Seasonal affective disorder, as the word “seasonal” portrays, is a condition in which an individual experiences signs and symptoms of depression triggered by a certain time or season of the year. Seasonal affective disorder or otherwise known as SAD usually occurs on seasons where daytime is shorter, such as during fall and winter. Some theories say that this is because of the cold temperature and the lesser amount of sunlight inherent in these times of the year. These factors could trigger an individual to become less enthusiastic about several things or get tired easily. However, there are cases in which some people get seasonal affective disorder in the summer. So we cannot completely conclude that SAD only occurs in the cold season.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are no diagnostic tests to determine if an individual is indeed suffering from seasonal affective disorder. All it takes is mere observation as to when the individual suffers symptoms of depression. The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are as follows:
• Feeling of being tired all the time, as if you’ve done some strenuous activity even when you’ve just been lying down the whole day. An individual feels fatigued and would not want to go out and or do anything at all.
• The person often longs for isolation. If someone tries to talk to him/her, the tendency is to get angry or irritable. Crying for no specific reason may also happen.
• Problem in sleeping as well as trouble with concentrating. People with seasonal affective disorder tend to feel restless all the time.
• Shift in appetite is also a symptom. Either the individual eats a lot, or does not eat at all.
These symptoms often intensify in the darkest days of the year or when sunlight is scarce.
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
There is no specific reason as to why some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder. However, there are theories that suggest that sunlight has something to do with the production of key hormones in the brain. Researchers think that melotonin and serotonin play a great role in this disorder. Melotonin is a hormone that causes an individual to feel sleepy. Our body produces this hormone in great quantity when it is dark. Serotonin, on the other hand, allows one to be active and is produced greatly with the help of sunlight. With the abnormal production of both hormones due to the change in season, depression is more likely to happen.
Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder
The key is to bring back the normal production of both hormones in the body. The best thing to do is expose oneself to sunlight like going out for a walk or a run outdoors. If sunlight is limited, phototherapy can also be done. In phototherapy, the individual is exposed to a special type of light similar to natural sunlight that would help neutralize the production of hormones in the body.
Other than that, it is important that the people closest to the patient give their full support by talking to and encouraging the person with seasonal affective disorder. Medications can also be prescribed by the doctor like Antidepressants such as Ativan or Zoloft.
Seasonal affective disorder is generally recurring. The most important thing is to prepare for it before it arrives, learn accept it and live with it.