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Seasonal Depression

Ever wonder why you feel so grey and down when the seasons change?

You might be experiencing some biological changes and imbalances from a condition called seasonal affective disorder.

Everything slows down in the winter. The trees die, the wildlife hibernates, the world turns grey and human beings are no exception to these changes.

But when does this winter grogginess become a bigger problem? 

Our bodies regulate sleep and mood with hormones and the changing of the seasons can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm or biological clock. In the winter for example, the days are shorter and your body tends to release more melatonin to help you sleep. Less sunshine also means a reduction in seratonin also known as the hormone that regulates your mood. 

Misconceptions

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding seasonal affective disorder is that it only appears during winter months. That’s actually false and seasonal affective disorders can appear with any season change including summertime. Unlike depression that causes the body to eat less and sleep less, seasonal affective disorder causes someone to increase their appetite and increase their amount of sleep similar to hibernating.This disorder can manifest in different ways, and doesn’t always identify as sad or even depressed. 

Symptoms

Symptoms include discontent, crying, irritability, difficulty focusing or concentrating, aches and pains, lowered sex drive, decreased physical activity, changes in appetite, especially overeating carbs and steady weight gain. When these symptoms start affecting the quality of your life, you might want to seek the advice of a professional. 


Treatment 

There’s definitely a reason that people flock to warmer and sunnier climates during winter months. Light therapy is an effective way to treat vitamin D deficiencies and disruptions in circadian rhythm. In light therapy sessions, the patient sits several feet from a light therapy box that exposes them to comfortable, bright light. Light therapy mimics light from the outdoors and increases mood boosting seratonin. In some cases, your physician may recommend gentle or low dose antidepressants.

The truth is, you’re not crazy for feeling like crap during the change of seasons. 

Taking charge of your health means identifying ways to improve your physical, emotional and mental well being and seeking the resources to do so. With any mood disorder, a strong support system is instrumental to the healing process and will give you the confidence and courage you need to identify what is keeping you from living a happier, healthier life.