Coping With Seasonal Affective Disorder
Don't brush off that yearly depressed feeling as just a case of the "winter blues" or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year by tackling Seasonal Affective Disorder head-on.
What is it?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. Symptoms generally start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. However, some people have reverse SAD where the summer months are the cause of depressed feelings.
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:
Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.