When seasonal affective disorder (also known as seasonal depression) hits hard for those who are experiencing it, it is like a cold blast of air. However, there is more to this emotional disorder than just feeling down during the winter.
Depression that is triggered by the changing seasons is known as seasonal depression and seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. A person who suffers from seasonal depression usually experiences it during the fall when the days are shorter and darker, and they spend less time outside. During the winter months, seasonal depression can worsen and then resolve in the spring months, as it is a temporary condition.
According to research, around five percent of American adults suffer from seasonal depression at some point in their lives. A milder version of this condition commonly referred to as the winter blues affects a greater percentage of the population. The effects of seasonal depression on daily functioning are similar to those of other types of depression. You can get the support you need through a depression treatment program if you need it.
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Seasonal Depression: Recognizing the Signs
Many people who suffer from seasonal depression experience it during the fall and spring months, but there are also those who suffer from it throughout the summer months as well. One common thread that runs through seasonal depression is that the symptoms tend to occur and disappear around the same time each year. Despite the fact that there is no single cause of seasonal depression, most experts agree that it is caused by a combination of changes in sunlight and certain hormones and neurotransmitters that cause disruptions in the body’s circadian rhythm that are linked to the season.
The important thing to keep in mind when discussing seasonal depression is that it is a form of depression that is different from the everyday sadness or fatigue that is brought on by the ups and downs of everyday life. There are several common signs of seasonal depression that you should be aware of:
- Feeling fatigued despite sleeping more than usual
- Arms and legs feel heavy
- Weight gain due to increased appetite, especially for carbohydrates
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and despair
- Headaches and stomach problems are the most common physical aches and pains
- Withdrawal from social activities and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Anxiety, irritability, and difficulty focusing and thinking clearly
In the event that you are experiencing any of the symptoms of seasonal depression, it is important not to self-diagnose. In order to rule out any physical causes for your symptoms or a more serious underlying mental health disorder, you should speak with your healthcare provider. If you feel that you are suffering from seasonal depression, it would be best if you did not ignore the signs since they may only last for a portion of the year. Those few months can be enough time to cause significant consequences for relationships, employment, school, and your overall well-being.
Regardless of the time of year, if you think you might be suffering from depression, you should seek help as soon as possible. Despite the fact that you cannot stop the seasons from changing, there are things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms during this time of year. The benefits of regular exercise, healthy eating, following a regular sleep schedule, and avoiding drugs and alcohol are highly beneficial to your overall well-being. When you spend 20-30 minutes outside, especially on sunny days, you will be able to boost your vitamin D levels significantly. One of the best defenses against seasonal depression is to have a strong support network around you, so stay involved with your family and friends, as much as you may not feel like you want to. Furthermore, light therapy boxes or lamps are available almost everywhere, however, you should consult your doctor before using one of these devices.
It is not always possible to manage seasonal depression on your own. If you are suffering from depression, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms worsen or you begin to have suicidal thoughts as soon as possible.