For most people this is “the most wonderful time of the year.” It is “Peace on Earth, Joy to the World,” and “…the Season to be Jolly.” It is a time to gather with family and friends and celebrate. For others, this is not the most wonderful time of the year. It is a time for loneliness and difficulty. It is a time where they can feel as empty as a shopping mall on Christmas day. It is a time when they are literally S.A.D. because they suffer with a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. What about you? Do you notice a significant change in your state of mental and physical health with changes in the seasons? Is it possible that you are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder?
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is a condition that usually occurs during the winter but can also occur in the spring or summer. Interestingly, it tends to start and end at the same time each year. It is thought to be caused by seasonal changes in the number of daylight hours, which can cause a dysfunction in the biological clock or circadian rhythm. Changes in the number of daylight hours can impact serotonin levels, which can alter a person’s mood. Reduced daylight hours can reduce the level of serotonin in the body leading to depressive mood states, and increased daylight hours can increase the level of serotonin in the body leading to more anxious mood states. Changes in daylight hours and serotonin levels can also impact melatonin levels, which tend to be the inverse of serotonin, and will alter sleep patterns and magnify mood disorders. With reduced daylight hours, melatonin levels rise earlier and induce feelings of tiredness and depression of activities, thus magnifying depressive states. With increased daylight hours, melatonin levels are lower longer and can lead to sleep difficulties, thus leading to agitation and anxious states.
The Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about 10 million Americans every year and is considered a sub-category of depression. Another 10-20 percent can have mild, undiagnosed symptoms. It affects about four times more women than men and usually starts around the age of 20. Approximately 6 percent have severe enough symptoms that require hospitalization. Over half have some form of family history of depression, and more than a third have some form of alcohol abuse within the family. The good news is that the risk decreases with age, and not surprisingly, it is more common in the northern states where daylight hours are more reduced than in the southern states. The most common symptoms of winter S.A.D. are depression, hopelessness, loss of energy, social withdrawal, loss of interest, oversleeping, appetite changes, weight gain, and concentration problems. The symptoms of spring and summer S.A.D. tend to be the opposite. They include anxiety, irritability, agitation, poor appetite, weight loss, and increased sex drive. Everyone will experience some change with the changes in the seasons; Seasonal Affective Disorder is a change that is outside of what is considered normal.
Some other underlying factors that can impact the intensity of S.A.D. are neurotransmitter dysfunctions and imbalances, brain wave imbalances, hormonal imbalances, stress, toxins, and infectious agents such as Lyme, viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Check out our other blogs for further information on the impact of these factors on your health and well-being. These are also all conditions that we can help evaluate for you at Docere Life Center.
What Happens When the Holidays Impact Your Emotions?
Another interesting factor is that the change in seasons in the winter also correlates with the holidays. So, you can also have the impact of the holidays on your emotional state. At Docere, we call this H.E.A.D., Holiday Emotional Affective Disorder which is more psychologically based depression in contrast to S.A.D., which tends to be more physiologically based depression. Dr. Caleb Frank’s blog on living with loss through the holidays is an excellent example of a H.E.A.D. depression.
How to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder
So, what can you do if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? First, there are special lamps that can replicate the UV light of the sun and help compensate for the lack of daylight hours. They can easily be found online and at hardware and home improvement stores. Second, healthy dietary measures and consistent exercise can help reduce the symptoms as well. Finally, through our Frequency Testing methods, we can evaluate for underlying conditions that may be at the root of the cause of your Seasonal Affective Disorder and make personalized recommendations of supplementation and custom-blended herbal and homeopathic remedies that can help reduce and even eliminate the symptoms you are dealing with and restore the life you deserve.
Want to Know More?
If this blog has been helpful to you and you would like to explore further how we can help you not only make the best of the holidays but make the best of your life, call today at (316) 837-1273 or send us an email. All of us at Docere Life Center want to help you not just survive the holidays, but also want to help you THRIVE in the holidays and every day of the year.