- by Bangalore Baptist Hospital
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- Oct 03 2017
DO YOU HAVE THE SADNESS THIS WINTER?
Does the onset of winter, deepen your melancholy and worsen your mood? Are you at your saddest during the winter months? Chances are you may be suffering from a case of “winter depression”.
Winter Depression is a form of a “seasonal affective disorder” (SAD) that starts in the fall and continues into the winter months. You feel like your energy is being sapped and your mood gets worse and worse with each passing day. A seasonal affective disorder is marked with a feeling of sadness that could lead to possible depression. As winters are accompanied by less natural light, your daily body rhythms become out of sync due to the reduced light.
People who are already suffering from depression or any other related mood disorders, tend to experience heightened symptoms during winter months. Others suffer from SAD alone; feeling down in the dumps during the cooler, darker and longer months.
SAD do not only occur in winters but can be present during summer and rainy months too.
It is not a condition affecting only the western population. Indians also experience SAD.
So how does winter depression actually function?
Winter blues may sound like a myth but there is sound scientific evidence to support that the season can affect our moods. Winter depression was first identified by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in 1984. They found seasonal mood and behaviour changes occurring in different degrees, sometimes with mild changes and other times with severe mood shifts.
Affective disorders can be of two types - depression or a low phase, marked by social withdrawal, and mania or a high phase, marked by overactive behaviour. Some people are more sensitive to the lack of light. The lack of sunlight causes the brain to produce melatonin, the hormone linked to depression. You tend to be more active and positive when the sunrays fall on you.
Women are more prone to these winter doldrums than men, probably because of hormonal factors.
Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, may include some or all of the conditions:
Tiredness or fatigue
Hypersensitivity to rejection
Heavy feeling in the arms or legs
Changes in appetite, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Using Light Therapy
Light therapy also known as photo therapy, involves you sitting a few feet from a special light therapy box, exposing you to bright light. It mimics natural outdoor light, causing a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.
Light therapy is one of the few treatments for winter onset SAD. Research on light therapy is limited, but it appears to be effective for most people in relieving SAD symptoms.
Some people use medications like anti-depressants and go for therapy sessions. Exercising, eating a vitamin C rich diet, keeping busy, maintaining social activity are some other ways to beat winter blues.
It is alright to feel low once in a while but if the feeling persists for a long time, it is advisable to consult a psychologist or therapist. So go out and break that spell of SADness because winter is coming.
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