Shedding Some Light on "Seasonal Depression" and Its Impact
Winter is coming, and fall is knocking on the door. So it’s probably a good idea to focus on seasonal depression and why it occurs.
You may have heard it being referred to as the "winter blues" or even by its clinical name, seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
But this isn’t just feeling down because it's cold outside – there are underlying causes behind this illness.
Seasonal depression is a type of depression that tends to occur during specific seasons, most commonly in the winter months — and mainly because a lack of sunlight.
During the darker winter months, our exposure to natural light obviously decreases, messing up our internal body clock. When daylight hours shorten during winter, it can throw off our “natural” rhythm and leave us feeling out of sync.
And biologically, the loss of sunlight affects certain brain chemicals like serotonin and melatonin, which play roles in our mood and sleep patterns.
Does your mood seem to shift with the seasons?
Turns out, there's a link between seasonal changes and our mental health. Whether it's the winter blues or the summertime sadness, our emotions can be influenced by the weather. During winter, the lack of sunlight during shorter days can lead to feelings of low energy, sadness, and even depression.
On the flip side, when summer rolls around, some individuals may experience a different form of seasonal depression. When summer rolls around, some individuals may struggle with summer depression due to factors like excessive heat or disrupted routines. The intense heat and longer days can affect sleep patterns and trigger feelings of irritability, restlessness, or anxiety.
But why does this happen? Well, the connection between weather and our mood goes beyond just being miserable cause you’re too hot or withdrawn because it’s too cold. The rainy days can make us feel cozy and introspective, and sunny days can boost our energy and put a smile on our face.
If you think that you may be affected by SAD, consult with a healthcare professional who can provide proper guidance and support.
Self-diagnosis is not recommended, lol, so close out “Google” and seek a professional for this help.
There are very intense, and “out of the usual” signs and symptoms of SAD: feeling low, lacking energy, experiencing changes in your mood specifically during the change of seasons, a persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms may persist for weeks or even months, and especially during a particular season.
Now let’s talk about some social factors that can trigger SAD, or even make it feel worse.
One factor is that during the winter, folks can experience isolation and loneliness. The colder months sometimes limit outdoor activities, giving folks less options to get socially active. People tend to spend more time indoors. This kind of isolation can make feelings of loneliness worse ……and contribute to depressive symptoms.
And we have to mention, the winter in the USA is associated with several holidays and traditions. Holiday stressors such as family conflicts or unrealistic expectations, financial burdens associated with holiday expenses can also add to the stress and strain on folks experiencing seasonal depression.
The pressure to spend money on gifts, travel, and other expenses can lead to financial stress, which can lead to anxiety. Financial burdens associated with gift-giving, family obligations, and societal expectations can create more than enough stress or anxiety, without seasonal depression!!
Dealing with seasonal depression can be tough.
If you find yourself feeling down during certain seasons, it's important to seek help.
There are various therapy options available to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), such as counseling, support groups for winter blues, and medication specifically designed for this condition. In some cases, medication may be necessary for treating seasonal affective disorder. Consulting with a mental health professional is crucial in determining if medication is the right option for you, as they will consider your individual circumstances and guide you accordingly.
Taking proactive steps towards managing SAD can make a significant difference in maintaining your overall well-being all year round.
You don't have to face this time of year with dread – there are resources out there to support you!
Want a social group who understands what you are going through? Check out my groups