As the seasons change and the weather cools, anywhere from 10-20% of the population suffers from at least a lesser form of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. The short, mostly gray fall and winter days bring with them more than just cold weather and snow each year. Since many people have never heard of SAD, and it can take quite a toll on your life, we thought we’d explain in this blog exactly what SAD is and what its symptoms are so that you can fight back.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and what are the symptoms?
SAD is a major depressive disorder, which rears its ugly head every year at around the same time. As described above, it is prevalent in the fall and winter (although there is also a summer form) as the days shorten and aren’t quite as bright and sunny as in the summer. Because of this, you commonly see it more in those who are further north or south of the equator, as they have the shortest days.
Those suffering from SAD don’t have your normal depression related symptoms, but actually have several symptoms that are typically in contrast to other forms of depression. Some symptoms of SAD include needing more sleep, an increased appetite, anxiety, loss of energy, and a difficulty concentrating.
Causes and Treatments
As you can guess, the decreased sunlight gives a hint as to what some of the primary causes of SAD are. These causes include a disruption in your circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle, caused by the decrease in melatonin, which is known as the sleep hormone. When sunlight hits your eyes your brain receives a message to produce this master sleep hormone, which helps control your sleep cycle. Therefore less sunlight means lower levels of melatonin being released as night falls.
Since light is a key factor in the cause, it also makes sense that it’s used in treatment. Light therapy simply exposes you to bright light, typically in the morning, to reduce the release of melatonin and help you wake more naturally. This is often an effective treatment but there are also others that may work if light therapy does not. These treatments include medications and psychotherapy, on top of stress management and an exercise program.
We also can recommend several supplements that contain nutrients to help relieve the symptoms of SAD. Allergy Research Group’s Stabilium 200 contains omega-3 extracts which are excellent for supporting stress, sleep, energy, and mood, and is a great place to start since these are all the key factors in SAD. Another great example is Quicksilver Scientific’s GABA, which is another great product in the form of an oral spray that supports anxiety and productivity at a higher absorption rate. If you’d like other recommendations, or if you have any questions, specific concerns, or conditions, we at DR Vitamin Solutions would be happy to help! Simply leave us a comment here, send us an email via our contact page, or reach us via the social media space.
By David Benic, DR Vitamin Solutions