Understanding seasonal affective disorder
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to seasonal changes. SAD usually starts and ends at around the same time each year. If you are like the majority of people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall. And all that continues into the late winter months, draining your energy and making you moody.
More rarely, SAD causes depression in spring or early summer. Do not just dismiss those annual feelings as “winter blues” or a seasonal funk. If you don’t take steps to treat this disorder as soon as possible, it can negatively affect you in many ways. Especially if you are a person trying to recover from porn addiction.
What you Need to Know about Seasonal Affective Disorder
Here are the basic questions that you’d be having about this problem.
What are the Causes of SAD?
The main characteristic of SAD is that your mood and behaviour change along with the annual calendar. It is not a mood disorder in its own right. But rather a type of major depression or bipolar disorder sometimes called manic depression.
While we do not know the exact causes of this disorder, some scientists believe that certain hormones, produced deep in the brain, trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of the year. Many scientists believe that these triggers could be due to hormone changes
Some factors that can play a role are:
- Your biological clock (circadian rhythm): The reduced sun exposure in autumn and winter can lead to SAD in winter. This decrease in sunlight can disrupt your body’s clock and lead to depression.
- Serotonin Levels: A decrease in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, could play a role in SAD. Reduced sun exposure can lead to a decrease in serotonin, which can trigger depression.
- Melatonin levels: The body’s melatonin levels, which play a role in sleep patterns and mood.
This type of depression usually begins in adulthood and is more common in women than men. Some people with SAD have mild symptoms and feel moody. Others have worse symptoms that affect relationships and work. The lack of adequate daylight in winter is related to SAD. It is less common in countries with lots of sun all year round.
The Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Most of the time, symptoms of SAD tend to show up in early winter. And they disappear during the hottest days of summer. It starts out mild and gets heavier as the season progresses.
There are two types of SAD: one that occurs in the winter season and one that occurs during the summer. Both seemingly have different kinds of symptoms.
Symptoms which are specific to winter depression are:
- Having a change in appetite, craving more carbohydrates than usual
- Abnormal weight gains due to overeating.
- Experiencing extreme fatigue and having low energy throughout the day
- Oversleeping (usually for more than 10 hours a day)
Symptoms that people with summer SAD are:
- Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- Low appetite
- Abnormal weight loss (due to the poor appetite)
- Feelings of anxiety or agitation throughout the day
What are the Risk Factors and Complications?
SAD can approximately 11 million people in the United States each year. And another 25 million can have a milder form called winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder is diagnosed more often in women than in men. Also, SAD is more common in younger adults than older adults.
Factors that can increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include:
- A family history. People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or some other form of depression. Because the disorder is considered to be genetic.
- Having a major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. Depression symptoms can be seasonally worse. if you have any of these conditions.
- Live far from the equator. SAD seems to be more common in people living north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sun exposure in winter and longer days in the summer months.
You have to take the signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously. As with other kinds of depression, SAD can worsen and cause problems if left untreated. These may include:
- social withdrawal school or work problems
- drug abuse other mental disorders such as anxiety
- Addiction to porn and other bad digital behaviours
- eating disorders
- suicidal thoughts
If SAD is diagnosed and treated before symptoms worsen, there are many remedies that can help prevent complications.
Pitfalls that you will Come Across and the Remedies
Now we dive into the finer details of seasonal affective disorder.
Who can Develop SAD?
Millions of adults around the world can have SAD, although many may not know they have it. SAD is much more common in women than men. It’s also more common in people who live further north where the daylight hours are shorter.
In most cases, SAD begins in young adulthood. SAD is more common in people with major depression or bipolar disorder: Particularly bipolar II disorder. This is associated with recurrent depressive and hypomanic episodes. Although less severe than the full-blown manic episodes typical of bipolar I disorder.
In addition, people with SAD are prone to other mental disorders such as attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder. Eating disorder, eating disorder, anxiety disorder, or panic disorder. SAD is sometimes hereditary. SAD is more common in people who have family members with other mental illnesses. Such as schizophrenia or major bipolar depression.
How is this Disorder Diagnosed?
If you think you may have SAD, speak to your doctor or a mental health specialist about your concerns. You may be asked to complete specific questionnaires to determine if your symptoms meet the criteria for SAD.
In order to be diagnosed with SAD, you must meet the following criteria:
- Must have had severe symptoms of depression or the more specific symptoms listed above.
- Depressive episodes must occur during certain times of the year. It’s only during the winter or summer months, at least 2 each year.
- The episodes should occur much more frequently than other depressive episodes the person may have had at other times of the year during their life.
How do I know if I have SAD?
