Changes in season are such a beautiful thing that most people mark on their calendars. It brings a total change in virtually everything we see around us including the smell of the air we breathe, the color of leaves that beautifies the landscape, the clouds also changes form to give the skyline a new outlook. It’s however sad when we remember that seasonal changes are not all rosy to every individual, as much as some anticipate it, some are gripped with constant fear as new seasons draw close. Why?
What do you know about SAD?
SAD is an acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder, it may be shocking to find out that seasons also have an effect on your mental health as it does beyond rain, sun, harmattan, and snow. Sad has been described as a seasonal mental disorder which is characterized as a form of depression. People with this kind of mental health challenge experience it at certain times of the season.
Seasonal changes play important role in our everyday day activities at different times of the season affect how we feel and do things. You may feel energetic, active, and cheerful at some time in the year and sleep and eat much at other times. These are all normal feelings unless one has SAD; in which case seasonal changes becomes a challenge.
“Mood turn grey at the same time as the sky”
It is very common for most people with SAD to experience depression during the coldest seasons of the year. Seasonal affective disorder also has the tendencies of making an existing case of depression worse. It rarely heard of in spring or early summer, it is prevalent in fall and winter – it often begins and ends at the same time or season every year.
Who is at risk of having SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn’t target a specific group or class of people, neither does it exist only among any particular sex. Everyone could be diagnosed with this form of depression at any time, however, SAD is commonly recorded among women, and more often in younger adults.
Today, there is no specific cause of SAD, however, there are certain factors that could contribute to its existence. They include but are not limited to:
- The effect of reduced sunlight on your “biological clock”
Reduced levels of sunlight in fall and winter has a significant effect on your energy level and mood. It is said that during this period your body’s internal clock or routine become distorted and eventually sinks you into depression.
- Another factor that quickly comes to mind is the drop in serotonin levels in your brain. Let’s break this down a little; serotonin are neurotransmitters or brain chemicals in simpler They play a critical role in how you feel every day and your mood generally. Without minding the terminology, it is only important that you know that reduced sunlight brings about a drop in serotonin and may eventually trigger depression.
- Disrupted sleep pattern and mood as a result of imbalance levels of Melatonin level in the body as a result of seasonal changes.
What increases the risk of getting SAD?
Seasonal Affective Disorder may be traced to family history. It has been established that most people with SAD have blood relatives with Seasonal Affective Disorder or similar form of depression which may have been passed down the bloodline. Location is also a key factor to consider as people living far north or south of the equator have been found to be commonly diagnosed with SAD. This could be as a result of the reduced sunlight in winter and longer days in summer in these regions.
Like other cases of depression and mental disorder, misdiagnosis and improper management of symptoms can degenerate into worse conditions. Hence it is wise to seek professional help in the earliest possible time. Some complications associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder if not treated include
- Risk of developing other mental health disorder like anxiety and other forms of mental disorders
- Societal withdrawal
- Lose of focus and loss of interest in daily activities like school, work, and problem-solving capability
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
It’s never too late to see a doctor!
Yes, it is normal to feel down on some days but it becomes a source of worry when being down for an extended period of time and days is frequent. One should be more concerned when you notice a change in sleep pattern and appetite. Also, don’t hesitate to check in to a hospital or contact a professional doctor when you start to crave alcohol and depend on it for relaxation, comfort or as an escape from things happening around you. The slightest thought of suicide and a feeling of hopelessness is a red alert! See your doctor!
This will thrill you!!
According to reports published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it was found that the highest Google search for all major mental health illness happened in more in winter compared to other seasons. Also, it was found that at least 64% of people suffering from one form of mental illness or the other feel their symptoms become worse during holiday seasons.
Going by the findings from these studies, experts suggest that more cases of mental illness occur in winter than in summer. Some of the mental illnesses include OCD, eating disorder (anorexia and bulimia), schizophrenia, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Hence, it is advised that one becomes more aware of the effect of seasonal changes and the effects it has on our mental health. You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental disorder before taking steps towards preventing or managing SAD.
What you can do about SAD
A large percentage of people who experience depression, anxiety and other forms of mental disorders often think they can deal with the stress of “holiday depression” and get over it on their own. Nursing such mentally often degenerates the condition to a point where SAD begin to interfere with their lives, work, family, and other activities.
Supporting people with SAD and other mental disorders can be very daunting to handle and could be frustrating at times. However, always have it in mind that patience is key and hope for recovery in time. Don’t give up on them, continue to support them, listen more, and avoid pressuring them by pushing unwanted advice. Remember to seek help or support for yourself if the need arises.
Muhammad Awwal Isah