Seasonal Depression: Its Symptoms & How To Treat It Effectively

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder triggered by the changes in seasons.

SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.

Symptoms Of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The following are the most common symptoms of SAD:
  • A persistent low mood
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
  • Increased appetite, especially for sweets and carbohydrates

Causes Of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The exact cause of this affective disorder is not known yet. However, researchers believe that following may be the causes of depression triggered by seasonal changes.

Brain Chemical Imbalance

The neurotransmitters of your brain are chemicals that send communication to your nerves. These chemicals include serotonin that is responsible for you feeling happy. People with affective disorder have reduced serotonin activity. This usually happen due to lack of exposure to sunlight, which boosts serotonin. That is why during winter, if you don’t go out in the sun, your SAD may become worse.

Melatonin Boost

Melatonin affects your sleep pattern. Due to the lack of sunlight in winter, this chemical may be overproduced. This may cause you to feel sleepy and sluggish in winter.

Deficiency Of Vitamin D

This vitamin boosts your serotonin. Lack of exposure to sunlight during winter leads to vitamin D deficiency. This can affect your serotonin level and your mood.

Biological Factors

Your internal clock is responsible for regulating your hormones, mood, and sleep. The timing of this clock may shift because of less exposure to sunlight. This may also affect all associated factors, and make you unwell.

Treatments For Seasonal Affective Disorder

Some of the treatment options are:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

A subtype of psychotherapy, CBT can help you form healthy coping habits for SAD. It may also help you identify your negative thoughts and change them. With this therapy, you can also decrease your stress and improve your sleep.

Phototherapy

Also known as light therapy, this treatment can help treat SAD during winter. Light therapy is one of the most effective treatment options for affective disorder. In this therapy, you are exposed to light coming out of a box. It replicates natural outdoor light and leads to a change in your brain chemicals.

Intake Of Vitamin D

Make sure you get enough vitamin D during winters to manage your SAD stress-free. Before trying out vitamin D supplements, talk to your doctors. They may help determine the right type and quantity for you.

Being Outdoors

Being out in the sunlight may help improve your symptoms by bringing about a balance in your brain chemicals. You can also ensure that enough sunlight enters your house. This helps balance vitamin D and other chemicals. It may also reduce the symptoms of your affective disorder.

Medications

When your symptoms are severe, medications may be the best treatment option. Taking anti-depressants may help you prevent an episode if you have a history of SAD. Your dosage will be decided by doctors depending on your symptoms. Your doctor may also suggest taking medications before your symptoms usually appear to prevent a relapse. The effects of anti-depressants on seasonal depression may be noticeable after a few weeks.