Seasonal depression is also known as seasonal affective disorder, winter depression, summer blues or winter blues. This type of depression affects individuals only at the same time or season each year but they are seemingly normal throughout the year. Clinically, medical experts are quite skeptical about this type of depression however, there is an increase number of an individual who may feel depressed during specific times of the year.
Symptoms of seasonal depression may start to appear during the fall season and it may continue or may even get worse during winter. Some individuals may also feel depressed during the summer.
People who have seasonal depression may feel little energy, lethargic and depressed in one particular season. The symptoms may gradually disappear after the change of season. Though the symptoms may clear up, people with seasonal depression should undergo treatments and find remedies that may help to normalize emotions regardless of change of season.
What are the symptoms of seasonal depression?
Seasonal depression generally affects individuals in the late fall or early winter. The symptoms may stop during summer or spring. However, there are cases in which seasonal depression affects people in spring or summer and they may feel better after the change of season.
Symptoms of seasonal depression may appear slight differently depending on the season. Here are some of symptoms:
Seasonal depression during winter
- Severe depression
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Burdensome feeling
- Have intense desire to be alone
- Loss of interest
- May oversleep
- Lack of focus
- Weight gain
Seasonal depression during summer
- Easily angered
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
What are the causes of seasonal depression?
The exact cause of seasonal depression is not clear. However, few factors play an important role in seasonal depression. Some of these may include:
- Decreased exposure to sunlight may affect the biological clock that normalizes mood changes and hormones. This may also be responsible why people may feel sleepy during winter or insomniac in the summertime.
- Decreased level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, plays a major role in developing winter blues. Serotonin may plunge if there is decrease level of sunlight.
- Melatonin imbalance can also cause depression. Melatonin is responsible for mood and sleep patterns. It can be disrupted due to change of season.
What are the risk factors affecting seasonal depression?
Some risk factors for seasonal depression may include:
- Individuals living in the far south or north area of the equator are more at risk of developing depression. The cause of this is because of long winter rather than summer days.
- Genetics plays another important factor. You are at high risk of developing seasonal depression if any of your relative suffers the same.
- Women have higher risk of suffering this disorder but their symptoms maybe lesser. Men who have this exhibit more severe symptoms than in women.
- Individuals who have bipolar disorder are also at risk of having this condition.
What are the treatments for seasonal depression?
Treatments for seasonal depression are combination of therapy and medications. If the patient who has this condition also suffers bipolar, your doctor may use a different of treatments for you to avoid possible manic attacks.
Some treatments for seasonal depression are:
1. Light therapy
Light therapy is the first common treatment. An individual will in a specialized light therapy box. This light works like an outdoor light and it is effective in changing brain chemicals responsible to normalizing moods.
The positive effects of light therapy may be observed after a couple of exposure however, few side effects are also seen with this treatment.
2. Oral medications
Oral medications are given to minimize the symptoms. Oral medications like antidepressant may help in dealing with severe depression. Your doctor may also monitor how you respond with certain antidepressant.
3. Regular exercise
Your doctor may recommend that you have regular exercise. Exercise may help in reducing stress in your body. It can also increase serotonin level, an important brain neurotransmitter.
Meditation is a very effective way to relax your body and mind. This may help in lessening your anxiety and agitation.
5. Stress management
People who have seasonal depression should have proper stress management. Stress management may help you deal with daily stress from your work or daily life. It is important that you cope with your stress all year round not just on certain seasons.
6. Connect with family and friends
Connect with your family and friends. It is important that you have a strong support group that understands your condition. Connecting with your family and friends will allow you to be motivated and inspired.
7. Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are helpful in increasing your serotonin level likewise, they can aid in lessening your depression. Good sources of omega 3 fatty acids are mackerel, salmon and tuna.
Seasonal depression is medical condition that needs support and understanding from family and friends. With the right support group and medications, people with seasonal depression can still live a normal life.