Assessing the Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder & Finding Help

seasonal affective disorder

Assessing the Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder & Finding Help

Recent studies show low levels of Vitamin D in your bloodstream augments the risk of the seasonal affective disorder that can have you feeling down and grumpy persistently.

Gloominess and depression are two different things. Ignoring either is bad for your mental health.

One of the key reasons you’re suffering is you avoid your own state. This is bad because, eventually, it worsens your condition.

Thus, talking is a must.

But what exactly is Seasonal Affective Disorder? How does it impact your mental health?

Will Vitamin D Supplements Help with Seasonal Depression?

The latest findings and trials suggest Vitamin D for Seasonal Depression is effective. Earlier experts have estimated the same. The good thing is recent pieces of evidence are supporting their comment as well.

However, finding detailed answers to these thoughts can only offer clarity. This blog on Vitamin D and Seasonal Depression is an attempt to answer these questions.

So, let’s begin…


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly referred to with its abbreviated form, SAD, is a Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with seasonal patterns.

The psychological condition leads to depression instigated by seasonal changes.

Usually, people encounter it during winters. In general, it occurs in females, adolescents, and young adults. Moreover, it starts and ends at the same time each year.  

Patients with this condition begin encountering the symptoms at the onset of seasonal changes. It remains constant for the whole winter months, shrinking your energy, dropping activeness, and making you moodier.

Rarely, SAD results in depression in any other seasonal changes like the start of spring or early summer.

The main treatment for SAD includes light therapy (phototherapy), medications, and psychotherapy.

Data so far finds that apart from depression, patients also encounter a decrease in appetite and increased sleeping hours.

It is relatively common among residents of temperate climates affecting almost 1-3% of adults while being dominant in women. 

There can also be recurrent depressive episodes. The symptoms of winter depressive episodes varied from mild to moderate.

However, people with winter SAD usually do not need hospitalization, have psychotic symptoms, or a tendency to commit suicide. The condition affects personal as well as professional life, though.

Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia provided a comprehensive study in this respect. The seasonal variation of mood has been documented in both retrospective and prospective studies.

Generally, it showed the depressive symptoms were at the peak in winter. The most common condition diagnosed was SAD.

While you might consider it to be yet another winter blues and brush it off, the persisting condition can affect your mental health.

Not only it affects your personal life but also impairs your productivity at the work.

Thus, Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment is a primary concern in such a situation. 

People having a family history of psychological conditions have a higher risk of getting SAD. Effective treatment can help.

Thus, looking for some early symptoms can help proceed with the initial diagnosis.


Early Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Mostly, seasonal affective disorder symptoms begin in the early winter or late fall. With the arrival of sunnier days or spring, it begins to disappear.

Whatever the case is, at the initial stages, the symptoms are mild.

With the progress of the season, it becomes severe and even complicated in various conditions. Now, let’s get on with assessing the top signs of seasonal affective disorder.

Signs and Symptoms of SAD

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Feeling depressed most days, maybe every day
  • Lower energy level
  • Poor sleeping habit
  • Feeling restless or lethargic
  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Difficulty keeping focus and concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, embarrassed, or useless
  • Encountering changes in your weight or appetite
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and Winter SAD

Seasonal affective disorder symptoms vary for winter-onset SAD. Oftentimes, it is called winter depression. This mainly includes:

  • Oversleeping
  • Exhaustion or low energy
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Changes in appetite
  • Excessive cravings for carbs

Spring and Summer SAD

Some symptoms signify summer-onset seasonal affective disorder. Usually, it is termed summer depression. The symptoms include:

  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

When to Visit a Specialist?

Feeling down for a few days is normal. However, if the gloominess continues for a period, it’s going to devour your life. Then, it’s time you just seek a specialist.

The concern can be serious if your sleeping pattern has altered and your appetite differs. Plus, you have begun relying on alcohol for escape and comfort or you are feeling utter hopelessness and wanting to commit suicide. These are some signs that you need to seek treatment ASAP.

However, before going for any therapy, you may also want to know the possible causes of your condition.


Causes of SAD Disorder: What Instigates the Condition?

The exact trigger of SAD is still unknown. In fact, various analysis reveals the contributing factors may differ from individual to individual.

People residing in locations where winter nights are long and sunlight periods are short are more likely to encounter it.

For instance, the condition is quite common in folks living in Canada and Alaska as compared to Florida.

Statistics indicate that light may influence SAD.

According to a theory, lack of sunlight exposure impacts the natural biological clocks responsible for hormone secretion, sleep patterns, and mood.

In contrast, another theory suggests that light-dependent hormones suffer the most negative impact in SAD patients.

Besides, the clearly suggesting studies, we have summed up an overview of the circumstances of SAD. Let’s look at them one by one.

What Are The Causes Of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

As said earlier, the exact reason behind seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Still, after various studies and clinical trials, some common factors are probable reasons. These may include:

  • Melatonin Levels: Seasonal changes disturb the balance of hormones. The negative impact on your melatonin results in unusual sleep patterns.
  • Serotonin Levels: Another reason is a drop in a brain chemical (neurotransmitter), serotonin. It affects your mood and may play a crucial role in instigating SAD. In fact, decreased light or sunlight may lead to a drop in serotonin triggering depression.
  • Your Biological Clock (Circadian Rhythm): The lessened sunlight in fall and winter results in winter-onset of SAD. The drop in sunlight affects the internal clock of your body. Indeed, it instigates depression.


Risk Factors of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Most cases of the seasonal affective disorder appear in women compared to men. Moreover, the cases are frequent and common in young adults in contrast to older men.

