The time change last weekend has ushered in several months of long nights, grey days, and cold weather. It's also the start of SAD season, or seasonal affective disorder.
The winter season can be a recipe for unhealthy habits, often exacerbated by holiday get-togethers, bad weather for exercising, and the almost preternatural desire for rich comfort foods as the temperature drops. But there can be more to seasonal mood changes and depression. There's growing evidence that thousands of Americans suffer from a seasonal variety of depression.
SAD is characterized by the same symptoms of depression doctors expect, but are attributable to seasonal changes like short days and cold weather. Those changes have a chemical effect on the bodies' hormones, and suffers of sad may see lower levels of serotonin production, contributing to the signs of depression we might expect to see throughout the year.
According to most experts, SAD starts to develop in early adulthood and affects women slightly more often than men. The primary expressions of the disorder are melancholy, irritability, fatigue, and an increased amount of issues with relationships. There's also a tendency to see weight gain and changes in both appetite and sleep patterns.
Only a doctor can diagnose SAD, and if you think you may be affected, you should talk to your health care professional for a full diagnosis. Most treatments include more exercise, especially during daylight hours. There is some evidence that light therapy can be helpful, as well as a number of anti-depressants that can reduce the impact of SAD on your day-to-day mood. Of course, daily exercise at least thirty minutes in duration is the best place to get started, and that's something everyone can benefit from.
Looking to improve your diet to account for winter changes, or work out some aches and pains from a renewed commitment to exercise? Let us help!