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What is your favourite season?
It is a fact that seasons affect or moods and lifestyle like the way of eating, exercising and even our social activities. Our energy levels are significantly associated with the seasons. As the winters are approaching in many parts of the world, and they usually cause a low energy level or sense of depression termed as “seasonal affective disorder.”
It is pretty common to be feeling a little low and depressed in short days with less sunlight. Still, if the condition persists for a long time or continually at the same time of the year, then you may be suffering from the seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder is three times more common in women than men. SAD is relatively less common in children and older adults, affecting men and women equally.
What is the definition of Seasonal affective Disorder?
The seasonal affective disorder is a state of mind in which a person feels depression, low mood and decrease in energy levels, commonly when summer turns into winters.
What are the causes of Seasonal affective Disorder? Well, a little is known about the causes of the seasonal affective disorder but is usually attributed to reduced sunlight and shorter days, due to a decrease in sunlight a low level of Vitamin D in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that is responsible for releasing hormones. The hypothalamus is responsible for releasing hormones which regulate the emotional behaviour and maintain internal body clock, called the circadian rhythm.
Research has shown that light exposure affects the release of hormones such as serotonin and melatonin responsible for the feelings of happiness and joy. The low levels of sunlight negatively affect the release of these hormones and cause depression.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder There are several symptoms associated with the seasonal affective disorder, which are severe and have a significant effect on the daily routine. Some of the symptoms are
Low mood Loss of interest in day to day activities Feeling irritable Feelings of despair and worthlessness Low self-esteem Feeling anxious Increased desire to stay alone Low sex drive Feeling sluggish and tired Sleeping for unusual longer hours Increased appetite Increase in Weight While depression and seasonal affective disorder have many shared symptoms; the key differences in terms of triggers and duration, the seasonal affective disorder is triggered by a change in seasons, while depression can be caused by stress, grief and trauma. Usually, individual suffering from the seasonal affective disorder have better mental health during the summer. However, an individual with depression can be affected during any time of the year.
Diagnosis If you’ve been feeling depressed and have some of the symptoms discussed, visit your doctor for an assessment. Based on the symptoms, the doctor diagnoses the treatment for you. If you feel depressed, worthless, and irritable whenever winter comes, you may have a form of SAD. Discuss openly with your doctor about your problem. Follow their recommendations for lifestyle changes and treatment.
How to manage Seasonal affective disorder? A better way of management of the seasonal affective disorder, it is essential to recognise the sign and symptoms of the disease. Once you realise that you are experiencing SAD, you need professional help to alleviate the symptoms.
Do Exercise Regularly
Exercise reduces the symptoms of depression, especially during the months of winter. The hormones such as dopamine and serotonin are released, when you are regularly doing exercise. These chemicals help fight the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Moderate physical activity, like walking 30 minutes a day to get those neurotransmitters going.
Stay Connected Another way to fight SAD is by remaining in touch with your loved ones and identify your support network. Being in touch with those that matter in your life can help create positive energy about ways to combat symptoms of SAD.
“Research shows that those with a larger support network can make behavioural changes easier,” psychotherapist Aimee Bernsteintells said. “Create an agreement with your support network to spend time together doing fun things, especially during the winter months, that will shift your mood and energise you.”
Get Enough Light Try to be in enough sunlight during the winter months. It may be as easy as opening your bedroom windows or sit outside in the garden. Getting a fair amount of daylight also helps the symptoms of SAD. Being in sunlight helps you get enough vitamin D which gives several health benefits, including relief from symptoms of SAD. It gets difficult to get required vitamin D in the dark winter months, so taking a supplement can make a difference in your mental health.
Try Light Therapy Another responsive way to fight SAD is with the help of a light therapy box. The box beams artificial light that mimics sunlight. Before using a light therapy box, make sure to speak with your clinician or therapist to understand the effects of it. These lamps regulate the circadian rhythm that is irregulated due to shortage of natural light in shorter and colder days.
Combat Unhealthy Habits A healthy lifestyle is as important today as it was never before. A sinful lifestyle like smoking, overeating, drinking alcohol can give you a moment of pleasure. However, in the long run, they destroy not only your physical but also mental health. These unhealthy habits contribute to making the symptoms worse in a person suffering from the seasonal affective disorder.
Search for something in you Seasonal affective disorder and other mental issues like depression and anxiety steal the positiveness out of you leaving there a pessimist. I believe that besides our careers jobs or work there is another ability in every one of us. At this moment, when you are feeling down or worthless, bring out the creativity in you. Cook, write sing, paint, act or do anything you find peace at. This is the best way to combat the negative thoughts piled up in your mind.
Meditate Meditation has a positive impact on your mood because of its effects on boosting the serotonin levels. Through meditation, you can calm your rebellion mind and distract your attention from depressive or negative thoughts.
Take a Vacation Suppose cold is bothering you in an extremely negative way. Ditch the season and pack your bags for a holiday where the sun is on full bloom. A nice break can help you cope with the personality dwelling between positive and perilous negative thoughts.
Get Professional Help
If you’re feeling low, especially during the winter, there’s absolutely nothing ashamed of seeking professional help. A counsellor is always generous emotional support and helper that help you to adopt strategies that give you the strength to cope with the depressive symptoms and get you through the winter months.
Treatment for SAD According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are four main treatments for SAD. However, it depends on the state of the person, which treatment or combination of therapies can be used to manage symptoms of the disorder.
Medication: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Bupropion, another type of antidepressant
Light therapy: Artificial light can make up for the deficiency of natural light and helps with the improvement of symptoms.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is responsible for the release of hormones that helps to alleviate the depressive thoughts.
Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) proves to be useful for people experiencing SAD. CBT relies on identifying negative thoughts and replace them with optimistic feelings. Behavioural activation is another helpful technique which helps the person identify enjoyable activities and improves the ability to cope with winter gloom.
Take home An individual should visit the doctor when the mood remains cons consistently low and begins affecting their daily life. Talk to the doctor about how to you will be able to help yourself. If your mindset is affecting your sleep hygiene, eating habits or energy levels, or promoting the feelings of worthlessness, despair or suicidal thoughts, You have to work on it.
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