October 2021 – Understanding SAD
Most people experience short periods of feeling sad or not like our usual selves. The shorter days and reduced amount of sunlight in the fall and winter months can take a toll on attitudes as well. However, when mood changes begin and end with seasonal changes and affect how you feel, think and handle daily activities, it may be more than “the blues”. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a treatable type of depression.
Scientists do not fully understand what causes SAD. Research has indicated that individuals susceptible to SAD may have reduced activity of serotonin, the brain chemical which helps regulate mood. Sunlight controls the levels of molecules that help maintain normal serotonin levels, but in people with SAD, research suggests this regulation does not function properly, resulting in decreased serotonin levels in the winter.
SAD symptoms commonly start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD. Summer-pattern SAD, where symptoms are experienced during the spring and summer months, is less common. The good news is that a variety of treatments are available to combat the affects of SAD, including vitamin D, light therapy, medication and counseling.
Watch the StudentLinc flash course, Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder, to learn about the mood disorder and different types, its causes, common symptoms, treatment options, and a few tips to help you cope.
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