Skip to content

Dealing With Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter is a magical time—between holiday celebrations, cozy fires, and (if you’re lucky) snow, there’s a lot to love about this special season.

However, winter can also be hard on some people. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects people in the winter months. More commonly known as winter blues, seasonal affective disorder can have a serious impact on people’s lives.

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The intricacies of seasonal affective disorder still aren’t well understood; however, SAD is believed to be caused by the shorter days and lack of light that characterize the winter months. This can affect people in a couple of different ways. First, it disrupts individuals’ circadian rhythms, the natural biological cycle that determines sleep-wake times and energy levels. This can have effects on your mood, sleep, and behavior.

In addition, lack of light is also thought to have a negative impact on our bodies’ ability to maintain normal levels of serotonin (a mood-regulating neurotransmitter). Below average levels of serotonin can cause depression.

Who Suffers From SAD?

Around 5% of the US population experiences seasonal depression each year. As with normal depression, SAD can be influenced by a number of factors. These include:

Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder

For many people, SAD goes away on its own when the seasons change and the days lengthen. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to treat SAD, or at least mitigate its effects. As with other forms of depression, seeing a mental health professional and exploring antidepressants (if appropriate) can be extremely beneficial.

In addition, many people have success with light therapy (commonly known as “happy lights”) which mimics the effects of sunlight on the brain. Taking vitamin D supplements may also help to better regulate serotonin levels.

RADIAS Health provides person-centered integrated healthcare services to people experiencing mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Compassionate, skilled health care and support staff deliver our behavioral health services. In addition, our care includes supplementary services such as case management, supportive housing, homeless services, residential services, outpatient DBT treatment, and more. If you or someone you know could benefit from our mission, contact us today or consider donating!

Continue Reading