Winter has rolled around the corner once more, bringing with it the smoky scent of bonfires and long warm nights with your favorite quilt. But as the days get shorter, the sun bids us adieu sooner than usual, and the temperature dips dangerously, some of us may find ourselves feeling overwhelmingly tired, sluggish, and upset. Are you someone who has experienced this? If so, you might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
So what exactly is Seasonal Affective Disorder? Well according to the DSM-5, it is a type of depression related to the changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at the same time every year. In most cases, symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder start in the fall and continue into the winter months. Symptoms of SAD have often been brushed aside as “winter blues” or just laziness because of the colder weather. However, the symptoms can be quite distressing and often causes serious dysfunction. It’s important to remember, that seasonal affective disorder is classified as a major depressive disorder and needs to be taken seriously.
If you do feel like you might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, you are not alone. A recent study conducted in Pakistan revealed the prevalence of depressive mood during the extreme winter or summer to be at a whopping 67%. With slightly higher rates reported amongst women (66.6%) than men (33.3%)
In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during early winter. Less commonly, some people also have the opposite pattern with symptoms beginning in spring. In either case, symptoms usually start mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
How will you be able to tell if you might be suffering from SAD? Fret not! We at Pakistan Facts are here to make this easier for you.
Signs and Symptoms of SAD may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Having low energy
- Hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
- Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
- Experiencing changes in your weight
- Feeling sluggish or agitated
- Overwhelming feelings of fatigue
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Although the specific cause of the seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. A drop in serotonin (a neurotransmitter affecting mood) is assumed to play a role in SAD. This drop is what triggers a depressive state. Due to shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter, people also experience a shift in their biological internal clock or circadian rhythm. Which also causes them to be out of step with their daily schedule and leads to feelings of depression. The change in season also disrupts the melatonin levels of the body. Which further disrupts mood and sleeping patterns.
Don’t worry, there are steps you can take to counter it. If you feel these symptoms are causing dysfunction in your everyday life, be sure to seek out therapy for it. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can also take steps at home to remedy some of the symptoms. The most important thing is to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep to help you feel rested, stay active by participating in any form of physical activity.
Try to make healthy choices for meals and snacks. When you’re feeling down, try to socialize in socially distanced ways. Speaking of which, your feeling of depression may also be a result of the current state of the world. It might be very easily related to socially isolating due to covid-19. Read our article on how to keep mentally healthy during the second lockdown to help you figure that out. Other things you can do to counter seasonal affective disorder is to Make your environment sunnier and brighter. You can also choose to go for a long walk, or even just sit in a sunny spot and soak up the warmth. Anything helps.
At the end, remember this is a solvable issue. You are not alone!