Do the shorter, darker days put you in a funk?
At least 3 million Americans struggle with ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ or S.A.D. from September to March.
Dr. Alicia Brooks, NOVANT Health, Salem Family Medicine
You could be suffering from the Winter Blues or ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, a type of depression triggered by shorter days and longer nights.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
Patients with SAD “have all the hallmarks of a major depressive disorder,” Ifill-Taylor said, “including irritability and anhedonia, which is not wanting to do things that you used to love to do, depressed mood, difficulty sleeping and appetite disturbance.” You might even crave carbohydrates and pack on some pounds.
What causes SAD?
-Sunlight regulates your sleep-wake cycle. When daylight hours begin to shrink in the fall, your body clock can get out of whack — even before daylight saving time ends. SAD is a sign your body is struggling with this natural seasonal reset.
-The exact causes are unknown, but research points to some chemical culprits, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
-Some people with SAD make too much melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, and may have an imbalance of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. They may also have low levels of vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin.”
What’s the best remedy for SAD?
-Relief starts with a visit to your doctor, who will review your symptoms and make a diagnosis. He or she may prescribe an antidepressant and/or a vitamin D supplement and is almost sure to recommend light therapy.
-LIGHT: Spending time — especially in the early morning and early evening — in front of a special therapy lamp that mimics natural sunlight can lift your mood and keep the winter blues at bay. The light has to approximate the sun’s light.
(Many insurers will cover some or all of the lamps’ cost, but only with a doctor’s prescription).
The brain is just like any other organ in the body, meaning things can go awry.
If you think you have seasonal depression, don’t be ashamed to get help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or crazy.
At Novant Health, our behavioral health specialists can help you deal with these issues and regain control of your life.
By Carole Tanzer Miller / November 27, 2018 Novant Health Psychiatric Associates.
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