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Seasonal Affective Disorder

By now we have all heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that primarily occurs in the fall and winter with symptoms such as fatigue, moodiness, and appetite changes. Symptoms often begin as mild and then become severe. SAD is considered a subtype of major depression and has many of the same symptoms, such as depression, feeling worthless or hopeless, decrease in concentration, feeling easily irritated, and loss of interest in activities. Specific causes of SAD are not known, however some theories exist. One is based on the circadian rhythm in which the decrease in sunlight can disrupt our biological clocks, leading to depression. Another theory is the disruption of our serotonin and melatonin levels based on reduced sunlight. Serotonin (neurotransmitter that affects mood) levels tend to drop in the winter, possibly triggering depression. Melatonin (helps with sleep and mood) levels can become unbalanced. Other risk factors should be considered as well. Some ways to cope with SAD are to get out and meet people, practice stress management, take care of yourself (eat right, exercise, relax), and, if possible, take a trip to a tropical climate! However, if symptoms persist, you can seek treatment at LiveWell Counseling.