How many times during the winter months have you found yourself feeling down? Maybe a little less motivated to get out of bed in the morning? Feeling lonely or sad for no apparent reason? You’re not alone.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to seasonal changes. Usually SAD begins and ends around the same time each year; starting in the fall as our sunny days become shorter, and continue into the long dark cold winter months. Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD may include:
- Tiredness or low energy
- Problems getting along with other people
- Hypersensitivity to rejection
- Heavy, “lead” feeling in the arms or legs
- Oversleeping, frequent napping
- Appetite changes, especially cravings for high carb foods
- Weight gain
These symptoms vary from person to person, one person ay have just one symptom very intensely, while another person may experience four of these symptoms but only slightly. Whatever the situation, that doesn’t mean you should take the winter blues lightly.
SAD is more that just a ‘seasonal funk’ that you have to tough out on your own. While the true cause of SAD is still a relative mystery, research has shown that a decease in Vitamin D levels along with a decrease in serotonin levels are often at the root cause. Consider this, your internal clock (circadian rhythm) is disrupted as the sunlight each day decreases, and can cause a drop in serotonin levels. This drop in serotonin (a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for keeping our mood balanced) can lead to the depressive symptoms of SAD. Also, that lack of sunshine means a our bodies start missing out on natural Vitamin D, which is an important little bugger for mood, hormone balance, calcium absorption, and our immune system – just to name a few!
Treatment for SAD, aims to fix both of the above mentioned issues – getting to the root cause of the problem. Light therapy (aka phototherapy) has shown – especially when used in the morning hours – to be significantly effective to treat the depressive symptoms of SAD. Combining this with proper stress management, nutrition and self care should help keep those winter blues at bay!
Your Dynamic Health Team can help. It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, please see your doctor. This is especially important if you notice that your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, thinking about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need any help getting through –our goal is always to help live your best life!