Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that often starts in late fall and ends in the spring, affects about 10 million Americans. There are numerous therapies and management techniques available to aid persons who are suffering from SAD, despite the fact that the etiology is still unknown.
But what is SAD and how does it affect our well being?
Seasonal Affective Disorder ( SAD )
SAD is a particular sort of depression that is synchronized with the onset and ebb of each season. The majority of people who have SAD experience symptoms that start in the fall and linger into the winter, depleting their energy and making them irritable. Often, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD frequently results in depression in the late fall.
Although seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression, due to its recurrent pattern, it resembles a major depressive illness and is much more than merely the “winter blues.”
SAD symptoms and include:
- Feeling drained, depressed, or down for the most of the day
- You stop being interested in things you used to like
- Feeling lethargic and low in energy
- Experiencing issues with excessive sleep
- Having desires for carbohydrates, overeating, and weight gain
- Having trouble staying focused
- Having a sense of worthlessness or remorse
- Thinking that I don’t want to live
To diagnose SAD, a doctor may ask about symptoms and perform a physical exam or lab tests to rule out other conditions.
There are several ways to treat SAD, including medication, counselling, and light therapy (phototherapy).
Medication – SAD can be effectively treated with antidepressants, to balance brain chemicals and support mood shifts. Moreover, it has occasionally been demonstrated that taking a vitamin D supplement can help cure the symptoms of SAD.
Psychotherapy – This consists of a broad category of treatments with the goal of assisting a person in recognizing and altering distressing feelings, beliefs, and actions. The majority of psychotherapy sessions involve a patient and a licensed mental health practitioner meeting one-on-one or in a group setting with other patients.
Light therapy – A treatment that involves exposure to an artificial light source is called light therapy, also referred to as phototherapy. The therapy primarily addresses seasonal variations of major depressive disorder (MDD) (formerly known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD).
In addition to treatment, there are several lifestyle changes that can help to manage the symptoms of SAD.
SAD lifestyle changes include time outdoors during daylight hours, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and practicing stress-reduction techniques.
Exposure to natural light – getting enough exposure to natural light. Spending time outside during the day can help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm and improve mood. Even on cloudy days, the amount of natural light is usually much greater than indoor lighting, so it’s important to get outside as much as possible. If it’s not possible to spend time outside, sitting near a window that lets in natural light can also be helpful.
Exercise – is another important lifestyle change that can help manage SAD symptoms. Regular physical activity can boost mood, reduce stress, and improve overall health. Exercise can also help regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle, which is disrupted in individuals with SAD. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise regularly (most days of the week).
Healthy diet – Maintaining a healthy diet is also important for managing SAD symptoms. It’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Avoid consuming too much sugar and caffeine, as these can contribute to anxiety and disrupt sleep.
Stress-reduction techniques – such as yoga or meditation, can also be helpful for managing SAD symptoms. These techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve overall well-being. Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques can also help individuals better cope with the symptoms of SAD.
There is no recognised method to prevent seasonal affective disorder at this time. Nevertheless, if you take action to manage your symptoms as soon as possible, you might be able to stop them from getting worse over time.
However, keep in mind that every person experiences SAD in a different way. Hence, you should consult your doctor as soon as you feel even the slightest bit unwell. Remember you don’t have to solve the problem by yourself, seek help.