Now that winter is in full swing, many people are feeling the impact of the colder weather and shorter days. It is common for people to experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the winter months. SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time of year, every year. While most people experience seasonal affective disorder during winter, there are also individuals who experience it in the summer. You may find that during certain times of year, you begin to feel moody and depressed, but feel better once the next season rolls around. If this is the case, you may have seasonal affective disorder.
Who gets SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder can impact anyone, but it is more common in certain demographics. For example, women are more likely to get SAD, as well as people who live farther from the equator and therefore, experience much shorter days during the winter. Additionally, the risk of SAD decreases as you age, so people between the ages of 15 and 55 are most likely to get it. It is also more common if you have a close relative with seasonal affective disorder.
What causes seasonal affective disorder?
The exact cause of seasonal affective disorder is unknown. Currently, scientists theorize that it may have to do with a change in your circadian rhythms. Others believe it has to do with your serotonin levels. Regardless of the cause, SAD can have a negative impact on the lives of those who experience it.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
Symptoms of SAD include:
- Feelings of sadness, moodiness, and anxiety
- Loss of interest in things you love
- Craving more carbohydrates
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping more than normal
When exactly seasonal affective disorder starts varies from person to person. It is common for symptoms to begin around October and be better by around April.
How is it diagnosed?
It can be difficult to differentiate between SAD and depression. This is because the symptoms are the same; the timing of them is the main difference. You may be diagnosed with SAD with you have experienced depression at the same time of year for two or more years in a row, a close relative has SAD, or if you are especially manifesting the symptoms of craving carbohydrates and sleeping more than typical.
If you suspect that you have SAD, talk to your doctor about it. There are a couple of different ways you might treat SAD. The most prominent treatment is light therapy. The theory behind light therapy is that it will work to reset your biological clock. There are two primary types of light therapy: bright light and dawn simulation. For bright light treatment, the patient places a light box in their home and sits in front of it for a certain period of time. For dawn simulation, the patient sleeps beside a special light that emits a dim light in the morning and gradually gets brighter, like the sunrise. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe anti-depressants, and you may choose to seek counseling to help treat your SAD.
What to do on your own
In addition to seeing a doctor, there are some steps you can take to improve your symptoms. One of the best ways you can cope with the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder is through regular exercise. You should try to be active in the morning or in the daytime in general, when you usually have more energy. Cardio workouts are a great place to start, but it is also a good idea to incorporate two strength-building exercises into your weekly routine.
If you need a gym membership to help with your seasonal affective disorder, come into Spunk Fitness today! We care about your health, and we do everything we can to provide affordable gym memberships to our customers. Contact us today!