• The Wise Self

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Understanding how seasons affect emotional states.

Updated: Oct 20

The arrival of winter can cause joy in many people since this time represents moments to spend with friends and family. Some people travel to other cities or countries to enjoy the things that winter brings like vacations, Christmas, etc.

Although it is true that for many the arrival of winter represents joy due to the meaning it has for others it can be a cause of sadness, reaching the point of developing depression. Those who experience depressive symptoms in late fall and early winter are people with seasonal affective disorder.


What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?


Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterized by the presence of major depressive episodes at one time of the year, especially in winter. When winter comes, many people often feel sad, and lonely, and with little motivation to enjoy this season.


When winter approaches it can be difficult for the person to deal with these times since the arrival of this season reminds them that they may not be able to be with their family because they are far away or maybe missing someone that is not present anymore, making the feeling of sadness stronger.


A person with the seasonal affective disorder may present these symptoms at the arrival of spring, but fewer people develop them. In winter, depressive symptoms tend to be more intense, especially if the person has suffered or suffers from another type of depressive or bipolar disorder.

People need to have more knowledge about seasonal affective disorder since many times when the symptoms appear at this time, they must understand that the change of weather can play a fundamental role in the change of mood.



Symptoms

A person with Seasonal Affective Disorder presents a series of symptoms which are depressive and some additional ones that arise in the winter season, among which are:

  • Sadness.

  • Hopelessness.

  • No encouragement to carry out activities that were once interesting.

  • Recurring sleep for a greater number of hours than usual, as well as difficulty sleeping.

  • Despair.

  • Irritability.

  • Poor ability to concentrate.

  • Suicidal thoughts.

  • Fatigue.


Causes

The reasons why a person develops Seasonal Affective Disorder are not clear, but there are a series of factors that can play a fundamental role in the development of this disorder.

One of the possible causes is low serotonin levels. Serotonin is known as the hormone of happiness, which the body produces naturally. When this hormone is present at optimal levels, emotions remain balanced. When serotonin is low, the person may experience depression.

The little light that there is in the winter can lead to the alteration of the biological clock, which makes the person upset and symptoms of depression appear.

Another cause that comes into play is those people who have close relatives with a depressive disorder, who are more likely to develop a disorder of this type.



Treatment

Seasonal Affective Disorder can greatly affect the individual's mental health, but there are currently several strategies to address this disorder so that the person can feel better. Some ways to treat this disorder are:

- Talk to other people about how you feel: One of the symptoms of the seasonal affective disorder is a feeling of sadness and hopelessness, which leads to isolation and not wanting to talk to anyone, which can worsen the symptoms. Talking with others helps release those feelings and find support.

- Carry out activities outside the home: The arrival of winter can make it more difficult to leave the house, but this should not be a reason to always be inside. You can go out to other closed places, which have heating and so you can see different things and entertain yourself.

- Pharmacological Treatment: Pharmacological treatment is intended to reduce the symptoms of depression through a series of medications such as antidepressants. The most used antidepressants for this type of disorder are selective serotonin retraining inhibitors, including fluoxetine, escitalopram, and sertraline.

- Psychological Treatment: Cognitive-behavioral therapy in this disorder seeks to understand the reasons for the depressive symptoms manifested by the person and from this provide the person with a series of strategies to overcome depression. At The Wise Self Psychotherapy Clinic, we have a series of mental health professionals trained to help you manage the symptoms of this disorder. Contact us and let's start the work.


Conclusion

The seasonal affective disorder is a type of depressive disorder that usually manifests itself at certain times of the year, generally being winter where it appears. The person with this disorder feels sad and discouraged during the winter season.

The symptoms of other types of depression usually manifest themselves, where in addition to sadness and lack of motivation, the person feels exhausted, without the encouragement to carry out any activity that causes pleasure, sleeps for most of the day, irritability, sadness, trouble concentrating, and social isolation.

The causes of this depression are related to the onset of winter. Winter is a time when the sun sets earlier and due to the cold, people stay indoors longer.

To treat the seasonal affective disorder, psychotherapy and drugs are necessary, which seek to understand the causes of depression and to be able to regulate the levels of neurotransmitters that have to do with mood. The use of a light box is also common for this disorder, where the person receives a light that helps to increase their mood.

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