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Seasonal Depression: Dealing With and Preventing SAD

Seasonal Depression

On a bright sunny day, we feel energetic, exuberant and all set to take up our routine for the day but when the weather changes into dark, gloomy and cold ambiance, we often tend to feel lazy and wish to just sit back and relax. This happens because our body takes energy from sun-rays and functions in a much better way. Such mood swings are often considered normal and healthy but if an individual experiences severe mood change as and when the seasons change or especially when it goes on to winter, then the condition may be referred as seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

What is Seasonal Depression

Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder is a typical type of depression and malaise that occur and reoccurs at the special time in the year. Normally, it happens to people during the short days of winter.

People suffering from this disorder tend to feel great during summer and spring but highly cynical in the days of winter. During the depression, their entire routine gets disturbed and they begin to spend more hours in sleeping and eating and become exhausted. Their interest in recreation and sexual activities also starts diminishing.

Who can suffer from SAD

People, who live in location where days become quite short during the callous cold season such as far north and south of the equator, get the disorder.

Although it may happen to anybody, many a time it happens to people who come in contact with people already suffering from seasonal depression.

Anybody aging between 15 years to 55 years may catch this disorder, however as you grow old, the chances of developing the depression become weaker.

Symptoms of Seasonal Depression

Mentioned below are some of the common symptoms of seasonal affected disorder:
  • Strong cynic feeling
  • Lack of concentration
  • Exhausted and low on energy
  • Losing interest in recreational activities
  • Wanting to spend more time sleeping
  • Start eating more than your usual diet
  • Craving for sweets and carbohydrates
  • Gain of weight
  • Anxiety
  • Overall reduction in productivity

Causes of Seasonal Depression

Medical science has not yet discovered the exact precise cause of Seasonal Depression. However, it is believed that the condition emanates from the result of brain’s reaction to reduced sunlight contact.

Serotonin and melatonin, the two chemicals of the brain get affected in this depression. When it is dark, melatonin, a natural hormone that controls the sleep and mood pattern of our body, begins to get produced in more-than-usual quantity. As a result, person feels lethargic and wishes to sleep more and more.

On the other hand, serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that affects mood is produced in small quantity during shorter days. Reduced amount of serotonin brings in the state of depression along with feeling of weariness and carbohydrate longing.

The depression has been found more in females as compared to men and occurs primarily during early stages of adulthood. Typically the threat of SAD reduces as the sufferer gets older.

Diagnosing Seasonal Depression

If an individual suffers from the above-mentioned symptoms every winter then he or she should immediately go for medical help. The doctor may run a number of tests and ask a few questions about the daily routine of the patient during summer and winter to bring out the contrast.

Based on these tests and analysis, the extent and severity of seasonal affected disorder is deduced. Also, the study would help to decide the kind and duration of the treatment required to cure the disorder entirely.

Treating seasonal depression

  • Light therapy: Light therapy is the most popular and successful treatment of winter seasonal depression. The therapy offers special light that exactly replicates daylight. During the session, the sufferer is made to sit and receive bright light from some distance for a short while, every day.Typically given for 30 to 45 minutes, it has set a record of treating people quite efficiently. The therapy can be extended from the duration of few days to weeks depending up on the condition and acuteness of the disorder. In some extreme cases, it goes on till the winter ends.
  • Psychotherapy: In this therapy, the patient is taken to a psychotherapist who attempts to make the sufferer realize about the problem and accept it. They also infuse the zeal in the patient to get rid of this depression by working on it both internally and externally. If an individual is ready to accept the illness and cope with its limitations, the treatment can be accelerated. The therapist will further help to eradicate the negative thought and feeling emanating with the sufferer and make him feel better.
  • Medications: Along with light therapy and psychotherapy sessions antidepressant medications also play a vital role in fighting against SAD. The medication prescribed is from the family of serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It controls the amount of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. However, since this medication may have certain side effects, it should only be taken on doctor’s prescription.

Dealing With and Preventing Seasonal Depression

In order to maintain enough distance from the trap of this cynical seasonal disorder, one needs to bring in some changes in his / her routine as the winter begins.

First of all, try to get up early in the morning so that you can gain maximum amount of sunlight. You should also consider exercising and jogging in the open air park.

Make sure that you spent some time outside on regular practice. Try physical activities to reduce the growing level of stress and anxiety.

Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Include vegetables, whole grains and fruits in your daily diet.

Socialize and stay connected with people so that you do not feel stressed out, gloomy and continue to be able to keep your mind off the limits of depression.

And lastly, if nothing works, go on vacation to some nice summery place where your body can get sun-rays and feel more energetic.


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