Some factors are specifically responsible for increasing the risk of the seasonal affective disorder including:

  • Family history. People having a family member with a similar condition are at a higher risk of encountering SAD or another form of depression.
  • Having major depression or bipolar disorder. Risk of SAD increases if the patient suffers from either condition.
  • Living far from the equator. Several statistics reveal that people living far north or south of the equator are more likely to get SAD. The reason is simple. The sunlight hour is shorter in winter and longer in summer.


Complications of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Complications of SAD

Taking the signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously is important. Mental health is as crucial as physical health. Like any other kind of depression, SAD can worsen.

If left as it is, the symptoms may become untreatable. You might not be able to reverse seasonal affective disorder in such a situation. 

In fact, the Complications of Seasonal Affective Disorder are serious.

  • Social withdrawal
  • Material abuse
  • School or work problems
  • Other mental health syndromes including eating disorders or anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Everything begins with a diagnosis. So, let’s have a recap of the seasonal affective disorder test and diagnosis.


Seasonal Affective Disorder Test & Diagnosis

If you are encountering the symptoms, it’s high time to consult your healthcare provider. It would be best to get the treatment under the supervision of a mental health specialist.

First, they would ask you to fill out a questionnaire. Make sure you fill it out correctly, it helps them decide if your symptoms meet the conditions for SAD.

For diagnosis, a person should adhere to the following criteria:

  • The patients must have the symptoms we have listed in this blog or symptoms of depression.
  • The episodes of depression have occurred during a certain season. The occurrence can be in the winter months or summer period for a minimum of 2 successive years. Nonetheless, not all patients encounter SAD every year.
  • Compared to another depressive episode, it may be more frequent. The frequency was common in other periods of the year or during their lifetime.

If you meet the above criteria, we suggest you consult your healthcare provider. Prevention is better than cure and diagnosis of early symptoms can lessen the treatment period.

Moreover, it even decimates the higher risks associated with the health condition.

Whether you have the seasonal affective disorder in summer or winter, treatment is necessary. Besides, awareness about it is our top priority.


How to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Counseling and therapy are applicable for the treatment of all forms of SAD.

Moreover, for wintertime SAD, light therapy emerges to be the best.

This includes the usage of a specialized lightbox or visor for at least 30 minutes daily to imitate natural light. 

Another seasonal affective disorder treatment is a dawn simulator. In fact, it involves a timer-activated light to mimic the sunrise. Hence, it helps in regulating the body’s internal clock. 


Light therapies are an effective treatment for SAD. However, it requires a doctor’s supervision and the use of approved devices.

Even a little mishap can lead to irreversible complications. People also use light-emitting sources like tanning beds, which aren’t safe.


How To Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder Naturally?

A prescribed treatment can help to improve the symptoms. Moreover, a few lifestyle changes lessen the symptoms of SAD. 

Here’s How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

  • A healthy diet: You have to keep your diet a top priority. Whatever you eat determines your physical as well as mental health. Try to eat lean protein, fruits, and veggies. Avoid having carbs and junkies.
  • Exercise: One of the early traits of depression is withdrawal from physical activities. Patients don’t like to indulge in things involving movement. However, working out arises a sense of freshness and motivation. Thus, coping with daily chores whether at work or at home becomes easier. Plus, it helps decimate the changes in mental drowsiness.
  • Regular sleep: Irregular sleep patterns or sleeplessness may endanger your mental health. Studies have already suggested the importance of adequate sleep for proper mental composure. So, take it seriously, leave your phone an hour before going to bed.

A few medications like antidepressants can help to improve your symptoms and Cure Seasonal Affective Disorder.

If you’ve issues with snoring, try home remedies for snoring as well.

While you shouldn’t take medications for depression prior to detailed consultation with your medical professional, finding help is necessary. Remember that!

Moving on, there is also some claims of Vitamin D deficiency being a key player in the onset of SAD. 


Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vitamin D

Another burning concept is that seasonal vitamin D deficiency leads to SAD. Interestingly, more institutions are taking the endeavor to disclose further association.

Before we look into those studies, let’s see how Vitamin D and Seasonal Depression are correlated.

The concept is simple. SAD occurs during the winter months when sunlight is absent for the most part.

Our body creates Vitamin D from the sunlight, the exposure to which drops in colder months. Hence, scientists and experts are trying to establish a correlation between them. Surprisingly, initial outcomes are in favor of this seasonal affective disorder and vitamin D hypothesis.

A study on NCBI have clear facts to share in this respect:

People with a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency including the elderly, obese individuals, adolescents, and chronic illness patients are at a higher risk of depression.

Nonetheless, this doesn’t signify the need for Vitamin D Supplement for Seasonal Depression and that they may help in treatment.

We require more studies and analysis in this respect to come to a stronger conclusion.

Research is ongoing to analyze the effect of vitamin D supplements, vitamin D-rich food, and outdoor sunshine on depression treatment.  

In case, vitamin D supplementation helps, it would become an easy and cost-effective treatment for patients with depression.


The Final Outlook

Winter blues are common, but their continuity can be a sign of persisting risk. In fact, you are likely to suffer from SAD.

Early diagnosis of the symptoms can help find relief from the complications occurring later on.

Usually, instigated in the months of winter, SAD can occur in summer as well. The condition is common in people with a family history of mental health issues. Women are more likely to encounter SAD.

However, effective treatment can help reverse the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Before going for any such cure, a thorough diagnosis is necessary.

We recommend getting medical supervision from your healthcare provider. It would be best if you consult with a mental health specialist.

Horizon Clinics

At Horizon Clinics, we help you decode the solutions to your micro-health battles. Our in-depth and practical guides cover everything from diet plans, weight loss, workouts, and bodybuilding to issues of mental health.

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