Seasonal affective disorder:
Winter is coming and with that comes a lot of fun and struggles. Winter is known to bring out a number of health problems, including colds, dry skin and eyes, and lack of exercise. But it can also have effects on our mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that is related to change in seasons.
People who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in winter. Common symptoms include sleeping too much, having little to no energy, and overeating.
In most cases symptoms start in fall and continue on during winter. They go away during sunny days of spring or summer
What are the symptoms?
A lot of symptoms are the same as in depression, what makes them different is that SAD is unlike depression seasonal.
People with depression experience sleeping problems and change in weight, the same goes for SAD.
A lot of people experience feeling sad or down and have low energy during the depressive weather but if you feel like it everyday or most of the day and if you lose interest in activities you once enjoyed then this can be another symptom.
Struggling with concentration from time to time is normal, but if you find it difficult to concentrate only during this season then this can be another sign of SAD.
A lot of people commit suicide during this period. So if you are having suicidal thoughts, feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty, please try to find help.
They are not fully understood but it is probably caused by a shorter exposure to sunlight. This is also a reason why more people that live closer to the equator experience SAD
(But this disorder can be also genetic)
The main theory is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect the production of melatonin (melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy) in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels.
Also it affects production of serotonin (serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep) a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression
If you havedisturbed body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) – your body uses sunlight to time various important functions, such as when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD.
It is hard to prevent such a disorder because you can't change the weather.
It is recommended to start treatment as soon as you see the symptoms. By using light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or exercise.
In our country we don't experience SAD epidemics, like in Nordic countries, for example Finland where the rate of SAD is 9.5% (Wikipedia)
Winter affects our health a lot, not only physically but also mentally. Remember to take care of yourself during that time, so you won’t face problems such as malnutrition or SAD. We need to take care of our health because we have only one life.
Wikipedia, “Seasonal Affective Disorder”;
SAD rate is 9.5% in Finland
Mayo clinic: “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”
NHS, “Overview - Seasonal Affective Disorder”