This blog post was written by Pooja Shah, PsyD.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? SAD is a mild form of depression that occurs as a result of the decreasing hours of daylight/light exposure. As a result, one may experience an increase in depression-like symptoms, including, but not limited to negative thoughts, weight gain, fatigue, cravings for carbohydrates, and urges to isolate.
Access to sunlight allow the body to produce the necessary levels of serotonin, one of the neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation, needed for mood stabilization. In some individuals, the decrease in light exposure, may lead to a decrease in the amount of serotonin the brain produces, which in effect will lead to depression like symptoms. Women between the ages of 20-40 are most at risk to develop these symptoms. In addition, individuals who experience holiday season as a stressful time of year may be more impacted.
Treatment includes light therapy as well as maintaining a well balanced lifestyle with regular exercise and healthy eating.