Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Causes SAD?
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Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Causes SAD?

This article will discuss the possible causes and effects of seasonal affective disorder. More to the point, we will discuss the common factors which are shared by many who have symptoms of SAD. If you have been diagnosed with this disorder, or you know someone who has, continue reading to learn more about this fairly common disorder.

We discussed the symptoms and risk factors for seasonal affective disorder in a previous article. Now we are going to delve into the causes and treatment options for SAD. The medical and psychiatric community doesn’t know the specific cause for this health condition, but we do know that certain factors are common among people who are living with this disorder.

Hormones: Melatonin and Serotonin

In a previous article we discussed one of the common risk factors is the lack of sunlight. Sunlight drives our biological rhythm, which is also called our circadian rhythm. We need sunlight to produce the hormone, melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that allows us to go to sleep at night. This hormone is the highest in children, and our levels decrease as we age. Oftentimes, just getting outside in the sun more will increase our melatonin levels, and get our biological clock ticking in the right direction. When this hormone stays out of balance, our circadian rhythm also stays out of sync, and this can cause depression.

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder steal away our sense of health and wellness. The nearly constant feelings of depression make us feel unwell. Depression and feelings of anxiety due to SAD is both a physiological illness and a mental illness.

Another hormone that is usually off among people with seasonal affective disorder is serotonin. This hormone is a neurotransmitter that dials up or dials down our moods. If our serotonin level drops too low, we are likely to fall into a state of depression.

The levels of one or both of these hormones may be low during times of the year when you don’t get enough sunlight. We discussed in another article about your location on the planet being a possible risk factor for SAD. In essence, the farther away from the equator you are, the higher your risk for feeling the symptoms of this disorder. However, you could live in sunny Florida and still suffer from seasonal affective disorder. For instance, someone who works at night and sleeps in the daytime might be more at risk for SAD than someone who gets plenty of sunshine.   

If you notice that you sleep more than you used to, take less interest in things that you used to enjoy, or feel a sense of hopelessness, you might be depressed. If you have these symptoms at certain times of the year, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder.

Another article will discuss treatment options for SAD. Stay tuned!




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Comments (1)
Ranked #2 in Psychology

I did a series on this too, good article