Seasonal Affective Disorder

Season Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of seasonal depression brought on by cold weather. Thus, Seasonal Affective Disorder is more frequently experienced in people who live far north or south of the equator. Moreover, women are diagnosed with SAD four times more often than men.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as cyclothymia or the winter blues, is a type of cyclical depression that comes and goes with the seasons. Although depressive episodes linked to the summer can occur, Seasonal Affective Disorder usually manifests in winter, when there is less light. In fact, this type of depression follows a recurring seasonal pattern. Therefore, SAD treatment for clients suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder includes anticipating SAD onset and taking preemptive action

The symptomology of Seasonal Affective Disorder follows the same pattern as most depressive disorders. However, SAD treatment often differs from traditional therapeutic approaches for major depressive episodes. People with Seasonal Affective Disorder often overproduce the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep. Furthermore, melatonin production increases in winter. Thus, as winter days shorten, this increased melatonin production causes lethargy and the winter blues.

Accordingly, studies reveal that people with SAD have 5 percent less of the mood-altering neurotransmitter serotonin in winter months than they do in summer months. To counteract this, Vitamin D can be used as a natural dietary approach for boosting serotonin. Additionally, light therapy is a key SAD treatment. Light therapy is designed to replace the sunshine lost in the darkness of the winter months.

Sources: National Institute of Mental HealthMedline PlusPsychology Today

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