Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression in which a person will feel symptoms of depression in a seasonal pattern.
Usually, the symptoms start in late fall, lasting through the winter, then diminish or vanish during the spring and summer.  Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, can affect people of all ages and across many climates. If you or someone you love is struggling with SAD, there are ways to treat this condition. The professionals at our drug addiction treatment center explore options for treating SAD.
What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?
There are many theories regarding the cause of SAD. Some believe it may be influenced by imbalances of serotonin and melatonin along with insufficient levels of vitamin D.  Winter typically has fewer hours of sunshine, which may be a contributing factor to seasonal depression as well.
Symptoms of Seasonal Depression
The symptoms of SAD are similar to those of depression and include:
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Low energy
- Overeating and weight gain
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating
How to Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder
There are several ways to treat SAD. Light therapy has proven successful in treating seasonal affective disorder, as it mimics the outdoor light that individuals may not be enjoying during the winter season.  Effective light therapy, aka phototherapy, will provide users with exposure to 10,000 lux of light and emit as little UV light as possible.  There are light therapy boxes available for the sole purpose of treating seasonal affective disorder.
Exercise can also be helpful in treating depression and SAD. Regular exercise allows for release of serotonin, which can help combat seasonal depression.  Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, so increasing the levels of serotonin with exercise can help alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. There is a strong connection between exercise and improved mental health.
For more techniques in combating seasonal affective disorder, contact our treatment team by calling 888-280-4763.
- NIH - Seasonal Affective Disorder
- MedlinePlus – Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Mayo Clinic - Seasonal affective disorder treatment: Choosing a light therapy box
- CNN - Why endorphins (and exercise) make you happy