Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood condition that manifests at the same time every year. Depressive illness is a short-term ailment that has a major influence on how a person feels and performs.
Seasonal mood swings are frequent. You may have observed that a bright day helps you feel happier and more energized than a wet day.
A higher mood is frequently connected with longer, brighter summer days, whereas shorter, darker days are associated with SAD symptoms.
SAD symptoms recur every year throughout the winter months. Among the symptoms are:
- Social withdrawal
- Enhanced sleep
- Appetite and carbohydrate cravings increase
- Weight gain
- Interpersonal issues (especially rejection sensitivity)
- Arms or legs feel heavy or leaden
In the winter, you may awaken before dawn and leave work after dusk. Maybe it’s too chilly to go out and get some sunshine. The absence of sunshine can cause SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
The seasonal affective disorder has overlapping causes, like many mental illnesses. There are several ideas of cause, including serotonin regulatory problems, melatonin abnormalities, vitamin D insufficiency, and circadian rhythm alterations.
- Serotonin control: Reduced sunshine decreases serotonin activity, causing depressive symptoms. A 2016 research revealed that those with SAD didn’t down-regulate serotonin as much as healthy people did in the winter.
- Melatonin shifts: Seasonal variations and lack of sunshine can increase melatonin production, affecting mood and energy.
Circadian rhythm: Less sunshine in the winter might cause depressive symptoms.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Lack of sunshine can cause low vitamin D levels, which has been linked to depression.
Signs And Diagnosis
SAD causes tiredness, even with too much sleep, and weight gain due to overeating and food cravings. SAD symptoms include several symptoms comparable to serious depression, such as:
- Sad or gloomy mood
- Loss of interest in previously appreciated activities
- Changes in appetite; seeking carbs
- Sleeping patterns; generally too much
- In spite of more sleep, you lose energy or weariness.
- Increased purposeless physical activity (e.g., pacing,
- Delayed motions or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable to others)
- Guilt or worthlessness
- Problems thinking, concentrating, or deciding
SAD is very curable. SAD is treated with light therapy, psychotherapy, and medication.
Light therapy (phototherapy) has long been used to treat SAD.
It includes utilizing a lightbox in the mornings to expose the eyes to strong light. This light is said to modulate neurotransmitters and circadian cycles, decreasing depression.
Preliminary research on SAD revealed phototherapy to be an antidepressant in 1984.
However, a later meta-analysis revealed that much of this research is of low quality and that additional rigorous study is required.
Optimal light treatment requires the right time, intensity, and quality. Light treatment has no widely accepted guidelines, although evidence supports:
- Using 10,000 lux light boxes for 30 minutes.
- Treatment should begin at 8 a.m. every day.
- 16 inches from the lightbox unit (41 centimeters).
- Receiving light via the eyes, generally by angling the lightbox.
- Start therapy in the fall or winter, then cease in the spring or summer.
Considering this, you may set up your lightbox while doing your morning makeup, having breakfast, or drinking coffee. Set it behind your computer while you check your morning emails so it reaches your eyes.
Set your lightbox at 10,000 lux. It’s also best to start slowly, as light therapy might cause mania or agitation in certain people.
The best effects from light treatment come from timing, strength, and placement. Ten thousand lux light treatment for 30 minutes every morning, commencing early fall.
Wellbutrin XL (bupropion hydrochloride) was authorized for SAD on June 12, 2006.
Three double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in people with major depressive disorder in the autumn and winter confirmed Wellbutrin XL’s efficacy in preventing SAD episodes.
Treatment began in September or November, before symptoms appeared. Treatment concluded in early March.
In these studies, those using Wellbutrin XL had a considerably greater rate of depression-free patients than those taking placebo.
Overall, 84 percent of patients on Wellbutrin XL were depression-free at the conclusion of therapy, compared to 72 percent on placebo.
CBT can be beneficial for SAD, especially when combined with light therapy and medication.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes recognizing and changing negative thinking processes that lead to symptoms.
Important point to note Has Something to Say
If you notice a shift in your mood when the seasons change, you are not alone. In the meanwhile, if you are experiencing symptoms that are interfering with your daily life and functioning, it is worth discussing with your healthcare provider if you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder (S-SAD). Help is available in the form of a range of evidence-based therapies as well as seasonal modifications in one’s lifestyle.