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  • Z. Garnett

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, is a form of depression that is linked to the changes in the season. Individuals diagnosed with SAD typically experience severe depression, low energy, disinterest in usual desired activities and a host of other symptoms during the same time each year. For example, many experience symptoms starting in the early fall, continuing throughout the winter.

One major factor that seems to exacerbate seasonal depression is related to our exposure to light. When daylight saving time ends and we set our clocks back an hour, we may have gained an extra hour of sleep, but we are also losing more light. It tends to get darker much earlier. This disrupts our body’s internal clock, which in turn has an effect on our mood. People who are diagnosed with SAD typically feel relief in the spring and summer months, however, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience depression during this time as well.

Another cause of SAD is related to melatonin, the hormone which helps us to sleep. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, our bodies produce more melatonin when it’s dark and the darker it is (ex: in the winter), the more melatonin is made. This contributes to the lower energy and increased tiredness that many who suffer with seasonal depression experience.

Treatment for SAD may vary depending on the season; however, exposure to sunlight is helpful, if possible. Light therapy is also an option if exposure to natural sunlight is not available. Antidepressants prescribed by a doctor can also provide relief.

Do you suffer with seasonal depression? What things help you to manage symptoms? Leave a comment!

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