Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that usually occurs for people during the fall and winter months. It is thought that shorter days paired with less light can trigger a chemical reaction in the brain and may be part of the causation of SAD. The sleep related hormone, melatonin, has also been linked to SAD. Due to the fact that the human body produces more of this hormone when it is dark out, it can make someone feel sleepier than usual during the long winter months. It has been found that SAD doesn’t just occur in the winter months and there are actually two types of SAD:
- Fall-onset: occurs during the fall and winter seasons. Often it is called winter depression and these symptoms usually ease during the summer months.
- Summer-onset: occurs during the late spring and summer seasons. Often it is called summer depression and this type is much less common.
The most common symptoms of SAD are; increased sleep and daytime drowsiness, loss of interest and pleasure in activities that were formally enjoyed, social withdrawal, increased irritability and anxiety, feelings of guilt and hopelessness, low energy levels or increased fatigue, decreased sex drive, decreased ability to focus or concentrate as well as increased weight gain and appetite (especially for sweets and carbohydrates). You may notice that some of the symptoms of SAD may look like other health conditions, therefore, always make sure you talk to a health professional for a diagnosis.
Please note that depression is more than feeling sad or unhappy and is not a sign of personal weakness. If you or someone you know is experiencing some of the above symptoms, contact Safe and Sound Therapeutics to get help.