Throughout our day, there are a lot of things that can dampen our mood. Angry people, unexpected setbacks, and a bucket-load of stress all have the ability to influence how we go about our day and how we view our day. But, there is something else that can (and often does) work against us – the season.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects millions of people. People who are further away from the equator are more likely to suffer it, but people who do not see the light of day very often are also very susceptible to the disorder.
Most people associate SAD with winter. But, SAD can happen when the weather changes to cold or when the weather changes to warmer weather.
Symptoms Of SAD
Symptoms can look and feel a lot like depression and include:
• Hiding yourself from the world and everything in it
• No appetite
• Oversleeping (SAD has been connected to the production of melatonin, which is a sleep related hormone.)
• Weight gain
• Increased appetite
• Inability to focus and concentrate
• Thoughts of suicide
What Causes SAD
The causes are not totally known yet. Because some people are more prone to it, chemical makeup, health condition, mental health, and could be an influence in whether or not you could suffer from SAD.
Another likely cause is that your body is disrupted from its natural rhythm during some seasons. For instance, if you thrive in natural sunlight for long periods during the day and enjoy waking up early, doing activities, and basing many things around the sun, then you may suffer during the winter months when your body is not allowed to enjoy its natural rhythm.
Also, a reduction in the amount of sunlight you receive can cause serotonin levels to drop. Serotonin has an influence on your mood. Experts believe that SAD is commonly related to hormonal changes.
Do You Have SAD?
If you see the signs of SAD and notice that you tend to get more down during the winter months or during a change of season, then you may come to the conclusion that you are living with SAD. Listening to your body can really help you to understand why you are feeling the way you are feeling and whether or not it is a normal thing for you.
But, it is best not to self-diagnose. Because the symptoms are similar to depression, you should go to a doctor to rule out any physical problems that may be causing your issues. If the depression is bad enough, you may also want to see a therapist to determine whether any mental issues are causing your problem.
Take note whether you have had any lifestyle changes (exercise, diet, drugs) and make sure you tell your doctor about those changes. Also, take note of major life events that are occurring (job change, relationship issues, etc.) as those can have a huge impact on your mental well-being.
Home Remedies For SAD
If you do have SAD, there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself shift back to your normal state.
• Spend more time in the sunlight. Make going outdoors for at least 30 minutes a day a priority.
• Make exercise a part of your life as it acts as a great mood enhancer.
• Go someone and get away from the daily grind. Vacations can help you live in the moment and really feel good.
• Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can cause you to lose the ability to reason and think clearly and cause you to feel worse in the long run.
• Eat a healthy diet. What you put into your body determines how much energy you have and how you feel. While some foods may help to raise serotonin, such as chips, cookies, and pretzels, they can also make you feel heavy and sick, and drain your energy.
• Get the right amount of sleep for you. If your body needs 9 hours, get 9 hours. If your body needs 7 hours, get 7. Give your body the sleep it needs to rejuvenate your body and keep stress levels down.
If you do not seek help, and choose to try the above things first, don’t avoid help if your symptoms don’t disappear. If they do disappear, great! But if you can’t shake the symptoms, seeking help is imperative to your future happiness and health.