by Emily Jones
During this time of the year as we transition into colder seasons like winter and fall, it is common for certain individuals to experience symptoms of mood changes. These changes can also be known as S.A.D, or seasonal affective disorder. Though the official cause is unknown, some scientists believe they might have possible insight into what the trigger is. While one group of scientists have theorized that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger these attitude related changes at certain times in the year. On the contrary, some scientists think that the loss of sunlight during the fall and winter lowers the levels of serotonin produced by the brain, which is a chemical that is connected to brain pathways that monitor mood. When these cell pathways in the brain that monitor mood don’t operate normally, individuals tend to experience feelings of depression, exhaustion, and possible weight gain. Overall, the symptoms of SAD drains the energy and motivation out of those that it affects, as its influence begins as mild, but intensifies as the season continues.
To break it down, S.A.D has two patterns, but the most common one occurs during early fall and late winter; and the second pattern occurs during early spring or summer. Though they are mostly the same disorder, both patterns of S.A.D cause different symptoms. The spring and summer pattern includes symptoms of insomnia (trouble sleeping), a reduced appetite, weight loss, agitation, and anxiety. The fall and winter patterns affect those with symptoms of oversleeping, appetite changes (including craving foods high in carbohydrates), weight gain, tiredness, and little to no energy.
S.A.D can also affect those with bipolar disorder, leading them to experience mania or hypomania (a less intense form of mania) in the spring and summer, and depression in the fall and winter. S.A.D can affect many people but tends to start at young adulthood, and is more common in women than men. The seriousness of the disorder can vary depending on the person. Seasonal affective disorder is a serious disorder even if it doesn’t necessarily have a big impact on your day to day life. The experiences of those who deal with S.A.D lead to alchohol and drug abuse and thoughts of suicide. Seasonal affective disorder is a serious disorder and if any of these symptoms have affected you recently you should contact your doctor and seek help.
The National Suicide Hotline Number: Call 1-800-273-8255
Mayo Clinic Staff. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651. Accessed 10 October 2019.
WebMD. Seasonal Depression(Seasonal Affective Disorder). WebMD LLC, https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/seasonal-affective-disorder#1. Accessed 10 October 2019.