Of all the strange disorders, and all the more stranger cures, nothing is perhaps more stranger than seasonal affective disorder. For, this disorder is caused due to the change in seasons. It so happens that when summer gradually progresses to winter, the long summer days also starts getting shorter. So, this results in a deficit of day light. This decrease in daylight triggers a brain response that leads to depression and other symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. That is why, seasonal affective disorder is also known as winter depression or winter blues. When the nights are long, there is an increase in the production of melatonin, a hormone in the brain that is linked to sleep. This makes the person feel lethargic. On the other hand, the production of serotonin, the chemical that fights depression, is decreased due to the deficiency in sunlight. So, it results in mood swings and depression. However, as soon as spring and summer arrives the mood returns to normal and the disorder takes its leave, to come again in the next winter. In some people, this disorder also affects during the summer or autumn but such instances are very rare. To update your knowledge of this disorder read below on the causes, symptoms and treatment of seasonal affective disorders.
Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Of Seasonal Affective Disorders
- The main cause of seasonal affective disorder is the inadequate amount of bright light during the winter months. This happens because the low light level influences the chemical component of the brain.
- A low level of vitamin D in the blood is another cause.
- It is also believed that when the normal circadian rhythm gets disturbed then it can cause this disorder.
- A decrease in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin also leads to seasonal affective disorder.
- The hormone melatonin regulates the sleep pattern and mood. So, due to change in the season when the balance of melatonin gets disrupted then it can also lead to this disorder.
- Though there are no studies to support it, seasonal affective disorder is also linked to genetics. Those with a family history of this disorder are more likely to get it.
The symptoms differ from individual to individual.
- When this disorder strikes, the individual craves for foods that are starchy or sweet.
- There is a significant change in appetite, which is manifested in the gaining of weight.
- People with this disorder also tend to oversleep. They are also more fatigued which may be caused due to the drop in energy levels.
- They become more sensitive and they also become more anxious. This disorder also makes concentrating difficult.
- They become very irritable and lose interest in any activity. They also tend to avoid any social gathering. There is also a loss of libido.
- Constipation, diarrhea, and palpitations are also symptoms of this disorder.
- If the seasonal affective disorder occurs during summer then along with some of the above mentioned symptoms, it also leads to insomnia and heightened agitation.
- This is the most common and best treatment of seasonal affective disorder. In this treatment, the patient is made to sit a few feet away from a light therapy box, and the patient is exposed to the bright light. By mimicking the outdoor light, this therapy forces a change in the brain chemicals that are linked to mood.
- Some medications like antidepressants are also very effective in treating this disorder. Antidepressants like bupropion, paroxetine, fluoxetine etc. have proved to be helpful in alleviating this disorder.
- Since the mood and behavior are especially affected in this disorder, so psychotherapy can prove to be helpful. This therapy can help the patient identify and change their negative thoughts and behavior.