Seasonal Depression

By Nora Doyle and Olivia Miller

Image by: Alisha Naidu and Pranav Misra

Ever feel yourself slipping into a funk right around when the weather starts to get cooler, and your motivation is pretty much in the gutter? Maybe you start to have trouble staying awake, or trouble concentrating. This may be more than just a recurring funk.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, (kind of funny, right?) is common in young adults and even more so in women. In fact, it is 4 times more likely for women to have SAD.

According to Mayo Clinic, most cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder appear during late fall or early winter and go away when the sunny warm weather of spring and summer begin. But in some cases, symptoms can appear in the spring and summer, and go away in the fall and winter.

Although SAD can cause a drastic change to someone’s daily life, it is actually very common, affecting over 10 million Americans according to Psychology Today.

There are quite a few symptoms that can be recognized as Seasonal Affective Disorder. These include feeling depressed daily and for most of the day, losing interest in previously enjoyed activities, having low energy, trouble sleeping or trouble staying awake, changes in appetite or weight, feeling sluggish or easily agitated, difficulty concentrating, feeling worthless and or hopeless, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide. So yes, it can be very serious .

There are some differences in the symptoms of SAD in the fall/winter time than the ones in the spring/summer time. For example during the fall/winter time some of the symptoms are oversleeping and gaining weight, while in the spring/summer time some of the symptoms can be not getting enough sleep and you may even lose some weight rather than gain it.

A few things can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder according to the Mayo Clinic. The three big ones are your circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels.

Your circadian rhythm is like your inner clock. Your inner clock has to do with the cycle of the moon and sun. The decrease in sunlight in fall and winter may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.

Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that affects mood. Reduced sunlight can also cause a drop in serotonin, triggering depression.

The change in season can also disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin. Melatonin plays a role in sleep patterns and mood. There are some factors that may increase the risk of SAD. Factors include family history, having major depression or bipolar disorder, and living far from the equator.

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