Dull winter weather leaving you feeling more than just a little blue? You may just be suffering from S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder)! Find out if the symptoms you’re experiencing are indicative of S.A.D and what you can do to combat them.
What Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Mean?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is associated with the seasonal changes. If you truly do suffer from S.A.D, you’ll notice depression-like symptoms, but more so than just the regular winter blues.
These symptoms seem to appear at around the same time every year. For most people this is around Autumn, continuing right through Winter, while others may even experience it at the change of the season as we progress into Spring and Summer.
S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Symptoms
If you suffer from S.A.D, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms during a particular season:
- Overwhelming and persistent feelings of depression
- Loss of interest in your favourite activities
- A lack of energy
- Having problems with sleeping
- Difficulties with sleep
- Changes in your appetite or weight
- Appetite changes and weight fluctuations
- Feeling listless or anxious
- Concentration difficulties
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Extreme cases may also result in suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death
Autumn & Winter S.A.D
Winter-onset S.A.D, or winter depression, has its own specific set of symptoms which may include:
- Sleeping too much
- Appetite changes, particularly consuming higher volumes of carbs
- Weight gain
- Fatigue or low energy
- Individuals with existing bipolar disorder may experience depression during this time
Spring & Summer S.A.D
Summer-onset S.A.D, or summer depression, may involve a different set of symptoms, these include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Irritation or anxiety
- Individuals with existing bipolar disorder may experience a lesser form of mania known as hypomania
What Causes S.A.D?
The exact causes of S.A.D are still unknown, but there are a few points that may influence the occurrence of the disorder:
Your body’s natural circadian rhythm – As the amount of sunlight reduces in Autumn and Winter, S.A.D may become more prevalent as your internal clock now has to shift and this may cause feelings of depression to arise.
A drop in serotonin levels – Because we may have less access to sunlight in winter, your body’s levels of serotonin may decrease, causing unpleasant symptoms related to your mood.
A shift in melatonin levels – There’s a link between seasonal affective disorder and melatonin, which is the hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle and also mood balance.
Treatment of S.A.D
If you have a first-degree relative (a family member who shares at least 50% of your genes) who suffers from depression or bi-polar disorder, you may be at higher risk of experiencing symptoms, but it’s not all gloom and doom, S.A.D can be treated, but it’s important that you approach the condition holistically from both a pharmaceutical and a lifestyle perspective.
The common treatments for S.A.D consist of antidepressants and mood stabilisers. There are also complementary treatments, such as melatonin supplements and light therapy which can be helpful and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Studies have actually shown that bright light therapy (BLT) can assist in suppressing human melatonin, and improving symptoms associated with S.A.D. Timing is everything with these treatments and your healthcare practitioner should be able to best advise you on a good treatment plan.
You can try a high-quality CBD oil like Releaf Pharmaceuticals CBD Capsules for Mood + Sleep, or a mood-boosting supplement, such as Solal Naturally High, which contains Saffron – A brightly colored spice that’s rich in antioxidants – Studies have shown that saffron can help to improve depressive symptoms.
When to See Your Doctor
It’s not unusual to feel down from time to time, but experiencing severe lows for many days at a time isn’t normal. If these feelings persist, you should definitely give your doctor a visit and get their professional opinion.