IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not a medical site. You should always discuss medical matters with your doctor.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
SADI'm typing this at the beginning of October. Here in Scotland the nights are already drawing in, soon the clocks will go back. It's a miserable time of year.
Miserable. Yes. Many people feel bad at this time of year. Often they find themselves more or less depressed throughout the winter season. It could just be psychological - or you could be suffereing from a recognised medical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or "Seasonal Depression". (It's also sometimes called "SADD", the extra letter D standing for Depression").
If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should first discuss it with your doctor.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD - is quite simply a mood disorder that can cause depression during periods of the year when sunlight is less common. Sufferers feel the effects during the dark winter months.
The symptoms and effects of SAD are the same as for any form of depression and can include weight gain and excessive sleeping, decreased desire for social activity, lack of energy, etc. The distinguishing mark of SAD is that the symptoms come on during the autumn (fall) months, last through winter then fade away as the sun returns in spring.
As with all forms of depression, SAD affects different people to different extents. A mild case of SAD is known as the "Winter Blues". In this case the sufferer is sometimes hardly even aware of the effects. In others, SAD can bring on full-blown depression affecting all areas of life.
Depression can have serious effects and you should always consult your doctor.
What Causes SAD?Seasonal Affective Disorder is not simply a psychological condition. It is believed to be connected to a hormonal imbalance. In particular there seems to be a link between SAD and excess melatonin.
Melatonin is generated by the brain's pineal gland. The rate of production is influenced by the amount of light reaching the eyes - less light means more melatonin. Excess melatonin can cause depression in some people.