9 Facts About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


Cooler temperatures usually mean shorter days. Can the lack of sunlight be giving you the blues? Or could this be something a bit more sinister? Do you just love and enjoy the crisp air of autumn and winter, but just despise how that feeling you get just as the sun sets hours earlier than it did a couple of weeks prior? You probably could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or what others call seasonal depression, which is a depression that is triggered by the changing lights in each season. In the majority of cases, symptoms start during the late fall to early winter and then begin to subside as the days become a bit longer during the springtime. Although some individuals suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder in the springtime and the summertime, it is not as common. Symptoms of SAD include lack of energy, disinterest in things that were once enjoyable, sadness, difficulty concentrating, a strong urge to sleep all the time, feelings of hopelessness, or fluctuations in weight and appetite. Fortunately, this disorder can be treated with phototherapy, light therapy, medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. Here are some facts about SAD, that you should know.

It Has Genetic Ties

Research coming out from the University of Virginia discovered that seasonal depression could be associated with a genetic mutation in the eye which activates a person with SAD sensitivity to light. Much more current information coming out of UC San Francisco found that a mutation in the human gene that appears to connect unusual patterns of sleep and heightened rates of the disorder. Normally, you could see manifestations of the symptoms between the ages of eighteen and thirty.

It Can Begin In Autumn

Although most reports indicate that this disorder is a fall and winter illness, Seasonal Affective Disorder does not only start with the winter solstice. Individuals commonly start seeing signs of SAD during the months of September or even October, progressively becoming worse as winter days approach. If you are one to reduce your exercising during the fall season, you might want to reconsider that and plan to move more so that you can counteract the onset of depression and possibly avert the linked weight gain as well.

Females With Other Mood Disorders Are At Risk

Studies conducted over an extended period of time have shown that approximately one-third of persons suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder have at least one other type of disorder that affects the mood. Findings have also indicated that SAD can occur as much as four times more often in females than in males, but sources do indicate that males have far more severe symptoms than their female counterparts.

You Need To Be Diagnosed

If you are unsure as to your status as it relates to SAD, then you can ask for the opinion of your perceptive family members or friends and see if they realized if your behavior patterns are in sync with the changing of the seasons. It is also essential that you speak to your doctor. In order for Seasonal Affective Disorder to be diagnosed, you must be suffering from symptoms for two consecutive years. The most important thing is for the individual to view this as serious and take the necessary action and ask for help.

It Makes You Crave Carbohydrates

Individuals that are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder could have extreme cravings for certain types of foods, in particular carbohydrates. To pass up all those delicious foods could be quite difficult, however, the natural feeling to just give up and give in may wreak havoc on the progress you have made on your weight loss along with your weight management plans to better manage the disorder and the cravings.

Diminishing Stigma

No one actually likes when the days become shorter, do they? This is the reason that many people now appreciate and understand that Seasonal Affective Disorder is a genuine condition. Thus, there is far less stigma attached to it than in the 1980s, probably due to all the research and the reports that have be released regarding the disorder in recent years. There is now much information on the yearly changes that many animals go through and now people can relate to it.

Symptoms Can Be Eased By Eating

You might be craving that large bowl of spaghetti however you would be better off indulging in a much healthier carbohydrate such as unprocessed oats or pulse pasta, which will definitely enhance the levels of serotonin, which is the feel-good, mood-boosting hormone, without decreasing your energy levels. The happy hormone can also be increased by Omega-3 fatty acids, so foods rich in this like grass-fed beef, spinach, walnuts, and fatty fish, are excellent choices for your diet. Eggs, wild-caught salmon, fortified milk and tuna, that have a high content of vitamin D can also be helpful. Research has shown a link between numerous mood disorders, such as SAD and vitamin D.

You May Gain Weight

People might not have SAD, however, they may display a seasonal pattern of fluctuating weight. This could be due to the fact that during the fall and winter months, individuals are more likely to suck up their soup with pieces of bread or probably succumb to the craving for a serving of macaroni and cheese. But, if you normally do not put on the pounds around these seasons but you been recent, you might want to consider making a mental list to ascertain if you are going through any of the other symptoms associated with the disorder.

Location Matters

Seasonal Affective Disorder is not about the cold weather at all; rather, the reduced light that is available during the day as they get shorter. Individuals are more susceptible to developing SAD the farther north they reside in the United States. In Florida there is only about one percent that suffers from SAD, in Alaska, nine percent develop the disorder. In the state of New York around seventeen percent have SAD and if you drive a few hours north to New Hampshire, twenty percent of the residents develop the condition.