Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) is known by many names, one of which is very common in the northern states, especially during the winter time, is called “Cabin Fever”. This name refers to the change in behavior patterns accompanied by winter, lack of natural sunlight, and the resulting symptoms of what is now known as S.A.D.
Symptoms of S.A.D.
Sunlight has been shown to increase the serotonin levels in the brain which help in creating a more positive and uplifting mood. When there is less sunlight (as in the winter months) an adverse effect can happen where individuals display depressive symptoms. Let’s explore what some of those symptoms are and what to look for:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Low energy
- Desire to sleep often and for long periods of time
- Loss of interest in daily activities
Ways to Cope and Treat S.A.D.
So what is a person to do who suffers from the symptoms (or worse) of S.A.D.? Below are some tips to incorporate into your daily routine when you identify the above symptoms in yourself or someone you know and care about.
- On sunny days, go outside for 30 minutes and soak in the sun
- If going outside is not possible, sit next to the window in the sunniest room in your home
- On dark, overcast days begin the day by turning on bright lights in your home to help try and set your circadian rhythm
- Keep your normal sleep schedule
- Use the buddy system with a friend and check-in with each other. Talking about the changes in your symptoms is the first line of defense in recognizing SAD.
When to See a Mental Health Professional
When nothing else seems to work and you are concerned about your symptoms of S.A.D. progressing into depression, we encourage you to contact a mental health professional. If you do not know where to turn, you can consult us during your next dental appointment and we will be more than happy to refer you to trusted professionals that we know.