variety of subjects that are deep topics and can change lives. Writing for Brookdale Independent Living is a very rewarding passion she enjoys. Several losses in her family to Alzheimer’s Disease has prompted her write about the topics she has researched or practiced.