Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as the ‘Winter blues’ or ‘Winter depression’, is a form of depression that comes and goes with seasonal patterns.
The period where the symptoms can occur is between September and April, but more pronounced in December, January and February.
The cause of SAD is not fully understood, but it is believed that vitamin D deficiency and a lack of sunlight keeps our hypothalamus (a part of our brain) from working properly and thus affecting our circadian rhythm (our internal clock). This would lead to changes in the release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters, such as melatonin and serotonin.
Melatonin plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. Also, the body produces melatonin when it is dark, which means we produce a higher amount during the winter darker days. This would cause us to be sleepier and more lethargic.
Serotonin is our happy neurotransmitter (NT). With SAD, our body will produce less of this happy NT, affecting our mood and appetite.
So, during almost 8 months, our body can go into a slow and debilitating state due to a higher amount of melatonin AND a lower amount of serotonin.
- Gender: women are more likely to be affected since 3 out of 4 people with SAD are women.
- Genetic factors: some studies have shown that SAD runs in the family.
- Location: living in the far north or far south of the equator increases the risk of being affected by SAD.
Signs and symptoms:
- Low energy
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressive feelings
- Appetite and weight gain changes
- Sugar addiction and cravings for carbs and other comfort foods
How to prevent and treat SAD
You can improve your symptoms and start feeling better within 2 weeks. Grab my free tips and guides by clicking right here: CLICK HERE
You can also watch my Global TV Montreal segment for more information as well. CLICK HERE.