It is a kind of depression that starts and ends at about the same time each year. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of mood disorder, but the symptoms appear in a specific season of the year, normally in winter. People suffering from SAD have normal mental health throughout the year, but they feel moody in the winter months.
In the majority of cases, the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder emerge in early winter and fade away at the start of summer days. In rare cases, symptoms of SAD follow the opposite pattern that starts in spring or summer and get severe with time.
Symptoms of SAD include
- Losing interest
- Having low energy
- Lack of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Feeling guilt, worthless and hopeless
- Frequent thoughts of death and suicide.
The causes of seasonal affective disorder are still unknown. However, some of the factors play an important role in causing this disorder. This includes
- Melatonin levels. The melatonin level in the body gets disturbed as soon as the season changed. This process changes the body balance that ultimately alters the sleeping patterns and overall mood.
- Serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects mood patterns. A decrease in the level of serotonin may play a key role in SAD. Serotonin drops by the reduced sunlight that may trigger depression.
- Circadian rhythm (Biological clock). Reduced sunlight leads to the onset of SAD. It changes your body’s internal clock that ultimately leads to depression.
Light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy are commonly used to treat seasonal affective disorders.
It is also called phototherapy that includes a special light box. The patient sits in front of this box every morning where they are exposed to bright light. This light proved to cause a change in brain chemicals in a positive direction. It is one of the first-line treatments of seasonal affective disorder.
If the symptoms of SAD are severe, antidepressant treatment can be effective. Antidepressant bupropion aids in the prevention of depression in people suffering from SAD. Doctors often recommend antidepressants before your symptoms start to appear each year. Doctors suggested to continue taking these medicines till the symptoms fade away.
It is also known as talk therapy with a professional therapist that is another effective way to treat SAD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can help you to:
- Recognize and alter all the negative thoughts and behaviors that make you feel depressed.
- Teach you how to deal with stress.
- Teach you the healthy ways to deal with SAD.
On the other hand, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and your depression got severe, consult your doctor immediately. A mental health professional can identify the symptoms and will give you the right treatment.
Contact McLean Counseling Center where the top experts in the field can help with overcoming the Seasonal affective disorder.