You wake up on another fall morning and roll over in your bed, and instantly feel the crisp cold air. And the feeling of complete helplessness hits.
Looking outside the window you see and hear the cold, chilly wind. You feel a sharp pinch of depression and hopelessness deep in the pit of your stomach that spreads through every inch of your body. You never want to get out of bed.
Feeling this way could be warning signs for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Complete lack of any motivation engulfs your daily life. You don’t like to socialize and you comfort yourself with huge amounts of food. Your gloomy attitude asks, what is the point in life? You feel as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders.
SAD is much more than “winter blues.” This disorder affects a person’s life and how they perform their daily functions. SAD is defined as a type of winter depression. It is the most intense during the months of December, January and February.
SAD is caused by a biochemical imbalance in the hypothalamus part of the brain because of the shortening of daylight hours and the lack of sunlight during the winter season.
The disorder is more commonly seen in people who live at higher latitudes of the world where the weather changes are much more severe. For example, it is less likely that Florida residents would suffer from SAD than those living in Alaska or other places that experience colder temperatures.
As the weather turns grayer, so do personalities. Symptoms include sleeping excessively or having difficulty sleeping. Many often experience constant fatigue and intense cravings that result in weight gain. A miserable attitude, low self- esteem, problem dealing with stress and decreased sexual desire are also common signs of SAD.
Employees who work in a building with few windows may experience SAD all year round.
Light treatment is the most effective treatment to treat SAD. The light box sits two to three feet away, allowing light to shine through the eyes. It’s not necessary to sit still. You can do activities like reading or knitting during the treatment. Medications are also an option. A drug like Prozac is a good choice when combined with light therapy. Counseling also helps people accept and cope with their issues and daily limitations. Living a healthy life with a well balanced diet and daily exercise is helpful as well.
The best treatment and the temporary cure is the changing of the seasons.