Seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression, summer depression, winter blues, winter depression, and SAD, refers to a mood disorder in which people who are mentally normal undergo depressive symptoms at the same time each year. Usually, it occurs in the winter. Since it affects a person’s mood, it may affect his activities of daily living and interaction with others. The following are the causes, symptoms, and home remedies for seasonal affective disorder.
The exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is still idopathic or unknown; however, it is associated with three factors, as per Mayo Clinic. According to the publication, these include the person’s biological clock or circadian rhythm, serotonin levels, and melatonin levels. It is said that reduction of sunlight in the fall and winter may lead to winter-onset seasonal affective disorder. As per the publication, the sunlight reduction disrupts the body’s clock, which results to a depressive state. Changes in season may also affect the balance of serotonin and melatonin in the body, which results to mood and sleep affectation.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder also related to the season the person is exposed into. According to Mayo Clinic, fall and winter affective disorder symptoms include irritability, tiredness or low energy, social interaction impairment, hypersensitivity to rejection, heavy or leaden feelings in the arms and legs, oversleeping, appetite changes or carbohydrte-rich food cravings, and weight gain. Meanwhile, spring and summer affective disorder present symptoms like depression, insomnia or difficulty sleeping, weight loss, poor appetite, agtation, and anxiety.
Treatment for seasonal affective disorder may involve medications like antidepressants and psychotherapy. Aside from them, the condition may also be managed with home remedies.
Light Therapy Box
Since a reduced sunlight exposure may trigger seasonal affective disorder, the usage of light therapy boxes stands as a potential remedy for the condition. According to Everyday Health, light therapy boxes emit light that imitate sunshine; as per the publication, this helps a person recover from the disorder. In terms of light, light therapy boxes have brighter lights that those of regular light bulbs and they possess various wavelengths. As per the publication, the person may sit in front of the light box for about 30 minutes a day to activate the body’s internal clock and reduce natural melatonin release. University of Michigan Depression Center recommends the use of the box upon getting up in the morning for best results.
Another remedy for seasonal affective disorder is exercise. According to Dr. Axe’s official website, exercise promotes the production of feel-good chemicals, which combats the depressive state and brain fog. In a study, as per the publication, it was found that walking for 30 minutes on a treadmill for ten consecutive days led to a considerable reduction of depression. As per studies, the frequency and consistency of the exercise has more impact to the person, as compared to the duration and intensity. This suggests that a fitness class like yoga is more beneficial to the person that a crossfit class.
Exposing oneself to the sun is another way to manage seasonal affective disorder, especially for the fall and winter type. According to Mayo Clinic, the person may take a long walk, sit on a bench, or eat lunch at a nearby park, even on cold or cloudy days. Sunlight exposure boosts vitamin D levels, which is associated to reduced depression.
Seasonal affective disorder puts a person into a depressive state at one point in the year, usually in the winter. With this, it may affect a person’s daily activities and social interaction. In this regard, it is wise to seek medical consult from a physician for proper assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation, health education, and evaluation of outcome.