We are hopeful that the spring and summer seasons will be here before we know it! In the meantime, the winter season can cause us to experience a variety of emotions. Increased feelings of isolation or loneliness can be common, as well as mild symptoms similar to depression.
If you seem to experience an increase in these symptoms in the winter months, you may have what is called seasonal affective disorder. This type of mental health condition fluctuates with the change in season and can be particularly disruptive at this time of year.
Read on to learn more about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, from the AFC Urgent Care Cleveland team.
How Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Develop?
When the fall and winter seasons come around, we are naturally exposed to less sunlight. SInce our bodies rely on natural daylight to keep us connected to our circadian rhythms and maintain our hormone balances, any sort of shift away from daily sun exposure can affect our moods.
The sun is responsible for helping us maintain our vitamin D levels, but it also helps control our melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that helps us fall asleep at night and is produced when we are exposed to darkness. If we get less sun exposure or none at all during the day, our bodies can start to overproduce this hormone and we can experience negative side effects because of it.
5 Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Increased sleepiness or daytime drowsiness
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Social withdrawal
- Feelings of guilt
Are There Treatments for SAD Symptoms?
If you are worried about any symptoms you are experiencing, the first thing you should do is visit with your care provider. Treatment for any sort of health condition should be tailored to you specifically, especially when it comes to mental health conditions.
Some people may respond great to simple lifestyle changes, while others may benefit the most from medication or light therapy. If you are able to manage your symptoms in the winter months, it should be a comfort to you that most symptoms of SAD tend to lift as the spring and summer months return and our daily exposure to sunlight increases.
Ways to Support Your Mental Health in Winter
- Stand in the sun more often.
- Discover a new hobby to keep you engaged.
- Practice more self-care, like exercising and getting enough sleep.
- Visit with a doctor if your symptoms start to affect your everyday life.
Does winter make you feel down? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Cleveland to visit with our care team.