Causes and Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


Seasonal Affective Disorder:

It is a type of depression that’s caused by a change in seasons, usually when fall arrives. Before fading in the sunnier days of spring, this seasonal sadness gets worse in the late fall or early winter. You can also get a mild version of Seasonal Affective Disorder known as the “winter blues.” The winter blues are very common, with many experiencing a mood shift during the colder, darker days of winter. It’s common to have some grief throughout the winter.

But SAD goes beyond winter blues. It’s a form of depression. Your daily life, including how you feel and think, is impacted by SAD. Thankfully, counseling could be able to help you get through this trying time. Seasonal affective disorder is also called seasonal depression.

causes of seasonal affective disorder

What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression. The American Psychiatric Association classifies SAD as a Major Depressive Disorder in its official classification. If you have the seasonal affective disorder, you may suffer depressive symptoms and mood swings like:

  • Feeling depressed, sad, or down the majority of the time
  • Weight gain and cravings for carbohydrates
  • Persistently feeling down
  • Feeling anxious
  • Feeling extreme exhaustion and loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness.
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Feeling lethargic and sleepy during the day
  • Being angry or irritated
  • Having thoughts of not wanting to live
  • Sleep problems
  • Loss of enjoyment or interest in often enjoyable activities

Summer SAD sufferers could experience the following:

  • Agitation and restlessness.
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Episodes of violent behavior
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Increased irritability

What causes seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal depression’s specific cause is unknown to researchers. The theories state:

  • Melatonin boost: A hormone called melatonin regulates your emotions and sleeping patterns. In some persons, the lack of sunlight may encourage excess production of melatonin. During the winter, you could feel lethargic and tired.
  • Brain chemical imbalance: Neurotransmitters are substances in the brain that communicate with nerves. Serotonin is one of these chemicals, and it has an impact on your mood, happiness, hunger, and sleep. Your serotonin levels may already be low if you suffer from SAD. A lack of sunlight in the winter can worsen the situation because sunlight helps regulate serotonin. Serotonin levels might further drop and cause depression.
  • Biological clock change: Your biological clock adjusts when the level of sunshine decreases. Because your body depends on sunshine to time important processes, such as when you wake up, lower light levels throughout the winter may disrupt your body clock and cause SAD symptoms. This internal clock drives your hormones, mood, and sleep.
  • Vitamin D deficiency: Serotonin levels are also increased by vitamin D. Because vitamin D is produced in part by sunlight, a lack of sunlight during the winter months might cause a vitamin D shortage. The serotonin level and your mood may be impacted by that change.
  • Negative thoughts: People who suffer from SAD frequently feel stressed, anxious, and depressed during the winter. These unfavorable thoughts may either be a cause or a result of seasonal depression, according to researchers.
Treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

How is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) diagnosed?

Do not attempt to self-diagnose seasonal affective disorder (SAD) if you ever experience symptoms. Visit Sugar Land Psychiatrist for a complete assessment. Your doctor could suggest that you see a psychologist or psychiatrist. You will be questioned by these mental health professionals about your symptoms. Your pattern of symptoms will be taken into account when determining if you have seasonal depression or another mood disorder.

A comprehensive assessment often includes the following to help with the diagnosis of SAD:

  • Physical exam. Your doctor could do a physical examination and ask you detailed questions about your health.
  • Lab tests. For instance, to check if your thyroid is working correctly, your doctor may do a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC).
  • Psychological evaluation. Your doctor or mental health specialist will inquire about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns to look for indications of depression.

How is seasonal affective disorder (SAD) treated?

You will discuss treatment choices with your doctor. You could require a combination of therapies, such as:

  • Light therapy: Bright light treatment, commonly referred to as phototherapy, uses a special lamp to treat SAD. You sit a few feet away from a specific light box each day after waking up to be exposed to strong light. The use of light therapy, which replicates natural outside light, seems to affect the brain chemicals linked with mood.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of talk therapy. Research has shown that it provides the most sustained treatment for SAD and produces long-lasting effects compared to any other treatment approach. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn healthy ways to cope with SAD, especially by reducing avoidance behavior and scheduling meaningful activities. It also helps you learn how to manage stress.
  • Medication: Some SAD sufferers get relief from antidepressant medication, especially if their symptoms are severe. Sometimes doctors will advise taking depression medication, either by itself or in combination with light treatment.
  • Spending more time outside: Getting more sun will help your symptoms go better. Try to get out during the day. Boost the amount of sunlight entering your home or place of work.
  • Vitamin D: A vitamin D supplement may make you feel better.

Additional Services We Provide

At Novus Beginning Psychiatry, we provide therapy and medication treatment services for people of all ages having anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, depression, ADHD, autism,  and women’s issues. We provide couples and marriage counseling, counseling for children, young adults, and teenagers, family therapy, men’s issues, trauma counseling, and group counseling. Contact Metal Health Psychiatrist immediately if you’d like to know more about our psychiatrist, therapist, and counseling service.

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