Also commonly known as SADD – seasonal affective disorder. Okay, so here in Kansas, the sun has gone into hibernation and the cold weather, wind and even some snow has moved in for winter. The grayness is enough to depress even the happiest of souls. But, for some people, it can cause a very real and very destructive disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder. My mother suffers from this, and I probably do to, but since we are aware of it, we can do a few things to combat its affects.
Winter Drepression Symptoms
Not everyone experiences SAD the same way, but here are some general symptoms that are common to the disorder:
- Feeling worthless, guilty, or having low self esteem,
- Crying a lot,
- Feeling anxious and stressed,
- Reduced sex drive,
- Feeling more tired than usual and sleeping more,
- Weight gain,
- Lack of energy,
- Increased appetite,
- Craving unhealthy food.
Okay, so most of those symptoms are common to depression of any kind, right? A clear sign that your depression is related to winter and the seasonal changes is that it happens at the same time of year, each year, and when the weather gets cold, darker, and stays that way for several weeks on average.
What Causes Winter Depression?
Low levels of sunlight. The theory is that sunlight affects hormones that regulate mood, sleep and your hunger pangs. So, when winter rolls in, you get less sunlight and those hormones decrease.
- Melatonin: Another factor related to light levels is the amount of melatonin our bodies produce. This is the hormone responsible for sleep, and more of it is produced when it’s dark, causing us to feel sleepy.
- Serotonin: When you get less sunlight, your body produces less serotonin. Serotonin affects your mood, sleep and appetite – people who are depressed tend to have less of this hormone.
- Circadian Rhythm: This is responsible for our “internal clock” that lets us know when we need to sleep and wake up each day. This can get disrupted when the levels of sunlight we get every day change.
You see how real this kind of depression is? SAD is a real state that affects your mind and your body! You don’t have to suffer through it until the sun comes back out, though. There are treatments that can help relieve your symptoms.
Sun Lights Help Your Depression
Sun Lights work by producing a sky effect, making your body think that you’re out in the natural sun, even during the winter. This has been shown to relieve a number of symptoms that many of us experience all year round, such as:
- Low moods,
- Difficulty sleeping,
- Discomfort from menopause and menstruation,
- Jet lag,
- Tiredness and fatigue,
- Tiredness from shift work,
- And more.
How do they work?
The light output and in some cases, the ions put out by the lamps, help you to feel as though you’re outside in the sunlight. A light receptor in the eye interprets the light rays and stimulates the body’s rhythms and hormones, helping us to feel “right” again. The ions help to produce an antidepressant effect after a few days of use.
Many people report improvement within a couple of days, and with as little as 15 minutes per day used. The only drawback I can find is that some of the lamps are pricey. However, for improved health, the price is small considering you can use it year-round for your entire family.
Check out the options I found at Amazon and have included below.