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Friday, November 15, 2019

Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

In this post, we discuss a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, also styled as seasonal affective disorder and known as SAD for short.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons - SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer."  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "Younger adults have a higher risk of SAD than older adults. SAD has been reported even in children and teens." 

Four Ways to Prevent or Minimize the Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder, sometimes referred to as the winter blues or summertime sadness, is a mood disorder that is closely linked to variations in light. For this reason, it is most prevalent in populations who live far from the equator, where seasonal light fluctuations are more severe. Though seasonal affective disorder is most frequently experienced during the winter months when daylight hours decrease, around ten percent of cases do present during the summer.

It's these summer cases that have medical professionals on the fence about the possible evolutionary causes of the disorder. While several theories have been proposed, two popular theories have risen above the others. One theory recounts the need for mankind's early ancestors to lower their caloric intake during the winter months when food would have likely been scarce, while the other likens the disorder to winter hibernation in animals. While both ideas do have merit, neither of these explanations account for the cases where onset occurs during the summer months.

Evolutionary background aside, a growing awareness of seasonal affective disorder is sparking new research among medical professionals. Word of this new research has many sufferers excited that real solutions may be just around the corner. While it's true that meaningful progress could happen quickly, the reality is that research into the disorder is still in its infancy. Due to this, definitive answers gained from the research—including the disorder's exact causes and most effective treatment options—remain relatively undocumented.

While definitive answers aren't yet available regarding the prevention and treatment of seasonal affective disorder, several suggestions have been put forth that may help prevent the disorder's onset, or at the very least, shorten its duration or minimize the severity of its symptoms. Here are four such suggestions that may prevent or minimize the effects of seasonal affective disorder.

1. Be more physically active.

Endorphins, a natural chemical released by the brain during physical activity, are known to cause feelings of euphoria and empowerment. They are also thought to reduce stress, while increasing overall sleep quality. For these reasons, endorphins can be a great tool in battling the unwanted feelings of depression caused by seasonal affective disorder. For times when physical activity isn't possible, try finding the humor in life because genuine laughter can also cause a release of endorphins.

2. Take a vacation during your problematic season.

Exposing yourself to weather conditions reminiscent of those experienced during a non-afflicted season may help you to keep the disorder at bay. If you suffer from winter seasonal affective disorder, then visit somewhere warm and sunny during the winter to help mitigate the disorder's effects. If you suffer from summer seasonal affective disorder, then plan a summer trip to a destination that resembles a typical winter in your area.

3. Spend more time outdoors.

Because traveling to far off lands isn't always an option, it is also recommended that sufferers try spending more time outdoors. Spending an hour or two in the midday sun can be especially effective for those suffering from winter seasonal affective disorder, as exposure to the sun acts as a form of light therapy. Time outdoors can also be helpful in some cases of summer seasonal affective disorder, because a simple change in pace can sometimes be enough to ward off an episode of depression caused by the disorder.

4. Consume a diet rich in fish.

Certain studies have found that while seasonal affective disorder is known to be more prevalent in areas far from the equator, there are areas in non-equatorial regions, like Iceland and Japan, with lower than average levels of the disorder. One commonality among these regions is increased fish consumption. This finding has led to some speculation that consuming a diet rich in fish may help limit the severity of seasonal affective disorder or prevent its onset altogether.

Though there's no known way to fully eliminate your chances of developing seasonal affective disorder, there are several potential ways to help prevent its onset, or at the very least, limit its duration or minimize the severity of its symptoms. By being more physically active, taking well-scheduled vacations, spending more time outdoors, and increasing your intake of fish, you will have a better chance of warding off any future bouts of seasonal affective disorder.

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