Each winter, 500,000 people in the United States are said to become depressed and suffer from seasonal affective disorder or SAD, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The cause of this disorder is the decrease in the amount of available daytime light, an amount that drops from the long days of summer months.
It’s not the lack of light that causes a drop in mood specifically, it’s how that drop in light causes reactions in the body. Research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that lack of light can do one of three things in the body to cause depression. (1) It disrupts the natural rhythms of the body, which include our natural clock for sleeping and waking up. (2) An increase in the body’s level of melatonin, which has a sleep-inducing effect, rises during winter nights, possibly causing depression. (3) A drop in serotonin, a natural brain chemical that uplifts mood, could cause an impact because it drops with the decrease in sunlight.
Symptoms of SAD include: fatigue, lethargy, a desire for sweets and carbohydrates, overeating, weight gain, poor concentration, loss of motivation, and loss of interest in daily activities. Any of these symptoms experienced on a consistent basis should be examined further by a psychological/ or medical practitioner.
I have many of these symptoms. I don’t believe that my high sensitivity contributes to this disorder. Awareness that I’m susceptible to SAD helps me cope and take action to alleviate symptoms. These actions include:
* Going Outdoors– I find that going outdoors literally and figuratively wakes me up. On cold days, I bundle up and let the sun hit my face and eyes. It’s been suggested to me to go without sunglasses and a hat if possible.
* Exercise– Exercise acts as a natural tranquilizer for me all year around. Almost any activity will help to counter a sense of “cabin fever.” Exercise releases stress hormones.
* Laugh– Laughter starts a cascade of “feel good” chemicals in your bloodstream.
* Organize– Use your indoor time to organize your home, office, etc. You’ll feel better by having the feeling of accomplishment and an uncluttered living space.
* Acupuncture–I have found acupuncture very beneficial to get my mind and body better balanced.
Do you have SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.