SAD or Winter Blues
"Winter Blues" is commonly referred to as a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Sometimes the gloomy gray winter days make us feel a little bit down, and as days get darker earlier, we wishfully want to be jammed inside our homes. The trait promotes homesickness and is not meant to be energetic. The name SAD itself conveys its true meaning in a larger sense. In medical terms, it means Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called Seasonal Depression.
Sometimes we may notice a significant change in our mental movements, such as feeling lonely or extremely lethargic, indicative of depression. This is a distinct type of disorder that typically begins with the Fall or the seasonal changes that trigger human minds, which worsens in the late Fall or early Winter, becomes more severe in Winter, and lasts until the sunny days of Spring which is called Fall Onset. SAD has a significant impact on your concentration, thinking, and feelings, consuming your entire day, and rendering you incapable of acquiring daily tasks. There are also reverse cases, like Spring Onset, in which some people experience symptoms in the spring or summer rather than the winter, and feel better in the winter. This rare form of SAD is also called "Summer Depression." It usually starts in the late Spring or early Summer and ends in the Fall.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more common in younger people and women. According to medical research, approximately 14% of Americans suffer from it.5% of them are adults and others are mostly international students or migrants in the US, and Canada is the majority. Usually, its symptoms are found in men or women between the ages of 18 and 30. Aside from that, certain case studies indicate that patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and people living in high latitudes or cloudy regions are the most affected.
However, like any other mental illness, SAD also has some excellent and easy remedies that can help one overcome this difficult time of depression.
Major Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
There is no accurate reason for SAD. Medical researchers have highlighted certain causes to identify the exact reason for SAD.
- Lack of sunlight causes a disruption in your biological clock. As the internal body clock controls your important daily functions like sleeping or waking up, hormones, and moods, it drastically changes as per the shift, and it makes you incapable of adjusting to changes that tend to make you depressed.
- SAD is caused by the excessive production of melatonin, a hormone that makes people feel sluggish and sleepy most of the time in winter; in people with SAD, the body may produce it at higher than normal levels. A brain chemical imbalance due to dimmer sunlight is susceptible to causing SAD.
- Lesser sunlight in the winter causes vitamin D deficiency in the human body and can affect serotonin levels. SAD decreases the production of serotonin, which is a hormone that acts on your mood and appetite and sometimes sleeps too. A lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which are linked to feelings of depression.
- Being sad is the most common and unavoidable cause of SAD. People with a negative mindset, stress, and anxiety often experience those hypothetical SAD syndromes.
- Few people with a background in genetic disorders are also prone to this kind of depression.
Symptoms of SAD
- Preferring to stay lonely most of the time.
- Hypertension, numbness, and anxiety.
- Cravings for high-carb foods (carbohydrates) and sweets result in excessive weight gain.
- Lethargy and tiredness all-day.
- Filled with hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness, and irritation.
- Being upset, having disorientation, and feeling depressed on a regular basis.
- Losing interest in or avoiding social gatherings or withdrawing from normal interactions with people.
- Restlessness, drowsiness, or oversleeping.
- Considering suicide attempts.
- Symptoms of major depression like rejecting means of amusement.
- Back-to-back years facing a spike in depression attacks during specific seasons.
- Unresponsive to sexual life.
- Recurrent Migraine attacks.
Prevention of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Immediate psychiatric consultation is necessary to prevent the expansion of the SAD syndrome.
- Using light therapy at the beginning of the Fall is the most effective way to avert SAD. Lack of sunlight is the major reason, and in the winter, it’s really impossible to get brighter daytimes, so an arrangement for a special lamp known as the "lightbox" can be used to produce artificial sunlight. And spending time, including getting as much natural sunlight as possible, is an effective method to put a stop to the attack.
- Taking proper antidepressant medications as per a doctor’s prescription and therapies, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and recurrent counseling.
- Drinking alcohol and using drugs on a regular basis can increase your chances of having frequent attacks.
- Keep focusing on the good things. Think positively and have the patience to achieve your goal, as it can reduce the negative impacts. And as soon as you get rid of it, your body will respond to the treatment.
- Don’t suppress your feelings. Talk with others. Try to involve and interact with others more. Make new friends and join communities to avoid loneliness.
- Frequently engage in social activities.
- A 30-minute daily workout can prevent SAD symptoms by relieving a huge amount of stress and anxiety.
- Daily hangouts or spending time outside every day is an excellent treatment.
- Keep a strict lid on your cravings for carbs, starches, and sweets. Follow a healthy diet plan and consume proper nutritional foods (foods with vitamins, proteins, and minerals) that give you energy throughout the day.
Feel Happy, Live Better
During the past pandemic situation, a number of people were reported as likely to get affected by this syndrome. It was really hard to get over it due to the quarantine. But, hopefully, more mental awareness is spread through social media and by encouraging people to obtain a healthy lifestyle. Post-pandemic situations are quite better as most people have tried to understand the importance of healthy living, no matter whether they are confided in or stuck at home. "Winter Blues" or SAD is a completely curable disorder. What we have to do is to give utmost importance to ourselves and take important measures to live a happy life with positive vibes.
Sources and Further Reading
- Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments
Do the bleak winter months drop you into a depression? Maybe you have seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Find out more from the experts at WebMD.
- NIMH » Seasonal Affective Disorder
This fact sheet provides information about seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression. It includes a description of SAD, signs and symptoms, how SAD is diagnosed, causes, and treatment options.
- A 20-Minute Workout to Help Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder | livestrong
Seasonal changes can trigger symptoms of depression, but exercise and other strategies can help knock down the effects of seasonal affective disorder.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic
This type of depression is related to changes in seasons and begins and ends at about the same times every year.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Natasha