Written by: Robert R. Cassman, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
Why do some people feel depressed when the seasons change from summer to winter?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects about 4 million people each year. Most of the time this occurs around the transition from Summer to Winter. Some symptoms include feeling depressed or anxious, feeling tired, having difficulty with sleep, feeling as though you’re moving slower, not wanting to do anything socially, and over eating,
Blame the sun
- Circadian rhythms: our bodies have a natural cycle based on the sun. The change to winter can affect this and trick our bodies.
- Serotonin levels: Serotonin is brain chemical involved with mood. It is altered by the amount of sunlight. The less sun we get, the more depressed we feel!
- Melatonin levels: Melatonin regulates sleep. The darker it is the more melatonin the body produces, leading to a feeling of tiredness. The body thinks it is bedtime due to the darkness. People with SAD tend to produce more melatonin than those people without SAD.
- Vitamin D: Again, less sunlight, less Vitamin D. Vitamin D is involved in the production of Serotonin as well.
- Light therapy boxes can be purchased. These mimic the light from the sun to help your body realign its rhythms. This can also help the brain to produce the right about of Serotonin. All of this will help boost your mood.
- Exercise is great. Exercise, preferably outside, has been shown over and over to play a large part on the levels of happiness. It helps produce healthy amounts of Serotonin which affects our moods.
- Talk therapy can help to combat thoughts that reinforce depression.
- Go outside! The outside is a natural treatment of SAD. When winter comes we have less sunlight and it is cold so we tend to stay indoors. But this will only worsen the issue. Find reasons to go outside and the symptoms of SAD will lessen.