“SAD” stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder”. Essentially, this is a form of depression that typically occurs as a result of season-based changes. It is known to detrimentally impact individuals at the same time each year.
The most common time when symptoms emerge is at the start of fall. These symptoms usually last well into the winter months and, perhaps, even into spring. While it is possible for some to experience seasonal affective disorder in the spring and summer months, this is a rare occurrence. SAD is often referred to as the “winter blues”, based on the time of year which is normally affects people.
While there are many treatments available for this form of depression, movement is considered to be the most productive.
Common Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Medical professionals have researched seasonal affective disorder – at great length – to determine the underlying causes. While the research has not be conclusive, these experts believe it is a direct cause of lack of sunlight.
According to studies, if a person does not receive enough light, it has the ability to interrupt the biological clock. This aids in the circadian rhythm of the body, as well as the sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, it results in complications directly related to the production of serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that directly impacts the mood.
Symptoms of SAD
There are several different symptoms that may be experienced by an individual suffering from S.A.D. These include the following:
- Feeling sad, anxious, and/or moody
- Many lose interest in activities once enjoyed
- It common for individuals to consume larger amounts of food, especially those containing carbohydrates
- Weight gain usually accompanies increased appetite
- Many have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. As a result, most sufferers experience fatigue
- Cognition is detrimentally impacted and the resulting effects include trouble concentrating, memory problems, and the inability to perform tasks as normal
Beat SAD with Movement
According to medical professionals, movement has the ability to help you overcome seasonal affective disorder. Exercise is an exceptionally powerful method for overcoming all types of depression. The following outlines the numerous benefits of movement for SAD sufferers:
- Physical movement aids in boosting brain chemicals, such as serotonin and endorphins.
- Exercise aids in improving sleep.
- Movement can help increase self-esteem.
- Engaging in exercise outdoors can help in reducing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
- Movement helps curb cravings for carbohydrates and aids in preventing weight gain.
No one is immune to the development of seasonal affective disorder. In fact, it is believed that nearly all people experience at least one bout of the “blues” during the fall and/or winter months during the course of their lifetime. If you feel that you are suffering from SAD, you should attempt to move and exercise more. You will quickly discover that your symptoms disappear. Additionally, you should make certain that you are spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors, soaking up all of that sunshine.
When to Seek Professional Help for S.A.D.
If you are currently suffering from seasonal affective disorder, it is quite likely that it is time for professional help. Seeking out the assistance of a physical therapist may be invaluable, as they will aid in helping you learn exercises that may help you overcome this type of depression. If your symptoms are severe, you may need the help of a counselor, a social worker, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or even a medical doctor.
When seeking help, a doctor may conduct a physical examination or may order certain types of labs to determine if your issue is biologically-based. If no physical problems are present, you may be referred to a mental health doctor for further assessment.
If you seek professional help for seasonal affective disorder, there are several treatment options available. These include medication therapy, talk therapy, light therapy, and treatments that are designed to treat any biological-based medical condition that is discovered.
In some instances, you may need combined therapies; that is, more than one therapy at a time. For example, if you are a diabetic that is suffering from severe seasonal affective disorder, you may require glucose control medication, an antidepressant, and even dietary recommendations in order to alleviate the symptoms from which you suffer.
If you have S.A.D and would like to get started right away on treating the condition, we recommend starting an exercise regimen that will aid in regulating the chemicals in your body while you work to seek out professional help.
If you would like to start on a movement regimen today that will help you feel better tomorrow, contact us here or give us a call at
NIMH.GOV on SAD