What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

               What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?_Ichhori.com


The seasons are changing fast now, heck we are not even able to experience each seasons properly in the recent few years because of the increasing level of global warming. But does this change in weather affect our health and body, well definitely does and there have many researches done based on the same. 

And this brings us to one of the most important things that how change in seasons bring us stress, but you all might be wondering that what am I talking about right? Well, we will get know in detail that what exactly are we talking about when it comes to stress and seasons but before that we shall look at what is stress and it’s possible symptoms.

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal reaction of the body to changes, leading to physical, emotional, and psychological reactions. Stress management training can help you deal with changes in a healthy way. 

Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. In fact, the human body is designed to feel and respond to stress. When you experience changes or challenges (pressures), your body produces physical and mental responses. That is stress. Stress responses help your body adjust to new conditions. 

Stress can be good, keeping us awake, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. For example, if you have an important test coming up, a stress response may help your body work harder and stay awake longer. But stress becomes a problem when pressures persist without rest or periods of rest.

What are the symptoms of stress?

People often experience different kind of symptoms while suffering from stress. Some may experience physical symptoms while some may experience emotional and mental stress, and while some may also experience indulging into unhealthy behaviours and we shall look at them one by one in detail.

Physical symptoms of stress:

  • Pain and aches and pains

  • Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is beating faster. 

  • Fatigue or trouble sleeping. 

  • Headache, dizziness or tremors. 

  • High blood pressure. 

  • Muscle tightness or jaw tightening. 

  • Stomach or digestive problems. 

  • Problems with sex. 

  • The immune system is weak. 

Emotional or mental symptoms of stress:

  • Anxiety or irritability. 

  • Depression. 

  • Panic. 

  • Sadness.

Symptoms based on behavioural changes:

  • Drinking too much alcohol or too often. 

  • Gambling. 

  • Overeating or developing eating disorders. 

  • Forced participation in sex, shopping or browsing the Internet. 

  • Smoking. 

  • Drug use.

Now that we know in detail what is stress and it’s symptoms, let’s have a clear look at what is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and it’s symptoms and other details related to it.

What is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of stress associated with seasonal changes - SAD starts and ends about the same time every year. If you are like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, depressing and making you feel dizzy. Gradually, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Now that we know what is SAD, let’s have a quick look at the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) and it’s types.

In most cases, the symptoms of affective disorder are seasonal symptoms that appear in late autumn or early winter and occur during sunset days in spring and summer. Usually, people with a different pattern have symptoms that start in the spring or summer. In any case, the symptoms may start to get milder and worse as the season progresses. Signs and symptoms of SAD may include: 

  • Feeling stressed most of the day, almost every day 

  • Lack of interest in activities that you once loved

  • Low energy 

  • Having sleep problems 

  • You experience changes in your diet or weight

  • Feeling lazy or angry 

  • Having difficulty concentrating 

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty 

  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

And one should not take for granted the signs and symbols of the season. Like other forms of depression, SAD can be very serious and lead to complications if left untreated. These may include:

  • Public withdrawal 

  • School or work problems 

  • Drug abuse 

  • Other mental health problems such as anxiety or eating disorders 

  • Thoughts of suicide or behaviour

Now, coming on to different types of SAD (Seasonal affective disorder).

Autumn and winter SAD

Symptoms related to winter-early SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Excessive sleep

  • Diet changes, especially craving high-carbohydrate foods

  • Weight gain

  • Fatigue or low energy

Spring and Summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Sleep problems (insomnia)

  • Anorexia

  • Weight loss

  • Anxiety or anxiety

What can cause SAD (Seasonal affective disorder)?

The cause of the seasonal affective disorder is still unknown. Other possible features include:

  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). 

Reduced sunlight in the fall and winter may cause the onset of winter SAD. This decrease in sunlight can disrupt your body's internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.

  • Serotonin levels. 

Decreased serotonin, a neurotransmitter (neurotransmitter), may play a role in SAD. Decreased sunlight can cause a decrease in serotonin which can cause stress.

  • Melatonin level. 

Seasonal changes can disrupt the body's melatonin level balance, which plays a role in sleep pattern and mood.

One can see that Seasonal affective disorder is more common in women than men. And SAD occurs more often in young adults than in adults. And there are factors that may increase your risk of seasonal disruption include:

  • Family history. 

People with SAD may be more likely to have blood or close relatives already suffering with SAD or other forms of depression. 

  • Having severe depression or bipolar disorder. 

Symptoms of depression can get worse at certain times of the year if you have one of these conditions. 

  • Staying away from the equator. 

Tragedy seems to be most common among people living far north or south of the equator. This may be due to a decrease in sunlight in winter and longer days during the summer months.

Brain chemical imbalances.

Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that transmit signals between nerves. And these chemicals include chemical serotonin, which normally contributes to feelings of happiness. People at risk for SAD may have lower serotonin activity. As sunlight helps regulate serotonin, a lack of winter sunlight can make the condition worse. Serotonin levels can drop continuously, leading to mood swings.

Vitamin D Deficiency.

Serotonin is also a source of energy for vitamin D. As sunlight helps us produce vitamin D, a decrease in sun exposure in winter can lead to a deficiency of vitamin D. Such changes can affect serotonin and air.

How common is seasonal disorder (SAD)? 

It is usually seen that 5% of adults in the United States develop SAD. And SAD usually starts when a person is older. SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) affects women more than men, although researchers are not sure why. About 75% of the people who experience seasonal disorders are women. About 10% to 20% of Americans can get a mild form of winter blues.

Thus, one can see that what is SAD meaning Seasonal affective disorder, what are it’s symptoms, causes, and risk factors. In short, SAD is a type of depression, and to not get affected by it one should try and maintain healthy lifestyle, have healthy food and try and not have negative thoughts.

Ref: Seasonal Depression (SAD): Symptoms & Treatments (clevelandclinic.org)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

Stress: Signs, Symptoms, Management & Prevention (clevelandclinic.org)

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