What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

February 1, 2023

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

There is no doubt about it, we are in the throes of the winter season. We have dealt with colder temperatures, crazy weather and widespread respiratory infections already! In response to all of this, you might be feeling a bit more sad than normal at this point in the year.

While periods of sadness or occasional symptoms of depression can happen during the winter, a condition called seasonal affective disorder is relatively common and affects 10 to 20% of the population.

The team at AFC Urgent Care Hickory has laid out the details about SAD below, so check it out!

What Causes SAD?

In the fall and winter seasons, we are exposed to less natural daylight. As the winter progresses, the days get shorter and shorter. As this happens, we all tend to retreat into our homes and spend much more time indoors. Because of this, many of us get little to no sun exposure in our daily lives.

When we aren’t exposed to the rays of the sun, our brains signal the release of the hormone melatonin. The overload of melatonin in your brain can produce depression-like symptoms that can cause you to lose motivation in the winter months and you can have trouble doing things you usually enjoy.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Increased sleepiness or daytime drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of guilt

What Can I Do About SAD?

One great way to combat the feelings associated with seasonal affective disorder is to get a light box! These handy contraptions produce light that mimics natural, outdoor light. It can help “trick” your brain into believing that you are standing in the sunshine, and it can help reduce your symptoms.

It is important to remember that while seasonal affective disorder and regular depression have some symptom overlap, SAD symptoms will tend to lessen as the days lengthen and spring arrives. If you are experiencing severe depression symptoms, it is crucial to visit with your care team for support.

Other Ways to Combat SAD

  • 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 have you feeling down? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Hickory to visit with our care team.

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