Baby it’s cold outside, and I’ve gotten S.A.D. I’m not suggesting to the type of sad you get from a messy break-up. Or the type of a sad you develop from your goldfish swimming their last swim. I am referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder, also commonly known as Seasonal Depression.
“So what exactly is Seasonal Affective Disorder?”
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a breed of depression that exists intermittently during winter, and “leaves” in the spring and summer (most cases). The reason I say most cases, is because for those diagnosed with major depression ( like myself), our symptoms may just “lighten up” in the warmer weathers… If that makes sense. With that being said, depressive episodes that arise in the summer are way less likely to occur than those in the winter. Speaking from personal experience, before I was diagnosed with depression I remember annually hinting to my mother that I strongly believed I had seasonal depression when the winters emerged. I would evolve an unexplainable abundance of sadness with no known explanation. It was as if my mind erased all happiness, and left my body limp. For me my seasonal depression always transpired shortly after Thanksgiving. This was supposed to be the happiest times of the year, but notably it was the saddest. I remember always feeling miserably alone, even when I was abundantly surrounded by family. The irony….
Fast-forwarding to the now,
I can confidently say that I am more alert and in sync with my S.A.D symptoms. I know that the cold weather triggers my personal feelings of self pity… regardless if they are true or not. I know that daylight savings time is a choppy mental transition for me. And I also know that until I adjust to it, my rumination “obsession” is in full affect!
What About Other Symptoms?
I think it is very important that we understand the signs, symptoms, and patterns of S.A.D. I also find it even more important that we crush the stigmas while we address these various factors. With that being said before you go diagnosing yourself, let’s address them shall we?
First and foremost, S.A.D coexists with major depressive disorder. Now this does not necessarily mean that you will undoubtedly have S.A.D. just because you have major depressive disorder. What it means is that these two variations of depression interlace with one another. S.A.D is also triggered by light reduction. This is why when daylight savings comes around and the clocks go back, S.A.D awakens from hibernation. Which makes sense as to why Lack of sunlight means lack of Vitamin D, which ultimately decreases your body’s production of Melatonin. For those who are unaware, Melatonin is a hormone that our bodies produce which helps us regulate sleep and cause symptoms of depression. So once our bodies have an abundance of Melatonin, we are more likely to display depressive symptoms. So although many may believe S.A.D is associated with temperature, this is certainly not the case. S.A.D is strictly associated with lack of sunlight.
More signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
- Daily feeling of sadness with no sense of motivation
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Absence of energy
- Lack of your passions and activities
- Problems with insomnia or excess sleeping
- Increased/Decreased food intake
- Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
- Sluggish feelings
- Social withdrawal from those you love
We women are unfortunately the majority affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. To be more exact, we are four times more likely than men to develop this form of depression. Why is that? I’m glad you asked. Women have an increased amount of the hormone Serotonin, which primarily serves as a mood filter. Serotonin is what makes us happy or sad (hormonally). Women ages 18-55 are even more likely to experience S.A.D, and the reason why is because we have the two M’s… Menstruation and Menopause. Isn’t that lovely? Menstruation and menopause are two very vulnerable stages for us women. Not only are our hormones “out of whack”, but they are intensely undergoing a rollercoaster that we cannot cease. Embrace it!
Having Seasonal Affective Disorder does not place you into a bipolar or crazy bubble… despite what society may say. All it means is that your body is more sensitive to light. Simple. For example, for me growing up in Barbados (where the sun is always shining, and it does not set until late), my body was never given the opportunity to reciprocate the consequences of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know first hand numerous women who have expressed to me that they usually go through these motions of S.A.D. So why is this breed of depression also not discussed?… Because it has the word depression in it. That’s why. There are certain obstacles in life that we manipulate, and then there are some that we have to let pass. Seasonal depression is one we can definitely manipulate and overcome! Some tips for S.A.D are:
- Try aromatherapy
- Consider using dawn lighting
- Start exercising regularly
- Consider antidepressants ( even if they are seasonally)
- Take Vit D vitamins
- Try Taking a small vacation ( even if it is to another city)
These are just some starters for all of my lovely melanated beauties who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is a real thing, and if you know anyone who might benefit from this post, please share.
I love you all!