Do you feel down during the winter months or feel depressed when a new season approaches? If you just answered with a yes, you might have seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder SAD.
SAD is a mood disorder that occurs at the same time of the year. Generally, SAD implies feeling depressed at the start of fall till spring, but a rare form begins at the start of summer and ends in fall.
What are the causes?
While it is not yet clear what causes SAD, some scientists think that our hormones have a role in triggering attitude related changes in our brain. One theory is that absent or diminished sunlight in the fall and winter may signal the brain in making less serotonin (a hormone that regulates mood). When these pathways do not work efficiently, the result is a feeling of depression or doom sometimes accompanied by weight gain and fatigue.
Who can be at risk?
SAD is more common in adults specifically women and is less common in men. Some people experience mild symptoms and feel irritable, while others may have strong symptoms that may interfere with their work and relationships.
Symptoms of Winter SAD:
The symptoms of SAD resemble normal signs of depression and may include:
Lack of concentration
Lack of energy
Increased appetite and weight gain
Sleepiness or drowsiness
These include loss of appetite, insomnia, and weight loss.
If you or anyone dear to you has been feeling depressed for a long period and experiences the symptoms mentioned above, you need to consult a doctor. The doctor will assess your condition and recommend the right treatment for you.
Treatments vary according to the severity of symptoms. Traditional antidepressants are used to treat seasonal depression. Bupropion XL is the only FDA approved medication recommended for SAD patients. Exposure to early morning sunlight lifts patients’ spirits.