All Round View(Peshawar): People often feel sad, low or sometimes depressed in winters; losing interest in their daily activities and when this low mood starts causing clinically significant stress, the person suffering from it may be characterized with the symptoms of sub-syndromal SAD(Seasonal Affective Disorder), also known as ‘winter blues’. A small percentage of people have very severe symptoms and find it hard to carry out day-to-day tasks in winter without continuous treatment.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that people experience at a particular time of year or during a particular season. Most of us are affected by the change in seasons – it is normal to feel more cheerful and energetic when the sun is shining and the days are longer, or to find that you eat more or sleep longer in winter. However, if a person experiences SAD, the change in seasons will have a much greater effect on his/her mood and energy levels, and lead to symptoms of depression that have a significant impact on his/her day-to-day life. Most people experience SAD during the winter. Less commonly, some people find that they experience SAD in reverse – with depressive symptoms occurring in summer.
The researchers suggest different causes of SAD.
When light hits the back of the eye (the retina), messages are passed to the part of the brain (the hypothalamus) that rules sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, mood and activity. If there’s not enough light, these functions are likely to slow down and gradually stop. Some people seem to need a lot more light than others for their body to function normally, and are therefore more likely to develop SAD symptoms if there are low levels of light. Other symptoms may include low serotonin levels, high melatonin levels, or disrupted body clock.
Many people with SAD notice that their symptoms of depression are seasonal and develop self-help strategies that allow them to manage the condition themselves, either on their own or with other treatment. Following are some suggestions that might be helpful:
- Make the most of natural light
- Avoid stress
- Exercise and eat well
- Visit somewhere with more light
- Consider using a light box (Light boxes are at least ten times the intensity of household lights)
- Improve your support network