Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) | Symptoms & How to Deal With Them

Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by depression that comes about during the same time every year, mostly in the colder, winter months. It is often characterized by depression, low energy and motivation, irritability, as well as mood fluctuations. Dealing with symptoms can be accomplished by the use of light therapy, vitamins, physical activity, and even therapy.

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    Hi everyone! This video is going to be about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, as well as some ways of alleviating the symptoms. Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by depression that comes about during the same time every year, mostly in the colder, winter months. It is often characterized by depression, low energy and motivation, irritability, as well as mood fluctuations. While for most people this occurs in the winter months, there are some people who have summer depression. Generally humidity and the heat, not to mention longer days, can have an impact on those that deal with summer depression.

    There are many causes for seasonal affective disorder, and there is no particular reason one may experience symptoms, and certainly no cure that will work for everyone. There are a variety of factors that come into play that I would like to briefly touch on. These are things that mostly influence those dealing with colder weather SAD. Such things as the cold weather itself, the lack of sunlight which can cause vitamin deficiencies, these things can cause lower serotonin levels, which can affect mood, as well as lower melatonin levels, which can affect the sleep cycle. These are some of the chemical causes of the disorder. In addition, let’s not forget the holiday season around the end of the year. You have family gatherings in November and December. Such holidays as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. These holidays can bring about a lot of stress and depression on the family that can last for a while after the gathering. The reason for this being that people can feel alone if they don’t have family, or their family is dysfunctional. They may feel alone and depressed, seeing others celebrating and having a good time, telling them they have to be happy at that time of year, get gifts, receive gifts, give and receive love from others. But, not everyone cares for this time of year, let alone having anyone in their life to celebrate with which can cause even more isolation and loneliness, which can trigger depression. There are a variety of other factors that come into play as well.

    Treatment for this condition can be rather diverse, and one method may not work for everyone. I will describe some of these ways of dealing with the symptoms and why they can be helpful. This list will not include medication, but rather alternative, more natural, ways of dealing with the symptoms. One of the most common ways is light therapy. Essentially what a light therapy lamp does is simulate the light on a bright sunny day. It emits the full spectrum of light as it would as if you were outside when the sun was shining. You will sit close to the light, but not look directly at it, perhaps relax for a bit. The reason why this is so beneficial for those with seasonal affective disorder is because of the climate during those cold winter months. There is less direct sunlight, less exposure to it due to cold temperatures, in addition to the mind even having a difficult time realizing if it’s daytime or nighttime. Light therapy stimulates daytime to tell the mind that it’s morning or noon time. It can give one energy and even help with vitamin deficiencies.

    This leads into another method to combat SAD, vitamins, specifically vitamin D and B vitamins. The reason this is crucial is because many people have a deficiency in these two vitamins, and they play an important role in our energy, mood, and overall well being. One of the best sources for vitamin D is from the sun, and during the winter months when there is less sunlight and exposure to it, our vitamin D levels can drop significantly to the point of us feeling tired, lethargic, and not having enough energy to make it through the day. In severe cases it can cause harm to the skeletal structure, making bones brittle. The B vitamins best for depression are B6, B12, and folic acid, or B9. These vitamins are not so much about the sun as Vitamin D is. Vitamin B12 can be obtained mostly from fish and other animal meats and dairy. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you will more than likely need to supplement in one way or another, whether it be fortified foods or pills. Lower than normal B12 and other B vitamin levels play a large role in how we feel and our nervous system. Taking a B-complex can greatly help alleviate depression symptoms. Other supplements that can help with depression are St. John’s Wort and SAM-e, or S-Adenosylmethionine.

    Another method is physical activity, exercise, and just staying active. The reason why this too is crucial is because it helps raise serotonin levels and energy. While it can be difficult to actually get into the act of implementing exercise into your daily schedule, if you can have a routine you stick to no matter what, even if you are feeling depressed and push through, you will feel better in the end. Of course you have to work on enjoying the activity, but there are many things you can do to help stay active instead of staying in and perhaps laying down in bed. One thing can be to get out of the house for a bit and go somewhere, do daily walks, do house cleaning, and anything else that can help you stay active. If you implement this along with the other methods I mentioned earlier, it can be of great help during the time when your depression can be the worst.

    And lastly, what if there is another reason, another underlying cause of your depression and lack of energy? Well, this is where therapy may be able to help, or someone you can talk to about your problems and how you are feeling. Perhaps you are feeling depressed due to family situations that happen during this colder time of year, or perhaps something you have to do at that time of year, or even things that happened during your life that bring back memories when the time of year comes around. Whatever the case, the above methods are not getting to the true cause of your problems and therapy may be needed for you to be able to move on and be better off. When you repress things and do not talk about them, they build and build internally causing damage to you internally, such as depression, anxiety, lack of energy, the list goes on. So, certainly think about opening up to someone, even a family member, about what you are feeling or how they are making you feel so you don’t feel so alone and like no one can relate since there are plenty of people who share your pain.

    So in conclusion, seasonal affective disorder is characterized by depression that comes about during the same time every year, mostly in the colder, winter months. It is often characterized by depression, low energy and motivation, irritability, as well as mood fluctuations. Dealing with symptoms can be accomplished by the use of light therapy, vitamins, physical activity, and even therapy. Let me know if any of you have ever dealt with this and how you’ve managed to overcome it. And, I hope this video was informative and helpful. Thanks for watching!

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    Notes

    While this is something many of us, especially those in colder climates, may deal with on a lower level, feeling this way tends to be because of the lack of sun and the cold weather. I know I always have disliked the cold, and am always relieved when spring rolls around, but the underlying cause I’m sure for me was just the lack of sun, causing vitamin deficiencies, in addition to having to struggle to stay warm during the day and night.