Seasonal affective disorder or winter depression

  • Jan 25 , 2017

People who are suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have the problem of depression each winter. When there is a change of weather like spring season, the depression gradually goes away.

SAD develops from insufficient exposure to bright light or sunlight during the winter months. Studies have proven that bright light alters the chemicals present in the brain. Melatonin, levels of vitamin D and low levels of serotonin in the brain are linked to the occurrence of the SAD and other depressive situations. Few people can inherit it too.

Higher risk of developing SAD:

  • Women- Women are more likely to suffer from the seasonal affective depression as compared to males. However, males have many severe symptoms.
  • Inheritance- If your mother/father/sister/brother has or had a seasonal affective disorder, your risk of developing SAD will be high.
  • Geography- If you live far away from the equator where the days are comparatively shorter than nights, there will be higher chances for you to develop SAD.
  • Depression problem- People who have a history of depression are more likely to suffer from SAD.

According to studies, SAD can develop at any age. However it is more often to develop before the age of 21, and it is more likely to develop in women as compared to men.

Symptoms of SAD are somewhat similar to ordinary depression. These are:

  • Anxiety
  • Frequent changes in mood
  • Fear attacks.
  • Other symptoms are-
  • Weaken of immunity system
  • Low level for energy for routine tasks.
  • Difficulty in waking up in the morning.
  • Social and relationship withdrawal
  • Irritability in the behaviour
  • Increase in appetite and weight gain
  • Decrease of interest in sex and reduced libido
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Increase in the hours of sleep
  • Drug or alcohol problems

    Photo Courtesy: Everyday Health


Treatment of SAD:

  • Exposure to sunlight- Try to get as much natural daylight as possible during bright days. You can go for a walk and try to go out at lunch time if possible
  • Plan winter holiday- If it is possible for you, plan a winter vacation to the sunny countries and it will improve your symptoms of SAD.
  • Workout- It is best for health and can expose you to daylight also.
  • Doctor treatment- These are few treatments that can be carried out by the doctor:
  • Medication– Antidepressants have proved useful for the people who are suffering from SAD with severe symptoms. Medicines will take several weeks before you start to feel better. Don’t change your medications without consulting doctor.
  • Psychotherapy- A psychotherapist will help you to diagnose patterns of negative thinking and your behaviour that has an impact on depression. He will help you to get rid of negativity and aid you to learn positive ways of coping with SAD, and relaxation techniques to restore your energy.
  • Light therapy- This technique creates same effects as the natural light and triggering the chemicals in your brain that can help you to regulate your mood.