Can you believe that we are almost at the end of October? For some people the dread of shorter days and colder temperatures is overwhelming. With the season change now here, I thought I’d touch on Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.).
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, millions of Americans are affected by SAD. It is more common in Women and in those who live in areas with less hours of daylight in the winter.
SAD occurs when a person’s mood is affected by season changes. A person may report feeling more depressed, anxious, or withdrawn during the colder months, as well as experience low energy levels, difficulty sleeping, and loss of interest. However, they report feeling better during the spring and summer months at which time there symptoms seem to resolve.
What Causes S.A.D?
While research is still being conducted on specific causes, researchers think that a decrease in serotonin and an overproduction in melatonin are contributors to the development of SAD. Vitamin D deficiencies can also worsen symptoms.
How is S.A.D. Treated?
There are several natural treatment options available for Seasonal Affective Disorder including:
1. Psychotherapy–both “talk therapy” and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be helpful resources for learning how to cope with difficulties.
2. Physical Exercise–regular exercise helps release “feel good” hormones in our brain which can lift our mood.
3. Light Therapy–a 10,000LUX Light for 30 minutes per day from October through March can help mimic the effects of sunlight.
4. Increasing Vitamin D3–check with your doctor to see if you may be deficient in Vitamin D levels during the colder months and discuss supplementation if needed.
5. Chronotherapy–this type of therapy works with the body’s natural circadian rhythm, sleep/wake cycles and light exposure. The goal is to reset a dysregulated circadian rhythm.
If you’re struggling to cope with the idea of getting through shorter days and colder months, reach out to a counselor to explore treatment options for Seasonal Affective Disorder.