Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms and treatment

Winter can get fairly powerful. The days get shorter and darker, the air will get colder, and we spend extra time inside. If you end up feeling a bit down throughout this time of 12 months, you’re not alone. There’s a cause why so many individuals name them the “winter blues.”

But for some, it’s a bit greater than that. This feeling goes past delicate melancholy and crosses right into a extra critical type of seasonal melancholy. Each 12 months, round 10 million Americans are estimated to expertise seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – and many don’t even notice they’ve it.

But what precisely is seasonal affective disorder? And extra importantly, are you able to deal with it? Here’s what you must know.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a particular kind of melancholy related to seasonal modifications. Typically, somebody with SAD experiences symptoms on the identical time every year. For most, this happens throughout the fall and winter. However, SAD can even trigger melancholy within the spring and summer season – this is named summer season SAD.

Seasonal affective disorder normally impacts adults who reside in chilly, cloudy climates which might be farther away from the equator. It’s additionally extra prone to have an effect on these with a household historical past of melancholy, in addition to ladies greater than males. However, these elements don’t rule out different teams of individuals – SAD can have an effect on anybody.

Seasonal affective disorder symptoms

It could be arduous to know if what you’re experiencing is seasonal affective disorder. SAD can generally appear to be different psychological well being circumstances – and vice versa. But there’s a giant distinction between SAD and “the winter blues.”

Doctors might diagnose somebody with seasonal affective disorder after they’ve skilled symptoms over the course of at the least two years, and these symptoms have noticeably impaired their means to operate. For this cause, SAD shouldn’t be one thing that needs to be self-diagnosed. Your major care physician or psychological well being supplier may help you determine if what you’re experiencing is SAD.

However, there are frequent symptoms you’ll be able to search for and monitor, together with:

  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Lost curiosity in belongings you as soon as loved
  • Sleeping an excessive amount of
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling nugatory
  • Suicidal ideations or intrusive ideas – in case you or somebody you recognize is contemplating self-harm, please name the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for confidential help 24/7.

It’s additionally vital to notice that SAD symptoms might be particular to what sort of seasonal affective disorder you’ve gotten. For occasion, these with winter/fall SAD usually tend to oversleep, overeat and really feel sluggish, whereas these with summer season SAD usually tend to expertise insomnia, urge for food loss, nervousness and irritability.

So, what precisely causes seasonal affective disorder? Research means that SAD can’t be related to a single root trigger. Many issues can contribute, and it’s usually a mixture of things.

Causes of winter seasonal affective disorder

With winter seasonal affective disorder, shorter days and much less gentle can set off a chemical response within the mind. Sun helps regulate serotonin, a neurotransmitter that impacts temper. When your physique isn’t getting as a lot gentle, manufacturing of serotonin decreases.

People with winter SAD may expertise an overproduction of melatonin, a sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland. Prolonged darkness could cause manufacturing to extend, inflicting exhaustion and lethargy. In addition, with much less gentle, the physique produces much less vitamin D, which might additionally lower serotonin ranges.

SAD throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin winters

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are among the many states most susceptible to seasonal affective disorder – an inventory led by Alaska and different northern states. Research reveals that international locations with extra excessive climate (each scorching and chilly) have greater charges of suicide and melancholy. This additionally correlates with states within the U.S.

Because of elevated chilly and decreased daylight throughout the winter, residents of Minnesota and Wisconsin usually tend to expertise melancholy, low vitality, bother concentrating and extra. In truth, Dr. Michael Howell, a neurology professor on the University of Minnesota, says that 5-10% of individuals in Minnesota expertise SAD symptoms.

Causes of summer season seasonal affective disorder

For summer season SAD, it’s usually the alternative. Longer days with much less darkness can lower melatonin manufacturing, as an alternative making somebody extra prone to undergo from insomnia and sleep disturbances. This can tremendously impression psychological well being. It’s additionally believed that elevated temperatures and elevated ranges of allergens might disrupt sleep, inflicting a flux in serotonin ranges.

Seasonal affective disorder treatment choices

Depending on an individual’s care wants, a physician or psychological well being specialist might suggest a mixture of therapies to handle seasonal affective disorder.

Some of the commonest seasonal affective disorder therapies which have helped folks discover reduction embody:

Light remedy for melancholy

Many folks with winter SAD have discovered that gentle remedy is an effective way to assist increase their temper. Sitting inside arm’s size of a full-spectrum fluorescent lamp for about 30-60 minutes every day may help produce a chemical change within the mind – the kind you’d usually get from the solar. This may help kick up serotonin manufacturing and regulate melatonin ranges.

It’s vital to notice that whilst you might be able to buy any such gentle by your self, it is best to use it beneath the route of a medical skilled. This means you’ll be able to monitor and regulate publicity primarily based in your wants. Also, any such remedy isn’t for everybody. It could cause problems for folks with particular eye circumstances, like glaucoma, cataracts, or eye injury and sensitivities.

Cognitive behavioral remedy for seasonal affective disorder

Therapy is usually a worthwhile psychological well being device for these affected by seasonal melancholy. Studies counsel that cognitive behavioral remedy, a particular kind of discuss remedy, has been proven to positively have an effect on these with each winter or summer season SAD – particularly long run.

CBT helps you establish destructive ideas and substitute them with extra constructive ones, so you’ll be able to higher deal with challenges and anxieties. Over a number of periods, a therapist will aid you be taught and apply leisure, resilience, stress administration and coping methods.

Medicines and antidepressants

In some circumstances, a physician would possibly prescribe drugs to assist a affected person experiencing symptoms of SAD. Most medical professionals will first prescribe a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like citalopram, fluoxetine or sertraline. But in some circumstances, they could additionally prescribe bupropion, which is restricted to seasonal melancholy.

These medicines improve ranges of serotonin within the mind by blocking sure nerve cells from absorbing it. They encourage calm and happiness whereas lowering nervousness. Your physician can prescribe this treatment earlier than your symptoms have a tendency to begin. Medicines can take a short while to work and discovering the one which works greatest for chances are you’ll contain a number of tries.

Touching base together with your physician

If you suppose you could be battling seasonal affective disorder, don’t ignore your symptoms.

Make an appointment with a major care physician or clinician. Primary care docs can diagnose and deal with tons of of circumstances. And they’ll additionally refer you to a psychological well being professional in case you want extra specialised care.

If you’re already working with a psychological well being specialist, get your subsequent psychological well being go to scheduled in case you haven’t already. As at all times, they’ll work with you to know the symptoms and emotions you’re experiencing and create a customized care plan.

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