Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
While many look forward to a break from the dry humid conditions of summer, the winter months are accompanied by shorter days and cold weather. This time of year, specifically the shorter days, can contribute to the development of a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder. Also known as cabin fever or the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression directly exacerbated by the change of seasons. We see an increased incidence beginning in the fall and continuing throughout the winter months. Presentations we see at the clinic are decreased energy, increased stress, and just an overall decreased satisfaction with life in general. Patients will often report changes in sleep habits and a decreased appetite. Many times, the disorder is associated with a decreased level of concentration and motivation. Scholars have concluded this disorder results from a deficit of serotonin levels resulting from reduced sunlight exposure and the disruption of our circadian rhythms. There are a multitude of suggestions for dealing with seasonal affective disorder, but its my recommendation anyone feeling this way should further discuss his or her specific case with the medical provider who knows them best to ascertain if it is severe enough or life altering enough to need medication. Outside of medication, it is recommended to get early morning sunlight as soon as you awaken each morning. By absorbing sunlight, you help offset the changes of the circadian rhythm and gain exposure to Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Personally, in my patients, I see lesser prevalence in outdoor enthusiasts. They are hiking, fishing, bicycling, or doing some other outdoor activity in the spring and summer. They then continue to hunt or camp during the cooler shorter months. I have found staying active and adapting your hobbies to accommodate the cooler weather and shorter days to be most effective at combating the severity of cabin fever, the winter blues, or now recognized as SAD, the Seasonal Affective Disorder.