As the cold, dreary weather rolls in, the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder make their presence known. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that correlates with the changes in seasons and begins and ends around the same time each year. While you may think you’re just having an “off day” or are in a little slump, there is a chance that you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder and it is important to recognize the signs and look for treatment right away.
What causes SAD?
While there isn’t a specific reason that has proven to be the cause, there are a few factors that come into play:
Your biological clock: When the season starts moving into fall and winter, there is a reduced level of sunlight, which can disrupt your body’s internal clock, which can lead to the feelings of moodiness and depression.
Serotonin levels: Serotonin is a brain chemical that affects our moods. When there is a reduced amount of sunlight, this can cause a drop in serotonin which can trigger depression.
Melatonin levels: Melatonin keeps balance in our sleep patterns and mood. Similar to the above, when the seasons change it can affect our melatonin levels, ultimately leading to depression.
What can be done to treat it?
Typical symptoms of SAD are a loss in energy and moodiness. When you begin to notice these symptoms setting in, it is important you work with your local health clinic in White Salmon, WA and take the proper steps to keep your mood and motivation at a healthy level and maintain those throughout the year.
There are three ways that Seasonal Affective Disorder may be treated: light therapy, medications and psychotherapy.
Light therapy: In this method of treatment, also called phototherapy, the patient will sit a few feet from a special light therapy box and will then be exposed to a bright light. This light mimics natural light from the outdoors and can change the brain chemicals that are linked to your mood. Light therapy typically starts taking effect anywhere from a few days to two weeks and causes few side effects.
Medication: There are some people with SAD that benefit more from medical antidepressant treatment, especially if their symptoms are more severe. There is an extended-release version of the antidepressant bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Aplenzin) that can help prevent episodes of depression, and there are other antidepressants that can also be used to treat SAD.
It is important that you talk with your nurse practitioner at your local health clinic in White Salmon, WA prior to starting any medical treatments. There may be other methods of treatment that suit you better.
Psychotherapy: This form of treatment, also known as talk therapy, is another fantastic option in treating SAD. This method can help you:
- Recognize and transform negative thoughts and behaviors.
- Learn how to cope with SAD in a healthy way.
- Learn how to properly manage your stress.
How can it be prevented?
Up to this point, there is no known way to prevent the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder; however, if you work with your local health clinic in White Salmon, WA, you may be able to prevent the SAD from getting worse over time. If you are able to gain control of your symptoms prior to getting worse, you may be able to not only control the SAD, but lessen the severity of it.