Reema is a working professional. Heading to hold a senior position in her organisation. She is hard-working and full of life. She got her promotion in last winter. Still she felt that the last winter was difficult for her. She did not feel happy, lacked motivation and found it difficult to get through her routine. Her friends told her it is her fear and pressure of responsibility, that is making her sad and unmotivated, but she know for sure that it is not her fear or pressure but something else. She does not know what it is. As the season changed from winter to summer, she started feeling better. At present, as the winter is here, she does not know what will happen this year. What Reema felt last summer is indicating that she was facing the difficulty of SAD. Not just the feeling in bold, but it is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It includes having symptoms similar to depression during winter and fall seasons. Research suggests that, people face SAD during months when there is less sunlight and usually symptoms improve during the summers. Though rarely, people can experience SAD in summer season too.
Naturally people staying in regions where winter is harsh and difficult, are more susceptible to have SAD.Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a clinically diagnosed disorder having similar symptoms of that of Depressive Disorders. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Mannual 5, the symptoms of SAD includes-
- Constant feeling of sadness or unhappiness.
- Lack of interest in all activities including the ones which you usually enjoy and which interests you other-wise.
- Changes in appetite usually more cravings for foods including carbohydrates and oil.
- Changes in sleep patterns usually feeling more sleepy and drowsy even after adequate hours of sleep.
- Involvement in purposeless physical activity like fidgeting, pacing and so on.
- Slowed speech and movements.
- Difficulty in concentrating, thinking and thus making decisions too.
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- At times, people facing SAD might have suicidal ideations and thoughts as well.
Why does this happen?
The Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is associated with less exposure to sunlight. When human body is not exposed to adequate amount of sunlight, there is a decrease in Vitamin D, disturbance circadian rhythm i.e. body’s own biological clock and sleep-wake cycle. It results in imbalance in the levels of serotonin and melatonin which are important in maintaining mood and affect. Thus people suffer from SAD during less daylight hours i.e. in winter and people staying far from equator.
Treatment of SAD
However, SAD is a treatable and preventable disorder. For the treatment purpose, it is always better to consult mental health professional. An expert can make suitable therapy plan for you. So, when you are in need, it is a best idea to visit a Mental Health Professional!
Prevention of SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder can be prevented by using different strategies. Some of them are-
a. Maintaining a routine
though winter is a season to feel lazy and cosy, try and maintain a routine on most of the days of the week. Getting up on time and sleeping on time helps our body to maintain the sleep-wake cycle.
b. Engaging into regular physical activity
regular physical activity like walking , jogging, running specially the outdoor activity done during the day will expose your body to sunlight and thus help you in getting adequate vitamin D and balancing serotonin and melatonin levels.
c. Develop a productive hobby
it is important to engage in physical activity to improve your mood and reduce drowsiness. You can take up a new hobby like dancing, outdoor sports activities like cycling and so on.
d. Watch out your cravings
winter season comes with cravings for more carbohydrates and oily foods. Though, it is a festive season, do watch out if you have more cravings than usual as it could be one if the signs of SAD.e. Make a schedule to achieve your goals and stick to it
during winters, we tend to feel lazy and skip our work days and workout days too. If you plan ahead with a goal to achieve in professional and in terms of physical fitness, it can act a motivation to continue with your routine and avoid laziness.
f. Maintain a discipline
only making a schedule is not going to help much. Following it up is necessary. So this time, our parents are right-being disciplined can help our body to maintain its sleep-wake clock.
g. Have small rewards after every achievement
if you can follow your decided routine (including work and exercise routine), give yourself a treat. Enjoy the treat and plan to more such treats too.
h. Talk to your friends and family
Communicate and expressed your feelings and thoughts worth your family and friends. If there is any miss or difficulty they can be your support system.
i. Enjoy the festivities
During winters, there are festivals like Diwali, Christmas celebrated worldwide. Traditional festivities help us in following certain routine and even cleaning and maintaining our environment to improve our mood.
j. Watch out for the red flags and visit a Mental Health Professional
you should consult mental health professional if you experience signs and symptoms of SAD. Now, that you have an idea about what SAD is, inform your friends and family too. If they need any help, support them and help them in visiting a mental health professional.