Less daylight can lead to wintertime blues for some individuals
BATON ROUGE - From the summer solstice in June to the winter solstice in December, we lose daylight with each passing day. Once we get past the Fall Equinox, the hours we spend at night outweigh the number of hours of daylight. Just how some experience rainy day blues, some have this experience on a seasonal basis.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often referred to as seasonal depression, is a type of depression that is related to seasonal changes. Often times, this starts in the late fall or early winter when there is less sunlight. According to Timothy Gioe, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC at Crescent City Psychiatric, “with less sunlight, a hormone called Melatonin is released and can make patients feel more sleepy.” Gioe mentions that a drop in serotonin which regulates mood might also play a role, with the combination of the two leading to SAD.
While anyone can suffer from SAD, it is more common with women and those who live in northern states. SAD is relatively common, with severe forms affecting an estimated 1-2% of the population. However, Gioe says that “milder forms may affect 10-20% of people” especially in northern climates.
There are several treatments for SAD. One treatment is light therapy, which exposes individuals to light that mimics natural sunlight. Gioe suggests that “lifestyle changes such as increasing exposure to sunlight, exercising regularly, and maintaining a regular schedule and routine are helpful in managing symptoms.” For those with severe cases, talk therapy and antidepressants can be effective.
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