As the Winter season quickly approaches, talk of a so-called “winter depression” begins to make itself apparent. To answer the question of its validity as a real thing that affects people, and what it really is, here’s some facts about winter depression, otherwise known as “seasonal affective disorder,” or SAD.
According to Mayo Clinic, SAD is likely caused by a fluctuation in a person’s “circadian rhythm,” or their internal clock, which is due to a lack of sunlight in fall and winter months. It can also be caused by a lack of serotonin, often called a “mood stabilizer,” in the body, which can also be due to a lack of sunlight. The final cause mentioned by Mayo Clinic is a lack of or fluctuation in melatonin levels, which affects sleep patterns, in turn inducing depression-like feelings. None of these, though, are guaranteed to be the cause.
Some symptoms of SAD include feeling depressed the majority of the time, feeling overly sluggish or agitated, experiencing changes in diet, and having low energy the majority of the time. Some symptoms specific to Winter-oriented SAD include oversleeping and craving high-carb foods. According to WebMD, it is also more common in women than in men, and often starts in young adulthood.
Thankfully, SAD can be treated with light therapy, also known as phototherapy, and healthy habits. Phototherapy is characterized by the usage of natural or artificial light to improve health conditions. It can be used for a range of different things, but SAD is a more common use for it. Symptoms can also be lessened through the use of common antidepressants prescribed by a doctor.
SAD might not sound like a big deal, but it’s something that can lead to other depression-related disorders, so if you’re feeling depressed, we at the Maroon Tribune recommend talking to a therapist or other trusted adult for advice, possible next steps, or just to have someone to listen to you.