Here Comes the Sun

It’s a beautiful day. The sun is finally shining bright! We sure could use some sun…as a matter of fact, it may be just what the doctor orders!

Cloudy days and the winter months can affect your mood; that ”seasonal funk,” or “the winter blues,” became an official diagnosis in 1984: Seasonal Affective Disorder1. In the early 1980’s, biologists Alfred Lewy and Norman Rosenthal recognized that the symptoms of SAD were consistently related to changes in one’s circadian rhythm2, which is the body’s response to light and dark. This makes perfect sense when considering that sun exposure is less during the fall and winter months.

What is SAD exactly? It is a type of depression3 related to changes in seasons, usually beginning in the fall and continuing through winter, and resolves with the onset of spring – thus the adjective “seasonal” being in the name.
“Affective” simply refers to moods, feelings and attitudes4, including less energy, less motivation… life can just seem to take more effort!

“Disorder” literally means a lack of order or confusion – a disturbance of “normal” functioning of physical or mental processes5.

A shadow of a person at the base of some stairs.
About 4-5% of the general population will experience SAD, while anywhere from 10% to 25% of those with an existing depressive disorder of some type will encounter this increase in depressive symptoms. It is more prevalent in women than men and you become more likely to develop SAD as you get older6.
There is help for Seasonal Affective Disorder! Daily exposure to the sun is always a good thing as it affects the production of serotonin and melatonin.7 There is also light therapy, involving a specific type of artificial light that also stimulates production of those brain chemicals, “talk” therapy and anti-depressants.8

For more information, check out the resources listed below, and talk to a medical professional if you suspect that you might be dealing with this disorder.

FOOTNOTES:
  1. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – Symptoms and causes:
    [https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651]
  2. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Background, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology:
    [https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2500054-overview]
  3. Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder):
    [https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9293-seasonal-depression]
  4. NIMH » Seasonal Affective Disorder:
    [https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder]
  5. Disorder – definition of disorder by The Free Dictionary:
    [https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Disorder]
  6. Seasonal Affective Disorder:
    [https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2000/0301/p1531.html]
  7. Circadian Rhythm: What It Is, How it Works, and More:
    https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/circadian-rhythm#how-it-works]
  8. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – Diagnosis and treatment:
    [https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20364722]
Learn more about light therapy:

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