Winter Blues: Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder

If shorter days and the shift in weather zap your energy and make you feel blue, you might just display classic symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as SAD or the winter blues.

Seasonal affective disorder is triggered by changes in daylight and weather that usually occur in winter – the symptoms are usually more apparent and worse during winter. SAD is not uncommon, with 10% of people having SAD, and as many as 20% having a mild form of it.

So why do people get the winter blues?

Experts are not entirely sure, but some theories suggest that a lack of sunlight might slow down a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which may affect the production of melatonin, serotonin and affect the body’s internal clock.

  • Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy; in people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher-than-normal levels.
  • Serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite, and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression.
  • Our body uses sunlight to time various important functions, like when you wake up, so lower light levels during the winter may disrupt the internal clock, which may lead to symptoms.

For some people, the symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities. Symptoms can include

  • a persistent low mood.
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities.
  • feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness.
  • sleeping longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning.
  • craving carbs and gaining weight.

You should consider seeking professional help and visiting your GP if you think you might have SAD and you’re struggling to cope. It is important to treat it, because all forms of depression limits people’s ability to live their lives to the fullest.

A range of treatments are available, and most are without pharmaceutical intervention. Your healthcare professional will recommend the most suitable treatment plan for you. Alleviate symptoms by getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly, and managing your stress levels. Antidepressant medicine as a last resort, will alleviate the symptoms enabling you to get through the winter.

Talk about it, acknowledging the problem is the first step to alleviating it.

Seasonal Affective Disorder may cast a shadow over the winter months, but through a combination of lifestyle adjustments, medication, and psychotherapy, you can manage and alleviate the symptoms.

Remember it’s not all doom and gloom, SAD is treatable and brighter days lie ahead. Take care of yourself and those around you.

#SAD #Winter #thatlittlebitextra

This blog post serves as informational content and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. For personalised guidance, please consult your healthcare provider or visit your nearest Ringpharm pharmacy.

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