The winter months are arriving and with them are the ice and snow that not only chills your bones but also can affect your mood.
“A Blue Christmas” can become all too real for some during the colder months. Seasonal depression is real. Mental health already goes unnoticed way too often.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is the name referred to by physicians.
There are three different causes that can lead to SAD.
The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression, according to mayoclinic.org.
Secondly, a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, plays a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that triggers depression.
The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood, overall causing a person to be tired more often and very irritable or on edge.
Treatments for SAD include light therapy, psychotherapy and medications, according to mayoclinic.org.
During the winter, SAD has many different symptoms – irritability, tiredness or low energy, problems getting along with other people, hypersensitivity to rejection, heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs, oversleeping, appetite changes – especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates and weight gain.
People that suffer from bipolar disorder can experience severe depression in the winter months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects certain demographics more than others.
SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD, and winter SAD is less likely to occur in older adults.
People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression. Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions. SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer months.
SAD can be misdiagnosed or confused with other types of depressions because of the similar symptoms.
Doctors often diagnose patients with SAD if they have been depressed during the same season and have gotten better when the seasons changed for at least two years in a row, according to wedmd.com.
Doctors also may need to have blood tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, such as low thyroid, according to webmd.com. Doctors may do a mental health assessment to get a better idea of how the patient is feeling and how well they are able to think, reason and remember.
Depression of any kind is a very serious illness, and it should be treated as such.
Remember to get help if you have symptoms that last for more than a day.