In the colorless world of winter, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) settles in. Believed to affect 20% of people in the United States, it occurs in both hemispheres and hits harder the farther north you live from the equator. Those long winter nights can cause a drop in serotonin levels– a brain chemical. Your body's balance of melatonin can also change, putting your body clock out of sync. Researchers found both the morning decline and evening rise in melatonin happened several hours earlier in those with SAD. The urge to hibernate that comes with SAD– pull the blanket back over your head and sleep for a day or two won't work. Your boss won't like the idea and your family won't let you rest for long. Even an energetic dog will demand you get up, feed him and let him sniff around outside for a while.
Health.com points out "everyone feels a little melancholy this time of year." The most common symptoms are sadness, hopelessness, difficulty in falling asleep, and a loss of interest in your favorite activities. If you have these symptoms for at least two weeks, you might have SAD. If you suspect you might have SAD, this slide show"7 Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder" explains the symptoms to watch for.
It's going to be a long winter. Allison Wilson, Wellness Director and Nutritionist at the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown suggests "4 do-it-yourself ways to fight SAD this winter" and bring a little happy back in your life.
If your symptoms are severe, consult a therapist. Depression of any sort is serious and can be fatal.
Molly Brown, DMS
"No Income, No Credit" is on my other blog, Lyn's Circle.