Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that occurs during the changes of the seasons. Most often, it occurs when summer and fall are transitioning into winter. People experience low energy, sadness, feelings of depression, and a change in mood.
What Causes Seasonal Depression
Two main factors contribute to seasonal depression: sunlight and daytime hours. Exposure to sunlight is shortened during the winter season as the days grow shorter after the autumnal equinox. Sun exposure is essential to healthy functioning and mood regulation. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D which is an necessary vitamin helping us to feel happy and produce happy hormones. Sunlight also helps the brain produce the right amount of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural sleep aid produced in the body. For sleep help, some people take a compound of melatonin. Problematically, without enough sunlight the body struggles with melatonin production. Melatonin is activated in the body when it gets dark and the body prepares for sleep. Extra dark hours makes the body think it needs extra sleep. Additionally, extra melatonin causes a decrease in serotonin, which is also responsible for mood regulation. Feelings of tiredness, laziness, and lethargy are common with depression, which is an imbalance of serotonin.
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
- Abnormally low mood
- Lack of energy
- Loss of motivation
- Difficulty coping with change
- Sudden bouts of crying
- Sleeping more than normal
- Changes in appetite
- Inability to focus
- Change in performance and demeanor
Preventing and Treating Seasonal Depression
Helping to regulate your intake of Vitamin D and support both melatonin as well as serotonin levels is easy to do.
- Get as much sunlight as possible when it is available
- Purchase a heat or natural light lamp
- Take high doses of Vitamin D
- Only get as much sleep as necessary
- Continue to regulate exercise and diet
- Spend time doing things you love with people you love
- Remember that seasons are passing
Aurora Recovery Centre supports treatment of depression through our integrated programs for co-occurring mental health disorders. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression and needs help, call us today. We’re here to light the way toward your recovery. 844-515-STOP.