Do You Suffer From SAD?

Do You Suffer From SADIt is common to want to stay in bed a little longer in the winter. Dark mornings and chilly bedrooms make it hard to throw off the covers and get ready for the day.

However, if you are feeling like you want to sleep constantly you may be experiencing a specific problem. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD typically sets in during early winter and sticks around until spring.

An article in The American Family Physician estimates that 10 to 20 percent of people may have mild SAD. Your risk of experiencing SAD goes up the farther you live from the equator.

 

Causes

No one is sure exactly what makes some people more susceptible to SAD, but there are some theories about its causes. Mayo clinic suggests three things that may trigger SAD. The first cause may be your biological clock. The body sends signals about when you should be asleep or awake. These rhythms depend on sunlight. Stress may be caused when the amount of daylight changes, but our sleeping habits don’t. Another cause of SAD may be, “A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood.” Lowered serotonin can be caused by changes in sunlight. Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, is also affected by changes in exposure to sunlight.

Symptoms and Treatment

The Depression Blog from Mayo Clinic suggests that there are several symptoms that may indicate SAD. These include; weight gain and craving carbohydrates in particular, anxiety, oversleeping, social withdrawal, and difficulty concentrating.

If you experience these symptoms at the beginning of the winter season, you may want to see your doctor for help. Because SAD is thought to be caused by lack of sunlight, light therapy is often the prescribed treatment. Spending time in front a special lamp every day can help ward off seasonal depression. Doctors may also prescribe drugs for severe cases of SAD.

Feeling Good

Even if you do not have a serious case of SAD, many people feel a bit down in the winter. Spending time outdoors will help you get a little more sunshine and boost those mood enhancing hormones and brain chemicals. Exercise is also a good way to have more energy. Spend time with friends and socialize. The more you avoid the temptation to isolate yourself, the better you will feel. Supplementing your diet with vitamins can also help.

Do what you can to cut back on stress and sleep well. Taking care of your body will lead to feeling well emotionally. If you are experiencing signs of depression, see a doctor for help. A little preventative action will help you enjoy a beautiful winter season.

Photo “day eleven” courtesy of m_cygne

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