Seasonal Affective Disorder

During winter, life slows down naturally. The days become shorter and lights rarely surface. In order to stay warm, we try to remain indoors. How to identify a seasonal slump seems to be more of a very serious issue?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression which is seasonal. That is to say, there are seasons which it is always experienced. Most people do start experiencing the symptoms in the fall. However, these will become serious in the winter season. There are few people who experience it during the summer/spring. Below are some frequently asked questions about SAD.

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What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder?

The symptoms follow the same pattern which you will need to carry out when checking whether someone has major depression symptoms or not. Some of them are loss of hope, depressive feelings, poor concentration, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, lack of interest in pleasurable activities and suicidal thoughts.

Those who are suffering from SAD’s winter version may notice symptoms which are unique such as:

  • Relationship issues
  • Cravings for weight gain/carbohydrate
  • Oversleeping frequently
  • Heaviness in the legs and arms

Can being sad be categorized as lighter depression?

Most people usually misunderstand this. SAD seems to be a major depression’s specifier. This is a word used in referring to a particular type or subtype of depression.

Individuals suffering from SAD do experience the symptoms at given periods of time in the year. As the seasons change, their depression is going to move into remission. In case you’ve noticed these symptoms happening in some particular seasons, you could be suffering from SAD.

What is the cause of SAD?

The major cause of Seasonal affective disorder hasn’t been identified by researchers. However, we understand that there are some factors responsible for its occurrence. When there is reduction in sunlight during the winter, levels of melatonin and serotonin will be reduced. These are respectively responsible for sleeping (melatonin) as well as your mood regulation (serotonin).

Young females are prone to suffering from SAD. Also, those who have a family record of experiencing depression or those living farther from the equator will experience these symptoms on a frequent basis.

When should a doctor be called?

It is only natural that at some point during the winter, you will lack the motivation to do things or become sluggish. However, if this habit continues and it seems to be disrupting your life in one way or the other, ensure to contact a professional for some help. If the symptoms you are experiencing occur such as not sleeping or eating well, developing poor relationship with others around, or not getting results from those activities which improve your mood, ensure to contact a professional today.

If you happen to be entertaining any form of suicidal thoughts or making use of alcohol to suppress the feelings, ensure to seek the help of a professional today.

How can I get the best SAD care?

In case you happen to be experiencing any of the above Seasonal affective disorder symptoms, it is not too late to get some help. With the right treatment, you will be able to get help which can make your condition become better. Get an appointment scheduled with primary care physician or any mental health professional. This could be a licensed counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Try to find out whether there is an employee assistance program in your place of work whereby free counselling is provided.

In order to experience the best care, relax by sitting down and ensure that your brain is engaged prior to the appointment. Try to take note of the symptoms that you are experiencing. Try to observe closely those things that make your condition better and the ones which make you worse off. Also, jot down important questions which you may want to ask your chosen doctor regarding your condition. Some of them may include:

  • Rather than SAD, what are those things that can bring about those symptoms?
  • What kind of treatments have your patients in the past found to be very helpful?
  • Can any mental health provider be recommended within the community?
  • Are there any behavioural changes that I should make to help improve my mood?
  • Can you make recommendations about written resources that can help me?

A lab test or physical exam may be conducted by your doctor once you get to his or her office. The aim is to ensure that other causes which can lead to depression are ruled out. Your doctor may suggest that you see an expert on mental health in order to get a treatment that is thorough.

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