With fall comes the changing of the leaves, delicious homemade food, and unfortunately for some seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal depression is the occurrence of being depressed at certain time of the year, predominately during the fall and winter months and ending in the spring or summer. Now that fall is here many people may begin to suffer from seasonal depression. People who suffer from seasonal depression exhibit common symptoms of depression such as loss of interest, withdrawal from social activities, increased need for sleep, and an increased appetite (Cleveland Clinic). The increased appetite coupled with the wonderful cooking at this time of year inevitably leads to weight gain in some cases.
The exact cause of seasonal depression has not been found. One theory is that it is caused the decreased length of day, which means less sunlight. By having less sunlight the body’s biological clock that regulates sleep, hormones, and mood is then delayed (Cleveland Clinic). The theory is that seasonal depression is brought on by the delay in the biological clock.
Between four and six percent of the United States population suffers from seasonal depression, three quarters of which are women (Cleveland Clinic). Seasonal depression is not the same as the milder “winter blues”, it is something that shares symptoms as depression and needs to be treated as such. For many people, fall and winter is the worst time of year because of seasonal depression.
A successful treatment for seasonal depression is something called light therapy. What light therapy is essentially is the exposure to extra light for some amount of time to attempt to counteract the lack of natural sunlight (Cleveland Clinic). Through the exposure to this light, the biological clock can get back into rhythm and so lead to a decreased state of depression during the fall and winter months. Some ways to prevent seasonal depression is to remain active in social circles, exercise, go outside, and to seek professional counseling during the winter months if needed (Cleveland Clinic).
Seasonal depression is a real issue for many people in the United States. With the fall and winter months inevitably comes more time spent inside and shorter days. During the fall and winter, people become depressed. It is an annual issue that comes every year with the colder weather. If during these fall and winter months you begin to feel abnormally depressed, go and see a counselor. Seasonal depression does not have to ruin your holiday season; it is fairly easy to treat and should not ruin anybody’s fall and winter months.
Cleveland Clinic: What is Seasonal Depression?