Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Did you know that there are mental disorders that could come as a result of changes in seasons? SAD is mostly associated with the dislike for cold seasons. It is described as a form of depression, since it carries most of the symptoms of the same, only it occurs seasonally. The cases of the disorder occurring are relatively low, particularly in the Eastern countries, compared to the Western countries. In fact, the most severe cases are often associated with the onset of winter.
Symptoms of SAD.
- Cravings for carbohydrates.
- Weight gain.
- Feeling short of energy and sleep through the day.
- A persistent low mood
- Loss of joy and interest in the day to day activities.
- Feeling worthless, guilty and hopeless.
- Having longer episodes of sleep, coupled with the difficulty to wake up in the morning.
To diagnose SAD, it is important to visit a specialist. The assessment carried out normally involves asking questions to help assess the state of one’s mental health, eating habits, lifestyle, sleeping patterns or seasonal changes in the way one thinks.
The cause of SAD has not been clearly identified. However, reduced exposure to sunlight is believed to influence its onset. This often triggers the production of a hormone called melatonin that makes one feel sleepy. Therefore, an individual suffering from SAD often excretes excess levels of this. Another hormone called serotonin is also secreted. The hormone affects mood, appetite and sleep. Serotonin is secreted in lower levels due to lack of sunlight, resulting to depression.
SAD can be treated through anti-depressant medication, light therapy, talking therapies and lifestyle regulations.