What You Need To Know About Seasonal Depression
Winter is known for its chilly weather, holiday festivities and family gatherings. However, for many, winter also brings a lesser-known but significant issue: seasonal depression. Also known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, seasonal depression affects nearly 10 million Americans each year. Read on to explore the symptoms, causes and treatment options for seasonal depression.
What is seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression is a form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It usually starts in late fall or early winter and improves during spring and summer. In some cases, individuals may experience seasonal depression in reverse, with symptoms appearing in the warmer months.
People with seasonal depression may experience physical and emotional symptoms including:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Significant changes in appetite, particularly increased craving for carbohydrates
- Loss of interest in activities or socializing
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Oversleeping or insomnia
- Irritability and agitation
What causes seasonal depression?
While the exact cause of seasonal depression is unknown, researchers have identified several factors that contribute to its development. Reduced exposure to sunlight is believed to be one of the primary causes. This disrupts the body’s internal clock, leading to imbalances in certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin, which plays a crucial role in regulating mood. Additionally, people with a family history of depression or those already diagnosed with other mental health disorders like bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder are more likely to experience seasonal depression.
Are there treatment options for seasonal depression?
Fortunately, there are several effective treatment options available for managing seasonal depression.
- Light therapy: Light therapy involves sitting in front of a special light box that emits bright, artificial light. This therapy method works to supplement the reduced sunlight exposure and regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.
- Medications: In some cases, doctors may prescribe antidepressant medications to alleviate symptoms of seasonal depression. These medications work by balancing brain chemicals associated with mood regulation.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can be beneficial for individuals with seasonal depression. Psychotherapy aims to challenge negative thoughts and behaviors, in addition to teaching coping mechanisms for managing depressive symptoms.
- Lifestyle changes: Simple lifestyle adjustments can also make a significant difference. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and engaging in enjoyable activities can help improve overall mood and reduce the impact of seasonal depression.
If you or someone you know is experiencing seasonal depression, it is crucial to seek professional help and explore the resources available for managing this condition. Visit Midwest Express Clinic to speak with a provider about your symptoms and discuss which treatment options may be right for you. To find a location nearest you, visit midwestexpressclinic.com/locations.