The reduced light, heat, and colour of winter make many people a little more melancholy or tired. And it is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, if your symptoms appear at around the same time each year it has a real impact on your quality of life. And as the seasons change, you may suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
Track your activities and see if you feel the following symptoms:
- I feel like sleeping all the time or have trouble sleeping.
- I am so tired that it is difficult to do daily chores.
- My appetite has changed, especially more cravings for sugary and starchy foods.
- I am gaining weight.
- Feel sad, guilty, and depressed.
- Sensing a lot of desparation.
- Feeling irritable.
- I avoid people or activities that I used to enjoy.
- Lots of tension and stress.
- I have lost interest in sex and other sexual activities.
What are the Possible Remedies for Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal depression can make it difficult to motivate yourself to adopt changes. But there are many steps you can take to feel better about yourself. Recovery takes time, but you will likely feel a little better each day.
By adopting healthy habits and adding fun activities and relaxation to your day. You can help lift the cloud of SAD and possibly keep it from coming back as well. If possible, go outside in daylight and in the sun without sunglasses (but never look directly into the sun). Sunlight, even in the small doses winter allows, can help increase serotonin levels and improve your mood.
Here are some remedies that you can try to adopt to overcome seasonal affective disorder:
Regular exercise is an effective way to combat seasonal depression, especially if you can exercise outdoors in natural light. Regular exercise can increase serotonin levels, endorphins and other chemicals that make the brain feel better. In fact, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression. It is effective as antidepressants.
Exercise can also improve your sleep and increase your self-esteem. Look for continuous and rhythmic practice. Most of the benefits of depression come from rhythmic exercise. Such as walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dances that involve moving arms and legs.
Try to stay active for 30 to 60 minutes most days. Even something as simple as walking a dog is a good exercise for you and the animal. It’s also a fantastic way to go out and chat with other people.
Reach Out to your Support System
A close relationship is essential to reduce isolation and manage SAD. Even if you do not want to participate in community activities, try to be more social.
You may find it more convenient to hide in your shell. But hanging out with other people will improve your mood. If you give up a relationship that was important to you, try to rebuild it or start a new relationship.
Call or email an old friend for a cup of coffee. Get to know new friends who share common interests by attending classes, joining clubs, or joining interest groups that meet regularly. Whatever you choose, make sure you like it.
Deal with your Stress in the Right Way
No matter what time of the year, too much stress can make the situation worse and even lead to depression. Identify the stresses in your life, such as overloaded work or unsupported relationships, and make plans to avoid or minimize their effects.
Relaxation techniques can help you control stress, reduce negative emotions such as anger and fear, and increase happiness and well-being. Try to exercise, practice yoga, meditation or a technique called progressive muscle relaxation.
One important thing for you to remember is that no matter what you do, do not resort to porn in order to relieve your stress. It might seem comfortable and exciting in the beginning but that can lead to a whole different type of addiction and only aggravate your existing depression. Try to use porn blocking apps such as Blocker X to keep yourself in control.
Options to Consider if you’re going for Therapy
There are many treatments that you can consider if you are looking to cure your SAD professionally. Some of them are listed below:
Chronotherapy refers to interventions for circadian rhythm disorders and is usually helpful in treating seasonal depression. For example, morning light can cause a phase reset, thereby improving mood. Arranging lighter medications in the morning is key to this therapy.
With this treatment, from autumn to spring, the patient sits in front of a very bright light box (10,000 lux) every day for about 30-45 minutes, usually the first thing in the morning.
Compared with ordinary indoor light, it filters out potentially harmful ultraviolet rays and is safe for most people. However, some people may need to use light therapy under medical supervision as they may have certain eye diseases or may experience sensitivity to light.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a conversation therapy designed to help people cope with difficult situations; CBT is also suitable for SAD patients (CBT-SAD).
It usually takes the form of a group meeting twice a week for 6 weeks. The aim is to replace negative thoughts related to winter (such as winter darkness) with more positive thoughts.
CBT-SAD also uses a process called Behaviour Activation. This helps people identify and plan pleasant and engaging indoor or outdoor activities to offset the loss of interest they often experience in winter.
The treatment is also effective in improving the symptoms of SAD. Compared with CBT, some symptoms of phototherapy seem to improve slightly faster. However, a long-term study that followed SAD patients over two winters showed that the benefits of CBT lasted longer.
It will Get Better
Because the onset of SAD in winter is so predictable. People with a history of SAD may find that starting these treatments before fall helps prevent or reduce depression.
It can be difficult to deal with recovery from porn addiction and seasonal affective disorder at the same time. However, you are not alone. There are many people who face the same problems as you. But there are support systems and remedies all around you to help you through the process.