The winter season can be hard on us all. We have already battled our way through a spike in respiratory illnesses and it seems like spring and summer are still so far away. In response to the already-eventful winter season, it is common to experience a bit more sadness or loneliness at this time of year.
While it is OK to occasionally be sad or have hard days, lingering negative feelings and symptoms of depression could indicate a seasonal affective disorder diagnosis, which actually affects up to 20% of the population.
Our team at AFC Urgent Care Tyvola Road explains all about seasonal affective disorder below.
Where Does SAD Come From?
Our bodies rely on natural daylight to control our circadian rhythms and hormone balances throughout the year. As winter sets in, our days get shorter and the remaining daylight isn’t as strong. The natural reaction to this change is to head indoors for the duration of the season!
This means that a lot of us are getting little to no exposure to natural daylight every day. If we don’t expose ourselves to the rays of the sun on a consistent basis, our bodies can start to overproduce melatonin. While melatonin is helpful in keeping our circadian rhythms intact, an overload of this hormone can cause depression-like symptoms.
Common Symptoms Associated with SAD
- Increased sleepiness or daytime drowsiness
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Social withdrawal
- Feelings of guilt
Can I Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder?
If you think your current symptoms are aligning with a SAD diagnosis, it is important to visit with your care team for a diagnosis and treatment plan. What works for others may not be effective for you, so having a unique approach to your situation will be the most beneficial for you.
There are certain products out there that can help reduce symptom severity, like a light box. Light boxes help mimic natural light and can actually help make you feel better if you expose yourself to the light every day. While simple fixes like these may help your symptoms, it is important to keep a watchful eye on any worsening feelings. All forms of depression are serious and should always be addressed by a professional right away.
Additional Help For 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.
Are you struggling with your mental health? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Tyvola Road to visit with our care team.