Are you sad? (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that generally recurs during late fall or early winter. It is characterized by periods of depression triggered by shortened sunlight and sudden weather changes during the cooler months. Interestingly, SAD is more prevalent in developed countries. For example, 6 percent of the Turkish population—mostly women—are diagnosed with this disorder each year. Early SAD symptoms are mild but become more severe as winter progresses. Its symptoms include feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, low energy, poor appetite, morning fatigue, oversleeping, poor concentration, low interest in and/or withdrawal from formerly fun activities are all indicators of Seasonal Affective Disorder. If addressed early, SAD can be prevented from getting worse over time.

Though there are no specific causes for SAD, it is generally agreed that genetics, age, biological clock and changes or drops in serotonin and melatonin levels all play a role in triggering SAD symptoms. Factors such as gender, living far from the equator, family history and a history of clinical depression can make a person more vulnerable to SAD.

During this period, a sufferer’s moods and behavior can make treatment difficult but options are available to ease symptoms. St. John’s wort has been shown to be an effective treatment for SAD. Think of it as sunlight in a bottle. Psychological counseling can also be helpful in coping with changing negative thought patterns and behaviors, as well as with managing stress.

Also consider making some lifestyle adjustment; brighter living environment. More opportunity for sunlight exposure. Sitting next to windows can be effective. Take walks. Eat outside if possible outside, even on cloudy days, can help improve mood. Increased physical exercise can also help relieve stress and anxiety. Uplifting friends, uplifting music  . . . laughter.